Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thankful Thursday: A New Ceiling Fan

Saturday, John replaced the ceiling fan in our living room.  As you can see, the ceiling in our living room is about twenty feet tall, and John chose to build a scaffold instead of using a ladder.  The old fan didn't work properly; it was either off or on high speed.  And it was noisy.  We'd been putting off getting a new fan because of the logistics of a high ceiling, but we figured this was as good a time as any, especially with summer just around the corner.

This week, I'm thankful for:
  • God's provision in keeping John safe as he wrestled with the scaffold which was actually much harder (it seemed to me) than replacing the fan
  • a new fan that works!
  • cooler weather, not that it's been hot yet
  • fresh baked chocolate chip cookies
  • a fun time last Thursday with friends at the museum
  • bright, sunny days after so many cloudy ones
  • a quiet week at home
  • leftovers for supper!
For what are you thankful this week?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April Review of Goals

I feel like I did fairly well this month with my goals.  We haven't been too busy which has really helped!  We've been enjoying the nice weather quite a bit, too.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I didn't read a single book off my list!  Oh, no!
  • Walk on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I may have taken one day off, but other than that, I accomplished this goal!
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Success!
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 visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science with friends.
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  You know, this goal just hasn't been a priority this year.
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  See above.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  I'm still working on this one.
  • Read a book about motherhood.  I haven't gotten to this yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children.  We working our way through Swiss Family Robinson, and it's a much longer book than I realized.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.   We were supposed to go out with friends one night, but John wasn't feeling well.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  I'm doing that right now, although it's not the one from my list.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  Oops!
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing with your yearly goals?

Monday, April 27, 2015

April Reading

This month's reading has more of the same in it along with some new things.  But really, when you're reading a good series, why shouldn't you read more of it?  ;)
  • Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon.  In the beginning of the second series of Father Tim novels, Father Tim is called back to Holly Springs, Ms., where he grew up.  While there he encounters several old friends and makes many new ones.
  • A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley.  I forgot how much I enjoyed the first two Flavia de Luce novels!  An eleven year old with a penchant for poison is the protagonist and solver of murders, and these books are just plain fun...but probably not for children.  I especially enjoy how the author melds together the thoughts and fears of an eleven year old with her advanced thinking skills.  Excellent!
  • DragonLight by Donita K. Paul.  The fifth and last in this series about Kale the Dragon Keeper.  Basically, Kale and her friends have to deal with a cult that mimics the Truth but really leads people away from it.
  • The Lion's Skin by Rafael Sabatini.  My father recommended this book to me, and it definitely made my time on the treadmill go by more quickly.  Justin Caryll was raised to hate his biological father and sets off to London to ruin him.  While there, he realizes that he cannot do this because it is wrong, even while his half-brother is trying to get rid of him.  The nuances in this book made it an enjoyable read, and I really liked how nonchalant Justin acts while his quick mind takes everything in.
  • Remnants:  Season of Wonder by Lisa Tawn Bergren.  I was looking for something different and decided to try this author since I enjoy several of her children's books.  I was disappointed.  From her children's books, I figured she was a Christian, but you can't tell that from this book...or if she is, her theology is wrong.  While there is a "Maker," he singles people out with special marks and supernatural gifts which the real God doesn't do.  Setting all of that aside, the story, set in a post-apocalyptic world, is just okay.  I won't read anymore of this series.
What have you read lately?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Reviews: Two Children's Books

In Only God Can Make a Kitten by Rhonda Gowler Greene, a little boy asks his mother series of questions, wondering who made the trees, rocks, birds, and, of course, kittens.  His mother replies every time that only God can make these things.  Well, that makes the book sound boring, but it's really not since it's written in a delightful rhyme and reads very nicely.  The illustrations are wonderful and visually appealing.  I enjoyed reading this book to my children, and I recommend it highly.

The Behemoth Dinosaur in the Land of Uz by Maryluz Guerrero Salas takes place during Biblical times when Job was a little boy.  He and the behemoth Dippy are friends, and they teach Job's village a lesson about sharing the fruit and vegetation around the village, never mind the fact that Dippy would quickly eat all of the foliage around the village along with all of their crops.  I did not like this book, and I do not recommend it.  I think the idea behind it is great:  a book about Job and a dinosaur, one of the ones described in Job.  But the story is slow, and the grammar is terribly distracting.  It appears that it wasn't proofread.  The dinosaur's name is never capitalized, and I don't understand that.  The illustrations look like something one of my children would draw.  In short, don't bother with this book.

I want to thank BookLook Bloggers for my review copies of these books, but my opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Nice Weather

It's hard to get a good picture of Daniel, but I did it!

We've been enjoying the nice weather this week.  With temperatures in the 70's and the wind blowing, it was almost a bit chilly a couple of times.  So far, it's been a fairly quiet week at home, and I've enjoyed it.  Here are a few other things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • I had a wonderful birthday supper with a good friend Saturday night.  I forget how nice it is to spend time with a friend, especially without the interruptions of children.
  • We're meeting different friends today at a museum.
  • I feel like I "passed" my interview to be director of our CC campus next year.  Now I just have to fill out the application along with several essay questions.  I haven't answered essay questions since college!
  • Homeschool story time at the library.  Love it!
  • My hens are all laying well; we're getting about five eggs a day.  And the chicks pullets are growing well and should be able to be integrated into our flock soon.
  • John was able to come home in time for supper several times this week!
For what are you thankful this week?  When was the last time you had to answer an essay question?  ;)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday's Quote: Our Weaknesses Are Really Strengths?

I don't know about you, but I don't like having weaknesses.  I don't like admitting that I have them, and I don't want anyone else to know what they are (although they're probably pretty obvious to anyone who knows me).  But what if our weaknesses are really our strengths?  As Gary Thomas says in A Lifelong Love:
It is in our weaknesses--as individuals and perhaps as couples--that Christ's power comes to rest on us; often it is only when we are at our end that we make way for God to begin.  If God resolved every issue, every child's problem, and every spouse's annoyance with our first uttered prayer, we'd be weaker saints.  We'd be weaker couples.  We wouldn't display the power of Christ.  Or we'd display it to a much lesser degree. 
Can you thank God for that child who keeps you on your knees?....  Can you understand that God may not remove some difficulties that you hate because He wants you to rely on the supernatural power of Christ that He loves? 
I believe it will change our marriages and our walks with God if we stop expecting every problem to be fixed and instead expect every difficulty to help us learn Paul's secret of strength in weakness. 
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (p. 81)
If we didn't have any weaknesses, we wouldn't need God's strength.  And then we wouldn't need God.  But as we learn to rely on God, we draw closer to Him and become more like Christ.  And isn't that what our lives here are really supposed to be about?

Do you see your weaknesses as strengths?  I must admit that I need to work to change my perspective.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Recipes: Two Amazingly Good Chocolate Ones

I tried a couple of new recipes this week, and I wanted to share both of them with you because they are amazingly good!  But I do not recommend making them in the same week (like I did) for the sake of your waistline and your tummy because both are very rich.

At the church we attend, there is a potluck lunch every Sunday.  Since I enjoy baking, I usually bring some kind of dessert.  This week I tried Rolo Fudge Brownies.  I don't remember who brought this recipe to my attention, and I wish I did so I could thank them properly.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I mean, Rolos and a brownie, caramel sauce and fudge -- what's not to love?  ;)

Mine isn't nearly as photogenic, but it sure was scrumptious!

I had a hankering for a chocolate mousse cake for my birthday, but all of the recipes I found online were too complicated, that is until I found this one.  While Chocolate Mousse Cake may not technically be a cake, it sure is good.  It's really not too hard to make, and I may want this every year for my birthday.

Yes, I've made my own birthday cakes for several years now.  I just can't justify paying a grocery store to make one; it's too expensive for cake that's not that good.  I can make exactly what I want for a lot less I do.  Sarah Beth has offered to make my cakes for me once she learns how.  Maybe that should be my goal for this year.  ;)

Have you tried an "amazingly good" recipe lately?  Do you make your own birthday cake?  Or am I just strange like that?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Another Year, Another Week

My birthday was Tuesday, and it was a big one, as far as birthdays go.  John had to work, but I had a quiet day at home with my children.  As I told one of my friends, we did a lot of nothing...which was nice for a change.  We read some books, played some video games, and watched a movie, and we did not do school.  ;)  Nothing great or wonderful, but it was a nice, quiet day at home.  And it was lovely.

Along with my getting another year older, I am thankful this week that:
  • John is feeling better; he hasn't been feeling well lately
  • silly children who were as excited about my birthday as I was
  • a new recipe for my birthday cake turned out wonderfully.  (I'll share it tomorrow.)
  • we had a couple of days of sun this week, even though they predicted rain for every single day
  • that CC is over although it's bittersweet since we love CC and seeing our friends
  • our end of the year CC party is happening today despite a change of venue because of the predicted rain
  • an upcoming supper with a friend, just the two of us, withOUT any children!
  • our chicks are getting big enough to go outside, so we can get rid of the box in the barn
Mostly, I am grateful for God's gracious provision through the past year, and I look forward to seeing what He has in store for my next year.

For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday's Quote: When Do I Want my Reward? Now or in Heaven?

I've put Richard Baxter's Saints' Everlasting Rest on hold for a little while because I got a new book that I'm so excited to read.  A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas is chock-full of good stuff, so you'll be seeing lots of quotes from it in the upcoming weeks.

This quote reminds of Randy Alcorn's Heaven, and I love it!  I appreciate the reminder of where my real treasure is being stored up, and I enjoy the encouragement to store that real treasure up where moth and rust cannot destroy it.
When I live for reward in this life, when I seek primary happiness in the here and now, I'm discounting all the promises of God about what's to come.  Now, certainly, living a godly life produces many rewards in this life.  We rightfully celebrate those rewards and are thankful for those blessings.  But God has told us He is preparing an even better place; He has said that while there are many blessings on this good earth that we can receive with thanksgiving, our ultimate reward won't be found here.  Ultimate happiness and fulfillment won't be found here.  They are waiting for us in the new heavens and the new earth, so at the very least, let's live our lives here remembering the importance of preparing for life there.  (p. 55)
This earth is full of good things, but Heaven has even more, things so wonderful that we cannot even imagine.  Oh, I can't wait to get there and experience it!  And I want to live in such a way that, while I enjoy many things of this Earth, I realize that there is so much more to come!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Finished Object Friday

Daniel has been asking me to make him a blanket for a while, so I finally got around to it.  He picked out the colors and the pattern from this book.  I think it turned out well, although it is heavy which just means that it will be nice and warm.  Since it's a regular blanket (instead of a baby blanket), I figure I shouldn't have to make him another one until he heads off to college or gets married or something.  ;)

I finished this blanket from this book before I made Daniel's; I just never got around to posting it.  I used my iPhone so the picture isn't the best.  This was a fun blanket to make, although my mother suggested blocking it...and I'm sure that I should.  But it's a baby blanket, and whoever gets it will wash it as soon as they bring it home.  At least, I would.

I have a question for you, my faithful readers.  Do you enjoy seeing pictures of the things I knit and crochet?  Honestly, I feel a little like I'm bragging.  If you do, too, please let me know, and I'll stop posting them.  Thanks!

What have you been working on lately?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears: God Bless Our Country

In this new book from Mike Berenstain, the cubs ask questions about our country's "birthday,"  the Fourth of July.  Mama and Papa tell them how and why our country was formed and how God has blessed it.  As the children hear this information, their pride in their country grows.

This book is different from the last few Berenstain books I've reviewed; instead of dealing with a moral situation, this book tackles history.  It's a nice introduction to how our country was founded and why, although it is pretty basic.  Parents can use it to help instill a pride for our country in their children and explain why we celebrate Independence Day, two things which are important for us as Americans.

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

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: Rasmus and the Vagabond

When Rasmus runs away from the orphanage, Oscar finds him, and they become a team, a team of tramps.  What Rasmus really wants, however, is a home, and they both know that he is only biding his time until he finds a family who wants him.  Along the way, they have an adventure with thieves, and then, finally Rasmus finds a home.  But is it really what he wants?  Will he stay?  Or will he keep wandering with Oscar?

I was so excited when I saw this book by Astrid Lindgren on my list!  I have such fond memories of reading Pippi Longstocking when I was a little girl that I knew that my children and I would love this book, too.  And we did.  Such a simple story with a lot of good, clean fun, we all enjoyed it, laughing out loud many times.  And I must admit that I was surprised by the ending, but it was a pleasant surprise.  I'm so glad that Plough Publishing has re-released this book!  My oldest daughter already wants to reread it!

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March Review of Goals

March was a busy month for us.  I hope things calm down a little bit in April which they should.  My parents came for a week-long visit, and it was wonderful to spend that time with them.  Then we went   camping one weekend.  We all had dentist appointments, too, which take up time.  But it was a good month, an enjoyable one...other than the dentist appointments.

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I didn't finish any books from my "to read" list, but I did read several other good books.
  • Walk on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  I took the week off while my parents were here because they were in the little girls' room, so the little girls were in the playroom where my treadmill is.  And honestly, it was nice sleeping in an extra half hour.  ;)
  • Write one letter or note a month.  Fail.
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 visited some friends one day for lunch and some playtime.  
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  Fail.  I'm not doing so well with this goal this year.
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  We went camping.  Does that count?  Definitely!
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  I'm still working on this one.
  • Read a book about motherhood.  I haven't done this one yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children.  We started Swiss Family Robinson but put it aside for Rasmus and the Vagabond which I will review tomorrow.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.   Fail.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  I haven't done this yet.  
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  Does having my parents for a week count?  We seriously need to get back to this!
  • Continue our family devotional time.  Fail.
How are you doing on your goals for the year?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Reading

While I did get a good bit of reading done this month, I didn't make much progress on my "to read" list.  I'm still working through Richard Baxter's The Saints' Everlasting Rest which is wonderful but a tough read.  I'll have to get cracking in April!  Here's what I read:
  • Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon.  Another book in the Father Tim/Mitford series.
  • Light from Heaven by Jan Karon.  And another one.  ;)
  • Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman.  Basically, a woman Robin Hood.  You can read my full review here.
  • DragonKnight by Donita K. Paul.  The first two books in this series centered on Kale, the young Dragon Keeper.  This book focuses on Bardon and his adventures while on a quest.  
  • DragonFire by Donita K. Paul.  This fourth book in the series has Kale and Bardon, who have married since the last book, separated by their different tasks that are necessary to save the land of Amara.
  • Easter Stories by various.  Wonderful collection of Easter tales!  Read my review here.
  • Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl.  A decent book, you can read my review here.
Looking at this list, I see a theme:  reading through and finishing series I enjoy!  But I also think it's time to branch out a little bit.  Let's see what April's reading has in store.  

What have you been reading lately?