Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Uncle Hubs & Aunt Feather

The year 2011 brought with it many life changes in our little family, and the year 2012 is already expecting one major change in our larger family unit:

Hubs & I will have our first niece or nephew!

Excited much? The next progressive step in our lives was for somebody to have a baby. And I couldn't be happier that it is my brother and sister-in-law taking the plunge. We are joining them in their excitement and can't wait to meet the little guy (or gal).

Their wedding

I love my aunts. They are fun and wise and loving and very special. I hope that I can be that to this little one. I love my uncles. They are crazy and funny and loving and very special. I hope that Hubs can be a favorite to this little one.

So, this Christmas is the last with just the sibs. Next year we will have a welcomed addition, but I want to enjoy this last time together without our time and attention diverted towards the cuteness and antics of the children (maybe they'll have twins...).

But, I can tell you exactly where I'll be next year on Christmas Day:

On the couch holding my niece or nephew. Enjoying everything about him for the limited time I have to see him. And, giving the stare-down to any and all who dare to snatch him out of my hands.

Congratulations little bro & sis. I love you lots, pray for you often and rejoice with your news!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

St. Louis Site: Candy Cane Lane

On Saturday night, we decided to return a movie by walking to the rental store. It is less than a mile away and the temperature was in the mid forties. After returning the movie, however, we decided to continue walking to a nearby park for fun.

That's when we saw the traffic jam. We continued on our way, but were intrigued over what could bring so many people out that they would wait in line to see. 

The area we were walking around in is known as St. Louis Hills. It has beautiful brick homes and I love taking walks in the area. It was fun this time around because many people had put up beautiful Christmas lights. Even our park had a giant Christmas tree with more lights than I've ever seen.

Traffic was still backed up after we walked around the park, so we decided we had to check it out. Turns out, they were in line to see Candy Cane Lane.

This was one of the most impressive displays of neighborhood lights I'd ever seen. There were lights canopying the street, each house was tastefully decorated, an exquisite sand sculpture was displayed, and they even had a large screen with "Polar Express" playing. You could tune your radio to a certain fm station and hear the movie playing. The residents were taking donations to go towards the Joplin tornado relief and giving out candy canes to those driving through. There were bonfires going and the only thing really missing was some hot cocoa.

This simple walk to the movie store became one of the best outings we've taken in a while. We had commented that it isn't feeling much like Christmas this year, with warm weather and NO SNOW. Seeing these lights made us get in the mood a little more!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

6 Reasons Why I Should Start Running

My friend sent me an article called, “6 Reasons to Start Running.” It reminded me of things I knew; reasons why we should just be working out in general. But then I decided I needed some reasons that were more personal.

If you’ve been following the feather files from the beginning, you know that my very first post was about getting into running. Since then, I have been in and out and in and out. While I am not where I was 3.5 years ago, I am also worse off than I have been at times. I want to work out, but the excuses wear me down each evening and it just doesn’t happen.

6 Reasons why I should Start Running

1.       I don’t want to be fat. It’s true that I am too self-conscious of myself. I hardly ever wear shorts because I can’t stand my thighs touching each other. My knees are awkward and ugly. I’m not happy when I can feel my stomach bunch up into rolls when I sit. Without working out, my legs will continue further down the road of cellulite and spider veins. I don’t handle the effects of gaining weight very well, and running will help me avoid that future. (*For those of you wanting to scroll down to the bottom and scream in all caps, "YOU'RE NOT FAT," I know that. I'm strictly speaking in the preventative sense in that I don't want to put on unnecessary weight, which if I continue as I am, will happen in the years to come.)

2.       I love food. I can’t be one of those people who limits themselves to eating a very small amount of food and I will not ban ice cream from our home forever. Scientifically and mathematically, I need to use that which I consume. So, if I am not going to give up food, I’d better take up exercise.

3.       I like healthy. Activity is healthy, it is also non-existence in my 8-5 office job with a 40 minute daily commute. When I ran jogged this morning, my lungs and heart were not used to exertion. They struggled to keep up and, although my legs were willing, the rest of my body was shocked that I would subject it to anything more than a walk around the neighborhood at a relatively fast pace. My stomach even threatened to show me in a more real way the shock it was undergoing. (Fortunately, I was able to coax it back to a happier state.) Healthy food alone will not improve my health; activity must be included.

4.       June 2, 2012. A friend and I signed up and paid the registration for a 10k listed as one of Runner’s World Magazine’s top ten hills. It’s something that I need to be ready for and it is the deadline that I need.

5.       Sanity & Schedule. I rarely have a bad night’s sleep, but I remember that working out regularly makes sleep even more enjoyable and inviting. Going to bed having done something other than sitting is a really good feeling. Making time for working out/running crams the schedule a little tighter, but honestly a tight schedule is sometimes more helpful than a loose one.

6.       Hubs. Hubs likes running and he likes healthy exercise. He is happy when he makes time for it, and I probably am, too. Hubs also likes an attractive wife and I know he thinks I’m more attractive with my thighs don’t touch either other as much and I don’t have to suck in to have flat abs.

So, a gym membership is going to have to happen and activity, including running, will begin again. It’s not even the New Year and I’m ready for the change

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas songs & decor

Oh, the weather outside is frightful / But the fire is so delightful / And, since we've no place to go / Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

I put the Christmas cd's in the car this week. I am that person scream-singing in my car to all the songs. Hand motions and facial expressions may or may not be included. But I love Christmas music (with the one exception of Santa Baby). From the simple childhood songs, to the ancient carols, to the triumphant brass, to the songs with deep lyrics and closely intertwining harmonies, I could listen to these songs throughout the year.

It's about the cross / It's about my sin / It's about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again // It's about God's love / Nailed to a tree // It's about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me.

Listening to the music this year has made me remember how much I loved singing in a group, working out difficult lines that, when put together, make lovely melodies. Like most things in my life, I didn't stick with it and it is such a vague memory anymore. Instead, I've become a proficient car singer.

There have been so many babies to become a king / But only one King became a baby

When it comes to interior design & decor, I don't pretend that I am any good at decorating. Really, I have no clue how to put things together, but I am happy with our simple mantel this year. And, I did decide on the colors I wanted to stick with. Instead of pulling out every item in the 4 Christmas totes, I stuck with things that go together (I hope). My lack of style really begs the question, "Why would you even show the world your finished product." Nobody is going to see it this year besides us, so I'm sharing it so it doesn't go to waste.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother / And in His Name all oppression shall cease // Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we / Let all within us praise His holy Name!

I really wanted 3 dark brown frames with white matting for the printouts, but we decided not to spend money on decorations this year, so I had to use what I had. It works, but I'll still hope for the new frames next year.

He is here / The Savior has been born / The one we've waited for / Surrounded by our praises // He is here / The promise of our King / To you our lives we bring / Let you glory be revealed

Just a simple carpenter who found himself in love / with a girl bearing the child of the Divine // Just a simple manger yet somehow it was enough / to accommodate the God of space and time

Only 2 weeks until Christmas and I've only bought Hubs' gifts. I ordered my Christmas cards too late and they will go out after the holiday. We've gone to zero Christmas parties and we've not even put up a tree. But, I'm enjoying the twinkle lights around the neighborhood and the carols on the radio and I'm looking forward to time with everyone I love over the holidays!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Break We Needed

Hubs and I looked forward to Thanksgiving more than ever this year. It's been a [trying] year and we were just ready for relaxation. That is exactly what we got in the form of family togetherness, hobbies, and laughter.

The tradition continued for us to participate in a Thanksgiving 5K. Every year that Hubs and I have participated, it has been below freezing, so we were delighted and overdressed for the sunny 46 degree weather. None of us had been running consistently, but we all finished. It feels incredibly good to get out and move before sitting and eating in the afternoon.

After lunch, we found a dog park so that Ransom could run. He hasn't really been able to run since we moved to St. Louis. He enjoyed himself, and it calmed him down for the rest of the trip. Surprisingly to all of us, it was a busy place.

To finish off the day, we played Kinect. It is really fun; it is hilarious. And, I was painfully sore for the rest of the trip.

On Friday, we went out to a farm to "shoot some guns." I hadn't shot anything for a long time and wasn't as excited as the guys. But, once I got used to it again I was reminded at how fun it can be - as long as you are being smart and cautious, of course.

We started off with Dad's new 38 caliber hand gun. It was a little too tiny for me to be very accurate. I would need some definite target practice if this was going to be useful for me.

I look extremely dumb shooting with my giant hoodie over my head. I'll think that through next time. In the picture below, Richard caught the smoke coming from the gun. You might notice how skewed my hand is compared to the photo above, which shows the kick-back that tiny gun has. I need some strength in those arms!

Things then moved to guns bigger than I care to handle and targets further away. These guns were loud and heavy. Maybe if there would have been something to rest the gun on....nope, I still wouldn't have shot it.

Mom and I hung out in the car and watched. It was comfortable watching from the car, but a bit chilly to just stand around.

Things moved back to the smaller scale and I even got back out and shot the 22 rifle. Pathetically, that was still too much for me to hold for 10 rounds. I a) need to lift some weights or b) need to stick to hand guns. Richard was the sharp-shooter of the day with this Winchester Colt 45 rifle. He shot 4 rounds right in the bulls-eye!

This year I was very thankful for a break and that we live close enough to go visit family for the holiday. I know that we could have had fun in St. Louis, but to be surrounded by familiarity, without the constant reminders of school and work, was oh, so rejuvenating.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: 2011 thoughts

Hundreds (literally) of emails filled my inbox over the past week filling me in on all the deals that were too good to pass up.

Unlike years before, I barely read them and moved them directly to the trash bin.

The deals were too tempting and I knew that if I looked for too long, I would find things that I thought I needed. Sure enough, when I did venture out with my mom on Saturday, the sales were going on and I wanted oh-so badly to cash in on all the great sales.

But I didn’t need anything. And I didn’t have the money to spend on anything. And I shouldn’t spend money just because something is on sale – at least, this is what Hubs is trying to teach me. I want plenty of things and didn’t want to even give myself the opportunity to succumb to the pressure.

However, today the deals are out again and they are just as tempting as before. (I should really stop reading about the Kindle Fire.) So, instead of shopping myself, I thought I’d share some of my favorite deals with you!

I did cash in on this one, because we needed the items and I can’t get them cheaper than this!

30% off these brands: Method, Covergirl, Rainbow Light vitamins, Pantene, Neutrogena, Luna, Crest 3D, Cheerios, Yes To, Playtex & Aveeno / use coupon code: SOAP30. Also, free shipping when on orders over $39 (combined total between all their sites: wag.com, yoyo.com, & beautybar.com).

40% off one full-priced item / use coupon code: YOYO40. Same free shipping as soap.com & wag.com. This site has games, books & toys galore. Check it out, especially if you are giving games as gifts!

35% off all products (great prices on dog food, etc). Also, free shipping on orders over $49 ($39 if shopping between all sites – see soap.com above)

35% off all products / use coupon code cyber2011. I love their mineral powder and haven’t needed any since last year’s Cyber Monday sale. I am almost out, but have been holding on, waiting for this very sale.

50% off + free shipping. I love this brand for my work clothes and they NEVER have free shipping. This is a great deal that I won’t be taking advantage of, though my mom scored some awesome pants.

Of course, there are great deals on photo sites today, too. I wish I was more prepared and ready to order some of those gifts. And, I’m sure there are deals on the sites you like best too.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Relevant Thanks-Giving

In a country where we have an overwhelming amount for which to be thankful (no dangling preposition here thanks to my grandmother’s voice in my head), I find myself increasingly un-thankful. Just spending any small amount of time watching TV, perusing Facebook, pinning on Pinterest, and stepping outside of my house is slowly eating away at any grateful spirit that I had cultivated. Whether it is new clothes, house furnishings, thinner legs, or a different stage in life; I always have something I would rather have or somewhere I would rather be.

And those things are not BAD; that’s not what I’m saying. No, the only wrong here is my own response to what I see or what I desire. And lately, my response has not been contentment. It has not been a desire to be used by God in the here and now. And it has certainly not been gratitude.

I think it has to come back to the little stuff. I can make an overarching statement of the things I am thankful for: health, husband, home, family, salvation, but when those little [big] extras come up, it doesn’t really help to think about how thankful I am for my health.

Let me demonstrate with brown leather boots; flat, chunky, wear with jeans, essence of fall boots. They are all over Pinterest. They are on all sorts of people’s feet. They are in pictures, in stores, and I love them. They aren’t a necessity right now and I can’t justify buying a pair (since I rarely even wear jeans nowadays). But my immediate reaction has been to [inwardly] pout because I don’t have them. Instead of this wrong response, I should put on gratefulness.

So, is this where I start thinking through the list things in which to be thankful: house, car, heater, husband, family, etc? I don’t find that helps much. But, what about if I am grateful over something applicable to this instance? “I already own a pair of black, brown & gray boots. Ones that I love and I wear often because they are more work appropriate. Thank you Lord, for allowing me to have stylish clothes that I need for my job.”

I still love those boots. I even want them. But I’m learning to not sin in my response of not getting them right now. I am finding that this allows me to learn to be thankful, to not be swallowed up in my discontentment, and frees me to be excited for others that have things I want.

There are much bigger things in my life where I have noticed discontentment and ungratefulness; boots are just a simple example. But I am hoping that by slowly learning to put a relevant thankful thought in the place of an ugly one, and with the Holy Spirit’s diligent prodding of my heart, I can train my heart and mind to be one of gratefulness and joy.

So, what better time of the year to confess my sinful thoughts and actions to the Lord and really work on cultivating a spirit of gratitude? Because let's face it; a life of thanks-giving is much more happy than a life of me-giving.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Outtakes 2011

Hubs humored me a few weeks ago and was willing to try to take a few family photos after church. Although, I was planning on pictures without the dog, he managed to get in a few of them to remind us why we don't have great pictures with all three of us together.

Because he wants to look at us, not the camera...

Because we catch him in awkward and embarrassing poses...

Because he sits pretty looking the wrong direction...

Because he's too large to hold...

Because the 10-second timer isn't long enough...

He still ends up making us loose the fake-smile because we laugh a lot. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Five Random Questions

I have some random questions on my mind, and who better to pose them to than the people that read my blog? Plus, I have a feeling I have lost a majority of my readership from my tumultuous October that kept me from even desiring to blog about anything. Hopefully I can find out if anyone is still reading...

1. Which version of the Bible do you regularly read: New King James (NKJ), New American Standard (NAS) or English Standard (ESV)? I’m asking because I’ve always used the NKJ and bought an ESV Bible last year and am wishing I would have bought the NAS. The only NAS Bible I have is on my kindle.

2. If you travel out of town for all the holidays and don’t have any kids, do you still decorate your own house? I will, but I feel like we need to have a party or something since nobody will see them except for Hubs and me.

3. How do you plug-in Christmas lights outside? I want to put lights on the blue spruce in our yard, but have no clue how to power them. Obviously, I’ve never done this before. Do you just use an extension cord?

4. What is the passage or verse in the Bible that is on your mind right now? Isaiah 26:3-4 “You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Ever since a friend shared this verse years ago, I continually come back to it.

5. If you took a vacation over Christmas, which of the following would you choose: a big city with the Christmas hustle bustle; a snowy ski destination in the Rocky Mountains; a warm beach in Hawai’i; or, you would never vacation over Christmas. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to vacation every year over Christmas, but it would be a fun twist to the holidays especially since we don’t have children – I would want it to be with our family though. However, when the kids come along, I think we will stay put most of the time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A 28-year-old birthday

Twenty-eight is not glamorous. And, for those of you on facebook wondering, I did not go to NYC to celebrate. Instead, this is what I did...

It started with breakfast at Starbucks and reading in Psalms. It was one of the highlights of my day, and could have only been better if I could have stayed there for hours and not minutes.

I spent the next 3.5 hours in this chair.

For lunch, I treated myself and drove all the way to see Hubs. We walked around and enjoyed the fall day.

And then it was this chair for 4.5 more hours.

Traffic was backed-up on the drive home. I guess people are in a hurry to get home for the Halloween festivities.

I had planned for Ransom and I to go for a little run after work, but after the traffic jam and getting out of work a little late, we just played fetch in the back yard for a while.

And then we tried to take a picture together.

 By that time, it was already starting to get dark. So we got ready for the trick-or-treaters.

Side note: In St. Louis, the trick or treaters tell you a joke to get candy! We actually didn't have too many stop by, so in between visitors, I made supper - a very non-fall dish - Chicken Makhani.

 To end the night, I dished up a bowl of my favorite ice cream and watched Hawaii 5-0.

Ransom cuddled up next to me and dozed off. 

And that is the excitement of turning 28!

Friday, October 21, 2011

News-junkie, World Series and other thoughts about the fall of 2011

What a strange year it has been. And the fall of 2011 has continued in the same fashion.

At my full-time job I have a TV which is constantly on Fox News. I haven’t watched Fox News consistently in over 5 years – since I lived on my own and had cable! Even then, I only watched it in the mornings as I was getting ready for class. I’m sad to say that I am hooked. I anxiously turn on the TV on Monday mornings to catch up on what I missed over the weekend. I find myself bummed out when I am going to miss an interview that is over my lunch hour. And, on the positive, I feel more informed about the [republican] presidential candidates than usual. I can see why those that do nothing but watch Fox News all day could be depressed, or complaining, or angry at the world today – there is rarely anything to be happy about. However, I try not to be affected in this way. Instead it is a reminder that this world will never be anything close to perfect and promotes thankfulness that I am only a visitor.

The Saint Louis Cardinals welcomed us this year by making it to the Word’s Series. Being a true football-girl, I’ve felt quite foreign in this primarily baseball-town. However, I work blocks away from Busch Stadium and have dealt with crazy traffic over the last weeks of playoffs (they call them playoffs, right?), so it was impossible not to know that something big was happening. It doesn’t look like the Rams will welcome us in the same way.

Usually, I really get into Fall. It is the best time of the year. I would make it to the pumpkin patch/stand, go apple picking, and definitely decorate the house with leaves and pumpkins and the colors of fall. I would spend time outside enjoying the weather and I would take pictures of the beautiful trees. We would have people over for chili and cinnamon rolls and I would want be able to shop for the fall styles.

The time and the energy is just not there this year. I would rather get my house cleaned than decorate it – thus the lack of décor in general. There is not even a pumpkin on our front porch! It’s even stranger that I just don’t care. My efforts this fall consist of an over-priced ½ gallon of Louisburg Apple Cider & a Pumpkin Tree [that has since died and is in the trash] from Trader Joes. Time with Hubs is a precious commodity, one for which I sacrifice much. Success this fall will be making it through to the next day.

The year is passing quickly and yet slowly. Monday’s [once my favorite day of the week] roll around before I know it, yet when I think of Hubs’ journey in school, we have just begun. As easy as it can be to be melancholy, to be tired, and to be unsociable; we still try to have fun, laugh, and get through enjoy this season of life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shopping with Me

Shopping with me is an experience. Those who have shopped with me learn that they can tell if I like what they are suggesting with one look at my face or by my comment on the item. I agonize over what I should really spend my money on. I usually go back to at least one store to purchase something I had decided against. I can always try on the shoes on display. The only time I buy something that is not on sale is when I really, really REALLY love it. And, the most notorious thing about shopping with me is that I always lose something.

It is the most frustrating thing ever. I leave my purse. I leave my keys. I leave an article of clothing somewhere. And then hours later, we are trucking back to each store searching for where I could have left them. I start sweating from the pressure and when I get hot, it’s like the world is ending. My favorite, and most understanding, shopping companion [Ruth] is very much used to this sort of shopping catastrophe. This weekend, my MIL was introduced.

We went to Nordstrom Rack, where I found 2 very cute pairs of black boots to replace the pair I have, which are falling apart big time. I tried them on and they were both lovely. I left all my belongings and went in search of my MIL to get her opinion. She liked them and we oohhed and ahhed. Then I took them off and put them back because they were out of my price range. I ended up finding a cute dress for $16 [originally $49] and a pair of leggings. We checked out and that’s when I noticed my keys were missing.

The search began. The shoe racks, the cashier, the dressing room, underneath the clothing racks, and the bathroom; then we repeated. No sign of them. I went to the car; not in there either. We enlisted the help of employees; still nothing. I looked in the shoe boxes and tipped the shoes upside down; nothing. Then I remembered that a young boy was in the shoe aisle, where I had laid all my stuff down. I started wondering if he grabbed them and they were gone forever. It had been 10 minutes and we hadn’t seen them. I start thinking about what Hubs is going to say.

Then I see my MIL smiling. The keys had been found by an employee. Where were they? INSIDE one of the boots. They must have been lodged in there, too, because I had tipped the boots upside down. Maybe the boots really wanted to come home with me. They still stayed at the store, though.

For those of you that have shopped with me before…sound familiar? I love it when someone else drives!

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's not my fault (the blame game that has continue since the garden)

In the news today...

A woman killed her husband. Eleven gun shots while he was shaving. She was acquitted by a jury of mostly women on the defense that she has "battered-woman syndrome." Her husband was abusive for years, which gave her a disease, which is why she killed.

So much to say.

Two wrongs never make a right.

Killing is never acceptable. Finding a safe place is acceptable. Using legal methods to find safety in an abusive relationship is acceptable. Murder is not.

This is an example of how we seek to blame someone or something for our sinful actions (in this case a "disease"). When the responsibility is ours.

If we continue in this manner, people will literally be able to "get away with murder" because it will never be their fault. Oh wait, this happens all the time in a process we term "abortion."

Food for thought.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Relaxing evening at the park

Hubs and I had a busy, crazy week. Oh wait. That’s every week.

But on Friday night, we were both exhausted and needed a break. So we went for a family walk at a nearby park. It’s a beautiful park with ponds and trees. There are tennis courts and playgrounds and walking trails. It was a perfect night for a relaxing, uneventful, calm walk together.

As has become our habit, we loaded Ransom up with his backpack and 5-pound dumbbells on each side to make him work a little hard, and hopefully burn a little more energy. He loves to watch every single squirrel with extreme interest just in case I let him loose to chase them – which I never do. But to the ducks, he shows little-to-no interest. If he didn’t look so much like a Labrador, you’d never know he was.

Towards the end of our walk, it had gotten dark and we were walking next to one of the ponds. The pups needed a drink so I let him go to the edge of the pond. As he leans down to the water, the dumbbells shift in his pack, making him heavier towards the front. He loses his balance and slips in. It wasn’t too bad, though, because his head stayed above the water and I think he could touch. Immediately, he gets out.

Great, we think. Water is something we usually have to force him in anyways so he is probably scarred and will never venture towards water again.

But…his memory is very short.

I again tried to get him interested in the ducks as we walked toward our car. Maybe it was the surge of energy from the quick dip in the pond. Maybe his Labrador instincts kicked in. Whatever the reason, this time he was interested in the ducks and he took off towards them, and another pond.

The ducks, of course, got into the pond and swam away as we approached. Their rush to the water made him more interested and he kept going. And then, it was like he remembered he was thirsty. We reached the water’s edge and it was déjà vu. He bent down to get a drink. The dumbbells shifted. The weight made him lose his balance. In he goes.

This time, he went head-first and all of him sank below the dark water. When he emerged, he is in panic-mode because this water-dog doesn’t remember that he can swim really well. Plus, we have him loaded down with 10 extra pounds, so he can’t even get his front legs up and out of the water. By this time, Hubs is there to assist and Ransom has gotten us all wet from the splashing and the shaking.

We had a good laugh over it and it was actually a nice way to get our minds off of everything else. And it worked out well for Ransom. He got a bath when we got home!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Carolyn went to Oxford as an intellectual hoping in pursuit of building her knowledge of literature even more. What she found, however, was that intellect alone does not answer the deep questions of life that those in literature write about. She was drawn towards reading the greatest Book ever written. Through that, other godly scholars and the Holy Spirit she was brought to salvation through Christ.

I did not expect much from this book. I was happily surprised to find that the gospel was solid and enjoyed her story of conversion. Being in the intellectual environment, Christ was "poo-pooed" and she had to endure tribulation on the professional and personal level by choosing Christ over reason & intellect. The greates part of all is seeing the transformation in her heart, her life and her overall perception and way of meeting day-to-day life

I will admit, the writing is very literary in style and there were parts when I was tempted to skip over to get back to the main story. Some of the dialogue was long; but again, it was in an effort to demonstrate the struggles she was having both pre- and post-conversion. It was refreshing to read a TRUE story, rather than fiction.

Praise God for His amazing grace in bringing another lost soul to Himself!

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The basement

It's been a while since I've given you more of a tour around our home. Mainly because I was waiting until things were hung on the wall.

Things still aren't on the wall, but I finished up a project this week that I am really excited about. So, it is a good time to show you our basement.

Our basement is made up of a living area and oh-so-much glorious storage!

It is pretty cozy down here and a good spot to relax. We didn't paint the walls and it would be awesome to someday get a small sectional to replace the [very old] blue couch.

 Ransom enjoys the blue couch [which he will not be allowed to do on a new couch], so it will be a sad day for him when we update. It is a small area, for sure, and even a little awkward, but we like it.

We've split it into a TV-watching area and a game-playing area. When YOU come to visit, we take down the game table and replace it with a [very] comfy bed.

Then, there is the storage. If you remember, my kitchen has about 5 feet of usable counter space, and very little cabinetry. SO, I have my pantry in the basement:

I love having a pantry, even though I'd prefer it be off to the side of the kitchen. It really isn't as bad as you'd think to run downstairs for things. I try to plan my trips wisely.

And then there is more storage. Not only do we need kitchen storage, but the closets are very tiny and the garage is very small, so we need more storage! Such a shock for us coming from walk-in closets and large garages!

This looks into our unfinished basement area. Behind me is the laundry area. The previous owners build nice, sturdy shelves all along the back wall, which I am extremely thankful for.

This looks back further into the storage area. When I first organized this area, I thought that the Christmas decor should go all the way to the back. Now I'm not sure how I'll get them out!

This week's project revolved around the storage room. The garage resembles a junk room right now. It is where we put all the stuff that we didn't know what we would do with. A large portion of that "stuff" was books. So, I set up our cinder-block shelves and moved some of the books inside. To my our library.

 The cinder-blocks have suffered through the last 2 moves. The black paint is chipping, but they are still very functional and sturdy. I'd love to get a cheap piece of carpet to put in the "library," for now a cardboard box is there to try and make it a comfortable area. It'd also be fun to get an old chair to read in for this area.

 It was like seeing old friends again to open up our books. And I just wanted to sit and revisit them again. It was also surprising to look through the books. We have quite a few duplicates to give away, and more NIV Bibles than the christian bookstore [which is strange considering neither of us prefer that version to study from]. I couldn't fit all of them on the shelves, and there are still 6-8 more boxes of textbooks in the garage that will be moved to the storage shelves. I did throw 1 book away; the rest I put back into a box because I knew we wouldn't read them anytime soon.

The "library" could be considered one of my favorite areas. Browsing through our shelves can tell you so much about us. I'll gladly loan them out, so stop on by. I'm just excited to have my books back out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Things I had Forgotten about Dental School [from the perspective of the student's wife]

Things I had forgotten about Dental School [from my perspective, the wife not in dental school]:

how short the evenings are:: from 5:30 - 7:30 am is a blur of rushing around

therefore, how much more we depend on coffee

how short the evenings are:: home, fix dinner, eat dinner, workout [maybe], clean up dinner, force myself to stay up and be productive until 10, fall into bed exhausted

how short the weekends are:: filled with catching up, cleaning, laundering, socializing

how much I learn about teeth

how slowly the time passes while you are in the midst of it all

that crazy feeling of having no idea where you will be in 3 years' time

how much more I enjoy time with Hubs

the helplessness I feel when Hubs is buried in studying and busywork and real life, too

how much I prayed as a dental school wife:: for my husband, for our marriage, for our future, for our growth

how much I need j'net to encourage me and pray for me and exhort me in the word

the constant pull of wanting to have fun and be involved, yet also not neglecting our home, each other and our Bibles

The main difference this time is that I'm not bored. I used to be bored in the evenings or on the weekends, but this time it is just the opposite.

Adjustment take time and as we settle in, we are acutely aware of the difference in our life right now. But slowly, Mondays [which previously was my day off] aren't as dreadful. Priorities are [gradually] falling into the right place. Friendships are being built. Home is starting to feel like home.

Stay tuned: hopefully we will get what the student's perspective!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

St. Louis Site: The Great Balloon Race

This was a last minute site, so I don't have a full report on the event. Just about 2 hours / Hubs's study break.

When I heard about the Great Balloon Race in Forest Park, I was most excited for the Friday night "Balloons A-Glow." We were unable to make it to that, but on the schedule for the next day was the actual race, a time to walk up next to the balloons while they were being inflated, and sky-divers. So, Hubs and I decided to go check it out right in the middle of the events schedule activities. Which, is always a gamble as to what kind of parking availability you might find. We were fortunate to find something fairly close, with not too many difficulties. I think we learned some tips about parking in the park that we have packed away for next time, too.

Reason #1 to go to this event: It's FREE. I love free stuff.The day was perfect in temperature, but overcast. It ended up drizzling on us for a bit. We arrived just in time to walk amongst the balloons as they were being blown up. What a process that is! Of course you have to walk through all the vendors before making it to the actual balloons, but it was like walking through the midway of the state fair, which is fun in itself.

There were lots of balloons up when we first arrived. The movie-theatre-popcorn-shaped one was pretty impressive.

It took a lot of work for them to get the balloons upright. I had not clue. In my limited thinking, I assumed you simple pushed a button and they stood up on their own. It was interesting to just stand and watch the process.

You had to watch out. As they are inflating, the wind would blow them every which way, knocking you over if you weren't paying attention.

And the thing people ride in, really is a basket! Flimsy looking things held in the sky by hot air. As fun as it sounds to be on one...it seems very precarious. I also never thought through keeping the balloon on the ground once inflated. All these people putting their weight on the basket, and it still hopped around with the wind blew.

We love events that let us bring the pups [always carrying water in his backpack], and this one does! He not only strikes up multiple conversations with people, but he gets out and learns how to be socialized, especially with little kids that want to give him love.

Probably our favorite part of the day [we didn't actually stay for the balloon race], was the sky divers. We watched 4 people jump out of a plan and land on an "X" in the middle of the field. And it was so cool! I would never have the crazy guts to jump out of a plane.

(Not sure how to get the video to be upright. My apologies.)

This event happens every year in Forest Park [one of my favorite places in St. Louis] and I'd highly recommend checking it out next year - September 14-16, 2012.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The tale of the [giant] spider

One Saturday, I was getting a lot done around the house - organizing, cleaning, unpacking [yes, there was is still some of that left]. When I pulled out a storage bin, a giant spider fell to the ground. Not usually afraid of spiders, I leapt out of the way of the giant, extremely fast-crawling spider. It crawled behind the TV and I decided to ignore it for the time being.

While eating some lunch, the beast scurries from under the TV right to the middle of the floor. I may or may not have let out a little scream at this point. Then I went to get a shoe and was going to take care of this problem once and for all. After a good 10 minutes of staring at the thing, I texted Richard:

"Call me."

I might have been a little dramatic, but we talked and discussed using a Tupperware container to keep him in place so that Hubs could take care of it when he got home. I sent a text back to assure him I caught the thing:

Hubs replied: I will bring on the pain to him when I get home.

But, the I got to thinking. What if he escaped in the hours that Hubs spent at school. I thought he could possibly get out under the lid. And then, I would never be able to relax in the basement without wondering if he was going to crawl up my leg. So, I texted back:

He's not going anywhere.

I can assure you. The giant spider is dead.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Realms Thereunder by Ross Lawhead

I think the difficulty in writing fantasy novels comes in finding the right balance so that it remains a real possibility and not too far out there. In this story, Freda and Daniel find a passageway into a mythical land where they are burdened with the task of saving the world. This, by no surprise, affects the rest of their life in very different ways and in the years that follow, they realize their job may not be completed.

This book has several different story-lines simultaneously which converge at the end. I love that. It is a story that keeps you on your toes and makes you want to keep reading, from the very beginning, so that you can try to understand all that is happening. The ending was complete; yet still left me waiting for the next book. Best of all, although I wanted to continue reading, it didn't suck me so far in that I couldn't stop reading.

The writing is good, the story-line complex and intriguing. Besides one tiny discrepancy I found in the plot, it was a great, entertaining read.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> 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 

Monday, September 5, 2011

St. Louis Site: Castlewood State Park // Labor Day Weekend

As planned, Hubs and I saved Labor Day as a day to get out and relax. We left the house by 8:30 am and were off to revel in the sub-60 degree temps at Castlewood State Park. I had heard good things, but we weren't sure what to expect. It is only 17 miles from our doorstep, right in the city of Ballwin [one of the places where we looked for a house].

We weren't dissappointed. What a great spot for a family outing - picnics, hiking, biking, gathering, grilling, swimming [if you do that sort of thing in a river - I do not]. It was gorgeous. And, it's FREE!

Part of the reason we chose this activity was to get the Pups out and exercised. We loaded him up with full Nalgene bottles in his pack [water for us and him] to make him work a little harder. It was pretty chilly - not being used to such reasonable temperatures - so Hubs made a stop and surprised me with some coffee. Made my day.

As you can tell, Ransom had a blast. It was fun to see him working - dogs are so happy when they have a job to do - and he even took a little jump into the river. If we would have been more prepared with a long leash, we would have let him get in further. Hubs and I enjoyed the calm, quietness of the woods.

After we finished a pretty lengthy trail, we decided to do another short one. I'm excited to go back again sometime, maybe in the fall when the leaves are changing. Afterwards we got some fast food, dropped the pups off at home for a nap, and went to a matinee for $7.25 each! We finally concluded the Harry Potter movie series.

And the weather is still perfect. It really was the break we needed before we settle in for a semester of school and work!