Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Update

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It’s been a month since the last update, but it feels like two or three. We’ve had quite a bit going on around the Webb house, and I’ll try to highlight the big things. When I last left off, it was Caleb’s first birthday. We had a small birthday party for him and he had a blast eating cake and playing with the big boys who came.

We also made a big announcement at Caleb’s party – we’re expecting baby #2 in May 2011!

The discovery was a bit of a surprise for Stephen and me, and took a little while to really set in. Another baby so soon!?!???? But we know that it is truly God who opens and closes wombs, who creates life and takes it, and all things are done according to His perfect plan. We’re thrilled with this and excited to find out if this little one will be a boy or girl - we find out next week!

For Thanksgiving we flew up to Kansas to see my family. It was a fast trip (as they all too often are), but we had a great time. We enjoyed a yummy Thanksgiving meal with extended family, revealed our baby news, celebrated Caleb’s birthday for the third time, I finally got to meet Sara’s boyfriend, Stephen and I had fun going out with some of Sara’s friends and then ended up doing some spur of the moment midnight Black Friday shopping (what were we thinking). For a two and a half day trip, it was packed pretty full

Let’s see…we’ve attended some Christmas parties, which have been fun as always. Stephen has continued to preach at various churches as needs arise. At dinner tonight we were reflecting back on all the preaching opportunities he’s had over this past year and it really is incredible. He has filled in at quite a few churches, and most were for at least a month, if not longer, at a time. The church members have all been so warm-hearted and encouraging, and Stephen has gained a lot of experience. We're so thankful.

Around the middle of December, we traveled to New Orleans to attend Stephen's seminary graduation. 
It was a wonderful time of giving thanks for all that God has done in Stephen's life. I'm so proud of him, and was glad we made the drive down to New Orleans so that he could actually walk at graduation.

Christmas was great and very full with lots of family gatherings. My family stayed with us for a few days and then we traveled to Georgia to see some more family. It's been a great holiday and I'm looking forward to one more with New Year's Eve tomorrow night. We don't have anything planned, but with all the busyness of the last month, I think that's a good thing. We hope you and your family have had a wonderful holiday season and we wish you God's blessings for your new year!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Caleb!

 It's Caleb's First Birthday today! He continues to grow too fast for my mommy heart to take.The last few days I've been thinking about all the changes and milestones Caleb went through during his first year of life. Here's a few memories and milestones that come to mind (not always in exact order):
  • Caleb's arrival. One year ago today, we welcomed a handsome, chubby 9 lb, 6 oz baby boy into the world. He was a week late and seemed to be very content in my tummy. The doc finally had to open me up to get him out!
  • Caleb was a very content and peaceful baby. He was pretty quiet, didn't cry much, and had huge eyes that seemed to just take everything in. When he heard loud noises, those eyes got even bigger!
  • First baby smiles
  • Tummy time, which he hated. He would be fine for the first few seconds and then the screaming would start.
  • Learning to hold his head up
  • Rolling over
  • Sitting up
  • Moving from the infant bath tub to the yellow ducky bathtub, which he still loves.
  • Learning to crawl. He started by scooting backwards and eventually got the forward motion going. His first crawling technique was affectionately called "the inchworm" or "the bellyflop." It was hilarious. Then he moved to a one-legged gimp crawl. And then he started the bear crawl - straight legged on just his hands and toes. He still does that one the most, but sometimes he'll do a normal crawl.
  • Transitioning from just milk to baby food, and now to soft solids. Caleb's always been a good eater and often gets very mad when his food takes too long to get to him or when it runs out. It's a one meal to the next
  • Learning to laugh and then great big belly laughs (always caused by something Stephen has done, of course)
  • From baby jibberish to learning to say "Mama" and "Dada." Caleb said "Dada" first and very often. The "da" sound is probably still one of his favorite things to repeat over and over.
  • And I have to mention one of his very favorite things to do: bounce in the bouncy seat! Caleb LOVES to jump and when he really gets going, he is usually laughing as well. So cute and fun to watch.
He's grown so fast over this past year and has been such a blessing. We're so thankful for the special gift of Caleb Spurgeon Webb. We love you buddy and can't wait to see what this next year holds for you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birthday Eve

Tomorrow is Caleb's 1st Birthday! So in honor of the soon-to-be birthday boy, I'm posting one more video. This video isn't really about anything in particular, but just shows off Caleb's sweet smile. Plus, I can't help but to smile myself as I watch it. So enjoy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Caleb Videos!

Our little man is starting to walk! He's still hobbling from one close object to the next and hasn't gotten up the courage to walk any great distance, but he's definitely getting there! Here's a few videos we took last night.
Caleb starting to walk

He was having so much fun playing with Stephen and wrestling with Biggie Bear

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: The Reluctant Entertainer

The Reluctant Entertainer
Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality
By Sandy Coughlin

I really appreciated Sandy Coughlin's The Reluctant Entertainer. This book is just as much about the heart and purpose of hospitality as it is about tips and recipes to use when entertaining. Coughlin emphasizes that true hospitality should focus on connecting deeply with others, and not on having the fanciest table setting or most delicious meal prepared. I felt like she did a great job of encouraging women in every walk of life, whether single, a busy mom with kids running around, or an empty nester, to open their lives up and reach out to others. I truly appreciated the tips she gave for having a nice gathering, but not stressing over perfection. She also addresses entertaining fears that I could definitely relate to: what to serve, how clean my house is, how to keep the conversation going, etc. Again, I was reminded that hospitality is not about me, but is all about making my guests welcome and at ease. As someone who loves the idea of opening my home to others, but sometimes lacks the initiative to actually make it happen, I feel like I probably need to read this book at least every other year to be reminded of these truths and encouraged to open my home even when life is somewhat chaotic. I would definitely recommend this book as a general guide to practical entertaining and the heart of hospitality.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

 Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half
With America's Cheapest Family
By: Steve & Annette Economides

One of the tag lines for this book says "You Can Save Thousands a Year on Your Grocery Bill Without Cutting Coupons." I'm always one to look for ways to save money, and since grocery shopping and meal planning/prep are two of my household responsibilities, I was definitely interested to see what the Economides had to say. If you are looking to cut down on your grocery bill and willing to invest some time, then I think this is a good resource. It's really a wholistic look at how to save money in the areas of meal planning and preparation. The chapters cover everything from how/when to grocery shop, the most economical ways to plan meals, time-saving cooking strategies, and even basic gardening. I found tons of good tips, some of which would take a significant amount of time and energy to implement and others that were quick and easy to adopt. I felt like this was a fairly practical guide that most everyday mom's could appreciate and glean tips from.

Overall, I really liked this book and their approach at saving money and planning meals. I wish I had more time to implement some of the strategies they suggest, but maybe one day I will.... maybe. The book is pretty lengthy at 300 pages and is probably best read from cover to cover, although you can fairly easily scan individual chapters based on titles if you're looking for pointers in one specific area. I would also say that you'll need some time to process and implement tips from each chapter before tackling the next one. 

One thing I really like about this book was at the end of each chapter they give three different action levels for you to pick from and work on: The Timid Mouse, The Wise Owl, and The Amazing Ant. Each one is more advanced than the first, so I could easily read the Timid Mouse action plans at the end of each chapter and find  quick tips.

I would recommend this book to someone who has a good bit of time to invest and really wants to make a difference in saving money when it comes to your grocery bill. It might be a little overwhelming if you are new to grocery saving strategies and just want some quick, easy tips.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Holiday Card Offer

Hey Ladies - is offering a promotion right now where if you write a blog post about your favorite holiday card design from their site, you get a code for 50 free cards! You can find out the details and how to sign up HERE.

We haven't sent out holiday cards in the past, but there's just lots to celebrate this year, and I actually have some decent photos of our soon-to-be ONE YEAR OLD, and since it's a really good promotion that should only cost me about $6 shipping, why not!? So without further ado, here is one of my favorite cards and the one we will most likely be using this year for our family Christmas card.
"every good gift"

"every good gift is from above. merry christmas"

Of course we'll add our own pictures and probably an extra message on the inside underneath "merry christmas". I think we might try to take some pictures this weekend, although I need to find a nice Christmas outfit for Caleb first. We'll see. BUT, the plan is for us to actually have some Christmas cards this year! Hooray! Thanks to Shutterfly for offering this promotion, because I probably wouldn't have given Christmas cards much thought otherwise.

If you want to see some of their holiday card designs, check out these links. Once you get to the Christmas card page, you can also narrow down to Religious Christmas Cards.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Caleb and His Car

Here's a couple videos from the weekend. Caleb figured out how to push his car. He was so proud of himself! And of course Stephen and I were too. The first video is him pushing it across the room. The second video is pretty funny - his first car wreck! Don't worry, it didn't phase him at all.

Book Review: Charlie & Trike in the Grand Canyon Adventure

Charlie and Trike in the Grand Canyon Adventure
By Ken Ham and Karen Hansel

This book is AWESOME!!! It might be one of the coolest children's books I've ever read. It is a great combination of an adventure story, natural history facts, and biblical truth. And best of all, each page has some kind of interactive part - pop-out pages, treasure maps, little interesting fact books, etc. I love, love, love how this book combines all those elements to make learning fun, and also takes a very direct approach to teaching children creation truths. In The Grand Canyon Adventure, Charlie and Trike tour the Grand Canyon and learn how God flooded the earth during Noah's time - that's why there are sea creature fossils at the top of the Grand Canyon. This is a very educational, yet fun and interactive book. I will definitely be looking for more Charlie and Trike books!

I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook

The Baby Bible Christmas Storybook
By Robin Currie

This cute board book tells the story of Jesus' birth in short, simple stories. The book says that it's for ages Birth to 3 yrs old, and I must say I was a little skeptical at first how my almost 1 yr old would like it. What I wasn't expecting (and liked) about this book was after each line, they give you an action or sound to do. It's a fun, interactive little baby book, and apparently there's a whole line of Baby Bible books.  This would make a cute Christmas present or shower gift.

I received this book for free from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Adventures in Odyssey - Cause & Effect

Adventures in Odyssey
Vol 52: Cause & Effect
Produced By: Focus on the Family

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review a volume of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. These  children's audio stories have been around since I was a kid and combine great stories of adventure and mystery with a biblical lesson to be learned from each. I loved listening to Adventures in Odyssey as a kid, and still enjoyed listening to their newest volume - Cause & Effect. This was a set of 4 CD's with 12 different stories. I didn't even know you could purchase Adventures in Odyssey, as I'd only ever heard it on the radio, but it's great to know that they're available to own. They make great road trip listening for children!

I received a free copy of this CD set from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Update From Haiti

A few weeks ago I mentioned the Hendricks blog. Today I want to share their latest post. It speaks for itself (and leaves me a somewhat speechless). Please take a few moments to sit still and read it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Video For GiGi

This is probably just for my mom...nothing super exciting, but some daily Caleb footage. Here's his latest accomplishment, Mom! He's starting to balance without holding onto things - standing hands free! He hasn't quite figured out to take a step yet, but I have a feeling he will before too long.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: The Lightlings

The Lightlings
By R.C. Sproul

The Lightlings is a beautifully illustrated children's story by theologian R.C. Sproul. Sproul is a well-known and respected Reformed Christian author and speaker. He's written some great books for the adult audience, and so I was excited to read one of his children's books, expecting that it would convey Biblical truths on a child's level. 

Summary: I think The Lightlings is a good children's book. It's an allegory of the creation, fall, and  redemption of mankind. It tells the story of a little boy, Charlie, who asks his Grandpa why he is afraid of the dark. Grandpa tells a story about the Lightlings, who are created by the King of Light to shine just as He does. But they choose to disobey the King of Light, and being filled with shame, they flee their garden to hide in the darkness of the forest. One day they see a light shining in the distance and discover that it is a baby, who is the son of the King of Light. They worship the baby, and the King's light is once again reflected in them. They then take their light into the rest of the forest, where some lightlings choose to accept the light and some stay in the darkness due to fear. The story ends with Grandpa telling Charlie that when he thinks of the dark or the light, to remember the King has given us a child to bring light to the darkness and we don't have to fear any more.

The book seems to be written towards a 4-8 yr old audience. The pictures are beautiful, and there is a section at the end with questions for parents to discuss with their children, showcasing the Biblical truths found in the allegory.

The book doesn't go into depth explaining sin, Christ, or salvation, but simply gives an overall picture of God's redemptive plan. Even though I would have personally liked more detail and explanation those things,  I still think it's an excellent book to read with your child. As our family grows, I want our home to be filled with engaging stories that convey Biblical truths, and The Lightlings does just that.

I received this book for free from Reformation Trust in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caleb Playing

Took this video tonight of Caleb playing in the hallway. For some reason he thinks the wall tastes good... Oh, and he's got a new crawl - the bear crawl - on his hands and feet only.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Tonight was a special night as Stephen was ordained into the ministry. I'm so proud of him and thankful for the call God has put on his life. It was a wonderful service and we were humbled and blessed by the charges given to the candidates and the prayers of the deacons over our family.

It was also an extra special service because Stephen's step-father, Jeff, was also ordained with him.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Book Review: Pursuit of Justice

Pursuit of Justice
By DiAnn Mills

Pursuit of Justice is a Christian suspense novel. FBI Agent Bella Jordan returns home to West Texas to solve a series of murders surrounding a local treasure legend. She also returns home to face the ghosts from her past. Though not anticipated, she also finds herself with feelings for one of the murder suspects. Bella must follow the trail of clues to find who's behind the murders and catch them before they catch her.

This was an easy read and an enjoyable book. It wasn't super-suspenseful or surprising. I'd rate it a decent beach read.

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stolen Goods

Funny story from yesterday.

When we packed up to leave Aruba a week and a half ago, we had a plastic grocery bag full of snack items (mostly granola bars, popcorn, and oatmeal). I was a little worried that the bag might not make it through U.S. customs because of the "grains" in the granola bars (even though they were clearly packaged and bought in the U.S.

Well, this bag was one of the last to get packed and didn't quite fit in the suitcase I was trying to shove it into. Stephen was in charge of all the luggage and did a little last minute rearranging to make it all fit.

We get home from Aruba and start unpacking bags. I notice the bag of snacks is not in our luggage. We start to joke that the customs guys in Aruba must have pulled it out and spent the afternoon snacking on our food. There were a few other little things we couldn't locate either - bag of Twizzlers, a jar of baby food, and for a couple days I thought my flip flops were missing. Ended up they were hiding under a pile of clothes....

So of course we started joking about the customs guys stealing our stuff. Ok - I was half joking, half mad that they stole my popcorn!

Well, a week and a half goes by and I've mostly forgotten about our missing bag of snacks. Last night we're getting ready for bed and Stephen grabs his backpack, which he normally takes every day to work with him, opens it up, makes a soft cry, and pulls out our bag of snacks!

So I guess I owe the Aruba/U.S. customs guys and apology. I seriously thought you stole our bag of snacks. I will no longer warn friends headed to Aruba to watch out for thievery in customs.

But I do think you still have the Twizzlers!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Links I Love

I stumbled across some great reads today and thought I'd share!

The Hendricks (church family from college) moved to Haiti a month ago to share the light and love of Christ. Heather's updates are great. Today she introduced us to Ben & Katie, a fellow missionary couple in Haiti. Katie's blog gives a great view of their life ministering to teenagers in Port-au-Prince.

I've been following the journey of Compassion International bloggers in Guatemala here. I've been to Guatemala, and we also sponsor a little boy in Columbia with Compassion. The overwhelming poverty contrasted with even brighter hope in Christ has left me speechless numerous times.

I especially liked Shaun Groves' post from today and loved his new song which he shares from Guatemala in the post!

And lastly, this recipe for Black Bean & Red Pepper Soup with Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins sounds absolutely delish for a cool fall day! Yummy....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review: Solitary

By Travis Thrasher

Solitary is marketed as a teen, Christian suspense novel and I found it really entertaining in an edge-of-your-seat, light verses darkness, uncomfortable sort of way. I loved the way Thrasher narrates this book, making you feel like you're in the head of a teenage boy rather than just reading about a teenage boy.

It's about 16 yr old Chris, who has just moved to the town of Solitary, NC with his mom after his parent's divorce. Chris is immediately drawn to a beautiful loner, Jocelyn, who has some pretty dark secrets. Come to find out, the whole town has some very dark secrets and this book (the first of the series) only begins to touch the surface of all that is going on in Solitary.

This first book is somewhat dark - I have a feeling the series will become a true battle against the light and the darkness (good vs evil), but the main character has yet to really embrace the light/truth and is simply uncovering the mysterious evil going on around him. It's not a book for your grandma, but would probably be really popular with teenagers. I liked it a lot and would like to read the rest of the series as it comes out. The ending really shocked me (in a way that very few books do) and left me with a ton of questions that I'm assuming will be answered in following books. Good job Travis Thrasher - you've got me hooked!

I received this book for free from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aruba Vacation

Last week Stephen, Caleb, Stephen's Dad Frank, and I went to ARUBA!!! Woohoo! It was a week of relaxing, exploring the island, and enjoying God's awesome creation. It also fell on our 3rd wedding anniversary, so we got to celebrate with a sunset dinner at a restaurant on the beach - so romantic and pretty! Here's a few pictures from our time in Aruba. If you want to see more, you can check out my Facebook page.
Caleb reading his book on the airplane. He was such a good little flyer.

Our sweet hotel on the beach.

Stephen and Frank. We really enjoyed Frank getting to be with us for the week. And Caleb especially enjoyed his Grandpa time.

Speaking of Caleb... he got to play in the ocean for the first time! He acted like a pro, just chillin in his inner tube, perfectly content until Mom and Dad were ready to go in.

It was a great week and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to vacation in Aruba - what a special treat! 

Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to see more of Your beautiful creation, and for the chance to enjoy it with my family. It was a special blessing, Lord, and a mere taste of what You have in store for Your bride. I look forward to the day when we will join You in heaven - when the wages of sin and a fallen creation are no longer evident around us and we see the new and perfect heaven and earth that you will make. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be, though it still won't compare to Your glory and beauty. You are a mighty and powerful God.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: That's Where God Is

That's Where God Is
By Dan & Ali Morrow

I loved this children's book! It's the story of a little boy who asks his Grandpa where God is. His grandpa tells him to look for God during the week and let him know what he finds. Each page then shares one day of the week and how the little boy finds God in the activities of his day. 

I loved the way this book teaches children to find how God is at work all around them. It also has a scripture that goes along with each way the little boy finds a part of God displayed around him (I loved the scriptures included).

At the end of the story, the little boy reports back to his Grandpa, who then shares with the little boy about how God can be with him everywhere he goes by being in his heart.

This is a great story, easy to read and relate to with children. The pictures are beautiful as well. I have a feeling it will become one of our favorites as Caleb grows older - I can see us reading it over and over. Great conversations could be had over the way this little boy finds God working around him and how we can see God working in our day as well.

I received this book for free from The B&B Media Group for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

9 Months Old!

I can't believe my baby boy is 9 months old! Where have the months gone? 
 He is such a delight and still a very happy baby. He's getting even more playful and still loves to laugh with his daddy. 
 He's got his own inch-worm style crawl that he's been doing for over a month now. He kinda pushes up on his arms, gets his legs under him, and then flops on his belly forward. It's pretty funny to watch. 

He is pulling up on everything, and is pretty comfortable holding on with just one hand, but hasn't gotten balanced enough to stand without holding onto something. I'm glad for that at the moment - I'm not ready for him to be walking yet! 
 Caleb is very talkative when he's comfortable in his surroundings. His favorite thing to say is "da da da da da" but every now and then I can get him to say "ma ma ma ma." 

His 9 month check up was last week and he weighs 21 lbs - 75th percentile. 
 He's still got his sweet cheeks, but I feel like his face looks more and more like a little boy's every day.
He still loves to eat and goes back and forth between pureed foods and soft solids (green beans, cheese, rice, etc). He's still nursing and I feel pretty confident we'll make it to the one year mark, which has been my goal.

He's getting ready to switch daycares - he had been coming to work with me and staying in our on-sight daycare (so so thankful for that blessing), but it's closing down and he'll be transitioning to a daycare in Sylacauga soon.
Thank You, Lord, for the precious gift of my son. He is such a joy to us and I pray that we will honor You in the way we love and raise him. May You be glorified in our family.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: The Last Operative

The Last Operative
By Jerry B. Jenkins
Genre: Christian Fiction

Jordan Kirkwood is an intelligence agent for the NSA. As he gets ready for a long overdue vacation with his wife, he gets word of a national security risk. This information rocks Jordan's world, as it implies someone on the inside may be involved, and his own family gets caught up in the whirlwind it causes. The chase to hunt down the truth takes the reader on global adventures with twists and turns at every corner.

I enjoyed this suspense novel by Jerry B. Jenkins. It was entertaining and kept me guessing as to what exactly was going on and "who done it," although I had had my guesses (which ended up being correct) all along. It was a good, easy summer read, and that's just how I would recommend it. Nothing to write home about, but definitely enjoyable. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.  :-)

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Favorite Psalm

 Psalm 63
 1O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
         My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
         In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
    2Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
         To see Your power and Your glory.
    3Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
         My lips will praise You.
    4So I will bless You as long as I live;
         I will lift up my hands in Your name.
    5My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
         And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
    6When I remember You on my bed,
         I meditate on You in the night watches,
    7For You have been my help,
         And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
    8My soul clings to You;
         Your right hand upholds me.
    9But those who seek my life to destroy it,
         Will go into the depths of the earth.
    10They will be delivered over to the power of the sword;
         They will be a prey for foxes.
    11But the king will rejoice in God;
         Everyone who swears by Him will glory,
         For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Caleb Pic Update

Almost Crawling

Caleb is so close to crawling! I told Stephen last night we had to record his attempts to crawl because before we know it, he's going to be moving all over the place. So here you go - our little baby is growing up!

Friday, June 18, 2010

DVD Review: Hermie: Who Is In Charge Anyway?

 Hermie: Who Is In Charge Anyway
By Max Lucado

This time I'm reviewing a DVD instead of a book! Last week's mail brought with it a copy of Hermie & Friends: Who Is In Charge Anyway? This was the first Hermie movie I've seen and overall I thought it was fine. It has a good message about God's plan for our lives and how sometimes what makes us feel "different" is actually what makes us special and can be used by God for something great. It was cute, but definitely not a huge attention grabber or super fun (I was expecting something like Veggie Tales). This would probably be good for young children, but might get boring for older kids. 

I received this DVD free from Thomas Nelson Publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Caleb Laughing

Lots of videos lately! This one speaks for itself...enjoy!

Book Review: The Mailbox

The Mailbox
By Marybeth Whalen

The Mailbox is a Christian fiction book about second chances. Teenage lovers Lindsey and Campbell are grown up now and find their separate lives far from what they had dreamed of. Lindsey returns to peaceful Sunset Beach, the location of her fondest memories, to regain her identity after signing divorce papers. Campbell finds himself bringing his estranged, anorexic daughter home with him to heal at Sunset beach. Both Campbell and Lindsey discover God has a great plan for their broken lives and has given them opportunities for second chances.

This Christian love story would probably make a good beach read. It's the debut novel of author Marybeth Whalen, and while it's definitely not one of my favorite books, I thought she did a great job on her first novel. I found myself somewhat nervous throughout this book as both the main characters are divorced (from different people), have children, and are seeking to rekindle a flame they once had with each other. Lindsey's husband tries to come back to her at one point in the novel and there was a blurry line of wanting her to be with her "true love" Campbell versus wanting her to reconcile with her ex-husband. Some dangerous ground to walk in my mind. The saving grace was that both Lindsey and Campbell were married to non-Christians who cheated on them and left them, so finding new love seemed justifiable in the end. 

Overall, this was a decent book and I would probably enjoy another book by this author, but I'd read the back cover carefully to make sure the plot is not morally compromising (which The Mailbox ended up not being, but I had to process it some before I was completely ok with it).

I received this book free from The B&B Media Group in exchange for my honest review.

Caleb Swimming Video

Yesterday we went to Granna and Poppa's to go swimming! This was Caleb's second time in the big pool. He had a BLAST! It was so funny - he was swimming around kicking his little legs and splashing his hands. He played hard for about 30 minutes and then got tuckered out and was ready for a nap.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GiGi's in Town

 Disclaimer: This post is all about my mom...but the pics are all of Caleb. She took them today, but we didn't get one with her in it...I'll have to add some of those as the week goes on! So enjoy the post about GiGi with Caleb pictures. :-)

My mom is in town for the week! What fun and what a blessing. She drove all the way from Kansas (which she has done numerous times since the week before Caleb was born - pretty amazing). She's hanging out with us and getting some serious Caleb time - he's staying home with her this week instead of coming with me to work.

I love the time she gets to spend with us for lots of reasons. So let's name a few:
  • First of all, because she gets to love on Caleb. It makes me so happy for her to have time with him. It's not easy for Grandma to live far, far away!
  • Second, she is such a huge help to me with everything from making meals, running errands, and even doing the dishes and laundry! My mom is very servant-hearted and while I would never want to take advantage of her help, she truly loves and wants to take some of the load off me when she's here. Such. A. Blessing. I seriously thought numerous times today "I don't have to worry about making dinner tonight!" Thanks Mom!
  • We get to hang out, catch up in person, and plan when the next time we will get together will be. (Can't wait til we go to the lakehouse in July!)
  • She is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom, especially when it comes to being a mother. After raising four kiddos and teaching elementary students for years, she has quite a few tricks up her sleeve. Each time she visits, I feel like I learn an easier way to do something AND a new way to stimulate Caleb's little brain. There's an example of Titus 2:3-5 in the flesh!
And lastly, her birthday is in just a few weeks! Even more reason to celebrate! Happy early Birthday Mom! I love you and am so glad you're here to visit. God has given me a great gift in having you as my mom and Caleb's GiGi. Oh, and Stephen says you need to stay 2 weeks instead of one.  :-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Busy Mom's Guide

The Busy Mom's Guide To A Happy, Organized Home
Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas
By Kathy Peel

I got really excited about this book. As a brand new mom with a full time job, I would definitely place myself in the "busy mom" category and I LOVE books about domestic things like managing your home, organization, meal planning, etc. Apparently Kathy Peel is a pretty well known and renowned "Family Manager" and has written a lot of books and articles on the subject - I had no idea!

Overall, I liked this book. It's more of a reference guide at 300 pages, split into chapters based on the different "departments" a mom manages: Time & Scheduling, Home & Property, Food, Family & Friends, Finances, Special Events, and Self Management. There's so much info that it's a little overwhelming, but taken just a chapter or section at a time, I think it could be very helpful. It definitely wasn't a book I could sit down at one time and read (because I'm a busy mom, you know), but I don't think that's how it was meant to be read. Definitely more of a quick reference with a great Table of Contents for quickly finding info on a specific subject.

I'm hesitant to give a big recommendation for everyone to go out and buy this book due to its length and wondering how often I will actually reference it, but I definitely think this is a book I will like more the more I use it. I just need to keep it handy rather than setting it on a bookshelf and forgetting about it. We'll see how that goes....

I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 31, 2010

So Proud

I'm so proud of Stephen. Last week he went to New Orleans and in the 5 days he was there, he took a course worth 3 credit hrs, wrote 3 papers, and took 3 tests to hopefully test out of 9 additional hrs of classes. So basically he knocked out a full semester worth of classes in 5 days and it was no small feat! He has worked hard to complete his Master's degree, and it looks like we might finally be at the very end. We missed him while he was gone, but I'm so proud of all he was able to accomplish and thankful for his hard work to finish his degree. Great job my love! And we're so glad you're home again!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book Review: Mind Your Own Mortgage

Mind Your Own Mortgage
The Wise Homeowner's Guide to Choosing, Managing, and Paying Off Your Mortgage
By Robert J. Bernabe

So, before I read this book I knew absolutely nothing about mortgages except that you need one to buy a house, and you'll probably be paying for it the rest of your life (which I think is crazy!). I figured Stephen and I will more than likely purchase a house in the next decade or so, and so it would be wise to learn a little about what will probably the biggest purchase we ever make. With that background in mind, I thought this book was AWESOME! As I read it I found myself stopping to tell Stephen how helpful it was and asking him to read it when I was done. And it's not just for the first-time home owner - it spends a lot of time addressing refinancing and paying off existing mortgages as well.

I first love the overall mindset Bernabe has toward debt and living within your means. It reminded me a lot of Dave Ramsey and stresses being a good manager of your money to pay off debts quickly rather than constantly buying more and digging a deeper and deeper hole. With that frame of mind, he gives a thorough explanation of how to choose a mortgage based on PRICE and not payment, and then how to pay it off well before the final pymt date (which is typically 30 yrs or even more if you are not careful with your refinances - yikes!). The book is very readable and he used terms that I could understand for the most part, although I had to pay attention and read somewhat slowly to take it all in. It's a decent sized book at nearly 300 pages, and it got a little repetitive at times, but I'm glad I read it through to the end.

The only thing I DIDN'T like about the book is that Bernabe makes a pretty strong sales pitch throughout the book for an online membership to his book's mortgage managing website. He references forms on this site in nearly every chapter, but doesn't mention you have to pay a $29.95 membership fee to access them. Not cool. If someone buys your book and you base whole chapters around using specific forms, you should include those forms in the book for free.

As I said at the beginning, I'm so glad I read this book. I feel informed and confident about what to look for in a mortgage and how to manage it in a wise way that will hopefully allow us to pay it off early rather than pushing it further into the "retirement years." I will definitely reference it down the road when/if we start the journey to buying our first house.

I received this book for free from in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Month of May, part 3

And last but definitely not least, we celebrated wonderful life events with lots of dear friends from a baby shower to a bridesmaids luncheon to a wedding! I got to help with these events and had a wonderful time serving and honoring friends who are very dear to our hearts.
This pic was from our wedding back in 2007. Kameron was Stephen's best man and today we got to watch as he married his beautiful bride Olivia. Their wedding was an incredible worship service where the Gospel was clearly proclaimed and the covenant of marriage was celebrated. We're thrilled for Kameron and Olivia as they start their new life together as husband and wife!
Stephen looked very handsome in his tux. I loved the way he kept looking at me in the audience and winking from his spot on stage.  :-)
Congrats Kam & Olivia! Love, the Webbs