Friday, October 25, 2013


Driving in the car... "You're excellent, Mom.  You do excellent things."  Where does he come up with this stuff?

"I miss Great Grandpa.  I didn't get a chance to say good-bye."  Totally made me cry.

"So one time, we can take a fruit fly to Grandma and Grandpa's house and throw it in the pool and it will drown." (yeah, we had a fruit fly problem for awhile)

"I had a dream that Mickey Mouse was changing my diaper." (we still do diapers, but only at night - and we're working on that!)

"Mom, how did baby sisters get out of your tummy?" (oh dear!)

"I don't like to eat, but you have to eat or else you'll die."  Says the child who only seems to really like a few things anymore.

Whenever I try to tell him he's being silly he responds with "No, I'm true!" instead of I'm serious!  Cracks me up every time!
And when something is really silly he says it's "so all-arious" leaving off the "h" sound!

Bubble boy...

We got a new Lego fire chief car because he's had a dry diaper for a week straight (that was the "bribe" and it's going on close to a month now!) and it finally came today.  The age listed on the box was 5-12 and he's 3 1/2.  I'm happy to say that with a very few questions he put the whole thing together himself!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book: The Christmas Quilt

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem... but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Quilt, go HERE.

There is a whole series of "Quilt" books all written by different authors in totally different settings.  I've read 3 of them now, not including this one and I love the themes!

A Word From Vannetta Chapman:

I hold a BA and MA degree in English, and I am proud to be represented by Mary Sue Seymour, AAR. I have published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, and have received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. I am honored to be a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Faith Hope and Love.

I live and teach in the Texas hill country with my husband, cats, and a rather large herd of deer. Our four children have flown the nest; however, we are fortunate that they all live close enough to visit.

I have always felt that my faith was at the very center of who and what I am, and I am thrilled beyond words to be able to now write about something that is so near to my heart. At various times I have served as a pianist, teacher, church secretary, and worship team member. While living in the Dallas area, I served as an adjunct professor of English Literature at Dallas Baptist University. When we moved to a small town in Central Texas, I continued teaching for a few years, but I now write full-time and I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band.

My grandfather was born in Albion, Pennsylvania, and I am currently researching whether I might have Amish roots.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Aunts for the Weekend!

Two of Brian's aunts drove up from Oregon to visit us this weekend.  It's never long enough of course, but we were happy to have them!

They got in late late Friday night and the kids were so excited to see them Saturday morning!

Reading time with Aunt Cris

Which devolved into I'm not sure what...

And then we went to our farmer's market to pick out pumpkins from our friendly pumpkin guy!  We've gotten them from him the last few years.  Always a good deal!  (we'll visit the patch later just for fun)

Aunt Priscilla models the lovely pumpkin she's taking home for decoration!

And you can't have a family gathering without a family photo for proof...

The crazier the better!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book: Return to Me (with giveaway!)

After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true---King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem. Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God's renewed favor. For too long they've remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo's sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart. And so only a few choose to leave everything to return---return to their home and their God.

Nothing about their journey to the Promised Land is easy. As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo's beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God's leading. Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the family they left behind. But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah---and history---forever.

Bringing the Old Testament to vibrant life, Return to Me tells the compelling story of two men living by faith in the midst of doubt, the women who love them, and the faithful remnant struggling to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.


This is about the third book I've read by Lynn Austin and I think I would say her style is "in depth".  She really does her research and gets the setting and time right.  It adds so much to the story and especially historical stories like this I love feeling like I have a better understanding of what life was/could have been like back then.

This is the story of some of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple after the first one was destroyed.  It's at the end of Daniel's life when the king of Babylon sees the hand writing on the wall and then his kingdom is overrun by the Medes and Persians.

The middle part of the story started to drag on a bit for me, but then it picks up again and I had a hard time putting it down for the last third!  Even with company coming.

I loved how she didn't show the characters as perfect, but that they all had mistakes and slowly over time were able to overcome their doubts and live their lives.  Definitely like this author!


Purchase your own copy and read other reviews here or enter my giveaway below!

Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.  I received the second one from the publisher by accident so I'm giving it away on my dime!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, October 18, 2013

Book: A Bride for Keeps

A Bride for Keeps

Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again--not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride for Keeps, go HERE.

A word from Melissa Jagears: I am a stay at home mother on a tiny little farm with a fixer-upper house. As much as I love writing and reading about homesteaders, I am so glad I’m a homesteader during an era with modern grocery stores to take up for my slack. I am an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher by trade, and I still work occasionally in that field along with being my church’s financial secretary and writing novels.

My husband and I have been married since 2001 and have a daughter and two little boys. My husband shares my fascination with traditional living except for being more hands on. He loves blacksmithing, knife smithing, traditional archery, hunting, etc. Generally whatever a mountain man does, he does it or has or wants to attempt it. He comes in handy for research! And of course, the rest of the family gets involved. I have my own blackpowder rifle, named Calvin, that my husband made for me. And I’m pretty sure my daughter is probably one of very few her age who can instruct adults how to shoot a longbow properly. The boy digs random holes in my yard to make “cement” with dirt and water making our yard a tripping hazard. The baby does what babies do.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do Ocean Shores

Last spring I won a getaway to Ocean Shores courtesy of some Washington tourist site.  Way cool!  It was supposed to be to photograph snowy owls in March, but that timing didn't work so we postponed it and finally went this weekend.

The photography part pretty much fell apart, but the weather was amazing for October and we had fun!  

"George" is a real alligator that used to weigh 900 pounds and was a nuisance... now he just pretends to eat all the tourists' heads!

We did let the girls out on the beach... it was a bit like herding cats.  And it didn't last long until one of them made a break for the water and the other one followed.  They didn't fall there... but there was this slimy green algae stuff out closer to the water that ended up all over their shoes, pants, and then the stroller.  Yummy...

So after a couple of face plants and lots of sand we went back to the hotel for baths and washing clothes in the sink! 

Then to lunch at a Mexican place and counting how many kids each homeschool family had... there was a homeschool convention in town and you just have to snicker at the stereotypes sometimes when they're all wearing matching button down shirts and skirts.  Oh, and Hope really likes salsa.  She required Daddy to dip her chips and then her Kix in the salsa!

After naps and waiting for the sunset(!) view from our room we went to this fun Irish Pub for dinner - included in my prize!  So pretty much it was an eat and sleep weekend...

This was our view, and there was even a sailboat that had washed up in the storm from a couple weeks ago.  You can see the mast in the surf left of center if you click on the photo.  Very weird to see that when we got there since we'd seen another washed up sailboat a few years ago.

And finally, when I walked into the lobby on Saturday afternoon to find out if they free wifi I thought I recognized the girl behind the desk... turns out it was someone I went to college with (10 years ago, eek!).  She wasn't even from that town, but had moved there a year or so ago after 10 years of teaching in China.  So it was super fun to catch up and hear her stories!

Then we stopped to see my lovely college roommate on our way home and poof, the weekend was over already.

Friday, October 11, 2013


The days go by, in their ordinary way, messes to pick up, diapers to change, babies to snuggle.  Sometimes each day feels like a million hours long and I can't wait until bedtime only to do it all over again the next day.

Then I look back and wonder how it's gotten to be almost Christmas again when last year's cruise doesn't seem that long ago.

It's why I blog and take pictures.  So I can go back and remember the moments in the middle of the blur.  The smiles and silly quotes and yes, even the messes.

These ordinary days are the stuff of life.  The knowing between the crazy adventures.  The faithfulness of living life in the extraordinary of the ordinary.

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in? If you don't have a blog or don't want to write there I'd love to have you write with me, even in the comments!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Girl in the Window

This is where I always find my Hope-ers if I go outside to do anything.  Standing in the windowsill with her nose pressed up against the glass!

Bonus bracelets, she's accessorizing already...

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Very Full Weekend

On our way home Sunday night Brian said, I think we've been away more than we've been home this weekend. Which is pretty accurate considering we didn't actually leave town!

Saturday we went out to the park for the Wings and Wheels.  Kinda disappointing that they didn't have Aviation Days up at the airport this year.  It was way better.  But, the boys got to feed the horse...

Noah's hiding behind Cory in this pic

and see some cool cars.

This was Noah's favorite because it was orange... I wasn't so much a fan of the skeleton faces painted into the flames, but it was a very tricked out truck.

The kids from the local junior high put on some children's activities and one of the prizes the boys came away with were plastic vampire teeth... good times!

And on our way out there were remote control car races going on.  You can see one car just right of center in this photo that's up in the air.  It was fun to watch them for a few minutes and the boys REALLY got into it!  We were right on the corner with the track just below the wall.  So much nicer than the "real" stock car races that are incredibly loud and you could never be that close.

This way when the cars wreck it's just funny as they go flipping end over end and one of the helpers runs out to set them on their way again.

Then Sunday we had our annual church work day so we got up much earlier than normal for us on a Sunday!  I was helping with yard work at a lady's home who is a missionary.  She doesn't really plan to live here in the near future so she's going to sell her home.

This is what it looked like when I showed up...

And this was just 3 hours later!  A couple of local contractors were also painting the house.  I have to go back and get real "after" pics this week.

Then we had lunch at church, went home and had naps(!) and went back after dinner for a Hoedown that another local church was putting on downtown!

We kinda missed the kids part and dancing there, but it was fun to see people that I haven't seen in awhile.  This lady, Sarah, was a nurse for me when Cory was born and the girls just loved her!

They wanted to dance, but Joy wanted to stand right in front of the speaker so that didn't last long.  I think she was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from!

The boys got to do the blow up obstacle course and requested that I take their photos.

It was almost dark by this point so I'm pretty impressed with how well my short lens took these photos!

Both of them had a little trouble getting over this first wall, but the rest of it was a breeze!

At the top of the giant slide at the end!

And then the girls were done because unfortunately there wasn't much for them to do and they didn't like being contained in the stroller.  I bought as much time for the boys to play as I could with animal crackers...

Some friends in the firelight, roasting marshmallows.

In all, we had a lot of fun, but hopefully we don't do anything that crazy again for awhile!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Book: Class Reunion Series

Book 1: Pretty is as Pretty Does

Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she’s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren’t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth—and she may be surprised at what she discovers.

Book 2: Bless Her Heart

As Priscilla Slater’s 15-year class reunion approaches, she decides to attend out of curiosity… and to flaunt her latest achievement—taking her business to a national level with the possibility of a TV show. As if getting ready for the event and putting up with the pranks of her former classmates isn’t enough, Priscilla’s hometown visit is further complicated by her parents’ separation. With the once-solid sanctuary of her home broken at the foundation, there’s only one thing Priscilla’s parents can agree on: no matter what sort of accolades their daughter receives as a hair stylist, she’s not living up to her potential. Eager to escape the painful reality of her childhood home, Priscilla bolts as soon as a call from New York brings good news: her offer to purchase one of the best salons in the country is likely to come through. But returning to New York means returning to Tim, Priscilla’s best friend and business pal who has been impatiently suggesting their relationship should be more than a friendship. Despite her recent achievements, will Priscilla learn that success doesn’t always result in popularity—or love?

Book 3: Tickled Pink

Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Pretty is as Pretty Does (bk 1), go HERE
JOIN THE PARTY! Now that all three books have released, let’s party! (Yes, really!) Join our online class reunion the week of October 7, 2013 on Debby Mayne’s Facebook Page: Stop by to answer questions about the books, respond to fun polls, join in fun activities to help you reminisce your high school days, and win great prizes. Tell your friends and meet us there!

Debby Mayne is a best-selling author who has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, and devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor, and a copy editor and proofreader. Her novel, Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Review, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July. She and her husband Wally have two grown daughters, and live in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Noah in a Tree

When Noah goes outside and then it gets quiet I often find him sitting in this "tree" in our front yard.  It's his little perch!  He sometimes climbs one of our walnut trees in the back as well, but I usually have to "rescue" him from that one.  It's easier to get up than down!