Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Funny as All Get Out

In case you didn't know this about me yet, I love to read. Fiction is my favorite, though I've been known to enjoy some good theology non-fiction as well. And in God's goodwill and favor, he blessed me with a job that, oh yes, pays me to read. Go figure. (My mom still can't get over that one.)

Of course, reading must be followed by writing the review, so I do have to think about what I've read. I'm not allowed to let the fluff disappear while I mull over the meaty parts. But that's OK with me. Since I began reviewing books for crosswalk.com and thefish.com (sister sites on the Salem Web Network), I've been exposed to many books I would never have picked up on my own.

Previous blog posts will lead you to those reviews. But today, I just want to celebrate the most recent review. I had to negotiate with my editor to get this book on my list because our schedules weren't matching up. But I have loved Kristin Billerbeck novels since I discovered Ashley Stockingdale in What A Girl Wants. Busting out in laughter, the literal LOL, is always a good sign that I've found a winner.

Billerbeck is back, this time dipping into the teen market with Perfectly Dateless. As I'm far past adolescence, I wondered how much I'd enjoy a teen book. But since it's Billerbeck, I need not have feared. It's as funny and real and insightful as the rest of her collection. I've never put much stock in the whole channeling thing, but if it does exist, then Billerbeck has figured out how to channel a 17-year-old. Hilarious!

So take a look at my official review here, and if funny, well-written chick lit is your thing, grab a copy for yourself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Enthroned on High

The royal stairway

King Nate, doing what he loves best

Accepting tribute from Prince John the Third

Princess Margaret brings her gift, while beloved royal dog Clifford snuggles up.

Yes, this is what my children do when they have a few hours with no agenda. I have to admit, this sort of scene would NEVER have been seen (ha!) in my house when I was a child. But it sure is sweet now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Latest Read Ruffles Feathers

Crosswalk has published my review of Evolving in Monkey Town, a memoir that raises all sorts of questions about the evangelical faith. Fascinating, frustrating, convicting, and...funny! If any of you reads it, I'd love to hear your take on her perspective.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Another One

Finally, Mom Gets In a Photo

My present to John for his birthday, to put in his new office.

Stay-cation, Part 2

Friday was an adventure unto itself. It began slowly--just another day at the pool. The dads were anticipating their GNO (guys night out) that evening--a Texas Hold'em card party at a local pub down in Richardson. We all enjoyed the Irish cream cheesecake that John made for his own birthday cake. That flavor is Courtney's favorite, so it is a must when she's in town. The clouds came back and we spent the afternoon indoors. When the dads finally left around 4pm--a little early so they could eat dinner out--the moms packed up the kids in their van and our suburban, and headed out to the pub.

We were not invited to the card party. We were beating the guys there in order to throw John a surprise party for his big birthday. His mom, sister, nephew, all of us, plus the guys coming for the card game were all there with a cake and presents and singing...it worked. He had no idea. See pictures to get an idea of how it went. Very fun. We did have to drive through a mini-monsoon to get there, so we waited for the rain to abate somewhat before leaving the guys to their cards and cigars (blech).

When I started up the suburban, it chugged alarmingly as the engine fired up. Check engine light lit. Not good. Our home was a good 28 miles away. With Courtney on the cell phone with me, from her van in the parking lot, I drove slowly around the lot to test out the engine's responsiveness. Not good. But we didn't want to ruin the guys' game, and the truck did go, if slowly. So we set out on the service road of Hwy 75. Within a mile it became apparent that I wasn't going to make it home. I coasted into a DART Park'n'Ride lot under the turnpike, while Courtney called her AAA service. Did you know that AAA will cover the towing of the car you are with, even if it's not your own?!

Thankfully the rains were light and the evening cool, since we sat for almost an hour with 8 kids and 2 moms in an empty lot under one and next to another highway. We did call the guys, since it had to do with cars and all, but the tow truck came in a very reasonable time and took us home. The kids were awesome during the wait (only one bathroom emergency). And best of all, the 25 mile tow was FREE!!! Praise the Lord...

With dire thoughts that it was the alternator, we were thrilled to learn the next morning that only the battery was dead. That, we can handle. Still hoping the new battery isn't masking a weak/dying alternator, but so far it's fine.

Saturday morning John had a breakfast meeting. The kids played more computer games, and I think we went to the pool later. It's already getting fuzzy after less than a week! (I do remember sweeping and mopping the kitchen and doing lots of laundry.) But the highlight of that day was later--the second GNO, this time "Girls' Night Out." And while it wasn't raining anymore, the cumulative effect of the wet week resulted in some forced flexibility. Courtney and I had planned to attend a Collegiate League baseball game--just the two of us. Yes, we girls are bigger sports fans than our guys. But when we learned it was canceled, we came up with plan B.

Part one: Dinner out--PF Changs. Yum! Had never been there before. The lettuce wraps are all they are cracked up to be. Speaking of cracking up, look at the fortune I found in my cookie...we laughed hysterically.

Part two: Book stores--two of them! Using gift cards and coupons, we loaded up on some fiction favorites and found a couple for the kids, too.

Home by 9:30 to enjoy the second cheesecake of the week--lime--with the family. Why were the kids still up? we wanted to know...

Sunday we all made it to church, then took ourselves to Applebee's where kids ate free thanks to a 4th of July special. Later that day we trekked out to the boonies to join a large group from our church hosting a 4th Fest. Held in an immense pole barn, the party boasted burgers/hot dog dinner, a bounce house, volleyball, water balloon toss, horses and goats to pet, a hayride, cotton candy and popcorn. It was huge--a true Texas celebration. Fireworks topped it off. I blogged about that evening at Stitches...click the link to read more detailed thoughts on that event.

Monday morning, the moms took Jack to soccer camp, then treated ourselves to LaMadeleine's for breakfast. Crepes Romanoff. Mmmmm... A stop at Walmart and Office Depot for school supplies on sale (can you believe?), then back to get Jack and head home.

Us parentals escaped one more time for dinner out, taking only the baby with us, on Monday night. This time we landed at Churchill's, the English pub in downtown McKinney. Donny and I gladly ordered Black and Tans, the only beer I would even consider drinking. Thankfully it's too hard to find to have regularly. Courtney finally acquiesced to having a pear cider and was surprised that she actually liked it. The fish'n'chips were pretty awesome. The guys played darts, then we headed back home for an early night.

Tuesday we were up by 6 am, then waved the Godseys goodbye by 6:45. I crawled back to bed for another hour or so. We had big plans with Granny later that day--she was taking the kids to a movie--and I was going to lunch with a friend. Then Nate had golf that night...

The fun just doesn't end around here. :)

But, gosh, I'm tired!!!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Stay-cation, Part 1

It's been a busy week around here, with 12 people filling our big-enough-to-handle-it-but-wow-it's-crowded home. Many summers we travel to South Carolina to visit our dear friends the Godseys. But this year it was their turn to come to us. We've experienced a very full eight days.

Last Sunday, most of them awoke and attended church with us. We spent most of the afternoon at the pool, allowing them all to recover from the looooongg drive the day before.

Monday we packed into our two large vehicles, children and spouses remixed and matched, to head over to Frisco for a little bowling. Two surprises: Godsey child #4, who is 20 months old, decided she really liked to bowl. Got a little aggressive about it at one point. :) And, two parents (not married to each other) tied for the high score. A score not worthy of announcing (but since you'll wonder...127. See?).

IKEA was the next stop because they offered free lunches for all children. Hey, you take those deals whenever possible. And the Swedish meatballs are pretty nice. Then the daddies headed home with the babies and boys, while the mommies took the big girls shopping for shoes and fresh produce (not at the same store). And I don't remember exactly but I bet we all went swimming again later.

On Tuesday the skies fell in, so the pool was not our friend. After some hasty craft shopping, we presented several painting and drawing projects to the kids, the first of which was a birthday present for my hubby. Later that day we went outside to play with water balloons and draw with sidewalk chalk on the wet driveway. The boys started a raging computer multi-player game--the wireless network has never worked so hard. We topped off the evening by celebrating the University of South Carolina's College World Series win.

Hubby started off his milestone birthday veeeerrrry early, taking a friend to the airport at 4:30 a.m. He returned before breakfast :). The kids presented him with their creative, handmade birthday poster. He opened our other gifts to him as well, then proceeded to spend the rest of his afternoon lounging with a book and/or pillow. The rest of us went swimming (of course). Wednesday evening the parental units escaped to the Studio Movie Grill in honor of the birthday boy. We saw Knight & Day, the new Tom Cruise action/comedy. Very entertaining!

Thursday morning we piled almost everyone into the vehicles, drove down to Plano, and boarded the DART light rail. Destination: Museum of Nature and Science at Fair Park, near downtown Dallas. The train ride was as much part of the experience as the IMAX movie was. We spent the day walking (and walking) through exhibits on physics, history, geography, environmentalism, conservation, speculation, archeology, erosion...you name it. Armed with a bag full of juice pouches and chocolate meal bars, we survived the snack hour and ride home with some very tired little people. The proof is in the photos. At one point, Jack actually started falling off his train seat, zonked out, when a kind stranger standing by caught him before he hit the floor.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story...the weekend was a little crazy!