Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Reading Rewards

Bubby is in 1st grade.  Bubby, and his classmates, are expected to read or be read to at home for at least 15 minutes a day.  His teacher has helpfully provided us with a calendar on which to keep track of his reading minutes.  And every month, if he turns in his calendar, regardless of whether or not he's met his goal, he is offered a reward.

Now in defense of the 1st grade teaching team, between the two of them, they have 6 children, 83% of whom are girls.  They're used to girls.  They are more intimately familiar with girls.  They are teachers, however, and teach both boys and girls in approximately equal numbers.  And, as working mothers, at least during the school year, they do spend more time with their students than with their children.  One would think (I would think), that they would know how to offer suitable rewards for both boys and girls.

But no!  The reading reward for March, which is set to take place on April 7?  Dress up day.  And not even dress up day as in dress up in a costume, or dress up in mom or dad's clothes.  Dress up day as in, wear nice clothes, like those one might wear to church, or a graduation, or a job interview, or something.

No even kidding.  Dress.  Up.  Day.  And ... wait for it ... a tea party.

I don't want you to think I'm sexist, because I know that there are boys who like to dress up and there are boys who like to have tea parties, but I have never personally met any of them.  And, as the mother of 3 boys, I have met a lot of boys.

For my particular boy, this reward is more akin to torture.  In fact, when I told him what the reading reward was for this month, he told me he wasn't going to turn his calendar in.  And I have to say, as much as he does not want to wear good clothes to school, I doubly don't want him to!  The kid is rough on clothes, and sending him to a place where he's going to be playing with other boys, outside, where there is asphalt, trees, rocks, and all manner of other sharp things, for at least part of the day, does not bode well for the knees of his nice church pants.

Not exactly the reward his teacher's going for--definitely not a strong motivation to read.  I told her as much.  In those words: "this reward is more like torture for Bubby."  And then I went on to query, "when is the you-get-to-play-active-games-all-day reward?"  She laughed.  Or did the digital equivalent of a laugh, since we were communicating via email.  I'm not quite sure why most, if not all, of these supposed rewards have been so blatantly girl oriented.  Probably because they're easier, and less disruptive, to execute.

*Sigh*

I'm not sure what will happen with Bubby's reading calendar this month, if it will make its way to the teacher's desk or if it is destined to be delegated into a crumpled mess in the bottom of Bubby's backpack.  I do suspect, however, that when I inform him that the tea party includes cupcakes, made by cupcake baker extraordinaire J, and yours truly, that might sway Bubby's opinion on the matter.

I'll keep you posted.

Your turn: do you know any boys who enjoy tea parties?  What would you offer as a reading reward?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Menu plan for the week of March 30

It's quite likely we will be a single car household this week, and since Hubby's job is about a 25 minute drive from our home, it's unlikely I will have a vehicle at my disposal.  For this reason, I've planned meals this week for which we have all the ingredients at home.  Except for the guacamole.  And the ham.  Hopefully I'll be able to wrangle a ride to the store before the end of the week arrives.  Or Hubby will have to venture into uncharted territory--the wilderness known as the grocery store--without me.  I don't know which of us would be more dismayed by this turn of events...

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper
--Meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, salad
--Grilled bone-in chicken breasts, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Fend for yourself/breakfast for dinner
--Grilled boneless pork chops, roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled broccoli
--Nachos, guacamole, taco toppings
--Chicken tacos, guacamole, tortillas, taco toppings
--Ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes, pineapple rings, corn, Brussels sprouts or asparagus, applesauce

Next week supper:
--Beef stroganoff, green beans

What's on your menu this week?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I can't sleep.  I hate that.  I know, I know, I should turn off my screen because it's tricking my brain into thinking it's still awake time.  But sheesh, people.  There's only so much lying in bed wishing one was sleeping that a person can do.

I have a friend on my mind.  Her family has been struck with blow after blow lately, one thing after another.  It's almost--almost--funny.  But so not funny.  Funny in the way that if you don't laugh you'll cry, and possibly never stop.

There are so many hurting people in the world.  All of us?  Yes, I think I can say with confidence that every single one of us hurts.  None of us navigates this earthly life unscathed.  Every one of us has struggles, and some of them seem bigger than others, but I don't know if I can even say that.  Our own struggles, whatever they may be, are important and huge and all-encompassing to us, regardless of the perceived level of difficulty on a relative scale.  Knowing that my problems are trivial compared to someone else's does not make mine any easier to bear.  It really doesn't.  It just makes me feel guilty for allowing it to drag me down, for wallowing in my own mess.

How messed up is that?  Seriously.  Guilt.  Ugh.

My girls and I were talking the other day about how men and women typically listen differently.  Wait, you might be wondering about my girls, because, you know, I don't have any girls.  No (biological) sisters, no daughters.  My girls are my sisters by choice, a group of women bonded together by a love for God and a desire to get to know Jesus better.  Love them.

I know there are exceptions, but typically when women listen, they offer sympathy.  A listening ear, and a comforting embrace.  Typically when men listen, they offer solutions.  Which is great, terrific, wonderful, but not necessarily what women are looking for in the interaction.  We don't want you to solve our problems, we want to be heard.  We want to be known.  We desire a connection with you that goes beyond you swooping to the rescue, although most of us do love being rescued as well.

I must be a little atypical because as I sat listening to my girls, who are dealing with ordinary and extraordinary problems, I just wanted to make it all go away.  I wanted to fix it.  All of it.  My brain was searching for answers, practical solutions.

You know, what they really need is hope.  What we all need is hope.  In the darkest places, when we are hopeless, when we just can't see a way out, what we need most is someone to come alongside and hope for us.

I so desperately want that in my life.  Someone to hope for me.  And I want to be that person for those who is hurting--a beacon of hope, a believer in redemption.  Join me?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Mother & Child Project: A Review


The Mother & Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope is a collection of essays written by 42 celebrities, politicians, medical professionals, and ministry leaders, in support of women's health around the world.  

Almost 300,000 women die each year in developing countries because of complications due to pregnancy.  Without a mother, many of their children die as well.  Eighty percent of these deaths are preventable with resources that are available right now in the developed world.  Compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands, an organization whose mission is to promote an improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace, in this book influential leaders such as Hillary Clinton, Michael W. Smith, Tony Campolo, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley raise their voices together to provide a personal and fact-based glimpse at the plight of women and children living in poverty.  The purpose of the book is to issue a call to action regarding the health and well-being of women and children around the world.

The book is divided into four sections: Maternal and Child Health: How Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy Saves Lives; Strong Mothers: The Key to Healthy Families, Communities, and Nations; Other Concerns: Male Involvement, Child Marriage, Slavery, and Orphan Care; and Why Maternal Health Matters to People of Faith.

The contributors offered a good mix of stories of women and children around the world, success stories, and facts and statistics.  I found the first section to be a little repetitive.  Every essay (as the title of the sections suggests) mentioned how healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies saves lives.  I suppose since healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies is the most important factor in women's health, the compilers felt the repetition was necessary.  Indeed, the first section had the desired effect of drilling into my brain the necessity of providing tools that women can use to plan their childbearing.  

The rest of the book provided enough variety to hold my interest, and included other health care issues and addressed other ways in which women and children are marginalized.  I found the book as a whole inspiring, especially the success stories shared about women who had improved their health and circumstances due to education and access to medical care.

As a call to action, this would be an excellent book to read with a group.  There is a discussion guide available, and the appendix lists ways to get involved and organizations to support.

Near the end of the book, pastor and author Scott Sauls says:
The notion that every person is equal is one to which any reasonable person will give mental assent.  But when we come to understand that Jesus has taken our shame from us, and the because of this we have nothing left to hide, nothing left to fear, and nothing left to prove, we become owners of, and not mere assenters to, the notion that every person in equal.  Our energies shift from being preoccupied with self to being preoccupied with God and the flourishing of our neighbor.
I don't know how one could read this book and not feel called to take action in support of women and children around the world.

Bottom line: This inspiring compilation does just what it sets out to do--it calls people to practical action regarding the health and well-being of women and children living in poverty.

I received this book for free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Family Four Pack

Well, Butch the bus driver was wrong.  The snow did not all melt by that afternoon, and now we've added another half inch or so.  I just love spring, don't you?

Anyway...

About a year ago, a friend of mine bought a Living Social voucher for the local symphony.  I know this because of how Living Social works.  You buy the discounted deal, then if you can get 3 more people to buy the same deal, you get it for free.  So my friend bought the deal, and, in an effort to save even more money, posted a link.  I had been contemplating buying the same deal, so I took note.

My friend, like me, has 3 kids and a husband.  That means there are 5 people in their immediate family.  Since the deal was for 4 tickets, I teasingly asked her who was going to have to stay home.  She joked that her youngest, who I think was 4 at the time, was going to be on her own that day.

It is unfortunate, for me, for our family, that deals like these are almost always set up for 2 or 4 people.  And it's not just the daily deal sites--vacations, cruises, attractions--the deals are almost always set up for 2 or 4 people.  Every now and then, I'll see a package deal for 6, but 2 or 4 seems to be the most common number.  I don't think I realized that before we were a family of 5.

In the past week, I've entered 2 giveaways for family 4-packs of tickets to fun things.  I think I have a pretty good chance of winning, since I have won 100% of the family 4-pack giveaways I've entered in the past 6 months.  It's true.  Before Christmas, I won 4 passes to a local trampoline park, and just last month I won 4 passes to an Ice Castle (there were fire dancers--very impressive).

But as I was completing my entries, and contemplating how likely it is that I will win again, I couldn't help but think about the practical question of how I would use my prizes.  Would one of us stay home?  Would we buy another ticket?  Or would more than one of us stay home and the lucky attenders bring a guest?  The second option might not be viable for these since both of the giveaways are for tickets to sporting events, and the seats are presumably already assigned.

It's not a big hairy deal, really.  I mean, it's one of the costs associated with being an odd family (I mean) having an odd number of people in our family, and given the choice, I prefer to remain a family of 5.  It would be nice, however, just once, for the package-deal makers of the world to acknowledge the fact that some folks have odd numbers of people that they want to do stuff with.  Can't they set up a first-two-at-this-price-each-additional-at-an-also-discounted-price deal?  How hard could it be?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Menu plan for the week of March 23

Did you think I forgot this week?  Or that some terrible fate had befallen me so I was not able to get the menu post up?  Or maybe you didn't notice that this post is late?  Oh well.  Whatever.  It's here now.  Didn't forget, nothing terrible happened.  I just wasn't feeling the menu plan this week.  Do you ever have weeks like that?  Or perhaps the better question is, do you ever not have weeks like that?  *Sigh*

It snowed a little last night.  Nothing like the predicted 3-6 inches, but maybe an inch of crusty, wet snow.  My policy when it snows during the night is to bring a shovel out to the bus stop and to spend the wait time shoveling.  Bubby has enthusiastically joined in with me.

Sometimes we get half the driveway done before the bus makes its appearance.

So that's what I did this morning, even though I had to use the dreaded ergonomic shovel because my favorites have already been packed away for the season (why that one was left out, I do not know.  Definitely would not have been my choice).

The bus driver saw me with my shovel, and decided to inform me, because obviously, if I was bothering to shovel, there is no way I could have known, that it was all going to melt by this afternoon.  Thanks, Butch.

To his eye, my shoveling was an exercise in futility.  Why waste time doing something that will take care of itself in time?  And why can't my laundry do that?  Oh wait, it does, albeit slowly.  Why am I folding and putting away laundry again?  Hmmm.  Must think this through.

Anyway, what Butch failed to realize is that I love shoveling.  And it's never a waste of time to do something you love, something that fills you up and gives you a smidgen of joy.

Laundry, on the other hand, I do not love.

On to the menu:

Suppers:
--Wild rice casserole, green beans, applesauce
--Chicken taco casserole (I'm thinking I'll make this in individual ramekins this time--because I can.  And because there are people here who don't like cheese), cauliflower/broccoli/carrots, peaches
--Tacos, tortillas, taco fixings
--Crispy southwest chicken wraps, salad, carrots
--Pizza
--Leftovers and/or fend for yourself
--Grilled bone-in chicken breasts, smashed potatoes (or something with fingerling potatoes--any suggestions?), mixed veggies, pear sauce

Supper next week:
--Meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, applesauce

Other:
--Chocolate syrup ('cause I didn't make it last week)
--Some kind of bread for a potluck lunch

Your turn: What's on your menu this week?  And what should I do with my fingerling potatoes?

Friday, March 20, 2015

It's A God Thing 2: A Review

Last year I read It's a God Thing.  I loved it (click here to read my review).  So I jumped at the chance to read and review the second volume.



Like its predecessor, It's a God Thing, Volume 2 is a collection of stories, written in their own words, of real people's encounters with God.  It's an account of fifty-eight miracles that happened to ordinary people.  I loved it.  I feel like I could just copy and paste my review of the first book here.  Volume 2 made me laugh, made me cry, gave me chills, and reminded me that God can and does intervene in our lives in a very real and personal way.  

I feel like the stories in this volume were, on the whole, more ordinary than those in the first volume, which, in some ways, makes this second volume even more hope-filled than the first.  The truth is that the people whose stories are told in this book have chosen to see the miracles in their every day struggles and triumphs.  And by their choosing to see God at work, they show us that we can choose to see God at work as well.

If you are seeking hope, read this book.  If you are seeking a miracle, keep your eyes and your heart open, because God is already working on your behalf.  

I received this book for free from the publisher for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Floundering

There's an area in my life with which I've been struggling.  I call it floundering.

Do you know why they call it floundering?  It's because flounders, which are a type of fish, swim sideways.  And they look funny while they're doing it.

{Source}
Flounders are so weird looking.  Their eyes actually migrate until they're on the same side of the fish.

OK, maybe that's not why floundering in used in that way, but it makes sense to me.  I picture myself swimming sideways.  Neither toward my goal or away from it.  Floundering.

The Free Dictionary has this to say about it:

floun·der 1

  (floun′dər)
intr.v. floun·deredfloun·der·ingfloun·ders
1. To move clumsily or with little progress, as through water or mud. See Synonyms at blunder.
2. To act or function in a confused or directionless manner; struggle

I like that.  It describes exactly what's been going on with me.  Little progress.  Clumsy.  Confused.  Directionless.  It's been so frustrating, because this thing.  It's something I know I can do.  I've done it before.  I just don't.  I don't do it.

I have all kinds of reasons why, excuses, really.  I just can't, or won't, break out of this flounder-ish pattern in which I find myself.

Yesterday, I sat berating myself once again.  You know you can do this, I hissed to myself.  Why don't you just.  Do. It.

And that's when God spoke.  Whispered in my ear.  Tugged me gently around to face another way.  Maybe my problem is that I know I can do it.  Maybe the difficulty lies in realizing that really, I cannot.  If the last 3 months have shown me anything, it's that I cannot, and yet I cling stubbornly to the believe that I can.  I have been staring down that reality for 3 months, not realizing that it was actually a lie.

I cannot do this.  God can.

Are you floundering, like me?  Surrender to God.  Completely.  Whole-heartedly.  Amazing things will happen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Positive Project


I wasn't going to blog about my positive project--it seems too much like bragging.  But some amazing things have happened, which compel me to share God's goodness with you.  Let me be clear.  This is not about me.  When you build something, you don't say the hammer built it.  No, the one who swung the hammer built the house.

In January, one of my Facebook friends posted this status update:
I'm in to make this year one of kindness, thoughtfulness, and reminding people just how much they matter in this world. So here's a small challenge folks.....this first 5 friends that are in with me will be my mission throughout the year. They'll be reminded with small gestures of just how important and kind and loved they are. Who's ready???
I made the list, and a week or two later, I received a card in the mail from my friend.

It was a magic moment when I opened that card, my friends.  The card is really nothing special, but it touched me, and inspired me.  A couple of things really struck me about this project.  First, my friend wasn't asking for anything in return.  She just wants to bless others.  And second, she actually followed through on her mission.  So simple, but so amazing.

In that moment, I decided I would do the same.  Sort of.  While my friend is concentrating on the same few people all year, I would just look for opportunities to bless as many different people as I could this year.  

I was a little nervous about this undertaking, however.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money, and I didn't know what, exactly, I was going to do, but I couldn't not.  I decided not to look too far ahead, but to trust and jump.  So I did.  And I am so glad.

Before this happened, I made 6 freezer crock pot meals, two each of 3 different meals.  The idea is, you put all the ingredients for a crock pot meal together in a bag and freeze it.  To prepare the meal, all you have to do is thaw the meal and pop it in the crock pot.  And that makes me sound really lazy, I mean, how hard is it to put ingredients into a crock pot, that I would have to do it ahead of time?  But you and I both know there are mornings when that's all you can do.

Anyway, I made these six meals for my family and stuck them in the freezer.  I prepared one of the meals and it was delicious!  But my family didn't agree.  They ate it, but not enthusiastically, and we ended up with a lot of leftovers.  Which I ate for lunch.  And snacks.  For days and days.  I prepared another one of the meals.  Same thing happened.  I decided not to prepare any more of the meals for my family, but what to do with them?

Pretty much my first thought was to give them away, but I felt really weird about it.  I mean, what was I going to say?  My family hates this--here.  I thought about thawing them out, rinsing off the seasonings and using the chicken for something else.  I thought about throwing them away.  I thought about these 4 chicken dinners.  And I thought.  And thought.  

And finally I felt compelled to offer them up on Facebook.  Yes, I felt weird.  It was weird, but I didn't know what else to do.  Little did I know, it was all part of God's plan.

Two people responded, wanting meals.  One had started a new job and had spent 7 weeks away from home, in training, returning home only on weekends.  Her family had been living on cereal.  Not kidding.  The other's husband had been sick with an unidentified something that was requiring multiple trips to the hospital and scads of tests.

I knew these things were going on with these two women, but neither one of them is really a close friend, and it never occurred to me to offer meals.  

God prepared those meals for those 2 families weeks in advance.  Oh, He used my hands, but it was God preparing those meals.  And it didn't cost me anything.  Yes, I paid for the ingredients, but I wasn't going to use them.  Quite honestly, if God hadn't nudged me to offer them up, they would have sat in our freezer for months and months until I needed room for something else, and then they would have been thrown away, amid much angst and guilt.  Instead of going to waste, God used these unwanted  meals to bless those 2 families.

I was blown away.  Amazed at God's goodness, and humbled that He had chosen me to deliver grace to these 2 families.

My friends, God is amazing.  Amazing.  That's just one example of how God has used my imperfect, anxiety-ridden self to deliver supernatural hugs in the past few weeks.  Every week, I am in awe of what God does, using me as His tool.  And all it requires is for me to be open to God's prompting, and to follow through.

I invite you to join me.  Start your own positive project.  Just as my positive project looks different from my friend's, yours will look different from mine.  Just look around, be open, and act.  God will show you what to do.  And remember, it's not about me, or you, or us, or even the people you touch.  It's about God's goodness, God's grace, God's love.  God's mercy.  It's about God.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Menu plan for the week of March 16

You might notice a theme for Tuesday's supper this week.  Everything's green.  There's even something green in Spanish in honor of ... some Irish guy.  Maybe that should be Chicken Chili Glas instead.  Or Cearc Chili Glas?  No.  That's taking it too far.

Supper:
--Hot beef sandwiches with buns & provolone, salad, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Chicken chili verde, green tortillas, taco toppings, roasted broccoli or brussels sprouts, green stuff
--Spaghetti or zucchini noodles with meat sauce, salad, green beans
--Grilled chicken skewers, salad, corn
--Grilled pizza, salad
--Hamburgers, buns, carrots, green stuff
--Fish

Next Monday's supper:
--Wild rice casserole, veg

Other:
--Ranch dressing mix
--30 minute rolls
--Granola
--Taco bean soup
--Whole grain flax bread

What's on your menu this week?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden


My sis and I are planting gardens this year.  I am particularly excited about this, because this year, for the first time ever, my garden will actually be in a place that gets more than a few hours of sun each day.  I have been planning and scheming all winter, deciding which veggies I want to grow a lot of to preserve and which plants I want to grow just for fun.

I love gardening.  I love eating food and preparing food for my family that I grew myself.  I do not necessarily love spending a lot of time working in the garden.  Or rather, I think I would enjoy working in the garden more if I didn't have so many other summer-time responsibilities.   Ms. Newcomb's postage stamp method minimizes work while maximizing yield, so I was excited to read The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden by Karen Newcomb.

The Postage Stamp concept is similar to the Square Foot Gardening method.  The idea is you can grow a lot of plants, therefore increasing yield, in a small area, by not planting in rows.  Plants should be placed so that when they are 75% mature, plant leaves will just touch each other, which doesn't leave a lot of room for weeds, which means gardeners don't have to spend a lot of time weeding.  Gardeners should make use of vertical space, training vining vegetables, like cucumbers, squash, beans, tomatoes, and peas, to grow up, freeing up more space in the garden.  Ms. Newcomb provides a lot of good information on topics such as preparing the soil, how to compost, which plants benefit or harm each other when planted near each other, and how to recognize and deal with garden pests and plant diseases.

I found this book to be helpful and inspiring.  I won't follow every single bit of Ms. Newcomb's advice, but I will take the ideas that make sense to me and put them into practice in my own small garden this year.  I also anticipate using the book's many charts as a reference for when and what to plant and to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Bottom line: new and experienced gardeners alike are likely to find nuggets of useful information in this quick-reading book.

I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

A very special (and short) edition of everyone's favorite game...

Tomorrow is March 14, 2015.

Do you know what this means?

Yuh, huh.  Math geeks everywhere rejoice.  And eat pie.

Because tomorrow, at 9:26:53 a.m. (and p.m., so don't worry if you miss it, you'll still have another chance), will be pi to the billionths place.  It's the pi day of the century.
{Source}
Just in case you are not a math geek, and have no idea what I'm talking about, pi is the irrational number that describes the relationship between a circle's circumference and its diameter.  For the sake of convenience, when doing calculations using pi, we generally only use the number to the hundredths place, which is 3.14, but pi actually, being an irrational number, goes on and on and on and on forever, so you could take it to the millisecond--tomorrow only--if you wanted.

This concludes today's math lesson.

{Source}
Little known fact about pi (because how could you know this?): my husband's college room mate AND my college room mate's husband, BOTH had pi for a phone number.  Crazy, right?  What are the odds?

My math geeks are gonna have pie that looks something like this: 

{Source}
It'll be my first attempt at a lattice.  Uh oh!  Another math term!  Better get going before more of 'em pop up...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Menu plan for the week of March 9

Well, another spring break is in the books.  I know.  It's kind of early to be having spring break, but we gotta go with what the school board says.  And the school board said the first week of March is spring-y enough to call spring break.

How was it, you ask?  Well, it was like having a week of Saturdays all in a row.  If you happen to like Saturdays, you would have loved it.  The end of spring break traditionally marks the beginning of the sprint to the end of the school year.  Only 3 more months to go.  On your mark...

Here's what's on the menu this week.

Supper:
--Rice burgler (a mixture of cooked brown rice, browned ground beef, and vegetables), carrots
--Spaghetti or zucchini noodles with meat sauce, green beans, salad, garlic toast
--Wild rice turkey burgers (made using this recipe), buns, salad, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit salad
--Grilled pizza, salad
--Grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes, grilled green veggies, applesauce
--To be determined

Supper next Monday:
--Hot beef sandwiches, buns, salad, carrots

Other:
--30 minute rolls
--Chocolate syrup
--Chocolate chip cookies
--Brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts

Thursday, March 5, 2015

God's Story in 66 Verses


Several years ago, I participated in a Bible study in which we read 85% of the Bible in 34 weeks.  As you might imagine, this study was intense, requiring that we read around 5 chapters of the Bible each day.  I loved it!  Reading most of the Bible in that way gave me an terrific overview and a great perspective on God's story.  it also helped me to make connections between widely spaced portions of the text.  However, there is no way I would be able to devote that much time and effort to a study at this point in my life.

That's where God's Story in 66 Verses by Stan Guthrie comes in.  In this book, Mr. Guthrie chooses one verse from each of the 66 books of the Bible that best summarizes the message of the book.  These aren't necessarily Mr. Guthrie's favorites, instead these are the verses that best display the flow of God's story and His plan for us.

It's brilliant.  This book is like the cliff notes version of the Bible. While God's Story in 66 Verses is no substitute for reading the actual Bible, it does give a great overview that will increase the reader's understanding of the interconnectedness and overarching themes of the Bible, and at 256 pages, reading this book is a lot more manageable than reading the entire Bible.

Bottom line: You should definitely read your Bible, but reading this book will alow you to put your daily readings into the perspective of God's story.

I received this book for free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tall & Skinny

We are about to cross a threshold with the second of our children.  Soon, we will be shopping for clothing for our middlest child in the men's department.

It's traumatic, this switch, even though we planned it from before he was born.  After all, our goal is and has always been to grow our babies into men, and having to buy man-sized clothes for him is a natural consequence of our success.

But.  Does it have to happen now?  He's not even 12, which is when most attractions, restaurants, and over the counter medicines will consider him an adult. He's my baby.  My baby is almost big enough to have to buy pants based on waist and inseam measurements.

Currently, my middlest baby is wearing boys size 14ish.  Except size 14 is too big in the waist and too short in length.  It became glaringly obvious last Sunday that the boy needs some new clothes.

Did you know that boys size 14 is the same as a 28 inch waist, 28 inch inseam?  Yeah, I didn't know that either, until last year (just last year!  How is it that we were able to wait until our first was 14 to make our first foray into the men's department, and now we're staring it down with our second at 11? How is that fair?) when I was shopping for my oldest baby in the men's department, looking for a 29x30.  Sure enough, I found a pair of dual purpose pants that were both size 28x28 and size 14.

Are you seeing the issue here?  Maybe not.  You wouldn't, unless you were also someone responsible for buying clothing for a tall and skinny boy-man.

The man-clothes start with a 28 inch waist, which is too big.  The boys clothes have equal waist and inseam measurements, and a 28 inch inseam is too short.  So we if we go up to boy size 16 (or 30x30, in man-clothes terms) we will have a long enough inseam, but the waist will be even more too big.

Yesterday I had my boy try on the aforementioned 29x30s that his older brother has since outgrown.  Perfect length.  Waaaaay too roomy around the middle.

We have a couple of choices. Invest in a few good belts.  Or go with the clothing world's secret weapon: the adjustable waist.  Or, I suppose there's always the option to hire a tailor. I shudder at the thought for commishing clothes that will be outgrown within a year.  Take on the clothing industry and make them manufacture men's pants with smaller waist measurements?  I digress.

I think, for now, MC has chosen to go the adjustable waistband route, cinching his size 16 pants, through the magic of elastic and well-placed buttons, down the required 4 or so inches necessary to keep his pants up.

We've dodged the men's department bullet for now with this one.  But it's only a matter of time.
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