Sunday, January 9, 2011

Baby Comparison & Park Pics

Ok, both Grandma's have requested a picture comparison of Caleb and baby 2. So this will mostly be a picture update. We had our 20 week doctor checkup/ultrasound last week and found out that we're having another boy! I was convinced it was a little girl, but Stephen says he knew it was a boy.
First: a great face shot of our newest little one!

And here's a face shot of Caleb at 20 wks:
Next, Baby 2's facial profile:

And here's Caleb's profile:

Here's a pic of me last week at 20 weeks:

And here's me at 20 weeks with Caleb:
So far the pregnancies have been pretty similar. I had slightly more morning sickness this go around, but still nothing too horrible. The heartburn that I had last time hasn't shown up yet, so I'm definitely thankful for that. I started showing a lot earlier this time, which seems to be pretty normal with a second pregnancy. Last time I was super excited to start wearing maternity clothes and show off the baby bump, but I learned the hard way that it gets old wearing the same few outfits over and over again, so I've been trying to stretch and fit into my normal clothes as long as possible. Good thing it's winter and most of my winter clothes have extra room!

And here's a few pictures just for the fun of it!
We took Caleb to the park yesterday and his two favorite things to do were sliding down the slide and walking all over the place picking up leaves and waving sticks - such a little boy!
He had a blast walking all over the place through the leaves. And it was pretty cute watching Stephen walking beside him and making sure Caleb didn't hurt himself. Such a good Daddy! Then he got pretty upset when we decided to leave - he definitely wanted to stay and play longer!
We'll have to do it again once this winter storm leaves and it gets somewhat warm again!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: God Gave Us So Much

God Gave Us So Much
By Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us So Much is a three story collection of the stories God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us Love, and God Gave Us Heaven. I hadn't read any of the stories in this series before, but I've definitely heard of the book God Gave Us You, and was happy to check out these three. The series is about Little Cub, an inquisitive little polar bear, as she learns about the world around her by asking her family various questions.

Here's my take on the stories: They have good themes, and Little Cub is an endearing main character, but I thought the stories were a little long for most young children and at times the dialogue and plot were hard to follow. The questions Little Cub has are good conversation starters, and overall I think children will probably like these stories, but it wasn't a children's book that wowed me by any means. This particular book in the God Gave Us series would probably make a great gift book, as it is a nice hardcover copy and a collection of three stories in one.

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

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: Passport to the World

 Passport to the World
Your A to Z Guided Language Tour
By Craig Froman

This is another FANTASTIC children's learning book from New Leaf Publishing Group. Stephen and I LOVED this! It is a book probably best suited for older elementary aged children and it explores 26 different languages and cultures (one language for each letter of the alphabet). The book includes so many neat features - a removable passport with stickers for each language/country studied, maps, country stats, popular phrases and pronunciation guides, interesting cultural facts and pictures, name that flag/country games at the end, and a list of ways that kids can be involved in helping others around the world. So many great features and presented in a fun manner that should draw children into the adventure of learning about other cultures. I can see Passport to the World being a favorite in our family once our kids are old enough to read it! I must say that I've read 2 books now from New Leaf Publishing Group and have been blown away by the great mixture of Biblical worldview, education, and fun in each. I would highly recommend these books to other families.

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

Book Review: True Religion

True Religion
Taking Pieces of Heaven to Places of Hell on Earth
By Palmer Chinchen

True Religion is a Christian Living book about missional living and getting out of your comfort zone to share Christ in the hard places. Author Palmer Chinchen focuses on God's heart to relieve poverty and injustice, and His desire to use believers to be His hands and feet in this battle. He also highlights the fact that believers who choose to step out of their comfort zones by reaching out to others often find their own lives impacted in huge ways.

This book was a challenging read for me. There were many parts I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with, but also many parts that I had issues with. This book is filled with emotional true stories of human injustices taking place in our world today. I found myself drawn to these stories - shocked, amazed, saddened, and wanting to be a part of helping. Yet Chinchen focuses largely on getting you to step up, get involved and do something to fix problems, and seems to miss the fact that true, ultimate freedom comes through Jesus Christ and the Gospel message. He spends so much time motivating you to ACT, that he overlooks the importance of sharing the Gospel. This is dangerous ground to walk on in today's culture of social action. As believers, we must remember that simply alleviating an oppression or injustice without focusing on the saving of souls leaves a person in only a better position here on earth while leaving them to suffer an eternity without God.

I did appreciate Chinchen's appeal for believers to participate in international mission trips. He spent a lot of time discussing the life change that takes place when we find ourselves out of our comfort zones in an international context. Having experienced this numerous times myself, I agreed with him and was thankful for his compelling arguments to get believers onto the mission field.

Overall, I found True Religion to be a great motivator to get someone to take action and step onto the mission field, but I really wished the book focused more on God's purpose for missions, which is NOT just to solve social problems. I would be very careful with who I recommended this book to and would make sure the person already had a solid understanding of God's heart for missions.

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

Book Review: Unlocked

By Karen Kingsbury

Unlocked is a Christian Fiction book by popular author Karen Kingsbury. It’s the story of Holden Harris, a teen with autism, and Ella Reynolds the girl who finds herself drawn to Holden and to helping him emerge from his prison. It’s a story of challenges and hope with an inspiring message of looking beyond the exterior of a person and seeing the beauty within.

I enjoyed reading Unlocked. It’s a well-written story and really demonstrates the difference one person who cares can have on another. I was surprised by the many difficult topics this book tackled. From autism and the challenges of single parenting a special needs child, to teen suicide, bigotry and bullying, Kingsbury weaves a story that also digs into the lives of those surrounding Holden and his high school. I think this would be an enjoyable read not only for anyone who knows someone affected by autism, but also for teenagers who want to make a difference in their schools.

I did wonder at times how realistic the portrayal of severe autism was and whether or not Holden's outcome was possible. From what I could tell with my very limited knowledge, it seemed that the majority of the book was fairly accurate. But I would love to get my mom’s thoughts on this book, as she has worked with children with autism her entire career and she’s the closest thing to an expert I know. I passed the book along to my mom when she was here for Christmas, so I'm looking forward to hearing her thoughts on it.

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

Book Reviews Coming

Well I've slacked a bit in posting book reviews lately due to a combination of the holidays, being busy, and pure procrastination. So that means I've got quite a few book reviews to post. Get ready, cause here they come!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Jan 1: Thankful

Happy New Year's Day!

Tonight, on the first day of 2011, I am thankful. 

Sure, there's plenty of New Year's resolutions that could be made and plenty I'd like to change or work on in the next year - the list of housework I'd hoped to accomplish today alone could be at the top.

But tonight I choose to just be thankful. 

Stephen, Caleb and I are having a somewhat unplanned getaway tonight. We're spending the night in a nice hotel room, which we didn't have to pay for (thanks for your hotel points Big Frank!), getting ready for Stephen to preach in the morning. 

The church Stephen is preaching at is a little farther away than we wanted to drive tomorrow morning, and so we came up with a semi-last minute decision to get a hotel room close to the church (thanks again Frank!).

So after a yummy dinner out (paid for with gift cards from family - thanks!), we're settled into our room and winding down for the evening. Stephen is reviewing his sermon at the desk, Caleb has been chattering away for the last hour in his crib (he was supposed to go to sleep...), and I'm sitting in the big chair with my feet up on the ottoman sipping chamomile tea, thanking God for unexpected blessings and time with my sweet family.

I can't think of a better start to the new year.

Thank you, Lord, for unexpected blessings. There are many tonight without a soft place to rest their heads, or a family to hold close. You have given us both, and we are thankful. Thank you for this special time together as a family. Be with those who are without, and remind us all that only in You is found the ultimate peace and comfort that no material thing or person can satisfy.

"I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable."    
Psalm 145:1-3