Friday, June 28, 2013

3 in 30: A Fun Week with a Special Guest!

My mother is visiting this week, and we're having such a good time with her.  She's been reading herself hoarse to the children and playing board games with them until she's cross-eyed.  And that's why we love her so much!

But here's how I finished up with my goals for the month:
  • Exercise three or four times a week.  After almost (but not quite) breaking my toe last week, I haven't been able to exercise.  My toe doesn't really hurt anymore...except when I wear my tennis shoes.  And I don't want to hurt my other leg as I compensate for that relatively minor pain, so I took this week off from walking on my treadmill.  And I will probably take next week off, too.  I think I will carry this goal over to next month.
  • Work on my yearly goals, getting some of them accomplished this month.  Things like having people over for supper and date night have fallen by the wayside with the move and everything, and I want to make a concerted effort to make them happen this month.  We had another family over for supper last weekend, and we had such a good time with them.  But we didn't have a date night.  Oh, well.
  • Get rid of the clutter!  I've got boxes of things that need to be dealt with:  things for Goodwill, things for the pregnancy center, and things to sell on ebay.  I want to start clearing this stuff out!  I took a couple of boxes to the pregnancy center yesterday, but I still have a few more boxes to get rid of.  I may need to carry over the ebay goal to next month, too.
How did you do this week?  What were you able to accomplish?

This post is linked with Aurie at Welcome to Our Good Life.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June Update on Yearly Reading

I got a good bit read this month, although only one, the first one, is from my reading list for the year.
  • Miniatures and Morals:  the Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter J. Leithart.  This book is one that you most likely would read while taking a class about Jane Austen, but I enjoyed it.  There is a chapter on each of Austen's books, and the author explores the themes in each book.  Since I really appreciate Austen's works, I enjoyed reading about them.
  • A Word in Season:  Volume 1 by R.J. Rushdoony.  This book is full of analyses of our country and ourselves in short bite-sized pieces.  You can read more of my thoughts here.
  • American Phoenix:  John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Cook.  You can read my review here.
  • Veiled Rose by Ann Elisabeth Stengl.  After reading the prequel, Starflower, and the first book, Heartless, in this series, I knew I would enjoy reading this book, too.  And I did.  Stengl's books are an exciting mix of fantasy, fairy tales, and Christian themes.  If you like Christian fantasy, you'll probably like this series, too.
  • The Guardian by Dee Henderson.  After reading Tracey's review of this book (having forgotten how much I enjoyed the first book in this series), I decided to read this one.  Marcus is a federal marshal charged with protecting the only witness of the shooting of a federal judge.  I enjoyed this book as much as the first one.
Not only Sarah Beth wants me to read chapter books now; occasionally, Daniel will find one that's interesting.  Here are the chapter books we read this month.
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  What a fun (but a little gory) book about a little boy who doesn't want to grow up.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder:  Young Pioneer by Beatrice Gormley.  When I read this book about Wilder, I was surprised that it didn't match up with the books she wrote about her own childhood.  She actually fictionalized her own story so that it would read better in books.  If you want the true story, you need to read this book or another of her biographies.
  • A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett.  Sarah Beth really enjoyed this book about a little girl who looses everything only to gain more back in the end.  You can read more of my thoughts here.
What have you read lately?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: Requesting Library Books

Since we moved here to Texas, we've been heading to the library about once a week.  When you go that often and check out twenty or so books at a time, you start to run out of things you know to read.  Then one day I received a catalog from Veritas Press and discovered inside it a list of wonderful books to read with my children.  

On the next trip to the library, I took a list of those books and was pleased to discover most of them.  However, that was the only successful trip.  After that, I felt "lucky" to find one or two from my list.  Then I remembered the "request" feature on our library's website.  I can request books from any library in our county and have them delivered to our library.  How nice!

I started using this feature, and it has been lovely.  When we celebrated Flag Day, I didn't have to look for books on the American flag and hope they were good.  I just looked through the books available in our county for the best ones, and then I had them delivered to the closest library.  No work for me!  Right now, I'm waiting for two or three books on Paul Bunyan to be delivered.  Did you know that Friday is Paul Bunyan Day?

Of course, using this systems takes time.  I had to order the books almost a week before Flag Day which means that I have to plan ahead.  But if I can get my act together this school year, it will be great!  When we study volcanoes, we can read books about them.  Won't that be wonderful?!

Do you take a list of books when you go to the library?  How often do you go?  Do you request books?

Friday, June 21, 2013

3 in 30: Getting Things Done!

Helping with the bread baking.

I feel like I'm getting things accomplished toward my goals, and that makes me happy.  I haven't completed them yet, but I have one more week!
  • Exercise three or four times a week.   I only exercised once this week, but I have a good excuse.  Really!  Monday, after exercising earlier that morning, I dropped the lid from my biggest pot on my big toe.  It's a Pampered Chef lid, glass, and about fifteen inches in diameter; and it's heavy.  It hurt so bad that day that I thought it was broken, even though I knew it was unlikely.  Oh, but it hurt!  Needless to say, I haven't been exercising because it still hurts somewhat to walk even though my toe is feeling better every day.  Maybe I'll be up for walking on the treadmill again next week.  You should see the colors on my toe!
  • Work on my yearly goals, getting some of them accomplished this month.  Things like having people over for supper and date night have fallen by the wayside with the move and everything, and I want to make a concerted effort to make them happen this month.  I've been lax about getting a babysitter so John and I could have date night.  But we do have plans to have another family over for supper tomorrow night.  And we had a Fun School Day this week:  Flag Day.
  • Get rid of the clutter!  I've got boxes of things that need to be dealt with:  things for Goodwill, things for the pregnancy center, and things to sell on ebay.  I want to start clearing this stuff out!  I haven't gotten rid of anything this week.  But I have plans for next week!
How did you do this week?  What were you able to accomplish?

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Things I'm thankful for this week:

  • the grace God extends to me every single second of every day.
  • my husband who loves me even when I'm unlovable.
  • my children who can be such big helpers...
  • and who love to read.
  • that my toe isn't broken and is feeling much better after dropping the lid off my biggest pot on it.
  • a relatively clean house.
  • an upcoming visit from my mother...
  • and my mother-in-law.  (Not at the same time, though.)
  • a possible three day weekend with John.
  • Sarah Beth loving her swimming lessons which are worth every penny.  (We've had ones that weren't worth much.)
What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Book Review: American Phoenix by Jane Cook

American Phoenix:  John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence by Jane Cook.  This book covers about five years of the Adams' lives, the time they spent in Russia representing the United States of America.  John Quincy Adams lost his Senate seat earlier, sending him back into private life where he did not want to be.  The only possible way to resurrect his political career was to take this so-called exile to Russia.  While they were there, the War of 1812 occurred, and when it was over (we won!), there was a treaty to be drafted.  Adams' work on the Treaty of Ghent led to his being recalled to the States for another position which led to another which...eventually led to the presidency.

But this book is about the years the Adams' lived in Russia.  It almost reads like a novel because both John and Louisa wrote copiously in their journals, so we can know what they thought about the things they lived through.  I found this book very interesting as it described the way of life back then, how different it was for American ministers in foreign countries as they vied for favor with other diplomats funded by monarchies.

When I saw how long this book was, I started to regret my decision to review it.  But once I started reading it, I was glad that I had!  If you're interested at all in American history, I think you'll enjoy this book.

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

Celebrating Flag Day

Flag Day was last week, and I decided to celebrate it as one of our Fun School Days.  We read some books about our flag, and even John and I learned a thing or two.

Since Flag Day coincided with our last day of school, I decided that we needed a cake.  (John said it was just an excuse to make a cake.  I have to admit that he was right.)

It was Mary's first time to help prepare something, and she doesn't look too happy about it.  I don't remember why not.

Did you celebrate Flag Day?  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: The Bear Fairy

The Bear Fairy visited last week.  A couple of my readers expressed an interest in how she works, so I thought I would write a post explaining how the Bear Fairy came to be.

As all sleep toys are, Daniel's and Sarah Beth's bears were well-loved and therefore well-worn.  The problem was that Daniel chewed a hole in his bear's nose (after the above picture was taken).  My mother, who knows a thing or two about sewing, said the only way to fix it would be to darn it as you would darn a hole in a sock.  That would make the poor bear very ugly.  Sarah Beth's bear wasn't in as bad a shape, but she had chewed on her bear's ears when she was a baby, too.

John and I decided that we needed to replace their toys, but we also knew that children don't usually want new replacements for their favorite toys.  What to do?  I'm not sure who came up with the idea of the Bear Fairy, but it was probably John.

Since neither bear was still being produced, I was a little worried about finding replacements.  Ebay to the rescue!  I found both bears there, and Daniel's was even new with tags!

To prepare them, we told our children that the Bear Fairy might come since their bears were so worn.  We explained that she would come and make their bears look new again.  But we also explained that the Bear Fairy only comes once; we didn't want her to be an excuse to tear up their toys, and we didn't want the expense of more visits!

Changing Sarah Beth's bears out was easy, but Daniel was a little more trouble.  Every time I went into his room, I woke him up!  Finally, in the middle of the night, I was able to make the switch.  Both children were happy in the morning to find their "new" bears.

Because of the trouble and expense, we bought an extra bear for Rachel even before we realized that it would be her favorite toy.  (Actually, I found it on clearance!)  It's been sitting hiding in her closet in three different homes for more than three years, waiting.  Rachel doesn't chew on her bear and never has, but the stitching was coming undone, and she looked old.  Once again, we brought up the Bear Fairy.

The night I made the switch, both John and I were worried that she may not like the new bear, that she may want the old one back.  And when she didn't come down the stairs with Sarah Beth the next morning, I was ready to give her back her old bear.  But she was upset about something else, and she didn't seem to have even noticed that her bear was "transformed."  Once I pointed it out, however, she was so excited.  She couldn't stop telling me how "sparkle-y" her bear was now.  It was cute!

Occasionally, Rachel will say, "My bear is new!"  And Daniel will respond, "No, she's not; she's old.  She just looks new."  I have to stop these arguments, and I try not to laugh.

Mary has a puppy in her bed with a replacement in her closet, but she has shown no interest in the one in her bed.   I imagine the Bear Fairy will never visit again, and that makes me a little sad.  However, maybe the Blanket Fairy will since Mary loves the blanket I made her.  Much cheaper to replace....

So there you have it -- the Bear Fairy.  Have you replaced your children's toys like this?  How did you do it?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday's Quote: When the Problem is Too Big

I've been reading The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett with Sarah Beth, and we've come to the part of the story where Sara has become destitute after her father dies.  Whenever I read this part (and I have read it before), it strikes me how little anyone does to help her.  In this quote, two of Sara's neighbors are discussing her situation, specifically her miserable attic room, after it has come to their attention.  Mr. Carrisford starts with,
"I wonder how many of the attics in this square are like that one, and how many wretched little servant girls sleep on such beds, while I toss on my down pillows....

"My dear fellow," Mr. Carmichael answered cheerily...., "If you possessed all the wealth of all the Indies, you could not set right all the discomforts in the world, and if you began to refurbish all the attics in the square, there would still remain all the attics in all the other squares and streets to put in order.  And there you are!"  (emphasis mine)
In other words, since Carrisford cannot improve every little servant girl's situation, he shouldn't do anything to help Sara.

I wonder how often we fall victim to this type of thinking, "Since whatever problem is so great, there is nothing that little me can do, so I just won't even try."  Yet, Sara's lot would have improved immensely if these men had just tried -- which they do a little later in the book, and it changes her life even before they figure out who she is.

I don't know whether Burnett meant this book as a social commentary as Charles Dickens did with his books, but now I pray that God would open my eyes to the people around me, that I would see their needs and help them as I am able.  I may not be able to help everyone in the world, but I can help the one person in front of me.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Interesting Links

Here are a couple of links I found this week that I thought were thought-provoking.
  • Our days are full of choices, good choices, but how do we figure out which ones are the best?  Sarah at Start Marriage Right gives a few guidelines to help.
  • Connie at Smockity Frocks reminds us to be careful who we hang around with because we tend to become like them.
What did you read this week?

Friday, June 14, 2013

3 in 30: An Okay Week

We baked cookies one day.

Today is our last day of school for the summer!  I don't know who is more excited, my children or I.  Today is also Flag Day, and we're celebrating that, too.  What a good day!

As for my goals, I did okay.  I could have done better, but I also could have done worse.
  • Exercise three or four times a week.  I only walked on the treadmill twice.
  • Work on my yearly goals, getting some of them accomplished this month.  Things like having people over for supper and date night have fallen by the wayside with the move and everything, and I want to make a concerted effort to make them happen this month.  John has a coworker with a daughter who is interested in babysitting, so we just need to finalize some things so we can have a date night.  We started a chore chart to encourage the kids to help out around the house more.  
  • Get rid of the clutter!  I've got boxes of things that need to be dealt with:  things for Goodwill, things for the pregnancy center, and things to sell on ebay.  I want to start clearing this stuff out!  I took a big bag of trash out the other day, and I took another big bag of clothes to a Goodwill-type place.  
How did you did this week?  What did you accomplish?

This post is linked with Aurie's Welcome to Our Good Life 3in30.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thankful Thursday

A few things from the week that I am thankful for:

  • first and foremost, my salvation.  I can never be thankful enough to God for that.
  • my wonderful husband and children.
  • that this is the last week of school!
  • hand-me-down boots...that fit!
  • Flag Day that corresponds with our last day of school.  What great reasons to celebrate!
  • we seem to have our sweet Rachel back, after almost a year of mood-swing-causing prednisone.
  • finishing a long (but good) book.
  • free kids' meals at IHOP.
  • Sarah Beth's love for reading.
What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Return of the Bear Fairy

Once upon a time, there was a bear who was loved very much by a little girl.

This bear was starting to show her age, like the Velveteen Rabbit, from all of the love she had received.

So one night, the Bear Fairy slipped into the little girl's room and transformed the bear, making her like new again!

The little girl was very pleased, when she woke the next morning, to see what had happened in the night.

In case you missed it ,here is the original tale of the Bear Fairy. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Will We Eat?

My mother is coming for a visit soon, and I've been thinking about what kind of food to serve while she's here.  No, I'm not worrying about it, but I want to prepare meals that she doesn't usually have at home, maybe new-to-her dishes.  Just something different for a change.  Then I realized that she's not coming to sample my cooking.  While she probably doesn't want to have cold cereal for every meal, she really doesn't care what I fix, whether I pull a frozen casserole out of the freezer of spend hours slaving over a hot stove.

(Actually, she would probably rather I not spend hours in front of a hot stove because she's coming to see me.)

After coming to that conclusion, I realized that most people are the same way.  If you invite me over, I really don't care what we eat (as long as it's edible!).  I'm just glad to be able to spend time with you.  And I don't care how clean your house is; I'm happy just to be there.  Don't you feel the same way?

I wonder how often we don't invite people over because our house isn't clean enough or we don't cook well enough.  Aren't we cheating ourselves and others of good fellowship?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday's Quote: How Do You View Problems?

John has been listening to and reading R.J. Rushdoony over a year now, and I finally picked up one of his books:  A Word in Season Volume I.  Almost every morning, I find myself praying, "Lord, please give us a quiet day," meaning, a day with few or little problems.  But I was challenged in this prayer when I read this quote in Rushdoony's book:
Problems are thus not only aspects of a fallen world, as well as aspects of a growing world, but they are also opportunities sent from God, to test us, to enable us to grow, and to further us in the fulfillment of our calling....If we regard them [problems] as opportunities, we are the stronger for it.
To think about it logically, if I don't have any problems, I won't have any opportunities to grow.  In other words, if things are nice and easy, I'll stay exactly who I am.  Do I really want that?  Do I want to stagnate?

I'm not sure that I'm ready to pray, "Lord, send me big problems today so that I can grow mightily in You," but it is something to think about.

How do you view problems?  Obstacles or opportunities?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Interesting Links

Here are a few interesting reads that I found this week:
What interesting reads did you find this week?

Friday, June 7, 2013

3 in 30: New Goals for the Month

This week went by rather quickly.  But after our busy-ness of last week, it was nice to settle down a little bit.  And this week was our next-to-last week of school for the year.  Hooray!  I'm ready for a little break for the summer.

Here are my new goals for the month:
  • Exercise three or four times a week.  John fixed the treadmill last week, so I was able to start using it again this week.  But I only walked twice.
  • Work on my yearly goals, getting some of them accomplished this month.  Things like having people over for supper and date night have fallen by the wayside with the move and everything, and I want to make a concerted effort to make them happen this month.  John has a lead on a babysitter, one of his co-worker's daughters, which we need for date night.
  • Get rid of the clutter!  I've got boxes of things that need to be dealt with:  things for Goodwill, things for the pregnancy center, and things to sell on ebay.  I want to start clearing this stuff out!  I didn't do anything toward this goal this week.
How was your week?  What did you accomplish?

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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thankful Thursday

While I have a lot to be thankful for, this week I want to mention these things:

  • my salvation.  I can never be thankful enough for that.
  • the library's seemingly endless supply of books.
  • children who love to read or just look at books.
  • a husband who is willing to build me a new coop for my chickens since we're not completely satisfied with the one we ordered.
  • invitations from new friends to come play.
  • emails from old friends, just keeping in touch.
  • insects because they have important jobs to do, such as bees making honey.
However, I am not thankful for:
  • roaches in my house, although I am thankful for my house.
  • ants that sting my children, although I am thankful for both my children and our yard.
What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Random Questions -- Some Advice, Please!

My kitchen has this wine rack right in the middle of the cabinets, and I have absolutely no idea what to do with it since we don't drink wine.  (What you see is a bottle of sparkling cider from a trip to north Georgia; Laura, remember that trip?)  Do you have any suggestions?

Sarah Beth would like to earn some money by doing chores, and I can't think of any to give her that are worthy of earning money.  There are some things she has to do just because she is a part of our family, like dishes, picking up toys, etc.  Do you have any suggestions for chores a seven year old could do that I could pay her for?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

May 2013 Goals Update

Well, I did better in May with my goals for the year than I did in April.  Yea!  Here's how I did:
  • Read through my book list.  I've read at least parts of six of the fourteen books on my reading list, so I'm almost halfway done.  Considering the year is not quite halfway over, I'm right on target!
  • Exercise.  John fixed the treadmill last week, and I started using it yesterday.  Hooray!
  • Have one fun day in school per month.  We didn't celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day like I had hoped due to sickness, but we still had a good time.
  • Take one field trip per month.  The only thing that remotely could be considered a field trip this month was the trip to see Rachel's doctor for her JDM.  But we went to Build-a-Bear afterwards, so maybe it does count?
  • Date night.  We didn't have one.  I need to find and schedule a babysitter this month!
  • Home improvement project.  I finished this doily that I plan to frame and hang in our living room.  I just need to get around to taking it to be framed....
  • Service project.  I've been going through stuff, and I have a pick-up load of maternity and baby things to take to the local pregnancy center.  I'm not sure how to get it all there unless John takes a day off work.
  • Blogging on more serious topics.  I think I've written a few of those.  I have one in the works about whether Christians should send their children to public schools; are you interested in my publishing it?
  • Hospitality.  We did not have anyone over last month, but I'm finally getting the house together enough to have someone over.  Finally.
  • Work.  I'm still working on getting my license here.  It's a much, much easier process than in Florida.
  • Having my children do more around the house.  I'm having to get used to doing this again.  It's just easier to do things myself, but John is helping me to have them do more around the house which is better than doing it all myself.
I took this advice to set three goals for the summer, and I thought this was just as good a place as any to record them.

My summer goals:
  • Get the children swimming.  Daniel and Sarah Beth are signed up for swimming lessons, and we joined a local pool.  Those two need to learn to swim this year.  Hopefully, Rachel won't be too long behind.
  • Learn to crochet a border.  I have several flannel blankets that could use some sprucing up with a crocheted border.  Since I already know how to crochet, I don't think it will be too hard to figure this out.  I've been meaning to do this for years, and now I'm finally going to get to it!
  • Do something with somebody.  It's been hard meeting people here in Texas.  The church we've been attending is very small with no families with children our children's ages.  With school over, I'm not seeing those women anymore.  I've been trying other things like story time and a crocheting class at the library, but it's hard.  Being introverted, it's hard for me to ask someone to do something, but if I don't do it, it won't happen.  That's where this goal comes in.  I want to do something with someone at least once a month.  It will probably include my (and their) children which is perfectly fine because my children need friends, too.  If you have any suggestions on how else to meet people, I would love to hear them.
How are you doing with your yearly goals?  Will you set any for the summer?

Monday, June 3, 2013

May Update for 2013 Reading

At first glance, it looks like I read a lot in May.  But keep reading.  I only finished three of these books, and one of them I started back in the fall.
When I write it all out like that, maybe I read more than I thought!  Even though I only finished two books.  And since all of those books except the bee books and the one I reviewed were on my reading list for the year, at least, now I can cross those books off!

I also read a couple of books with Sarah Beth:
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This book tells a year's worth of stories from the author's husband's boyhood.
  • Annie Oakley:  Young Markswoman by Ellen Wilson.  We had fun with this biography of Annie Oakley.
What have you been reading lately?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Links of Interest

Here are some of the interesting things I read this week:

What interesting reads did you find this week?