February 23, 2009

Book Review: The Gift of Psalms

The Gift of Psalms has excerpts from 50 psalms along with a devotional for each. Also included in this gift set is three cds with 30 of the Psalms & devotionals dramatized by various celebrities. Because this book is the Psalms, you can’t go wrong. However, I want to quickly address a couple of things before moving to the good!

The first is some of the psalms aren’t written in their entirety. That’s confusing to read. The second problem is that the book and audio don’t always match up. The cds do include the entire psalm, so it is impossible to follow along with the cd while you read the book (as I would love for my newly reading 5 year old to be able to do). I wish the book had been reduced to the 30 psalms on the cds and had included all of the scripture.

Those are obviously quite nitpicky things, but if I were buying the set I would want to be aware of them. In terms of quality of the book, it would make a wonderful gift. Because it is aesthetically pleasing it would be perfect for someone’s coffee table, and the devotionals themselves are thought provoking. I kept the book in my car (to be close to the cds), and it was easy to grab when I knew I would be standing in line. I could read one or two at a time, and it was a simple way to read God’s word.

What Is the Recession For? (Sermon by John Piper)

We listened to this sermon by John Piper this morning in Sunday School, and it will give you an entirely different perspective on the current economic conditions of our country! Here is an excerpt:

The 5 main points are these:
  1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
  2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
  3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
  4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
  5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
You can watch or read the whole sermon if you go to desiringGod.com.

February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Rainbow Parts 1 & 2

So I know it's not the most amazing rainbow pic ever to be taken. But what I love is that this one was taken looking out the back of my house.

And this one was taken looking out the right of my house.

At the same time!

For More Wordless Wednesday, visit 5 Minutes for Mom!

One Month Down, Five to Go

Yes, it's already been a month since we said good-bye to our sailor. Some days have gone pretty slowly, but I have to admit if each month passes like this one I'll be one happy camper. Today has been much more relaxed than the last few have been! And I have to share 3 things Timothy said today that are such a snapshot of his little personality right now:

1. Mrs. F stopped me to tell me about the "funniest thing" Timothy said at school today. They were talking about using all 5 senses, and she had each child tell what their favorite food was. Timothy said brownies. She asked him what brownies smell like, and he said, "They smell like HORSES!" Ha ha! Evidently, the whole class just rolled, but you don't think it's funny either, do you? Welcome to my son's new sense of humor.

2. We get into the car, and Samantha starts crying about her hand. Timothy drops his head and says, "Oh, I WISH she would STOP crying!" I wanted to laugh so hard!!! I only made it a day and a half hearing her cries before my nervous breakdown, and yet my son made it 4 days!

3. We were driving to Target where I had to pick up a few groceries. Samantha screams, "I want some yogurt!" I told her the good news is that we have plenty at home and when we get there she could have some. Timothy said, "The bad news is [he pauses for comedic timing] we're not getting any now!"

Now that was actually funny.

February 17, 2009

Kids' Picks: Brush Mona Lisa's Hair

Brush Mona Lisa's Hair is one of the books from the Touch the Art Series. Each page showcases amazing art from the Renaissance to the Baroque. In this clever book, there are textured items in each painting that young kids can touch and interact with. Both of my kids love this book, but Samantha can not get enough.

Sam, why do you like this book?

Because it has a girl, and I'm a girl! (insert big beautiful smile)

I think she also likes popping the hair bands on The Birth of Venus and blowing the feathers on the wings of the angels in Sistene Madonna. In this book art becomes personal. When my kids see the Mona Lisa one day, they will already feel a connection to her because they have brushed her hair!

The last 2 pages of the book have a thumbnail of each painting along with a paragraph to explain its significance in our art history. If art from a different period of time interests you more, there are three other books in the series.

For more Kids' Picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books.

February 16, 2009

Weekend Wrapup #4: I Just Needed 10 Minutes

By 1:00 on Saturday,I had listened to Samantha cry or whine for 18 hours, and I thought I was going out of my mind. Still complaining about her skinned hand from Friday, she had a new cough and a bloody nose from a fall earlier in the day. You could have told her she was getting ice cream, and she would have found a way to cry about it.

When I dropped Timothy off for AWANA games practice, I knew I couldn't sit there the whole hour watching him and listening to her wail. I thought the best bet was for Sam and I to at least go somewhere, get some drinks and kill time. But then she started crying because she had to go back to the car. After getting us both buckled, I sat there because I knew it wasn't safe for me to drive until she stopped crying!

Just then, my PRECIOUS friend Demi showed up to drop her son off. She came over to the car, thinking she was just coming to chit chat. All I could get out was, "She's been crying for 36 hours" before I lost it. Demi said, "Samantha, would you like to go for a walk? Alicia, you just stay here as long as you need." I didn't argue. I didn't say I was okay. I didn't even say...

I just need 10 minutes.

But that's all I needed. I sat there and let myself cry over nothing really but the incessant whining of a 3 year old. But that's what I needed to do. And once I had cried HARD for 5 minutes or so I took another few minutes to pull myself together. Then, I could look at my daughter once again. No, the rest of the day was not cry free, but because a friend cared enough to take my child for 10 minutes when I needed it most, I could manage it.

I had to let myself be helped.

February 13, 2009

V-day Stands for Video Teleconference!!!

I always wonder how Navy wives from 30 years ago had to rely on a hand delivered letter for communication! I have a feeling that 30 years from now, military wives are going to be saying, "How did those wives LIVE without daily videoconferencing?" I don't know how long it has been around, but today the kids and I experienced our 1st video teleconference with Dan.

I had not told the kids about it because I had a feeling it could really fall apart, and then the kids would be a mess. However, last night as T & I were having our end of day talk in his bed (where we discuss the events of the next day), I realized that I had to tell him because his entire morning was going to be different. I told him the surprise, and we talked about ways we could react if the "tv" that Daddy was supposed to be on broke.

You know how everything that can go wrong will go wrong whenever you try to accomplish something like this? Well,
  1. I got stuck in base traffic-luckily I had planned plenty of time, so were still there 10 minutes early.
  2. Timothy woke up with a sore in the corner of his mouth-He's never gotten one ever! As we were getting out of the car, he said, "I don't want to talk to Daddy with my sore". It was really hurting him. I told him he didn't have to talk. He could just wave and show Dad his new Batman umbrella. He lit up with that idea.
  3. Samantha fell down on the loose, sharp gravel as we were walking in. A little section of skin actually pealed back. Oh, and this girl can cry-and did for the 10 minutes before our time.
When they came to get us in the waiting room, they said Dan was already on the screen. My throat caught! It made Timothy so excited to know that he would see Daddy on the tv as soon as we walked in. He forgot all about his sore!

Samantha, however, did not forget. I somehow convinced her to stop crying during the 10 minute teleconference. She just sat weepy and pathetic in my arms (luckily, Dan knows her!) Once it was over, we went back to the waiting room, and it's like all the crying she hadn't done the 10 minutes prior came out like a flood. She sobbed LOUDLY for 5 minutes straight and continues to cry about it 4 hours later.

We had such a great time! We were warned that depending on the quality of "continuity" that Dan could look like a dubbed movie where the mouth moves at different times than the noise. I didn't really notice that-just the regular delay you get when you make an international call.

Dan hasn't received either of my packages yet. One I sent the day after he left, and the other I sent a couple of weeks ago, so this was the only Valentines he'll get. I know it was nice for me, and I think he would say the same!

February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day E-Cards for Cystic Fibrosis

Send a card from the heart and help some one's lungs!

The CF foundation is offering a wonderful opportunity. You can send a Valentine's Day e-card illustrated by a CF child to someone you care about. The card pictured here is one of the amazing options. The cost of the e-card is by donation so you can determine the amount you want to give, and there is also a box that states whether or not the receiver will see the amount. Click here to send your e-card this week!

Why roses are significant to CF families...

"65 Roses" is the nickname given to CF after a little girl with Cystic Fibrosis overheard her mom on the phone talking about the disease. Every time the mom said "Cystic Fibrosis", the little girl thought she said, "65 Roses".

This Valentine's Day, when you see roses, please say a prayer for someone you know who has CF and/or someone who cares for someone with CF.

WW & SEW: Cute Cooks

You've heard me mention these adorable aprons my Step-mom made for the kids and me for Christmas! Well, Samantha freaked out about putting it on, and I was not picture worthy, so you get to see Timothy in his. Oh, I LOVE them!!

Check out more great pictures:

Wordless Wednesdays at 5 Minutes for Moms
Special Exposure Wednesdays at 5 Minutes for Special Needs

Children's Classics: A.A. Milne

As I was deciding which Milne book to read in order to participate, I took 2 things into account:

1. I needed it to hold my kids' attention!
2. I wanted it to fit into our current routine.

When We Were Very Young fit the bill beautifully. This is a book of 44 poems, first published in 1924, and illustrated by E.H. Shephard. Each poem is a delightful nugget for young children to enjoy. I was amazed at how much variety there was. Some poems were a few words, some were a few pages. Both humans and animals were spotlighted, and different rhyme & rhythm was used throughout. Of course the highlight is poem #38, Teddy Bear, where Winnie The Pooh is pictured for the first time in literature.

Both of my kids (3 & 5) enjoyed these poems. We read 4 or 5 before bed each night, and I had a great time exposing them to classic poetry that wasn't Dr. Seuss! I felt like each of these poems could be made into it's own picture book, since many of the poems had the same number of words. These poems were also the perfect reading size for my son.

For more works by A.A. Milne, please visit 5 Minutes for Books!

February 9, 2009

It's all Perspective

Timothy has been sick for 10 days with aches, yucky nose, and a mild cough.

Samantha has been sick for a couple of days with a fever and yucky nose. Then last night she started coughing. Ding ding ding-magic sound! I called her nurse this morning.

Yes, I let my son cough for 10 days, and I let Samantha cough for 1 night!

Balboa was full, so we were booked at a clinic that's actually closer to our house. The kids were seen by 2 different doctors, 20 minutes apart, and let me tell you that took some juggling! Anyway, final diagnosis...

Timothy-sinus infection
Samantha-double ear infection!!!

Neither of my kids get either of these. So random! And guess what they're both on...


Samantha's dosage is more than double Timothy's.

But all I could think on the way home is how NORMAL that antibiotic sounds. I can't even remember the last time Samantha was prescribed that!

I like normal.

Magic Marker Monday: JMAKE

Timothy's school has an art program that is led by parent volunteers. There have been some very creative projects this year, including painting tiles to put in our brand new library! Timothy attends a magnet school who's emphasis is "global citizenship". In this project JMAKE (the art program) partnered with a sister school in Rome, Italy. Each school used Arthus Bertrand's aerial photographs as an inspiration for these watercolors. Our K-3 students were given aerial views of their own school and told to paint what they saw!

Timothy's picture is in the 2nd column, 4th down, and as you can see it's pretty bleached out. It says "I love you" which I'm sure is written somewhere in the landscape around Timothy's school. These are all the paintings from Timothy's class put together, and I think it's just amazing! Such a creative idea.

For more Magic Marker Mondays, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

February 8, 2009

My House is Clean!

I saw this "piece of flair" on facebook today and laughed out loud! My house really is clean today (even dusted, as I just told a friend of mine on Sat). Thankfully, my computer isn't broken, but it looks like I have two options: update my blog or keep a clean house! Hopefully, I'm a little caught up in the clean house dept, and I can have a little more balance in both areas!

My number one priority during this deployment is to STAY CONNECTED to the real world around me, to real relationships. It's not easy! It seems like every time the phone rings I'm playing a game with a child or trying to balance the check book! Both kids are sick right now, too, which can lead to isolation. So a few things I'm doing are...

1. Following through on my personal commitments of MOPS and toddler room rotation.
2. Becoming an AWANA leader, which I LOVE!
3. TRYING to return every call and email I receive (this is a toughy for me)
4. Scheduling things that need to get done, no matter how unpleasant.
5. Staying caught up on google reader. CF & military communities are vital to me right now.
6. Checking facebook every so often. It's quick, fun, easy.
7. Planning a get together every weekend with a different circle of friends.
8. Emailing my husband!

His email came back online Wednesday. So nice! And then Fri morning I got a surprise phone call from him! I'm very grateful. So I'm going to keep on getting out of my head and try to care about the lives of other people! And hopefully I'll get around to blogging now and then!

February 7, 2009

Weekend Wrapup #3: Sick Kids

I was supposed to go to a Jeans & Jewels fundraiser at our CF foundation office. Oh, and I SO wanted to go (insert pout), but there is NO way I would expose CF kids to the germs of my two. I also needed to drop off our first GREAT STRIDES donation!!! We'll be kicking it off very soon, but Dan was busy before he left!

The one thing we did on Saturday was go to AWANA games practice. While Timothy was running around, my friend Demi and I organized our AWANA Sparks stuff. The church bought new cabinets, so this was a perfect time to really know what materials we have! Organizing like this is so totally my idea of fun (as indicated by my Org Junkie link ups!) I think I found markers in 8 different plastic containers. I'm all about consolidation!

I had a much quieter Sat this week due to sick kiddos. I've now made it through 3 Saturdays!

February 4, 2009

WW & SEW: Calgon Take me Away!

For more pictures worth a thousand words:

Wordless Wednesdays at 5 Minutes for Moms

Special Exposure Wednesdays at 5 Minutes for Special Needs

L.M. Montgomery Challenge: The Story Girl

I am a bit late to the carnival, but I couldn't pass up a chance to recommend a book that says...

"Even skeptical Dan prayed, his skepticism falling away from him like a discarded garment in this valley of the shadow [of death], which sifts our hearts and tries souls, until we all, grown-up or children, realize our weakness, and, finding that our own puny strength is as a reed shaken in the wind, creep back humbly to the God we have vainly dreamed we could do without."

L.M. Montgomery is the famed author of the Anne of Green Gables books. I say "famed" loosely since I didn't know who the author was until this carnival. I actually didn't even know the movies until I was a freshman in college! A kindred spirit introduced me, and I was hooked. After college I read the books and decided for this carnival that I would find what other treasures Montgomery had to offer.

The Story Girl is the enjoyable tale of a mid 20th century "gang" of teen aged friends who's ordinary experiences in life are all the richer because of their bond. While the book points out each person's strengths, the focus often revolves around the story girl, who is a gifted wordsmith.

"...if voices had colour, hers would have been like a rainbow. It made words live. Whatever she said became a breathing entity..."

Through the narrator's lens, we come to believe this! We want desperately to HEAR the stories and not just read them. The narrator is Beverly, the story girl's male cousin who comes to visit Prince Edward Island while his dad is working in South America. The fact that a teenage boy reveres the story girl's talents substantiates them all the more! Golden Road is the sequel (that I will be starting tomorrow), and begins in the same month that The Story Girl ends. Beverly reminds us that

"...before us was the dream of spring. It is always safe to dream of spring. For it is sure to come; and if it be not just as we have picture it, it will be infinitely sweeter."

I have to admit one problem with this book was that I kept expecting Anne Shirley to appear! Who could blame me? Nevertheless, I enjoyed this lighthearted read. Want to know what other good books Montgomery has written? Head on over to Reading to Know.

Interesting fact:

The Disney Channel series "Tales of Avonlea" is loosely based on The Story Girl novels.

February 1, 2009

Some Days I Feel like a Groundhog

I put all my hopes and expectations on the events of one day or one person. I decide in advance that the outcome of that particular experience will determine my short-term happiness. For example,

I have not had an email conversation with my husband since Tuesday night. I'm used to a day or two of email being down, but 6 days!!! Please don't make me stretch as a person!

Timothy is getting this weird sickness. It's been a stuffy/runny nose for a few days and a tiny cough when sleeping. Well, last night he still only showed the stuffy nose, but he was clearly miserable. I vaguely remember him crawling into my bed last night, but once he started KICKING me non-stop I realized he was there! For the next 2-3 hours he kept kicking me in his sleep because he was so restless.

I need continual, restful sleep to be a functioning human being.

I tried teaching him to face away from me so that when he kicked it would hit the air. I moved him back to his bed once, but he just found his way back to my bed 20 minutes later. I was so disoriented that it took hours of this before it dawned on me to give him medicine. So after some tylenol and benadryl, I went to sleep. I don't know how long after I heard him say, "I'm going back to my bed," and he's been there the rest of the night. Thank God!

In the night I heard him say, "Mom, I don't want to go to school today." He never says that, so we'll see how he's doing when he wakes up this morning. But it seems like if he has no fever, I should still take him?? We've been blessed with no sickness yet in Kindergarten, so I've never had to make this decision.

Two factors are influencing my day: no communication with my husband and a serious lack of sleep, so here is my plan...

Romans 12:12

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Psalm 63:6-8

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Yes, there may be 6 more weeks of winter, 6 more months of deployment, and 6 more days of no email with Dan, but praise be to my God I don't have to depend on any of that to determine my joy or my sanity! My hope is in the Lord.

Nature Center

We had a school field trip last Thursday to the Chula Vista Nature Center. This museum promotes coastal resource conservation and environmental stewardship. It is located on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and has become home to many endangered species. Samantha and I got to go with Timothy on this enjoyable field trip.

Samantha's first bus ride (she totally loved it)

We got to touch the sting rays-that white one is an albino.

The kids thought this eel and lobster next to one another was very cool.

Lots of birds...

You can see this owl's right eye is injured.

Even a giant nest.

And we could see the San Diego skyline from there...

I highly recommend it. A great little trip!

Weekend Wrapup #2: Girl Night

We started our Sat with a trip to the library. Each kid picked out a Veggie Tales movie (this is fairly standard), and I checked out several books by Denise Fleming, an author that is new to me. I'll be reviewing those soon.

After that we attended another birthday party. It was a beautiful day in San Diego, and the kids played so happily! I actually got to talk to other moms for almost 2 hours straight! So fun! I'm going on my 4th day of no communication at all with Dan, so adult conversations are precious!

Sat night one of my best girlfriends from church came over to play! There is a father/son retreat at our church this weekend, so she was available! We put the kids down and had girl time! We watched Bend It Like Beckham-great movie.

Of course today is the Super Bowl! I am watching it for the football, and from what I've seen so far I think the commercials may be slim pickings this year. Hopefully, the really funny ones haven't been released yet, but here are a couple of good Pepsi commercials...

Good luck Arizona!