Monday, August 29, 2011

Selling Rocks

So David, my little entruprenuer, has decided he is going to start a new business...

selling rocks.

Who is going to buy these rocks you ask?

People who buy rocks, of course.  (Straight from David's lips)

And guess what?

He's sold 2...

for $1 each!!

Considering he picked these rocks up from a gravel lot then took them home and washed them, I would consider that $2 to be pure profit!

(His selling technique may have something to do with him looking very cute as a small 6-year-old with 2 missing teeth.  Or he may just be a really good saleman.)

Anyone want to buy some rocks????

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: The Faith of Ashish

The Faith of Ashish by Kay Marshall Strom

The time is 1905 and the setting is southern India.  Five-year old Ashish has had the bad fortune of being born an untouchable, an outcast.  When he is beaten severely for drinking from the wrong cup, his parents will do anything to help him live, even trade their freedom.

They willingly become slaves to the wealthy "Christian" landowner. In exchange, the landowner agrees to take Ashish to the English Mission Clinic to save his life.  Ashish's and his parents must now live their lives in slavery.

My Thoughts:

This book left me feeling very unsatisfied.  (*spoiler alert*) With a title like "The Faith of Ashish," one would think the book would be about Ashish coming to faith in Jesus Christ.  However, the book ends and he still hasn't become a Christian.  He has spent some time with the English missionaries but he still thinks Jesus is just another one of the Hindu gods.  I kept feeling like I was still reading the intro to a story instead of reading the story.

On the positive side, the novel did a great job of explaining the caste system in India and giving somewhat of a social commentary on Hinduism as it relates to Indian society.  Basically you have the haves and have nots.  The members of the caste are the haves.  According to Hinduism, these people have been given a better place in society because of their good karma - good things they have done in past lives.  They are priests, land owners, warriors and kings.  The untouchables, or the have nots, are lower than animals.  They are treated as less than human and have no hope for improving their situation.  They are taught to stay in their place in society because it is their punishment for sin in a past life. 

If the book's goal was to simply teach me about life in India at the turn of the century, I may have enjoyed it more.  If the title of the book were A Year in the Life of Ashish, I might have enjoyed it more.  But I spent the whole book waiting for the promise in the title and it never delivered.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The Kindle version of this book was provided for review by Net Galley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Keep it Simple

Enjoy this article by Sharen Pearson.
By Sharen Pearson

As a mother of five and now grandmother of seven, I’ve planned my share of birthday events. I am a creative person, so my problem is “going over the top.” My expectations supersede those of the birthday child. So, I have to step back and say, “Whose birthday is it anyway?” And, therein lies the key to a successful birthday party.

I recently assisted with my grandson, Waylon’s party. He was reaching that big-boy age of 5 years. He knew what theme he wanted: Herbie the Love Bug. He wanted a backyard campfire and a cake with Herbie on it. Simple—Herbie, campfire, cake. Got it! My daughter complied. She invited a few families from church that Waylon knew well and was comfortable around. Since entire families were represented, parents were there to help with crowd control. Bowls of chips and dip provided a place to gather around as people arrived. Children scattered to play in the back yard, parents grouped to watch and chat. Easy, huh? Daddy lit a small fire in the campfire ring in the yard. More talk, more easy playing. The cake was a simple giant chocolate chip cookie with a frosting “Herbie.” Waylon thought it was wonderful. 

Mommy announced that it was gift-opening time and everyone pulled up lawn chairs and sat in family groups. Waylon sat in the middle of the circle on the grass and guests watched as he opened each gift and thanked the giver. He received many nice gifts, but to everyone’s delight, a small, inexpensive VW bug toy car was his favorite. He opened it, raised it above his head as if it were a trophy and yelled in delight. Waylon slept with his “Herbie;” woke up and greeted it; placed it on the edge of the tub so he could see it. He had the birthday he wanted. Simple party, simple gift, simple fun!

Some suggestions to consider when planning your party:
  • If your child is old enough to have input, allow it.
  • For ages 1-5 years, simple is best. Simple decorations, simple food, simple games.
  • Invite only one party guest per age of the child. Young children are very intimidated by many children of the same age. Remember, “Whose birthday is it?”
  • If guests include family/friends with older children, add activities especially for them.
  • Home is the best place for children ages 5 and under. Big party venues are confusing, scary and do not position the “birthday child” as the center of attention as he should be. 
Some traps that parents fall into:
  • Making the party so complicated that you, as the parent, no longer enjoy it. (Been there, done that.)
  • Allowing young party guests to get close to and grab for gifts as as the birthday child is opening them. (Admit it, you’ve seen this haven’t you?)
  • Spending too much money. (Guilty as charged.)
  • Preparing food for adults and not age-appropriate to the guests. (The only thing to show off today is your wonderful child)
  • Engaging in sleepover parties before the age of 9 years. (Children younger than 9 or 10 years often find sleeping at someone else’s home frightening and uncomfortable.)

Author Bio
Sharen Pearson
Sharen Pearson’s Goof & Giggle classes and materials continue to provide a quality Mom/Tot interaction. Widely popular, Goof & Giggle’s child-focused play plans are offered in various Arizona communities. She’s also created a variety of Goof Juice DVDs and filmed episodes of Baby D.I.Y. and written workbooks for BabyFirstTV. Arizona Midday (NBC) tapes monthly segments with Sharen to provide their audience with a variety of original and creative “easy to do” activities for babies and preschoolers. Sharen’s creativity reaches a combined audience over 200 million viewers worldwide. Goof & Giggle classes and products encourage green living, repurposing materials from around the house into affordable objects for play and learning. Learn more at:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sleeping with the Sharks

We have had the opportunity to go on a lot of fun outings with our Girl Scout troop this year.  But I think this takes the cake.

As a reward for their good cookie sales, the girls got to go to the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, TN and sleep with the sharks.

I, obviously, couldn't let my sweet, baby girl go sleep with sharks without me.  So I tagged along as a chaperone.

I was completely impressed by their program.  We arrived at the Aquarium at 8 PM and they had a full schedule of activities planned until midnight, when we started getting ready for bed.  (I'm very glad I made Julie take a nap before we left, or that late night would have been awful!)

First up, a jeopardy style trivia game about sea life.  Notice the glowing necklaces.  That differentiated us from the regular crowd at the aquarium and showed them we were there for the whole night.

Then it was time for the stingray dive show.  They hand-feed the stingrays but they don't hand-feed the sharks.

After being fed, the stingrays were more than happy to let the girls touch them.

Then it was time to make souvenirs to remember their night.  So we fish-printed T-shirts.

What?  You don't know what it means to fish-print something? 

Well, I didn't either. 

It means you give a child a rubber fish to paint then flip it over and leave it's imprint on a shirt.  Then you give the child free-reign to paint whatever they like on the shirt.  And this is the result.

I thought it came out great!

At this point, it was about 10:15.  The schedule showed pizza snacks next.  I didn't think I'd be hungry, but I was starving!  Each person got 3 pieces of pizza and a rice krispy bar.  That's a lot.  I ate most of mine, but the kids didn't eat a lot.  They must of been too excited...or too tired.  Either way, what little they ate, gave them new energy for our next activity....the scavenger hunt.

The scavenger hunt was really just a way to let us explore the aquarium.  So off we went.

The last time I visited this aquarium was when I was pregnant with Julie.  I remember getting my picture made in this very same spot but with her inside of me instead of outside.  I thought it would be fun to take a picture of the two of us there. 

Unfortunately, those were the days before digital pictures and my only copy of that picture is securely fastened to a scrapbook page.  So you'll just have to trust me that the picture exists.

Julie with her best bud, Lauren.
 These guys are my favorite.
 This one is pretty big and scary looking.  Yikes!
 African penguins - they live in the heat, not the cold.

That was our last activity for the night.  We blew up our air mattress, changed our clothes (to warm ones) and trudged into the tunnel to "sleep" with the sharks.  Needless to say, not a lot of sleeping actually went on.

You can see what I had to sleep under.

Kinda cool, kinda disconcerting.

In the morning was breakfast and one last activity....

Touching a shark!  How cool is that!

Granted, this is a small, bamboo shark that is used to being touched by children, but's a shark!

Overall, I was impressed by the program.  Julie had a great time.  I had a great time.

But when I got home, I was very thankful for my bed and my nap.

What about you?  What has been the best activity you've done this summer?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy (School) Days are Here Again!

I'm a little behind on this, but school started last week down here in the South.

I now have a 3rd grader and a 1st grader.

I've never had a 3rd grader before.

Man, I feel old.

Anyhow, here are the mandatory first day of school pictures.

As sad as it makes me that my babies are growing up.  I'm very happy about getting into a routine again.  We enjoyed sleeping in and being lazy this summer.  But we do much better with a routine.

We have already started piano lessons back up.  Julie is starting her 3rd year of lessons and David is a brand-new piano player.  Our Awana clubs at church started last week and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts start this week.  As you can tell, we just jump in with both feet around here!

Here's to a happy, scheduled, busy, fun Fall!!

What about you?  What Fall activities do you have starting up?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cowboy Day

 Learning to Lasso

Our church sponsors another church, the Cowboy Church.  Their mission is to minister to farmers and cowboys.  They even hold church at the nearby Livestock Auction house.  Cowboys can come with manure on their boots and not feel like they are "messing up" someone's church building. 

The Cowboy Church sponsored a Cowboy Day at our church.  The day started out with a cowboy breakfast.  Then there were horse rides, miniature pony cart rides, horse and buggy rides, lasso lessons and even a shoot-out. 

We thoroughly enjoyed it.  We learned a lot about what that church is doing and how they are ministering to people.  And the kids had a wonderful time doing all sorts of new things.

Thanks, Cowboy Church!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Safely Home

Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
Safely Home

Is today the day that I will die?  That is the question Li Quan asks himself daily.  As a Christian in Communist China, this assistant locksmith never knows if today will be his last day here on Earth.

Across the globe in America, his old college roommate, Ben Fielding, is caught up in the world of corporate finance and grooming himself to be the next CEO of his company, Getz, International.

As part of a marketing strategy, Ben is sent to the newly open, capitalist-friendly China to live for 6 weeks with his old roommate.  Will his view of faith be changed? 

My Thoughts:

I have such mixed emotions about this book.  I can honestly say I didn't really know what it was about when I picked it to review.  It's definitely an eye-opener.  The book was first published 10 years ago and this is the anniversary edition of it.  However, as the author states in an opening forward, persecution of Christians in China and around the world is still just as real as it was 10 years ago when he wrote it.  It is current.  China may have opened up to capitalism, but Communism still reigns there and Communism is founded on the belief that there is no God.

In some ways, I dreaded opening up this book and reading it.  It's convicting to see real faith lived out by people who are imprisoned, beaten and killed all because they acknowledge God as the Creator and Jesus as their Savior.  Our cushy, American lives don't force us to really live out our faith.  We don't have to worship in secret.  We have plenty of Bibles to read.  We have it all, but really we have too much.  Too much to need God most of the time.

So, the question remains, did I like the book?  Do I recommend it?  In terms of subject matter, yes, I think it's great for everyone to have their eyes opened to the persecution that Christians face around the world. 

In terms of how it's written, I would downgrade my praise a little bit.  It seems a little long and drawn out to me.  There are a few places in there that I thought the author put in things that weren't necessary or that didn't go along with the book.  For instance, all throughout the book, you see glimpses of heaven and martyrs who are in heaven interceding for those on Earth.  But then for one page only, you see a glimpse of hell.  Not that I think his portrayal of hell was inaccurate, it just didn't seem to fit. 

In light of my few annoyances,  

I will give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

A complimentary version of this book was provided for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Ever see a one-day old baby fawn?  
Now you have.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ride like the Wind

Julie has just passed a huge milestone in her life.

She is now an official bike rider.
One that doesn't require training wheels any more.

It only took 2 times out "practicing" to take her first solo ride.

 Daddy proving that it can be done.
 David (still with training wheel) - "Look, Mommy, no hands!"
Her solo ride.  Go Julie!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Color Splash

All summer Julie has been begging me to paint her room.  To her credit her room hadn't been painted in 6 years and the walls were looking pretty rough.

So I finally relented and we painted.

This was Julie's first time painting walls and she did an excellent job!

Here's the before - light purple walls with hot pink hearts and stars on them.

Her first swipe of the new paint - "River's End" by Behr.

In Progress

All set up with new quilt.

After a splash of new bright white on all the woodwork (which took forever to do!), we have our updated, more grown-up room ready to become a tween in.