Friday, December 2, 2016

What I've Enjoyed The Past Two Weeks: Thanksgiving!

Three of my children playing a new card game with one of their cousins.

Look what Sarah Beth did!

Several wonderful things happened during Thanksgiving Week, things which I enjoyed immensely and for which I am very thankful.

First of all, my parents came to visit.  We always enjoy seeing them, and it's especially nice when they visit and insert themselves into our lives.  I was able to spend some time with just my mother (no children!) a couple of times, so we had some great conversations.  And my father went golfing with my husband and my son, and I know they had fun.

John was able to take a couple of days off from work, and it's always wonderful when he does that.  Having him home like that is something that we all enjoy, and I know that he enjoys the time off work.  :)

My brother and his family were hunting in a different part of Texas, so they came by our house on their way home.  They spent Sunday afternoon and evening with us and left early Monday morning.  Watching my children play and enjoy a couple of their cousins warmed my heart.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
  • a trip to the zoo with my mother and children.  We hadn't been in a year, and the kids had been eager to go.
  • Thanksgiving dinner!  Yum!!  John smoked the turkey on the grill and it was delicious!
  • the help that my mother was.  When she wasn't cleaning up the kitchen (and the mess I made), she was playing games with my children.  
  • seeing Daniel get more excited about playing golf as he learned some things from John and my father.
  • seeing how sweet my niece and nephew were with my children who are several years younger.
  • spending time with my sister-in-law and brother.  We don't see them enough!
  • the woodworking class that Daniel and Sarah Beth took Wednesday afternoon.  They sanded the pieces to make jeep puzzles and had a lot of fun with that.  When we got home, they assembled them.  Daniel's didn't fit together quite right, so I don't have a picture of his -- yet.
What did you enjoy during the past couple of weeks?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Reading

Since I was too busy in October to read much and because I had several books to review, I decided to read whatever I wanted this month instead of reading to enrich myself -- although I ended up doing just that.  :)  I read some good books this month, ones that I recommend.  I'm ready to start reading deeper books in December; with soccer over, I think -- I hope! -- I'll have a little more time.

Here's what I read:
  • The Secret File on John Birch by James and Marti Hefley.  This book tells the amazing story of a missionary-turned-spy during World War II in China.  John Birch went to China as a missionary before the war started, and when it started, he wanted to do his part.  Since he was fluent in Mandarin and already had many Chinese contacts, his superiors decided he should become a spy -- and he was excellent at it.  I enjoyed learning about our part of the war in China, but I really appreciated seeing how God used Birch to accomplish His goals.
  • Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller.  You can read my full review here.
  • My Father's World by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.  Corrie's mother decides to move her family out west to live with her brother, despite not knowing exactly where he lives.  When she dies en route, it's up to Corrie to find her uncle and convince him to let her and her four siblings live with him.  And there is a big surprise for all of the children in the person of Uncle Nick's gold mining partner, but I won't ruin it for you.  :)  I enjoyed this book, and it would be a great one for young girls to read except for one page.  Teenagers should be fine with it.  
  • The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr.  An excellent and exciting book, you can read my review here.  
  • Child of the River by Irma Joubert.   More than a coming of age story set in South Africa during the 1940s and 1950s, you can read my full review here.  
  • The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence.  I discovered this book while scouting for books for Sarah Beth at the library, so it's a juvenile book.  It tells the story of Robert Falcon Scott's race to the South Pole from the point of view of one of his ponies.  It's well-written, and I enjoyed learning more about the trials encountered by men who undertook this type of expedition.  In case you're wondering, Scott was not the first one to the pole although he did make it.  Unfortunately, he died on the way back.  I'm not going to have Sarah Beth read this yet, but one day I will.
What have you read lately?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

After the events in The Shock of Night (you can read my review here), the Vigil has separated, each one of the remaining four to his -- or her -- own tasks.  Actually, Willet has been abandoned by the Vigil and left to be imprisoned by one of the church orders for his "safe-keeping."  When the disturbing news that the sentinels -- giant dogs who keep people out of the Blackwater Forest -- are being killed and that the streams coming out of the forest are being seeded with gold, Willet and the rest of the Vigil know that it's just a matter of time before the woods are overrun with new people who will be infected by the mysterious horrors there.

Oh, boy!  This book was wonderful!  All I wanted to do after I started it was to read.  I never knew what would happen next which made the story that much better.  I appreciated learning more about the other members of the Vigil, who they are and why they do what they do.  Reading about their interaction with the urchins, abandoned children who have resorted to thieving in order to survive, was especially fun:  the tight-laced, traditional Vigil versus the earthy, seat-of-the-pants urchins.  I can't wait for Carr to write the next and last of this trilogy!

I want to thank Bethany House Publishing for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Week at Home

I guess it's time to drop her mattress!

We had a nice quiet week at home.  Other than a quick trip to the library before taking Hannah for a check-up, we were home.  Well, of course, we were gone all day for our weekly CC.  But it was lovely being home so much this week after being so busy last week.  Here are a few other things that I enjoyed:
  • The big moon on Monday.  Did you see it?
  • Our last day of CC for awhile.  We're now on our Christmas break -- at least, for our weekly CC meeting.  We're still doing school at home and reviewing our CC information.
  • I just love going to the library!
  • No soccer practice! 
  • A good book.  I'm reading Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr, and I would love to throw everything to the wind and just read all day long.  But I can't.  But I would if I could!
I'm not sure what we're going to do this weekend without soccer games.  Our town is having its annual Christmas celebration; yes, I know it's a bit early, but they didn't ask me.  ;)  We may try to spend some time there and then watch the parade.  

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: Child of the River by Irma Joubert

Persomi is the young, white daughter of poor sharecroppers in the pre-World War II time of South Africa.  She has a hard life, but she overcomes her hardships as she studies hard in school and works hard as an adult.  As a child, she compares herself to "real" people, showing how little she values herself.  Her relationships with her older brother Gerbrand and the son of the owner of the farm Boelie sustain her through the growing pangs as she realizes how much bigger the world is than the little farm where she was born.

Since I loved Joubert's first book (which was translated into English) The Girl from the Train, I jumped at the change to review this book.  While I may not have enjoyed this book quite as much, it is still very good, and I highly recommend it.  I welcomed the opportunity to  learn more about South Africa and how apartheid became law.  It was a hard time for the country, and I appreciated how the author portrayed both sides of the issue.  Here's another book I plan to keep and to have my children read when they get a little older.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Being Busy

Such a cute picture...

but the tongue!  :)

Whew!  This week has been busy!  Monday was our typically full day as we recovered from the weekend and prepared for the week.  We also stayed up too late watching the election results come in.

After doing school Tuesday, I took Daniel and Sarah Beth to see Mathemagic, a show about math and magic.  :)  They loved it!  A friend offered to take care of the three little girls, and they had a wonderful time with her children.

We're always busy on Wednesdays since we're at CC all day, but it was also Daniel's last soccer practice.  To "celebrate" his coach proposed a scrimmage between the boys and their parents.  John volunteered me since I played some in high school.  I have to admit that I had a lot of fun -- and so did John.  Thankfully, I've been jogging lately, so I was hardly sore at all on Thursday, but I have to admit that I was worried about it!

Thursday, after doing school and having lunch, I took Sarah Beth and Daniel to the dentist with me.  After that, we ran a few errands, mostly buying things for Operation Christmas Child.

But after three afternoons in a row being gone from home along with a soccer scrimmage one evening, well, I'm just a little tired.  :)  Hopefully, I can get caught up today since I hope and plan to be home all day.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • A country where changes in power happen relatively violence-free.
  • My sweet husband who watched our five children so I could go out for dinner Friday night with a friend.
  • Wonderful fellowship with good friends!
  • Cooler weather.  It's actually been cool enough to wear jeans this week!  The highs have been in the lower to middle 70s!
  • A friend willing to keep my three younger children.
  • Spending time with my older two children.  
  • A babysitter who is available during the day and whose mother is willing to drop her off and pick her back up.  
  • Inexpensive books from Goodwill.  :)
  • Watching Hannah scoot all over the house.
  • Playing soccer!
  • Knowing this week is the last one for soccer practice which means that we'll all be home for supper from now on!  At least, until soccer starts back in the spring.  ;)
We have two soccer games Saturday (the last two!), and John and I have a date night planned!  It's been a while since we've had one, so we're looking forward to it!

What did you enjoy this week?  Did you stay up too late Monday night?  What do you have planned this weekend?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Review: Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller

From the back cover:
This book is for anyone who is weary--who longs for rest but doesn't know how to make it a reality.  Shelly Miller, a sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping, shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives--from small windows of time to a whole morning or day.  With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for not only finding physical refreshment but also restoring your soul.  Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through.  Discover how genuine rest is possible today.

I have to admit that I didn't really care for this book.  While it is an important reminder that we need Sabbath rest, that's about all I can say positively about it.  There's almost a mystical feel to the book as if doing Sabbath properly will fix one's problems.  Also, I'm just not comfortable with the author writing about hearing God's whispers.  God doesn't talk to people anymore, and even in Biblical times, it was very rare.  Yes, people feel led to do things by God, but that's very different from actually hearing His voice.  Then there's the times she acts as a prophet for others, telling them what she thinks God has told her to tell them.  If you're looking for a good book about Sabbath rest, there are other, better ones such as 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth.  But skip this one.

I want to thank Bethany House for my review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.