Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 OK, I'm not going to start this by saying "I love Amish" novels, and I'm growing tired of saying "Not your traditional Amish novel," even though their both true-ish. Ish, because, well, I've run into an Amish novel or two that I decidedly did not like, much less love and because I decided "traditional" and "Amish novel" no longer belong as a phrase. They were traditional when only Beverly Lewis wrote them. Or when I only knew about Beverly Lewis Amish novels. (Back when I fell in love with Amish novels...and when I lived among the Mennonites.) Now that I live closer to the "English" (Christian English, of course) world and have met Cindy Woodsmall and Suzanne Woods Fisher (figuratively, of course), I don't think there can be a "traditional" Amish novel. 
I'm OK with that. 
A bit about the book:
One moment, Carrie Weaver is planning to elope with Lancaster Barnstormer Solomon Riehl, leaving their Amish community behind. The next, she is staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now Carrie faces a choice. An opportunity. But will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever?
"Fisher kicks off a refreshing new series, Lancaster County Secrets, with characters that are strong, both in body and spirit. They also have weaknesses that develop into strengths with the choices they make."
4 stars, Romantic Times

I found this to be another book I couldn't put down. Loved it. Body count was a bit high (I think it was five. FIVE dead people which seems extreme for a non-suspense novel...that I guess was a bit suspenseful now that I think of it. Mysterious, at least. But I don't think it was billed as suspense or mystery. The back cover says Fiction--Contemporary.) Nonetheless, it was a very good read, especially if you dig Amish novels (traditional or not). It left me rather hungry for my Mennonite hometown (that is decidedly not Amish, but is peaceful).

Suzanne is a wife and mom, raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and an author of Christian books, both non-fiction and fiction.

Her relatives on my mother's side are Old Order German Baptist Brethren, also known as Dunkards. That's where her interest in Anabaptist traditions began. Suzanne's grandfather was born into a family of 13 children, started his career as a teacher in a one-room school house in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and ended it as one of the very first publishers of Christianity Today. "We called him "Deardad" even though he was a very stern fellow. Still, Deardad's life inspired me to write."

After college, Suzanne was a freelance writer for magazines and became a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today. Her work has been featured in Today's Christian Woman, Marriage Partnership, Worldwide Challenge, among others. She took the plunge into books a few years ago and now she's hooked. To learn more about Suzanne, visit her website at


Enter to win a signed copy of the book!
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Psst... pass it on! Join @suzannewfisher for a Book Bomb & Author Talk! Details here #thechoice
During the Author Talk, Facebook party (see button below) you’ll hear the story behind Suzanne’s latest release, The Choice, win some great prizes (Amish cook books, Auntie Anne's Pretzel gift certificates, Amazon gift certificates), get a sneak peak at her upcoming releases, and join in the chatter! She'll be answering all your burning questions and asking a few of her own. (oh, and check out her website before the party - the answers to the trivia contest can ALL be found there.  hint, hint)

Book Bomb and Author's Talk with Suzanne Woods Fisher
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See what other people think here. And, oh yeah, this book was provided for review by the LitFuse Publicity Group. (see button in my sidebar) But I'm still allowed to say whatever I think.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bladder Control?

Last night at 10, as Charming is known to do, he awoke fussing. I interpret this as, "I need to pee!" Primarily because he always goes and then settles down and goes back to sleep. So when he awoke fussy, I walked him down to the potty, stood him in front of it and began disassembling his pajamas/diaper.

Apparently he REALLY needed to go because he started to go before he sat. And proceeded to pee all over the crotch of MY pajamas (as I was squatted in front of him).

His pajamas stayed dry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Typical

My children's personalities exhibited themselves so perfectly this morning that I can't help but share.

The first thing Frodo told me upon awakening is that he would make his own lunch this morning. I said, "Great," and proceeded downstairs.

When I got downstairs and pushed the button on my coffee maker, I looked up and saw Eldest making his own lunch. He asked a couple questions, but for the most part, made his own lunch.

Frodo proceeds to the garage to get the "juicy oranges" (mandarins in a can) for his lunch. While coming in, decides he also would like them for breakfast. Plops them on the counter and heads back to the garage for another which point Princess yells for him to bring her a can also.

Frodo and Princess each bring in a can (b/c he insisted she come with him to the garage). I've already opened the two cans he first brought in and dumped them in bowls for them to eat for breakfast. They each take a bowl. Frodo tells me he'll make his lunch after he eats. I continue to open the mandarins and put them in lunch containers.

Princess asks in a supremely whiny voice, "Do we haaaaaaaaaaaaave to make our own lunches?" I tell her I have it under control. She goes back to her throne and re-situates her tiara. I mean, she goes back to reading her book and eating her mandarins.

Meanwhile, I'm helping Eldest get the last of the jelly out of the jar for his sandwich. Frodo comes and begins to make his sandwich. He gets out one slice of bread and the ham. Decides he can't figure out how to put the ham on the bread. I tell him I'll take care of it. He disappears. I finish packing the lunches.

My dissection of this morning's lunch episode and how it relates to the children: Frodo talks a big talk, and he means well, but his follow through stinks. Eldest just does what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Princess would rather someone else do.

As an aside. After this drama that wasn't (because I am apparently not hormonal today) I remembered....they're bringing pizza in for the kids today. All the lunches are now in the fridge for tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis

 Have you ever read something just knowing all the while that it will profoundly change your thinking for years to come? Twice, twice in the last six months I have done so. The first was Scared. (And in this time of fretting over the plight of the orphans of Haiti would be as good of a time as any for you to read it.) The second was Tea With Hezbollah. 

I love to read and learn about different cultures. I do appreciate looking at things from a different perspective. And sometimes when you look at different cultures from a different perspective, and your eyes are opened to things you've never even 

I'll admit, there were moments when I read things and they flat made me mad. This misconceptions others have about us. Dumping wheat into the ocean since oil prices are high? I'm sorry, I'm related to wheat farmers and I take personal opposition to that mistruth. Like everyone, we like to sell as high as we can sell (I say "we" as if I am part of the actual growing and selling, but dang, close enough). Who doesn't? Supply and demand. But I've never known them to let the wheat rot because the price was too low and never once dumped it into the ocean. (Keep it for seed, maybe.) I know how far Kansas is from ANY ocean and THAT is absurd. 

....I know we have some misconceptions also. I just hate when misconception heaps on top of misconception and causes such strife. 

But far beyond the whole Muslim/Arab leader misconception conversation and the search for truth (and dodging answers like pros, man) I was profoundly struck by the message of love. You know, it's hard to conceive of loving your enemy when it's ridiculously hard to love your neighbor. Shoot, it's hard to love your brother sometimes. 

It's as they said, "The situation is complex...It's almost as if humanity, being enraged by the outrageous teaching of love, killed the teacher (Jesus) and then went on to wage war against all who set foot on the land where he walked."

So. What a book. One I expected to be fiction. Struggled to want to read once I knew it was not. And finally couldn't put down. And walked away changed. For the better, I hope.

And now for the canned description because they do it so much better than I.


Is it really possible to love one’s enemies?

That’s the question that sparked a fascinating and, at times, terrifying journey into the heart of the Middle East during the summer of 2008. It was a trip that began in Egypt, passed beneath the steel and glass high rises of Saudi Arabia, then wound through the bullet- pocked alleyways of Beirut and dusty streets of Damascus, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions: Jerusalem.

Tea with Hezbollah
combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden’s brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated—questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.

Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.

Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally bestselling novels, including Bone Man’s Daughters, The Circle Trilogy, Thr3e, and House, which was coauthored by Frank Peretti. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at
Carl Medearis is the founder and president of International Initiatives, LLC, an organization that promotes cultural, educational, and commercial exchange between the East and the West. He is an advisor on Arab affairs to the members of the U.S. Congress and leaders in international business.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

The Things I Don't Say

I've noticed that there are a lot of things I don't say anymore. Partly because I'm trying to stop myself from saying everything that comes to mind (people tend to look curiously at you and/or become offended), but partly because, well, hmmmm, not even sure I should say that.

Makes for a boring blog, really.

I'll say it straight out: I care too much what people think. I don't like to hear criticism. I hate being pitied. I don't like to feel judged. I don't want to hurt people.

I so closely guard what I say here and in person that I think I've distanced people. I've become a trite, frivolous little conversationalist. I let about three people in on what's on my mind or what's going on in my life. One of them is God.


I'm not sure what to do. Particularly in regard to this blog. If only "strangers" (and by that I mean people I have never met in person thought I may feel like I really know you from your blog) read it I'm pretty gut honest. I haven't been gut honest about my life in, I don't know, 18 months? I'm honest, I just leave out details. Which some people equate with lying.

I started a super secret no one knows where it is except me and one other person blog, but I've found that I don't use it.

I journal, but it isn't satisfying.

There isn't a point here and Hubs wants to eat lunch, so I guess I leave this here. With an apology for not being completely open. But I'm not sure I can do anything to change it.


My Disney Princess "Moment"

I know that if you don't know Charming, you won't recognize this look. It LOOKS bored, maybe vidiot-ified. This look is SHOCK. This is his face the moment he saw Lightning McQueen IN REAL LIFE.

I'll admit it, I spent three and a half days laughing at the poor parents that had to stand in line to meet obscure characters. My kids didn't care enough to make it worth it. We did wait 15 minutes to meet Woody and Jessie. Maybe 2 minutes to meet Buzz Lightyear. But, for the most part, we skipped it. Until we hit our last day on Disney and I set my heart and mind on letting Charming meet Lightning. We were on a search mission and it didn't matter that it was raining buckets, we were looking for Lightning. I now add myself to the insane parents that faced the elements so their kid could meet a character representation.

Here we are in line, taking a photo with the Radiator Springs A Happy Place wall, because it cracks Charming's parents up and because waiting in line to see lightning really DID make it a happy place. You can see Charming wants to go over there. Guess where Lightning is?

Here we find that Charming is fascinated by Mater, an unexpected but happy sidekick. He was rather frightened of Lightning. I think he was so starstruck he gave a wide berth.

Starstruck, however, didn't mean he wanted to make way for the next kid in line. Very unhappy.

But Mama left feeling very pleased with herself. Ha! Success! At this point, I felt like we had "done Disney." Unfortunately for me, NOW I want to go back. We've been home two weeks. Sigh.

I did look into Disney's Give a Day Get a Day program. It really doesn't take much to get your day. Lots of volunteer opportunities. Well worth it if I thought I'd make to back to Florida this year.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the Ongoing Saga that is Princess' Historical Studies

 ___ 6. the black educator who founded Tuskegee Institute

She chose J. John Wilkes Booth Decidedly not. I wonder what JWB would have thought of her answer.

In case you don't know, it is Booker T. Washington. I'm not sure I would have gotten the answer, either, but my powers of deduction would have gotten close than she did. Good thing, since I'm 25 years her senior. I am continually amazed at how much she actually DOES know.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Trying Something New

So, forgoing the usual goals regarding my Pepsi addiction (as they don't work), I made a new rule for myself.

I can have as much Pepsi as I want, provided I drink the equivalent amount of water first.

Hey, it's workin' for me. Far better than the whole I-can-only-have-one-a-day restriction that caused me to go through withdrawal and only think about Pepsi all day. Now I think, gee, I want a Pepsi, I chug a glass of water and help myself. Besides, usually once I start on the water, the Pepsi doesn't hold as much appeal. For which I am very thankful.

Because yes, Dad, I know it isn't good for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It's a thankless job.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I have a dream today

On Friday, my son was introduced to the imperfect world in which we live. He "knew" about civil rights, Martin Luther King, slavery....but now he KNOWS about it. His little world shattered and we're left picking up the pieces. It was going to happen. I know that. I thought I was working him into it. Apparently I worked him in too slowly. Or glossed over the ugly. Something. But when he saw footage of the brown people being shot with a fire hose (back in the 60s), he was traumatized.  He's having nightmares. He doesn't understand. Neither do I.

My heart is breaking.

Interesting fact about this: his worst dilemma is that if he lived back then his best buddy wouldn't be AM who is very white. It hasn't occurred to him that he wouldn't be in our family.

I'm glad he is. He adds such a lovely component. He's kind, sensitive, tenderhearted, (strong willed), service minded, compassionate and an awesome big brother. We wouldn't be the same without him.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Study Skills Update

Princess got her history quiz back. Guess which answers she got wrong--

Jefferson Davis
Fort Sumter

Thanks to her notes, she got "true  Monitor" right.

Turns out they went over the (true/false) quiz question by question. Also turns out she had a pretty good idea which ones she didn't know. Unfortunately that didn't translate to actually learning the answers.

This all gave me a good, hearty, laugh which, unfortunately, hurt her feelings.

Must learn how to deal with pre-teen girl emotions.

I'd Rather be Here

See how empty it is? That isn't an illusion. People weren't polite and getting out of the way of photos. People are very rude, in fact, and care only about themselves and cut lines and run into you at will...but that's another story. This story is about me and my type A personality. There are no people in the photo because it is in the seven o'clock hour at Magic Kingdom. Yes, I did drag my family out of bed at 6:30 to avoid the crowds and lines. Not only that, I had a schedule that I had every intention of sticking to. I got teased heavily. But the teasing stopped by noon. It worked well. Not a significant line until nearly 11. And by then, we'd done nearly everything we cared to do. Planning does make perfect. If you plan to go to Disney World on the busiest week of the year, you need to have a plan. Otherwise you'll spend your whole week standing in lines...or talking about which lines you should stand in. Even if you use the FastPass. I know, because on another day we didn't stick with the schedule and we spent most of the day talking about what we wanted to do and doing nearly nothing. At which point I realized that I only think I'm a type B person. Apparently I'm a Type A personality that masks as a Type B. I really don't care until I DO. And when I DO care, I'm hard core. (We went back to the schedule.)

That castle in the background? I have to admit that the sight of it, the whole package of Main Street, the castle, Disney, taking my children at a really great age, being with the people I love dearly, that package broke forth in tears and I got choked up, right there on Main Street.

I loved being at a place where a grown woman can wear Mickey Mouse ears and skip down the street with her eight year old daughter and no one thinks it strange. I love being at a place where her eight year old daughter thinks she (Mom) still might be cool. I love being at a place where silliness is OK and you can be the paparazzi chasing down Buzz Lightyear and Cinderella. (I do not love being at a place where rude people are also welcome) I love being at a place where most people are smiling most of the time.

I want to leave this gray, dreary, depressing place and go back.

(For Disney World visitation schedules, you should look to The Unofficial Guide to Disney World. They have hour by hour schedules in the back. Though I did significant research into each ride and we skipped those we didn't think worthy of our time. I kind of mushed three schedules into one. Plenty of fun for the grownups, but nothing too terrifying for my children who don't like "dark" themes. Fast scary is OK, creepy scary is not.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Study Skills

Actual conversation between Princess and her mother:

Mother: Don't you have a history quiz tomorrow?
Princess: Yes
M: Do you think you should study?
P: I did.
M: When?
P: We reviewed in class
M: Did you take notes?
P: yes
M: do you think you should go over them?
P: I don't know where they are.
M: What's the point of taking notes if you can't use them to study
P: (shrug)
Granny: I never needed to review once I wrote it down.
M: True, me neither
(Time elapses while mom rifles through folder)
M: Are these your history notes?
P: yes
M: very detailed, think you needed anything else?
P: nope. that's what's on the quiz
M: (laughs hysterically and passes notes to Granny)


"Jefferson Davis"
"Fort Sumter"
"true      Moniter"

Yup, that probably covers it.....Who needs to study once you know all of that?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Blog

I was just thinking about starting a new blog called "Cooking with Garlic and Cream" as it is what I do nearly every day...and then I remembered that I have no time to blog on THIS blog, I could have a daily cooking section if I wanted, and I can't seem to upload photos and all good cooking blogs have photos of their raw chicken. So, if you want some good garlic or cream recipes...look elsewhere.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rediscovering God in America

Like it or not, America has a spiritual heritage. It's written clearly all over our documents and all over our federal buildings. And yet many are trying to strip that heritage from the history books and from the social fabric of our country. In his book, Rediscovering God in America, Newt Gingrich refutes the claims that America is and should be secular with photographic evidence to the contrary.

I am a big fan of David Barton. If you've never heard of him and this title interests you, you should look up David also. He is very well spoken on this same topic. I'm also a big fan of Newt Gingrich, both as a writer of alternative history novels and as a political conservative. So when I saw the combination of "God in America" and Newt Gingrich, I figured I should have a go at it.

The reason I brought up David Barton so early is because if you have heard him speak or read his stuff you are going to have a really strong basis of belief for what Mr. Gingrich writes...and likely know much of what is presented. This is good, because there are absolutely no footnotes to back up what he writes. Aside from photographic evidence proving that someone at sometime believed God was a part of this country when they built structures, anything written could be discarded as hearsay to the disbeliever. I think this is the strongest negative I have about this book (which I really did enjoy). The "other side" is often guilty of leaving out footnotes because we should just believe them (even though they are frequently incorrect). I don't believe that when we have the proof on our side we need to stoop to their sub-par standards.

Again I'd like to point out that I've taken several classes regarding the topic of God and America and the religious beliefs of our founding fathers and I think that though the information that Mr. Gingrich put forth is correct, I also feel strongly that he could have taken a stronger stance. However his final chapter, and his best chapter of the book, gave a call to action that more than compensated for what was otherwise very neutral on the "religious" aspects. (I say religious, because he adamantly held to the term "religious" even at times when he clearly could have said "Christian."Christian may have been used, but if so, it was not memorable.)

So, if you're looking for a brief synopsis of religion in America, particularly in regard to her national monuments and federal buildings, this well could be the book for you. If you looking for a book to use in your research papers and in debates defending religion in America...not so much. It is a good, brief, read, but it is far from comprehensive.

(This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson)

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Don't you love it when you realize you have a new friend and you really like them?

Sometimes people get thrown in your path and you have no choice but to spend time together and then one evening they are the only ones that show up and you have no trouble with conversation and laugh until your sides ache and it comes to mind, "Wow, that was fun. What a neat person."

It happens less and less as I get older and more entrenched in my ways, but it still happens.

I like that.

(Yes, Disney is still coming. I can't figure out how to get my photos uploaded off my new camera. And I can't decide what to write without photos.)

Friday, January 08, 2010


Something for all the mommies out there to listen to and be challenged.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Really, I would, but school keeps being canceled. My kids have now been out for nearly three weeks. It grows ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

She's Baaaaaack

I've been gone for essentially two weeks. Two very long weeks. Two very full weeks. And I realized about day 10 that I'd been away from my beloved internet for a great length of time and didn't even notice.

Apparently it's my procrastinating tool. Or my entertainment tool. It is not my essential, must do or will die, tool.

I came online a couple days ago to check my email and discovered not ONE that required a response.

I came home today and went through the mail. Exactly ONE exciting thing came in two weeks. One bill and a stack of recycling material.

I've discovered that when your life is your family and you take your family with one needs you much.

All about Disney another day. I got up this morning at the equivalent of 3:45 and I'm shot.

Besides, I'm pretty sure none of you is waiting on pins and needles to find out what I have to say. I know that because, well, no one commented on my silence while I was silent.

I feel very small.

And I'm OK with that.