Monday, December 31, 2012

Final Review of 2012 Goals

I didn't set lofty goals this year so I was able to accomplish them.  Between a newborn Mary and a move just before she was born, I didn't think I should try to do too much this year.  But it's been a good year, and I've gotten more done than I expected at this time last year.

  • School.  I don't think it could be going any better!  Sarah Beth and Daniel are both doing great, and we're in a wonderful co-op.
  • Reading.  I set a goal to read two books a month, and I doubled that, reading almost fifty books this year.  Whoohoo!  If you're curious, you can see what I read here.  There were two or three books from my original list that I never got around to reading, so I'll add them to my reading list for 2013.
  • Losing weight.  I've lost all of the weight I gained while pregnant with Mary.  Whoohoo!
  • Run a 5K.  Done, done, done!  Whoohoo!
  • Hospitality.  We didn't have someone over every month, but I'm still pleased with what we did.
  • License/work.  Well, I did get my Florida pharmacist license, but I was not able to find a job.  I'll have to add this goal to my list for 2013.
All in all, I have to say I did well this year.  I've got loftier, more time-consuming goals for 2013, but I'm looking forward to the challenge!

How did you do with your goals for this year?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Booking It: December Edition

Did you notice that I didn't have a reading update in November?  I didn't finish any books last month which really surprised me.  I got bogged down in a couple of books, and they took a lot longer to read than I thought they would.  Both were good and worth the extra effort, but they were deep reads and slow reads.  Can you figure out which two books I'm talking about?
  • The Little Ice Age:  How Climate Made History 1300 - 1850 by Brian Fagan.  This book was a fascinating read about how the climate influenced history in those years...if you can get past all of the evolutionary and manmade-climate change junk.  But the author was very careful to make the point that climate did not produce changes in history; it just influenced them.  For example, several harsh years together made things even worse for the peasants in France, and then the French Revolution happened.  But the Revolution would have happened anyway, maybe sooner, maybe later, maybe differently if the weather had been different.
  • The Organized Kitchen:  Keep Your Kitchen Clean, Organized, and Full of Good Food -- And Save Time, Money, and Your Sanity Every Day! by Brette Sember.  Since I enjoy cooking and especially baking, I was very interested to read this book to discover ways to make things quicker and easier in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, I already knew several of the tips and things, but I still enjoyed the read, and I did pick up a few pointers.  There are also some recipes in the back that I plan to try.
  • Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  I had wanted to read this book for a couple of years and just never got around to it...until finally I decided it was time!  I enjoyed reading this biography about a German pastor during World War II who did not stand by indifferently as Hitler and the Nazis destroyed his country.  
  • Winter Winds by Gayle Roper.  While the separation between married Trev and Dori seems contrived in this book, I had fun reading about their coming back together and falling in love again.
I also reviewed The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner, A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs, Sneak by Evan Angler, and Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

When Lady Gleandrem is kidnapped by the dragon-trapped-inside-a-woman's-body, Eanrin sets out to rescue her.  Along the way, he discovers Starflower who made the mistake of drinking enchanted waters and has fallen into an enchanted sleep.  As Eanrin helps her, he discovers what's been missing from his own life.  Despite himself, he continues to help Starflower and is astounded when she aids him in his quest in return.  Both have encounters with "the Hound" who is analogous to our Lord, as Aslan is in the Chronicles of Narnia, and both are transformed by those encounters.

When I agree to review a book, I never really know what I'm going to get until I start reading it.  And within the first few pages, usually I know whether I'm going to enjoy the book or whether I'm going to have to force myself to finish it.  Too often, lately, I've had to force myself to finish books that I've agreed to review.  But not this book.  This book made me want to forgo my household chores, ignore my children and husband, and let the laundry and dishes sit while I read it.  (I didn't do that, however.)  What a fun read this was, and I can't wait, can't wait, to read the rest of the books in this series.

I enjoyed all of the characters (well, the good ones anyway), and I really enjoyed the themes of redemption that are throughout the story.  The Christian message is obvious but not preachy, similar to what you would find in the Chronicles of Narnia.  Of course, this book is not the equal of Lewis' works, but it is still a fun read.  And I have to admit that I loved the fairy tale references such as the enchanted sleep and frogs being turned back into princes by a kiss.  Good stuff!

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

3 in 30: Finishing up the Year

Last week, I wasn't home for my weekly 3 in 30 update because we traveled up to Georgia to visit my parents.  We came back on Sunday so that we could be home for Christmas.  We had  a great trip; it was wonderful to see some old friends and to catch up with family.

Even with traveling and the Christmas holiday, I was able to get some progress done on my goals.  Of course, it helped that my goals were made with the holiday in mind!
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  Last week, I made some gingerbread for our church's Christmas party, and I took the leftovers to my parents' house.  Needless to say, I didn't get to eat much of it.  Does that mean I should bake another one?  Sarah Beth has been begging asking politely since last Christmas to make gingerbread men.  Last Christmas it was just too hard with newborn Mary, so I was determined that we would bake them this year,...and we did this week.  I also made a chocolate pecan pie for Christmas dinner.  Yum!
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Daniel helped bake the gingerbread.  He and Sarah Beth helped make the gingerbread men, and Sarah Beth helped decorate them.  (The reason that all three of my oldest didn't help with everything was that they either weren't home or weren't interested.)
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I got tired of this goal and stopped a couple of weeks ago.
How was your Christmas?  Did you do any baking this week?  Did you travel anywhere?

This post is linked to Welcome to Our Good Life: 30in30.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: The Respect Dare by Nina Roesner

The Respect Dare:  40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband by Nina Roesner was written as a companion book to The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick.  As the title suggests, this book contains forty "dares" or challenges for a wife to use in order to strengthen her marriage.

I want to state up front that I did not utilize this book as intended; I just read it without doing any of the dares so that I could review it.  Having said that, I can see how committing to following the dares as instructed could improve a marriage as the wife works at changing her attitude toward her husband.  As other books of this type, this one focuses on what we, as wives, can change:  ourselves.  And so, I recommend this book to any woman willing to work at becoming a better wife.

I want to thank BookSneeze for sending me a copy of this book to review, but my opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Contagious Laughter

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 15, 2012

BOZ Giveaway

My real life friend, Kim, is giving away the WowieBOZowee Christmas DVD.  My children enjoy watching the BOZ DVD's, and if you think that yours might, you should head over and enter her giveaway.  You can check it out here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

3 in 30: Good Progress in a "Some Good, Some Not so Good" Week

This week has been a busy week, some good, some not so good.  Monday started off not so good with Rachel throwing up.  It may have been the stomach flu, but since no one else got it, we think it was from her methotrexate injection the day before.  She has had some vomiting and diarrhea before, but this was worse.  Later that afternoon, she was fine, and we were very thankful for that.

Tuesday, Rachel had a doctor's appointment for her JDM, and, as we suspected, she is still doing great.  (I haven't had time to write a post for her blog, but there's not much to say anyway since she's still doing so well.)  We're decreasing her prednisone again, hooray!  Afterwards, we ate at Chick-fil-A which I haven't had since the trip to visit my parents in July, and we bought Mary a new, forward-facing carseat.

Before we left for Rachel's appointment, we made gingerbread houses.  That was a lot of fun!  Next year, I'll use graham crackers and have enough candy so we can eat some while we make the houses.

Yesterday was Mary's first birthday, and we enjoyed celebrating that with her...although she didn't even realize that it was a special day.  And today we have a Christmas party for the families in our co-op, and we'll be spending most of today getting ready for that.

Looking back, this week was more good than bad!

My goals for the month:
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  With Mary's birthday yesterday, I baked some cupcakes to celebrate.  
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  My children helped make the cupcakes, and we plan to decorate some candy canes and marshmallows by dipping them in chocolate later today.  
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I finished another one, but I'm tired of making dishcloths, so I've started a baby blanket.  I don't have a specific recipient in mind, but it's a fun pattern...and it's purple, NOT blue!
What have you accomplished lately?  Have you done any baking this week?  Have you had any sickness in your house lately?  Have you ever made gingerbread houses?

This post is linked at Welcome to Our Good Life:  3in30.

Finished Object Friday

I've been busy lately, and I have several projects to share with you today.  It's been fun making these things, and I'm excited to tell you about them.

Two of my friends were pregnant with boys, so I decided to make them blankets.  (I say "were" because one of them has already had her baby.)  I wanted the blankets to be fairly different because I didn't want these women getting the same (or very similar) blankets.  While I enjoyed working on these blankets, I have to admit that I'm ready for one of my friends to be pregnant with a girl.  It seems like all of the blankets I've made lately have been for boys, and I'm ready to work with some pink or purple.

Do you remember that soap I told you about last month?  The batch that I wasn't sure I would like?  Well, after it cured and I used it, I think it's my favorite recipe because I like how it lathers up.  And two of the three ingredients, I can get at the grocery store which is very nice.  It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by it's cover, or soap before you use it.

Speaking of soap, I've been saving the last little pieces of my homemade soap and the pieces I trim off the new bars.  I wasn't sure what to do with them, but I didn't want to throw them out, either.  Then I found this recipe for making your own homemade hand soap, and I tried it out.  I've been using it for about a month now, and I like it.  It takes more than the store bought stuff to feel like I've got enough soap to clean my hands, and it doesn't lather as well.  But it's a lot cheaper:  the distilled water, that one commenter recommended, and the glycerin were just a couple of dollars.  I already had the soap (the pieces I've been saving), so I got a gallon for a couple of dollars with plenty of glycerin left over for the next several times.  Mine doesn't smell as good as the store bought stuff, either, but I'm working on that.

What have you been working on lately?  Anything you can share?

This post is linked to Fresh from the Chari Tree:  Finished Object Friday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mary!

Today is Mary's first birthday!  It's hard to believe that I held her in my arms for the first time a year ago.  The time has flown!

For the most part, Mary is a happy baby, but there are times when she's pretty high maintenance.  I guess with three older siblings, if she doesn't demand my attention, she might not get it.

Look out, World!

Mary took her first steps last week -- my earliest child to walk.  She is soooo proud of herself when she manages a few steps.  Just look at that grin!

Happy birthday, Mary!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Random Question: What is Your Favorite Christmas Carol?

My favorite Christmas hymn is "Joy to the World" which was written by Isaac Watts.  The songs and the music combine to lift my heart when I sing it, and I'm glad that it's a popular hymn so I'm sure to be able to sing it at least once every year.  What's not to love:  "Joy to the World!  The Lord has come!"

On the flip side (and I almost hate to admit it), my favorite Christmas song which has absolutely nothing to do with the real reason for the season is "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."  Oh, that song gets me laughing every single time I hear it.  But it doesn't compare to "Joy to the World" by a long shot.  But it sure is funny!

What is your favorite Christmas hymn?  Secular song?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Book Review: A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

When I saw A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs was offered for review, I was interested in reading it because I hadn't read anything by this author, but I had heard she was pretty good.  I wasn't disappointed in how the story was written.  I enjoyed this book about a man and woman overcoming mistakes in their past, learning from them, and moving on.  Twelve years ago, Gordon rashly caused an accident which left the Meg's brother injured and unable to walk without assistance.  Gordon has been carrying the weight of this accident ever since it happened, as has Meg who feels that if she had done a better job watching her brother, he wouldn't have gotten injured. Now they "accidentally" bump into each other on the evening train back to their prospective hometowns, and as they figure out who the other one is, they have to work through their feelings of what happened in order to move forward in the present.

As I said, I enjoyed the story in this novella.  Of course, like all of this type of books, you can tell how it is going to end from the beginning, but the journey was a fun one.  Since it was a novella, it was a quick read.  The ending seemed a little abrupt, but I don't think that was such a bad thing.  We already knew how it was going to end anyway.

However, this book was a huge disappointment in another respect.  One of the nice things about kindles is that you can search for specific words, and I did a search for "God."  "God" appeared ten times in this book, and more than half were in quoted Bible verses or hymns.  "Jesus" appeared only once, in a Christmas hymn.  For a supposedly Christian novel, this is surprising.  And I don't understand the new trend of having discussion questions in this type of book.  Are people (women) really studying these books to get answers for their life questions?  How sad.  There are much better places to get information, like the Bible.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, December 10, 2012

And the Winner is...

...Sues from Castle Blake!  Congratulations!

I want to thank everyone who entered my Five Years of Blogging Giveaway and those who shared the word about it.  It's been a great five years of blogging, and I hope to have another...if not more!

Friday, December 7, 2012

3 in 30: Keeping the Same Goals

Since I liked my goals so much last month and because they fit so well with this month, too, I thought I would keep working on them.  Is that lazy of me?  Because honestly, I couldn't think of any good, different goals for this month.
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  First, I made these Vanilla Wafer Cookies which I always think are my favorite cookies when I make them...until I remember the Chocolate Minty Melts that I made last week.  Oh, and I do love a good Chocolate Chip Cookie, and I made some of those, too, this week.  We are stocked up on cookies!  (No, we haven't eaten them all; I've frozen most of them to enjoy later.)
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Of course, I didn't make these cookies by myself, but I wish I had taken some pictures.  And Daniel got to help me prepare the Cranberry Pork Tenderloin we had one night for supper.  My children love helping in the kitchen, and I need to encourage them more.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got another one or two done.  I'm not sure how many I'm going to make yet, but I am giving two away in my Five Years of Blogging Giveaway which you can enter by going here.
How was your week?  What did you accomplish?

By the way, I really enjoyed seeing the Nutcracker that I told you about last week.  Unfortunately, Sarah Beth was sick and unable to go, but I think she would have loved it, too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Random Question: What is Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

If you haven't entered my Five Years of Blogging Giveaway, you can do so here.

I have enjoyed Patrick Stewart as an actor since I watched Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  (Yes, I am a trekkie.)  I'm not sure how I discovered this information, but Stewart was a Shakespearian actor before doing this series, and he even used to do a one-man show of A Christmas Carol.  When I heard that a new version of A Christmas Carol was coming out with him in the starring role, I knew it would be a good one.  And it is.  The version of A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart is my favorite Christmas movie.

Of course, I also really enjoy A Christmas Story.  What child can't relate to wanting something for Christmas that his parents won't let him have?  And all of the other adventures, well, they keep me laughing no matter how many times I've watched the movie.  And you certainly will never forget the leg lamp once you've seen it.

I can't wait to watch these Christmas movies!  It's a good thing that I own a copy of both of them.  Unfortunately, I don't think my children are ready for them yet, but I look forward to sharing them with them in upcoming years!

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Ask for a Deal

John and I thought that a good gift for our children this year would be piggy banks.  (Sshhhh, don't tell!)  But I didn't want to get cheap, plain ones, so I looked on etsy to see what I could find there.  There were several dealers with cute, customized piggy banks, and I couldn't decide which one to choose (and they were all a little pricey).  So I emailed four of them, saying that I wanted to order four piggy banks, and I was wondering if they could cut me a deal.  All four of them responded with some kind of discount, and I took the least expensive one (of course!).  It was nice that I liked those banks best anyway.

My tip for today is to ask for a deal.  You may not get one, but it doesn't hurt to ask!

Have you asked for a deal lately?  How did it work for you?

Monday, December 3, 2012

November Review of New Year's Goals

If you haven't done it already, don't forget to enter my Five Years of Blogging Giveaway.

November was another good month for us.  My parents came down for Thanksgiving, Rachel is still doing great with her JDM, and life continues to move forward for us.  With all of that said, here's a look at my goals for the month and how I did with them.
  • School.  We love school!  As we drive down the road, Sarah Beth calls out words that she sees and recognizes.  It's so much fun!
  • Reading.  Here is the list of books that I've read so far this year.  I only have a couple left in my "to read" list, but time is running out!  Meanwhile, I'm working on my list for next year.  Fun stuff!
  • Losing weight.  This goal is accomplished!  Whoohoo!
  • Run a 5K.  Done, done!
  • Hospitality.  Once again, we didn't have anyone over for supper, but as I said before, my parents did come down for Thanksgiving, so we got to practice our hospitality on them.
  • Work.  I've put this goal on hold for a while.  It's soooo nice to be home all the time.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?  Have you started working on your goals for next year? I have, and next year will be challenging but in a good way.

Friday, November 30, 2012

3 in 30: Finishing up Well

This week was another good, quiet week at home.  One of my friends and I got together with our children for supper one night since both of our husbands were out of town (not together).  That was fun.  And Sarah Beth and I are heading to the Nutcracker tomorrow.  I've never been to a ballet, so this should be an experience.

Here's how I did with my monthly goals; I think I did well this month.  Hooray!
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  Once again, I baked some strawberry muffins.  They are just so good, and I had the necessary ingredients so it's hard to resist making them.  You can find the recipe below.  We also made Chocolate Minty Melt Cookies; that's how I know that Christmas is coming.  Yum!  A peppermint-flavored chocolate cookie with a mint truffle kiss on top.  Delicious!
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Both Sarah Beth and Daniel helped bake the cookies Wednesday, and Sarah Beth helped with the bread baking yesterday, too.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got four (almost five) done, and here is the picture that I finally took of them.  By the way, I'm giving two of these dishcloths away in my five-year blogging anniversary giveaway.  Check it out!

How was your week?  What were you able to get accomplished?  Have you seen the Nutcracker?  Any other ballet?

Now for the recipe for Strawberry Muffins.  I found this recipe somewhere online, but I can't remember whose blog it was on.  If it was yours, let me know, and I'll give you credit.  This recipe is so easy and simple and yummy and healthy -- okay, well, not so healthy.  Take a box of strawberry cake mix and two cups of applesauce and mix them together.  Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes.  That's it.  Easy-peasy!  The muffins are really good the first day, but if there are any left, they are very moist, i.e. grossly wet, the next day.  I don't care for them then, but my kids still love them.  Do you have a recipe for strawberry muffins?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Years of Blogging -- Giveaway

Five years.  I can hardly believe that I have been blogging that long.  When I started, I wasn't sure how long I would continue, but I discovered that I enjoy it more than I thought I would.  And there have been a lot of changes for our family in those five years.

This is the pony I bred for our children; unfortunately, we sold her and the farm before any of our children were old enough to ride her.  But she would have made the BEST children's pony ever!

Five years ago, I was pregnant with Daniel; we lived on a small farm with a few horses; we only had one child; and we lived in Georgia.  Then Daniel was born; we sold the farm and moved into a neighborhood; Rachel came; John got a new job in Florida; we moved down here; and Mary arrived.  Five busy years in a nutshell.

In order to celebrate five years of blogging, I thought I would have a giveaway.  How else do you celebrate in the blogosphere?  Here is what you will receive, if you win:
In order to win, all you have to do is 
  • leave a comment telling about a big life change that happened in your life within the last five years, for one entry.
  • post about this giveaway on your blog or facebook page and leave another comment saying that you did so, for another entry.
I would wish you luck, but that would assume that we don't worship a sovereign God who controls everything down to the smallest detail, including who wins this giveaway.  But you can't win, if you don't enter!

This giveaway is open until Sunday, December 9th at 8:00 when I will use to draw a winner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Random Question: Where was Your First Date?

I had such a good response when I asked where you met your husband that I thought I would continue this series.  

John and I were friends for almost a year before he (finally!) asked me out.  One of the men in his Bible study had four tickets to a dinner theatre and was looking for another couple to go with him and his date.  One of our mutual friends encouraged John to take me, and the rest is, as they say, history.

When John arrived that night to pick me up, he brought me flowers.  He was the first, and therefore the only, man who brought me flowers.  We met up with the other couple and went to the play which frankly was disappointing.  I don't remember much about the play except that I didn't much care for it.  Afterwards, the couples split up, and John took me to the Riverwalk where we walked and talked for another hour or so.  And that was the beginning of our relationship.

Where was your first date with your husband?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: A Household Notebook

Do you keep a household notebook, something to keep track of the myriad of activities and chores that you need to get done on a daily basis?  Have you started thinking about what you will use next year?  If not, let me encourage you to plan ahead and figure out what you need.  For several years, I could not find anything that met my needs, so I made my own in a spiral notebook.  It worked wonderfully for several reasons:  notebooks are relatively inexpensive; I could customize my planner for my needs; and it just took a little bit of work.  (Here is a little more about my homemade planner.)

Last year, however, I found the Time Keeper, and I love it.  The weekly layout is similar to what I created, but it comes in a prettier package.  And there is room for menu planning and a few other nice additions.  Honestly, it just looks nicer, and that appeals to me.

Whatever you decide to use, I encourage you to go ahead and think about it now -- before you need it.

What do you use to keep track of your family's doings?  If you don't use any kind of system, how do you remember everything?

Friday, November 23, 2012

3 in 30: Thanksgiving Week

Since Thanksgiving was this week, I had great opportunities to work on my goals.  But first, we had a nice, quiet week at home; we even had school.  My parents arrived Wednesday afternoon, and it was so nice to have them here for Thanksgiving, especially since we enjoyed this holiday all by ourselves last year.  Unfortunately, my parents had to leave this morning, but we certainly enjoyed them (and their dog!) while they were here.

How did I do with my goals?
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  I baked some strawberry muffins one morning, and I tried a new pecan pie recipe for Thanksgiving.
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, I did not take advantage of the holiday to have my children help me in the kitchen.  But they did enjoy spending some time with their grandparents and their daddy while I cooked.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got another one completed, but I forgot to take a picture...again.  Next week, I'll be sure to post one.
How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you try a new recipe?  How did it turn out?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

3 in 30: Bittersweet

I think my children are finally getting adjusted to the time change that happened almost two weeks ago. I like to wake up early and jog on my treadmill, then read my Bible and take my shower before my children wake up.  For the past two weeks, I have just been able to get my shower before hearing the sound of their door opening.  I can't say that I've missed jogging, but I have missed the reading I do while I jog -- bittersweet.  But yesterday and today, they have slept until almost 7:00, so I think next week I'll try to get back to my morning routine.

Another bittersweet development this week is that we finished up our homeschool co-op for the year.  We're all going to  miss going to school as we have so much fun there, but it will also be nice to stay home for a while.  We start back in January, and we look forward to that.  Other than that, it was a fairly quiet week.  But Thanksgiving is next week, and that is going to be fun!

As for my goals this week, I feel like I did well.
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  I've done so much baking lately that I wrote a whole post about it!  It's been fun and delicious!
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  You can see what we did with a picture or two here.
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've got one finished and another close to being done, but I forgot to take pictures -- sorry!
How was your week?  What did you get accomplished?  Are your children adjusted yet to the time change?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baking Days...and a Crane

As you know, one of my goals for the month has been to do some baking, and to involve my children with some of that baking.  As I told you last week, I baked some pumpkin muffins and some Fudgey Brownie Bites (yuck and yum!).  

Our homeschool co-op's teacher had her birthday last week, as well, so we made some cupcakes to celebrate.  I thought all of the children would enjoy it (who doesn't like cupcakes?), and it went well with my goal.

I took this picture of the cupcakes before I iced them because I thought they were kind of neat looking; I didn't realize the m&m's would leave color like that as the cupcakes baked up around them.

To celebrate the last day of our homeschool co-op, which is today, we baked cookies.  I wanted to try a new chocolate chip recipe because I had heard that using shortening instead of butter makes chewy cookies instead of crunchy.  This recipe was okay...which means I won't keep it or try it again, and it's not worth sharing with you.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures, but you can imagine what it looked like by looking at the first picture -- my three children lined up on one side of the peninsula in our kitchen.  That set-up works great, and I wish I had thought of it sooner.

On a completely different note, we checked out Cranes by David and Penny Glover last week at the library.  When we finished reading it, we discovered the blueprints to make our own crane.  How fun!  But this was definitely in John's area of expertise, so I let him do this with our children.

Sarah Beth and Daniel have had so much fun playing with this crane; the only problem is that it is a little fragile, so we can't let Mary and Rachel play with it.  I will be looking for more books in this series because they are fun to read, and I hope there are more plans for more machines in them.

Have you done any baking lately?  How did it go?  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mary is Eleven Months Old!

It's hard to believe that Mary will be one year old next month.  This year has flown by, and it seems like yesterday that Mary was born.

Mary's first taste of chocolate.  Apparently, someone dropped a chocolate chip on the floor, and Mary snatched it up.  

I love this expression on her face!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Sneak by Evan Angler

I reviewed Swipe by Evan Angler this summer, so when I saw the sequel Sneak offered by BookSneeze, I had to get a copy to review it, too.  Swipe continues the story of Logan in a futuristic America when the world is moving to a Global Union.  Most people are "Marked," and these people get all the advantages that come with being able to buy and sell.  There are a few who are not "Marked," and these people are looked down on and belittled, and they live a hard existence, as you imagine since they cannot buy things.  In this book, Logan starts the search for his sister Lily who disappeared when she went to get her Mark.  He thought she was dead but has discovered that she is still alive.

This book picks up where the first one left off.  And it is a good young adult novel, but there are things in it that are not realistic...but fitting for young adults, such as people being more generous than they would be in such hard circumstances.  Things are a little too good; people are a little too nice.  However, it is good to read about the teamwork and caring that Logan and his friends have for each other.  And Christian themes and ideas that were lacking in the first novel are starting to surface.  I enjoyed that aspect the most.

This book is a good, clean read about a possible bad future for our world, but it is fitting for young adults.  It definitely is an eye opener.  However, I think adults might find it a little unrealistic.

I want to thank BookSneeze for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finished Object Friday - Soap

I haven't posted a picture of my homemade soap since I made the first batch, so I thought I would post another one.  As you can see, I bought some cute soap molds so I wouldn't have to use an old orange juice carton.  I'm not sure why the soap has this brownish color, but the two scents I bought from this company have done that while the two I bought from a different company left my soap nice and white.  Needless to say, I won't be buying scents from the first company again.  

With this batch, I also tried a new recipe.  But I don't think I'll like it.  I haven't used it yet because it still needs another week or two to cure, but it's pretty soft.  I can leave an indentation with my finger, and that means that it will probably dissolve pretty quickly when I use it.  But we'll see.

What have you been working on lately?

This post is linked at Fresh from the Chari Tree.

3 in 30: A Productive Week

Oh, boy!  This has been a long week!  Monday and Tuesday were relatively normal, and then Wednesday Rachel had a follow up appointment for her JDM.  Since her doctor is an hour away, that trip took all afternoon.  But the children did well; it was the first time that Sarah Beth and Daniel had gone.  As a treat, on the way home, we stopped and got some ice cream.  Mary started running a low-grade fever Wednesday before the trip, but she was pretty much okay for the trip.  Mary was still running the low-grade fever Thursday, but I thought it was just a cold because she seemed to feel fine, so we went to co-op.  But when we got home, she just wanted me to hold her.  And her fever kept going up.  She refused to eat her afternoon snack, so I was worried that she might have an ear infection.  John came home a little early to keep the oldest three while I took Mary to the doctor.  It turns out that I was right -- she basically has a cold; thankfully, there was no ear infection and no flu.  Surprisingly, she slept all night last night, but she woke up feeling kind of puny and still running a low fever.  So I declared today a "sick day."  Mary is napping fitfully right now, and I turned a video on for my other children.  Nope, Mary just woke up and is sitting on my lap while I finish this post.

I feel like I've hardly been home since Wednesday morning!  But I was able to get some things done before the doctor's appointments and sickness.
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures, I want to start baking something extra weekly.  We were out of my usual bedtime snack of ice cream Monday , so I whipped up some Fudgey Brown Bites from Ann Byrn's Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor which were absolutely delicious.  While the oven was on, I made some pumpkin "Better-for-You Muffins," and they tasted like they were better for you.  We ate them one morning and threw out the rest.  Yuck!  The best and most fun part of my baking this week was the cupcakes. 
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  My older three children helped out with the cupcakes; they were especially good at putting the m&m's in them.  The recipe called for three in each cupcake, but Rachel can't count yet.  So some of the cupcakes had a few more, and we couldn't allow that, could we?  So we added a few more to the rest.  What can it hurt to have a couple extra m&m's?  Yum!  This recipe was also from the same cupcake book.  
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I've almost gotten the first one done.
How was your week?  What were you able to accomplish?  Did you have any sickness at your house?

This post is linked here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Forget to Vote

I'm sure that all of my readers remember that today is the day to vote, and I want to encourage each and every one of you to go to the polls and vote, that is, if you know for whom and for what to vote.  If you have no idea, and especially if you don't care, please stay home.  Better yet, educate yourself before you head out so that you can make informed choices.

Voting is a big responsibility, and we should treat it seriously.  We should vote our morals and our beliefs.  If we think abortion is murder, we should not vote for someone who thinks it's okay.  As John Quincy Adams said, "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

Or, as my father says, "Sometimes you have to hold you nose when you cast your ballot."

Whatever else, if you vote to please God and to honor Him, you can't go wrong.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  Did you know that?  I didn't, either, until Friday when I read about it in the latest issue of World.  Here's another day that caught me unawares.

I'm not exactly sure how to "celebrate" this day, but I plan to think about it for next year.  Of course, lots of prayer should happen.  And definitely we should be aware that people are being persecuted, tortured, and killed just because they love our Lord Jesus.

How easy it is to forget the suffering of our fellow Christians as we enjoy our religious liberty here in the United States.  Let's try to remember.

For more information about the persecuted church, you can check out Voice of the Martyrs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

3 in 30: Finishing One Month and Starting Another

Since half of this week was part of October, and half was November, I thought I would work on my goals for both months this week.  Boy, that sounds impressive, doesn't it?  I don't mean it that way.  Honestly, I was just hoping for another half a week to work on my October goals to see if I could get just a little more done, and it was time to start the November ones.

Here are/were my October goals:
  • I enjoyed writing letters so much last month that I want to continue it this month -- one a week.  Specifically, I want to use these notes as an encouragement to the people I pray regularly for.  Since I didn't get my letter written last week, I hoped to get two done this week, and I did...kind of.  I got one written but not in the mail.  I sent an email for the other one, and I just hope that the right person gets the message.  I guess it doesn't really matter since the main thing is that I'm praying for this person.
  • I want to get school started at 9:00.  I'm bad about doing "just one more thing" before sitting down with our schoolwork.  Starting a load of laundry, doing the breakfast dishes, making the bed -- things that don't take long.  You know how it is.  And pretty soon, the time adds up, and we start school later than I want to...which pushes everything back for the morning.  We started school at 9:15 on Monday and 9:05 on Tuesday.  (We didn't have school yesterday because I had to take Rachel for blood work.  And Thursday is our co-op day.)  We started school today at 9:20 which isn't great.
  • Everywhere I look in my house, I see something that needs to be sorted or gone through.  I've had this goal of sorting before, but I want to have it again.  Honestly, if I don't put it down here for you to keep me accountable, I won't do it.  I seem to have so many things that are in the wrong place or would be better in a different place.  With winter finally here in Florida (at least for this week), I've had to go through some of my clothes and my children's clothes in order for us to be dressed warmly.  Specifically, I went through Mary's clothes, her hand-me-downs from Sarah Beth and Rachel, and I put away her summer clothes.  I have to admit that I had a lot of fun going through her "new" clothes, remembering Rachel and Sarah Beth wearing them.
I think I finished out my month fairly well.  I'm pleased anyway, and I plan to continue striving for a 9:00 start time for school and frequent, if not every week, letters.

Here are my November goals:
  • With the holiday season coming quickly and with cooler temperatures (and with my waistline where I would like it!), I want to start baking something extra weekly.  Doesn't this sound like a yummy goal?  I planned to make pumpkin muffins this week, but it just didn't happen.  Does that mean that I need (or get!) to bake two things next week?
  • I also want to involve my children more in the kitchen.  Sarah Beth has been begging me to let her help me prepare supper, and I usually put her off.  Since she's just six, she's not ready to brown ground beef or take things out of the oven, but surely there are other things she can help with.  And considering my first goal, it would be great to get my children involved, as well.  Of course, baking with one child is easy, two is harder but do-able, but three is tough!  Sarah Beth did help me with supper Saturday night, and she enjoyed it immensely!
  • I want to crochet some dishcloths.  I have another project I need to finish first, and then I will get started on these.
Whew!  It looks like I got a pretty good start on this month's goals, too!  

As an aside, I'm so glad that Halloween is over because it means the end of Autumn Mix candy corn.  I can walk by a bag of Hershey's kisses without being tempted, and I can keep myself to one Dove chocolate a day, but I cannot resist candy corn, especially the pumpkins.  If they're at the grocery store, I have to buy them, and if I buy them, I have to eat them.  Thankfully, they're only around for one month a year, and that month is now over!

How was your week?  What did you do?  How do you feel about candy corn?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Review of New Years Goals

October was a good, fun month here at our house.  The weather finally cooled off so that we're no longer wearing shorts...this week anyway.  We took a couple of fun field trips and had some great visits with family.  Rachel is doing great with her JDM, and we're tapering her off her prednisone.

Anyway, here is how I did with my New Year's Goals:
  • School.  School is going great for us.  I enjoy so much watching Sarah Beth and Daniel learn, especially since I'm the one teaching them.  Reading is really clicking with Sarah Beth, and it's fun seeing her pick out words that she recognizes from street signs, magazines, whatever.  Math is her favorite subject, and it's amazing how quickly she picks up new concepts.  
  • Reading.  Here is the list of books that I've read so far this year.  I only have a couple left in my "to read" list, but time is running out!
  • Losing weight.  This goal is accomplished!  Whoohoo!
  • Run a 5K.  I ran this race last month.  Hooray!  I'm still jogging three or four times a week on my treadmill.  It's not that I enjoy it so much, but I do like the fact that I do it.  Besides, I know that it's good for me.  And I get to read while I do it!!
  • Hospitality.  We did not have anyone over just for supper last month, but we did have a couple of wonderful visits from family.  I think that counts toward my goal, don't you?  My parents came for a few days, as did Uncle Ray.  We had such a good time during these visits!  And it looks like my mother-in-law is coming this month, too!  When it rains, it pours, as they say, but in a good way.
  • Work.  It's hard to find a job.  I didn't think it would be this hard.  *Sigh*  But I do enjoy being home all the time instead of just most of it.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?  Have you started thinking about your goals for next year?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reformation Day

Today we celebrate Reformation Day, the day the Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg.  On Sunday when we celebrated Reformation Sunday, there was a short explanation in the bulletin of exactly what the Reformation is.  I hope my church doesn't mind if I post it here.
On October 31, 1517, a German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his theological convictions (The 95 Theses) to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg.  Luther's intent was to foster debate and reform regarding the church's practices, so that they might align with the principles of Scripture.  This act helped spark a revival in the Church and a reformation in Western culture.  This movement became known as the Protestant Reformation. 
The spiritual heritage of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches is traced back to this era.  On the Sunday prior to this anniversary we celebrate Reformation Sunday.  Today Reformed Churches and Christians seek to follow the five mottos of the Reformation:  1) Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone, 2) Solo Christo -- Christ Alone, 3) Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone, 4)  Sola Fide -- Faith Alone, 5) Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.
We heard a sermon on the five Solas, and it was a wonderful reminder.  In case you enjoy these types of reminders like I do, I thought I would expound a little bit on these battle cries of the Reformation with some help from the notes I took from the sermon.
  • Sola Scriptura -- Scripture Alone.  The Bible alone is the final and absolute source of knowledge about God, our sinful condition, and how those two things can be reconciled.  We take for granted the fact that we have the Bible in our own language, but men died in order to procure that for us.  (John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale)
  • Solo Christo -- Christ Alone.  Our salvation is of Christ, and Christ alone.  As John 14:6 says, Jesus is the only way to God.  
  • Sola Gratia -- Grace Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone.  Just as we had no choice in being born to our earthly parents, we had no choice in being adopted into God's family.  According to Ephesians 2:5, while we were dead in our sins, God made us alive.
  • Sola Fide -- Faith Alone.  We are saved by Christ alone through grace alone by faith alone.  That's all there is to it.  Such a simple idea and yet so hard to grasp.
  • Soli Deo Gloria -- Glory to God Alone.  Why did the reformers endure so much?  Why were they willing to die for these beliefs?  To bring glory to God and only to God.
Do you celebrate Reformation Day?  I'm afraid that it kind of sneaked up on me, and I'm not exactly sure how to celebrate such weighty ideas with my young children.  But I plan to think about it so that next year, I'm more prepared.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: Christ Our Mediator by CJ Mahaney

Christ our Mediator by C.J.  Mahaney is a great reminder of what Christ did for us Christians on the cross.  Although it is a short, quick reading book, the ideas within it are powerful.  Here are a couple of quotes for you:
Unless you're deeply aware of your sin, and of what an affront it is to God's holiness, and of how impossible it is for Him to respond to this sin with anything other than furious wrath -- you'll never appreciate grace, and it will never be amazing to you.  Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace.
God, in abandoning His Son, is treating Jesus as a sinner so that He can treat you and me -- who are sinners -- as if we were righteous...all because of Jesus.
We can all use fresh reminders of the wonderful work that Jesus did for us on the cross.  We need to be reminded daily, hourly, every single minute because we forget so easily.  This book will help you remember.

I want to thank WaterBrook Multnomah for my (kindle) copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reformation Sunday

  1. Today is Reformation Sunday, the Sunday before Reformation Day which is October 31.  I love this Sunday for many reasons, but one of them is that we get to sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" by Martin Luther, my favorite hymn.

  2. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.
  3. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
    Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
    Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
    Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
    And He must win the battle.
  4. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
    We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
    The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
    His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
    One little word shall fell him.
  5. That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
    The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
    Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
    The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
    His kingdom is forever.

Friday, October 26, 2012

3 in 30: Getting Back to Normal

We had another fun week with company; this time "Uncle" Ray came to visit.  He is actually John's father's cousin, but we're not exactly sure what the relationship between him and our children is, so we call him "Uncle" Ray.  Ray left Monday afternoon, so we were able to get back to our normal routine this week after two weeks of visitors:  my parents and Ray.  It was a great, fun two weeks full of wonderful visiting and a couple of field trips, but it was nice to get back to normal.

With that said, here is how my week went:
  • I enjoyed writing letters so much last month that I want to continue it this month -- one a week.  Specifically, I want to use these notes as an encouragement to the people I pray regularly for.  I did not get this letter written this week for multiple reasons.  I hope to write it this weekend. 
  • I want to get school started at 9:00.  I'm bad about doing "just one more thing" before sitting down with our schoolwork.  Starting a load of laundry, doing the breakfast dishes, making the bed -- things that don't take long.  You know how it is.  And pretty soon, the time adds up, and we start school later than I want to...which pushes everything back for the morning.  I didn't do so well with this goal, either.  We started school at 9:15 on Tuesday after taking Monday off to spend with Ray (reason #372 that I love homeschooling!).  I would like to blame our late start on the fact that men came to put in my new oven.  (Hooray!)  Wednesday, however, was even worse.  The kids slept late, so we started school late -- at 9:30.  Oh, well.    Thursday is our co-op day, and today we started at 9:15.  I'm getting closer to my 9:00 goal, though!
  • Everywhere I look in my house, I see something that needs to be sorted or gone through.  I've had this goal of sorting before, but I want to have it again.  Honestly, if I don't put it down here for you to keep me accountable, I won't do it.  I seem to have so many things that are in the wrong place or would be better in a different place.   I did get something done toward this goal this week...finally!  I went through my kids' winter clothes from last year, hoping that some of them would fit them again this year.  I think some of Sarah Beth's shirts will, but that's about it.  I boxed up everything else:  Sarah Beth's for Rachel and eventually Mary, and Daniel's to give away.
How was your week?  What were you able to accomplish?  Do you wake your children up when they sleep a little later than usual?

This post is linked at Welcome to Our Good Life 3in30.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random Question: Have you Served Jury Duty?

I have served on a jury twice, and both times were an experience.  The first time, I was in college, and two people were suing each other.  A woman from Europe partnered with an American man to import goods.  To make a looooooooong story short (it took three and a half days to hear all of the evidence), she was using him to bring things here, and he was using her to make money.  It was a confused and confusing story, and something that was a real eye-opener to my innocence.  How did we decide?  Well, since they were both using each other, and there was no way to untangle the myriad documents they produced, we awarded her $1 because we thought he had used her a little bit more.

The second time I was summoned to jury duty, I was actually called for grand jury duty.  Basically, in case you don't know, grand juries heard the facts of a case and decided whether there are enough to justify a trial.  As it was explained to us, we were looking for reasonable cause that the suspect had committed the crime.  There were about twenty of us who met weekly to hear the cases, and we heard close to twenty cases each day.  It was interesting, but not as much as an eye-opener since I was almost ten years older.  Most of the cases had to do with drugs:  a policeman would come across someone who looked suspicious, that suspicious person would throw something away, the policeman would pick it up, and it would be illegal drugs.

Have you served jury duty?  What was your experience like?