Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review - Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson

Dandelion Fire

Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson, is the second book in the 100 Cupboards series 100 Cupboards .  This sequel takes the main character, Henry York and his family  through the cupboards and back to their real home, a home only familiar to some.  The story follows Henrietta and Henry's journey through the unfamiliar worlds of Badon Hill, Fitzfaeren and Hylfing. He meets the regimented faeren, encounters the evil Darius again and reunites with family members, familiar and unfamiliar. Things are not what they seem. A gnarled tree is actually a gateway, darkness is actually "light, at rest" and faeren can twist and turn their bodies in unnatural ways.  Henry is on a mission to save Hylfing from the evil witch of Endor, who controls Darius's body and drains the life out of every city in this alternate world.  Henry changes from a young boy, pampered and protected all his life, to a brave young man and leader.

I loved the beginning of this story because Henry's family fought together against Darius. I loved the dialogue Darius delivered before they all went back through the cupboards to prepare for their epic battle.  It challenged me to align my thoughts with the evil Darius to follow what he was trying to express to Henry.  The middle of the story was just too full of strangeness and unfamiliarity. The jumbled word combinations forced me to read so slowly to understand what Wilson was saying, it was difficult for me to imagine a 12 year old not getting bored. I felt like the main character never got a rest, never found anything he could connect to - like he was heading in the right direction, but never knew what would happen or saw anyone or any symbol he knew for most of the book. Some readers may enjoy that aspect, but I felt it lasted too long and made me feel exhausted.

     The last section of the book was the epic battle, which was very well written and I was thrilled to read of his strong male relatives fighting side by side with him. It's not often that an elder male character, let alone two or three,  is given the role of the protector over the main character and for that I give the book  **** 1/2   Four and a half STARS!
Friday, December 24, 2010

One Last, but Meaningful Tradition

Peppermint "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake from scratch! Yum! 

No matter how much I mess it up getting it out of the pan, tearing the edges, patching up the sinkholes in the center, it always ends up perfect! Could that be a reflection of the perfection of Jesus Christ?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Receiving the Greatest Gift, one Moment at a Time.......

With little time due to school and little money due to the recession, it would be easy to be "humbug" this year. Instead of thinking of all the things we didn't do this Christmas, I want to focus on what we DID and how much it meant to me. This has been a wonderful season!

Starting with:
  • setting up the Nativity
  • then the ribbon and lights on the tree 
  • then the decorations (even if it was a week later)
  • Christmas program practice every Tuesday night at church
  • Christmas potluck with everyone at church
  • Teaching Children's Church so everyone could enjoy the program
  • Dustin's first musical concert
  • Josh's awesome concert
  • Wyatt's 2nd grade Christmas play - The Littlest Christmas Tree
  • Dakota's Kindergarten Christmas singing program
  • See's Candy in the mail
  • finding everything they wanted in one trip
  • filling out cards
  • a first ever fancy office Christmas party, overnight in Big Sky,MT
  • the kids' program at church (three of my boys are in it)
  • Grandma and Grandpa coming
  • laying out all the boys' gifts so we can make sure we are giving the right ones to the right kid
  • and wrapping them - just the two of us
  • Watching the boys get all excited with their stockings
  • watching them find the pickel ornament for one more gift (although this does tend to end in a fight!)
  • having the entire day off with the whole family in "lockdown" just hanging out together
Ending with:
In all these activities, each of them represent the greatest gift given ever, Jesus Christ, and I am so excited to celebrate and receive this gift!

What are your special moments this season?

Merry Christmas!
Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just had to see.......

Yesterday, I asked Josh to take out the garbage. It's his usual job and he had a coat on already. I see him barefoot, attempting to make a dash for it and insist he put on shoes. He put on shoes, went out front and took them off, then proceeded to tip-toe out to get the can out on the street, wheel the can back to the house and make two trips with the many bags I handed him that he'd left on the porch. Then he ran back in and beelined for the carpet! Exactly WHY I insisted he wear shoes for this job - I knew he'd walk wet feetprints all over the house.

His reasoning?  He just wanted to see if he how long he could stay out there.  This picture was taken a day later - his prints are frozen into the driveway for now............;^)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stagefright - who me?

     How is it that I can be completely at ease with my classmates discussing Socrates and other deep thinkers, calmly lead the class in a trivia game that focuses on our five books we studied together, but change the subject to my faith and suddenly I have a case of the nerves? I just don't get it. I have plenty of public speaking experience. I have shared my faith with them from the beginning of the semester. I don't start out that way in my presentation but suddenly I find my voice a bit shaky, palms sweaty and hands start to shake. I have no reason for it. I was less nervous completing the challenge for the presentation than telling them about it. 
      I like my classmates, I trust them, and I can discuss deep, difficult topics easily with them. I noticed it's whenever my faith comes up and I'm leading discussion that I get the jitters. It doesn't make sense. I have been leading classes at church for years although I managed to do it alone or with an helper - no pressure there. It's almost a subliminal fear. I don't even feel a hint of fear before or even in the beginning.
     For my presentation, I chose to challenge myself to teach the kids at church with a mentor present and ask for an evaluation. I measured my success on if I went through with it, if the kids learned, and if the mentor said I did a good job. I completed it and was excited to share with my class at school. Here I am telling them about it and all my fears crept up on me again. To try to stifle the jitters halfway through my presentation, I told the group that even thinking about my challenge was making me nervous. I mentioned it later to a classmate, but she said it was a good presentation.

So how do I combat this new subliminal fear that's trying to scare me out of talking about my faith? Is this one of those strongholds that the devil is putting on me because I'm getting braver in sharing?
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Worth Waiting For....

Last week I posted about getting out the nativity sets. After I got those set up, Dakota and I straightened out the branches on the tree, added the lights and the ribbon. I was really getting in touch with the meaning of Christmas as I lovingly wrapped the royal ribbon around it and tried to recall the spiritual symbolism of the tree. I was having my special holiday moment......

Halfway through the task, the rest of the boys got home from school all excited to be surprised that we were decorating. This is when I made my "Mommy Proclamation".  I proclaimed that the adding of the decorations would not take place until the livingroom and bedrooms were clean and that they had just enough time to get it done before I finished preparing the tree. 

Why throw in the cleaning? Was I just being mean? Well, it's a matter of opinion. I noticed lately that the boys aren't lifting a finger without me there enforcing it. I look for any opportunity to motivate them to get-r-done, especially things they are excited about like decorating or Grandma coming over. 

Are you thinking they hopped to it and we got it all done as one big, loving, happy family? Nope! A week went by, remember?  No, they wandered around, lost my fourth spool of ribbon under the coffee table, looked at their messy rooms, played video games and two fights broke  - one out over a toy while cleaning and the second one is still a mystery but Dakota got wacked in the eye with a sweatshirt sleeve so I threw in the towel.

To my surprise last night, exactly 7 days later, Josh walks in the door and says, "I told my friend's mom that we didn't have any decorations on our tree" then followed by, "Hey everybody clean up - let's decorate!" He even insisted I do it with them so I did the "oooh, here's your Baby's First Christmas ornament. Oh, and there's your Baby's Second Christmas ornament....Oh, and here's my favorite one...". It was as if the world was rotating in reverse - everyone got along and cheerfully decorated and even cleaned up the empty boxes afterward.

Score one for Mom this week!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Looking Back on Blogs 10 Years from Now

Will our kids hate us when they grow up and read our blogs?

An interesting article :

Mo-om! When the stars of mommy blogs grow up-
Some "mommy bloggers" are questioning the lasting effect their online ramblings might be having on their kids.
 Even if you don't read the link, have you ever taken a moment to answer that question? As parents, our generation grew up able to deny anything that wasn't captured on  a Kodak with a square flash bulb.  Stories told about us have to be verified by relatives but still we can say, "No it wasn't me, it was my cousin." and due to the age of the relative, usually convince them that their memory is going. 

  Next comes the "Mommy's had it and gonna vent" blog trend. I have to admit, it has got the appeal of free therapy. Maybe it spared a few kids from corporal punishment.  Moms sharing with other moms that they are not perfect and have real feelings that are "politically incorrect" to voice in public. I don't follow "strictly negative" parenting blogs, but I do follow one blog designed for moms to anonymously post their parenting flubs and readers sympathize with them and know we've been there too.  
     But I wonder, will these digital records exist forever? If I delete my entire blog in 10 years, will my tech-savvy sons just Google-Extreme my IP address and recover every key stroke? Would they like it or hate it? I took a minute to skim my entire blog and see if I've humiliated them. Well, maybe I did a little - but not enough to make me delete anything. Sometimes they don't use their marbles and goofy stuff happens like crop circles in the grass. Still, as a parent I feel entitled to laugh a little at their foibles as long as they see the humor in it, I only use first names, and use a loving-mother tone. Am I guilty? What if tables were turned? What if they had a "I Was Raised By Aliens" blog?  I suppose I'd be fair game!  Should we follow unwritten guidelines? Should "venters" feel justified? Should I hide the camera so they don't capture MY blooper-moments?

like the time I didn't know it was broken
Friday, December 3, 2010

Lucky are the Boys Whose Dad has a Snowplow...........

This is something Dustin has been trying to create at school each year, only to have the other kids stomp it down before the bell rings............A SNOWCAVE!

To my surprise the other evening I saw a dark image in the entrance and when I called Josh to come help with our dog - not only one full grown pre-teen came out of it but TWO.  It must be huge inside and knowing our weather it will still be there in May for them to enjoy.

Let it Snow...Let it Snow...Let it Snow!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keeping Christ in Christmas............

There's a buzz in the air today. The month of December is upon us and it's time to decorate.  I remember a time when we only had a few cheap ornaments from the Pic-N-Save store. Fast forward 20 years and it's time to lug up the boxes. My most favorite decoration of all is the nativity I hinted for a few Christmas's ago. My husband's parents bought it for me and I asked my father-in-law if he would put his saws to work and build me a manger for them. To my surprise he used the old barn wood from our last house. That made it even more special because we are bringing a bit of the boys' memories from their first Christmas's in our old house -  into this house.  And who says the tree should get ALL the lights??

Of course we add the usual bling, red & green, gifts, and our singing Scooby-Doo and Rudolph stockings. But we have one other special little decoration that sums up blending tradition with beliefs without compromising.

I also incorporate a "royal ribbon" around the tree before any bulbs are added to remind us that Jesus was king, willingly born as a baby to save us from our own destruction.

It's time to add a new element to this theme.What interesting ways do you keep Christ in Christmas??