Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Giveaway

Kim over at In A Shoe (note their new home!) is having a huge Vision Forum giveaway. There are several items that have peaked my interested in their new catalog:
  • My 1st Horse Stable & 4 additional horses (my girls would LOVE this!)
  • Teach Them to Your Children (ABC Bible Verses)
  • Story of Our National Anthem (the history major in me wants this)
  • Backyard Ballistics (for my husband, of course!)
  • Elsie Dinsmore books (I really want to check these out for my neice who's almost 10)

To join up in this huge giveaway, head over to Kim's for the details!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 10.29

Monday: taco salad
Tuesday: honey chicken in the crockpot (thanks to Kristen of Once Upon a Time)
Wednesday: quesadilla/sandwiches (something easy)
Thursday: breakfast (eggs and toast, fruit)
Friday: pizza, carrot sticks
Saturday: potpie
Sunday: potato soup

I'm noticing a few routines that are popping into my menu planning and it's making thing so much easier. I'm not getting to try as many new recipes, but it's definitely helping with the busy-ness of life and the budget for this season. Trends I'm seeing:
  • Friday has always been pizza night - that's easy on my tired end-o-the-week brain!
  • Thurday has now become breakfast night - lately I've been doing different egg varieties (western omelets on the weeks that I have bell peppers or other veggies that need eating; scrambled or egg sandwiches other weeks) but I need to throw in a pancake night soon for my girls. : )
  • I use my crockpot every Tuesday ... we (barring sick children or other appointments) eat lunch with my Mom and sister on Tuesdays. After lunch out with the three girls, all of whom need a resttime when I get back home, I am not in the mood to start dinner. What a treat to have it almost done in the CP with only a side or two needing to be made!

Anyway, just a few random observations I caught when typing up this week's menu. : ) Head over to the NEW Org Junkie to see more Menu Planning inspiration!

Fall Y'all ~ The Bloggy Giveaway is Happening!


Welcome and happy Monday!

If you are new to my blog (here via the Bloggy Giveaway hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer), welcome. : ) I'm Stephanie, stay-at-home-mama of three girls, child of King ... oh, and I like to make things! : ) In what little spare time I have, I enjoy creating invitations, notepads, notecards, and scrapbook. I love me some paper and pens.

So, without further ado, the goodies. : )

Up for grabs is a personalized notepad for you and your family. You can see a sample here:

Sample Family1 Sample Family2

It is 8.5 x 5.5 and can be lined or unlined (50 sheets per pad). I'll personalize it with your family name at the top ... the bottom will have your husband, you, and then children. (If you are single and win this post, we'll talk and can fix you up as well). : ) I love making these for friends ... they work well for thank you notes or notes to your child's teacher at school. You can see some more samples of these (and other projects I've done) at my Punkin' Press website if you are interested.

So, let the giveaway begin! (See Shannon's post here for all the official rules and what not and PLEASE leave me a valid email address so I can contact the winner. Duplicate comments and those without emails will not be entered into the drawing).

Thanks for stopping by!

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Recent Creativity

I've done a few projects lately ... actually found the top of my desk so I could scrap a bit and am now itching to do more. : )

{ Painted Frames }

Christmas Project

Noelle is making these for the Sunday School teachers this year for Christmas. A plain wooden frame from Joann's/Michael's, covered with paint (nothing fancy, just the stuff in the 50 cent bottle), and a ribbon. I'm not too happy with my first attempt here at my ribbon, but it's a start. : ) Note: We won't be giving the frame with a copy of our 2004 Christmas picture in it ... I just put that in there for show. Look how little Noelle looks!

A Noelle Creation

This one was her own creation other than the base idea which came from this site.

{ A Real Scrapbook Layout }

Actual Scrapping

Actual Scrapping

All I can say is if you are a scrapper and you do not have a copy of THIS BOOK, you need to buy it or make sure it is on your Christmas list this year! (Note: I love Creating Keepsakes magazine and you can buy this from their website, you can get it about $10 cheaper from Amazon.com). Becky (Higgins) herself has done all the pages in this book and the layouts are arranged by the number of pictures that you want to highlight. Love that. This layout was inspired by one that she did in the book summarizing several activities on a 2-page spread. While I had some great pictures (and memories) from several showers I went to and hosted this summer, there weren't enough to justify their own page. I combined them all on this layout and loved the result.

{ Mini Album }

Girlfriends' MiniBook

Another inspired project ... last month I went away for a girls' weekend in Gatlinburg and took these little mini albums along. I was a little fearful that the other girls would think I was a total nerd for making them do this project, but thankfully they all loved it. These mini books were based from a project in Stacy Julian's The Big Picture book.

Girlfriends' MiniBook - Cover

I made them out of two strips of white cardstock (12 inches x 4 inches), glued together and folded in an accordion style. The "front side" was used to write little encouraging notes to one another:

Girlfriends' MiniBook - the front side

And the back was used for photos of everyone:

Girlfriends' MiniBook - the back

I had one empty square left on the front side (because one of our girls couldn't come on the trip) and I used that for a cropped picture of our group shot. This is a neat little memento, not just of the trip, but of the friendships I have with my Girls' Night Out group. We've been getting together every other month for about 12 years now ... we started right after the first in our group got married and before anyone had kids. My, things have changed. : )

Okay, my apologies for the heavy picture post! Have a wonderful Saturday and hopefully you are enjoying cooler fall weather like we are. We are going to attempt a family picture today for our Christmas cards and an extended family portrait with my side of the family!

Friday Felicities - 10.26

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Things that make you happy. From the mind of Nattie Rose.

~ home-all-day days
~ homemade refried beans
~ dinner plans for tomorrow night - my every-other-month girls' night out dinner but with spouses!
~ footie pajamas
~ peppermint candles

For more Felicities, visit our host Becky!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back and Forth

but I've finally decided.

I'll be participating on Monday.

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Check back on Monday to see what's up for grabs!

Thanks, Shannon, for hosting! : )

The Vase of Many Colors - A Blog Book Tour

I am super excited about this book! I've been a huge Thoene fan because of their indepth novels throughout different historical periods (my favorites are the Zion Covenant Series and the Zion Chronicles Series). Their daughter has written her first book, geared at 9-12 year olds, but written for all. I'm looking forward to passing this along to my neice to check out when I'm done with it. : )

In the very small house, on the very grand hill, in the very small town author Rachel Thoene – daughter of veteran bestsellers Bodie and Brock Thoene - masterfully explores the captivating notions of forgiveness and grace in The Vase of Many Colors. This beautifully written and colorfully illustrated family tale peeks into the world of the very bouncy girl and her old, crooked grandmother. A world where rainbows appear on the walls and simple flower-gathering is a nightly ritual.

And where broken things are mended with the gentle breath of love to become a masterpiece for all generations to enjoy.In a world where broken things are tossed aside with ease, Rachel Thoene’s story is a captivating reminder of the power of forgiveness and grace to mend life’s cracks and create a Vase of Many Colors in you.

About Rachel Thoene
Rachel knows what it’s like to pick up broken pieces. As a site administrator at two alternative schools for at-risk students in an urban school district in Sacramento, California, she helps students put the pieces of their broken lives back together and discover success where there was only self doubt. As a mother, she finds new beauty in the hearts of her two children, Ian and Jessie. “Every person we come into contact with has the potential to be a beautiful and valuable work of art,” Rachel says. The inspiration for the story began as an email to a friend who was struggling with how to relate to her teenage son. When the story further developed, Rachel realized that the underlying message appealed to the experiences of adults and children alike.

1) One of the major themes of Vase of Many Colors is restoration. Can you tell us a little bit about what restoration means to you and how restoration is different than just forgiveness.
Restoration suggests that things are being repaired and made new again. When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do with my mom and my Nana (Mom’s Mom) was to go visit antique stores. While they frequently searched for the exquisite and the rare and the beautiful, I always felt that some of our greatest treasures were the old chairs … the ones with the woven cane seats. They were old, dusty, tired and broken down, but when we would come across chairs like that, if they suited our needs, Mom would get them to an antique restorer who would tirelessly restore or repair the caning in the seat of these old chairs… it always amazed me how the new canes could make that old tired chair new enough and strong enough to hold our weight.. even though the rest of the structure was 100 – 150 years old… but the structural integrity of that chair was restored to a point where it could support a grown man’s weight. Same goes for stained glass windows… bits and pieces of colored glass would be cut to size to repair some of the stained glass windows we bought from those same antique dealers… it became an act of everything old becomes new again… plain old forgiveness can be too easy… simply brushing off a wrong, without really acknowledging that it caused broken-ness. But restoration is work…an art and takes delicate craftsmanship… if you restore someone or something, you are investing time and energy into righting the wrong.

2) Sometimes forgiving yourself can be the hardest part of all. How can you learn to forgive yourself when everyone else has already?
Humans have a tendency to continue the mental flogging don’t they? I have a terribly guilty conscience… and will lay awake at night mulling over and re-hashing scenarios until I have horrible headaches and my stomach and shoulders are in knots. And why? What does that accomplish? Sometimes I have to go back to folks I’ve wronged a couple of times and explain, “Hey, I’m still feeling this way about what I said or what I did… and I just want you to know that I’m having trouble forgiving myself.” My current boss and I have that kind of relationship and we just talk until we’re all talked out. He calls it “un-stuffing” and it has really helped me come to forgiveness of myself a lot quicker. Maybe the idea is to be thorough in your discussion of forgiveness and not so quick to dismiss the wrong. Folks don’t enjoy reliving painful experiences, but sometimes you have to cut away the infection to get to healthy tissue again. Then you’re truly clean and ready to start fresh.

3) Your parents are legends in Christian fiction. How has your upbringing affected your writing style?
WHOA! Yup. They sure are legends alright! And the funny thing is that I never saw myself as a writer… I expressed myself privately in poems and prose and could write really long letters and emails to friends… and when it came to technical writing and research I could really shine. But I sure never saw myself as a writer of their caliber. And certainly not of that level of self discipline. I grew up appreciating the art form and yet never wanting anything to do with it. It was TOO MUCH WORK! So I’m not sure I even have a style per se… I enjoy words… LOVE a good dictionary and my goal is to someday own an O.E.D. but when I write these days, it is to communicate a point or illustrate a message without putting people on the defensive. That’s a huge part of my job as a school administrator… communicate effectively without causing emotional trauma.

4) What was your inspiration for Vase of Many Colors?
Whew boy. My inspiration was my friend, Val and her relationship and the trials she was having as a mother with one of her sons at the time. But the story really became one of those divinely inspired sorts of messages… it just sort of fell out of me in an email to her… a sort of allegory or parable if you will, about how as mothers, even when our kids make dumb mistakes and bad choices, we can still pick up the pieces and help them put themselves back together again. Of course as I sat back and spent some time with the story, quite a few different messages sort of jumped out at me. And that continues to happen as I review it in relation to different audiences and different life scenarios.

5) Who is the target audience for Vase of Many Colors? Adults or Children?
Oh! Why limit it to just those two groups? I think the target audience is whomever has relationships with other human beings… some of my teachers have used it in their classes with their high school aged students and also with their own grandchildren. I have shared the story with school children and adults in difficult situations. It doesn’t really matter who you are or how old, if you deal with other human beings, you need to read this story. My boss has used it with staff members. I have shared it with some of my students who are teen age mothers and grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren…. The target audience is humans.

6) How can adults and children both benefit from reading Vase of Many Colors?
I think the story speaks to the fact that ALL of us have made, currently make and will continue to make mistakes. We will experience heartaches but WOW! The good news is that we can be forgiven, we can be healed, and we can be whole again. And it even applies to really deep hurts, like death of a loved one or a serious illness, loss of a job or other traumatic spiritual and emotional experiences… we’ll be all busted up to pieces but you know what? God can put us back together again. And when He does, we find ourselves staring into the old dark, musty closets of our past and wondering how in all heaven and earth He is going to take all that garbage and make anything good of it…. But He always does. And we never look the same but we’re new and improved… we might have a couple of emotional limps or scars left over but you ask any cancer patient who has beaten the disease and they will tell you that the scars serve as reminders of the battle and their courage to win and also as their reminder of their humanity. Those reminders cause us to be compassionate toward others who are experiencing the same or similar issues.

7) What book has most influenced you personally?
Oh boy. Am I being graded on this? Next question… do I have to have only one? I don’t think I can narrow it but if I had to I would say that the most currently influential book I have read is called “The Penny: A Novel” by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford. Do you want me to do a full book report? It’s just one of those books that soothes your heart and your brain… like Chapstick after a really bad cold.

8) What book are you reading now?
I’m reading about six books right now but the most powerful book I’m reading right now is called “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. It’s a business leadership type book but has direct application in what I’m doing right now as a school site leader.

9) What do you want readers to know most about you?
Hmmmm…. I think I’d rather have them understand the importance of what I do as an educator for underprivileged and at-risk children. And then put my job into perspective with what folks do at home with their own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. We all share a responsibility to help shape and mold the young people’s lives and a good, solidly structured home, consistent behavioral boundaries and expectations for our children really do make a difference when they start the journey into young adulthood. But don’t be over-protective of your kids either. Let them make their mistakes in a safe environment, because the world at large can be a REALLY unforgiving place and sometimes, if we make mistakes out there, they can prove to be fatal… I want readers to HELP ME help my students…. And my teachers… help us continue to make a difference in the lives of our students and the communities we work in.

10) In a society where many things are considered “disposable”, how does restoration figure into the mix?
MAN! So I work in the Educational Options Division of a school district in urban Sacramento California and we have, in our division, for many years said, “We are known as throw away students, throw away teachers and throw away administrators.” Meaning all of us, from the students through the administrators have at some point been considered throw aways… less than… not good enough for “regular education.” All of us, in one way or another, in our previous schools and/or jobs, didn’t fit the mold of what good students, teachers and administrators were supposed to look like so we were dismissed and “sent” to continuation schools where we would either be re-habilitated or just wait out the life of our professional careers. Well we have started a trend in our district, courtesy of Dr. Larry Buchanan, ret’d and Dr. Patricia Newsome, Acting Superintendent, of really building up the Educational Options Schools. So we are shifting attitudes and acknowledging our mistakes but moving ourselves toward a better, healthier future. It’s really a shift in attitudes that will change society… consider the “Green Movement” currently afoot in America… we change out our old incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy efficient fluorescent bulbs. We recycle everything from aluminum to plastic to motor oil. We see people trading SUV’s for hybrid vehicles and taking their own bags to the grocery store. We compost our garden and yard scraps. And yet I have two schools and am associated with two more which house over 1400 students who are considered to be “throw aways.” I have a CalSafe program on my campus which is a daycare center for teen parents… I have 18 babies and toddlers enrolled in that program right now and more on the way. Down the street from my campus, I know a woman who lives under a bridge because the older man she was taking care of passed away so the family fired her and she started drinking and can’t seem to hold a job. I have students enrolled in my school who have no place to call home but the back of an abandoned car or a filthy motel room, and I have a significant portion of my students who are enslaved to the Foster care system….

I could fill a semi-truck with the number of toothbrushes, pairs of socks and coats we’ve handed out over the years I’ve been here. Society has deemed that some of its own members are “disposable”. So how does “restoration” figure into the mix? It doesn’t figure into the mix… it IS the mix. We need to start cleaning up the souls we’ve thrown away and disregarded and judged and sentenced right here in our own neighborhoods. I’m afraid it’s a bit of a hot topic for me because there are some who start talking about “THOSE KIDS …. THOSE PEOPLE…” and they sort of get on their high horses and peering out through their glass houses and pointing fingers at all the systems, the government, the educational system, the welfare system and such… But THOSE KIDS aren’t THOSE Kids… They’re OUR kids…

If you want to clean something up, start with your own sock drawer. Then move to your t-shirt drawer and then your closet and your garage…. Restoration starts at home. And our churches, communities and schools are an extension of our homes. I’ve got to quit because I’ll get all riled up. I guess I’m kind of passionate about the issue.

Restoration is another word for healing… so let’s heal our families and our communities first before we start trying to tell other folks how to fix the rest of the world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Answering Questions

I've had several questions float through the comments lately so since I can't get my thoughts gathered enough to post anything substantial, here goes:

{ Potato Soup }

Becky asked me about a potato soup recipe. I've used my Mom's for years and used to have intermittant success with it. But I think I've finally figured it out and it is super easy, cheap and yummy. (My problem was getting the broth/sauce to thicken just so.)

Cook 3 large potatoes, diced until tender.
Melt 2 T. butter in sauce pan over low heat.
Blend in 2 T. all purpose flour, 1/2 t. salt and dash white pepper.
Add 3 c. milk all at once. If you are low on milk, you can stretch what milk you have by mixing it with the water that came off of cooking the potatoes. I've done that when I've made a double batch of soup so that I am not using six cups of milk at a time!)
Cook quickly stirring constantly, till mixture thickens and bubbles - wooden spoon is handy. Here's where I figured out the trick to getting perfect sauce every time ... I stir with a whisk along the bottom of the pan until I am sure that the flour has dissolved into the milk.
Remove sauce from heat when it bubbles. If sauce cooks too long, it becomes to thick and the butter separates out. To repair - add more milk and cook quickly, stirring constantly, till sauce bubbles.
Add potatoes to sauce and heat through. Season.

{ The Early Bird }

Several of you commented on how early I was up this morning! : ) I've been trying to be diligent about getting up and honestly and truly, it's God who put the desire in me! I wouldn't have said I am a morning person, but I now crave that time and look forward to it. Let it be known ... I didn't just roll over one morning and start getting up at 5:30. I think I start around 6:30 and then moved it back. It also helped because Elizabeth would get up to nurse anytime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. (no set time, of course!) and I would just stay up after feeding her.

I now try and get up around 5:30 a.m. ... that's when the coffee maker is set for, anyway. If I get up them, I can usually get at least an hour and a half before the girls get up, although about half the time, Elizabeth is kicking on the floor beside me while I work on my Bible study. I've just had to be realistic about getting stuff done in the evening. By the time the girls get to bed, I'm too pooped to pull out my Bible study and then it just doesn't get done.

{ Our Sam Dog - The Conclusion }

Several of you have asked me about our dog, Sam, and whatever happened to him. After housing him for two days, we (meaning Travis) ended up taking Sam to the pound. Noelle (4) was not understanding why Sam left, then came home, then was leaving again and it seemed the easiest thing to do for her sake. (Not necessarily for me!) : ( My husband actually took him while I was at Bible study and I didn’t know until I got home.

Just for the concerned, we had called the pound/animal control at the beginning of our decision to try and find the dogs new homes. The county's shelter has a policy of putting dogs to sleep only as a last resort. They are REALLY committed to finding dogs a new home and generally only put them down if they show signs of agression. The fact that our Sam was such a great dog pretty much guaranteed him a home and good care there until someone wanted him, for which we were very thankful.

Two days after Travis dropped him off, we got a call from the pound and someone was adopting Sam! And it was a family with three kids (like us) and the Dad had done all this research into huskies and was very prepared (meaning he knows that Sam is going to run if he gets the chance – not maliciously, just his nature). I got to talk to the new owner on the phone for a few minutes because he had some questions about Sam and he sounded like a great guy, and we’ve actually talked a few times since then because we’re trying to track down a duplicate set of Sam’s registration papers for him. (The girl had taken Sam’s papers and I’m sure they ended up with the dog cage … which we didn’t get back.) From all reports we have gotten so far, Sam is doing great in his new home and they love having him.

All that to say, I’m so glad the whole dog saga has ended. And, truthfully, I am very much enjoying life without dogs right now. Granted I have to sweep up a lot of food off the floor … I had no idea my kids were such messy eaters! : ) We still talk about our dogs and miss them, but has been confirmed over and over that it was the right decision for now.

{ In Conclusion }

Off to help Noelle with a little craft project she's working on. She's still running fever and if she's still running some tomorrow (day 3), we'll go in and get it checked out. I'm taking advantage of the extra snuggling my busy girl is letting me sneak in. : )

5:36 a.m.

  • Waiting on coffee
  • Not quite awake yet
  • Thought I would get a chance to write some yesterday
  • Ended up with oldest running a fairly high fever yesterday
  • Thank you to cousin Bubby for the germs : )
  • Off to do some Bible study before munchkins awake!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - 10.22

Monday: southwestern chicken (crockpot), salad
Tuesday: Mexican soup/chili, tortilla chips
Wednesday: quesadillas/easy dinner (Awana night)
Thursday: breakfast dinner, egg sandwiches this week I think, fruit
Friday: pizza, carrot sticks
Saturday: date night (!)
Sunday: potato soup, biscuits

I'm seeing the themes of Mexican food and quick-and-easy this week in my menu planning ... probably because last week was nuts around here as you can tell from the lack of any posting! In the meantime, head over to Org Junkie's for more menu inspiration!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Photo Day

Here's a few catch-up photos of the girls ... we recently took 4 year old pictures, 18 mo. pictures, and three month pictures, but are just now getting a peek at them! Here is a favorite one of each of the girls (with a bonus of the baby because it just cracks me up). More are in my Flickr (friends and family only, let me know if you want to be added) for the interested. : )

Noelle's 4 Year Old Pictures

Natalie 18 (really 20 mo.) Pictures

Elizabeth 3 mo. Pictures

Elizabeth 3 mo. Pictures

Love these girls

Monday, October 15, 2007

Menu Plan Monday 10.15

Monday: spaghetti, salad, green beans
Tuesday: potato soup, biscuits (girls will eat eggs w/ biscuits)
Wednesday: (Awana night - easy/premade dinner night) mexicali casserole, tortilla chips (quesadillas for girls)
Thursday: stirfry with rice
Friday: pizza, carrots sticks, salad (?)
Saturday: Fall Festival at church!

Stop by Org Junkie's for more menus and weekly dining inspiration! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A New Book Challenge

Since I don't have much time to read anyway, I'm going to do another book challenge for this fall! : ) This one is very special to me. You can go here to read all about The Nattie Challenge and find out details and you can go to Nattie's blog and read about what an amazing woman and friend she was. I knew Nattie through Women at Home and had a chance to meet her when she was visiting several years ago. She truly aspired to follow after God's heart like few women that I have known.

The first challenge is the Baby Steps Challenge. The assignment is to pick three books ... any three books ... and read them before the end of the year. I think I can handle that. : ) I'll update the link in my sidebar once I finish and/or complete my books.

(Thanks to Becky for the graphics!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crafty Fun

Check out this cool project over at ScrapHappy! It's a nifty coupon organizer made out of a photo album. I saw this and immediately thought "stocking stuffer" for my Mom. : ) You can head over to Lain's site for the full instructions but this is what mine turned out like:

Crafty Coupons

I really wanted to use rub-ons letters like Lain did on the cover, but I tend to hoard them and just couldn't do it. : ) So my cover is pretty simple.

Crafty Coupons

You can see some of my tags here ... I have "crafty", "restaurants", "grocery", "office supply", "target", etc., but you could do whatever you need and however many that you want. I just have six, but I went ahead and punched extra tags that I can stick on if I need them. Lain also had a cool idea to slip a gift card or two in the appropriate tabs if you are making this for a gift. All of this with a total cost of only $1 for the photo album at Walmart ... everything else I had!

Anyway, she has other Christmas project like this up on her blog, so head over if you are need ideas for goodies to make ... I'm going to try this one out next, I think. : )

Friday Felicities

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Things that make you happy. From the mind of Nattie Rose.

~ being able to see the top of my desk! : )
~ Monk (we're in the middle of season 3 via Netflix)
~ cooler weather
~ crafty fun!
~ a fall festival next weekend
~ Sara Groves' He's Always Been Faithful

For more Friday Felicities, head over to Becky's (thanks for hosting this!) and share what makes you happy this week!

Oops!

Our church has a Fall Festival every year as an outreach to the neighborhood we are in. (And, Meredith, these hotdogs won't make you sick! Promise!) : ) Part of my job, since I'm on staff with my church, is to design and print up simple flyers with the details. And, since our church is in a predominantly Latino/Hispanic area, I have used BabelFish to help with translating some of the information into Spanish ... my two years of high school Spanish having been lost somewhere along the way.

We have used the same flyer (with the necessary date and time change) the last three years. This year, we have a new Hispanic church partnering with us in our festival. Travis took the flyer draft to one of the Hispanic festival committee members to show them last night and they made a slight correction to my flyer ...

For the past THREE years, the flyer supposedly said "A variety of games and prizes for kids!" in Spanish. What it REALLY said, "A variety of games and prizes for your goats!" Oops. : ) Some of that online translations stuff is very, very literal. : )

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Propel Deal Revised

Remember this post about the incredible Propel coupon? Well, head over Money Saving Mom for an update on the legitimacy of the coupon. Bummer!!!

Casting Crowns ~ The Altar and the Door

A few weeks ago, the kind people at Reunion Records sent me a copy of Casting Crowns new CD, The Altar and the Door. I admit, I've not listened to much Casting Crowns ... the only songs of theirs that I am that familiar with are ones that have been radio singles and one called "Beautiful Savior" which I've sung several times for special music at church.

This CD is wonderful! Powerful vocals, beautiful melodies and lyrics that are not ashamed to say "Jesus" overflow on these tracks. I don't know about anyone else, but when a song by a Christian artist is so vague that could be on Christian or regular pop radio and no one would know the difference ... that sometimes seems a little odd to me. (I'm NOT saying a Christian artist can't record a pop song - just be clear who you are singing to is all I'm asking.) : )

Anyway, my favorite song is I Know You are There, and it's actually sung by one of the girls in Casting Crowns.

If all I had was one last breath, I'd spend it just to sing Your praise
Just to say Your name
If all I had was one last prayer, I'd pray it 'cause I know You are always listening
If I could live a thousand lives, bind the hands of time
I would spend every moment by Your side

Cause I know You are there, I know You see me
You're the air I breathe
You are the ground beneath me
I know You're there, I know You hear me
I can find You anywhere

Two thumbs up for me on this CD! And thank you to the guys (and gals) of Casting Crown for being so forthright in sharing the truth of Jesus so blatantly in your music.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Memo

To: Elizabeth (5 months)
From: Mama
Date: 9 October 2007
RE: Cereal

Betsy-Boo,

Mama is thrilled with how excited you are about cereal. The fact that you have decided it tastes good has definitely improved your attitude with regards to feeding. This, again, is a fact that pleases us to no end.

However, if you could swallow the cereal, I think that would help us progress to the next level in cereal enjoyment. Trust me when I say it would be better for all concerned in this new and exciting phase of development.

With much love,
The Management

Monday, October 08, 2007

With Much Thanks!

Okay, so this post is soooooo overdue. My IRL friend Lauren over at a wandering heart's musings sweetly awarded me with this fun award:

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Thank you, Lauren! I don't feel very rockin' most of the time, but since this is my first ever award, I'd like to thank the Academy all of you who come and visit and leave sweet comments. I appreciate you all. : )

Then, just last week, Dawn at PlaidHearts awarded me this lovely thing of beauty:

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Thank you Dawn! : ) I just want to say that Dawn makes me smile as well ... and if you've never read her blog it's worth a visit. A homeschooling mom of 5 that is in love with her family and husband. (And her littlest is just about the same age as our Natalie (20 months) so it's fun to compare notes occasionally!) : )

And, just an aside, both of these wonderful woman are members of Women at Home with me ... a great community of ladies that is worth a stop if you have never checked us out!

Menu Plan Monday 10.8

Monday: baked cavatelli, salad and/or broccoli parmesan (didn't make this last week due to too many leftovers!)
Tuesday: black beans and rice in tortillas (budget dinner night) : )
Wednesday: quesadillas, mexicalli casserole, chips and dip
Thursday: breakfast, probably pancakes and eggs
Friday: pizza, carrot sticks
Saturday: spaghetti

Head over to Org Junkie for more menus and inspiration!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Felicities 10.5


friday_felicities
Originally uploaded by joymombecky

~ celebrating a birthday
~ making another mark on the wall in permanent marker to show how much we've grown this year
~ family movie night tonight watching this classic
~ eating popcorn tonight ... real popcorn on the stove with yummy butter salt
~ an evening with friends tomorrow night
~ a clean house

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I am the Mom of a 4 Year Old

Yikes. Where has the time gone?

Our 4 Year Old Girl

Rider of tricyles.
Sister of littles.
Lover of Backyardigans.
And chocolate.
And Doritos.
And Baa.
Writer of her very own name.
Giggler of giggles.
Wearer of dresses.
Firstborn of ours.
And very very very much loved.

More pictures are up on my Flickr. Except for the actual family birthday party that we had on Sunday - my Dad took those and I can't wait to get those to share. We had a flaming Dora cake. That's a whole story in itself. :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Our Dog Saga

I posted a couple weeks ago about our family's decision that it was time to get rid of our dogs. Please understand, it isn't because we don't love our dogs - we do! This decision was a long time coming, but the time was right - we have five people living in a little two bedroom house, along with two 90 lb. dogs. I was spending almost an hour a day vacuuming this summer (during their heavy shedding season) and we were fighting a losing space issue in our big family room as to who got to lay play on which section of the floor - the 90 lb. dog or my 20-ish lb. girls. There were several other factors as well, but the bottomline was that it was time to find them a new home.


With many tears, I called around ... how do I put an ad in the paper, what is Animal Control's policy, do any friends want dogs, etc. In the end, we put an ad in the paper saying we had two dogs free to a good home and waiting to see what would happen. You would NOT believe the number of calls we got - tons! That was so encouraging to me, even though every phone call was a little sad ... there were lots of folks out there that were interested in giving our buddies a good home.

Jenny (our girl, the black and gray one) ended up leaving us the first day the ad was in the paper. She went to a young high school girl who had always! wanted! a! husky! The excitement the girl had was so sweet for her new pet and I felt pretty good about giving Jenny to her, although in the end, I had to go cry hide in our bedroom while Travis did the dirty deed of handing the dog over to the girl. These were MY dogs that I had raised, fed, trained, and while it was a good decision, it was not easy to watch them leave.

Our other dog, Sam, ending up leaving on Thursday to another young girl - this time a sweet single gal who had just bought her first house and wanted a big dog for company. I really liked this girl. She seemed like a great match for our big bear of a boy dog and we even gave her the rest of our dog food and sold her their cage. This was harder than letting our Jenny-dog go ... both Noelle and I were pretty teary when Sam drove off.

Now, this part of the story is the whole reason for this post. I tend not to post about too many frustrations because, well, I just don't. Not that I don't have them, but it's a gray area with me about venting on the blog. However, I need some female commisseration. : )

We were dog-less for a week and a half when I got a call Monday morning that our dog Sam had been found in an area of town about 20 miles from us and could we come get him. He was apparently still wearing his rabies tag (thank you Lord!) and they were able to track us down with the number. I explained that he wasn't really our dog anymore, but if I couldn't get ahold of the new owner on my phone, I would come get him. I called the "sweet" girl that took him, left her a voicemail on her cell phone, and proceeded to load up the girls for the 20 minute car ride to pick up Sam. After getting our tired and somewhat smelly dog, I called the girl again and told her that I had him and was taking him back to our house - could she please call us and arrange to come get him. No return phone call.

Now, this is the part that has irritated me to no end. She never once called us. I left several messages for her that we had him (note that we no longer had any food for him or his cage anymore) and she apparently decided that when he got away, that she wasn't going to worry about finding him. And, y'all. She lived a loooooooong way from where he was found. We're talking probably a good fifty miles from her home to where he was picked up. This was not an instance of him getting out on Monday morning and getting picked up a few hours later. He had obviously been loose for several days and there had been no call in by her to animal control saying her new pet was missing. (I know, I checked to see if there was another way to contact her).

Finally, Travis was able to get her on the phone last night and when he asked her if she was the one that we gave our dog to she denied it all and played dumb on the phone. For me, it doesn't upset me that she apparently changed her mind about having our Sam-dog - it's that she lied to us about it and that she was obviously not worried that he would get hit by a car or injured some other way. That is just not cool on so many levels.

Anyway, we've had Sammy back home for two days now and all he has done is sleep for the most part. The girls are so glad to see him. Natalie (19 mo.) has been hugging her doggy over and over again and Noelle (4) was thrilled when we saw Sam and loaded him in our van. (She immediately said, "Now let's go get Jenny!" I think she thought, now that Sam was back, we could pick Jenny up from her extended sleep-over as well.) Now we need to figure out what to do. Do we just keep Sam here? I can't bear for him to go through something like this again. Travis has called one other person that had been interested in Sam and we're waiting to hear back from him, but I'm torn. He's back home. He's safe. He's with a family that loves him. I'm not denying that it was so much easier on me without the dogs, but even dogs shouldn't be treated like that. What to do...

Okay, if you stuck with me that long, thanks for letting me get this off my chest. : ) We could use some wisdom in this small matter so if you think of us, say a prayer please? (And hug your dog today if you have one).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Hideous Beauty - Book Blog Tour!

Award-winning Jack Cavanaugh engages readers in his latest release, A Hideous Beauty, a riveting supernatural thriller that is first in The Kingdom Wars series. This project is the ultimate fusion of suspense, politics, and the supernatural.

Imagine America’s borders have been breached—but not by something you can see. Homeland Security doesn’t even acknowledge this terrorist group exists. Yet hundreds, possibly thousands of spies are crossing our borders every day.

They are renegade angels, agents of destruction from a supernatural realm. They move among us virtually undetected. For millennia they have acted as sleeper agents, influencing human history. All the wars in the world pale in comparison to the havoc they can wreak. And now, one man is about to be sucked in to the battle.

Pulitzer Prize winner Grant Austin returns to his old high school to flaunt his accomplishments in the face of his childhood nemesis, Miles Shepherd. But he discovers a conspiracy of cosmic proportions involving a plot to assassinate the president and implicate Grant as a conspirator.
In an effort to unmask the assailants and salvage his own reputation, Grant enlists the aid of a wheelchair-bound professor of theology, a high-powered Washington insider, and an investigative reporter who just happens to be his old flame.

As Grant peels away the layers of conspiracy, the truth takes on a hideous beauty— for nothing is what it seems to be. Not even Grant Austin.

About the Author:

Jack Cavanaugh is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, including the eight-novel series The AmericanFamily Portrait. Nearly half a million copies of his novels are in print and have been translated into six languages. He is the recipient of the coveted Christy Award and Silver Medallion. Cavanaugh also teemed with the late Bill Bright to produce a four volume historical fiction series set during times of revival in America. (Proof, Fire, Storm, and Fury).

Q. How did you get the inspiration to mix genres like you did in this book: suspense, political fiction, and the supernatural? How do you even classify the book when describing it to others?

A. Kingdom Wars is supernatural suspense, the everyday world colliding with the inhabitants of heaven. In A Hideous Beauty, the point of collision is the political arena when a plot to assassinate the president is uncovered. In the second book, Tartarus, the conflict erupts after a newly discovered ancient manuscript leads archeologists to long-lost New Testament treasures.

Q. Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?

A. As a student of the Bible I have developed a fascination with the way it describes the supernatural and natural worlds overlapping. It assumes the overlapping is obvious to everyone. The book of Hebrews tells us that we might at times find ourselves entertaining angels and not be aware of it. But it never says whether the angels we encounter will be friendly. After all, Lucifer is an angel. That’s all it took to get my imagination jump-started. I dove into the Bible looking for instances of encounters with the supernatural and developed my stories from there.

Q. What sort of research was necessary for writing Kingdom Wars?

A. Extensive. I have used the same approach writing these contemporary novels that I used while writing historical fiction. Instead of tracking down historical documents, I have researched the Bible (translating from the original languages), read numerous theological books on angels and the supernatural, and read popular and literary works, such as Milton’s, Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy. I want to introduce the modern reader to the supernatural through stories just as these men did for their readers in their day.

Q. Which one of your characters is most like you, and why do you say that?

A. Grant Austin. His personality is more me than any other character I have written. I even went so far as to set the story largely in El Cajon and San Diego where I grew up using places I frequented, such as the high school, though I changed the name.

Q. What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?

A. Angels are real. They are here. They are active. And some of them are not friendly. In the front of each of the novels I included quotations from other Christian scholars like C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, who have said essentially the same thing I’m saying, only I’m saying it in the form of a story.

Q. What other books are in the series, and when will they release?

A. At present, there will be a second Kingdom Wars book. The working title is Tartarus and it is scheduled for release Spring 2008. The concept for this book is the advantage rebel angels have over humans in terms of life span. Their lives span millennia. We have less than a century to learn about them, adapt our way of thinking to their presence, and engage them in battle. They can use this disparity to give them a tactical advantage. Think of it as time-released terrorism. The story begins when a fraudulent First Century manuscript is unearthed two thousand years after it was created.

Q. For the writers out there, what’s your favorite writer’s block trick?

A. You’re not going to like my answer to this question. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Writing is hard work. When the going gets tough, by calling it writers block we make ourselves victims and waste time searching for a cure to make writing easy. Serious writers show up every day. They rejoice in the serendipitous times and put their heads down and work through the tough times. Their passion drives them.

Q. Writers say they either neglect something or someone, or rely on caffeine or cravings during hectic deadlines. What do you catch yourself doing when you are down to the wire with your works-in-progress?

A. I do my best to keep my perspective. No book is worth sacrificing my relationship to God, my wife, or family. I work hard, usually ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. Neither will I sacrifice quality for a deadline. Years from now, no one will remember whether or not you made the deadline, but everyone will know if you wrote an inferior book. That’s not to say that deadlines are irrelevant. Missing a deadline puts pressure on a lot of good people. Publishing is a partnership. I do my best to fulfill my contracts and write to the best of my ability, and I hope my publisher will contribute to the best of their ability.

Q. Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
A. Not surprisingly as I search the Bible for supernatural encounters, the lessons I have been learning are in the area of living a spiritual life. The book of Ephesians has been particularly helpful. I have been learning that intangibles such as courage, confidence, truth, humility, and patience are not simply characteristics of a spiritual person, they are that person’s offensive and defensive weapons. When the adversary attacks with doubt, lies, and intimidation, we fight back by choosing to live confidently, by choosing to tell the truth, and by choosing to take a courageous stand.

Q. What else would you like your readers to know about you, or about Hideous Beauty?
A. Grant Austin’s use of humor in the face of adversity is a Cavanaugh family trait. We laugh a lot. Our family gatherings are marked by levity and laughter. We laugh during difficult times. Sometimes we laugh at the wrong times. (I once laughed myself out of $800 during a negotiation for a speaking engagement.) I have standing instructions for kazoos to be passed out at my funeral. My family will know what to do with them. I want them to laugh in the face of death and not to mourn as those who have no hope.
I'm looking forward to reading this book - I've read Mr. Cavenaugh's American Family Portraits series and they were excellent!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Amy Grant's New Book


My friend Becky over at Joyful Mother is giving away three copies of Amy Grant's new book, Mosaic. Head over to find out how to sign up for your chance to win!

Menu Plan Monday - 10.1

I've had this week's menu planned out early ... I have limited grocery money so I needed to work on a good list before hitting the stores. I have veggies listed with some things, others I'll figure out that night.

Monday:
B: french toast sticks
L: grilled cheese, yogurt
D: ham-apple-cheddar casserole, pears

Tuesday:
B: french toast sticks (leftovers)
L: chicken nuggets, apples/applesauce
D: Easy burritos, salad, peach cobbler

Wednesday:
B: cereal/toast
L: hot dogs
D: leftovers (Awana night)

Thursday:
B: eggs/sausage
L: Lunch out
D: chicken pillows, carrots, salad

Friday:
B: eggs/sausage
L: mac & cheese
D: pizza, carrots sticks

Saturday:
B & L: leftovers
D: baked cavatelli, salad and/or broccoli parmesan

For more menus, head to Org Junkie's.