GOD's my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
(Psa 32:7 MSG)


Merry Christmas!

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger." At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!
(Luke 2:8-20 MSG)

That's what Christmas is really all about. We celebrate the fact that God become like us so He could save us. Immanuel. God With Us. The Great I AM. Thank You, for the most wonderful Gift ever!

It's so much fun giving and receiving of gifts in celebration of God's Best Gift to us, His Son. I pray we don't get so wrapped up in our fun that we forget to be amazed at the love God has for us, that He would send His Son to be the Light of the World and our Savior.


birthday boy

as of 8:15am, i have become the proud mother of a 10-year-old boy. that's right. a whole decade! we've entered the double digits now! only 3 years till he's a teen. oh my.

happy birthday, son! i love you and am proud of the young man you are growing up to be.

his daddy found this Optimus Prime toy at Sam's Club a few months ago and just couldn't resist getting it.

these transformer toys sure are fun for a 10-year-old boy!

have a great birthday, son!


♫ ♪ it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♪ ♫

i've been contemplating a dilemma for a couple of weeks now.

for anyone reading this who doesn't already know, we have 2 connecting rooms that are our living and family rooms. the first is more like a multi-purpose room. someday it may be converted to a dining room, but in the meantime it's our computer, piano, school and play room. then there's our tv room which with the sofa, futon, a big recliner, a glider rocker and a couple end tables is full up with furniture. thus, my dilemma. where are we going to put our Christmas tree this year?

yesterday, i finally decided to make room for it. our school table got cleaned off, folded up, and moved to the hallway where it's now taking a vacation. {we've been using the kitchen table for school lately anyways.} i then shifted our electric piano so it's up against the wall instead of at an angle to the corner. the futon got moved from the tv room to the multi-purpose room. it's in basically the place where the school table had been and is facing the piano. it actually works nicely, since you can sit and look out the window and watch the birds if you want.

that left a nice big open space in the tv room for our tree.

so we set it up and decorated it.

it finally feels like Christmastime around here!


homemade laundry soap

i've been looking into ways to save money and came across the idea to make my own laundry soap. i was skeptical, but after learning that our local grocer carries all the "ingredients," i thought i should give it a try. i purchased what i needed on saturday and today i mixed up my first batch. it's really simple. i found a variety of "recipes" on a bunch of different websites. i just used the one that was easiest to remember.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap
2 cups grated Fels-Naptha (laundry bar soap)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

the hardest part is grating the Fels-Naptha. otherwise, you just mix the powders together with the grated soap. easy peasy! there's only one problem with it. my husband and eldest son are both super-sensitive to fragrances...especially those found in detergents. {in fact, we typically avoid detergent aisles while shopping because the smells give T a bad headache and plugged-up nasal passages.} i've been using fragrance free laundry detergents since early in our marriage when we found one that actually worked. anyways, the Fels-Naptha drove my eldest son right out of the kitchen where we had also been working on schoolwork. i think it has a sort of citrus fragrance, but it's quite overwhelming. and by the time i had finished grating what i needed for my recipe, the back of my throat was feeling irritated just from having to smell it. ugh.

i was then worried that using this scented soap would make our laundry smell too. i went ahead and tested it on a load of towels, and was pleased when they came out smelling fresh and clean. my hubby even stuck his nose into one of the cleaned towels and didn't have a reaction to it, so i was given the go ahead to use it as long as no one develops a skin reaction to it {these guys have also been known to get rashes from fragrant detergents}. i'm already thinking that when i make my next batch, i'd like to try a fragrance free bar soap instead of the Fels-Naptha. and someday i'm gonna try the "greener living" laundry cleaner: soapnuts.

i've also started using distilled white vinegar in place of fabric softener. i was running low on our fragrance free softener sheets and although i've got a bottle of fragrance free liquid softener, i don't like the spots that it sometimes makes on my clothes. i saw the vinegar tip on many of the same websites that listed laundry soap recipes and decided to give it a go as well. i just fill my washer's fabric softener dispenser with the vinegar. it's about a half cup that gets added during the rinse cycle. i read somewhere that you can also put it in a downy ball if that's how you add softener to your wash. i found that vinegar does a decent job of softening our clothes, but i do seem to have a little more static now. vinegar is tons cheaper though, so i'll probably continue using it. if you decide to try it too, don't be alarmed if your clothes smell like vinegar after washing. the odor dissipates as the clothes dry.

do you make you own laundry soap? have any other home-made cleaner recipes, tips or suggestions? let me know all about it by leaving a comment.

it's only been a couple days since i posted this, but i think i'm going to have to dispose of this first batch after all. i've only used it on one load of clothes, but the smell from just opening the container to scoop some out overwhelms us. it's not a good sign when the smell of your laundry soap gives you a headache. i'm going to have to see how much it will cost to buy unscented laundry soap bars online and see if it's still worth making my own.


handmade christmas gifts

here it is after midnight and i'm {still} wide awake so i thought i'd put my alertness to good use and spend some quality time online. well, i'm not exactly sure if time online actually qualifies for having much quality, but i know it sure gets spent quickly enough! alas, i digress!

the Christmas season is in bloom, the Christmas celebration is just around the corner, and i've been busy knitting and crocheting gift items. i have little to no money to spend on gifts this year, so i've limited myself to using what i've already got on hand. i'm finding this decision is a good one for many reasons. first, i'm not adding to my yarn stash, rather i'm using my excess. {it's really quite like going on a diet.} second, i'm not spending money we don't have. and third, handmade gifts are, in part, a gift of the time spent making them and hopefully will be appreciated and enjoyed by their recipients all the more because of that fact.

the progress of my handmade gifts as of right now is as follows:
1 knitted gift completed
1 non-yarn {gasp!} gift that is basically finished
1 crocheted project that just needs loose ends weaved in
another crocheted project in progress
and another knit gift just started today
{and that's not counting the 5 knitting projects i'm working on for myself! }

for the rather obvious reason that i'd like to keep these gifts a surprise, i won't post photos of these works-in-progress at this point in time. :-)

i do have plans for a few more gifts depending on how much time it takes to make each one, so i'd better keep at it if i intend to have them all done by christmas!

happy knitting!


happy thanksgiving!

fall leaves
{since i don't have a thanksgiving day picture to share!}

we had a nice day celebrating thanksgiving yesterday. my parents hosted, but my hubby's parents came too. and one of T's sisters and family too.

i have so much to be thankful for!

about a month ago at another family get-together, one of my nieces, jillian, who is age 8 saw me knitting a pair of socks and started asking me questions about knitting. she ultimately asked if i could teach her how and i told her i would try to sometime. therefore, knowing jillian would be there, i came prepared just in case she might still be interested. she was! {grin}

i had brought along a few sets of my chunkier needles and some of the yarn i dyed with kool-aid back in january that i still hadn't used. i found it easy enough to teach her to do the long-tail cast-on, and she could do the knit stitch, but was struggling keeping the stitches on the needles and various other issues which made it impossible to consider doing an actual project. then her younger sisters, bethany, age 6, and katrina, age 4, both wanted in on the knitting action too. bethie could also cast-on well, but i knew there was no way a 4-year-old could handle it. seeing how frustrated these girls were getting, i took a few minutes and surfed the internet for ideas on how to teach children to knit. here's what i learned. it's easier for kids if they start off with finger knitting! and so i learned how to finger knit HERE.

i then showed the girls how to do it and they were able to make themselves headbands and bracelets. of course, i had to help little katrina with the wrapping, but she lifted the loops over and off herself. it was so much more rewarding for them than the needle knitting we had tried at first.

i'm so thankful for the internet and the many good ideas people share with it!

finally, jillian and i decided to try and make a scarf in the same way, but using 3 strands of yarn together to make it thicker. i added fringe to each end and it turned out super cute! i wish i had taken a picture, but i didn't think to until after they had gone home. bethany wanted a scarf too, so using up the rest of the color she had picked, she made one with only one strand. and after i added fringe, it was super cute too!

i'm so thankful to have nieces who are learning to play with yarn too!

{and maybe someday they'll be as addicted to the stuff as their aunt is!}


autumn fun

it was another lovely day today...55 degrees and sunny, albeit a tad on the windy side, but basically nice. grandma was feeling left out since she had to work yesterday, so both grandparents came over and took us for lunch at DQ and then came back home with us so grandma could spend some quality time playing with the boys too. i got some more great shots of the boys playing in leaf piles. and grandma took a few of me playing with the boys too.


it's game day!

today has been our first official "game day" for our home school.
{the idea for doing this was in an email newsletter i received early this week, so hats off to the mom who first did this and shared her experience!}

game day rules:
1. any games played must be educational
2. the child(ren) must be able to tell me what they will be learning before i agree to let them play the game they've chosen
3. play with a good attitude {i.e. no crying because you didn't win!}

first we played Candyland {3 quick games}. cj was {hopefully} learning his colors!
after he got bored, bubba got out our Monopoly Deluxe Edition. lots of money math skills to play that one! and finally bubba and i played a game of Boggle. that's a good one for practicing one's spelling and writing!

i've always loved how games can be a great way to have a good time together, but really when you stop and think about it, there's so much you can learn with games too!

anyways, grandpa came to visit for a little bit today too. cj wanted to play outside and so grandpa took him out while bubba and i were playing Monopoly. after a little while i peeked out to see grandpa had found our leaf rake and was raking a pile of leaves at the bottom of the slide for cj to land in. he was having a glorious time! i just had to get a few photos of the fun, so i grabbed my camera and headed outside. it wasn't long before bubba was out and playing in the leafy piles of fun too!

one last thing we did today was watch some of the webcast of the first ever National Bible Bee. it's amazing to watch the finalists who made it thru to today's final competition. and the Bible memory verses these kids know is impressive! they're doing a tie-breaker round as i write this, but hopefully a clear winner for each of the 3 age groups will be determined by the time this round is done. congratulations to those who made it to the national competition! what an incredible opportunity to share what you've learned from God's Word!


sock knitting

i finished a pair of socks for my 3 year old. they turned out so cute!

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL {color #52} leftovers
Pattern: The Classic Sock by Melissa Morgan-Oakes from her book 2-at-a-time Socks
{adapted for toddler size}

the only problem i've discovered with making toddler socks is how slippery they tend to be on our kitchen floor. since i don't want my son to fall on his face every time he tries to walk thru the kitchen, i decided to add a little grip to the soles of his new sockies. i dug out my old puffy paints from my craft stash and made a pattern of tiny dots on a good portion of his sock soles. {i used the blue paint since it was the best match!} after letting it dry a couple days, we tried them on again and tested them on the kitchen floor once more. it worked! cj can safely walk in the kitchen wearing his new knit socks without slipping and falling! yay! and since the paint dots are so very small and not very puffy, it doesn't appear to make them uncomfortable like the grippy stuff i've seen used on some slipper-socks.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL {color #52}
Pattern: Muscari by Suzi Anvin
{adjusted pattern slightly to knit 2-at-a-time on one 40" circular needle}

as you can see, i used up a bit of leftover yarn from this pair of socks i made for myself back in march. cj's aren't quite as fancy as mine, but ever so cute on him!

all in all, i'm very pleased with the results!


do you hulu?

the boys and i just watched a few episodes of some older cartoons on hulu. i haven't had reason to try hulu before now, but with our tv no longer receiving any signals, i figured it would be fun to give it a try.

we found The Land of the Lost series {i'd forgotten how lame it really was}, Fat Albert, and Inspector Gadget. it was almost like watching saturday morning cartoons when i was a kid. except it's a tuesday night. so i guess not really.

it's nice to know it's out there and FREE if i ever need a little extra entertainment. i also noticed there's some movies on there that might be fun to watch {some we've seen and some we haven't}. it might be better if i connected my laptop to the tv...i think a bigger screen would be nice. but i have to be careful not to use too much bandwidth so we don't go over our limit for the month. a good reason not to hulu too often.

i suppose hulu's catch phrase "we're evil, and proud of it!" is appropriate since i just saw an article that says they plan to start charging subscription fees for hulu sometime next year. if so, i won't be using it. and i bet a lot of other folks won't either.

tv diet?

last night, my poor hubby turned on the tv to watch the news and found that all we have now is static.


that's right.

the local translator station has switched to digital now too.

so i dug out our coupon cards that we got for the converter boxes {since we definitely do not have digital tvs} and ordered two from amazon.com. it'll probably be about a week before they get here. in the meantime, the kids will probably be more bummed by it than either T or i since they each have their favorite PBS shows they won't be able to watch at all this week.

i'd say we're on a tv diet due to the change-over, but i know we'll still watch some dvd or videos so, in reality, it probably won't be all that much less viewing time at all.


fall cleaning?

it was a normal-not normal day here today.
i took a day off from teaching today to "clean" house. unfortunately, i still have a messy house because my cleaning turned into what-can-i-get-rid-of-and-would-anyone-pay-me-for-this-stuff? so i've listed a few of our larger baby items for sale on our local home-school group's website. they'll get first dibs, if anyone wants to buy any of the things i'm selling. if it doesn't sell within a week or two, i'll probably advertise them in the local "shopper" and see if anyone else in the county wants my gently used baby gear.

just the thought of getting rid of stuff i don't need {and thereby giving myself a few more square inches of clean, uncluttered space} makes me very excited! i'm so ready to de-"stuff" my life. if you know what i mean. only...why didn't i think to do this 3 or 4 months ago? i could have had a rummage sale. as it is, it's just too cold and unlikely to get any sale-shoppers this late in the season.


a joke for your enjoyment

bubba told us these jokes yesterday at lunch.

Why do ducks have webbed feet?
So they can stomp out forest fires.

Why do elephants have such big feet?
So they can stomp out burning ducks!

now there's a word picture for ya! ha ha ha!

our projects

my new knitting project:
one of my husband's sisters, annie, gave me some fun yarns for my b-day this year. last night, since i had finished my kureyon kowl, i decided to start knitting with one of these, so i cast on a really easy lacy scarf using the ball of Artful Yarns Portrait which is basically a mohair yarn. it's really soft and fuzzy, and looks nice in the pattern i chose. it should be a really pretty scarf when i'm done. thanks, annie!

Artful Yarns Portrait
Pattern: One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid
{another free pattern i found via Ravelry, but this one's published on the designer's blog!}

T's woodworking project:
we decided the boys need a bunkbed ever since cj graduated to a twin mattress. so a couple months ago {at least}, T went and got materials for building it himself. since then, he's had little opportunity, but when he can he heads to his wood shop and has been cutting the pieces, assembling the bed frames and sanding everything smooth. yesterday he worked on it again for a few hours {he took the afternoon off from work so he could} and we took a few photos of the bunks in process. he's out in his shop again this morning because he wants to get all the pieces ready for stain. maybe he'll even get to start that today. i really can't say, since i'm not sure how much else he needs to do before the pieces are ready for that though.

T reminds me of a stormtrooper with his goggles and mask on.
it must be time to watch something Star Wars-ish. ;-)

bubba's school project:
a writing assignment! after 3 years of pulling out my hair every time we tried to do a writing assignment with Sonlight's LA programs {and i just LOVE Sonlight}, i finally realized that their methods just weren't working for us. so this year i switched to the English 4 workbook {since he's Grade 4} by Bob Jones University Press. i bought it thru Christian Liberty Press because of a friend's recommendation and am so glad i did! i especially like how CLP has published their own teacher's handbook and a test booklet for the student too. it's cheaper than buying the classroom-style teacher's book, yet makes my job much much easier than if i'd just bought the workbook. i also really like that it alternates a chapter of grammar and then a chapter on writing. this was bubba's first writing chapter with the new curriculum and it was so much easier for him. each step was well explained, and he was shown a really good example of what, in this case a personal narrative, should be like. all in all, i'm thrilled that this is working so well. and i'm proud of my son for a job well done!

cj's learning project:
uh. being three. he's learning his ABCs and can count to at least 15 without help. he can now climb up the ladder for the slide on our little swingset without help. and he is learning to pray at mealtimes.
{which is really cute!}

my boys helping mix up a batch of cookies last week. what fun!
too bad we ate 'em all already. gonna have to make more!

well, that's some of what's keeping us busy these days!
thanks for stoppin' by and taking the time to read all about it!


FO to show

{for my non-knitterly friends, FO = finished object!}

that's right! i finished one of my knitting projects.

here's my beautiful new Kureyon Kowl
{made with Noro Kureyon yarn}

pattern: Darkside Cowl by Sarah Fama
{if you're a Ravelry member, you should be able to click on the link to get to the pattern.}

this is the first cowl i've ever made {or worn}. i like it! the colors in Kureyon are just gorgeous...the photo doesn't quite do it justice. and the pattern was pretty easy, yet interesting, and fun to knit which is always a plus!


i'm mental!

i just realized something about myself that i found to be kind of interesting.

my knitting style is remarkably similar to my reading style.

in the same way that i often have 3 or more books "in progress" at any given time, i also find that i've got 3 or more knitting {or crochet} projects on the needles {or hook} at any given time. and now is no exception!

books i'm reading:
1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery {a favorite from my junior high/high school days}
2. i just finished The Restorer by Sharon Hinck and so am just starting The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul
3. Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey {this one's homework for the Financial Peace University class T and i are taking at church}
4. Eldest by Christopher Paolini {technically, T and i are reviewing this book together...he reads aloud to me while i knit, but i still have to remember the story!}
*and that's not counting the books Bubba and i are reading together for home-school or the Bible reading schedule which T and i are also doing together (aloud).

projects i'm knitting:
1. a cowl--for me, i think. never worn one. not sure i'll like it. but i'm making one!
2. a pair of pink socks--for me
3. a lace scarf--also for me {i think i tend to be somewhat of a selfish knitter. can you tell?!}
*there's also the many projects i have in mind to do and could easily start any time i want, but haven't as of yet begun. since some of these are plans to make hand-knit Christmas gifts, i'm not sharing details!

do you see what i mean though?
i wonder what that says about me.

am i easily bored? um. no. not really. at least, i don't think so.
i can be easily distracted though--especially by yummy yarns, or beautiful knits, or interesting patterns, or thoughts of designing my own knits...but i digress. ;-)

when i read 5 books at the same time, i never have trouble following the many different plots and i rarely confuse characters in the stories. i have a really good story-memory--so good, in fact, that i can leave a book sitting for months, pick it up, and start reading again right where i left off! {occasionally i will re-read a couple paragraphs to refresh my memory, but i rarely will need to start from the beginning again.}

i think this fact about me is at least a little interesting and funny too. and now that i've taken a few minutes to consider it a bit, i think perhaps it's just mental multi-tasking at it's best. {you can think what you want!}

NOTE: the link to my other blog is no longer available. i've decided to keep it "unpublished" so i can use it more like a journal than a shared blog. so this is where all my regular blogging will be from now on.


birthday knitting

i've noticed i haven't written much lately about my knitting projects. rest assured, i've been busy knitting and recording my projects on ravelry. which is my main excuse for not blogging about it more.

well, to remedy this at least a little, here's my latest FO {finished object}

when i last posted, this was still just a ball of yarn.

but now it's a lovely pair of fingerless mitts!

pattern: Evangeline by Michelle Szeghalmi-Shirley

and since it SNOWED on friday {yes, you read that right. SNOW. and there's more lightly falling from the sky as i write} these mitts are perfect for keeping my hands and wrists toasty warm. they almost make that s-word not seem so terrible even though it's only october and therefore should still be autumn...without that cold, wet, white stuff on the ground already.



today i get to write about me. you see, it's my birthday today. in just a couple hours from now (at 3:32pm to be specific!) i will have been alive for 35 years. it really doesn't feel like it's been that many though. i think i must've lost a few somehow in the past nearly 10 years of being a parent. where does the time go?

i got a birthday card from a dear friend that i think really expresses this well. here's what it says:

We'll be friends until we can't remember how old we are.
In fact, that may be now!
What are we? 26? Around 26. Maybe 25.

surely i'm no older than 26?! i most certainly don't feel it. to be honest, there are days i don't feel old enough to be a parent (let alone have a kid whose age is going to be two digits this year!)

the birthday girl {that's me!} a few weeks ago in boston.

well, to celebrate me, my mother took me shopping last saturday...specifically yarn shopping! we had to drive 3.5 hours to get there, but i got to check out TWO yarn shops in Fargo, ND. (there aren't any LYS...that is, local yarn shops, near my home.) i happily fingered the many different colors and textures of yarn at both shops {yarn petting is so much fun!}, and i now have three more yummy yarns and some new knitting needles too! mom got to shop for quilt fabric and found a pretty print that will be the backing of the quilt she's working on. and we also stopped by Barnes & Noble so i could pick out my b-day present from my hubby--knitting books! (he gave me $50 in gift cards to spend on me. i didn't quite spend all of it, but i got 2 books and a magazine. i can spend the rest later.) all in all, it was a very long, but very enjoyable day.

my yummy new yarns.


birthday boy

Today my baby turns 3! Happy Birthday CJ!!!

Since his birthday is on a Wednesday this year, we decided to celebrate a few days early and had a little birthday party for him on Sunday. It was a simple family get-together, but a nice little party to celebrate CJ.

Staring down the candles before blowing them out {with Daddy's help, of course}.

Present time!

Yesterday we had a minor incident at our home. T came home for lunch as usual and Bubba ran and unlocked the door for him, then proceeded to run away into the living room. CJ was at that point running toward the door to greet T. Apparently a sort of collision occurred and CJ ended up falling and hitting his face on the floor. My poor baby chipped his front tooth! So T took him to see our family dentist who sanded it smooth {it was just a little chip, but the tooth was pretty sharp} and told us to keep an eye on it for a week or so to make sure there aren't any other problems with it. I'm hoping {and praying} that it will be just fine and that his chipped front tooth will just be his signature {as the dentist put it} until it falls out on its own. Thankfully it is just a baby tooth.

CJ's new look. You can see how the one front tooth is now slanted up toward the other front tooth.

It's still a really great smile though, isn't it?


first day of school...sort of

we just got back a few days ago from a two week family road trip. we primarily focused on seeing sites that were relevant to the american revolutionary war and that time period. thus we visited Boston, Lexington, Concord, and Philadelphia. we stopped by Niagara Falls on the way to Boston and also were able to view a lot of the land between here and there. we saw all 5 of the Great Lakes as well.

it's the first day of school for the local public school today. and officially our first day back to homeschool lessons. except my students aren't here which makes it a tad difficult to teach. ;-)

the boys have been visting their grandparents for the holiday weekend which is where they are and why they aren't home right now. we have a soccer game at 3pm today, so i'm planning to take bubba's soccer stuff over there this afternoon and get him ready for the game (they're actually closer to the soccer field anyways). if there's time before the game, i'd like for bubba and i to play a game we purchased on our trip that's about the revolutionary war. it's an educational game...trivia style, i think. it looked like a fun way to review what we've learned (and maybe learn some new facts too)!

hmmm. right now the weather is looking somewhat unfriendly. we'll have to see if the soccer game gets cancelled today. perhaps the stormy weather will pass before the afternoon game is scheduled to be played. if not, we'll just hang out at grandma's a bit longer and play our revolutionary war trivia game with them!

happy first day of school!


traveling homeschool

one of the fun aspects of homeschooling is the ability to take your homeschool on the road. since we've been studying the revolutionary war in american history this past year, we thought it would be fun and educational to take a family trip out east to see as many historical sites as we can that are relative to our history studies.

so far, we've toured historical boston, lexington and concord and have had a great time learning. it's so very interesting to think you are standing in the place where such important history took place.

today we are headed to philadelphia to check out independence hall and the liberty bell and whatever else we can!


book meme

Found this book meme on another knitter's blog as I was blog surfin' today. I've read lots of books, so thought I should do it too!


1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Underline those you intend to read.
3) Italicize the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 and force books upon them. (huh?)

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye – J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34. Emma – Jane Austen
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’dolin – Louis De Bernieres Mans
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

29 of 100 already read. at least 12 more i want or plan to read someday. not great numbers, but really not too bad either considering the choices on this particular list. :-)


pictures of summer

county fair:

family reunion:

vbs program:

family walk:

happy summer days!


what to do?

what do you do when your almost-3-year-old still needs (or at least thinks he needs!) a pacifier to go to sleep????

last night we attempted to put cj to bed without his "nuk." it didn't go so well. after much wailing, groaning, moaning and general unhappiness, i finally broke down and gave him one back so we could get some sleep.

i thought maybe he'd be okay with just having his blankie to cuddle. evidently, blankie and nuk are a team. if he can't have one, he doesn't want the other.

naptime without nuk didn't go over very well either, but i did sort of force the issue. alas, cj only napped {fitfully} for about an hour. and that was only after a huge tantrum which probably wore him out.

oh the joys of parenthood!

any ideas of how to handle this with a very strong-willed toddler that is completely addicted to sleeping with his nuk?!?! leave me a comment and let me know...any advice or help you may have will be welcome!



yesterday morning i had an arachnid encounter of the dead kind.

i do not like spiders.
i don't hate them...most spiders eat insects and that's a good thing.
but i really don't like having them in my house. they're just a tad too creepy for me.

i had just thrown out the filter of used grounds from my husband's coffee pot and i decided to give the filter holder a quick rinse. as the water washed the inside of any leftover grounds, i noticed what appeared to be a brown lump also come out and land in the sink.

eyes to brain: "that was something other than coffee grounds."
brain to eyes: "look closer and focus!"
eyes to brain after looking closer: "ewwww! that's a dead spider!"

i was thoroughly disgusted.

evidently the arachnid was hiding out in the coffee pot. little did it realize that in the morning my dear hubby would come and cover it up with a piece of paper and then dump coffee grounds on top of that! can you imagine how it would feel to then be slowly cooked to death in boiling hot water? i almost feel sorry for it.

death by coffee. i suppose it was a romantic sort of death...for a spider.

the deceased:

a Parson's spider. not poisonous. tasty?

and just to give you an idea of the spider's actual size, here it is in an old baby food container.

don't worry, dear. the cup or two that you drank shouldn't make you sick. just don't start shooting webs, okay? {needless to say, i'm just glad i don't drink coffee!}


summer swim lessons

bubba just finished his 2 weeks of swimming lessons at the local {school} pool. he had a great time and evidently learned lots! the most exciting part is that he passed level 3!! [they don't usually pass kids the first time through a level.]

we are so proud of you, son!

bubba's "report card"--see in the bottom right where it says "Advance to 4"? there's an X on the line there. woohoo!


Happy Adoption Day, Baby!

Two years ago today was the day that little CJ became "officially" our son. He was a part of our family pretty much ever since his birth, but it wasn't until we went to court on July 17, 2007 that we were legally bound together as his forever family. It is a day I'll never forget. I'm so thankful to celebrate this second anniversary of that special day. Happy Adoption Day, Baby! We love you and are so thankful that God chose us to be your family through adoption.

07.17.2007 It's official! We are CJ's family now and forever.

"I prayed for this child, and GOD gave me what I asked for."

1 Samuel 1:27 (MSG)


what's happening

i've been knitting and crocheting like crazy lately. i finished my husband's socks that were supposed to be his father's day present. they weren't done until july 7. {sheepish grin}

T's new socks

i've also been working on a cotton baby sweater--just for fun--but it's been giving me fits, so i'm ignoring it for the moment. hopefully by the time i come back around to working on it, it will behave so i can finish it without any more trouble.

my husband's rather large, extended family is having a reunion in a couple of weeks. we always have a silent auction to help defray the costs incurred. many items are homemade. last reunion i took a baby blanket i had crocheted. this year i've decided to donate a kimono-style baby sweater that i knitted up last fall. i also just finished a set of two crocheted washcloths and hope to have at least one more set made for the auction as well.

crocheted washcloths

then there are the other projects i intend to make. like a few dishcloths for myself since my old (store-bought) ones are getting really holey.

there just isn't enough time to blog when you're making so much stuff! {smile} and since i haven't blogged in a while, here's just a quick update on what's happening around here.

our Fourth of July was wonderful hanging with family and friends. i didn't take many pics, but a good time was had by all.

parade anticipation

bubba is taking swimming lessons (it's a two week course and this is the second week already). he's learning to tread water and do the front crawl. we'll have to see if he passes or if he'll have to re-do level 3 again next year. next week is our county fair, then the family reunion on the weekend. bubba says he can't wait for all the fair rides. it's funny--i used to just love going on the rides. i'm not sure what happened, but ever since i gave birth to bubba, i've gotten sick from fair rides. so now i just like to look around at the animals and exhibits. and every year i tell myself "next year i'll enter some of my yarn projects." then the next year comes and i still don't have anything i want to enter (or rather, that i've set aside and am not already using!) anyways, we get a week off after the fair week, and the next week is VBS already! {Lifeway's Boomerang Express VBS!} i'm helping with VBS again this year, but i haven't been told yet what i'll be doing. bubba has already started learning the new VBS songs since we've got our t-shirts and cd already. so he's pretty excited and can't wait for VBS either!


heavenly henna part 2

here's my second attempt at henna body art.
this time my feet have a tropical hibiscus flower theme!

all i can say is i'm definitely not a good candidate for "real" or "permanent" tattoos because it wouldn't be long before i'd be wishing i'd have done something different. or didn't have it at all. so i'm glad i never succumbed to the temptation when i considered getting a tat back in my crazy college days. but on the other hand, i wish i HAD learned about henna art a lot sooner! i could have been a professional henna artist, i just didn't know it! well, maybe there's still hope for that...like when i move to hawaii! {yeah, right.} ah well!

and before i sign off, here's a picture of my hair after the color settled. it's a lovely shade of auburn most of the time. sunlight shows the red off even more, of course. but that's what henna does.

see T. see me.
see me with red hair.
me likes T.
me likes red hair!
{and yes, me is silly!}


heavenly henna

i've been slowly gravitating to more natural alternatives. fewer harsh chemicals is good to my way of thinking! i've recently purchased a couple of sulfate and paraben-free shampoos and conditioners to try. they work great, smell good, and my hubby doesn't have any allergic reaction to the natural fragrances (a definite plus!) i'm especially thrilled that wal-mart is selling these more natural products now! i use baking soda instead of bleach to remove stains from my countertops and sink. i prefer organic foods, but find it hard to find good quality organic here at a decent price. our feeble attempts at gardening helps a little too. and so i continue in my quest of learning more ways to reduce my own (& my family's) exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

for the past few years, i had been occasionally using do-it-yourself 'permanent' hair dyes to change my hair color and/or cover the few white hairs that have invaded my normally medium-brown tresses. however, i've never been 100% comfortable or happy with using chemical-based hair dyes. first of all, they smell awful. they also don't always cover my gray hairs well. and to top it off, it is necessary to use them about every 6 weeks in order to keep my roots from showing. ugh! that's expensive!!!! i'm much too frugal to go to a salon for hair colorings, so i can only imagine how pricey it can be.

anyways, one of my friends from college blogged about henna-ing her hair a few months ago. that was yet another nudge in the chemical-free direction for me! i already knew that henna is a plant that can be ground up and used to color hair a reddish color. i remembered using a henna-based hair color a couple times when i was in college. but where would i get henna now? we live in a relatively small town and there are no large cities nearby where specialty items like this can be easily found, so i'm pretty much forced to look for an online source for anything even remotely unusual. henna definitely falls into the "unusual" category! so i began to research. and boy have i learned a lot! if you're interested, here is a site with a lot of great info--there's even info about the science of how henna works! eventually, i purchased some henna and indigo powders (indigo is another plant used for its dye) that seemed to be good quality from a seller on ebay. i did a couple tests with these, in different combination, on hairs harvested from my hairbrush. (i surely didn't want to end up with green hair!) my test results were good. the henna and indigo seemed to work fine. so it was finally time to use it on my hair!

i finally decided to go with a combination of henna and indigo. indigo is used to create anywhere from deep auburn to black colored hair depending on how much you use and how you apply it. for my hair i used 3 parts henna and 1 part indigo. next time i will probably try 2 parts henna and 1 part indigo for a little more brown/less red color. i added some cinnamon powder to help with the smell. it really didn't help though!

the smell of henna is very different from the nasty nose-burning ammonia and peroxide fumes of chemical dyes. it's earthy. very earthy. but it still has a pretty strong odor. and since you leave it in your hair for a few hours, it can get kind of annoying. the above-mentioned friend of mine says it smells like caterpillar poop. with the indigo added, i think it smells even worse than that! but it's a natural dead plant kind of stink, not a chemical one. so i can deal with it. also, my hubby, who has an extremely sensitive sense of smell said {after i had rinsed it out} that it's not as bad as the hair dyes i've used in the past!

here are my before and after pics!

as you can see, i already have a lot of red 'highlights' from using chemical hair dyes.

roots are quite a bit darker with a few white hairs hiding in there.

the lighting isn't the best for these pics, but you can see
the red is deeper now and my roots are blended in nicely.
i understand that the color will darken/deepen over the next few days.

my hair is more of an auburn in real life. the pictures aren't the best for showing it off. in a couple days when the color has 'settled' i'll try taking some more pics.

the other thing henna is used for is body art. i suppose it was inevitable with all the pretty pictures i saw of gorgeous hennaed hands and feet that i would have to try it myself. :-)

not too bad for a first try!

i practiced henna design elements for a few days with pen and paper. it was such a good feeling drawing again! i can't believe how long it has been since i've done anything like this. and i'm so glad to have found a new artistic outlet! it was interesting watching the henna stain change. as you can see in the pics, it was really orange-ish at first, but darkened within a day to brown. now it's a lovely dark brazil nut brown. i expect it to last at least a week, maybe longer. it's not nearly as intricate in design as most of what i saw pictured on henna artists' webpages, but i like how it turned out and that's what matters to me!

the funniest part of having this henna body art is seeing what kinds of reactions i get. *wicked grin* i do enjoy shocking people once in a while! and for those folks who don't know about henna, it's fun to enlighten them a little about this wonderful plant God created that can be used to enhance one's beauty in so many ways!