Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

From our family to yours, may you have a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Decorating!

This is what happens when 2, almost 3 year olds have never really been exposed to Christmas decorations (we were traveling the last two years).  They think that stockings are really socks... and yes, at one point Joy had one on each foot!

Noah has been the most into decorating this year.

Here he's giving the sisters tips on how to hang ornaments.

Hope is pointing out the Curious George ornament.  They were having great fun naming all the ones they recognized.

Let me look a little closer...

Joy's turn to check it out.  They really didn't have much success hanging their own ornaments.  The finer points of hooks were lost on them still.

But it's fun to look!  Cory was moving so fast that I hardly got any pictures of him, but here you see him in the corner, possibly helping Hope hang hers.

We get a small tree so we have to choose which ornaments get hung, but it still represents lots of memories. 

After we decorated our tree we went to my parents the next day where the boys made sure that every.single.ornament went on their tree.  It was quite impressive when done!
And now we are at Grandma and Grandpa's house and tonight we helped Grandma decorate her tree.  I think the novelty has worn off for most of them, but Noah persevered the longest.  He loves turning off all the regular lights just so he can see the Christmas lights.

We have done a lot of decorating this year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tea Collection Semi-Annual Sale Starts Now

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links. 

Update: take an extra 25% off sale prices now through Monday with code Take25. It's a great time to stock up for next year! 

It's the "best" time of the year... for purchasing clothes on sale!  Tea Collection has just started their semi-annual sale, clearing out merchandise from Germany at up to 50% off.

"This collection features bold colors, cool color-blocking, geometric prints and graphics of local sports, playful animals and the towering Alps."

There are some beautiful styles this year and now is the best time to stock up for next season!  Some stock is limited so make sure to check it out soon!

Be sure to take a peak at the limited edition Global line called Citizen Blue as well, there are some timeless classics available right now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kid Quotes

Noah has had a couple of good quotes as well as the sisters so I'm including them all.

When Hope sneezes she says "Bless Me"

Noah got a piece of pineapple down his sleeve while eating pizza the other night.  When Brian asked how it got in there he said "a catapult".  Which devolved into a bunch of random ways it got in there.

Noah playing a video game and doing well, Brian says, "You're cleaning up!" and Noah goes, "I'm cleaning the bathroom!"

The girls sing a great mix of songs, "The ants go marching down to the ground, to get out of the rainbow, boom boom boom" and "The ants go marching, won't you ride along with me?" (Mr. Rogers)

When we wash our hair we use "condition-on-er"

If you are wearing a skirt or dress that makes you a princess, because you can twirl.  If not, you are not a princess according to Joy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Uncles are Awesome

This was from a week ago, "birthday dinner" at my parents' house.  Uncle Kevin reading to Hope.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving Weekend

These are the crazies that Grandma got to put up with all weekend! 

Grandma and Grandpa were coming for a week for Thanksgiving, but on their arrival here in town Tuesday night they went straight to the hospital because Grandpa had a heart attack on the drive over.  (We won't talk about the crazy couple of hours we had playing phone tag and trying to figure out exactly where they were!)

So Grandpa missed Thanksgiving, spending 2+ days in the hospital and then was pretty tired.  The kids all understood that he was "sick", but they sure were sad to miss playing with him.

Grandma spent more time at our house playing and doing things with them, but it sure wasn't the Thanksgiving weekend we were expecting!  This is the only photo I really have from the weekend with them all together and I have none of Grandpa.

We are thankful that he is okay for the most part though!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A New Christmas Tradition: Hog Hollow Farm

We had a rather eventful Thanksgiving, fodder for another post, but Saturday is our traditional day to get our Christmas tree.  This year we opted not to trek out into the woods on our own in hopes of finding the right size tree, but instead visit a farm run by my friend Molly's family, where ALL the trees are potentially the right size!

Hog Hollow Farm isn't too far out of town and they provide the complete experience!

Park just off the pavement and ride up to the farm in your own tractor-pulled hay wagon.  Music provided by Nana's new lyrics to Jingle Bells.

It also got really cold this weekend so we wore ALL our layers.

Once at the farm there are plenty of options besides just cutting a tree.  Try out your face as an ornament (or three), roast your own marshmallows (free!) or hotdogs ($) over the fire, and finally, just find that tree already!

We aren't too picky, just need one that will fit on a table top!  The boys had a go at sawing together with sister, Hope, supervising. 

A little help was required by Daddy, but finally, "timber"!

My tree warriors!
They even hauled it back to the trailer themselves! 

Now off to explore and help Nana find just that "perfect" tree for her house.

Once you are thoroughly chilled, head inside to pay for your tree, have some complimentary hot chocolate with a candy cane stir stick and check out all the fun knitted creations for sale!  Crowns by my friend Molly, hats by my other friend Melanie, and lots of other cute Christmas decorations.

Did I mention we are small town?  This is my friend Molly.  We ran into some other friends while we were there as well!

Micah took the group photo as we prepared to ride back down to our cars.

A very successful tree hunt, a fun new experience, and quite a bit simpler than what we've done in the past!  Besides the cold (did I mention it was cold?) we even got fresh snow on our way there!

Hog Hollow Farm graciously provided us with a free tree, but we were going anyway.  And I think the pictures speak for themselves!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book: I Have Seen God

Klaus-Dieter and Martina John---both brilliant, talented, and highly qualified doctors---turned their backs on lucrative careers to follow their dream to open a first-rate medical facility for the Indians of the Peruvian Andes, some of the world's poorest people. The Peruvian Andes natives suffer appallingly from the diseases of poverty and, although they make up approximately 40 percent of Peru's population, are ignored by the authorities.

Having studied at the universities of Harvard, Yale, and Johannesburg during his training as a surgeon, Dr. Klaus-Dieter John together with his wife, Dr. Martina John, a pediatrician, developed a concept for a modern hospital in the Peruvian Highlands.

Turning down other offers, including a professorship, they set themselves the task of raising the millions of dollars needed. God opened the hearts and consciences of individuals and companies to create not just a health center, but a fully equipped hospital. Their story and vision has captured attention around the world and today they have the backing of 180 corporations and 50,000 private supporters.

The hospital's name, Diospi Suyana, means "we trust in God" in Quechua, the native language of the people it serves. It is a testament to their experience that with God the impossible can happen. The incredible conviction and profound faith of the Johns will refresh your heart and stir your spirit.


I haven't quite finished this book, but only for lack of time, not interest!  Dr. John tells this story so matter of factly (and quite Germanly) that sometimes you have to stop for a minute and just think about what he's written and how amazing it is.  What most people would write for pages about he sums up in simple sentences, "Without God, this would have been impossible."

It's an awesome story of "coincidences" that worked together to bring relief to the native people of Peru, descendents of the Incas.  At times the story runs so fast you have trouble keeping up with the timeline, and it skips a bit here and there, but overall it's quite an easy read and you get the big picture of just how much was accomplished in a short period of time.  Especially considering the remoteness of this major project.

I highly recommend this!


Read other reviews and purchase your own copy here!

Klaus-Dieter John studied at the universities of Harvard, Yale, and Johannesburg during his training as a surgeon. He and his wife Dr. Martina John, a pediatrician, have dedicated their lives to the establishment of the hospital in Peru.

You can find more information at the Diospi Suyana website.

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Book: Swept Away

Swept Away

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.


Hey look, the holidays are fast approaching and I've had time to read part of one book this whole month.  I'm hoping this one will be a fun read for road tripping over the break in December.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Swept Away, go HERE.

Award winning author Laura V. Hilton has penned many novels, including the Amish of Seymour series, the Amish of Webster County series, and the forthcoming Amish of Jamesport series. A member of ACFW, Laura is also a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites. A pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mom, and home school teacher, Laura and her family make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

A lifelong reader, Cindy Loven is an active church wife of a minister and mother to one son who is a home school graduate. Cindy and her family reside in Conway, Arkansas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

I'm not sure I can remember the last time we got snow like this around here, wet enough to build a really big snowman!  Or course that means it was all melted by the next day, but it sure made me remember my childhood!

Noah making a snow angel

Hope eating snow

Noah eating snow

Joy eating snow, my children's favorite past time!

Daddy helped the kids make the snowman and it was so heavy they had a hard time getting the middle part up.

Twins eating more snow

Cory thought the bottom of the snowman was a good place to sit...

Hope learning to make a snow angel!

This girl wanted to eat ALL the snow, but after they'd been traipsing around in it for awhile I convinced her to only eat it off the tree branches because the stuff on the ground was getting kind of nasty.

Joy then had to try it off the tree...

Oh, but Hope found another untouched patch of snow on the ground

This is a cold face

Joy and the finished snowman.  The rock on top is a "laser" courtesy of Cory.

The Hope tongue getting snow

Oh, so this is where they learned it!

Daddy helping Joy learn the tricks of the trade!

Seeing as how last year the girls got to use their snow suits all of twice, it's promising that they've already used them once this year!  Here's hoping for lots more fun play time!

Friday, November 14, 2014


The first thing that pops into my head when I see the Five Minute Friday word is usually a song, or sometimes a verse.  Today it's both.  One of my all time favorite albums is Steven Curtis Chapman's Speechless and this song on it titled Be Still and Know.  Please give it a listen and if you can't, the lyrics are at the bottom.

I keep trying to write a post.  In my head I've titled it November Blues, but I can't even seem to find the time for that!

We've all been sick for the last two weeks with days off school and middle of the night visits out to see the moon and stars in the cold air so little lungs can breathe easier.  This week everyone seems to be on the mend except me.  The sinus pressure is giving me a headache and everything kind of seemed to implode yesterday.

We woke up to wet carpet in the hallway and discovered our water heater leaking, the inlet and outlet pipes all corroded by our hard water.  I also couldn't breath deeply in certain positions so I took myself off to the chiropractor to find out that I had a rib out of place, a by product of lifting toddlers all day apparently.

Thankfully by evening we had managed to fix the plumbing and I could more or less breathe again.  But I got to trade places with my husband and take the boys to Awana for the evening.  I screwed up a few things, but at least I remembered enough from years ago to be a little bit of a help I hope!  I even got to play dodgeball. *grin*

Unfortunately while Brian was fixing the plumbing he forgot that he was supposed to be giving the lesson to the 3rd and 4th graders.  My old friend Jeff, the director, took pity on me and didn't make me stand in, but did it himself last minute.

There's a reason we all are middle school teachers, but you know, things that are said to 3rd and 4th graders apply to adults too.  He asked the kids if they were ever anxious about anything and after that veered off severely into the territory of "I almost died when" with every story he finally brought it back to things that we can't control in our every day lives, like tests, and having to do lessons impromptu, and maybe even hot water heaters that leak.

What is the source of our anxiety? Well, thinking that we actually controlled these things to begin with.  Who really controls everything? God, of course. And the cure for our anxiety is letting go of the control (that we really don't have anyway) and trusting that HE knows what he's doing.

Which finally brings me back around to my favorite song.  Be still and know that He is God.  And be calmed, rested, and at peace!

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still Oh restless heart of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is God
Be still
Be speechless

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is our Father
Come and rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for his little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

Five minute Friday is now hosted over at Kate's place. As always please join in or leave a comment!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Book: Keepers of the Covenant

 Keepers of the Covenant, Book Two in the Restoration Chronicles

The Old Testament Comes to Thrilling Life in the Latest from Lynn Austin

In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king’s palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.

When the battles come to an end, Ezra’s brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude’s widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple–but the fight to keep God’s Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges…this one for the survival of God’s covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.


As mentioned above this is the second in a series, but I think it could easily stand alone because it takes place 80 years after the first.

This is the story of Ezra, which I didn't realize essentially happens at the same time as the story of Esther.  Readers familiar with their Bible will recognize the events from the story of Esther, but it was fascinating to me to think about what it would have been like for the ordinary Jews during that time.  We all hear of Esther's bravery, but the common people were sentenced to death.  I'm sure their responses would have ranged from despair to fervent prayer to rejection of God as shown through the characters in this story.

I've read quite a few of Lynn Austin's books now and while they are very good, I have to be in a certain mood to read them because they are not usually a light read.  She does her research very well and other than one small thing at the beginning of this story (which I can't remember now) and the reference to their traveling in miles (which I know didn't exist back then, but also is a point of reference for current readers) the story really placed me in the time. 

Historical Biblical fiction can be tricky, but when done right, as I feel she does, it really helps me to place myself in the times.  They didn't know the future as we know how the story ends.  They had to live through it and it required more faith than I could possibly imagine right now.

Can't wait for the third one!


Read other reviews or purchase you own copy here.

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.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Playing in Jammies

Someone snuck into her brother's room and was enjoying playing with the "real" Legos!

Sisters love to read books, in bed, together.  This was legit, but I will often find them like this after lights out time when I hear the light flip on in their room.

Please vote for our above photo in the November Tea Collection contest!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Halloween!

I won't show you the giant mess I made carving my pumpkin with a power drill... but it didn't even turn out the way I'd hoped!  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book: Quilted by Christmas

Quilted by Christmas

Taryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?


I am so crazy busy this month that I haven't had time to read this one yet.  I'm loving all the books centered around quilts though!


If you would like to read the first chapter of Quilted by Christmas, go HERE.

A note from the Jodie Bailey: Well, I’m a regular ol’ person. Who just happens to write. A lot. Probably more than I should. I firmly believe that God created me to be a writer. From the time I learned how to string letters together into words I’ve been making up stories. Believe me… I have a very rich imagination. I used to think I was weird; now I know God just put me together that way. I can’t even watch commercials without expanding them into stories in my head. I am humbled and honored all at the same time that God looked down from heaven on me and said, “Jodie, do what you love.” Wow… how awesome is that?

I have always loved to write. I have stories that I wrote when I was in first grade. I used to sit at my grandmother’s yellow electric typewriter for hours, banging out my own little stories. When I was eleven, she bought me a typewriter of my own (It was 1984, okay?) and I would write and write on it. I wrote stories out by hand, and they ran to hundreds of pages. I got my first computer when I was eighteen, and the first thing I did was write a story on it. I wrote for school. I wrote for fun. I wrote for my friends. I’d get them on the phone and make up stories for them. (I earned the nickname “Dreamweaver” for that one. Nobody calls me that anymore, but it still stands as the coolest nickname I ever had.)