Friday, January 31, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to all of you who entered the recent blogiversary giveaway! I appreciate you all stopping by and saying hello. With any luck, I'll be able to keep the blog going for another five years and more and I hope you'll continue to stop by and give me your two cents worth. It certainly makes blogging so much more fun when I hear what you have to say.

So, without further ado, I present to you the winner of the Come Home to Supper cookbook - comment number two...Mary McLaughlin. Mary, send me an email and we'll work out the details of getting the book to you.

Thanks again for reading everyone! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Party for Baby Fow Wow

Last Sunday night, Jackie and I and our friend Leah helped host a baby party for our friends Jonathan and Caley Fowler who are expecting their first child on March 12. The party was for the members of our Bible school class and it's here where I feel the need to provide some background information to you. 

I'm sure you may recall that when I started attending Mayfair a couple of years ago it was difficult for Jackie and I to find a class we liked. We then settled on the Young Professionals class and while we love all the people in that class, the crowd was a bit too young for us. Then, like a sign from above, a new class called six40 was formed and it was the brainchild of some people we love, one of whom was Andrew Rieder. We tried the class, loved it, and never looked back and are now members of this great group of people we now call friends. 

Tragically, on November 17 last year, Andrew was in a car accident and passed away. I never mentioned it on the blog for several reasons not the least of which was that I felt like I was writing about someone's death every week last year and I just couldn't bear to do it one more time. Andrew and Jonathan were best friends and when Andrew found out Jonathan and Caley were expecting, he told his mom (Cindy) that he wanted to have a baby party for them for our class. 

So, I tell you all of this to say that Cindy was the one who approached us girls about hosting this because it was something that Andrew wanted to do for Jonathan and Caley and, of course, we were honored and more than happy to help out. 

The party was supposed to be at Cindy's house, but she came down with a fever and illness the day before and so Leah was gracious enough to move the venue to her home. There is no way my house would have accommodated everyone. Cindy still provided the punch and some decorations and Leah, Jackie and I did all the other food. The morning of the party, Jackie asked me what I was planning to wear and that she was planning to wear jeans, I probably looked at her like she was crazy and told her I was planning to wear the same dress I had on that morning. That afternoon I thought I had better ask Leah what she was going to wear and she also said jeans at which point I sent a text to Jackie and told her Leah was wearing jeans and so jeans it will be and that my inner Southern Belle had just had a heart attack. While my brain is wondering should we use glass or silver trays and bowls, these girls are thinking about what top to wear with their jeans. Listen, you can take the girl out of a proper setting, but you can't take the proper setting out of the girl, or something like that. At any rate, we all wore jeans and I didn't break out into hives and in the mean time, I provided Jackie with loads of laughter and ammunition to make fun of me. 

The party was a huge success and so much fun. It was a great mix of people and Jonathan and Caley received so many wonderful gifts from everyone. We hostesses gave them a diaper bag and then Jackie and I gave them a sign Jackie made which says, "I and Love and You" which is the name of and a line in an Avett Brothers song and we thought it would be great for the nursery. Leah, who works at Agape, brought a pretend "real" baby for Jonathan to wear and he was a trooper and kept it on for almost the whole night. We had a lot of great food and the punch was outstanding. It was just a fun, fun night and as weird as it may sound, I felt Andrew's presence there with us and I know he would have been so happy with how great the party was. The only downer of the night was that Cindy couldn't make it and I know she very much wanted to be there. 

I'll say it again, God has blessed me with such wonderful friends and that makes for a very full heart. 

P.S. Thanks to Jackie for sending me some photos because I was a genius and left my phone and camera at home. Must have been all the worry about wearing jeans as a hostess. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

In Other Insignificant News

I realized the other day when I was rambling on about nothing in particular that I have not yet mentioned the results from the 2014 Parker Bowl Challenge and I'm sure you all have been pondering the outcome. It was a super close competition this year. I started strong out of the gate, and then dwindled some in the middle and had a strong finished, while my dad and Justin were steady throughout, although I will say my dad went on a losing steak there at the end. By the time the last game of the bowl season(the National Championship game) came around, the three of us were in a dead heat, all tied up. 

My brother and I both picked The Barn to win the National Championship and my dad picked Florida State and as you probably know, Florida State won and therefore so did my dad. Had Auburn won the game, it would have come down to who picked the score closest to the game, but it didn't come to that and for the second year in a row, my dad gets to be the keeper of the trophy.

In other random and completely unimportant news, cycling season is upon us once again and I couldn't be more pleased. Recaps of the Tour Down Under are airing in the afternoon on NBC Sports and soon enough it will be time for the spring classics. I did notice on the NBC Sports Cycling Schedule that a couple of the first rounds of the Tour of California are not scheduled to air and this is rather perplexing. Usually they air every stage live so I'm hoping it might be a mistake. 

Cycling makes a comeback to the DVR Line-Up!

The temperatures have turned frigid once again this winter; but, sadly, the snow is either south or north of Huntsville. I do not even begin to understand. While I'm grateful not to be stranded on a road in Birmingham like my cousin Anna was, I would like a little snow to play in. Is that too much to ask for? 

Thanks to the the extreme cold, the gals I workout with have abandoned me for the night and so I will be working one-on-one with Josh The Trainer and tonight and there has been mention of mountain climbers which is one of my least favorite exercises. I'm tempted to call in sick. I'm sure I'll tough it out though because if I just go home and do nothing I'll feel guilty. 

Over the weekend, my dad, brother and I picked out some excursions for our upcoming trip to Hawaii (we leave March 20). In the mix is para-sailing, rappelling down a waterfall, riding in a helicopter, biking down a mountain, walking on a black sand beach and climbing close to an active volcano as well as a submarine ride and zip-lining. In other words, by the time I get home, I might need another vacation just to rest up from the one we are taking. I'm getting excited about the trip and it's shaping up to be a rather adventurous one which is exactly how I like it! 

Don't forget to enter the blogiversary giveaway! You have until Thursday evening to enter! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Five-Year Blogiversary and a Giveaway

~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~

Y'all! As of Wednesday, January 29th, I've been blogging for five years! How crazy is that? It's even crazier that people are still coming around each week to listen to the mundane details of my life. I can hardly believe it! A lot has happened over the last five years, most of it has been documented on these blog pages and it's often fun to look back at what was going on and especially interesting to read what some of you had to say about it in the comments. I want to thank you for reading and for coming back and reading some more. It's been a lot of fun and I hope I keep it up for another five years and more! 

In honor of my five year blogiversary, I'm hosting a giveaway. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to give away. I usually give away a cookbook of some sort and kind of wanted to stick with that, but at the same time, had no idea what cookbook I would like to give away because none were currently on my radar. Then, from the depths of my brain, I remembered a recent conversation I had with Erika. She mentioned that Christy Jordan, author of the Southern Plate blog, had come out with a second cookbook, and apparently I was asleep under a rock when that happened because I had no idea. At any rate, Christy is a fellow Huntsvillian and I felt like supporting someone from my city and giving away a great cookbook at the same time. Well, I'm assuming it's great. Her first one was great, so I can only assume the second one is as well. 

So, if you want to enter to win a copy of Come Home to Supper by Christy Jordan, then just leave a comment on this post. The giveaway will be open until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, January 30 and the winner will be announced on Friday, January 31. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and here's to another five years!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Electrical Problems and an Incomplete Set

January continues to be the slowest of all months and yet, we only have one more week left before it is February. It's a bizarre phenomenon. So, in an effort to, you know, continue posting, I'm just going to ramble today and see where it takes us. Some of you like that kind of thing and so do I because I don't have to think too hard. 

Last Friday, I plugged in my curling iron, pressed the "on" button, and nothing happened. It was perplexing. I was bewildered and then I was full of dread at the thought of having to go shopping for a new curling iron. If you're anything like me, then you probably don't like shopping for a new curling iron or hair dryer. It's hard getting used to the feel and the ways of a new one. Then I decided to plug it in on the outlet in my hallway and lo and behold it worked. Sadly, this meant something was wrong with the outlets. I didn't have time to tend to it that morning, so I filed this nugget in the back of my mind and for the next few days, curled my hair in the comfort of my bedroom. 

Finally on Monday night, I remembered to take a look at the breakers and see if there was anything I could do with the outlets. I was unsuccessful. So, Wednesday night, my friend Meri and her husband Miko stopped by to check out the  situation. Miko, while not a licensed electrician, does know about electricity and dabbles in voltage (or something like that). Long story short, Miko was able to solve the problem by replacing both outlets in my bathroom and miracle of miracles, I was able to curl my hair in the bathroom once again. 

I think I mentioned I took Pip to get her nails trimmed at the local pet shop over the weekend. The toy I bought her was made by Planet Dog and looks like a hockey puck. The Planet Dog toys have a peppermint smell and this one also has a slot for treats. Let me tell you, this was a great $10 investment. Pip has been playing with that thing a lot and it has been a great distraction for her. 

Speaking of Pip, lately she has been gathering some of her favorite things and placing them atop the guest bed where she leaves them and then goes and plays with them when she takes a notion. It's really quite hilarious - almost as though the guest room is her room and you'd better not move her favorite things. Yes, the aforementioned hockey puck is also placed atop the bed when not in use. 

The other night, I was laying in bed watching TV and Pip would not leave me alone. I sat up and turned over and kind of pushed her with my body and she proceeded to fall of the bed. I felt terrible. I had no intention of making her take a tumble. She then walked off and went to play in "her room" and didn't want to have anything to do with me for the rest of the night. I'm hoping she will find it in her heart to forgive me as I still feel just awful about the fact that she fell off the bed. 

I started playing Candy Crush on New Year's Eve thanks to my mom. It seems like I had looked for it on my Kindle before but either couldn't find it or didn't realize it was called Candy Crush Saga - who knows? At any rate, I'm very late to this addictive game. In the three weeks I've been playing, I've managed to get to level 85. I realize others of you are in the 190s or the 300s, but I'm rather pleased with reaching level 85 in three weeks' time. 

Back in the fall, I ordered four College Game Day Bobblehead Dolls from  My Coke Rewards. I ordered the Desmond, Chris, Lee, and Kirk and was so excited when I got a notification earlier this month that they had shipped. Meri and I had big plans for these guys in our cubicle. Sadly, they shipped me two Desmonds and zero Chris Fowler (my favorite) and so now our set is incomplete and the excitement has been replaced with melancholy because it's just not the same without Chris. 

I suppose that's all I have to ramble about today. Come back soon for more posts about nothing in particular because that's what January is all about! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Guess You'd Call It Separation Anxiety

I'm beginning to think Pippa might have a little bit of separation anxiety. I don't really know how you would diagnose this in a dog, but I'm certain that she would fall into this category. Generally speaking, she does okay when I go to work and church. After five months of living with me, she has a firm grasp of the morning routine for work and church and doesn't make a fuss about going into the crate. 

It's all the other times at home that I'm talking about. In other words, when I am at home, she does not ever leave my side.  A few times over the past couple of weeks, I have let her out when I got home in the evening and left the back door open as well. I usually go out with her and leave her on a leash because I'm quite sure she still knows where all the holes in the fence are and I feel like she would try to burrow under them if given the opportunity. While I would like a Pip free evening every now and then, I wouldn't want her to run away forever; and so, since I don't trust her, I keep her on the leash, especially at night when it's dark and I cannot see all the corners of the yard. At the same time, I need her to learn that she should stay in the backyard and hopefully one day she will become like The Tide and when she is done running around outside she will come to the door and bark. I've really got my fingers crossed on this one. So, anyway, a few times in the past couple of weeks I've managed to get home when there was still some light out and I let her out without the leash and I left the back door open so she could come in when she was ready. I would stand out with her for a couple of minutes and then come inside to fold laundry or do some other sort of chore. As soon as she realized I wasn't there, however, she would come on inside and find me rather than staying outside to play. Strange, considering you would think she would want to run around like a crazy dog since she had been in the crate all day, but no, she'd rather be right underfoot or beside me instead. 

Sometimes when she is driving me exceptionally crazy (with the biting or the barking or both), I will go to my bedroom and put the gate up so she cannot get to me and she still has run of the house. I will peek in on her during times like this to make sure she isn't destroying anything, but sometimes I would just like a moment of peace instead of being trampled upon by a dog. Most of these times though, she will still just sit outside of the bedroom door instead of taking advantage of her freedom. At night, I will sometimes go watch TV in the bedroom around 9:30 but won't lock her in with me and instead of running around the house, she will jump up on the bed and not leave my side. 

This is often the case when I'm showering or taking a bath as well. The Pip just sits in the bathroom, patiently waiting for me to finish up. Sometimes she will just go sit in the den (in the mornings anyway) but a lot of the time, she just sits or lays by the bathtub waiting. It's kind of sweet and kind of strange. 

In other Pip news, I'm not sure if I ever mentioned, but my neighbor Jeff now lets her out instead of my church friend Pat. Pat is older and was afraid Pippa might cause her to fall because Pippa is quite strong. So, my across the street neighbor Jeff now lets Pip out once a day. Jeff is seriously the best neighbor of all time. He also brings in my packages if I have any, sometimes leaves me food in the fridge and always brings up my garbage can or recycle bin from the road. As far as neighbors go, I wouldn't trade Jeff for anyone else in the world. As far as dogs go... well. The Pip is getting there. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kind of Like a Rerun

This past weekend, well, it was very similar to the weekend before in that I didn't have anything pressing to tend to and I spent some time at the movie theater and I Love Sushi. Seriously, they have a new sushi roll called Pink Paradise and I think it is a little slice of heaven on earth. My word is it delicious. I want one right now. 

Friday after work I headed straight to the theater before going home and saw 12 Years a Slave. Overall, it was a great movie, but I'm here to tell you that I truly wish I had my money back on this one and that I had seen something else instead. It was incredibly violent and really hard to stomach at times. I know that it is a realistic and maybe even mildly realistic version of slave life but still, it was tough to take. I even carried it with me into my dream that night which is further proof that it was disturbing to watch. The remainder of the evening was spent watching TV while tending to the tornado of crazy that is Pippa. 

Saturday morning I had an appointment for an oil change and took my car to the Goodyear downtown for that. I walked to the YMCA and worked out for about an hour while the oil change was taking place and then walked back to pick up the car. The walk was extremely cold, but I survived. After I picked up the car, I made a top by Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of items and then stopped by the house to pick up Pippa and take her to get her nails trimmed. The pet store in Five Points that has the dog wash will cut nails for free if you are using the wash and if you are not using the wash, then they just ask that you buy something around $10. Personally, this works out great for us - it's closer, if you only spend $10, the it ends up being $1 less than PetSmart for the nail trim and you end up with a toy or treat of some kind, not to mention you are supporting a small local business. So, it's a win for everyone! After all of these adventures, The Pip and I spent the rest of the day at home doing a while lot of nothing and it was great. 

Sunday after church, I had lunch with my Aunt Linda and some of my cousins. We went to Landry's and celebrated January and February birthdays, of which there were four. The food was quite good, although it did take forever. It was almost 2:00 p.m. before we were done with lunch; but I managed to get some cleaning and laundry done in the couple of hours before evening worship service. After service that night, I met Jackie at I Love Sushi were we dined on the finest sushi in town and then went to the movies to see August: Osage County. The movie was great and I think both of us saw snippets of our own crazy families in some of the characters. There were mostly women at the theater and even though Jackie was the only person I knew, I kind of felt like I shared a bond with all the other people at the screening, which I realize sounds extremely weird. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of shock and even some bits of feeling uncomfortable, but it was so good and if Meryl Streep doesn't win the Oscar, well, there is no justice in the world. 

After the movie, I headed home and quickly called it a night. Sadly, I did not have Monday off for MLK day and, in fact, ended up working an hour longer than I had planned which meant I wasn't able to get to spin class in time and I also had to postpone my chiropractor appointment. Instead, I made a stop by Publix as I still had not made a trip to the store for the week and needed a few items to get me through. 

So, that, dear friends, sums up the last few days. I'm sure you can rest easier now that you know what I have been up to. Hope you all have a fabulous week! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bible Study Review: Love Does Study DVD and Guide

​Recently I was provided an opportunity to review the new Love Does, a DVD ​Study: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob Goff and today I'm going to share with you my thoughts on the study which was released on December 31. 

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Mr. Goff's book, Love Does. I had heard a lot of people mention it and seen a lot of people carrying it around and even seen some things on Twitter about it, but had never taken a moment to look at what the book was all about. When I saw that the Love Does DVD Study was one of my options to review through Booksneeze, I decided to jump at it seemed that so many people loved the book. I also went ahead and ordered the book through Amazon, thinking it might help aid me in my study. As is often the case though, I never found the time to actually read the book and so it is still on my to do list. I have read a few passages from it and so far I have really liked what I read and have no doubt that the book will be just as wonderful as everyone has led me to believe. 

The Love Does Study would be really great for a small group Bible study for men or women or even a combined group. Here is a brief description from the back of the study guide: "Love Does is a five-session video-based small groups experience in doing the love of God. Each session explores a different aspect of God's active love through the stories of Bob Goff. This study guide will help you dig into each topic in a guided Bible study and small group time with discussion questions, hands-on exercises, and further activities to engage the content of your own between sessions."

As mentioned in the blurb, there are five session which include, 1. I'm With You, 2. Free to Fail, 3. Audacious Love, 4. Be Not Afraid, and 5. Follow Me. Each session begins with an introduction in the study guide and then an applicable Bible passage which relates to the story and topic of discussion. The video is up next and each video portion is less than 15 minutes long. Following the video, there are a series of questions related to the topic for the group to discuss. After the group questions, there is a section about putting love into action and then the last section is for a closing prayer with a verse or thought on what the group should pray about. There are additional Bible passages and discussion questions in the study guide for the leader of the group to help move things along or to help aid in further dialogue between the group members. 

While I have not yet completed all five lessons of the Love Does study, I can say with certainty that I believe this would be a great route to go with small group Bible study and if you are looking for a study, I would recommend this one. I believe that through the Love Does study, your small group will be able to better understand how to love others the way God loves us. 

The Love Does study DVD is available from  Amazon and Barnes and Noble and retails for around $20. The study guide that accompanies the DVD is also available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and retails for less than $10. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Can I Say? It's January

I would like to apologize for the lack of content on the blog so far this month, but really, there is next to nothing going on and therefore, I have next to nothing to write about. I doubt seriously you are interested in how many loads of laundry I have or haven't done or how much TV I have or haven't watched. I've fallen back into a routine of rising and leaving home before the sun comes up and not usually getting home until the sun goes down. I'm sure my dog hates me again.
My Women on Weights group started a new session on January 9 and we are back with the trainer we originally started with - she had been out for a few months because of a foot injury and subsequent surgery. I was hesitant about her coming back because I really enjoyed working with Josh. He pushed me hard and made me lift more weight than I would have otherwise and I loved that about him, plus he was so much fun to joke around with and pick on. I have to admit, though, Beth has totally kicked our butt in the two sessions we have had with her since her return. I have been pleasantly surprised. This week for warm up, I led the group in a mini-spin session and it was fantastic. It had been a while since I had been on the bike and honestly, it was rather exhilarating. I'm leading the group in another spin warm up session tonight and am looking forward to it. In the past couple of months, I've finally started to drop some weight and am down 13 pounds. I guess I needed to develop more muscle before the actual pounds started coming off. At any rate, this class has been a huge blessing to me and I love it! I'm very grateful that we were finally able to pull it together and that all of the girls have stuck with it so we can continue it. 

One thing that is annoying about the gym right now is the amount of people who are there. This happens every January when people set their New Year's resolutions and decide they are going to hit the gym every night of the week. This makes the gym super crowded and makes it more difficult to set up stations for our training class. Soon enough the crowd will start thinning and things will go back to normal and I look forward to that.
Other than my return to working out with the girls, not much else is going on. January, so far, has been a rather steady and slow month and let me just say that there is nothing in the world wrong with that. It sure beats the heck out of last January when I had already attended about five funerals by this point in the month. Work has also been steady, not to busy and even a little slow at times, quite the change from the end of last month when I thought I might pull my hair out.
Pippa is as crazy as ever and sometimes makes me completely insane. We got on really well during the Christmas break and I know this was because I was at home so much and she was able to be out of the crate. She has now returned to long endless hours in the crate with one exercise/potty break a day thanks to my neighbor Jeff. So, by the time I get home, she is wide open. Really, it wouldn't be so bad except that all she wants to do is gnaw on me and I have tried everything I know to do to get her to stop. So, if you have any advice on puppy biting, now would be the time to leave a lengthy comment on this post. She also barks way too much for my taste, but mostly I think this is because she is mad. I've honestly thought about buying her a thunder shirt to see if it will calm down her barking. I know they work for dogs who are frightened of storms (I have some friends who have tried it out), but I saw on the packaging that they can also be used for dogs that bark a lot and I am tempted to give that a try. Overall, I would say The Pip is a sweet dog. We have bonded a little more and I think once she grows out of her puppy stage (two years from now) we will be great friends. For now though, I just don't understand why chewing on me is so much more appealing to her than playing with the scads of toys she has.

I'll wrap it up here for now. Like I said, there's a whole lot of nothing going on. Welcome to January. Here's to hoping we might get a big snow to shake up the monotony!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Musings from the Weekend

How was everyone's weekend? Overall, mine was rather uneventful, but I did manage to get some things done around the house so I would consider that a success. 

Friday after work, Jackie came over for a bit and we just hung out and caught up because it had been a while since either of us had really had a moment to sit down and talk with one another. She had to leave for an hour or so to pick up her boss from the airport, but then came back and stayed until about 10:00 because apparently we turn into pumpkins at that time and we were both ready for bed.
Saturday morning I managed to get some much needed cleaning done around the house. Sadly, with Pippa around, things don't stay clean for very long. I also knocked out some laundry and once again got caught up on the DVR. I had made tentative plans to go see Lone Survivor that morning and then pushed it back to the 1:00 p.m. showing. About 11:00 a.m. I got a text from Jackie asking if I wanted to see it at 7:10 because some of our friends from church were going at that time and they had messaged her on facebook about it. So, I decided I would wait until that time and go with the group so as not to be anti-social.
I met up with Jackie beforehand for dinner at I Love Sushi. Dinner was fantastic as always. I ordered a new sushi roll called Pink Passion and I seriously haven't stopped thinking about it since. It was divine! Our friends had met at Chili's and I had a sneaking suspicion that they might not make it out of the restaurant in time to meet up with us. My suspicion turned to fact as our friends didn't get their checks at the restaurant until after 7:00 p.m. and so they all ended up going to see the 7:45 p.m. showing of the same movie. 
Lone Survivor was absolutely riveting. I am a lover of war movies and this one looked incredible. I had a feeling it was going to be extremely graphic because of one of the review blurbs on the preview they showed on TV and then when the opening credits came on and I saw that Peter Berg had directed it (for some reason I didn't know this), I knew I was in for a gruesome ride. It was extremely raw and graphic but just so amazingly good as well. There were a few times when the guys fell off cliffs or were rolling down a mountain that I had to close my eyes and Jackie had to close her eyes in a lot of places too, but it was just so, so good. If you can handle to blood and gore and you like a good war movie, then yes, go see it because it was incredible. I have heard from a  couple of different people that the book is good also so I might attempt to read it at some point. It is, in fact, based on a true story.
Sunday was church, lunch, and then a trip to the grocery store. I then made a pie for our Downton viewing party at Erika's. She was gracious enough to once again open her home to me and Kendra to watch our favorite show. This makes watching so much better since I'm not fighting off a puppy the whole hour. Kendra made a delicious spinach and chicken Alfredo dish and we had my pie for dessert. It was a lovely visit despite the fact that the episode was super shocking! Did y'all watch?
So, it was a productive weekend, yet relaxing all the same, which is just perfect as far as weekends go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for the Callie Grant children's books published by Graham Blanchard. I realize I'm a little late in announcing the winner, but that's because I did not get on the internet on Sunday and really, there's nothing at all wrong with that. So, without further ado, the winner of the books is comment number three, Island Blessings. I'll be in touch about your win! Thanks again for entering everyone! Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Graham Blanchard Books by Callie Grant

~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~

 Today I am reviewing two new children's books published by Graham Blanchard and written by Callie Grant.  Both of these are board books with fantastic illustrations that are sure to catch the eye of the children reading them.
The first is Little Seed: A Life and it is about the journey of one little seed and how from that one seed life springs forth all because of God's plan. The journey begins when the seed falls to the ground and then the reader is taken on a journey through the seasons and watches as the seed eventually springs forth, becomes a large sunflower and then produces more seeds of its own. The scripture at the end of the book is Isaiah 61:11. The illustrations are by Suzanne Etienne and they are very whimsical and full of color, perfect for children ages 0-5 for whom this book is geared towards.

The second book I was provided to review is called Close as a Breath. This book describes a father-daughter outing with the inquisitive daughter asking the father all sorts of questions about the air, the clouds, the stars, leaves, water, and so on and so forth. The father explains that everything is made by God and while we cannot see the face of God, we can see him through all he has made and how he is as close as a breath. It's a nice story that will no doubt help explain things to those inquisitive little ones who have questions about our creator and all He created.  the books is illustrated by Sarah Ackerly and is beautiful and captivating and full of lovely illustrations. The book references Romans 1:20 at the end which describes that God's power can be understood through what he has made.

Both of these books are absolutely lovely and would make a great addition to your child's library. Each book retails for less than $10 and can be found at retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I have been provided a set of these books to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. The contest will run through Saturday, January 11th at 11:59 p.m. and a winner will be announced on Sunday, January 12th. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The First Weekend of 2014

After returning from the Sugar Bowl last Friday, there hasn't been too very much going on in my world. On New Year's Eve, Sydney called and asked if she could spend the night on Saturday and go to church with me on Sunday and I said yes, knowing I would not really feel like company, but it is important for her to be in church so I agreed. 

She came over around 5:00 p.m. and did a lot of screaming because of Pippa. She said that Pippa is more "move-y" than The Tide was. Well, yes, yes she is. Needless to say, it's going to take quite a while before Sydney gets used to The Pip as she is not accustomed to being jumped on and nipped at. We met up with Jackie and the kids at the movie theater that night to watch "Frozen" which I must say was fantastic. It has been a while since I've seen an animated film in the theater, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would even see it again.
When the movie was over, we headed back home and Sydney got a bath and then we all went to bed. All the while, I had to keep Pippa at bay from Sydney, thankfully it worked out pretty well.
Sunday morning I got up and got myself ready and then Pippa got Sydney up by jumping on the bed she was in which resulted in more screaming and near panic attacks by a five-year old. I managed to get Sydney in the bathroom behind the gate and Pippa outside of the gate and then get Sydney ready for church. Pippa snuck into the bathroom at one point which resulted in a scratch on Sydney's neck and more screaming. I then got Pippa into her crate and Sydney and I out the door before more chaos ensued. Hopefully Sydney will soon get used to Pippa or we may just have to do a Sunday/church only visit.
After church Sydney and I had Mexican food and I'm not ashamed to say it, her side of the table looked much cleaner than mine. I dropped cheese dip and salsa all over the place. We then headed back to the house and she was picked up by her mom and dad. It was an adventurous 20 hours.
Sunday night Erika hosted Kendra and me for the premiere of Downton Abbey and I'm thrilled to announce that it was a lovely opening to the fourth season. Those two hours flew by and I didn't want it to end. Erika made us some white chicken chili and we drank fruit punch as if we were children. It was a fun evening.
When we opened the door to leave Erika's, Kendra and I were shocked to find that our cars were covered in snow and ice. Thankfully the roads were still warm and we had no trouble getting to our respective homes.

The snow and ice didn't linger long, though, and so it was back to work for the first time in two weeks for me on Monday. Thankfully, the day wasn't nearly as dreadful as I had anticipated it being. I was able to clear out a lot of emails and figure out what had been happening in the time I was away in either New Orleans or on my couch. The alarm clock scared Pippa when it went off on Monday and I have no doubt she is dreading once again spending the majority of her day in the crate; but, as for me, I'm glad to be back in a routine, or at least I think I am.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It Was My First Sugar Bowl

As mentioned in one of my posts from last week, I unexpectedly took a trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl last Thursday. My dad and I had bought four tickets before the teams playing were announced with the hopes of selling them and making a little money. We've had some good luck with this in the past and we were hoping to have some good luck this go around as well. Unfortunately, after listing the tickets on eBay for two weeks and lowering and lowering the price, we came up short and were unable to sell any of our tickets. So, since I had shelled out $400 for my two, I decided to put them to good use rather than sit at home and more or less flush that money down the proverbial toilet.  

I asked Nevin if he would be interested in going with me and he agreed. I guess we have become random road trip partners as of late (first Dallas, and now New Orleans). So, I booked our hotel and made plans for us to leave Thursday morning about 8:00. I first dropped The Pip off at the kennel and then picked Nevin up at his house and we headed south. The mapquest directions said it should take us seven hours to reach the hotel and with two stops, it only took a little over six hours. There were a lot of Alabama fans driving down at the same time so I guess we weren't the only ones who waited to the day of the game to drive down.
Not long after arriving, we went down to Bourbon Street to revel in all the crazy. When we got there, there were a ton of people trying to sell tickets and I knew I would be lucky to sell my extra ones. We found a place to eat and had Shrimp Etoufee and Crawfish pies, both were good. Along the way, we ran into and struck up a conversation with a girl who lived in Huntsville. She and her husband and another couple (from Indianapolis) were in town for a few days - but not for the game. We talked to them for a while and long story short, I ended up selling my extra two tickets to the husbands for $50 each, a fraction of what we paid, but I felt like it was about as good as I was going to get considering the amount of tickets on the street. From what I hear, a lot of seats in the upper deck were empty so I'm glad I was able to get what money I did for them.
The four of us shared a cab to the Super Dome and walked in and got to our seats about 10 minutes before kickoff - it was rather perfect timing. The Alabama band was just a couple of sections over from us which was great because I do enjoy listening to them play. I felt pretty good when Alabama came out and scored the first touchdown as quick as they did, but that really seemed to be the only highlight of the game. There wasn't much more to cheer about after that. There were a few moments of hope but the defense looked terrible and each time Alabama tried for a field goal, I knew that we would go home with a loss, and that's exactly what happened.
After the game, we had to hail a cab in the freezing cold and were turned down by a couple. Finally one cabbie must have taken pity on us and took us to our hotel a whole eight miles away which apparently was a terrible inconvenience for the other guys. I honestly have no idea what time we got back to the hotel, but I'm sure it was after midnight. I don't remember checking the clock; I just washed my face, but on my PJs and called it a night.

The next morning we slept in and finally hit the road about 10:00 a.m. I drove the first two-three hours and then Nevin was kind enough to drive the remainder of the way. Nevin's house was the first stop and then I made it to my home around 5:00 p.m. I was super tired and fell asleep for the night about 6:30 p.m. and slept until the next morning. I guess when you get older, long quick trips will really suck the life out of you; but we had a fun time and I'm glad we were able to go, despite the loss. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Wishing you all the best for a fantastic 2014! May God bless and prosper you in this new year!