Monday, September 29, 2014

My Little Man

He's been begging me to find him a tie & vest when searching around at Goodwill. I have been hesitant because I think there are plenty of years ahead of him to act/dress like a "big boy". Well, little did I know that a tie would transform my "little boy" into a "man" magically. At least that is what he claimed as Blake adjusted his tie on Sunday morning, "Yep. Now I look just a like a man." He was so super-excited to be wearing a button down shirt & tie, just like his daddy. He's growing up, this little man.

Book Review: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

I recently read Anne Mateer’s newest book, “Playing by Heart”. I did enjoy this book. I liked the author’s choice to write the book from both Lula and Chet’s first-person perspective. I really enjoyed the description of the game of basketball, though hard at times to re-create in my mind because of the MANY confines that were part of the game during the time period this book was written [World War I]. Wow! We’ve come a long way.

I could relate to Lula’s attempts to correct her former flighty ways and earn the respect of those who should have been her biggest supporters. Her brother, especially was relentless in bringing up those old flaws. Applying a label to an individual is a bad idea – applying a label with permanent adhesive is all the worse. People change. Christ changes us.

While some might consider Lula & Chet as living in a “simpler time” the author was able to illustrate that meeting the demands of others in one’s family and/or community, is not confined within a generation. The circumstances might look different but the pressure to conform, the pressure to do what is socially acceptable, the pressure to choose between the wishes of one person at the risk of disappointing another, those emotions/decisions still exist. There are no easy decisions and I appreciated Mateer’s tackling this topic so realistically.

Some of the characters seems a little bit weak, especially Jewel. I thought Chet’s mother was relatively unlike-able but I am not certain whether that might have been the author’s intent for both these characters. All in all, it’s a sweet story. Appropriate for any age [clean romantic relationships]. A good, fun read.

I was given this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More S-Family Weekend Pics

Here are a couple more family pictures from our time in Indianapolis. Family picture courtesy of Abby Klopenstein and while Little Miss refused to smile, it was much better than wailing. Savannah was so cute during the weekend, coming close and whispering to me sweetly, "Can I hold your baby, Aunt Christine?" And the last two pics are the table settings for dad's birthday dinner, super fun!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review: Captured by Love

Jody Hedlund is a talented writer. I have read her previous books and found them to be enjoyable, but just okay. This third contribution to the Michigan Brides series for me what much the same. That said, Hedlund has a gift in researching and describing time periods & historical events which is remarkable. I did not know much about the history of Michilimackinac Island [currently known as Mackinac Island] before reading this novel and appreciated the light she shed on the events of this location in 1814 when British occupied the island and the Americans fought to get it back.
I really liked some of the characters in this story, particularly Miriam [mother/maman to Jean & Pierre] and Angelique herself. I especially appreciated the theme of fighting for what is right/respectable even when convenience or emotions tempt one to do differently. This was illustrated well by Angelique’s words, “I want to offer you my love, but love without honor is worthless…”[page 313]. Jean was honorable. Pierre’s character was both charming & witty. Again, I appreciated that his decision to follow after the Lord did not immediately transform him into a new man, but instead illustrated his desire to be a better man and the struggles that are part of a Christian life. I hated Ebenezer Whiley and did not much care for his wife, Betty either but then, I believe that was the author’s intent.

For me, the story was lacking some pace in the early the chapters. Only around Chapter 17 did the action accelerate and piqued my curiosity as to how the rest of the story would unfold. I loved that Red Fox was incorporated later in the story and especially found the manner in which the love triangle between Angelique/Jean/Pierre was resolved to be especially clever.

All in all, a good book but not a particular favorite.

I was given this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Conner Prairie

Monday we spent some time at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. Really, really cool. If you are in the Indianapolis area and have young kids, I would highly recommend a visit. Some electricity experiments. Shooting [or more accurately, launching] paper airplanes. Helping to build a fire in the kitchen. Enrolling in the army, uniforms and proper ways to salute/march. Yep, I would say the Civil War part of the park was definitely a favorite. Very interactive which kept the kids completely engaged.  

I had my hands pretty full with the little lady much of the time, but here are a couple of pictures from our time exploring.



S-Family Weekend

The S-Family descended upon Indianapolis this past weekend. Fun times were had! The Bounce House was a huge smash. The Talent Show evoked crazy-happy applause. A gourmet a-few-of-dads-favorite-things meal including ribs, chicken legs, corn on the cob, coleslaw, baked potatoes and german chocolate cake. Science experiments. Duct-tape water bottle holders. Crazy & crazy-fun games [including lots of laughter].

Alexander was beside himself with excitement to spend the whole weekend with some of his favorite people, his cousins. Both kids did good on the drive both ways, even amidst the sometimes stop-and-go holiday weekend traffic. Here are a few snapshots from the weekend.





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Review: With Every Breath

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Oh, I really liked this book. Elizabeth Camden is a talented, incredible writer. She has the ability to discuss historical social issues [in this story, tuberculosis] with accuracy AND make them easily understood. She chooses a good location [in this story, Washington, DC where all matter of important subjects are discussed] and includes a boardinghouse which allows the lives of all different sorts of individuals to intersect. She weaves just the right amount of intrigue into the story without those details becoming cumbersome to the flow of the story [in this story, Dr. Kendalls past was shared but always one MORE missing link about the one(s) intent on destroying him]. And the character development and dialogue in Ms. Camden’s novel is exceptional.  The banter between Kate and Trever McDonough/Kendall is both sharp & funny but written in a manner that is neither insulting nor cruel. When trading barbs back & forth as they do, that is not an easy task.

I liked the fact, too, that Camden tackled the cure for consumption/tuberculosis but instead of placing her characters during the time when a cure was found [which might have been the predictable setting], instead she placed them some fifty years earlier. During these years, as doctors attempted to find a cure, it was a time of great fear/uncertainty but the author was able to emphasize the importance of doctor’s work, even if they did not themselves live to see the results. I love the line “…it takes a higher type of courage to fight a losing rather than a winning fight.”

It’s a good book. A fun read. I recommend highly.

NOTE: For the sake of providing a completely honest review, I must say I did NOT like this cover. The cover depicts what I perceive as a graceful/delicate young lady but I visualize Kate, based on her character is this story, to be more spunky, more adventures, more alive! So, I don’t think the cover is a good representation of the book. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: Love Comes Calling

Whew! After reading thru Siri Mitchell’s book, “Love Comes Calling” and attempting to keep up with the main character, Ellis, I simply need a moment to catch my breath!

While I am a big fan of Mitchell’s writing [The Messenger, She Walks in Beauty], this book missed the mark for me. I was never able to completely connect with Ellis and thought her character too immature and no altogether like-able. And the other cast of characters were so much in the background of the story, perhaps because of the first-person narrative, that I found them to be almost invisible to the ‘force’ that was Ellis Eton.

As stated in the Author’s Note, she “purposely gave Eton one of those impulsive, restless minds diagnosed by modern medicine as having ADHD.” This character trait was definitely well-developed. For my liking, almost too much. In the wordy-ness of this character development, I sometimes found myself lost as conversations bounced back and forth and often, it seemed, were left incomplete.

The historical aspects of the book – the clear descriptions of being a switchboard operator, the 1920s, Prohibition and the resulting speakeasies – they were all amazing. And I liked the author’s attempt to delve into the subject of whether it is possible to legislate morality. And bridging the gap between World War I and the Roaring 20s, offering insight into how one was impacted by the other. Yes, those parts of the books were excellent and well-researched.

So, not a bad book by a long-shot but not a favorite of mine either.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchanged for my honest review.

Monday, August 18, 2014

2014 5K4Kids Fun Run

Fun times last Thursday evening at the 5K4Kids, a local fundraiser for Evangelical Child and Family Agency. X-man ran the 1/2Mile Fun Run. He finished in 4minutes and 30seconds [about 15 seconds than last year's race] and was thrilled to claim 2nd place. Loves his "real" medal and proclaimed himself an official Olympian.
Blake ran the 5K but I have no idea his time or ranking [whoops!], but hey, I am proud of him, too!


Take Him By the Hand...

Thinking about back-to-school this morning. [We do not start until next week]. Author is unknown but forwarded by my friend, Heather. So much to pray for as our little ones begin a new school year.

"My son started school this week. It's going to be strange and new to him for a while. And I wish you would sort of treat him gently. You see, up to now, he's been King of the Roost. Boss of the Backyard. I've always been around to repair his wounds and soothe his feelings. But now, things are going to be different.

This morning, he's going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand and start on his great adventure that will probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live his live in the World will require faith and love and courage. So, World, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him...but gently, if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that not all men are just. That not all men are true. Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero. For every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. For every enemy, there is a friend.

Teach him the wonder of books. Teach him it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even when others tell him they are wrong. Teach him to close his ears on a howling mob...and stand and fight if he's right. Teach him gently, World, but don't coddle him. Because only the test of fire makes fine steel. This is a big order, World, but see what you can do...He's such a nice little fellow."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cantigny Tanks with Elijah

These posts are coming at your out-of-order but, alas that is the current state of my mommy-brain. We got to spend a Sunday afternoon with Elijah at nearby Cantigny Park and as expected, the tanks were the highlight of the boys' visit. Here are a couple of pictures from our sunny/warm afternoon.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cousins Day @ the Childrens Museum

We had 3 active little people [and another that spent most of the time in the stroller] and the museum was PACKED. Taking pictures took a backseat to keeping track of little people but here are a couple of shots from our time with Karissa & Lavell yesterday. Lavell was the explorer of the group, darting from one display to the next and X-man/Karissa were the problem-solvers, working together to figure out how each display worked. Good times!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

3Months Old

Miss E. is growing quickly; getting to be a chubs! She's adored by her big brother though he is a learning [just a wee-bit] to give her some space. On her "lots of crying days" you'll most likely find X-man retreating to the out-of-doors! We are thankful for the gift she is to our family and the blessing of seeing our Alexander as a big brother, a title he has wanted for so very long.