Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Wonderful Visit with My Mother

I'm sorry that I haven't been around my blog much recently, and when I finally did sit down to write something, it was all book reviews.  But my mother has been visiting, and honestly, I wanted to spend the time with her instead of writing blog posts.  But I had all of those books that I needed to write reviews for, and I wanted to get them out of the way.  (I still have one left, but it can wait until next week.)

While my mother was here, we got so much done.  She worked me hard, but it was worth it to get some things done that needed to be done.  My mother loves to be busy all day long; me...not so much. ;)  We also had a wonderful time.  Since we homeschool, my children were able to spend all day long with her, and we really enjoyed it.

So this week I'm thankful for many things:
  • my mother who flies out to visit us regularly
  • her honesty:  she told me that we had to paint the girls' room because she couldn't sleep in it any longer since the color was so dark
  • how much time she spent with me and with my children
  • all of the work she did while we painted, getting ready and cleaning up
  • the fun we all had while she was here
  • how well she gets along with my husband
  • my father who lets her visit us so often
My mother left yesterday after a nice, long visit, so I look forward to getting back into our routine today.  

For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

This sequel to Return to Me in which the first group of Jews return to Jerusalem after being scattered throughout the Babylonian empire, takes place when the second group return under King Xerxes.  Ezra sees many Jews giving up their heritage and adopting pagan ways, and he especially does not want that for his children.  He wants them to grow up in Jerusalem, segregated from unwanted, God-hating people, so he takes this request to the king who grants it.  When they resettle in Jerusalem, however, Ezra's troubles are not over as he has to deal with lax attitudes and practices of the earlier settlers.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first one in the series.  Austin seems always to have some moral woven throughout her novels, and this book deals with balancing God's law and His justice.  Ezra has to explore both as he deals with the situations that come up in his life.  Austin, also, touches on how God uses suffering to further His goals and bring glory to Himself.  Learning these important concepts is necessary, but having them woven through a novel such as this one really brings the lessons home.

I haven't read a book by Lynn Austin that I wouldn't recommend highly, and this one is no different!

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: Noah, A Wordless, Picture Book by Mark Ludy

The story of Noah and the ark comes to life in this wordless, picture book by Mark Ludy.  The lavish illustrations are very detailed, and the story shines through them with no need of words.  Starting with the wickedness of the world and going through the ark landing and Noah's family beginning their new life, the whole story is right here.

I enjoyed "reading" this book to my children.  The pictures are engaging and lead you through the story, allowing you to give as much (or as little) detail to the story as you would like for your children.  The illustrations show the whole story, leaving nothing out, but in a way that is appropriate for children. The wickedness of the world before the Flood is depicted, but it's not too much.  And during the Flood, there is one man reaching out for the ark, showing that many people died but not too graphically for children.

The story is also Biblically accurate which many Noah books are not.  Noah uses dinosaurs and mastodons to help build the ark which is absolutely HUGE.  Most pictures of the ark depict it as much smaller than it actually was.  As much as I appreciate these details, my favorite is the surprise on Noah's face when God shuts the door of the ark.

Do I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you want a Biblically accurate book that tells the true story of Noah and the Flood, you need this book.

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

When a stranger comes to town and starts remodeling an unused store, the whole town is curious.  Only one little girl has the gumption to find out what he is doing, and she gets to learn the secret first. Mr. Sonneman is going to open a candy store!  As Lucy and Mr. Sonneman talk about the different kinds of candy, she comes across something she hasn't seen before, a candy cane.  Mr. Sonneman tells her the legend of the candy cane, how the J stands for Jesus, the staff for the shepherds who hear the news of His birth first, how the red stripes represent the blood Jesus shed for our sins, and the white stripes how we are washed clean by that blood.  Then together they share the good news to the rest of the town, using the candy cane.

I enjoyed this cute, little book, and so did my children.  The sweet story has enough in it to keep children interested without being too much.  I do think that it's a little long for a board book since that type of book is usually for very young children, but older children should like it, too, although they might prefer a regular book.  I also appreciate how this book talks about why Jesus was born, how He died for our sins.  Some books just talk about His birth without mentioning why, leaving out half of the story.

If you're looking for a new Christmas book for your children, you should check this one out.

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

Recipe Fun Friday: Two Apple Recipes

All summer long, I've had my eye out for apple recipes to try this fall.  I felt like I missed out on baking with apples last year, and I didn't that to happen again this year.

The church we attend has a potluck every Sunday after church, and I try to bake a cake for it.  I get to try new recipes, and I love to bake, so it's a perfect fit for me.  But when I came across this recipe for Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes, I decided to make them instead.  And they were delicious!  These cupcakes even have real apples in them...straight from a can of apple pie filling.  :)  But they were a nice addition to the cupcakes.  I did not use the icing recommended in the recipe; instead I make a buttercream and just added some cinnamon.  I got the recipe for the icing from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.  John said that these cupcakes are his favorite after Cookie Dough Cupcakes (for which I cannot find a recipe online).

Then I received a recipe in the mail from Kroger for Warm Apple Saute with Ice Cream.  It looked delicious, so I gave it a try.  And it was!  Anything with ice cream is great, right?!  One of my children, and I won't tell you which one, didn't want the apples on top of his ice cream, but I told him he couldn't have any ice cream without apples.  He thought the apples were good, so he was happy.  I left the dried cranberries out.  It was so good that I forgot to take a picture!

Have you tried any new recipes lately?  What kinds of apple recipes do you prefer?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Homeschooling Among Other Things

I realized something this week.  I keep thinking that I'm busy, much more than I used to be, but I seem to have this thought almost every week.  Then I realized that our new "normal" is just busier than our old "normal."  I haven't yet decided if this is a good thing or not.  :)  With this said, this week has been busy by our "old" standards but "normal" by our new ones!

Things for which I am thankful this week include, but are not limited to:
  • homeschooling.  I do love being with my children all day long, and I especially love watching their little faces light up when they learn something new.
  • homeschooling.  I enjoy the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling provides.  
  • homeschooling.  There are benefits to homeschooling that I hadn't counted on when we started such as...
  • the Houston Space Center homeschool day!  Admission is less expensive, and the day is geared toward homeschooling children.
  • John's work which had a shrimp boil the other day for the people with whom John works.  We were the only family there, but it was okay because there was tons of food.  
  • friends.  After feeling like I didn't have anyone to do anything with for so long, I do now!
  • cooler weather.  We've been able to play outside this week because of the cooler weather.
  • new apple recipes.  I've tried two out this week, and both were keepers.  I plan to share them with you tomorrow.
For what are you thankful today?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Weird and Wonderful Creatures Made by God

Weird and Wonderful Creatures Made by God describes many different plants, animals, and fungi made by God and is full of information that your children (and you!) may not know.  Some of the animals described are whales, bats, praying mantises, and butterflies.  Venus fly traps and corpse flowers are among the plants detailed in this book.

My children were excited to receive this book, and my eight year old daughter immediately took it and read it completely.  My other two daughters (four and two) weren't so thrilled with things like the insects and carnivorous plants although they did enjoy learning about butterflies and whales.  But my son (six) couldn't wait for me to read about the Venus flytrap.  Regardless of their varying reactions, I was glad to read them this book because of the way it proclaims the majesty of God displayed through His creation.  My only complaint is that this book says that mushrooms are a type of plant; since they are in a completely different kingdom than plants, I made sure to explain this to my children.  Other than that, this great book is one that I recommend.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Many Small Things

Sweet, big brother!

We've had another good week so far:  Monday we went to the zoo, and Tuesday we had CC.  So yesterday felt like the start to our week, and I had to play catch-up.  But it was worth it!  Here are a few things for which I am thankful:
  • a field trip to the zoo with friends...
  • which was mostly dry thanks to a gracious God holding back the rain until we were in the car leaving.
  • CC tutors.  I had to sub for Sarah Beth's and Daniel's class last week, and it made me appreciate tutors even more than before!  
  • a friend who wants to learn to crochet.
  • my mother is coming for a visit soon.
  • Teachers' Night Out on Tuesday (for homeschooling mothers)...
  • and a husband who made it possible for me to go.
  • a new recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings that was scrumptious!  I think next time I'll add some carrots and maybe some rice.  Even my pickiest eater enjoyed it!  Thanks, Tracey!  I think I found this recipe on your blog.
For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, October 6, 2014

An Update on My Chickens

I haven't given an update on my chickens lately, so I thought I would do that, especially since we recently completed a big project for them.  By "we," I mean John.  

The previous owners of our house fenced in a small paddock for their horses which was a great starting point for a pen for my hens.  John tacked a wire fence to the existing fence in order to keep the chickens in.  You can't really tell from the picture, but the fence is about five feet tall.  The wire extends above the pole fencing to discourage the chickens from roosting up there.  They might be able to fly out, but why would they?  They've got a great big yard to roam, free from predators.

The hen on the right is Meg.  She is the only one left from my original batch of chicks, so she is about eighteen months old.  The other two are from my latest batch, so they are about nine months old and just started laying in August.

We left the old coop in the pen for extra shade since there aren't any trees in the pen.

In case you're curious, I have two Easter Eggers (that lay blue eggs!), a Light Brown Leghorn (white eggs), a Plymouth Barred Rock, a White Plymouth Rock, two Rhode Island Reds, and two Buff Orpingtons (all of which lay varying shades of brown eggs).

I have to admit that I am still thrilled about having my own chickens, and I still love going out to get farm fresh eggs!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren

In this latest book by Lisa Tawn Bergren, the author tackles the topic of angels which is something that is often confused even by Christians.  While Papa Bear and Little Cub take a walk, she asks questions about things she has heard concerning angels, wondering if they are correct or not.  As usual, Papa answers her questions theologically accurately but in a way that is easily understood by cubs (and children).

My children and I have enjoyed other books by this author, so I figured we would enjoy this one, as well.  But I was a little hesitant because so many books give incorrect information about angels.  I shouldn't have worried; just as Bergren dealt with other subjects correctly, she did it again with this one.  I'm pleased to add this book to our library.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Review of Goals

In the mouth at the Health Museum last month.

After the craziness of August, it was good to have a more relaxed, normal month.  We had a great visit from Uncle Ray, but other than that, it was a lot of our routine...which was nice.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I did not read any books from my book list, but I did read several books in September.
  • Continue walking on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I can't say that I did this every single time, but I think I only missed one or two days which is pretty good!
  • Look for a job.  I actually got an email from Target last week, and I told the woman what I was looking for (one weekend a month).  I haven't heard back.
  • Go through every room in the house, one a month, to clean out unwanted and unneeded items.  I'm sick of the clutter!  In July, I looked around the house to figure out where I wanted to work in August, and I couldn't think of anywhere that I hadn't already tackled.  I don't want you to think that my house is clutter-free because it's not.  But it's certainly a lot better than it was.  
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Fail.
With Uncle Ray at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Goals as a Mother:
  • Do something (like a playdate) with someone (and her children) once a month, whether it's having someone over for lunch, going to someone else's house, or heading out for a field trip together.  We met some friends at a bounce house place and had a great time!
  • Continue having one fun day in school a month.  We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day with pirate-y books, a treasure hunt, and lots of talkin' like pirates.  Aargh, matey!
  • Continue taking my children on one field trip a month.  September felt full of field trips.  We visited the Lone Star Flight Museum and the Galveston Train Museum on Labor Day when John was home.  While Uncle Ray was here, we went to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  
  • Do a service project with my children every month.  Fail.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house, like mopping and folding clothes.  What a great way to build their self-esteem.   I haven't been as consistent at this as I should have been.  I hate to interrupt them when they're playing nicely with each other.
Building complex molecules at the Health Museum.

Goals as a Wife:
  • Continue monthly date nights for John and me.  It didn't work out this month.
  • Do something weekly to make John feel special.  (I got this goal from Tracey at Girls to Grow.)  I keep forgetting.
Making things bigger and smaller (macroscopic to microscopic) at the Health Museum.

Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We had Uncle Ray here; does that count?
  • Start having Game Night once a month.  Thanks to Old Maid, Go Fish, and Uno, we have been playing a lot of games, but no "game night."
  • Continue our family devotional time.  It's been a hard month for this, too.
How are you doing with your goals for the year?