Sunday, May 31, 2009

Coming Up

From {Olive Tree}

The next month ... in summary:

This week (June 1 - 7): all about N1's dance recital. One day for pictures, one day for a dress rehearsal, the actual recital, etc.

June 8-12: VBS at church

June 12: Also the husband birthday which will need enthusiastic celebrating!

June 15-19: N2 is taking a 1 hour/day dance camp for the week. She has been a patient little trooper the past year watching N1 go to dance once a week. This is going to be so much fun for her ... she can hardly wait!

First week in July: family vacation to visit out of state family

Second week in July: husband travels for work to Arizona for the a week-ish

First of August: homeschooling starts for N1

... and have I mentioned that my husband has taken on leading worship at church on Sundays? Life is good and full and that means my part in it needs to be simple and uncomplicated so that I can make life simple and uncomplicated for my family. More on this on Monday ... :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Everyone is Beautiful ::: 5M4B Book Club


The ladies at Five Minutes for Books picked Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center as their June book club selection and I was able to get a copy at my local library. This book really resonated with me as Dawn predicted it would! Lanie, the main character, is a S@HM mom to three busy little boys. The book starts out as her family moves across the country so her husband can make some major steps in his musical career ... leaving behind the only home she's ever known as well as her family, friends, and life as she knew it. Suddenly thrust into a new environment she starts to see things about herself and that moves her towards making some changes.

Dawn posed some questions over at 5M4B for our review and I thought about several of them as I finished this book:

How did you relate to Lanie's character? Beyond just the mom/young children connections, did you feel any type of kinship with her?
Yes! this book resonated with me. :) The tired, out of shape, wornout mommy. The mommy that chose to stay at home with her little ones ... even though she/I chose that, and I truly believe it is the right decision, it's still hard at times. She was commited to her husband and supporting him in his career. I felt a connection with her as she made sacrifices for Peter's career - while her's involved a cross country move (which we haven't done), there are activities that I have stepped out of to support my husband's involvement and ministry in other areas. No matter how much you agree with or believe in the sacrifice that you are making, occasionally there are those moments where this mommy feels left behind a little bit. :)

What did you think about Lanie's pursuit of a new definition of herself, with her workout routine and photography interest? Is there something you'd love to pursue in your own life?
I think it is a good thing when a mom has something to recharge her from her day-to-dayness of maintaining her household and taking care of her family. I do believe that there are times and seasons for this ... when I have little tiny babies is not the time for me to sign up for extra projects and activities when I can barely get done what needs to be done because I'm running on so little sleep. :) Also, I think one thing that holds me back in this area is that I just don't stop to take the time to recharge until it's too late and I'm desperate for a little time away. I forget that my husband longs/works to/makes it his goal to provide for me and if I just ask him and it's in his ability, he will provide that outlet and time for me to recharge and pursue something. My tendency is to run myself to empty and then try and recharge instead of taking little bites here and there when I can.

How would you describe the message a reader takes away from Everyone is Beautiful?
When someone is passionate about something, living in the moment - that makes you beautiful. As a Christian, I believe our passion for Christ - regardless of whether we have skills in photogrphay, writing, singing, etc. - that alone can bring an unblievable beauty that can't be found in any earthly pursuit. That should be my first passion ... and if I only have time for one, that's the one I want to be at the top of the list! However, I think it is also important for stay-at-home-moms to have some sort of mental outlet for them to express their creativity. I look at my friends and their interests are so varied according to their likes and personalities and it adds something to the beauty of each woman.

I hope my notes make sense - I'm reading my scratchings from my journal as I type here. :) I did enjoy this book although I don't know that I will recommend it to many. Truthfully, I found the language (swearing) in the book to bother me. I'm sure the book was realistic to some, but that is not how I talk and I don't care to read others talk like that either. One of my favorite books that tackles this same theme (without the swearing) is SAHM I Am by Meredith Efken (and it's two follow-up books, @Home for the Holidays and Play It Again, SAHM). Those get two thumbs up from me.

You can read others' thoughts and reviews of Everyone is Beautiful over at 5M4B!

*I won't be able to post this on Tuesday, so I've gone ahead and written this up to get my thoughts posted before I lose them forever! :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Felicities for the end of May

Photobucket

Things that make me happy...


  • eating dinner on the deck outside
  • simple summer meals
  • blueberries!
  • hearing my 5yo read Green Eggs and Ham out loud
  • watching my husband step up to some new reponsibilities and being exceptionally proud as he approaches it with the same thoroughness as he does everything
  • my new grocery store form that I made (because I am a geek) and how I love it
  • having full cupboards and cabinets ... and a husband that stops at Walmart on the way home from work for the things I missed :)
  • having some time to hang out with our friend Henry this week (and his mom)!
  • an 11yo niece that is willing to change the leaky diaper while we are out grocery shopping :)


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jillian Dare ::: A Bloggy Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! A retelling of Jane Eyre, set in a contemporary time, this book was sweet and charming and would make a fun summer read. While it's not a replacement for the classic, if you are looking for a simple story, with clear Christian values throughout, I suggest this as one that would be worth picking up.
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jillian Dare: A Novel
Revell (May 1, 2009)
by
Melanie M. Jeschke

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's On My Nightstand ::: May

Photobucket

June ... is going to be my month to step back. To relax amidst much busy-ness. To read a few things that have been sitting on my shelf for a while that I am *going* to get to! :) With that, here are some of my aspirations for the month:

I'm guessing I will read more than those four books this month, but those are the ones that I really want to hit, along with personal Bible reading (thinking I'm going to dive into some of the Psalms this summer, and maybe one of the epistles ... I John?? 1 Peter??) I just finished Inkdeath, the third book in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy and that took me a good week and a half to get through. One, because I have had busy days and only read in the evenings after girls were in bed ... and two, a-hem, in spite of how good it was, I had a hard time staying awake. :) I'm also about 1/3 of the way through Everyone is Beautiful which is the 5M4B June bookclub selection.

Head over to Five Minutes for Books for more nightstand posts!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Daybook

Outside my Window ... cloudy and grey but quiet since the buses and trashmen have the day off today.

I am thinking
... of the day ahead and how we really don't have anything on the agenda that we have to do. Nice. :)

I am thankful for ... a husband that helps me when the "rearrange-the-furniture-bug" hits. I had the urgent "need" to get the girls play kitchen out of their bedroom and he supplied much needed lifting and brainstorming help as we shuffled and juggled furniture. :)

In the learning room ... we're going to just read and read this week. The end is in sight of our Little House in the Prairie chapter book. Next week we are going to start a weather lapbook for the month of June.

From the kitchen ... a sketchy menu this week as I need to plan June's menu and make plans for our big grocery run.

Monday: hopefully grilling steaks (weather dependant) and baking potatoes
Tuesday: chicken of some kind, probably in the crockpot as it's our last regular dance day
Wednesday: keilbasa (maybe bbq'ed, maybe chopped up in a pasta salad), who knows? :)
Thursday:
Friday: pizza night
Saturday: unknown ... dependant upon my June menu :)

I am creating ... piles on my desk. Moving all the school stuff to the same shelf instead of having some of it by my desk, some by the school table, and some on other bookshelves.

I am going ... to relax today and enjoy this day off with my husband. (Or rather, enjoy his day off with him) :) instead of my usual rush to try and do-do-do because he's home.

I am wearing
... jammie pants and a t-shirt.

I am reading
... Inkdeath. Hoping to finish it soon because it's GOOD but I haven't had much time to read of late and when I do pull it out, I'm sooooo sleepy. :)

I am hoping ... in the Lord, in His strength, and His timing.

I am hearing
... little girls playing together quietly on this morning. Sweet sounds.

Around the house ... working the girls's room over some. We're planning to take down BBoo's crib in the near future. She can climb in and out with amazing agility and when I caught her standing on the rail Saturday night and flinging herself on to the mattress, that pretty much decided how soon we were moving her to a big-girl bed. Suffering a little mama-sadness as we pack up those baby things, since we don't know when we will be pulling them out again. Note to self: refer back to hoping in the Lord and His timing. :)

One of my favorite things
... listening to my girls sing. We've been learning some grace-songs to sing before meals and it makes my heart happy to listen to them and sing with them before we eat.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ...
weeding and watering the garden (we have radishes almost ready to pick), friends coming over to play on Tuesday and cousin Bubby over for the day on Thursday, a last dance class tomorrow, menu planning and grocery shopping, big-girl bed assembly, and the big church yard sale on Saturday. And I'm having a hard time believing that it is the end of May already.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ...

A photo from my 365-photo project that I am still working on ... this is from last week. One can't water the garden without watering the children as well. :)


Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Felicities ::: May 22

Photobucket


Things that make me happy...

  • a new calendar for the school year ... now I get to fill it in!

  • making a list of things that we want to do this summer ... and writing it down so we remember. :)

  • June. June is going to be good. :)

  • a day today just with my girls. We've loved having the nephew some lately and other friends over, but I'm glad it's just us today.

  • summer fruits and veggies. Yum.

  • it's a 3-day weekend ... and I just realized this. The girls will be ecstatic to have Daddy home three days in a row.

  • that God knows the outcome, even when we are in the midst of a hard decision. He knows how it will turn out, He knows that we hurt in the meantime, He knows. And I don't need to.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday ::: What Is & Isn't Working

Photobucket

I thought I would share just a bit about our chapter book read-alouds this week ... and what didn't work for us!

I read to the girls at breakfast and lunch while they eat. At breakfast, we read through the Jesus Storybook Bible and usually end up doing one story, sometimes two, depending on the day. (I usually try to keep it to just one because they usually finish breakfast sometime during story #2 and I don't like leaving a story half finished). :)

At lunch, we read our current chapter book. We had been working our way through The Secret Garden. I had picked it out and thought it would be appropriate because of spring and garden time and the fact that we are working on our own garden. However, I learned that for my 5 and 3 year old it was just to hard for them to follow. The dialect is so thick and there is so much descriptive text ... they just aren't ready for it yet. So, we returned to the Little House Series and are working our way across the prairie right now. :)

The girls LOVE the "Mary and Laura book" and really do pay attention well to it. One thing that they love is that it is about three sisters, just like we have three sisters as they are wont to tell me over and over. :) Also, while the life of the Ingalls was much simpler than ours there are so many similarities that tie to us today. The other day while we were reading, the passage talked about how Ma took off her apron. Well, N1 asked what an apron was and I told her ... she has one for her play kitchen and proceeded to go get it and wear it the rest of the day. :) I loved it!

I'm not sure if' we'll continue on with Mary and Laura after we finish this book. The homeschool tutorial that N1 will be attending this fall will be covering early American History throughout the year and I would like to save some of the books to read during that time. However, we'll see. I'm enjoying rereading this classic favorites (and for me comfort reading) just as much as they are.

For more Read Aloud Thursday, please visit Hope in the Word!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gladitudes ... on Wednesday

Photobucket

I've never participated in one of Gretchen's Gladitude posts, but it sounds like just the right thing for today. :)

1. I'm glad that BBoo got a clean bill of health for her ear recheck on Monday at the Dr's office. :)

2. I'm even more glad that they are going to postpone drawing blood for another six months to check her for a thyroid issue. (Drawing blood on a 2 year old is not my favorite thing ... been there, done that). Just as an FYI, the reason they are even talking about this is because her soft spot has not closed up at two and it's still fairly large. We had the same thing with N2, but it wasn't nearly as big. They want to watch it another six months and if it's still there this fall, then we'll run a few other tests.

3. I'm glad that I didn't have to have a root canal on Monday. :) I went in prepared for it, but the dentist x-rayed, poked, and prodded and said let's wait. Okay with me!

4. I'm glad for Philippians. It seems like the verses that come to my mind the most are in that book ... I need to just memorize the whole thing. :)

5. I'm glad that we don't have any needs to leave home today. We've been doing more running than normal for my tastes and other than some videos that have to go back to the library by Friday, I don't have to go anywhere for the next three days.

6. I am glad that the bird that flew in the back door of the house yesterday flew right back out. And that it was during rest time so I was the only one that freaked out and not me + three girls.

7. I'm glad that we are getting a new movie tonight from Netflix ... my husband and I loved this movie when we saw it on Valentine's weekend. Thinking we'll enjoy it tonight after the munchkins go to bed. (Really, it's so funny and clean!). :)

I'm ending with seven, not because I can't think of more, but because I feel sure I will be joined by little ones in a few minutes. Happy Wednesday!

Kids' Picks :: Things That Are Most in This World & That's Good! That's Bad!

Photobucket

This week for Kids' Pick I pulled two books off the shelf that have gotten much love at our house since they showed up Christmas morning. Both my N's love them (ages 5 and 3).


That's Good! That's Bad! tells the tale of a little boy's trip to the zoo with his Dad and Mom. However, due to an unfortunate (or fortunate) series of events he gets separated from his parents and goes on a little journey through the jungle. As he encounters the different animals, what a child might think is a bad thing ... such as accidentally grabbing a giant vine only to find out that it was a long snake ... turns out to be good, not bad. I found out that there are sequels to this book: That's Good! That's Bad! in Washington D.C. and That's Good! That's Bad in the Grand Canyon (however, neither show up on Amazon.)
A clever book with silly drawing that is sure to be enjoyed by your preschooler or early elementary aged child. :) As a side note, I also found this neat parent resource for some fun learning activities to go along with this book.

Things That are Most in the World is another fun book that we discovered. Written by the author of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and it's sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh, this book shows the silly side of the "-est" ending to words. What is the quietest thing in the world? Why, a worm chewing on peanut butter! The stickiest? A 400,000-pound wad of bubble gum. With clever illustrations to showcase these "-est" extremes, my girls giggle their way through this book everytime they read it.

For more Kids' Picks, head over to Five Minutes for Books!


Other Kids' Pick posts I have written:
~ The Story of Little Babaji
~ Books by James Mayhew
~ Betsy-Tacy
~ Each Peach Pear Plum
~ The Great Blueness and Other Predicaments

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen

I enjoyed this story, though not as much as some of the previous spy/mystery Christian fiction I have reviewed lately.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Mark Andrew Olsen

When an al-Qaeda email is intercepted, threatening an attack on America, it leads to the capture of the group's leader. Yet even under fierce interrogation, the terrorist clings to his jihadist beliefs and refuses to divulge any information. Desperate, the Army resorts to extreme measures--a controversial protocol designed to break a subject's resistance. But the attempt must be masked as an offer of clemency and rely on an outside party, someone who is unaware of the protocol's aims.

They find that someone in Greg Cahill, a disgraced soldier who now serves in a prison ministry. Lured by the chance to restore his reputation, Greg befriends a man the entire country despises. And the result proves combustible, the two men having to flee for their lives. With both in need of redemption, they set out to prevent a major catastrophe...

If you would like to read the first chapter of HERE

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Felicities ... May 15

Photobucket



Things that make me happy...


  • the sweet and thoughful comments on my post yesterday. Thank you.
  • a husband that is back home.
  • a fresh pot of coffee after rest time is done.
  • a new stack of books just for me from the library. This, this, and this are in the stack and I hope to give all of them some equal and deserving attention this weekend.
  • a big bunch of daisies that we saw growing at the park. Daisies are my favorite.
  • this girl who cracks me up on a daily basis. Three is a GREAT age. :)


Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Change of Pace

Today I am overwhelmed. I had planned a quiet week while T was out of town. I was going to get started on potty-training munchkin #3, get some stuff done around the house, and spend my evenings working on some projects that I never seem to get to.

The week hasn't turned out like I thought ... should I be surprised? :) It hasn't been bad, but it has left me feeling quiet frazzled. Then, on top of just the normal stuff, there has been some hard heart stuff, too. A close friend is watching a neighbor take her last breaths with cancer. Today I wrote and sent out an email to our church about another friend's son who has been diagnosed with Hunter's Disease, a degenerative illness that is eventually fatal.

These are poignant and such timely reminders that I want to be living more in the daily moments with my family. Less time on the things that will pass away. Making time for things that matter instead of stealing time to squander on the things that don't.

I'm going to make some changes and I'm going to start today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Future Kid Classics

Photobucket

Two book posts in one day. :) I was tempted to link up my recent book review of Crocodaddy for a Future Kids Classic, but I really wanted to pick some books my girls LOVE and it is too new for me to claim that. (However, it's still a really cute book).

If you asked my N2 (age 3) about her favorite books, Ella the Elegant Elephant would be at the top of the list. Ella is a very sweet (and very shy!) little elephant. She and her mother move to a new town and when Ella starts her new school, she wears her grandmother's hat for good luck. While some of the students initially make fun of Ella for being different, in the end, it is Ella and her hat that save the day.

There are four books in the series: Ella the Elegant Elephant, Ella Takes the Cake, Ella Sets Sail, and Ella Sets the Stage. My favorite is Ella Sets the Stage - the school is having a talent show and she doesn't know what her talent is. All her friends seem to know exactly what they want to do for the show, but everything she tries is a flop. Little does she know, her talent is taking care of her friends as she runs the talent show! These are adorable books, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention the beautiful artwork. Written and drawn by Carmela and Steven D'Amico, I hope they continue to put out Ella books!

A future kid's pick that N1 has found is The Boy Who was Raising by Librarians. This is the story of Melvin. Melvin goes to the library every day after school and the librarians help him solve all sorts of problems! When he comes to the library after a field trip and needs help identifying eighty-seven specimens of caterpillars, cooties, and creepy crawlies the librarians step in to help! (After they help him catch them when they became loose in the library). The story follows Marvin through grade school and at the end of his educational career, he joins the ranks of some of his favorite people and becomes a library himself. This is a great book to illustrate that the answer to almost anything can be found in a book at the library - especially when you have great help knowing where to look!

For more kids classics for the future, visit Five Minutes for Books!

Crocodaddy


Such a sweet book for a Father and son (or daughter, as in my case). :) Crocodaddy is the story of a dad and son playing at the pond. When the son looks in the water, he sees the fierce Crocodaddy! He tries catching the Crocodaddy, but it is toooo sneaky and keeps getting away. Finally, he (the son) catches his prey and enjoys a ride on Crocodaddy’s back. I love the imagination of the little boy – he actually “sees” the Crocodaddy in the water instead of his Daddy splashing around in his swim trunks.

The illustrations in this book are very soft and sweet. The book says the drawings are made from acrylics, but to me and my inexperienced eye, they look like water colors and perfectly match the colors and feel of the story.

This book would make a great gift from son to Dad on Father’s Day!

You can see what other bloggers think about this book here: A Christian Worldview of Fiction, A Mom Speaks, A Patchwork of Books, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama,Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Olive Tree, Our Big Earth, Reading is My Superpower, SMS Book Reviews, The 160 Acrewoods, Through a Child’s Eyes.

Thanks to KidsBookBuzz for the opportunity to review this book!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Today's Daybook

Outside my Window ... sunshine! Sunshine! The weather has been in the high 60's/low 70's today ... practically perfect after a week and a half of rain. What a refreshing day!

I am thinking
... of some big plans that I have for June. More on this some other day. :)

I am thankful for ... a huge praise for a friend and her family in the way of a very timely job offer!

In the learning room ... we ordered the rest of N1's school supplies for next year. I can't wait to get my hands on them and start playing planning. :)

From the kitchen ...

Monday - Thursday: who knows! T is travelling for a few days and I am not planning any big dinners for the week. I'm going to make play it by ear (the girls have asked for chicken nuggets tonight, and we may eat in the backyard), and I'm going to make a few recipes that T doesn't care for that I love. Tonight: aisan pasta salad. Yum. :)
Friday: pizza night
Saturday: breakfast dinner.

I am creating ... the May Layout-a-Day project. Still plugging along.

I am going ... to have a quiet week. Today, the girls and I made a trip to the zoo. (I love that we have a pass and don't have to kill ourselves to see everything everytime we go). Tomorrow is our dance class day, but the rest of the week is free and clear. I am thrilled.

I am wearing
... black capris and a blue tshirt.

I am reading
... some books from the library that I want to return in the next week or so. I just finished up The Winding Way Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini and may start Hood by Steven Lawhead next. I'm thinking of taking a fiction fast for June and so I may or may not get these all read before then...

I am hoping ... for a good week with the girls. It's a rare thing that T travels for work so I want this to be a good week of girl activities and time together.

I am hearing
... the N's outside playing, BBoo is napping. I'm about to go outside and join the big girls.

Around the house ... just the regular upkeep. I need to weed the garden this week and spray it for bugs. (Something is eating my beans and must. be. stopped.)

One of my favorite things
... the zoo. I could stand and watch the animals forever if the girls didn't move me along. BBoo was so funny on this trip, too. It's the first time she's really noticed the animals and she was so funny. "Oh no! Monkey in da tree!"

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ...
reading, relaxing, weeding, sunning, sleeping, and waiting for T to get back home with us again.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ...

Betsy Boo Turns Two (2 of 3)

The resident two-year old.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10 :: Mother's Day


May 10 :: Mother's Day
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

From my May layout-a-day challenge. You can click to enlarge to read the journaling. :)

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

10 on the 10th - May


Happy Mother's Day! I thought for my 10 I would do something with a Mother's Day theme ... I'm going to split my 10 and share five things that I enjoy doing WITH and ABOUT my children, and five things I enjoy doing WITHOUT my children. :)

1. I enjoy reading aloud to my girls ... I try to say yes anytime they ask me to read to them, I enjoy it that much. I'm thrilled that we are reading chapter books now ... our lunch time reading is Little House on the Prairie and we are all loving it!

2. I don't mind changing diapers at all and enjoy the few minutes it get to slow down with a child. Really, I do. It has been a rare occasion that I have passed one changing one - usually involving a first trimester of some kind and nausea. I even do cloth diapers when able and love it. :)

3. I love taking my girls to the library (related to #1). :) We have our routine there and the girls know where everything is.

4. I love it that I am the only one that knows exactly how their blankets needed to be folded and fluffed at bedtime. And that they are at a great stage where they all insist on a kiss and hug.

5. I recently taught them a song/prayer to sing before meals and I love hearing them sing it in their 5, 3 and 2 year old voices. "God our Father, God our Father, once again, once again, we bow our head and thank You, bow our head and thank You, amen, amen."

And for those things I enjoy doing without munchkins...

6. Going to Panera Bread/Starbucks/Baja Fresh and getting a coffee/frappachino/diet coke and sitting with book and/or journal by myself.

7. Buying them little treats at the store that they don't expect and surprising them with them.

8. Scrapbooking.

9. Listening to music that is not written about ladybugs, disney characters, or how big I am growing. :)

10. Going to a bookstore and walking the aisles, browsing the magazines, and probably picking up a book that I know they would love and making a mental note to check the library for it the next time we go.

Thank you Lord for these sweet girls and for the changes that you are prompting in me as their Mama. Thank you for the grace you bestow on me each day as I mess up and try again as I parent and for my husband to stand along with me and lead our family. You are great and greatly to be praised!

For more 10 on the 10th, head over to Mer's. And, again, Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Military Wives' Cookbook

I have to say, this has been one of the most fun books that I've been sent to review. The Military Wives' Cookbook is a compilation of over 200 years of tradition, recipes, and remembrances. An exerpt from the book:


Whether you are a military spouse, of whom there are approximately 2.5 million (active, retired, reserve), or simply a patriot, you will love hearing htese stories of courage, commitment, and sacrifice. Presented in menu format style, each set of recipes is accompanied by a story that relates to it and is evocative of the period.


This cookbook is FULL of history and the accompanying recipes. My almost-kindergarten is going to be doing some reading in early American History this coming year ... how much fun would it be to pull out this cookbook and make (or host) an Independence Tea party. Let me share with you the recipes suggested for an Independence Tea:

  • Liberty Tea
  • Edenton Tea Cakes
  • Blueberry Scones and Jam
  • Fresh Strawberries and Blueberries
  • Devonshirt Cream
  • Lemon Curd
  • Apple-Almond Amaretto Tart
  • Shortbread Cookies

Yum!

As for myself, when I was sent this cookbook, I thought long and hard about what recipe to try. I finally settled on Blueberry Scones (although as a disclaimer I did substitute blackberries because I had some in the freezer).

Yes, they were good. :) This cookbook is definitely worth checking out!

On this Military Wives' Appreciation Day, please say thank you to someone you know who is serving alongside their husband! Pattie & Alicia, I thank you on behalf of my family for supporting your husbands so well while they serve. Thank you. :)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday ::: What We've Been Up To

I'm going to highlight two of our favorite read-alouds from recent weeks today ... I seem to forget Read-Aloud Thursday until late in day normally so I am excited to participate today. :)

The girls have discovered Amelia Bedelia and have fallen in love. :) I'm sure most of you remember the crazy maid from our childhood. She was told to remove the spots from her employer's dress - instead of using a spot remover, she cut out all the dots that were printed on the dress. Her crazy antics make my girls laugh, and I love that most of the Amelia Bedelia Books are an "I Can Read Book" and can be found in different levels. As I have a soon-to-be-blossoming reader, I will be pulling more and more of these from the library as time goes on, I can tell.

This little book was probably one of my favorite discoveries of late ... and as a mom of little girls that LOVE to carry around purses, this book is on my list to buy down the road. This is the story of a little girl and her mom that take the bus to town to run some errands. She starts out the day with her big green pocketbook empty, but with each stop, she adds a little something to her bag and when she heads for home it is full of the treasures of her day. N1 and I put together a lapbook based on this book, using resources from Homeschool Share. A extremely easy and fun project if you have a little that you are starting lapbooking with ... this one would not be overwhelming at all.

Much thanks to Hope in the Word for hosting Read Aloud Thursdays! I enjoy this and hope to participate more as time permits. :) She's also hosting a book giveaway right now if you want to enter!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

According to their Deeds by Paul Robertson

If you are a fan of witty dialogue and clever turns of phrases, check this book out! The dialogue in this book was quite enjoyable, and because the main character owns an antique book store, titles of classic literature are woven throughout the story. This would be a good book to pick up for Father's Day for the Dad or Grandpa on your list that enjoys a mystery or some clever fiction.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
According To Their Deeds
Bethany House (March 1, 2009)
by
Paul Robertson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.



ABOUT THE BOOK

A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.

But that all changes when a former client--a man deeply connected in the Justice Department--is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he'd once sold, he quickly discovers he's bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.

Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers--even lives. Charles soon learns he isn't the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife--and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?

If you would like to read the first chapter of According To Their Deeds, go HERE

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May 2 : TwitterLayout


May 2 : TwitterLayout
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

Thought I would share another layout from my layout-a-day project. I made this entirely in Word and, if I say so, it's one of my favorites. Ever since I saw Elizabeth Dillow's layout about her love of Facebook in a recent issue of Simple Scrapbooks, I've been wanting to recreate that regarding my love of Twitter. The prompt today asking us to chronicle something about the daily/everyday of life was the perfect excuse to put aside the pics of the kids and do a Mommy layout today. :)

A Tuesday Daybook

Outside my Window ... more rain! It has been raining since last Friday and truthfully ... I'm loving it! This is so good for our little garden and it's made for some cozy days at home.

I am thinking
... that it does not seem like it has been two years since our baby was born. Time truly does fly and we are going to enjoy a day of celebrating our BBoo girl. And I am also thinking that is past time for another little one - two year olds don't snuggle near enough for me. :)

I am thankful for ... a little time out this weekend with some girlfriends. I was able to catch up with some friends and a few have some unbelievably weighty things going on in their lives. I am so thankful that we have a God that we can cast all our cares before.

In the learning room ... my fingers are itching to hit the "order me" button for the rest of our homeschooling books! We have been having fun looking at book lists and dreaming about "read alouds" for this fall.


From the kitchen ...

Monday
: chicken caesar pasta salad
Tuesday: crockpot angel pasta
Wednesday: quesadillas
Thursday: cowboy chow
Friday: pizza night
Saturday: breakfast dinner - might even go all out and make a breakfast casserole. Yum. :)

I am creating ... So far so good on the May Layout-a-Day project. I'm enjoying this small goal to tackle some scrapbook pages ... I'll try and post some of them later this week.

I am going ... to the library today! And N1's dance class! It's Tuesday so that's our normal run for the day. :)

I am wearing
... sleep t-shirt and pants.

I am reading
... an old Dee Henderson that I just pulled off my shelf. I've been plowing through books that I have been sent for review and I think I've finally finished them all.

I am hoping ... for a good week as we finish up our spring activities. Everything (with the exception of N1's dance that has another month) winds up this week. I don't think I will know what to do with myself with my free and clear calendar next week. (Um, you know it won't stay free, right?)

I am hearing
... Munchkins chattering a bit ... still waiting on one to roll out of bed. :)

Around the house ... nothing of note. Sorting, purging, checking the garden, never-ending laundry, making food ... the stuff of life. Next week will be a bit different since it will be just us girls while Daddy goes on a little business trip.

One of my favorite things
... birthdays. :)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ...
dance, library, last Bible study (for which I am going to try and make scones), last Awana, today's birthday fun, my Mom's birthday, a staff meeting at church on Saturday, and huge family birthday blow-out on Sunday where we celebrate BB00/my Mom/my brother-in-law/Mother's Day and anything else we can think of to throw in there. :) Whew!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ...


Happy Birthday BBoo!

Happy Birthday to our Betsy-Boo girl. :)
Birth-Day : 10lbs, 10oz., 19 inches

Around 4 months

7 months
1 year


1 year

18 months

21 months

My busy, energetic, funny, beautiful girl ... Happy Birthday!


Sunday, May 03, 2009

May 3 :: Deliberate


May 3 :: Deliberate
Originally uploaded by stephaniedshepherd

Just a list of things that I want to be deliberate about with my girls ... areas that I want to improve and grow in ... and part of the layout-a-day project for May.

Friday, May 01, 2009

May brings...

  • The May Layout-a-Day Challenge:

Photobucket

  • Yes, I'm doing this. I think I'm crazy.
  • The end of my Bible study (wraps up next Wednesday) and Awana for the girls (also next Wednesday) which means...
  • I'm going to start potty-training BBoo and see how it goes. She is showing DEFINITE signs of readiness so we're going to give it a go.
  • A business trip for the husband to some place up East that sounds very cool.
  • But I'm not jealous. Not really. Maybe a little bit.
  • Besides someone has to stay home to water the garden. (Oh.My.Goodness I have some fun video of garden day ... hopefully I can post it soon).
  • However, I'm getting some time with girlfriends this weekend.
  • And we're celebrating a birthday ... the big "2" for the baby next week. *sniff*

Life is good and busy and all that stuff. May actually will be my breather month before a crazy June. June is c.r.a.z.y. I may mention that again one or eleven more times. But May (besides the potty-training) will hopefully be a respite before all that. I'm hoping. :)

Happy Friday. :)