Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Books I Received

I think I could start my own library from all the books I got yesterday for Christmas. (Which of course I am thrilled about! I have thought about pursuing a Masters in Library Science just so I could work surrounded by books, as an aside.)

Following is a list of the newest additions to the Wilhelmsen library.
  • The Confessions of Saint Augustine (I am so excited to read this! It is one I have wanted to read for a while now.)
  • Power to the People by Laura Ingraham
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (I'm reading this with my neighbor.)
  • Blog by Hugh Hewitt
  • What's So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D'Souza (I had to return my copy to the library before I was finished reading it! Yeah! Now I own it!)
  • Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence (This is the true story of her life! I'm so excited!)
Also, I got a new Devotional Study called Get out of that Pit by Beth Moore.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Update

Hello from Surprise!

Once again the greeting cards are arriving, and I am reminded that I have not followed through on that promise to Erik of sending out Christmas cards. Every year we talk about doing it, and every year I don’t get around to it. Therefore, the reception of the friends’ cards is more of a reminder of what I have failed to do. I hope you will forgive me… J

Anyways, Erik is still working at Christ’s Church of the Valley. He has implemented a new VoIP phone system for the church and it is going so well. (Can you tell I’m proud?)

I am keeping busy with the girls here at home, as well as undertaking a few odd jobs that supply me with some lunch money. But the real passion is my book club, called Lit n’ Lattes. (The lit stands for literature…) I meet with a group of ladies as Barnes & Noble once a month to discuss the current read. I’ve been a part of this group for over a year now and we’ve read a wide range of books, from Pride and Prejudice to On the Beach. It’s been so fun to talk about books with other people who love to read like I do!

Reagan has had a busy year, too. She took a tumbling class where she learned somersaults, and balance and turns. Also, she graduated to the 3 year old class at church where she gets to attend a more formal Sunday-school type program. They have a puppet show and she even memorized a couple of Bible verses, one of them being “Blessed are those who hear God’s word and obey it.” Of course, that is also one of my favorites for her, too…. Something about obeying…. I could really use that verse sinking into her heart, if you know what I mean!

Matilyn, by far, has had the most intense year. She picked up a few bad habits, along with some good ones. Right as she started walking, she also started biting. Yes, that’s right, biting. Especially at the gym. So, we had to sit out of the gym for about a month this year because she kept using her teeth to get her point across. (And, oh, what a strong point she has!) I keep praying that God will use her excessively strong will to His good purpose, and I’m sure He will. However, that was the worst of it. She has an ooey-gooey center, as we like to say, but it’s covered in a tough candy-shell. Kind of like an M & M.

Erik and I have grown tremendously this year as a couple of our favorite family members passed on this year. My grandmother and Erik’s great uncle are both in Heaven now, but it’s been a little sad for us who are left. Also, with our children reaching the important ages of 3 and almost 2 we have had to center ourselves on God’s wisdom.

I sincerely hope that this holiday season is filled with love and the peace that surpasses understanding.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

We just returned from Walt Disney World where we stayed for a week. As much fun as it was, it was equally as much work. The trip to Florida will be remembered, by me and Erik, as the trip that would never end. Matilyn cried nearly the whole time. And it was in the middle of the night! Reagan did end up sleeping a little bit, but really, is two hours enough in a 24 hour period?

So, we arrived in Orlando at about 9 am, exhausted yet excited to be in Disney World. Since our rooms weren't ready we headed straight to the Magic Kingdom. Our first surprise of the vacation was that our hotel was about a 15-20 minute drive to MK on a bus, that at times, was so packed we couldn't see across to the other seats. We then went to FantasyLand, which is where the majority of the kiddie rides are. We did Small World first, which is lovely. No lines...long a tunnel... Lovely... and the kids loved it. So, we went to Dumbo. This was the first place that I realized that Matilyn Grace does not do lines. She wanted to walk right up to the front, after all she could duck under everything. And when I held her, she threw fits. Once we got onto Dumbo, she loved it!

And by the way, the weather was weird. We all expected about 60's during the day, so imagine our surprise to arrive in 80 degrees and what felt like 85% humidity! (I'm sure the actual humidity was like 10%, but we're spoiled here in Phoenix. It's a dry heat...) Oh, we were hot. And tired. And cranky. So, as soon as possible we went back to the hotel.

I just wanted to be detailed about the first day since it set the tone for the whole week. Over the next few days I struggled with Mati. She wanted out of the stroller to walk, but didn't want to hold our hands. So, I would put her back into the stroller. She would through a fit. On and on... And I saw vision; a child walking with a back-pack type thing on its back and the parents holding what looked like a tail. Not a hand was held. And the child thought he was free. Everyone was smiling and happy. That was what I needed. I attempted to buy one a couple of times off of moms I saw. The conversation went like this, "So, do you like that thing?" Mom, "YES! I love it. And he does to!" Me, "Wow, that's great. So, where did you buy that?" Mom, "Walmart." Me, inwardly, darn it! I should have checked before we left!, outwardly, "How much was it?" Mom, "about $16.99." Double-darn it! I was willing to buy it off people for everything I had on me! (Which was like $40.) But still, I was desperate. And then, one day, I was in the gift shop at our hotel and low and behold I see it! THE TODDLER TETHER! I grab it up and pay for it with a few tears in my eyes. I knew it would save my sanity.

The first time I put it on Mati we were in line for Spaceship Earth at Epcot. (Yes, it is closed but we were fortunate enough to get in for a soft-opening!) And she didn't really like the tether, but I didn't care. I didn't have to hold her! And she couldn't go further than 39" from me!

That was on day 4. The rest of the trip was pretty good. We ate wonderfully all over the park. (And surprisingly, didn't gain any weight!) We rode some great rides like Test Track at Epcot and Mt. Everest at the Animal Kingdom. We had a wonderful time. We must have rode Small World 5 times!

And the weather got cold! All of the sudden the temp dropped from 80 to 50! Wow! This is what we were prepared for!

The return trip was about the same as the arriving trip except that it was at a normal hour. But, yes, Matilyn cried for me from Orlando to Atlanta, and then slept for Nana on the trip from Atlanta to Phoenix.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Food Tidings

My friends Leanne and Lisa created this super website that provides a central place for people to organize meals for those who may have just had a baby or who are otherwise indisposed and in need of some tender loving care. It has a place for the recipient to make known any allergies and likes/dislikes. I wanted to post the link up here so that my friends in other parts of the country can find out about it and use it. It's truly amazing. Here is the link.

I might be voting for....

Mitt Romney. His speech last week on religious freedom might have done it for me. Although our beliefs are very different, he's right on when it comes to the practice of religion in this country.

My favorite part of his speech, which is linked here, was this quote by John Adams.
"Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone."

This is exactly why America stands for freedom around the world. If people are free to worship as they please, then the Gospel of Christ can be shared openly, without threat of persecution.

As to Romney as a candidate, I think he could do it. Although, beating Hilary is going to be almost impossible. But if the Evangelical vote can swing to Romney, then maybe there's a chance.

New Read: Gilead

I started a new book yesterday titled Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. So far it is excellent. I am most especially struck by the use of language. (Which, by the way, is my favorite thing to analyze in literature. I would call myself a grammar-freak.) I love the way the sentences flow together to make a very interesting thought. I would almost classify as stream-of-consciousness writing, but with excellent use of punctuation. I have found myself gladly sinking into the world of late 19th Century Kansas and Iowa as the Rev. Ames tells his young son his life story. Once again I am in a place that I would never have known about without this story.

I will make sure to post back in when I have finished the book. But so far it is good. And on the Would Read list, for sure!

Reagan's Week

Today marks the end of a very eventful week for Reagan. Matilyn and Reagan were all over each other this last week. I guess that is to be expected at this age (and maybe from now on, until makeup and shoes take over...) since they are playing so frequently together, instead of in parallel. However, their closeness isn't without risks (on Reagan's part, especially.) On Monday, Mati bit Reagan so hard on her shoulder blade that an actual chunk was missing. On Tuesday Mati and Reagan were playing outside since it was so beautiful. Of course, there were gardening tools out, and Mati took the weed-digger-thingy and hit Reagan in the face with it. It left a mark that is now fading, thankfully. And to top it all off, on Friday Mati was chasing Reagan around the kitchen to get the muffin that Rea Rea had in her hand, which lead to Reagan tripping and hitting her head so hard on the tile that she has a goose-egg on her forehead. It's still tender to the touch.

I can't remember a more injurious (is that an appropriate use of the word?) week for Reagan. It all happened before I could intervene so as to try and stop it. Needless to say, I have felt a bit of failure last week and hopefully no permanent damage to the girls' characters was made.

We go to Disney World this week for a whole week! I hope you will send up some prayers for our travels and that the girls won't kill each other at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not-Recommended Reading List

Since I am such a book-nerd, I have come across some books that I would not recommend. There are not that many books, though, on this list. I like to read books that enlighten me as to a time period or culture or that are purely entertaining. I do stick to fiction, although in recent years I have been adding in the non-fiction selections to help further me as a Christian and a mom.

With that in mind, I would like to post a few books that I recommend readers skip.

First, Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I made it through half the book by the time I realized that I was not being edified by this story. The beginning was interesting, but then the heroine starts sleeping with a married man (not sure if he was a human since the book takes place in another world) and I got disgusted. I wanted this girl to have a happy ending, but I didn't like it happening at the expense of a family. I started reading this book after all the hype about the Broadway Show, which is currently running. I tend to think that the show is more enjoyable, since they sing and dance. I have not seen the show or read about it so I don't know if the story ventured away from the original novel.

Secondly, The Source by James Michener. I read this as my first Michener (and only to date) book. I have heard that Hawaii is better. The Source is a little boring and I didn't get all the way through it. Also, since the book was written in the 60's it has some outdated information. I read it hoping to get an idea of the development of the region of Israel, but instead I got a secular and worldly account of how the monotheistic religion of Judaism came about. So, I was disaffected and stopped reading it. I would recommend skipping it as well.

Thirdly, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. This has gotten a lot of flak recently from the Christian community because Hollywood has made and is about to release a movie with the same title. I found the book extremely disturbing as it is written with a teenager audience in mind. The themes of religion, science and the quest to be rid of religion were disturbing for me, and I've read a lot of books. I would be cautious to recommend this to anyone.

I don't mind reading things that challenge me and in fact encourage me to think about things and defend my faith against it. I found that The Golden Compass was a good exercise in thinking through why I disagree with the themes of this book. And especially since my non-believer neighbor recommended the book, this book allowed me and her to discuss Christianity in a non-threatening way. (She liked the book, and read all three.)

Gingerbread House

Today we decorated a gingerbread house. I bought one of those kits at Walmart and it included everything, including a stand! Now, normally, I try and go "Martha" with things, like I would try and make my own gingerbread, icing, and then buy decorations. So, to just make this from the kit was something new. Actually, this was the first year that we have done this. And surprisingly, it won't be the last. It was a lot of fun.

From the moment I got the box down (because I had to hide it, of course.) Reagan was jumping up and down. So, I opened it and sorted out the pieces. Then I put the icing on the gingerbread and started forming the house. Of course, this was not good enough for Mati and Reagan. They wanted to eat the house just like that. Fortunately, the kit included a few stand-alone pieces that I slathered a bit of icing on and gave to them so that I could work in peace. Well, they loved that and it kept them busy for a time, that is until I opened the candy. Now I know what the expression 'kid in a candy shop' means. It's like they knew that gum drops and brightly colored little things would taste delicious! They went crazy! Mati slammed about 3 gum balls into her mouth before I even realized they were gum balls. I don't think she's ever had gum before today. (I had a brief moment of panic when I realized that gum is a choking hazard.) Well, she ended up swallowing the gum to make room for more candy and cookies.

In the meantime, Reagan was decorating the house with me. I put some icing on and she put some candy there. But then she realized that the icing tasted good, so she started eating the icing off of the house. This wasn't so bad because it added to the icicle effect that I was going for.

Another thing I realized as I was decorating the house the girls were eating the candy off of the other side. So, every time I turned the house around more candy would be missing.

Finally, the girls and I had had enough. They had had enough candy, and I had had enough of asking them to stop eating the candy. So, we washed up and I broke out the camera. I asked Reagan to come and sit by the house for the picture, and of course some more candy was gone.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I can't sleep tonight. I should be out like a light but here it is, 3:30 am and I am awake. We just got back from Riverside tonight, I feel like I'm coming down with a cold and still I can't get back to sleep.

I took some Sudafed to clear up my ears and help with my drainage, and then I took some Tylenol PM. I think maybe I shouldn't mix those drugs again. The Sudafed already has a bit of an 'upper' effect and it may adversely work with the Tylenol. Oh well.

So, anyways, I thought I would get out of bed and post. We went out to CA for the wedding of one of Erik's really good friends; he was a groomsman. The wedding was a traditional Catholic wedding. Wow! What an experience! A lot of sitting/standing and responses, almost all of which I had no idea what to say. Well, at least I know The Lord's Prayer, I got to participate in that. Also, I took communion. I didn't know if I was supposed to or not, but I thought, why not? I believe in the taking of communion. I am glad for the experience and some of it was really neat.

I was happy to be back though. I love being home with my family. Unfortunately, though, I was looking forward to a good night's sleep, but yeah, that hasn't happened. I keep dreaming that I'm watching The Office. As much as I love that show, not being able to shut my mind off isn't so much fun.