Friday, April 30, 2010

Catching Up

It feels like it's been so long since I've blogged. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have been going through a whirlwind of busyness and over-commitment these last few weeks. I have been looking forward to the first of May because then I would be through the busiest part of it - and I must say, things are beginning to look a lot more normal around here. Although normal is a relative term of course.

I have some happy news to share - Michelle and Brad have found out they are going to have another healthy baby boy! Two grandsons and one little granddaughter - how blessed we are. We are thrilled and we know that Tyler and his yet un-named little brother will be the best of friends. This is so different for us as we only ever had "pink" at our house. But we are fast getting used to cars, trucks and footballs. Tyler has learned so many words and is talking up a storm. He is a very verbal little guy (takes after his mama) and his favorite word these days is Poop. Anything yucky is poop. His stuffed animals are always going poop. Anything he doesn't want to do is poop. He even makes up songs about poop! He cracks us up!

Miss Ava Claire prefers to use the word "ucky" when she finds something distasteful to her. She is as feminine and sweet as can be. I marvel at the tiny-ness of her little hands in comparison to her cousin. They are as different as night and day but they are just the best of friends.

This weekend Tyler's mama bought him two big Tonka trucks off of Craig's list. Immediately Tyler labeled one as his and the other one as Ava's. Ava doesn't seem to be overly impressed with her cousin's generosity, but Tyler is sticking with it all the same!

The ladies retreat I spoke at was this last weekend. While I felt completely stretched and out of my comfort zone all weekend, I think it went well. I simply asked God to fill in all the gaps and the areas I missed and He was so faithful to do so. He is so faithful. When I was invited to be the speaker my immediate response was "Oh thank you but no, that's not what I do." Yet something checked me and told me I should pray about it. So I did. And I asked a couple of friends to pray too. And I just felt that God was asking me to do it. So I did. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if He didn't ask me to do it again though. I much prefer writing.

Which reminds me, I don't think I have shared that in the midst of all my over-commitment these last couple of months, I signed up to take an online writing course! I am learning so much about writing and about myself. My favorite thing about the course is that I have been matched up with a published author who is my mentor. What I am learning from her is invaluable. She is kind but she is serious about her task and she has helped me so much. She is helping me with my book and while it is seriously hard work, I know it is just what I needed. I have discovered however, that I rebel a little about writing by deadline. Which is not a good trait for a serious writer. That is probably the one thing about this class that has helped me the most. I am learning to write under pressure, not just when I feel like it. Good stuff.

I have been bitten badly by the knitting bug. I just can't get enough of it and I find that I have collected more yarn and patterns that I will finish in a couple of years. I think I love it so much because it is easy to pick up and put down, it's very transportable and most of my projects are quick. Right now I am working on a pattern called the Cedar Leaf Shawlette. I am working on the leaf border and it is so addicting. I still have the same sock on the needles that I have had for a few weeks now. I'm not sure what compelled me to pick out a lace pattern for my first pair of socks ever - but I'm on the turning the heel part(I just accidently typed hell instead of heel and I'm thinking it may have been more accurate!). I'm not going to give up but I need to have time to take a deep breath and just dive into it. I also have just gotten the yarn for a beautiful pattern called the Shipwreck Shawl. There is something about that name that just speaks to me - I love it! The yarn color I ordered is called Dolphin and the most challenging thing about this pattern is that it includes 5000 beads. Yep, you heard me. 5000 little seed beads. I am crazy. But I think I'm going to love it and I am in no hurry to get it done. This will be my project that I work on when I have time in the early evenings, before I get too tired. I can't wait to start. I also have the yarn to knit a blanket for my new little grandson. Even though Michelle has all of Tyler's little things, I think every new baby deserves something new and handmade all of his very own.

At the end of this month my husband and I are taking a week off to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. We are going to stay in a condo up in the mountains and I cannot wait. I am envisioning lots of knitting, lots of reading and lots of walks in the woods. No responsibilities at all. I simply cannot wait.

Oh, and I am so excited! I have been saving my pennies here and there for a long time and I finally have saved enough money to purchase a Kindle! I ordered it this morning and it will be here on Wednesday. I was extra excited to see that there is free shipping this week - Yay! I can't wait to get it and take it with me on our little get-away this month.

This week my goal is to finish the nursery layette I am making for my neice. I don't have much left and it should be a very attainable goal. Then I am going to pack my sewing machine away and spend the month of June painting my sewing room. Little Tyler has been enjoying that room as his while they have been staying with us, but at the end of the month Tyler and his mama and daddy will be moving to their own home and I will get to reclaim my sewing room. It is badly in need of some paint and I have some changes in mind for it so there will be no sewing for the first part of the summer. But after I get it all put together again I have in mind to make some of these cute litte stash baskets. They look so cute and easy and I think I could use a few of those around my sewing room.

One of the things I love so much about the blog world is the friends I make. Do you know that I often pray for you? I keep a list on my desk and when I see the names on it I pray for you and whatever you have going on at the time. One of the blogs I read is called Our Journey of Love. I don't remember how I found it but Adrienne's situation has captivated me for a long time. She and her family are in desperate need of prayer. They have gone through so much heartache and I cannot believe what she is going through now. When you have time go over there and read her story of loss, infertility, adoption and hope. And then spend some time praying for her. Adrienne doesn't know me at all and I have only commented on her posts a few times. But she is always on my mind when I pray. I am just always so inspired by her faith and trust in Jesus.

Well, it has felt good to blog again. Next time I will have some pictures of my sweet babies to share. In the meantime, Happy Monday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Thoughts

Just thought I would take a few minutes and reflect on a few happy thoughts.

Things like:

Eating grilled pork steaks and pasta salad on the patio last night!

Watching Tyler help his poppa get the sprinkler system up and going. He LOVED it and kept saying "BIG Water!" He ended up soaking wet. And deliriously happy.

I have a new project on the needles - a pair of socks. It will be my very first pair of socks to knit. I know, I know. I wasn't going to start a new project. But it calms me. It relaxes me. I need to do it.

A beautiful weekend with temperatures in the 70's. Ahhhhh.......... I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Knowing that every time I sit down, my little dog Willow jumps in my lap and snuggles right in.

When Jess has a big test at school, she always calls home and asks us to pray for her. I love that she knows where her Source of Strength and Wisdom comes from.

Diet Dr. Pepper. 'nuff said.

Knitting podcasts on my iPod. I found the KnitPicks podcasts and I love listening to them in the car as I travel to and from work. I have learned so much about knitting by just listening. I also love Never Not Knitting's podcasts. So relaxing and just what I need to take my mind of work on my 30 minute ride home each day.

Took the studded snow tires of my car this week. Can I just say hallelujah! I sure appreciate them when I need them but I appreciate that I don't need them even more.

Financial Peace University. Dave Ramsey has helped us immensely. Retirement is not that far away and we will be ready. The techniques and information we have learned from this class are invaluable. Thank you Dave!

Sweet Ava Claire. I love having a granddaughter. She is just a little bundle of sugar and I could just eat her with a spoon. Her sweet little voice just melts my heart and yes, it's true - she could get by with nearly anything when she flashes that precious smile at me.

Tulips. My very favorite flower of all. And they are almost ready to pop at my house.

Couponing. I just get so happy when I coupon. It's like winning a game show or something. I can't explain it - you just have to try it and then you will know.

Book giveaways! I have two winners. The winner of This Little Prayer of Mine is Denise from A Grandmother's Heartbeat. And the winner of Forget Me Not is Nancy. Send me your addresses girls - rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu and I will get them in the mail to you.

Have a happy weekend everybody!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Forget Me Not - A Book Review

Recently I read Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze. Believe it or not, this is the first mystery/suspense Christian novel I have ever read. I'm not sure why, but I've just never gotten into that genre of books before.

The back cover of Forget Me Not says:

Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man- in his faith, his work, and his family. Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away. His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith. Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too. Why had he survived? He'd failed to protect his family.

Now a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help - a victim who eerily resembles Ben's deceased wife, Susan. A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith - and Susan's necklace.

The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill. Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman's situation from dangerous to deadly. Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?

What I thought:

Since this is my first venture into the mystery/suspense genre, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it so much. In fact, after reading the first couple of pages, I found it very hard to put the book down. I was a little surprised at the violence it contained - although nothing was graphic or even very discriptive - I still wasn't expecting it. I was pleased that there was such a strong salvation message in the book without being overly preachy or simplistic. Even though it was easy to guess some of the mysteries in the storyline, there were a couple of twists that I didn't see coming. By the end of the story there were several characters that kind of came out of nowhere and it made it a bit confusing to keep everyone straight. It's ending leaves the reader knowing that there will be a sequel. I love sequels.

Overall, I recommend this book. It was very entertaining, well-written and kept the reader throughly enthralled with the story.

Would you like a chance to read this book? I have an extra copy I would like to give away. Leave me a comment telling me you would like to read it and I will do a random drawing sometime next week. I will also announce the winner for the children's book I reviewed last week at the same time.

By the time May rolls around, I hope to be back to my regularly scheduled life, which means I plan to be blogging more. I miss it. I truly do.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catching Up ...Book Review....And a Giveaway

So do you ever have those times when everything just seems so overwhelming? I know you do - and I'm there right now. I have over-committed myself in several areas - do you think I would ever learn? The sad thing that happens when I do that is that I don't feel like I do anything well. I just get by - and I really hate that. Hopefully by the first of next month things will be slowing down and I hope to take a deep breath and just be. Not do. Just be. Doesn't that sound lovely?

In the meantime, you wouldn't be wasting a prayer on me. Truly.

In the midst of all the things I am doing I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu. Yuck - it knocked me down for 4 days. And it was the strangest flu- it made me very irritable and everything seemed so depressing. I've never experienced that with the flu before and I was so relieved on the fifth day when the clouds left (figuratively speaking anyway) and the sun came out again. I was getting a little worried about myself. I was nice enough to share it with family members so it hasn't left our house yet.

While I was sick I was laying in bed and I kept staring at my huge yarn stash that has started multiplying and creeping out all over my bedroom. When the kids moved in with us in November I gave my sewing/craft room to Tyler and my knitting took up lodging in my bedroom. It was to the point that it really needed to be dealt with. So on my first day of feeling human again I got a box of zip lock bags and organized all my yarn into projects and put each one into a zip lock bag with a copy of the instructions for whatever it is going to be inside with it. I love this idea - now I just have to grab a bag and I have an instant project. But I am not allowing myself to start a new project until next month, because, ahem, well, because of the aforementioned overcommitment issues I have.

One of my commitments is a sewing project I promised to my niece who is expecting a baby in June. I promised to make her nursery layette and I have finished the crib sheets and the bumper pads but I still need to finish the crib blanket and start the dust ruffle. I absolutely will not start another project until that is done. It's a bit more challenging these days to sew since I no longer have my sewing room. My sewing machine is in Jessica's room, the ironing board is in the laundry room, and the only space large enough to cut fabric is the island in my kitchen. It spreads me out all over the house! I think I can finish fairly quickly though and it will be good to have that project behind me.

I also had really good intentions of getting our taxes done early this year, but let's see, my calendar tells me April 15 is next week and I have yet to even start them. I guess we know what I will be doing this weekend.

And the biggest thing I have been dealing with is that I committed to speaking at a Woman's Retreat at the end of this month. I have never done this before for another church and I am scared to death! It didn't seem like that big of a deal about 6 months ago - but suddenly - wow - what was I thinking?!

And the yardwork, people. Oh the yardwork. It just mocks me everytime I glance out the window. I really need to do something to clean up my gardens and pond and fencelines, and well, just everything.

Well, thanks for listening to me whine! It feels better just to tell you all about it :)

In the meantime I have a fun book review to share.

This children's book was sent to me to review by Waterbook Multnomah Publishing. It is just the sweetest little book for kids. The first thing that struck me was the beautiful and colorful artwork. The pictures are large and life-like and every child has such great expression on their faces. The storyline teaches children how you can talk to God about everything - what is happening in your life - what you want to be when you grow up - relationships with your friends. It demonstrates how prayer is just as natural as breathing - a great lesson for kids to learn. I think the book is geared to kids in the 4 - 8 year range. I love how one of the pictures shows a child playing with a handheld game system - very relevant to the day. Would you like a copy of this book? I have one for you. All you have to do is be #8 to email me telling me you want it. My email address is rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu.

I'll announce a winner soon. I hope. At least it will be on my list of things to do!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter 2010

Just thought I would share a few snapshots of my sweet little "grand-bunnies" on Easter morning. I finished knitting Miss Ava Claire's dress in time but I didn't get a picture of the top of the dress - it was SO cold outside we didn't even think to take off her sweater. Ava and her mommy had matching gold shoes - so pretty!
Believe it or not, the girls did not intentionally match the kids outfits. But it made us all kinds of happy that they ended up that way.

I knit both the babies these sweet little bunnies - they are Susan B. Anderson's pattern Hop. I just love that name - Hop. Somehow I neglected to get a picture of both of them.

Even though the weather didn't cooperate - not even one little bit - it was a great day and everyone had fun. We all had enough food and candy to last us for the next 6 months.

We had 461 in church this morning. 461 in our little town in our little church that used to think breaking 100 was a miracle. 461 people heard my husband preach about the hope of the Resurrection today. 461 people heard that God sent his only Son to die in place of us, and on the third day He came back to life and He lives today. 461 people heard how all they have to do is ask Jesus to forgive them of their sins and they too can live forever in Paradise. 461 people were given just a glimpse into what Paradise could possibly be - even though our minds cannot even begin to imagine.

All in all, I'd say we had a very good day.