Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snow Days

I have to admit, I love snow.  We have had NO real recordable snow around here this year which I have been super bummed about.  Thankfully, after the Cavs game (see other post) last weekend we spent the weekend at Tim's parents house where they had LOTS of snow to play in.  Andrew had a BLAST and truthfully, although don't tell them I told you, Tim and his brother had a ton of fun together too.  I won't attempt to narrate the photos . . . I'll let you use your imagination.  :-)

After all that fun, we went inside to celebrate a double birthday celebration.  Both Tim and his brother have birthdays this month.  Happy Birthday John and Tim.  Great fun in the snow, great fun at the celebration, great fun weekend!!!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cavs game

Andrew's first professional sporting event was a Cavs basketball game this past weekend.  My little sister is assistant coaching a basketball team this year and their team was invited to play on the Cavs floor before the game started on Friday.  We took the opportunity to go watch Marisa coach and to take Andrew to his first professional event.  Since Tim is a Cavs fan it was not a difficult choice.  :-)  Turns out, we made history by attending the worst home loss game . . . now that's something we are SUPER proud of.  :-)  So, the game wasn't that great . . . but the experience was a ton of fun.  First at the high school girls and boys games.

We were excited to have two other families from our church attend the games as well.  Andrew loved the attention of the "cool kids" as he called them.  :-)   Andrew and Ben tried out ALL that the Cavs games have to offer.  Hair painting, face painting and tattoos all for free! 

Our two little "gangsters"

Marisa and Nicky got in on the action with a strand of hair painted each and face tattoos . . . only the guy made a mistake and put Nicky's on upside down . . . LOL . . .

So, with this view from our seats . . . it was a good thing I brought some binoculars . . . :-)  LOL  We were not the back row . . . there were 14 rows behind us to the ceiling!  :-)

If you have ever been to a Cavs game then you will understand why Andrew is doing this . . . at the beginning of the game!  I'm not sure ANY basketball team has an opening quite like the Cavs . . . VERY COOL--or hot with all the fire . . . especially in the high seats!

      Hanging out with these friends from our church and Tim, Andrew and Marisa made this a great day.  It was a long long day but we couldn't have asked for a better first "BIG" sporting experience for Andrew

Marisa and the players from our school were able to make the "high five" tunnel for the players after halftime . . . (they are in the white shirts on the lower left side) Tim was super jealous.  :-)  LOL

We were so thankful that we had opted to stay overnight after the game with Tim's parents.  When we left the game the "biggest snow of the year" greeted us outside.  A drive that would normally take about 20-30 minutes took us almost an hour because the roads were so bad.  Marisa didn't get home (she rode with the team back) until almost 3AM.  Thankful that although there was a minor accident with one family on the way home, everyone made it safely back with no major injuries.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

O-Malley Series by Dee Henderson

Danger in the Shadows Audiocassette
I listened to this book on tape-it is a prequil to the O-Malley Series and quite frankly my favorite of them all.  I had heard it before but it was just as amazing the second time around.  It was the abridged edition which was just the perfect length of time for me.  I listened to it in the car and at home while doing all my housework for three days.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves "Law and Order" type stories.  It's a mystery full of romance and suspense and best of all, it's written by a Christian author so it's full of great scripture and Christian concepts as well.  I would recommend this with two thumbs up to anyone needing to lose themselves in a good book (or tape).  Warning though . . . it's intense at times-you won't want to turn it off!  Best book I have read in a LONG time--HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!

The Negotiator by Dee Henderson 
This is actually book number one in the O'Malley series and I was not as impressed with this one as I was with the other one.  It is still full of suspense and lots of romance and a marked increase in really great scripture content, I just felt like this book had some slow parts between the suspense . . . the other one I literally could not turn off sometimes.  I would still recommend it to others but this one is more of a thinker than the last one.  It's more of a "whodunit" where you have to put the pieces together in your head.  The other was more suspense and emotion and less thought.  I probably could not have kept up with this one while working in the house . . . we listened while driving.  One thumb up to this one.

The Guardian by Dee Henderson
was the second book in the O-Malley series that I have been listening to on tape. 
The Guardian (The O'Malley Series #2)
I find myself carrying around the CD player to each room as I clean/cook when Andrew is napping or during his quiet play time.  It's been such a great thing for me and breaks up the boring chores each day to listen to a story.  This one was especially challenging on the spiritual aspect.  The characters wrestle with mercy and justice and trying to find the balance of the two; the thoughts they go through really take you pretty deep on spiritual matters.  The plot was much better than the last book and once again I give it two thumbs up.  Thanks to Risha and my parents for encouraging me to stick with the series even after a mildly disappointing first book.  This book had a neat twist that I really enjoyed in that you knew from the very beginning who the "bad guys" were.  You followed their path as they tried to avoid capture and the path of the O-Malley's and the police as they tried to figure out who it was and where they were.

 is book three in the O'Malley series and once again was a great book. 
The Truth Seeker (The O'Malley Series #3)
It wasn't as high drama as book two but did keep my interest perked as it had a little more romance than some of the others.  The book doesn't climax until the very end so just when you think the plot is over it has another twist.  That was an interesting feature that was unlike the other books in the series.  This was again a thinker as you had to figure out who the "bad guys" were in the story.  I continue to enjoy this series and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in inspirational romances (a completely new concept for me).  Once again a two thumbs up for me.

The Protector
It's book 4 in the O'Mallely series.  I have enjoyed this series so much.  I must admit though, I had to read this one since no audio book was available and I realized how little time I have to sit and read.  No wonder I liked the audio books so much.  It did not effect how much I enjoyed the book though.  I am beginning to LOVE Dee Henderson's writings.  They have so much great Biblical content mixed in with the fictional story.  This book had all of the features I loved about her writing, romance, suspense, mystery . . . a great book.  Two thumbs up again for me on this one.  A twist at the end made me even want to read it again to figure out what I must have missed along the way.

Product Details
If you know anyone who is a firefighter or married to a firefighter, they would LOVE this book.  Even if they did not read the others in the series.  If you have never read Christian fiction and you like suspense then I highly recommend this author and this series.  Also, a great series to get an unsaved friend into.  The doubts and fears of Christianity the characters go through is very realistic.
I especially loved this quote from the story.  I am adding it to my Spiritual Tidbit notebook.  The character was trying to figure out why a loving God would allow his friend to suffer through body scaring burns and the pain that came along with them.
"God made the ability to feel pain.  He didn't have to, you know.  He made the ability to feel pain and He also made it possible to feel joy.  Should I hate Him for allowing one and praise Him for allowing the other?  God knew what He was doing."
Number 5 in the series I have been reviewing on this blog and reading through. 
 I will admit that this was my least favorite of the books so far.  It was just so sad . . . a little bit of mystery, some nice romance but mostly just really sad.    It had a lot of death and dying throughout the entire book and was just really a downer.  Don't get me wrong, I still love the author but this was not a favorite for me.  I just give it a neutral rating-almost a thumbs down.  I would not recommend this book as a stand alone book to anyone.  Too many characters, too unrealistic plot, and too emotional.  If you are reading the series then sure, read it.  Otherwise, find another book in the series to read for entertainment or pleasure.  This one will depress you and leave you feeling down.
The Rescuer
Product Details
was the last book for me in the O'Malley series and I will admit I do feel some sort of accomplishment knowing I have completed an entire series of "adult" books. 
I typically keep my reading literature to childrens books but this has been a fun detour.  This was not my favorite in the series, but once again I enjoyed keeping up with the characters and finally feeling like the O'Malley clan is complete.  This book took a while to get going (the entire first half was building up to a climax that I thought might never come) and was really far fetched in it's drama (tornados, kidnappings, babies . . . all at once ) but it did bring the entire thing full circle and end in a note that leaves it open for another series . . .   If you need a great book for your summer beach reading then I certainly would recommend this series.  Start at the beginning and don't skip around or you will ruin some of the plot that weaves through all the books (if you are going to read them all-otherwise you aren't missing anything to read just one) but I did enjoy the series as a whole.  One thumb up on this one . . . no thumbs up for the first half . . . two for the second . . . average of one.  I'm looking for a new book to start if anyone has any suggestions.  Maybe a nonfiction this time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis Book Review part 1

Yes, I am ready to admit it.  I have never read the Chronicles of Narnia . . . I was a Christian school teacher and I have never read the series . . . I am ashamed.    BUT, I am going to take care of that this year.  I have just finished book one The Magician's Nephew and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it (since fantasy is probably my least favorite genre of books usually).  They were written to be children's books so they are very short and easy reads.

The Magician's Nephew
The Magician's Nephew 
If you have seen the movies but never read the books (as I had) then you will enjoy this book because it answers all the questions you had from the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe movie.  How did Narnia come to be?  Who were the first humans there?  Where did the lamppost come from?  Why is the wardrobe magical?  Where did the witch come from?  Why is she white?
 I thought C.S. Lewis style of writing in this book was fascinating and unlike any other fiction writer I have ever read.  It's more in the style of James Dobson books which are all nonfiction.  Feels like and old grandpa telling the story complete with rabbit trails and side notes that have NOTHING to do with the story. 
I am reading the series along side this book.  ROAR-A Christian Family guide to the Chronicles of Narnia which is a really fascinating book that chapter by chapter shows all the Biblical references in the Narnia books both obvious ones and less obvious ones.  This book gives amazing suggestions for how parents can start discussions about sin (What tempted Digory to ring the bell?  Are you ever tempted that way?), forgiveness, Adam and Eve, and a slew of other topics.  This book also has fun chapters of things you and your family can do together to remind you of God's principles.  I just can not recommend this book enough if you are a parent planning to read Narnia books to your children (or your classroom as a teacher). 
Roar!: A Christian Family Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia

Disclaimer-Tim really things a lot of the ROAR book is a stretch.  He says they are pulling some very loose reference from C.S. Lewis books and turning them into Biblical references that may or may not have been intended by the author.  Regardless of C. S. Lewis intent, however, we both agree that if you are reading the Narnia books to your children and wish the books to be a segway into you family devotion time, this is a great way to do it. 
Overall I give both books a single thumbs up . . . still not my favorite books on the shelf by any means but I can't wait to introduce my son to them and take him on a magical journey into Narnia and hopefully help him understand some difficult principles from the Bible at the same time.  (I would recommend the books for 2-6 graders . . . in my opinion so far)
 The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe 
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie Tie-in Edition (rack) (Narnia)
I think that having watched the movie first completely ruined this book for me.  I knew what was going to happen so I missed a lot of the "magic" of reading a book completely new to you.  Having said that, I did go back and rewatch the movie the other night and found that the movie adds quite a bit of drama that C. S. Lewis neither wrote nor implied in his book.  Thankfully, the movie did not remove crucial elements from his Biblical message and, therefore, can still be a powerful witnessing tool.  This book, and the movie both have a clear salvation message as the lion (Aslan) chooses to give his own blood to pay the debt of a "traitor" who deserves the punishment.  This would be a powerful tool to a 10-13 year old or adult who is having trouble grasping the concept of Christ paying our debt on the cross.  Andrew watched the first little bit of the movie with me, but I turned it off after only a few minutes due to the concept of a witch early in the movie (which he isn't old enough to grasp yet in a healthy way in my opinion)
If you have never read this series I highly recommend it and since it's at a 5th grade reading level it's a super easy read (this one didn't have near as much grandpa story telling rabbit trails as the first one) and a great read aloud for kids.
My hubby tells me the third book is incredibly boring and will be slow reading . . . so I guess I'll let you know in a week or two! 
The Horse and His Boy
The Horse and his Boy by C. S. Lewis has been my most recent read in the Narnia series.  This was (as my husband had prepared me for) the most difficult book to finish.  Not because it was boring (as my husband suggested) but because it was such a difficult read.  The first half of the book is written in a land other than Narnia and C.S. Lewis uses a different dialect to help show the difference.  This dialect is horribly difficult to understand and follow and makes for some very slow reading.  I did finally finish the book though and found the second half (when they are closer to and then in Narnia) much quicker reading
The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia, Full-Color Collector's Edition)
 I thought the plot itself was very clever and well thought out and interesting.  Not the gripping page turner that some of the others have been but good.  There are a TON of characters in this book and if I were reading it to children, I would certainly have a character list for them to reference . . . it is quite easy to get lost in all the new people (and animals) you are introduced to.  Overall I give this book a neutral rating.  Read it if you are going through the series but it's worth skipping if you are just looking for a good children's book to read to your children (or for your own reading).
Prince Caspian
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis was the 4th book in the Narnia series that I am determined to finish.  This was a super easy read and except for the fact that it had a TON of characters (many really pointless to the story and it's plot) made for quick reading.  I enjoyed the return to the characters I loved from Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe  and was thrilled to be introduced to more "human" characters (can you tell I'm not a science fiction person).  Overall this was probably one of my favorite books in the series so far.  I give it a solid thumbs up.
Only one real obvious spiritual reference in this book but it's a good one about following the crowd when you know in your heart what the truth really is.  Always better to follow Christ (Aslan) and ignore the peer pressure to do otherwise.  This point is made painfully obvious in the book and you won't need ROAR to help you find it this time. 
I then watched the Disney movie version of the same book.  I felt like I should completely reread the book after that!  The two were so far apart from each other that the plot was barely recognizable under the drama and romance created by Disney.  Bad job Disney, C.S. Lewis would not have approved of the girls so involved in the front lines of battle and the romance the movie suggested.  Movie--two thumbs down (for following the book-decent movie if you don't consider what the author of the book intended)

Voyage of the Dawn Treader
My latest book review is the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis.  I must say this has been my favorite book in the series so far.  It was full of interesting new characters, tons of drama (almost every chapter), and of course great Biblical lessons to be learned through fictional storytelling.  This would be a GREAT read aloud in an elementary school classroom and would give the teacher an amazing opportunity for a salvation message about halfway through (it's a rather obvious point but I don't want to give it away).  Lewis could have easily made this into several books but by putting all the boat and island stuff into one he made a book packed full of action and adventure.  It has some scary scenes that would be great for older children and would keep their attention as well as the younger ones.  Overall a two thumbs up.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader the movie . . . rented and watched that last night.  I was SO excited since I loved the book so much!  Learned an important lesson . . . never read a book and watch the movie if you want to enjoy the movie.  I think that's all I'll say about that.  Not as horrible an interpetation as the last book . . . but not at all what C.S. Lewis wrote either . . . It was such a great book . . . why change so much?  Okay.  I'll stop!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recovery Update

Andrew is doing SUPER with this recovery.  If by recovery you mean acting completely normal.  The hardest part of this recovery phase has not been pain management . . . stopped giving meds the day after surgery .  .  . it's keeping this boy still!!  Two weeks of no running, climbing, rough housing, or active play.  SHEW!!  That's a lot of restrictions for a 4 year old little boy!

We have done a LOT of this . . . he will probably go through TV withdrawal when we put a stop to it.  WAY more TV than usual.

Found a gingerbread kit clearanced at the grocery store . . . so we did this one day.

Built this . . .

and a WHOLE lot of playdough, paint, "school work", blocks, rescue bots, and anything else quiet that I can come up with.  :-)  Taking walks around the block is about as active as we get.  All of that upstairs while this remodel is going on in the basement . . . talk about a headache!  I asked them if they could keep it down a little . . . SUPER excited about the finished product and glad for how hard they are working . . . but doing all this at a time when we could get out of the house a little would have been smarter.  :-)

We did let Andrew go to school today for the first time and they said he was unable to keep himself calmed down . . . I took him  home before gym time . . . poor guy NEEDS to get his energy out and there just isn't a way right now.  Tonight we will attempt AWANA with no game time for him . . . hopefully that is more successful than school was.
6 more days!!