Monday, February 28, 2011

Pictures and Camera Talk

After a near catastrophe (Tirzah found my memory card and lost it for me), I finally cleaned off nearly 4 gb of photos.  Here are some of those:

 Oh Tirzah!  She loves my iPod Touch.  She often steals it and "hides".  She likes to hide under my computer desk (above), under the sewing table, under Mitch's desk, or behind the couches.  I created a folder just for her with her own apps and she can navigate to her folder.  It keeps her from messing my things up.  I hope to video her soon.  She can say a lot of words now, including screaming "My iPod!"

See, Micah, you don't smile.

One day the kids were playing downstairs and a car (driven by Zeke) went flying through the air and hit Tirzah on the forehead.  It was bleeding and her hair kept getting stuck in it.  When I would wash it up, it would start bleeding all over again.  So I put in this sassy little pony tail to keep the hair out of the way.  She left it in most of the day.  I have a picture of Mitch at about this age that I need to scan in--she looks pretty much just like him.

 What else is new?  She's got a chocolate ice cream cone and she made a good mess of it!

 Eden is sporting a new haircut (thanks to me).  It looks cute straightened, so I'll have to try to get a picture next time we straighten it.

Still not smiling...but obviously trying hard to keep from it!

These 3 are big-time trouble-makers!

So now for the camera talk.  I am thinking about the new baby coming and all the wonderful new baby pictures I want to take.  I haven't had time for a LOT of research, but I have tried to do a little.  I have a couple items on my wish list (and on my ebay watch list).  Here's what I'm wishing for to add to my camera collection (and I sure hope I can get a good deal on used items from eBay...but inserting from Amazon is easiest):

This is a 28mm prime lens.  I have a 50mm prime lens with an f-stop of 1.8 that I LOVE.  Only problem is that on the D80 I have to stand pretty far back (it comes out to be about 75mm in effect because of the D80's smaller sensor).  Which can be hard in tight places.  So I'm loving me this wide-angle lens.  I have an 18-55mm zoom lens that I love, but the f-stop is pretty high.  This one stops down at f/2.8, which would allow me more options in low-light situations.  If I hit the right auction on eBay, I should be able to get it for under $150...maybe even under $100.  Patience is key.  :)  Now, I could set my sights on the 28mm with an f-stop of 1.8...but that's a few thousand dollars.  A little pricey, you think??


 This is the other item on my wishlist.  I could pick it up for about $224 new from Sam's Club, but if I could find it on eBay for less than $180 that would be sweet.  A good flash would help me with all other lighting situations that I have.  Maybe I should skip the lens above and just go for the flash?  I can't decide.  I really like the bokeh (background blur) that also comes with stopping down.  I considered going with the more affordable SB-400 ($120 on Amazon), but it doesn't swivel or rotate and it cannot be used off-camera (I could take the 600 off the camera, and it would still fire when I want it to).  I think that the 600 offers just the mid-level range of flexibility I need.  But beggars can't be choosers.  If Mitch said 'no' to the pricier 600 but yes to the 400, I would take it!  :) Oh, and a diffuser is a must...but those are pretty cheap (like less than $10).


I think I need to sew and sell some more diapers so I have a little extra cash to spend...if only there were more hours in the day and more energy in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review: Couples Who Pray

Couples Who Pray is written by husband and wife Squire Rusnell and Louise DuArt.  The book's tagline is "The most intimate act between a man and a woman", and includes a 40-day prayer challenge.

If the word "intimate" didn't grab your attention, then perhaps names such as Denzel Washington, Kathie Lee Gifford, or Rick Warren will.  These are famous people who were interviewed about their prayer lives for the book.  In each of their marriages, daily prayer is essential and they testify that it holds them together.

I struggled with this book right from the beginning.  I felt that the authors use prayer as a means to an end rather than the end that it is--communion with God.  Their emphasis on how prayer will transform your marriage seems to say that "Prayer is all about me and a way to get what I want."  In this respect, it feels like a self-help, "feel-good" book or like the "prosperity gospel". 

Don't get me wrong, prayer is ESSENTIAL to daily living.  It is essential to everything I do--my marriage included.  But the way prayer is presented here feels a little like it is inside out.  Going about it the wrong way.  Including famous people in the writing of the book is sort of like a cheap selling tactic--it caters to Americans' insatiable appetite for details of the intimate lives of celebrities.  Yes, it's incredibly interesting and inspiring to know that Denzel & Pauletta Washington pray together.  But.

This is a book that Mitch actually picked up and read while I wasn't looking.  I asked him for his thoughts and opinion.  He also says that prayer is a good idea.  Especially for couples.  :)  On a more serious note, he says that it is dangerous anytime we are using prayer to get an outcome other than prayer itself.  If we pray for healing and do not receive it, then what?  A Christian engaged in genuine communion with God, while praying for good things, will also accept the peace that comes even when a positive answer does not.

I am only beginning my journey to understand prayer more deeply.  I want to be a better pray-er.  I want to have a healthy attitude towards prayer and I want my motivations for praying to be simply communion with God.  This book didn't help me at all, other than to identify what prayer is not.  I'll keep looking.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Thomas Nelson Publishers through their Booksneeze blogger program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'll Fly Away--Jars of Clay

This morning I flipped on the radio while we prepared breakfast.  This song came on...not a bad way to start my morning!



Only problem is I immediately thought of my Granny and her sister, my Aunt Myrt.  They loved this song (well, maybe not *this* version, but the traditional version--the would always sing it while working).  Now they have "flown".  It brings me such joy to think about the promise that I am moved to tears almost every time!

I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away
When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away

Some bright morning when this life is over, I'll fly away

To a land on God's celestial shore, I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have grown, I'll fly away

Like a bird from these prison walls, I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away

When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet, I'll fly away

No more cold iron shackles on my feet, I'll fly away

I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away

When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then, I'll fly away

To a land where joy will never end, I'll fly away


I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away

When I die, hallellujah by and by, I'll fly away

 {Granny with Micah on 5/22/1998.  She flew home to Jesus in January 2000.}

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

32 Weeks Pregnant



Well, something occurred to me today as I tried to take a picture.  It's getting hard to fit all of me into the frame if I am just holding the camera myself (which I have been the whole time).  That means I can do less cropping.  Which also means there must be some distortion of proportions.  But my brain can't engage and figure that one out quite yet.  I also realized that the white cami only made it into two shots so far...that in all the other photos I was wearing the pink striped one.  Funny.

Obviously I'm bigger and getting bigger.  My tummy is bursting!  At least it feels like it will burst through my clothes.  :)  When I put on a maternity shirt this morning I noticed that it barely covered my tummy all the way.  I changed my shirt so my belly is not hanging out.  LOL  I bump into everything.  When I am cooking, I often end up with some kind of food across the lower section of my belly (the part I can no longer see).  I don't even want to mention the crumbs on the upper half of my shirt after I eat...that's pretty funny too.  Getting up and down is harder and I waddle if I don't consciously pay attention.  Why do some women get no bigger than I was at 26/28 weeks???  It doesn't seem fair.  Then there was that person I knew 11 or so years ago at Crown College who went roller-blading every day, for miles, right up until she went into labor.  Ah, the joys of pregnancy!

There's not a lot else to report.  I go to the doctor again on Monday.  I'm still feeling pretty tired, so I am glad she'll be checking my hemoglobin.  I have been getting more and more braxton-hicks contractions...annoying but also fun and helpful to practice my hypnosis relaxation.  I have had a lot of fever blisters this pregnancy.  I call them the "early warning system" that there's a virus in the area.  It seems like one just healed and now a new one has popped up.  My favorite lip cream is Herpecin-L, but I recently started using Abreva with very good results.  I don't have any other symptoms, but Tirzah had a fever last Friday and now has a runny nose and cough.  Since the fever is gone, I don't suspect she has anything other than a virus, even though two daycare kids are on antibiotics.

 {Micah earned a photography lesson and snapped this shot of me.  Also now you can see the curly version of my new haircut.  Not sure why my bangs insist on parting in the middle like that.}

How I Make Progression Shots

I thought I would write about how I make the progression shots that I have been posting.  It's pretty easy and lots of fun.  If I were going to do it again I would mark things a little more clearly--noting exactly where to set the camera and exactly where to stand, then sticking with it throughout the progression.  I would try to get it so that I did not have to crop or edit the photo at all for consistency (because that's where I'm distorting proportions--when I go to do the cropping).  I would simply use the same zoom level every time (remembering at the beginning to allow myself room to grow out front so that my belly would not be cut off later, LOL).  I also would have taken more shots that include my head, Mitch, etc that would not be in the progression.  I sort of forgot to keep taking "normal" pictures.  I'm sure this baby would like a pic or two of his momma with a full belly AND with her head in the picture.  Good thing there's some weeks left!

1) Set up my camera and take the pictures.  Keep shooting until I know there is at least one shot that I want to use (good focus, angled right, belly relaxed and looking normal--don't tense up those abdominal muscles).

2) Import pictures into the computer.   

3) Edit the photo.  I like to use the FREE program Irfanview for quick editing.  Nothing else that I have tried works so simply for me.  I'm not saying that it is superior.  Just that it's fast and easy. (Editing photos I want to print is another story).  I can click and drag the mouse to select an area to crop, then hold "ctrl y" to crop it.  Then I hold "ctrl r" to resize the photo quickly by entering 1280 in the height box.  I click and drag the mouse to select an area for text, then click "ctrl t" to enter text in that area (good for entering the number of weeks).  There are some other shortcut keys that I use frequently (r to rotate right, l to rotate left, shift g to adjust colors and lighting, shift s to sharpen, etc), but all those things can also be found quickly on the menu above.  Press 's' to save the photo--I suggest renaming it rather than saving over the original.  I also have all my progression photos in a folder by themselves so that they are very easy to find for the next step.

4) Create a panoramic image.  If you are using Irfanview, this is really easy to do too.  Along the top menu, go to Image > Create Panoramic Image.  Then you can select the images you want to piece together for the panorama and sort them.  Once you have them in the right order, click "Create Image" and it will appear.  The program automatically makes them all fit/line up/be same size.  If it looks good, press 's' to save...if not, start over!

Hmmm...now that I'm all done, I realize maybe I should have taken some screen shots.  Yeah, that would have been a helpful tutorial.  Unfortunately I don't feel like walking through it in photos right now.  They say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so if you complain louder than my children then I'll do it for you.  :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby Pool/Poll and previous stats

I made an account for a baby pool.  You can enter your guesses on when the baby will arrive, how much he'll weigh, and how long he'll be.  You don't have to sign up for anything, and your kids can guess too if they want.  It's always a lot of fun and silliness.  :)  The link is in the sidebar, or you can click here.

You lose a lot of points if you put the wrong gender, so choose carefully.  We are 99.9% sure that he is a boy based on the ultrasound pictures.

Some interesting facts from previous 7 pregnancies (to help you with your guessing):
  • All of my babies have arrived before their due dates.  Micah was the closest to his.  He was also the only child I had an "early" ultrasound (the most accurate).  Zeke is a whole different story.
    Micah due 7/15 born 7/11 (4 days early)
    Eden due 4/17 born 3/29 (19 days early) 
    Caleb due 1/24 born 1/14 (10 days early)
    Josh due 9/15 born 8/31 (15 days early) 
    Malachi due 6/12 born 6/2 (10 days early) 
    Tirzah due 4/28 born 4/21 (7 days early)
  • Zeke was due 10/31 but the ultrasound he measured 10 days ahead to be due 10/21 (this baby also measured 10 days ahead).  A second ultrasound put him due 10/17.  He was born 10/12, that's 19 days before his "calculated" due date. 
  • That's an average of 12 days "early".
  • In order, my babies weighed:
    8lbs 4 oz
    7lbs 5oz
    7lbs 15oz
    8lbs 5oz
    7lbs 5oz
    9lbs 0oz
    8lbs 4oz
  • That's an average of 8 lbs.
  • Lengths (in inches):  20, 19, 20, 21, 20, 19.5, 20.5
  • That's an average of 20 inches.
  • As far as time of day goes:  11:02am, 6:41pm, 12:05am, 5:44pm, 5:54am, 5:17am, 2:54am. 
  • 4 of 7 arrived in the middle of the night/early morning.
Happy guessing!  Thanks for playing.  :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Hair Cut

I got my hair cut and highlighted yesterday.  It was a special, fun treat.  I haven't done any type of "treatment" in almost 8 years.  Just been regular cuts for me--as few and far between as I can stand to put up with it.  I had my hair cut really short last October and loved it.  The problem with a short hairstyle is that it needs to be cut more often to remain short!  I really should have gotten it cut in December, but wanted to save up some money so I could have the highlights done also now at the end of my pregnancy.  I knew of a stylist in our church, Jodi, so I made an appointment with her. 

First, this picture was taken a month ago at Caleb's birthday and I'm not sure if there's another good "head shot" of me anywhere else.  It's a terrible picture because I don't know if I'd even showered that day.  My hair certainly wasn't styled!  LOL.  Use your imagination to guess how much it has grown in the past month:

{Before}

{After}

When the cut and color were all done, she asked if it would be ok to straighten it.  I thought that would be a fun change, too.  It's been a year since I had bothered to straighten my hair (and I only did then because I was going into the hospital for surgery and didn't want to fool with it).  She did a fantastic job.  (You can visit Jodi's website here and learn more about her if you live in this area.).  Jodi *almost* talked me into going with a lighter all-over color.  But I was a little too scared to be so dramatic.  Maybe next time.  ::wink::  The funnest thing was that later that night I went to the Ladies Night Out at church and got to show off my fresh new style.  It was great to be pampered and get so many compliments afterward.  It's the closest thing to a "makeover" I have ever experienced and I can tell you it sure was special!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby Things

I finished blanket #1 and I have yarn to make another (smaller) blanket.  It will be a little lighter in color and in weight. Here is the first blanket, folded in half.  (The stripes run horizontal).  Mitch says it looks like a digital camouflage. 


I made this hat and booties a while ago.  The hat still needs a topper:


This morning I finished this cute hat.  The white balance on my camera is "off"...the colors actually match the booties from above really well, too:


You can find free instructions here.  If you follow that link for the instructions, be sure to follow her directions and link to get the ears, because they're not actually written out on that page.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Rare Occurance--I stocked my store!

It has not been easy to find time to sew.  But recently when I was cleaning and organizing I found a couple boxes of miscellaneous scraps of fabric (large enough for only newborn diapers) and miscuts (larger sized cuts that otherwise had nothing wrong with them, so I saved them to use in future diapers).  I decided to finally use up all these pieces.  Well, I am happy to announce that the diapers are done and now they are stocked in my store (minus the few that I'm keeping for my little man).  I'm so excited!  Please stop by my poor, previously empty store and see the results of my work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review: "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"

Don't Make Me Count to Three: a Mom's Look at Heart-Oriented Discipline  I just finished reading "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman.  If you are a parent, especially of anyone age 7 and under, HURRY and get this book.  Read it as fast as you can!  You will want to apply what you learn immediately. 

I borrowed this book from the library 6 weeks ago when a newly met friend recommended something else written by Plowman (that's coming next after I talk about this book).  I had to renew it after 3 weeks because I hadn't got around to reading it yet.  When I did finally crack it open, I felt discouraged in Chapter 1 when she laid the guilt trip on me ("There's no higher calling than being a mother...").  As I read, I discovered she only had 2 children, and I was like, "Hmph...peanuts.  What does SHE have to teach ME?  She should walk a day in MY shoes!"  So I put the book down and moved on to other things (my reading list was very long).  Since it is due back at the library today, and I didn't want to renew AGAIN, I picked it up yesterday to give it "one more shot," "just in case." 

I couldn't read it fast enough.  Seriously.  It seemed like I would read two pages, then have to put the book down and apply exactly what I had just read to the real-life situation yelling/crying right at my feet.  The good news is, it is very fast/easy to read.  I certainly had many distractions (I am not exaggerating--I could barely read 2 pages before needing to use something I had literally just read), and still was able to finish it basically since just starting yesterday.

This book makes an excellent companion to Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  This book fills in the gaps and makes Shepherding a Child's Heart a little more applicable by offering more real life scenarios, as well as more sample dialogues.  Don't get me wrong, Shepherding a Child's Heart is a very complete, excellent parenting book.  But "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" is easier/faster to read, and can be applied immediately.  I felt like many different (wonderful) parenting books I have read came together as I read "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"  It was a refreshing reminder of things I have read in other books.  It was also a great encouragement as it offered solutions and methods in a way that I can apply immediately.  It certainly calmed down this mother's heart and changed MY attitudes, setting me back on the right path.  We all need that from time to time.  It seems like I need to be "reset" every Monday or so.  :)

One of the most significant themes I found in this book that impacted me was the importance in training our children the right way to go.  Not just pointing out their sin and applying discipline, but actually walking them through the appropriate behavior.  It is giving them a way out--a means of escape.  Plowman writes, "I am teaching them to 'put off' corrupt and deceitful desires and to 'put on' the righteousness and holiness of God."  Chapter 5 ends with a memorable illustration of this.  Today we have done many "practice" sessions, not without a few giggles.  Which is good.

Wise Words For Moms I also purchased Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman from amazon.com.  It is a pamphlet that makes the perfect companion to "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" and to Shepherding a Child's Heart.  This is the original resource recommended by a newly met friend, which I looked up on amazon...one thing led to another and I checked out two books by Ginger Plowman.  The other book I checked out was Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home.  I didn't get to read it before I had to return it (someone else placed a hold on it, so I couldn't renew).  Now that I have read and loved the first book, I will request Heaven at Home again.

Wise Words for Moms is about the size of a regular calendar.  Each page is a chart (4 full pages) for easy/quick reference.  I kind of wish it were longer, but it is a great place to start and the information is quick and easy to reference.  A sample entry includes this information (and a sample page from the chart is included on pages 94-95 of "Don't Make Me Count to Three!":
Child's Behavior: Aggravating, stirring up strife, picking on others
Heart Probing Question:  1.  Are you purposing in your heart to promote peace, or are you stirring up trouble?  2.  How can you show love and pursue peace in this situation?
Reproof ("Put Off"):  Strife.  One of the seven things God hates is one who stirs up trouble among his brothers.  Proverbs 6:19
Encouragement ("Put On"):  Peace Making.  God gives joy to those who promote peace.  1 Peter 3:11, Proverbs 12:20
Additional Verses: 1 Peter 3:11, Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 12:20
 My chart has gotten lots of use the past two days!  The hardest part about this is I wish I knew more scripture by heart.  I wish I didn't have to use a chart...I wish it were in my head.  But it's not.  :(  Hopefully with time and practice it will get there!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yes, it was yesterday.  :)  But I had a really long, hard day and after I posted the book review yesterday I really didn't have time to do any more blogging (or anything else much fun for that matter) the rest of the day.

Mitch had a party in his class on Friday because they had Monday off for conferences.  This meant that Mitch went to work at his regular time, had conferences all day long, and didn't get home until 9 pm.  Who planned that for V-day???

Mitch bought 24 balloons to give to his students.  It caused quite a stir.  :)  When he brought them home on Thursday night, the kids were pretty excited.  We got Tirzah to hold them, and she quickly let go...

Then she ran to hide (see her behind the couch Kathi is sitting on?)...

 {Malachi makes a good Valentine!}


Eventually she came back around, though.

Our kids have been taking turns walking a dog for a neighbor who broke her leg in an awful accident.  On Valentine's Day she sent over Valentine's for the whole family.  They had cats and dogs on them.  Tirzah was IN LOVE with hers.  It said "Meow" and "Ruff", and she was of course trying to make the noises that the animals make (another thing I need to video--it's hilarious).  Kathi said to her, "Tirzah, do you already know how to read your card?"  Hehehe...
 {She is showing everyone her card.}
 {Her cute little overalls have the perfect storing spot for her favorite card.}

A daycare parent also brought over donuts for a special treat and pencils for everyone.  I made chocolate no-bake cookies and shaped them into heart shapes for everyone.  So it was a pretty mild holiday, but we did manage to celebrate a little.

My day was long and hard as I pushed to get a lot of things done.  I did all the laundry, and the kids had it put away by bedtime.  I brought out the size 24 mo clothes for Tirzah and packed away everything smaller as it came out of the wash (some of her 12 mo stuff is REALLY small--lol--imagine that!).  That was emotionally hard for me as I watched my favorite outfits go into the box.  :'(  On the positive side, I had quite a few dresses in size 24 mo/2T that had been Eden's.  That's from 10 years ago!!  It was fun to pull them out and think that very soon Tirzah will be wearing them. 

In the midst of the physical work I was doing, there was also a high need for instruction and training of the hearts and attitudes of the children in my home.  They were loud (all day), and rude to each other, and just not following directions.  So that was emotionally draining as well.  (So far this morning seems like it may be shaping out to be a similar type of day.)  

It was one of those days where I knew I could turn on a movie or let them have screen time playing games and they would have been quiet and not bothersome.  But screens are not babysitters.  I let them watch 1/2 hour of a movie so I could have some "down time" before supper.  My "down time" consisted of sitting in my sewing room at the sewing machine while I listened to Zeke whine and complain because he was missing the movie since he didn't finish his schoolwork for the day.  (ie: still not quiet).  After about 15 min I came out and said to Micah, "As soon as Jack's mom gets here, turn the movie off."  And he replied, "Ok."  When I returned to the sewing room, Zeke said to me, "Jack's mom already came."  In disbelief I walked back out to the living room to confirm that Jack (who blends in with our family perfectly) was not there.  She had come while I was starting a load of laundry downstairs and I completely missed it.  Micah was a jerk for not telling me.  But at least I was able to laugh about it (and still stop the movie after 30 min.).

Eden finished her 6th grade math curriculum last week.  I was impressed with her work--she did the entire year in 6 weeks.  I did weed out lessons that she comfortably knew (especially since she just finished 5th grade without a break between the two).  I assigned an alternate test at the beginning of each unit.  Based on that test, I decided which lessons and/or quizzes to assign.  After she completed the lessons (some units had more, some had less), I assigned the unit test to check for improvement and mastery.  The plan was to start with 6th grade Language this week.  I used the free SOS placement tests online to assess which lessons to assign.  I tested her in the 500 level and the 600 level.  By reviewing the quizzes, I was able to identify patterns of weakness in her understanding and make sure those lessons were assigned.  I was going to give her 6 weeks to do the Language units, but that would put her getting finished a week later than the boys.  We were able to cut it back to 5 weeks with a reasonable work load each day.  So everyone will finish with S.O.S. on March 18th.  WhoooHoo!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Review: Desiring God (Revised Edition)

Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist  I have been thoroughly enjoying "Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist" by John Piper.  It seems that everywhere I look I see confirmations or reinforcement of what I have read in this book.  I think that my desire to share it is evidenced by the fact that I have already mentioned this book in several previous blog posts.  :)

Let's start with the word "Hedonist".  Maybe you are like me, and you will care to admit that you don't even know what the word means.  A simple dictionary search turns up the answer:  basically, hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure (for ethical purposes), therefore a hedonist is someone devoted to the pursuit of pleasure.

What does the pursuit of pleasure have to do with Christianity and desiring God?  Ah...that's what this book is about.  Piper starts with the saying that goes "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  Piper proposes a slight change of the wording to get a clearer understanding of the saying:  "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."  And from this one statement, the rest of the book builds.

What I like about Piper's method of writing is that with each chapter he begins with a thesis statement, then he thoroughly supports his thesis from many different angles as the chapter progresses.  I found reading this book to be a good exercise for my thinking muscles.  :)  The theology is rich.  It was impossible for me to skip even a paragraph because of the wonderful information and how the topic builds. 

The chapters are long and organized by topic, yet the book progresses logically through the topics.  It is like a well-built house with a solid foundation.  Reading this book came at an interesting point in my life where I consider myself to be spiritually ready.  I may not have understood or even agreed with Piper's statements had this been 12 years earlier.  The timing is amazing.  Other people who have written reviews say that this book was instrumental in bringing about dramatic change in their lives.  I can't say that is my experience, but I can say it has been powerfully instrumental to reinforcing the journey I'm already on.  Before I cracked open the cover, I hoped I would be able to devour it.  Quickly.  My motivation was based on the pressure I felt from a long reading list.  Reading this quickly is not something that I have been able to do.  Savoring is more like it.  Almost as if by force (as opposed to the many times I read a book quickly and later wished I had savored it).  My only complaint is that it's very difficult to read in the middle of the day with lots of little children running around distracting the reader.

Click here to visit the publisher and read an excerpt from the book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah book publishers through their Blogging for Books program.  I was not required to write a positive review, my thoughts and comments are my own.

Please rank my review:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sledding

Wow it feels good outside!  Especially after the past week.  36 degrees Fahrenheit currently and it feels fantastic.  This is only the second day this year that our temps have climbed above freezing (32F).

The older kids were getting ready to go sledding with Mark and Ben Emerson, and Mitch decided to go along and take the younger ones.  Kathi decided that she did not want to go sledding (she likes the outdoors about as much as I do), so I made a last-minute decision to go along as photographer while Kathi was willing to watch Tirzah (who locked herself in my sewing room with my iPod touch and fell asleep...naughty girl).  I'm glad I went.  We forgot to bring along a camera with video capabilities.  I also forgot to wear boots (so my toes reminded me that it IS still cold outside), and I forgot to bring water bottles.  But it was a great trip (we lasted barely more than an hour).  I took a ton of photos, and as always selecting the fewest is impossible.

Our kids' favorite sledding spot is a hill in St. Joseph.  I have actually never been.  ::buries head in shame:: Mostly my excuse is I don't like the cold and snow.  So this was my first time going.  Seeing these guys have so much fun made me tempted to go down a hill on a sled.  Yeah...maybe at 14 weeks pg, but definitely not at nearly 31 wks.  :)


{Malachi ready to go}

{Caleb rocked the snowboard.  Look out, Patrick!}

{Josh got quite serious about sledding.  He may be as serious about this as he is about snowmobiling!  He focused and kept going down over and over again.}

{One of the launch-points at the top of the hill--Josh going up, Mark E, Mitch w/ Malachi, and Micah at the top}

{Um, Zeke, aren't you supposed to be ON the snow tube??}

{There goes Caleb again...sure wish I had a video camera to video his moves!}

{Glad you caught your sled, Zeke.}

{Malachi go up the side of the hill.  The SIDE.  Not in the middle of the track, buddy.  The track is so steep here he is climbing on his hands and knees, lol.}

{Glad to see Zeke finally figured out how to go down the hill on the tube.}

{Josh is too cute}

{Gasp!  Micah is actually smiling!!}

{No, Zeke, don't eat THAT snow that everyone has walked through!!}

{Josh is still so cute}

{Fun times!  Malachi and Mitch}

{Homemade ice rink way at the bottom of the hill}

{I think they were racing to the bottom, but I nearly missed it.  Poor Eden had troubles.}

{Mitch and Micah so gracefully crashed into the dreaded straw bales at the bottom.  This is the nosebleed section, folks.}

{But they came out smiling.}

{Josh being cute again.  He was trying to go down on his knees.  He didn't quite make it.}

{This wildness is a little unusual for Malachi.  He is usually more cautious.  But he wanted to do it again!}

{I can't decide if Eden is having fun or not...}

{Josh just might make it this time, but that is a pretty big bump he's going over.}

{He made it!}

{Caleb's got this one.  He's wearing a look of confidence.}

{So far, so good}

{Ohhhh, biffed it!}

{No problems, he's still smiling}

{In fact, there are smiles all around.  This is just after Mark and Mitch both took turns trying to take out Ben as he was climbing back up the hill.  Naughty!  As a matter of fact, kids tried to take ME out a couple times too.  Doubly naughty!!}

{So sweet, Micah helping his buddy back up the hill}

{Zeke on Mitch's back.  Mark on the left, Ben on the right taking a breather.}

{Very fun.}

{Someone decided to send Malachi down the bumpiest part.  Watch what happens next.}

{This picture didn't turn out because Eden was in my way, but you can still see from the arrows I drew that Malachi was not staying on the tube while he hit the bumps.  He held on with all he had, though!}

{He made it all the way to the bottom still hanging on for dear life.}

{These little boys got so hot and tired out.  They were begging for water, so I pointed them to the shade with some snow that had no tracks through it.  I figured it was the safest "water" I had available.  Yeah, I'm that kind of mom.}

{mmmmm nummy.  Bet you wish you had some!}

{Look at this poor kid!}

{A threesome--they held on all the way to the bottom.  I thought Mark was going to smoosh Micah into the straw bales, but he was better at steering than I had predicted.}

{I can't get enough of the smiles everyone was wearing!}

{This kid wanted to strip down to nothing, I think.}

{Mitch is going for broke on the big snowboard}

{More good smiles}

{Mitch is still going...}

{Ohhhhh!  Nice dismount!}

{Little kid.  Big hill.}

{Ahhh, not broke.  Good thing!  He'll have another chance while playing basketball this afternoon, though.}

Thanks for looking at all my pictures and putting up with my inability to choose fewer!