“Dog Loves Drawing”

Louise Yates (author of Dog Loves Books) has written and illustrated a fast-moving story about a dog who receives a sketchbook from his Aunt Dora.  Dog loves books, but he is initially baffled by a book without pictures and words.  Then he figures it out.

Bit by bit, Dog brings characters to life, and sets everyone on an adventure that is stopped by a vicious monster.  Luckily, Dog has an escape route for himself, and a way to make his friends safe.

My daughter really liked this story.  She thought it was funny that Dog liked to draw, and especially liked the different characters that came up in the story.  My daughters are always coloring and such, so for her it was not a stretch to imagine that the characters being drawn were actually coming to life.

The story and drawings are perfect for my 4-year old.  The illustrations weren’t overly detailed, but it brought home the point that Dog was drawing the pictures.  I thought the story was paced just right.  My daughter was caught up in the action and was sad when the story ended.

This would be a great book for a young child (to be read to) or for an older child to read on their own.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“Day by Day”

Susan Gal’s book Day by Day, is written for ages 5-9.  My 4-year-old really liked it – especially the drawings.  She liked how there was a “pattern” to the words (what everyone else would call parallelism, I guess).  She liked how the drawings spread across the page and were so detailed.  For her, it was nice to be able to pick out the various parts of the actions.

It’s the story of a community of pigs and how they live – they plant a garden, they care for the garden, they do ordinary chores, they build a house (of bricks, mind you, so the big bad wolf can’t come in – again, according to my 4-year-old).   I think my first grader would be able to read this to her sister, so it’s a pretty easy and quick read.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Taking Time During Advent to Prepare

During Advent, not only are we called to be watchful, but we are called to be prepared.  We should be prepared to not only receive Christ, but to receive Him with Joy.

While waiting for the birth of Christ, we are asked to meditate on the gifts we are given.  There are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of life and liberty, and the gift of those around us.

Too often, we are in a rush to get to Christmas.  Each year, the holiday decorations come out earlier and earlier.  Those same people who grumble about the stores having Christmas items up are rushing to put up their Christmas tree on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s not Christmas yet…it’s Advent – WAIT!

Unless we take the time to wait – to watch and prepare – to be appreciative for the great gifts we have been given, we won’t know the true meaning of Christmas.  The joy of Christ’s birth will be lost amid the rush, lost amid the day-to-day struggles we all face, and lost to time once again.

In my family, we wait to put up our tree until after my birthday in the beginning of December.  This year, as I have been listening to the homilies at church and really trying to refocus myself, I’ve come to realize that to my girls, Christmas isn’t so much about Christ.  That makes me sad, but when I think about it, Christmas wasn’t about Christ when I was growing up either.  Christmas was about family and gifts.  I think I’d like to make a change in how my family looks at Christmas.  I don’t want my girls to be so focused on Santa and the gifts he brings that they miss the true meaning of the season.  I want them to think about the gifts they have been given, and the gift of Christ.  I know it will be difficult – there’s so much focused on the commercialization and they are only 4 and 7, but I think it’s important for them to understand. While they are joyous about the season, it’s for the Santa aspect, not the gift of Christ.

Are you taking the time to prepare to receive Christ with joy?

What I am Thankful For – Days 11, 12, & 13

Here is what I have been thankful for the last few days…..

Day 11: My husband who served in the Army for four years.  He spent a year in Korea, serving at Camp Casey.  The remaining three years were spent at Fort Lewis, Washington.  He came hope from Korea, we were married a week later (on a Friday), and then moved to Washington on Sunday.  Those three years we spend in Washington weren’t always easy, but I was proud of him for his service.

I have a lot of family members who have served in the Armed Forces, both in war and peace.  It’s not always easy being the person at home, but it’s our way to serve.  I’m reminded of a paragraph in the Patriotism lecture in Rainbow:

Hers is the first battle, and hers is the first victory. It is the sister that kisses the brother good-bye, placing her sweet benediction upon his lips. He marches away under flying colors to the sound of martial strains; but she, in the silence that follows, fights the first battle. Womanhood stands back of the ranks and holds up the Flag at home, for if it were not for Womanhood and the love that is centered in her realm, there would be nothing to incite him to deeds of bravery on the field of battle.

That paragraph didn’t have the same meaning until I was that person at home, even though he wasn’t going into battle.

Day 12: I am thankful for my family – immediate and extended.  It is family that gathers around for special occasions – birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals – that makes life worth living.  Family gives you something to look forward to, people who love you no matter what happens, and people who rally around when things aren’t so wonderful (most of the time).  In the end, it is all that matters.

Day 13: Today I am thankful for naps!  Yesterday, we had two little girls who didn’t want to rest and take a nap.  That led to a very frustrating evening.  They got up too early this morning, so naps it was for the afternoon.  They must have been tired – they slept for over 3 hours!  Now, we have two little girls who want to snuggle and are well rested.

What I am Thankful For – Day 2

Picture taken by Todd & Kathleen Jacobs (c)

Today I am thankful for two wonderful little girls.  They came into our life just when they were supposed to.  Watching these two grow, learn, and evolve has been a journey. It’s always so entertaining to see what keeps them occupied.  With Autumn, give her a sketch pad or a book and she is happy.  With Skylar, give her a coloring book, some Playdoh, or just sit with her and she is happy.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings for the two of them (and for us).  There are days I still can’t believe they are ours.

Thank you girls for bringing light and joy to your parents.

“Bible Stories for Preschoolers”

This is a group of stories written by Monika Kustra and Betty Free Swanberg.  It is illustrated by Andrezej Chalecki.  My daughters love this book.  They were so excited when it came in the mail that we sat down and read a few of the stories right then.  The stories are beautiful versions of the full-text Bible stories and the pictures work well so that my first grader can tell her younger sister the story without being able to read some of the words.

One thing I like is that after every story, there is a reflection (Family Time), followed by an activity and a short verse to remember.  Our church doesn’t emphasize verse memorization, but I think the recognition of the verses will be useful.  Especially since they can compare their version to my Bible and see that they are the same.

I can see this book lasting a while in our family, especially as the girls learn to read better.   I think it is something that they will treasure and enjoy for years to come.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

A Children’s Book about Pumpkins – “Fall Pumpkins” by Martha Rustad

This is a cute book about the life cycle of pumpkins – from seeds to pumpkin pie – told from the viewpoint of 2 little kids.  It is about 24 pages long, and beautifully illustrated by Amanda Enright.   It has lots of information about pumpkins in general, which is provided in a way that doesn’t distract from the story.

My girls were already familiar with how pumpkins are grown since we have had them in our garden, so in that respect, it wasn’t a new topic.   But they had fun picking different things out of the story and relating them to our garden.

I let my first grader read the story, and she didn’t have any problem.  There were a couple of words that she needed help with, but she enjoyed the story.  My preschooler liked the pictures and the story.

I received this book via the NetGalley program.  I was not required to provide a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

“Gabby, God’s Little Angel” by Sheila Walsh, Illustrated by Marina Fedotova

This is a beautifully written, beautifully illustrated children’s story about a little guardian angel named Gabby.  Gabby has a tendency to get in mishaps…well intentioned mishaps, but mishaps nonetheless.  She is given the responsibility of watching over Sophie, who is just as precocious as Gabby.

When this book arrived today, my girls (ages 3 and 6) couldn’t wait for me to read it.  They loved looking at the pictures and telling me their own version of the story.  My girls love horses, so listening to me read abut Sophie’s p0ny riding was a lot of fun for them.  My 3-year-old loved this story and we were able to talk about the guardian angels they have.  My 6-year-old wanted to try to read the story on her own, and probably could, with some help.

I think the pictures are darling.  There is an emotion and beauty in the little angels’ faces that I really liked seeing.  My daughters liked the pictures too, especially my youngest, who has blonde hair like Gabby.

This was a great story and one my girls will like hearing again and again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Woman’s Skirt Turns Into a Girl’s Dress

The skirt Autumn just had to have.

The other day, the girls and I were at the Salvation Army thrift store.  We were looking for a chair, but I thought I would take a look at the clothes to see if anything jumped out at me.  We were almost ready to leave when Autumn says, “Mom, can I have this?”  In looking at it, it was a peasant-style skirt with sequins all over the bottom.  Yep, it was the sequins that grabbed her attention.

So I picked it up – a $5.50 purchase.  We took it home that night and I snapped the picture to the left.  It was a little big for her, but I figured I could do something to make it fit.  There was only one seam all the way down the side, but the top panel was lined, so I really didn’t want to rip it all apart.  I wasn’t sure how I could take a deeper seam and still make it look good, plus she really liked how it spun out when she turned around.

Autumn said she wanted a crinkly top – like the other dress I made her.  So we talked about it and decided to smock the entire top panel.  But I wasn’t sure what to do about keeping it on her.  I didn’t figure that it would stay up on it’s own, and a strapless dress is NOT appropriate for a 6 year old.

The dress Autumn loves!

The next morning, Autumn & I had our first fabric store trip.  Boy, that girl likes sparkly things!  She wanted some really goofy notions as straps on her dress, but we finally narrowed it down to a pretty 3″ lace notion.

She wanted crinkly straps too, so that was easy enough.  In total, I probably spent less than 3 hours refashioning this skirt into a dress my daughter is very excited about, for a cost of less than $8.00.

Two Girls, Two Dresses, and a Link to the Past

The girls in the dresses I made for them.

I have been cruising craft blogs lately.  Some of the blogs I have been looking at include: www.kojodesigns.blogspot.com and www.dana-made-it.com.  They have lots of links to other blogs and they present ideas simply and beautifully.

I have wanted to learn how to make clothes, but haven’t had the time or the inclination to actually get started.  I found a blog that had a pretty simple pattern for sale, so I bought it.  Once I got up the courage to actually start, it seemed to go ok.

I learned a lot making these dresses – how to make a hem, how to use elastic thread, how to size a pattern, how to line a pattern, and how to fix something when I mess up.

Autumn’s dress is some of my great-grandma’s fabric.  It is pink and white seersucker.  This fabric is probably 30 to 50 years old and smells like my great-grandma’s house.  I miss her a lot and I love the fact that I can pull out a piece of fabric and instantly be connected with her.  I think she would have loved the fact that I am making a dress for her great-great-granddaughter.

Sky's Dress

Sky’s dress is made out of some older fabric, either my grandma’s or mom’s.  It is pink and white check cotton, lined with plain pink cotton.  I had issues with the elastic thread on her dress, and so it looks like there is a band of not-gathered fabric in the middle.  Luckily, it looks like I did it on purpose.  Sky’s dress was hard for me because I had to figure out how to line it and then how to make it all go together.  On top of that, I had to take it apart and redo it to take 4 inches off the width.  But that allowed me to fix the seams on the skirt and the lining so that it was correct.

Finishing these dresses gave me the inspiration to try something more difficult the next time.  I have a couple of ideas already printed off and some fabric picked out.