Friday, July 31, 2009

Blue Like Play Dough

Today my husband worked a short day and my in-laws are in town. This gave me the unusual opportunity to consider a nap.....I had the chance to take a LONG nap but I passed on it. WHAT???? That's crazy! Any mother of four who has the chance to take a nap (long or short) should take it. Why on earth would I pass up this chance? Because I wanted to finish the book Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer.

Now, I will confess that I read fast so I managed to get the reading in and still have time for a short nap so it wasn't all sacrifice. This book is wonderful. It hit on several parenting, spiritual, and life issues that were timely. Some of the topics I enjoyed most:

  • There's no need for Excessive Self-Sufficiency.
  • One of the best ways of Finding and Sharing God's Love is thru Relationship with others
  • Remembering that TODAY is life, don't wait for the illusive tomorrow.
  • Trust and respond to your inner voice!
  • If you feel disconnected or "a little off"--- you probably are, but you can fix it. Get into the word and spend some time in prayer.
  • There are no "side trips" on your journey with God, every season has a purpose. God can grow you thru it.
  • Make the effort to tuck God's word in your kids hearts (ie: bible stories and memorization) and use creative ways sometimes... For instance, lights out or bedtime can be extended ANY time for reading God's word.
  • The hard stuff isn't easy (like your teenager being arrested for stealing) but thru it we see God in different ways.
This book may well be the best book I have read so far this year. I plan to read it again while on vacation next week. But, better yet, I have a copy to GIVE AWAY. Comment here on the blog OR on Facebook by Aug 8 to be entered in a drawing for a free book (I'll mail it to you). If you aren't the winner, you should still get this book!

Summary: In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of
Goodnight Moon, a woe-is me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognizes the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

Author Bio: Tricia Goyer is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Generation NeXt Parenting and the Gold Medallion finalist Life Interrupted. Goyer writes for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family, speaks to women’s groups nationwide and has been a presenter at the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) national convention. She and her husband, John, live with their family in Montana.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

National Firearms Museum


Today, the kids and I went to the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA. The museum is co-located with the National Rifle Association (NRA). For any who aren't aware, my oldest sons are gun enthusiasts! They read about guns, they write about guns, they play army, army, and more army. They own at least 2 Air-Soft pellet guns each and are always asking for more. They have large (encyclopedia-like) books about guns and read them frequently. You might ask, does this bother me? No, it doesn't bother me at all. I sometimes get tired of hearing about guns but...they enjoy it, they are learning, and we often utilize this keen interest to help them set goals in other areas.
I grew up around guns. I think I was probably 9 the first time I shot a weapon (probably at a empty soda can, a fence post, or a cow patty--I was visiting my extended family in Texas). By 13 or so, I would go to shooting ranges and "practice." And, later I had to "qualify" with an M-16 as part of my annual Army requirements (as did David). So, you might say that I am uniquely-likely to have sons that would have such a great interest in weapons. At any rate, we decided that today we would go and see the museum. Admission is Free and it's close to our house so, it made for an easy Day Trip.
The Museum Exhibits are nice, the collection of weapons is well organized and informative, and there are historical references in order to both educate and give context to weapon development. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I was impressed. There were many more weapons than I expected and the history was very interesting to me.
For instance, I didn't know that until WWII, General grade officers had to provide their own pistol!?! That seems ridiculous! And now, a pistol is issued to each General and they are the only weapons issued by the United States Armed Forces that do not have to be returned. It's a cool little tidbit of information and there are many more like that.
Sybella's favorite part of the museum was the computers; most of the display cases have too much in them to have descriptions on placards. So, instead, there are computers where you type in the case and item number to find out what the item is, it's maker, and the history of the weapon. Sybella LOVED typing on the keyboards. She would then repeat the name of whatever weapon the boys were talking about (as if she had actually looked it up). The boys also enjoyed the computers but they used them to confirm that they had accurately named a weapon. I was downright surprised at how versed they are in WWII weaponry. I hear them talk about guns but they were actually able to pick them out!
Obviously, we enjoyed our visit to the museum and much to the boys' delight, they sell Air-Soft pistols in the gift shop! The boys used their allowance money to purchase a Sig Sauer and a Walther P22, which they are in fact using in "target" practice outside right now. What a great day!

***Don't forget that if you click on the mosaic or any other picture, it will enlarge for better viewing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Three Months Old


Cooper is three months old! I can't believe how much he has changed since he was born. I think knowing that this will be my last little one, I am savoring each new thing a little more. And, it doesn't hurt that I absolutely LOVE watching my other kids love him! Wow, I am blessed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Be Encouraged by: A Perfect Mess

I love reviewing books for Publishers. When it's a great fiction book, I love being drawn into the story. When it's a business or topic-specific book, I learn and learn and learn. In the case of A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper, it's an encouragement book and Bible Study. I had already decided to make my summer devotion time focus on Psalms and Proverbs; when this book came along, I knew it would be a perfect companion to my studies. Lisa tells stories from a personal, human, and transparent viewpoint while clearly sharing scriptures from Psalms. It's awesome. There are chapters about: approval, rest, imperfections, expectations, and anger along with many others. These are the areas of "falling short" that so many people struggle with. Lisa's message is- God's grace prevails and the pressures we put on ourselves doesn't change that one bit. There are questions at the end of each chapter that can be used for personal reflection, a book club, or Bible study.

I enjoyed this book and would whole-heartedly recommend it! I think that reading a book that reminds and encourages us about God's grace thru our imperfections is a yearly necessity.

You can buy the book....OR you can win a copy here! Just post a comment on my blog or on Facebook for a chance to win a copy in a drawing. (I'll mail it to you.) Hurry, the drawing will take place on Aug 1st!

Book Summary-- Caught up in the self-imposed pressure to do and be all the things they think a Christian woman ought to do and be, countless women are working desperately to convince everyone, including God, that they have it all together. Few have any idea that the Creator of the universe looks at them with delight even when they yell at the dog, drive a minivan littered with French fries, or think bad words about that rude clerk at the store.

A Perfect Mess offers hope to every woman who yearns for a vibrant relationship with God but worries she isn’t good enough or doesn’t do enough to merit His affection. With characteristic authenticity, speaker and author Lisa Harper shares poignant stories from her own imperfect life to showcase the real-life relevancy of the Bible in the lives of modern women. As she guides readers on a story-driven journey through selected Psalms, they will be inspired to experience for themselves how God’s incomparable love transforms the messiness of life into a gorgeous work of grace.

Author Bio-- Lisa Harper is a master storyteller whose lively approach connects the dots between the Bible era and modern life. She is a sought-after Bible teacher and speaker whose upcoming appearances include the national Women of Faith Conferences. A veteran of numerous radio and television programs and the author of several books, she also is a regular columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Lisa recently completed a master’s of theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She makes her home outside Nashville.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Challenger Soccer Camp


Last Week, Connor attended a Challenger British Soccer Camp at the Oak Mar Recreation Center. He had a great time and got to work on drills and skills. He spent 3 hours a day playing soccer and having fun. (He thought the accents were cool too.)
Connor didn't remember but he actually attended a Challenger camp in Tacoma, Washington when he was just 4 years old. Who would have thought that those early days would turn into a Love of the Game.
This was the first of 2 soccer camps that Connor will attend this summer. His next camp will be one he participates in with his new travel team : VYS U-9 Raptors Black.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Carpe Cupcake (and Carpe Entrepreneurs)!

I got an e-mail today from Donna ('Annie'), who was a PTA Co-President with me in Puyallup, WA. We had lots of fun along with accomplishing tons of good for the school, students, and teachers. So, her e-mail was no surprise to me. Here is a snippet:

I have news. Recently, I opened a new business, everythingcupcakesbyannie.com. It all started with my sister's stamp 'original cupcake' (Lockhart Stamp Co.). I started making products with her images and feeding my ever-growing creative soul and... bing, bang, boom a business was born! Please visit my site and enjoy shopping through my calorie-free cupcake collection.

Now, I can't say that cupcakes are an obsession for me. However, I have a daughter, cupcakes are popular & cute, and I do whole-heartedly support entrepreneurial spirit! So, I checked it out and I plan to buy a gift for my daughter. I am sharing Donna's story because I want to support a motivated woman who has decided to do something she loves with the talents she has.

Writing this, I got to thinking about the other business owners I know: Jamil Evans owns a growing government contracting company (DC), Anthony Kirlew is a search engine marketing wiz (Phoenix, AZ), Gwen Grimes Sawyer (San Antonio, TX) has an awesome photography company, and there are many others, in fact too many to name, but....I think they would all say that getting started may well be the hardest and most important step.

Another business-owner who downright inspires me is: Brandie Hall. She is a Personal Trainer, Motivational Speaker & Life Coach but honestly, she is just an encourager like nobody else! She has taken her passions and uses them daily to create a living AND to benefit others. When a client connects with Brandie, they get a full service experience, not just an exercise plan. She educates, challenges, and designs a plan to get them to results. I haven't ever had a training session with Brandie (though I wish I had) but I know what she accomplishes, YOU CAN'T FAKE THE INTERACTIONS (AND RESULTS) THAT SHE HAS WITH HER CLIENTS. Facebook has given me a window into her business from the service and client perspective that marketing couldn't possibly capture....it speaks for itself (I could do a whole other post on creative use of social networking to not only promote your business but convey "who" your company is).

Launching a business of your own is no minor endeavor, but is anything worth having easy? It will take confidence and hard work, did I say 'hard work?' I meant REALLY HARD WORK.

These are just a few of the people I know who have exhibited confidence and commitment to being an entrepreneur. If you have been thinking about doing something new and different in business or life, take the leap!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer in the Pool

This summer has been a great opportunity to spend time at the pool. The pool is a sorta "magical" place where age doesn't matter. Many activities we partake in are designed for 'little' kids and at those times, my awesome older kids indulge all of us by genuinely participating. Then there are activities or sporting events that are for the older kids. For these, we just take the little ones along with lots of snacks and toys and try to disrupt nap time as little as possible. There are some events that all of the kids can enjoy, but even these take some planning and thinking about how to maximize the experience for each of the kids.
However, at the pool, the age challenges all just wash away (pun intended). Whether you are 11, 8, 2 1/2, or just a wee baby, the pool is for you! The older kids can hang out with their friends, swim, practice new tricks off the diving board & all around enjoy themselves. Sybella loves the baby pool and playing with all the water toys. And, now, she is tall enough to stand in the shallow end of the big pool (with her floatees of course), which she also thinks is great. At the mandatory 'rest break' the older kids have to get out of the pool and they always come find their sister in the baby pool and play with her. And now, even Cooper is 'chillin' in the pool.


P.S. This year was the first year that I have gotten swim shirts for the kids and can I just say that those things are awesome! I am so much less nervous about sunburn.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review-- Holy Roller by: Julie Lyons

This is a different kind of book, and I do mean different. It's not every day that you read a reporter's personal account of finding the Holy Spirit and Spiritual Awakening, and all in the course of doing her job. This book is about people's lives--the good, the bad, and the outright ugly---and also Hope. You may not believe in all, some, or any of the spiritual beliefs that Julie discusses in this book.

But, here is what it got me thinking about:

  • People often act in ways that are religious and yet, look nothing like Christ's demonstration.
  • Love is an action not a word.
  • Some people take God seriously, Faith to them means believing and expecting that God will show up. (He may not answer their prayers the way they want, but He will comfort, He cares, and He just might answer in miraculous ways!)
  • God is omnipotent, that's a pretty big deal!
This book is a sometimes slow, a bit unique in it's chronology and yet, a good read and worth it. This book will get you thinking, especially if you have been confused, apathetic, searching, stagnant, excited, content, educated, frustrated, or challenged about faith.
***So, get a copy, or BETTER YET, WIN ONE here. Leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook to enter a drawing to win a free copy of the book. (I will mail it to you.)

Book Summary: Julie Lyons was working as a crime reporter when she followed a hunch into the South Dallas ghetto. She wasn’t hunting drug dealers, but drug addicts who had been supernaturally healed of their addictions. Was there a church in the most violent part of the city that prayed for addicts and got results.

At The Body of Christ Assembly, a rundown church on an out-of-the-way street, Lyons found the story she was looking for. The minister welcomed criminals, prostitutes, and street people–anyone who needed God. He prayed for the sick, the addicted, and the demon-possessed, and people were supernaturally healed.

Lyons’s story landed on the front page of the Dallas Times Herald. But she got much more than just a great story, she found an unlikely spiritual home. Though the parishioners at The Body of Christ Assembly are black and Pentecostal, and Lyons is white and from a traditional church background, she embraced their spirituality–that of “the Holy Ghost and fire.”

It’s all here in Holy Roller–the stories of people desperate for God’s help. And the actions of a God who doesn’t forget the people who need His power.

Author Bio: Julie Lyons is an award-winning writer, editor and investigative reporter who for more than 11 years served as editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer, an alternative weekly newspaper owned by Village Voice Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband, Larry Lyons Jr., live in Dallas with their son.

Monday, July 13, 2009

::Lyle the Crocodile::



Last week, we went to see "Lyle the Crocodile," a children's play based on the book of the same name.

The play was at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD. It is a great theater--there isn't a bad seat in the house and it is designed for kids and families in mind.

Sybella, Cooper, and I planned to attend with Shauna and Kylee and then had the awesome opportunity to invite Hannah, my niece, for a "Cousin Date!" What fun we had together and enjoyed the play!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th Parade

On Independence Day, we spent the morning at the City of Fairfax Parade. It was awesome. I didn't expect it to be nearly as big as it was. We had McGruff the Crime Dog, the Chick-Fil-A Cow, flying candy, lots of convertibles, many Fire Departments, Bands from as far away as Minnesota, Veterans, The Shriners, Police Departments, The Redskins Band, BIG balloons (I mean Big!), Floats, boy scouts, dance troupes, Girl Scouts, local officials, and the Lt Governor!
Even Better was the fact the parade was 2 blocks from our house so Granda came over and we were able to walk to the route and not have to get there early.
The kids enjoyed it. Sybella waved at all the participants and clapped for the performances. I didn't even manage to get a picture of the boys because they sat in the front row and never moved. I also forgot to take a picture of Cooper, who slept through most of the parade but looked adorable in his red, white, and blue attire. His shirt had stars on it and said "Born in 2009." He was quite cute. Here are some shots of the parade and Sybella waving. Enjoy~


Happy 223rd Birthday to the USA!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Motivation

After just having a baby, I am working very hard to get in shape. One of the things I am doing is sit-ups. While we were on vacation, Connor had volunteered one day to hold my feet, Sybella wanted to get in on the action, so she sat on my feet. When I would come "up" for my sit-up, Sybella would give me a kiss. It was cute and is a great motivator to have your 2-yr old daughter cheering you on, "Go Mommy, Go----Hey, Mommy kissed me!!"


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Missions Team Reunion

David and I led a Missions Team to the Dominican Republic earlier this year. Our team tries to get together every couple of months to hang out and stay connected. Since Katie McFaddin, one of our teammates, is embarking on an 11-month missions project in August, we wanted to get together one more time and hang out before her departure. So, off to Baltimore and an Orioles Game we went! Dana was thrilled, as she lives in Baltimore and for once, she didn't have to drive to us. :) We missed not having Carol with us, but hopefully she can make it next time.

We sat in the first row in the upper deck, on the First Base Line. The boys got excited about several Pop-Fly Foul Balls but needed to be a few seats further down to have a chance to catch one of the balls that came our direction. Oh well, maybe next time!

***If you click on this picture, you can enlarge for a better view, note that Chad is holding Cooper and if I do say so, Chad did a great job --- he held Cooper for most of the game!

We took all the boys with us to the game even though only Colin went on the Missions Trip. It's not that we don't think Sybella would have enjoyed herself, but it was an afternoon game right in the middle of nap time, naps are important when you are 2 1/2, so we left Sybella with her Granda.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Myrtle Beach Photos

I wanted to get some more shots up from our vacation in June. We were in Myrtle Beach, SC and it was such a time of relaxation and fun. Colin and Connor love the water, Sybella got a chance to have fun in the water & sand, and little Cooper won't remember this trip but will have pictures of his first trip to the beach.
Enjoy!!
**Remember if you click on any photo in our blog, it will enlarge for better viewing.