Thursday, February 25, 2016

Amber is One

And my baby is one. This post is the opposite of normal-- It has a lot of pictures and not many words.

This was actually just an extra cake that I served the next evening at my family's get together.

A rainbow cake-- see why below.

Some one-on-one with Daddy after he was gone ALL WEEK long.

She was quite neat about it, but then with Amber food belongs in her mouth, nowhere else. She didn't get to eat the whole cake. I thought that would have been way too much of a sugar overload.

She was obsessed with this card, as in it was the first thing "she" opened and we had to hide the card to get her to open anything else.

She posed perfectly for the pictures, just relaxed and willing to cooperate. Can't wait to see the rest of them.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Amber's Birthday Gift Part 2

So I didn't post yesterday. I don't know that anybody noticed or anything, but I did. Because I'm supposed to post on Thursday, but between rushing to get this finished in the morning and then just sort of relaxing and doing pretty much nothing in the afternoon, it didn't happen. I even have a post written that just needed to be published, but oh well. This is still my blog and so I can do what I want on it. Probably the biggest thing is me anyway. I determined to do this on Thursdays and I missed a Thursday.  We won't go into any psychoanalysis now. There's not time.

Okay, so for the second part of Amber's birthday gift, I made her a quiet book. I should probably say, "am still making" her a quiet book. The book got smaller and smaller as we went along. A word of caution here: if you ever decide to make a quiet book (this is my second try at one), start before the deadline. I got started about 2-3 weeks ago. Let's just say these things take a LONG time.  Thanks to my mom coming and helping me on Tuesday, there are this many pages, otherwise.......

But on the other hand, it was quite fun. But I also know why people charge 80-100 dollars for one. The expense is minimal, but the time, OH THE TIME!! But it was still fun. And hey, while I'm making one, why not make two? I mean there are birthdays coming up and things and who knows who would like a quiet book? Actually, I don't know if she will like it or not, but I do know who is getting the second quiet book. And I do hope she likes it. 

There are no front pages or cover pages of the book YET.  Someday there will be. That will probably be the next set of pages that I do. So, I'm going to describe what I did here a bit. You don't have to read this, this is more for my info later if I want to repeat the page.  Flowers that are buttoned onto the page. Two layers of felt blanket-stitched together. I got carrried away on blanket stitching. The stems are just embroidery floss of various shades of green.

 Shapes. I'm not sure why the page is laying on its side, but maybe I turned the camera. I'm not sure. I only took a picture of one page here because both were identical. I stitched the shape to the background and then ironed on a piece of fabric to another piece of felt and stitched it together. Velcro is what holds the matches together.
 I love this page. I think it's just so cute. A little bear with a cotton filling tucked inside a little quilt that has a cotton batting and back and is knotted with embroidery floss.  You tuck the bear in and out of the quilt.

 This is fairly self-explanatory, but oh so very time consuming. 1.5 inch squares sewed and turned inside out and then top stitched. The flannel and thicker pieces were blanket stitched together beings I didn't think I would be able to turn them inside out. First I sewed velcro onto one side of all of these so you can velcro them on to the appropriate color. I should have taken a few off of the picture so you can see.  And yes, I sewed the one page together upside down so that is why the word "Colors" is at the bottom of the page.  And yes there is a mostly green one on the yellow spot. I thought I had captured mostly yellow when I cut it out, but apparently not.

 Dressing the doll. There are four dresses that you can turn around and have four more designs. They are very simple, just cotton ironed together and then cut out. I'm hoping they will hold up. Then there are two sets of pajamas again reversible made out of flannel. There is one pair of odd shoes that I'm guessing will be lost within the first two weeks. These are all tucked into the wardrobe with the zipper. The bow is to hide the stitching that holds the hair on.
 And a barn with finger puppets. The barn needs more things, like a sun and clouds, but by this time I was done, tired, finished. Maybe later.
 A weaving page.
A mitten to stick your hand into.  And yes, I forgot the eyebrows on the one, but I almost like him as good without, so there.

So I  know most of this stuff is too big for Amber at this point as far as intelligently making choices, but I hope she will have fun with it and will grow with it as well.  She's already experimented with a few pages in order to keep her happy so I could work on the others.

I have a few other pages I want to add either to this book or as a bigger book or even as a felt board. Pages like trees with different colored leaves, the alphabet, a number pages with different buttons and brads, a cupcake baking page, matching socks, tic tac toe, memory game. I also saw a cool Tetris style game that I thought would be fun too.  So many ideas, so little time to orchestrate it all.  I think I want to try and make one page a month. I might make a couple of the same page. They really would make a nice gift for someone very special or I might try to sell them as individual pages so they cost less than $80 and people could pick just the pages they want. All these ideas swirling around in my head.

And yes, then maybe if I could sell a few I could replace my ironing board cover. Maybe none of you noticed all the stains on it, I tried to make sure the holes in it were not visible on the pictures. But don't judge me by my ironing board cover. That thing endures a lot of heat!!

In other news, D is coming home tonight after being gone ALL WEEK!!! I'm very excited.  The week really didn't go that bad, but I am very ready for him to be home for the weekend again.

Coming up next week, Lord willing: my one year old and her birthday pics.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

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Oh my, this book defines chick flick in my opinion. Big city, money tycoon, Colt, comes crawling back to his dad's ranch after losing his money in a Ponzi scheme (however you spell that). Of course, he and his dad don't get along, but the dad, Sam, has had a change of heart in part due to ill health and in part due to his housekeeper, Angelina, a former cop who's hiding her family.

He comes crawling back and instantly turns into this wonderful cowboy with a heart for others and wanting to reach out and make a difference and of course the housekeeper and he fall madly in love. Add in a few misunderstandings, accidents, and a fire and you have the story.

But really, I was able to pull some good out of this book as well. Forgiveness and second chances. God extends them to us as long as we are alive and we would do well to accept and move forward a changed person.  After the romance, that is the next prevailing theme of the book and I would give the author much kudos in that regard.

I think the thing that makes the book seem so chick flickish is the fact of how fast Colt changes: almost overnight. He is more accepting of his dad, loves his nieces, and is determined to make the world a better place. I am probably too skeptical, but I say people don't change that drastically, that fast.

I received an ARC copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Longings of the Heart

I'm rereading a book called "Longing for Paris" by Sarah Mae.  It's a good book. I did a review on it earlier.

I've come to realize that while I have the desire to do right and to do good things, I still have a carnal nature to fight against.  I am longing for a deeper relationship with God. I want to know Him more. I want Him to control my life, to direct my thoughts, and to be the central Person to my world. In my heart, I know that is the only thing that will bring me true peace and that will enable me to live my life in a loving, gentle and kind way.

I struggle with being kind and loving and caring and all other good characteristics!! I know, that's a real news flash, especially to those who live close to me. But I want more.

The chapter I was reading this morning talks about her longing to know God more, to meditate, to feel His presence. I don't want to infringe on her copyright, but I want to share a few things that spoke to me. Some I will say in my own words, but this paragraph I want to share verbatim:

"When we look for Him, pushing all hindrances aside; when we aim for and keep our eyes on Jesus, letting nothing compare to Him, then I think we will be fully made available to Him, for Him. And we will change the world because God needs available people to be devoted and dedicated, laid open and vulnerable before Him so that in our weakness He is made strong. His power will come through us, and we will be able to do real Kingdom work, the kind that urges us out of our comfort zones and ourselves. We will be available to be completely used by Him."

She goes on to quote A. W. Tozer who says this: "Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid their Bibles on the old-fashioned handmade chair, got down on the old scrubbed wooden floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. Their only Bible had fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do, even with all our modern 'helps'."

This is what I want, to really know God, to meditate on His Word and to seek Him. But there are so many distractions.  How do you separate them out and go away from them? Even things that can potentially be good like reading. Sarah says that reading is a good hobby but if I am spending all my time reading books and thus avoiding God, then it is a distraction. How do I get away from these distractions?  One thing I have done and I know it has been helpful for me is to stay away from the computer until after my devotions. I used to go on the computer while I drank my coffee in the morning. You know what happened? Of course you do. An hour quickly went by and soon I would be hearing Amber stirring. Oh dear, I have to quickly read my Bible and have my quiet time before I go get her. And then prayer was pretty much non-existent.

But I still get distracted. The computer might have the screen saver on with pictures from the last 8 years that can distract me. My phone is still beside me with my apps playing. Yes, I try to avoid them and for the most part I do, but still they can distract me if I allow them to. I want to be intentional. One thing I learned this weekend is that I must Must MUST spend time with God. I must allow Him to direct my life. I don't want to get caught in this rut of being easily offended, snappish and awful to the people around me. I must allow God to fill and use me. I must take the effort.

And there you have a piece of what this book is doing to my heart. It did this the last time I read it and I hope it can be more of an ongoing thing and not die as soon as the book is finished, because it truly does express what my heart so desperately needs.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

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Okay, I'll be honest. I picked this book because you can't just not pick a book to read right? I didn't really want to read it. It didn't stand out to me as my style of book.  But....

I really liked this book. D even looked at it and thought he would enjoy reading it and I think he would too.  If you like Dee Henderson and Janice Cantore, then I think you would like this book. I have never head of Dani before but this is her fifth book I believe.

It starts in hard and fast and plows headlong into the story. A body is uncovered at the Gettysburg Park and whoever killed her doesn't want the body identified. You are following the plot through, are convinced you know the killer and what is going to happen and then with about a quarter of the book left, she switches it around to a killer you never even saw.  Of course, there are close calls, but none of the main characters are killed though one is injured. It's still a fiction book!!!  But highly entertaining and catching fiction book.  I haven't had such a hard time laying a book down in awhile.

The biggest "struggle" in the book is this thing of forgiveness.  The three main guy characters were best friends growing up, but two are at odds with each other because of the murder of the one's sister while on her way to meet the other one. Forgiveness is eventually extended and fences can begin to be mended.  Forgiving oneself was also a part of the book. Griffin had to forgive himself that his sister died and also that his hesitation in a hostage situation cost a woman her life.

While I don't face such life and death situations, I still have to work to forgive those around me and to forgive myself at times. I can fight the mom guilt thing terrible. A is crabby and fussy and I think she just needs a firm hand and then she settles down to sleep half an hour after pain medication is given and you realize she must have been hurting. It's easy for me to beat myself up over these things. I do beat myself up, but I'm not sure that's the right thing. I think the right thing is to seek forgiveness from those you hurt, even if she doesn't understand yet, and then move forward. I can't allow one crippling mistake to hold me back from being the mom I need to be.

Okay that was a little bunny trail, but I think the application can be made from this book, with a stretch at least.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Amber's Birthday Gift Part One

So after exclaiming over something so excitedly there's always that hesitancy then when showing others because you wonder if they will find your idea/project/thought/etc. as exciting as you did. So we'll start off with a pick of the little munchkin which I see turned out a little blurry.

This is tin foil tube that she was able to stick in her mouth and hang on to with her teeth and no hands. She must have some seriously strong teeth. 

These are the blocks I made for her for her birthday. Many long years ago my brother made the plain wooden blocks. I painted them, covered them with scrapbook paper and then put a capital letter, lowercase letter, number that corresponds to that letter's placement in the alphabet, a shape, a picture that starts with that letter of the alphabet and a plain square. As you can also see they lean just a bit because of the layers on them. Next time I would maybe trying painting the letters on rather than using cardstock. I have some fun combinations I would like to try with these. So if anyone is looking for a gift for that youngster in their life, let me know. I would be happy to make you a set of blocks. There are 26 in a set just in case you don't know for sure how many letters are in the alphabet!!!!! Oh, I also should mention that there are four layers of Mod Podge on these things. I'm still not sure how they will hold up beings she is sure they are meant to be eaten. I think she will only be allowed to play with these under direct supervision until she learns not to stick them in her mouth. I am afraid her two little top teeth will still be able to work down through the layers of Mod Podge. 

And my helper while I was photographing the blocks. I see this one is also blurry. I think that next year one of my goals should be to learn some better photography skills. 

She disappeared into the pantry to see what could be found. I can only post this pic since it was taken after having cleaned out the pantry a few weeks back. Before that, that room was a scary place.

Well, that's all I have for this week. I'll be back next Thursday if not before or after.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

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This is one of those books that I'm left shaking my head and nodding it both at the same time. I'm simply not sure what to make of it.

First off, I don't classify it as a real Christian book. Yes, the character who died seemed to have a faith in God, but it wasn't mentioned a lot. The main character spend most of the book ranting at God. And the language wasn't what I expected in a Christian book published by a Christian publishing company. So in that regard, I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for a bit more depth.

On the other hand, the depth of the friendship of these three women is a rare find. They did everything together, actually they did too much together in my mind. I have some really good friends, but there is no way they would accompany me to all of my prenatal visits and to the birth of my child. Sorry guys, no can do!! And there is no way I would go with them to theirs. Actually that whole idea is so preposterous it can make me laugh. But on the other hand, these three friends stuck it out through thick and thin and when one of them is diagnosed with cancer, the other two rally around and stuck with her all the way to the end.

So that is the reason for the mixed feelings here. It was a good read, but...

I do want to share a couple of quotes from the book that I did think were inspiring and just very good.

This one was said by Laine, the lady that died, at a classmate's funeral. "'I know this is sad,' she said, 'and I'm sad too, especially for his family. But keep hearing people say, "Isn't it tragic because he had his whole life in front of him." But what difference does that make? It's not how long you live; it's what you leave behind. Ricky was a great guy. Everybody loved him. That's an amazing way to be remembered.'"

And this also by Laine, "You are responsible for what you do. No matter what you go through, no matter what happens to you, no matter how much someone hurt you, the choices you make are ultimately your own." As you can tell, she was the mature one of the bunch.

Those two things struck a chord with me. What am I leaving behind? I think of Cheryl Burkholder: I want to say the same thing--she had so much of life ahead of her. Her family needed her; her friends needed her, but she did make an impact in the time she was here. She was a great lady. Everybody loved her. She cared about people. That is a legacy I would like to leave behind me too. And Cheryl's life and the stories I hear now challenge me to make a difference as well.  Yes, I wish she were back here on this earth. I want to go hang out at their place, see Bentley, compare him and Amber, go garage saling together in Wausau again, but it's not going to happen. So I need to make the choice to go out from here, from this grief and become a better person for it. And that's not always easy to do because grief can be a heavy load.

This book was given my by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...