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.

video
(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!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Am I Crazy?

Lately, I've been wanting to add to our family. It's not that I love Ransom less and am ready for a different dog.  But, I guess it's probably what people feel when they add another child to their family - there is just something missing and I am ready for the next step. Since children are not in the plans right now, it feels time for another dog. Plus, Ransom needs a sister. He has become the spoiled "only-child" who gets all of our attention at his every whim and he could definitely benefit from learning to share. He could also benefit from a playmate to wear him out, because his super-powers of endless energy don't quite fit with our busy schedule.

And of course, I don't just want any dog this time. I want one that looks like this:

Photo from: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/greaterswissmountain.htm

I can reason through most of the arguments to not get another dog. I've found some great deals on our medium-high priced dog food so we are stocked for a long time. The added crate and supplies would be a large start up cost, of course, but as we've seen with Ransom, it settles down after a while. The issue I can't work around is how they would both fit in the car, but that could be solved by putting the crates in back of the truck.

But then I ask myself, "Am I crazy?" And here's why.


Look at this dog. He is obviously not lacking in shiny, soft, black fur. It cover his entire body (save one unmentionable area). I mean, his underside is more covered with fur than I've ever seen. Its a medium length - not super short like purebreds. But also not long like the chow, which I guess that he has in him.

So it boggles my mind that he can maintain that much fur on his body, when I sweep up this pile:


I know it's gross. And I wish I could tell you that this was all of it, but really this was just a quick sweep of the noticeable stuff. I feel like I never actually get it all up, but I can at least get it to where it isn't noticeable to the guests.

So, I totally understand those of you who don't get a pet because of the hair. I really, really do. But, he's so much fun that I don't care put up with it. And, I would put up with it if we ever when we get another dog, too.

Friday, September 2, 2011

We need this

All week month I have anticipated this weekend. I will cherish this ONE day off from school and work, since they are few and far between.

Of course there will be housework to catch up on, work to be done, shopping to be completed, and homework to continue, but one whole day has been set aside for a day trip and maybe even completing the Harry Potter movies.

But Labor Day completes the summer. And I am more excited about that than usual. Not only has it been a exhausting summer with oppressive heat, but it has been tiring in many more dimensions. (And I did not even get to the pool once this year!) After Labor Day, cool weather is near. College football is starting (although you wouldn't' know it around here). September is going to bring about routine and order. It will instill discipline and it will encourage good habits, not the lazy ones I have been trapped in. I hope to blog more. Pumpkins will be out and leaves will change to beautiful colors. I'm thinking of a fall party with chili and cinnamon rolls - hopefully that's a thing here.

So September has a lot of expectations placed on it, but really it is a chance to start a new slate after being thrust into so many directions over the past months. I'm looking forward to productive relaxation over the next few days and into the next months.

Oh, and let's not forget about the pumpkin spice lattes.