Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday is Library Day!!!

Books reviews! Yay! I love books. =)
Okay, so I promise I'm not going to review EVERYTHING I've read, 'cuz that would take way too much of your time and mine. But I am going to review the two or three books I've read this week that struck me. (Which may mean I hated them, or it may mean I loved them.)

Annie Leobovitz: At Work, I'm not sure who wrote this with her... She wrote it, but it was more like 'as told to' kind of writing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. She describes her career & her work in fun and interesting tones. A quick read with lots of pictures, this book draws you in to the miracle that is her career. I get the impression that she is as surprised and delighted by her career as a photographer can be... She set out with the intention of taking good pictures and presenting the world through a lens, not to have a famous career. Interesting to hear her describe working with different well-known figures- the fact that Jim Belushi hated the blue-paint photo she took of him, that Mikhael Baryshnikov is a delightful person to photograph, that the milk photo with Whoopi Goldberg was a lucky miracle... Those are the kind of tidbits I enjoying reading.

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

From the website: A searing novel of the terrifying power of love from one of America's leading novelists. Nina has a perfect, well, close to perfect life. She's a successful district attorney with a handsome husband named Caleb, who has a thriving contracting business of his own. They live in a picturesque little town in Maine, and they have an adorable little 5-year-old boy named Nathaniel. They both work too hard and sometimes Nina wonders if she's juggling too many balls, but Nathaniel makes it all worthwhile. Then one day he simply stops talking. It's obvious that he's been traumatised, but in what way and by whom? When Nina finds out that the abuse has been sexual (her speciality as a district attorney is in rape and sex abuse cases) she won't rest until they find out who did it. When the police finally come through, she naturally attends the arraignment of the accused. Then, in front of all assembled, she shoots him dead. This is a novel about the unbreakable bond between mother and child, about a woman who takes justice into her own hands only to discover how very dangerous playing God can be and about the destructive, redemptive, terrifying power of love.

I hated this book, and I loved it. The story is beautifully and powerfully told. The characters jump off the page and into your heart and imagination. I cried as I read the scenes describing Nicholas' rememberences of being molested. I felt the parents' pain and confusion.
I can't imagine what I would do in these circumstances... As a Christian I hope I would be able to trust the punishment God will enact upon a molest, but as a mom... As a mom, teacher and child-care worker, I would be so angry, destroyed and so fearful that he would get away and do it again... When I read Matthew 18:6, I know what God thinks of those who hurt children ("But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.")
Well, I also know that the anger and passion I feel when I think about the situation is not mine alone. It's too big for just me. I know that I am tapping into God's righteous wrath, and that the punishment He will enact is worse than anything I can imagine... However, to wait for it... And to trust our flawed justice system to remove a child molester from his victims... The book questions our presumptions of what we would do...

Fledgling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, a book from the Liaden universe

From the web-site: Theo Waitley has lived all her young life on Delgado, a Safe World that is home to one of the galaxy's premier institutions of higher learning. Both Theo's mother, Kamele, and Kamele's onagrata Jen Sar Kiladi, are professors at the university, and they all live comfortably together, just like they have for all of Theo's life, in Jen Sar's house at the outskirts of town.
Suddenly, though, Theo's life changes. Kamele leaves Jen Sar and moves herself and Theo back into faculty housing, which is not what Theo is used to. Once settled back inside the Wall, Kamele becomes embroiled in faculty politics, and is appointed sub-chair of her department. Meanwhile, Theo, who has a notation in her file indicating that she is "physically challenged" has a series of misadventures, including pulling her best friend down on the belt-ride to class, and hurting a team mate during a scavage game.
With notes piling up in her file, Theo only wants to go “home,” to the house in the suburbs, and have everything just like it used to be.
Then, Kamele uncovers evidence of possible dishonest scholarship inside of her department. In order to clear the department, she and a team of senior professors must go off-world to perform a forensic document search. Theo hopes this will mean that she'll be left in the care of the man she calls “Father,” Professor Kiladi, and is horrified to learn that Kamele means to bring Theo with her!

I love the Liaden books! I love the characters, the story lines, the history, and the writing style. Miller and Lee write in a space opera style, with multiple planets, governments and conflicts. I was delighted to see more books in the series! For more info on the entire series, go here: My favorite is Scout's Progress, I think, but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
Fledgling is a coming-of-age story, with fun characters and an interesting mystery. Yes, there's a touch of romance, but just barely. I think the best 'romance' in this story, is the one between Theo's mother and father... You can go about three-fourths of the way through the book before realizing that they are actually working together, although there are hints through-out of their actual relationship. The mystery of 'who did it?' spirals through-out the book, directing the action but still allowing the character's to take center stage.
Theo is a character I could really root for and relate to- clumsy, uncomfortable in her own skin, bright and curious. It was a delight to see her come in to her own.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blogging Better? Nailing it down

Okay, so last week I read several articles about making a better blog, and I got to thinking...

When I was regularly blogging about what I was reading at least I had something to write about all the time.
And when I was regularly showing pics of the weather here, I also had something regularly to write about (even if it was only a monthly thing).

They also suggested that I'm supposed to decide who my audience is, and write to them.

Hmmm... And while I'm reading I'm thinking to myself, "my audience??" I don't know that I can clarify exactly who pops up here. Some moms. Some family. Some friends. Some Christians. Some art people, or at least people who have interest in creating something. Who are you all out there?

So, I'm going to try to have two things I post about regularly- 1) the art I'm creating, and 2) the books I'm reading. And though this feels rather arbitrary, I'm going to choose two specific days:
Wednesday for Book reviews (in Honor of Deborah's library day at school), and
Friday for Art days (in Honor of First Friday Art shows).

In conclusion, check back tomorrow for a book review!
And to all you readers and bloggers, BLOG ON!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Etsy Favorites

The dangerous thing about selling on Etsy is this:

when I've posted a new piece I'm curious about how long it will take to come up in the search engine (about 3-5 minutes as near as I can tell), so I go looking...

And I see stuff I like...
But also very inspiring! =)

I end up finding things I love, and things I want, and things I think maybe I could make differently, perhaps better, but generally just through the filter of my own vision.

(This is not pride- I just think about how I'd make something similiar, or what I would do a little different- It is meant as an homage to the originality of the pieces I love.)

Here is an example: I ADORE these organza butterfly earrings, made by Jewelera on Etsy. I think they are wonderful, and
would really love to own a pair... (She's got some other cool things, so if you like this you might want to check out the rest of her shop)

So I made something kind of similar to sell here in town. Instead of the butterflies printed on fabric, I used inexpensive butterfly-shaped paillettes and confetti.
I love how hers flutter. Mine flutter a little differently than hers, and they don't have the print of the REAL butterfly wings; however, they shimmer and shine in a way hers cannot. My paillettes have an amazing iridescent quality, particularly the white ones.

Anyway, if you like them, come check 'em out at our Etsy shop!


"Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love."
Martin Luther King Jr.

Still Here

My mom, dad, sister and I moved to Alaska in '82 with the understanding we'd move back to Oregon as soon as we could. Within the next 5 years, at least.

We are still here.
After 28 years.

And after I graduated from UAF in '95, I had no intention of coming back up here. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Jake loved Fairbanks. We moved up here in 2003 so that he could go back to school, while we lived with my parents for a bit.

And we are still here.
After 7 years.

After Jake dropped out of school. After it was suggested it would be 'better for us to leave' our church. After both our girls started school... After my father passed away. After my job disintegrated. After all our crazy medical problems.

What on earth is going on? Does Alaska just suck people up and hold on to them?

Honestly, it's CRAZY expensive to try and move back down to the lower 48. There's no way we could afford it right now.

And what would we be moving to? We don't have job expectations... We don't have family who could 'support' us. We don't have God's voice calling us to go someplace specific.

We just have a sense of homelesness, a kind of 'no place of our own'... Jake and I both love Fairbanks, but haven't really got a church home here any more. We live with my mom and sister, and can't really call this house our own. We have our own space here (our room and the girls' room), but about half of our belongings are in the garage. I don't even know what's out there any more...

God, I think I'm ready. I want what the next thing is... I want to be serving you and living my life for you. Wherever that takes us.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Awkward One

You know that friend you've got who has their foot permanently stuck in their mouth??
The one who's always saying weird things about someone's mom, or someone's new hair-style?

That's me.
Oh, yeah. I'm really good at it.

I've curiously asked someone about their really cool bun, and if the hole in the middle goes all the way through... I didn't even know what was wrong when she got upset and walked away, till somebody explained later that she thought I meant she was dumb, and that her head was empty... I just wanted to know how she got her hair to look like that.

I rarely know what's going on either. I'll be lying in bed four hours later thinking, "Oh, no! That's what they thought I meant..."

I don't know why I'm so socially awkward. You'd think by now that I'd have more control over my tongue. I am 38! For crying out loud. You'd think I'd have it all together by now...

But no. I still do it.

Those are my most embarrassing moments, too. Not the ones everybody else can share, like being wrapped in a shower curtain when they forgot to take their clothes to the shower at camp, and then got their clothes all wet... (I have a friend who did that, by the way)

Nope. Mine are things like, when I sent my Jewish professor a passover card, and then said something SO stupid when he told me thank you that I literally cannot remember what I said to him...
I said something along the lines of, 'well, I thought if you'd sent me an Easter card it would be cool...' But I can't remember! I've permanently blocked it out of my head, so it was probably worse than that.

One of the recent ones was when I got to see an old friend from college, and I said to him, "I never would have recognized you..." What does that even mean? Can you imagine what he probably thought of that??? It was 'cuz he had just gone camping and had a really bad sun-burn all over, but I'm sure he thought I meant he looked weird...

I swear, my mouth just takes over me sometimes! Do you ever have moments like these?

I wish I could go back in time and take some of these things out of the air... Like I could just grab the word bubble coming out of my mouth and reign it in.

This comes out of James 3:8, and I wish it weren't so: "no man can tame the tongue."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Etsy Shop

I am still hopeful that our new Etsy shop will eventually provide some income, but at this point we haven't had more than some hearts (translation: some people have said they like our stuff). Money is so tight everywhere! Not just in our house, but in Fairbanks, and in the U.S., and across most other countries.
I am trusting God to provide for our needs. He always comes through, I just hate having to wait! He knows how impatient I am, and how much I worry. Worry, worry, worry...
James 1:6 "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
Yup, that's me. Tossed by the waves of doubt on this sea. And tired of it...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Review- Another Faust

From Amazon:
One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the sideeffects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

First, just in case you don't know it, I wanted to let you know what the title was all about. So I went to Wikipedia and scooped the story.

A deal with the Devil, or a Faustian bargain is a Western cultural motif, best exemplified by the legend of Faust. The pact is between a person and Satan or any other demon; the person offers his or her soul in exchange for diabolical favors. Those favors vary by the tale, but tend to include youth, knowledge, wealth, or power. The price of the Fiend's service is the wagerer's soul. Sometimes the tale has a moralizing end, with eternal damnation for the foolhardy venturer. Conversely it may have a comic twist, in which a wily peasant outwits the Devil, characteristically on a technical point. (Reference: Wikipedia

Authors Daniel and Dina Nayeri do an excellent job with this cautionary and twisty story. Dark and seductive, the story both entices and repels... Just how far will the characters go to get what they want?

As I was drawn into the world of the makeshift family, I came to hope that each would find their way out of the horrible trap their 'governess' Madame Vileroy had created for each. Still, I was never quite sure if any of them would actually escape to freedom. *MILD SPOILER IN NEXT SENTENCE* And even though one or more do walk away from her schemes, they must still deal with the dark results of their choices.

Each character has a 'gift' given to them by Vileroy, and at the same time, they have some weakness or character flaw which they must either conquer or embrace. The most interesting aspect of the book is the overriding sense of loneliness each character embodies. Each of the five has a terrible fear or shame that pushes them away from even their closest friends. I think many teenagers will relate to the fears and secrets of the characters: Victoria, the power-hungry over-achiever; Christian, the skilled athlete and thief; Bice, who only wants to hide; Belle, as beautiful as she is odorous; and Valentin, the liar with the soul of a poet.

Really good writing, with sections told from each character's viewpoint and perfectly placed plot twisters, keep the story moving. Little snippets from various Faustian bargains through-out history entice the reader to consider the consequences of bargains made with the devil.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Abigail says "C-lolor" for the word 'color'. It's probably my favorite of all her mispronunciations... She used to say "Reee Meyer" for 'Fred Meyer', but she's grown out of that one.

She's grown out of almost all her other mispronunciations, and it makes me sad. Sad that she is growing up. Sad that she can do 'it myself!'

Not that I want her to stay a baby for the rest of her life! Heavens, no! It's exciting to realize she's four and a half. It's exciting to think of her going to kindergarten next year and learning to do more and more. It's exciting to realize that her love of picture books will soon be transformed into a love for stories and words.

I want her to grow up and ride a bicycle, and get a job and one day maybe even be a mommy herself. She wants to be a veterinarian, and a ballerina and a swim teacher. I want her to love Jesus and live for Him.

But I will always miss her snuggling on the couch with me and 'c-loloring' and going to 'Reee Meyer'...
This picture taken when Abigail was only 14 months old...


My husband is not a perfect Daddy. There are many things he could do better, probably just like all the other daddies out there. He is rather impatient, too stern, too firm, kind of rigid, and worst of all, he tends to be inconsistent (the kiss of death in all the parenting books, which always recommend 'consistency, consistency, consistency).

However, there are two things he does fantastically well.

1) He takes the girls on 'adventures'. He'll get them bundled up in appropriate clothing and pack his back-pack with tang, cookies, granola bars, and candy. In the summer, he'll take them hiking by a river, or up a trail, or to playgrounds. In winter, he'll take them up to campus and they'll wonder around in different buildings. It's a daddy & daughter date, with wonderful benefits. They get fun free-time with daddy, and they get to be daddy's 'Adventure Girls'.

2) He tells them they are beautiful. In different words and in different ways, he repeats this over and over. I tell them they are beautiful, lovely, precious, wonderful girls, but it is different when it comes from Daddy. It means they are special. And right now, they believe him. They will dance and twirl for us to admire them and their beauty.

I don't know if I can explain how important being beautiful is to a girl, to a woman. I don't know if I can explain how central beauty is to our character... Not a fake or gimmicky beauty. A restful peaceful beauty.

I knew this in that secret place in my heart, but I honestly thought there was something wrong with me for needing to be beautiful. Until I read 'Captivating' by John and Staci Eldredge. In the book, the Edredge's talk about how women have been blessed with this part of God's character- the desire for beauty. That the restful space a woman creates around her is a reflection of God's desire for us to discover His beauty and peace.

Just think of a sunset. Why did God make something so factual so beautiful? The earth is spinning on it's axis away from the sun. Yet the colors of the sunset make something so simple, gorgeous. Like God is painting the sky with the colors of the atmosphere.

God romances us with the wonder and beauty He has placed all around us- a butterfly, a sunset, a waterfall, the beach, snow falling....

Of course, just like everything else, our sin warps our God-given desire for beauty. Plastic surgery, anorexia, hiding behind fat because we don't think we're beautiful... We are so good at messing up God's gifts.

I desperately hope that my husband's constant and consistent admiration of our beautiful little girls will help them face the years to come.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Worship keeps us coming back to our church. We are disappointed with the children's program, the preaching is merely okay, and we don't feel like we're an integral part of the body. However, we keep returning because of the strong worship.

Our worship leader is a young HIGHLY-talented musician who strives to present an excellent musical offerent to God. However, the power of the worship doesn't really revolve around the excellence of the music (although this church probably has the finest musicians we've ever worked with).

The power of the worship revolves around that fact that he consistently points to Jesus. He has never planned a worship set without including a song about what Jesus did for us on the cross. We always sing Jesus crucified and risen. Every Sunday. Without fail.

Here's why I think that's so important-

The Jewish identity is largely based on the Exodus event. So much of their ritual and celebration activities are meant to bind them together under the remembrance of their salvation from slavery. The passover reminds them yearly of how God took them out of Egyptian rule and how the blood of the lamb kept their families alive. Their celebrations remind them that God preserved them through the desert and brought them to a new land. They were delivered from a cruel and horrible fate.

Our Christian identity is based on the cross. Our ritual and celebration bind us together as we remember Jesus' death to deliver us from slavery to sin and self. Easter reminds us yearly of how the blood of the Lamb keeps us alive. We were delivered from a cruel and horrible fate.

I think that too often Christians forget our identity. We choose not to remember just how evil and perverted we are without Jesus' blood cleansing us and the Holy Spirit in us. We have to be reminded of our identity. We are new creatures, made pure and holy by Jesus on the cross and dying for our sins.

Worship should remind us of who we are, not just once a month. Not just once in a while. It should be an every Sunday thing. We must remember who we are- saved, set free, chosen, precious, blessed... It is too easy to get caught up in regular life if we don't stop and remember together.

Worship draws us back to our church. A worship that sets our hearts free as we corporately remember our identity as the body of Christ, sanctified and cleansed, pure and holy, because of what Jesus has done for us.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


There’s a children’s Bible that I love (The Jesus Storybook Bible) that puts it so simply: “All Naaman needed was nothing. It was the one thing Naaman didn’t have.” I was trying to please God and please people by doing, by having it all together. But all we need is the understanding that we don’t and can’t have it all together…that all our attempts at being good and perfect will fail. That’s why we need Jesus’ blood from the cross, the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins.

From Nancy Neerama


Deborah has had so much fun this week at school... They've been learning about the ocean, and the animals in it. She came home talking about oysters, salmon and sea-shells, dolphins, whales and coral. She brought home lovely sand-dollars sent from a sister school in Hawaii.

I know her favorite part has been creating salmon out of foam and clay. They are going to magically attach them to paper and send them home soon. I haven't seen them yet, but she was very excited about them.

She talked about shells, and the creatures that lived in them. 'Finding Nemo' was a topic of conversation around our house for a bit.

I am so glad she's got such a great teacher! We were so worried about her teacher at first. She seemed very strict- The first thing she did was send home a letter about all the things that she didn't want in her class, including cookies and sugar. Not that I thought that was a bad idea, but wow, did she lay down the law that first week!

Now, looking back, I can see that her strictness at the beginning was to set up a great amount of flexibility through the school year. Deborah has been introduced to theatre, dance, the ocean, mushing, high level reading, having her own book published, wearing her own art, and Native Alaskan life.

Deborah reads well above the average first-grader, and has been allowed to read at that level. She is a member of a small group of kids (about three) who are reading chapter books at about 3rd grade level, while her teacher comes up with her own quizes to check on their progress. I'm delighted with her teacher!

In fact, through the year, I have come to see Deborah's teacher as a pearl. Her experience, practicality and, yes, even her strictness have allowed Deborah to progress at her own level and interest. Go, Mrs. C.!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Fifth Disease

Abigail broke out in this crazy rash on Wednesday, and we all thought it was an allergic reaction to something.

It wasn't.

Turns out she's got something called 'Fifth Disease', 'slapped cheek disease' or technically, Parvovirus in humans. (different than the parvo animals can get.)
And while it's not a big deal normally, if you are pregnant it can cause a miscarriage. Or if you are chronically anemic, it can cause your body to completely stop making red blood cells.

Great. I'm chronically anemic, 'cuz of my endometriosis. So, I'm gonna have to really pay attention to my energy level, 'cuz it can kill you. Pretty scarey, huh?

It starts out as a simple cold. Then kids get this red rash on their cheeks (thus the 'slapped cheek' slang), then the rash goes all over the kids bodies. By the time you see the rash, they aren't contagious anymore, though. By the time you realize it isn't "just" a cold, it's too late. 'Cuz you've taken the kid everywhere and she has infected everyone around her.

Adults don't necessarily get the rash everywhere. In fact, most of the time they don't even know if they have it. They might end up with joint pain, like arthritis, or they might not. And it only kills people with anemia or immune deficiency problems.

I'm so delighted to have learned more medical facts! (sarcasm, please read sarcasm there.)

So, I'm praying that I don't get the serious side effects...

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

by Stuart Townsend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Isn't my blog pretty? I love it!
Green! And Butterflies! My favorites. =)

A big THANK YOU! to Jill at blogs by sneaky mama

If you like the look of my new blog, you should go check out her portfolio.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Crazy Weather!

It's 36 degrees here... That's crazy! It's normally minus 20-ish to minus 30-ish.. Not +30.

All the snow & ice is melting. Pretty nice for us, but not so great for the Ice Festival.

We got to go to a birthday party on Saturday at the Ice Festival, which had just opened. The carvers are still busy creating their masterpieces, and now they are going to start melting. Before they can even be finished.

The girls got to skate for the first time. Wish I'd taken my camera! They were so cute! Abigail was very leery, but Deborah LOVED it. I'm glad we haven't bought skates yet, but we probably will end up doing so. We just borrowed some 'cuz they'd never tried it.

Deborah kept marching and marching, and pushing her envelope. Trying hard to get better and better. While Abigail was more like me, screaming and clinging to her daddy. =)

Anyway, we had a blast. I was hoping we'd get to go back next week (Spring break), but now I'm afraid all the snow will be gone....

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

My Aching Neck

The ongoing saga of my poor neck continues...

I had another MRI yesterday, and we'll see what my Doctor says next week. My genetics and the couple accidents have led to some serious pain. I wish they could take out your spine and replace it with a nice healthy one!

I've got some fairly serious disc and nerve damage going on in my cervical spine (the seven vertebrae in your neck region), with the major damage in C4-C6.
Maybe next week, I'll even be able to show pics from my MRI!! Oooh! Isn't that exciting?

The best part was what the MRI tech said to me as she pulled me out of the machine:
"So, have you had a recent injury?"
My response: "Not recent, but I continue to have degeneration in my neck."
Her response? "Okay... Well, you take good care of yourself, all right?"

So, what does that mean? It looks really bad? It looks like my head could pop off any minute???