Monday, December 20, 2010

NLT Contest Giveaway

The company behind the New Living Translation of the Bible is having a contest in support of Wycliffe Bible Translators, as well as a few other organizations. Along with the contest, they are giving away several different neat items. For more info, follow the link to their facebook page:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury

A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury is great reminder of God's working in the lives of believers.  Honestly, I have never read a book by this author (as shocking as that may seem), so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself enjoying it.  It is not a page-turner, but simply a tender story of John and Abby facing hardship only a short time after narrowly avoiding a divorce.  (This is the second book in the Timeless Love Series, so you can read the first one to find out more details of this couple's recovered marriage.) John, a high school football coach, is entering his most difficult season with families breathing down his neck, and the constant concern for the personal trials his players are facing at home.   For example, Jake who is a star quarterback, but deeply hurting from his parents bitter divorce.  At a time when you think things couldn't get any worse, there is a car accident (which you could sort of predict was going to happen the minute  Jake's dad buys him a sports car for his birthday).  I would say this is a deeply touching story which will inspire you.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair and honest review.  4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cause and Effect: Adventures in Odyssey Volume 52

I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to get the newest volume of AIO episodes, Cause and Effect.  Having grown up listening to the show and learning great Bible-based principles, I was excited to add this to my son's listening library.  In this new volume, we enjoyed every episode, but our favorite was probably the mystery of the clock tower.
Some have pointed out that there are many new voices, including Whit, in the newer volumes, but I am so glad that they are producing new episodes that I am willing to overlook this.  I was so surprised to learn that Focus on the Family is still producing the show, and I hardly expect them to still have all the same characters.  The point is that these are a fun way to teach our son about God.  They are entertaining for children and provide a springboard for our family to start meaningful conversations about the important issues in life. We received a free copy of this CD album from Tyndale in exchange for a fair and honest review.  5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Least Among You (DVD)

Sorry, this movie was just not entertaining.  I'll admit, I had never even heard of the Watts riots before watching this movie, but I always am intrigued by movies "based on a true story."  This one stars a young man named Richard Kelly, who is facing prison time for his alleged part in these riots unless he accepts the plea bargain and enters the local seminary for one year.  Much to his mother's pleasure, he accepts the conditions, but is soon entrenched in fierce racial tensions within this school of which he is the lone black student among an entirely white campus.  Keeping his legal troubles a secret, he becomes a crusader.  The story continues to follow Richard's struggle both in the school and within his own heart as he sorts out his painful past.

I really thought the storyline had potential, however, the plot starts to get sort of hard to follow many times and characters are not developed as well as they should have been.  When you get to the pivotal point in the movie, it is confusing to pinpoint exactly what Richard is fighting for.  Add to this the fact that the movie is intense, with virtually no moments of comic relief.
As far as it being a Christian movie, it is worth mentioning that the seminary was not exactly exemplary (racist students/faculty, teacher states that Bible stories are not to be taken literally, corrupt/dishonest seminary leadership), but I think that was kind of part of the whole conflict.  Also, the message of the Gospel is presented in certain spots, but it is by no means an evangelistic movie.  It may have been clean, but of course this is not a movie for small children.
I will say, I thought the acting was very good, but still I would give it only 2 out of 5 stars.  I received a free copy of this DVD from the Booksneeze program for bloggers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ted Dekker T-shirt Giveaway

To promote the release of Ted Dekker's newest book, Immanuel's Veins, Thomas Nelson gave me a free T-shirt to go with a review copy of the book.  Additionally, they will provide a T-shirt to one winner on this blog.  To enter, just leave a comment below stating what you thought about Ted Dekker's newest book or what you have thought about previous books he has written.  If you have never read anything by him- that's ok - just tell us your favorite Christian fiction author.  Be sure to leave your name and email address so I can contact one randomly selected winner!  Entries will be accepted until midnight (EST) on Friday, September 24th.  Thanks!

Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker

Dekker’s newest work carried with it a powerful message, and contained graphic truth about the spiritual battle being waged in this world for the souls of men. His portrayal of the seductive power of evil was moving and intense.  I had a hard time putting the book down while reading; the story just grabs you and intensifies your desire to get to the ending and see how it concludes. My only critique would be that while Dekker does not include anything inappropriate, he does walk a fine line in some areas. However, as mentioned, there is nothing explicit or graphic, and Dekker does an excellent job, as usual. I would give Immanuel’s Veins 5 out of 5 stars.  I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

I found the first work in Lawhead’s new trilogy to be exciting and well written, and would highly recommend it to the avid reader. The only noticeable weaknesses were the sometimes snail’s pace of the actual storyline, and the way in which the reader feels “let down” at the end of the story. In most trilogies or sets, the reader has at least a few loose ends tied up, and the story reaches an almost temporary conclusion at the end of each volume, all the while building up to the grand finale. This work has the feeling of one that was written in its entirety, then chopped into three pieces at equal points. That being said, I had a hard time putting it down, and am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Great Parents, Lousy Lovers

Great Parents, Lousy Lovers by Gary Smalley and Ted Cunningham was the perfect book for us, being parents for almost a year now.  And if you read this book in front of your spouse, you won't have to beg him to read it because he'll want to know what you keep laughing about.  Seriously, it is laugh out loud funny, but maybe that is because it is so true. The authors explain how it is possible to be both great parents and great lovers.  Intimacy does not have to be tossed out the window with the arrival of children.

We learned so much through reading this book and most importantly we were encouraged.  Don't expect to be beaten down by all the things you should be doing.  This book is practical, realistic, and empowering for parents of children of any age.  However, if you are like me, books on marriage and parenting are on my list of things that I would like to get around to reading, but I often start and then struggle to stay interested enough to finish.  Not with this book. You will finish it, and then tell all your friends about it. 5 out of 5 stars!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1st Birthday Party Prep

Well, I have changed my mind (that's not too unusual) and decided to skip the Toy Story theme this year and maybe try it next year when Ian will enjoy it more.  I had bought birthday invitations a while ago and decided to just plan the theme around them.  They are yellow, blue, and green with a cute frog on them.
So I am trying to figure out a menu that will work for both children and adults.  Here are some cake ideas I have so far.

If I get time, I will try a practice run tonight -- I'm sure my hubby won't mind some taste-testing!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A few of my favorite things. . .

Ian loves Daddy, our cat Thea, and apparently ----- ice cream!
  Sorry there is no sound, this was just taken using our camera, but I'll tell you that near the end he starts yelling "caaaa, caaaa" and that's when you see Thea appear.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear, 100 Praise Songs

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear, 100 Praise Songs by Stephen Elkins is a book great for children and parents to share valuable teaching moments about God.  I am always looking for Christian books to read to our 11-month old, and this one looked like it was worth checking out.  Each of the 100 prayers is actually a mini-lesson in prayer with example prayers, Bible verses, explanations, and quotes from famous individuals.  I found that I was teaching my son about prayer AND gaining valuable insight myself.  The book itself is full of bright, adorable illustrations which easily capture the attention of even the youngest explorers.
There are 2 CDs with the book which are packed with 100 songs.  I like some of the songs and did not care for others.  So we probably won't end up ever playing the CDs, but the book is still great without the CDs.  One reservation about the book is that some of the quotes are taken from various individuals with whom we have some issues with - but we just consider those teaching moments for our son when he is older.  We don't expect to agree 100% with everything that is presented even if it is a Christian book.  I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair and honest review.  4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 9, 2010

our photoshoot

Can't believe he is almost one year old!!!!

Though you can't see much of the background in these shots - all of the pics were taken at the Liriodendron in Bel Air, MD.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

I have rarely read a book that evoked such conflicting emotions as Stearns’ work. In 279 pages, the CEO of World Vision brings before the church the needs of the poverty stricken portions of the world in graphic form. He drives home the point that as believers, we have a responsibility, not just an opportunity, to help these people.
    The author spends a lot of time sharing his own personal story of how he went from apathetic Christian (and CEO of a high end tableware company) to being torn apart by the needs found around the globe. Stearns makes some very good points in his criticisms of present day Christianity, and argues that from our faith should flow a host of good works towards those less fortunate than ourselves. With this sentiment, I could not agree more. For too long the church has made do with “benevolence offerings” and gifts for missionaries, while failing to address more pressing needs around the world.  However, while Stearns makes a very valid point, his book raises a lot of red flags.
    Stearns calls the voices of today’s leaders in the anti-poverty movement “prophetic.” Within this group he includes Bono, a rock star, Mother Theresa, and a bishop in the Catholic Church. These alliances raise questions that cannot be addressed here. Stearns also has a very strong Post-Millennial theology, and uses “kingdom building” and “kingdom ushering” language quite frequently. This leads to such an emphasis on social reform that he flirts at times with a works salvation (something that he vehemently denies).  He also seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth with his definition of the Gospel. He equates the salvation aspect with the social aspect as two sides of the same coin, while in other places listing the social aspect as that which flows out of salvation.
    Overall, this is a work that is worth reading for those who need to be shaken out of their American apathy.  As with all works written by fallen men, it must also be read with discernment and discretion. I would highly recommend it for use with mature believers who know enough to glean the wheat from among the tares. -B-
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: the untold story of Nonna Bannister

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: the untold story of Nonna Bannister is a startling account of a woman who observed and endured incredible hardship.  Though from a wealthy family, she was not immune to the atrocities endured during the Holocaust.  The intriguing part of her story is the fact that she kept it's haunting truth from all those she held dear, including her own husband, until the last years of her life.
The story is recounted with remarkable detail and sometimes even gets tedious to read with all the names and places to remember.  But it is hard to criticize the work of such a courageous woman especially sensing how difficult it was for her to even share her story.  Admittedly, I read just about anything about the Holocaust, so that may have influenced my opinion of this account.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.  4 out of 5 stars.


Finally doing some work on the front yard and now my hands are black from all the "colorguard" mulch.  I hope it eventually comes off because I have been scrubbing and scrubbing.  But I guess it is worth it to have some colorful flowers out front and mulch to cut down on how much weeding I have been doing.  I still need a few more plants - like some filler grasses or something.  I just haven't found quite what I am looking for - and I DO NOT want to buy the kind that our next door neighbor has (AKA the jungle - yeah, they even have this bird that makes very loud screeching noises but that is a whole other story). 

I have been organizing Ian's closest recently and came across a few things that he never wore, but will be too big to wear them soon.  One was this adorable bath robe - so I decided to give him a bath and let him wear the robe long enough for some pictures.

 He sat still for, hmm, a second, and then started tearing his room apart - as usual.

Trust me it was a whole lot worse, but I cleaned it up for the pics.

For anyone who does not see us on a regular basis - you missed out on Ian's "run into every wall, door, and piece of furniture" stage.  Thankfully it appears that he has decided to stop using his head as a battering ram - at least for now.  This picture is from when he was almost all healed, believe it or not.

We enjoyed our 4th of July holiday at Blue Marsh Lake - we all loved the water and I wish I had some pics of Brian on that inner tube flying around the lake while being towed by our pastor's boat.

And lastly we are training for a 5K which will take place in September. . .

we have a looooooooooooooooooooong way to go :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Birthday Cake in the Making

So I am trying to get started early on Ian's birthday cake, because he'll be 1 before we know it. (sniff, sniff)  My hubby's idea was to do a Toy Story themed birthday party and how easy is that with the movie coming out and every other little kid out there going nuts over Toy Story stuff. 
So I did a search of potential cake ideas online and this is what I came up with. I narrowed it down to the top 2 cakes and here is the first one. . .

and the second one

So I like the second one the best, but I think the first one might be easier.   I want to sort of change the first one a bit by making some toy blocks to put out front and then spell out Ian's name (I'm thinking rice treats covered with fondant and then decorated - hey I watch Cake Boss).  And then I would like to find some plastic cake toppers - like maybe a slightly larger Woody to sit on the end of the bed.  I just want it to be a bit more Toy Storyish than that cake is.  At first glance, it just looks like a bed. 
So, soon I should post some pics because I think I am going to do a trial run.  But I am still researching some fondant ideas (I found a recipe for marshmallow fondant) and potential cake toppers on the cheap.

Summer reading

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A bedtime rhyme

This one is for Ian's cousins - just a peek at life here right around bedtime. If you think you don't want to go to bed. . .

But first, a little rhyme comes to mind.

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
upstairs, downstairs, in his nightgown
blah, blah, blah,
Are the children in bed, for it is nearly 8 o'clock?

by Mother Goose (I think)

Anyway, sorry this is so dark - he was supposed to be sleeping after all.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Catch up

Well, it has been a looooong time - so I have to get caught up on a few things. First things first. . .

I barely got him to stop jumping long enough to get this picture.

and oh yeah -

C'mon, it's a baby with elephant ears, and you know I couldn't leave that out. Actually the elephant's trunk is stuffed up underneath because it hangs down over his nose. Since we are already talking about Ian anyway, I want to announce that he has moved on to another chapter in his life - he now has a convertible carseat.

Buh - bye, infant carseat! This has been a long time in coming, but that infant carseat was just so easy and I was reluctant to install the new one. So it has been sitting in our basement until yesterday when I realized that he was just too squished in that little infant seat. Sniff,sniff. As Brian would say "he's all growed up. . ." I'll have to get a picture of him in the new convertible carseat.

We have been spending a lot of our time recently working on our house. You may know that we recently tore out our carpets downstairs. Here's a little reminder. (shudder)

And though it isn't finished, here is a sneak peak at the new wood floor (installed by none other than my "I'm not handy" husband).

And while I'm at it here are the powder room before and after pics. This is not completely done yet either, but it is getting there.

Those are seashells on the wallpaper, and I assure you that I ripped down every last one of them with a certain amount of satisfaction. Ick!

One more house project I have been working on is the stairs. Have you have started something and just wished you had left well enough alone? OK, maybe that's just me.

umm, yeh, I ripped up the carpet from stairway the other night. You know, typical night. Play with Ian, feed Ian, put Ian to bed, wash dishes, rip up carpet. . . it is kind of becoming a regular part of my daily routine.

I did it after being inspired by this.

I have been attempting to do some gardening, but I don't feel like digging up a patch of ground, so it has just been limited to containers on our deck. So far we have some fruit (get it, ha,ha) for our labors.

This picture is for mom's benefit. I know your mouth is watering. Maybe I should have added some pound cake and Cool Whip.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Breathe New Life

Mommy Group

Today was "mommy group" as we have come to call it. We always have lots of fun and hope that the little ones tire themselves out enough that they take nice long naps when it is all over. Here are some of the pictures from today - we went to the park!

While it may look like Ian is waving, it is probably more likely that he is just trying to wack whatever is within arm's reach - namely me.

Ian kept pulling off his sunglasses today, so this picture is actually from another day when he was more willing to keep them on.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandmom!

To honor my grandmom, who is 85 years old today, I have a picture of her from last summer at my brother's wedding (I was a wee bit pregnant in this picture).

I thought it would be neat to see what the world was like in the year my grandmom was born - 1925 - so I did a little research (most of this is taken from

The president was Calvin Coolidge and he was the first president to have his inauguration broadcast on the radio. A postage stamp cost $0.02 and the Chrysler corporation was founded. A Tennessee schoolteacher named John T. Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution and Al Capone was in his heyday in Chicago. Adolf Hitler published the first volume of Mein Kampf. Ben-Hur, costing a record-setting $3.95 million to produce, was released. Vitamin A deficiency was discovered as causing night blindness. John Baird transmitted the first television image in London, and Leica marketed Oscar Barnack's 35mm camera.

Also born in this year were several famous people including Margaret Thatcher, Richard Burton, Tony Curtis, and Johnny Carson.

So, Grandmom, as we can all see, the world sure has changed. We love you. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You To Be by Max Lucado

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado is made up of excerpts from his other book the Cure for the Common Life and is easily completed in one sitting. The book is a small hardback that I think would be a perfect present for a graduate (just like the sticker on the front cover says). I have read a few of Lucado’s books a while ago but nothing recent. I often have issues with some of his theology, but he is very interesting author so I always am able to take something valuable away from it. The title really hit on my favorite point of the book that I cannot be anything I want to be, but I can be everything that God wants me to be. I would recommend this to anyone who is searching for God’s will and purpose for their life. One disclaimer is that I am not a big fan of his assertion that each of us has a “divine spark” with its connections to Martin Buber and Hasidism. I received a free copy of this book to review from Thomas Nelson.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I thought it couldn't be done, but here is proof. I tried to transplant some Lillies of the Valley from my parents' house and it looks like it actually worked. When my mom brought that pot of poor, pathetic flowers pulled out from her own "flower garden" I didn't have the heart to tell her that they would never come up next spring. So I let them sit in that pot by our front doorstep for a couple months till it got cold out and then I finally just decided to plant them. And now here they are - a little bit of home away from home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Need a better name

So I have been fiddling with the format of our blog for a little while and have come to the conclusion that we need a new name for our blog. I am having brain freeze about this though. I just am not a huge fan of the alliterated thing. I think I change the background several times a month, but I just want to stick with one thing and get a banner to match. But the banner will require a little work, and this is why I want to decide on a good title for our blog. I get so worked up about this kind of stuff, ahhhh. . .

Thursday, April 15, 2010

So glad the day is done

Today was one of those days when I wake up in the morning and think to myself "can't I just go back to sleep and skip to tomorrow." I just look at all that needs to get done and get a little overwhelmed. So I just started from the top and tackled one thing at a time. Now it is almost time for bed, and I am off to read some more of my latest title, Dave Ramsey's total money makeover. When I am done, I will be a lean, mean, money saving machine:0

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Everyone Comunicates Few Connect by John Maxwell

Maxwell's latest book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect is a great read. I have never read anything by him before, so I am not sure how it compares to his others. He has taken the time to post the unfinished chapters online to get tons of reader input which he incorporates into the book. This makes for lots of examples and opinions on every concept he introduces.
The book did not require much time to read, but I thought it was invaluable in its information. Everyone wants to be successful and Maxwell makes the case that you must first connect with people in order for this to happen.
As with other books of this genre, I sort of feel that the author puts too much emphasis on "success." Considering it is put out by a Christian publisher I tend to expect something which would benefit a Christian. I definitely believe it is a must read.
I received a free copy of this book to review from Thomas Nelson.

A beautiful day at the park

This is Ian BEFORE he started eating the grass.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring is in the air

Yeah a warm day! Who wants to be inside when it so warm outside?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Coupons, container gardens, and craziness

My new obsession right now is money-saving, coupon clipping blogger sites. I especially like:

I have also been inspired to start my own container garden out on the deck. I keep telling myself that I have more time now so I should be able to actually see some fruit of my labor (well actually vegetables, ha, ha).

Hubby and I have been working on putting in a hardwood floor downstairs. So far, lots ands lots of mess - CRAZINESS. Pictures coming.

Our little Ian is obsessed with his feet. I need a pic of this too.

- K

Friday, February 26, 2010

top 10 things I have learned as a new mom

1. Sleep is optional.

2. Calling it a "happy nappy" doesn't make him any more likely to actually take a nap.

3. Sometimes as a new parent you do things you swore to your parents that you would never do.

4. Who knew bathtime could be so much fun!

5. The Binky! Never leave home without one.

6. Make sure that "likes to change diapers" is a prerequisite for marriage.

7. sometimes it's a good thing your little one has no idea what you just said

8. Don't spend a lot of money on baby shoes - they won't wear them anyway.

9. Just leave the camera out all the time.

10. They do grow up too fast...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb

66 Love Letters: A conversation with God that invites you into His story by Larry Crabb.
I was looking for a fresh look at the Bible to give me some new insight, but was left wanting a bit more after embarking on the journey set forth in Crabb’s book. As you probably guessed by the title, the 66 books he refers to are the books of the Bible which he attempts to weave together in a back-and-forth dialogue with God. As Crabb explains in the introduction, this book is best used as part of a LONG, thorough Bible study. He shows how all 66 books unite to collectively tell God’s wonderful story – essentially a love story. Through this book, the author gives you permission to listen in on the questions and longings of the believer’s soul. While this discussion may offer a deeper look into the mind of God for many, I believe it often trivialized the profound. Really, Crabb bit off more than he could chew by trying to bring God down to us rather than vice versa.
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

more thoughts

Sometimes I feel like I have everything figured out and then something happens to change it all. I guess God is trying to teach us to depend on Him. We tend to ask God to help us figure out what He wants us to do with our lives and then our prayer life maybe slacks off a bit because, well, we know what we are doing now right? Anyway, though I am frustrated with our current "no idea what we should be doing" state, I am convinced that we will look back and see that Jesus led us all the way. . .
Though I tell my hubby that I am not as compartmentalized as he is, I feel like I am. I say that to comment that my life as a mom couldn't be better. We are proud parents to our first baby boy - and I love it. I thought I would be bored as a mom, sitting at home daydreaming of a more exciting life without diapers and drooling. Actually I find very little time to daydream at all. Currently, our little sweetie is sitting calmly next to me, oops well, as I look at him I see that he has managed to take his binky out and put it back in upside down (wish I had my camera nearby). This is his "wind down" time before his nap.
I spent a good bit of time yesterday doing a little more cloth diaper research. I have pretty much settled on Bum Genius 3.0 and Flip diapers, but I wanted to decide which I kind I should purchase a few more of. I also am looking ahead to the summer - if it ever gets warmer - and want to find some swim cloth diapers. - K

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First of all

This is my first attempt at blogging and I have to explain my title. I may be technically "grown up" but I still feel like I am at the beginning of this adventure I like to call - my life. Many times things go so fast and when I get the chance to stop and look around I realize that these really are the best times. I would classify myself in that stage between "this is what I want to do with my life" and actually doing it. We will see how it goes. -K