Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is actually my Dad's birthday, but we all went to have dinner with him on Saturday night.  I, however, get to go have lunch with him all by myself today!  It's kind hard to get a word in edgewise when I have my 4 ring circus along on other days!

We couldn't even find matching candles, but we did have some 6's laying around...
And even the girls got in with the singing, super sweet!

They were much more interested in Mommy's ice cream though...

Brian's friend Kris nicknamed them this summer.  They are my little piranha babies when it comes to dessert!

I "think" I got to eat some of my ice cream... (and all the cake, no gluten for babies yet).

Nana and Papa's house has the best height window sills.  Perfect for baby seats!

Reading time!

Amazingly enough the girls are getting to the point where they don't have to be watched every second... just every other second!  So maybe next year's birthday won't be quite so crazy... nah, who am I kidding, birthdays are always crazy!  Happy Birthday Daddy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book: The Courier of Caswell Hall

An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution. As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages---a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.


How ironic to be reading this story about the American revolution with the current state of our government.  The amount of personal sacrifice that happened, even by the future leaders of our country, was immense.

The prologue to the book is Lydia at a 4th of July celebration 50 years in the future relieving the past.  So while in some ways I don't like that the story gives away some of the ending it's not like we don't know that America isn't a colony of Britain anymore either!

And along the way there are hard choices to be made about where your loyalties lie and what it means to truly stand for truth and freedom.  The characters come to life and I felt like perhaps I could understand in some small way a bit more about what it was like back then.

I truly love historical fiction that brings to life the time period and doesn't just use it as a backdrop for "another" romance.


Purchase your own copy of The Courier of Caswell Hall and find out what other reviewers have to say.

Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book: Made to Last

Made to Last

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Made to Last, go HERE.

A Word From Melissa Tagg:

I’m a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to my nonprofit day job, I’m also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists.

It all started when my dad, at the ripe old age of sixteen, picked up my mom up for their first date. She was thirteen. Thirteen!* Dad drove a cherry red car up the lane to my grandparents big ol’ green house and honked his horn…whereupon Mom jumped out of the apple tree she’d been waiting in and off they went…fishing. True story. (I’d give more details, but I’m saving it for a novella I plan to entitle Two Leaves. Mom, I really hope you read this.)

Four years of college, a few trips abroad and a stint as a reporter later, that dream is soon to be a reality. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, is now out from Bethany House. Book two, Here to Stay, comes out on May 1, 2014.

In between writing and staring out the window brainstorming, I also work as a grant-writer at one of Iowa’s largest private nonprofits and serve as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists founded by Susan May Warren.

And I love, love, love talking about finding our purpose and identity in Christ. (And well, okay, food, old movies, boots and scarves, my awesome nephew Ollie, and, fine, Tim Tebow, too.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book: Raw Edge

Raw Edge

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?


Not too many books make me cry, and very rarely in the first chapter!  But this one did.  And sadly I haven't had a chance to get more than a couple chapters in.  But with the story and the other books by Bricker that I've read it probably looks up towards the end.  Hope to finish it in the next couple of days.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edge, go HERE.

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

Watch the book trailer:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Eighteen months, my stylistas!

Oh, having girls is so much different than boys! Except for maybe on the climbing part... Joy has got that down, and Hope isn't too far behind!

That is Hope standing on the top rail of her crib... just prior to my grabbing the camera Joy was also standing on the top rail of Hope's crib, from the other side.  Their cribs aren't normally together like this, but you can see I'm painting again on the wall behind them.  They're not so close now either!  I also caught Joy last week standing on the very top of the back of our overstuffed chair to reach the top shelf of a 6 foot tall bookshelf in our living room...
When they sleep, Joy throws everything out of her crib, including her blanket.  Hope will sleep with toys or her water and usually has rolled herself up in her blanket so she is at least partially covered.  Funny the differences and similarities!

Waking up from a nap is a good time to chill with big brother when he comes home from school and watches a little cartoons.

And now my lovely girls with the bunny pictures...

We sit nicely... for one photo!

Hope is a complete cheese-ball!

I wasn't even saying cheese, just trying to get them to sit still and look at me... at the same time!

This is, maybe, the best one of the bunch?

We love our bunny!

So done, Mama, let me out of here!

You can see the progression of toys that I was attempting to bribe them with... you just don't see all the outtakes between each photo where one of them was trying to bail off the couch!

The girls don't really talk much yet.  Hope's favorite word is still "shoe" and she will bring everyone their shoes if she has access to them!  However, she won't keep her own on so most of the time they are shoeless unless they are actually busy walking somewhere.  Now she's added "Dada".  Wednesday night at Awana I had both of them and she spotted Brian way down the corridor coming out of a room.  She said his name loud enough to get his attention and practically lunged out of my arms!  I can always tell when he comes home at night if I'm in the other room too because there is much shrieking of excitement and Dada! coming from the living room window!

Hope is definitely more the communicator and Joy is the explorer (as evidenced by the climbing...).  She says "ha dat" when she wants something which I think sounds like "have that" while pointing at said object.  She also says "a da" which means again like for playing something.  Both of them can say "more" in sign language if it's really something they want.  They understand me quite well just don't always want to do what I'm saying... but this week when they ask for water (Hope says "dr" and Joy says "wa-a" while making the signs) then I ask them if they want their water and they do exaggerated head nodding for yes.  And yes, it's as adorable as it sounds!

They are kind of picky eaters, some days they will eat various fruits, the next day they will be rejected (and thrown on the floor).  I get frustrated with the wasted food, but they're not going hungry.  Both of them have their eye teeth now so they look like they have a full set of teeth finally.  There was a lot of drooling and hands in the mouth for those.

Hope is slightly heavier than Joy by about a half a pound.  Measurements this morning were 24.4 pounds and 23.8 pounds.  Joy is about one centimeter taller and I can't remember those.  Will update later if I remember to call in and get them.

We have finally moved into the 18 month clothes... just as it cools off so they haven't gotten to wear most of the summer weight stuff more than about once.  Bummer.  I was really off in estimating sizes for them.  The 18M pants are still some big, especially if they aren't leggings and some of the 12M pants still fit better.  So we'll see how that pans out for the winter.  I did buy a lot of leggings and tights so hopefully that will solve the problem of pants falling off!

The girls LOVE baths and ask for "ba?" after every meal.  I showed them how to "swim" by laying down on their tummies and they splash their feet so much I get a shower.  They will often help wash each other's hair while I'm washing them too.

They are finally getting some hair... enough that it keeps falling in their faces, but they won't keep in any hair pretties.  If they don't pull them out then sister will! 

We love books and looking at them on our own or with Mama, but they still must be supervised because books apparently taste good to the sisters... good thing they are the babies because a lot of them won't be worth passing on to anyone else!

The girls play together... about half of the time!  They are usually together doing whatever they are doing, but often one will steal the others' toys or clock the other one with her toy.  And it goes both ways pretty often.  They also both love to wear any rings or toys with a hole in them as bracelets!

These girls are busy!  They love to "go" anywhere.  When I start loading up the car they are watching me through the window and very ready to come when I say "let's go!".  They love going out and playing at parks now.  I don't get any photos though because they are so independent that I have to watch one all the time and have a second adult to watch the other.  This is one place where they tend to go in opposite directions!

Love my girls!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book: Born of Persuasion

Born of Persuasion

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.


I'm so unsure of how to write this review... all I can say is wow!  Equal parts suspense and romance I literally could not have predicted the ending to this one.  AND, this is only the first in a series and the next one doesn't come until next spring!  I hate that!

Julia is a bit (okay, way more than a bit) naive about life and it gets her in way over her head.  These two most powerful men... only one of them is trustworthy and she can't figure out which one it is.

There are a LOT of details to keep straight in this one, hints and foreshadowings of the story that you try to remember as you read and figure out who's telling the truth. 

I think I'll be reading this one again just before the next one comes out...


If you would like to read the first chapter of Born of Persuasion, go HERE.

Born in the wrong century – except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines – Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides in the greater Nashville area – where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: And They're Off

My children are all pretty independent... the girls are no different!  Heading off to the playground all by themselves (with Aunt Linda following!).

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Movies with Daddy

So Brian was watching Despicable Me the other day... and the girls were loving having him stationary for so long!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My First 1st Grader

We ordered Cory a special backpack and I almost wasn't sure it would get here in time... but it came on Friday and we were on the way somewhere... someone couldn't wait until we got home!

And then he had to show everyone!

This morning he was afraid he was going to miss the bus with 20 minutes left until the bus came... I don't think I've ever seen him eat his breakfast so fast!

My first day of school monkey!

He walked off to the bus stop all by himself... and we can spy on him from our front window (with my telephoto lens).  I think he's ready!