Monday, 19 July 2010

Book review - Promises to Keep

About the Book: Successful photographer Callie Perry thinks she has a pretty perfect life, although it may not be everyone's idea of happiness: a great job, lots of time with her daughters, but a workaholic husband. She couldn't be more unlike Steffi, her younger sister, who has never held down a job - or a boyfriend - for more than six months. Walter and Honor, their divorced and perpetually feuding parents, have almost given up hope that Steffi will ever learn what it is to be responsible ... until they all receive a shocking email that changes their lives forever and brings them together one extraordinary summer in Main.

Promises to Keep is about the hard choices we sometimes have to make, about having to be your parents' child long after you've grown up - and about the enduring nature of love.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I found the characters to be thoroughly believable and the plot to be not only entertaining, but also thought-provoking. Though dealing with several serious subject matters, it was also light-hearted and downright funny at times. I loved seeing how the characters grew throughout their life experiences, both personally and in their relationships with each other, in believable and realistic ways.

Unlike the other books I have reviewed on my blog thus far, this book is not Christian fiction, however, it is very tastefully written (ie nothing explicit) and I have no hesitation in recommending it to Christian adult readers.

However, because I am a Christian reader, I found that the deep issues of the story and even the relationships between the characters (though touchingly portrayed, developed and worked through) felt somewhat superficial, empty and unsatisfactory. This was not at all due to a deficiency in the writing (on the contrary it was very well-written), but due to a difference in worldview.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

Jane Green's website

Thank you to Penguin Group for providing me with my complimentary review copy.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Mural Project

I took over the superintendant position of our Sunday School this past year. After a meeting with our pastor about wanting to revitalize the look of our kids ministry, we renamed it Adventureland (we want to teach our kids that living for Jesus is an adventure - hard work but the best plan for your life!) and dreamed up a great mural concept for one of our main kids rooms. We wanted to paint a huge mural of a Bible town - we figured it was a theme that wouldn't go out of date and therefore would not need to be redone anytime soon! There is a gentleman in our church who does this type of work and he agreed to do it.

However, because he is extremely talented, he is also extremely busy. Fast forward one year and it just hadn't happpened.

So, the 3-5yr old kids church leader, Charlene, and I decided that if we wanted to get it done, we'd have to do it ourselves! (Her kidz church takes place in this same room so that was her motivation). Charlene did some digging and found a mural she thought would work - from there I found their website, Creative for Kids, devoted to children's ministry with a huge array of options and we picked two different mural kits (Bible Town and Bible Story Vol 1) and combined them to create the look we wanted.

It was very simple to do - basically a gigantic paint by number scenario - but it was definitely time consuming.

First we had to prep the room - and that always takes longer than you think! We stripped the wallpaper border (thankfully it came off quite easily), washed down all the walls, got a painter to come patch the walls for us that first night, primed the dark wall, removed outlets, drawer handles and cabinet doors and then we were finally ready to get started! The murals are printed on transparencies so we enlarged them to the size that suited the room and penciled them in and then started painting as instructed. It was so exciting to see it start to develop! Once we were completely down painting we had to outline every single detail with a gigantic black Sharpie marked (Sharpie is the only name brand to get, let me tell you!). It's amazing how much that made the whole thing pop!

Though we were not able to get too many volunteers to help paint (bad time of year for that as most programs are just ending and everyone needs a breather), we did manage to find babysitters who volunteered their time almost every day that we painted. Unfortunately there was one day we just couldn't get anyone and we definitely didn't get as much done that day - we set the kids up in a large room off our room with baby gates to keep them out but so we could still see them. But Jacob is a momma's boy and if he can see me but not touch me, that's not a good combo. We managed to still get a decent amount done that day, overall it went better than I had anticipated.

A huge thank you to Lori, Kerilynn, Rachel, Alison who each babysat one or two days for us - it was so appreciated! Another huge thank you to those who did manage to sacrifice even a couple hours to come paint - Annette, Karoline, Mark & Victoria - as well as Robyn who came for 3 days at the end to help us finish it off! The church secretary, Faye, helped paint a couple hours and was a huge help in picking up miscellaneous supplies that we had forgotten to pick up, and our music pastor Dwight helped us put back up the cabinet doors (apparently we had taken them down by taking out a lot more screws than was necessary!!). Charlene and I were there for approximately 16 days and several evenings - it was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

And now, finally - before and after pictures for your viewing pleasure!

One of the entrances to the room has now been turned into the Sea of Galilee (not necessarily historically accurate!)

Going counter-clockwise around the room, the far right door in the top picture is the other entrance to the room, and the other two doors are classrooms. Now replaced by houses!

Again moving counter-clockwise, this shot has my office door right in the middle, and then the first or two doors on the left which open up into one large classroom - this was turned into the marketplace - notice the Tapestry Shop, Pottery, Carpentry and Fish Shop. You can see the start of the Inn on the left as well.

Continuing along the same wall we have the two doors that open up into that one large class - this is where the inn is and the beginning of our countryside scene - love the monkeys!

And the final, fourth wall was turned into the countryside.

Here are some of the hard workers!

Here are a few of the fun details!
We're going to get a painter to come in and clear coat the room to give it some protection. Once that's done we need to superglue some googly eyes on the crab - too cute!

We still want to order several Bible time people wall stickers for the final finishing touch - a mom and her baby between the inn and the marketplace, a boy with a fish running in the marketplace, a girl skipping on the path on the countryside, a little boy and his dog by one of the houses, maybe a girl running somewhere if we can squeeze her in.

I'm so happy with how it turned out - and it's even more impressive in person!!


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