Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July Reading

I read more than usual this month.  Being tired and not feeling well, it's been nice to "lose" myself in the pages of a book.  Most of the books I read this month were good ones with one notable exception.  I just couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what happened.  Here are the books I read in July:
  • Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.  This book is a collection of short stories which I read as a child.  I enjoyed them more, I think, reading them as an adult.  This book counted as my book from Asia for our library's summer reading.
  • Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson.  Two people with violent pasts come together, overcoming what was done to them.  You can read my full review here.
  • Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson.  A great book about using your time wisely for the Lord, you can read my full review here.
  • Using John Saxon's Math Books by Art Reed.  Since we use Saxon Math books, I figured I should read this, especially when one of my good friends offered to lend it to me.  It was a quick read and very enlightening about how to use these books for the most benefit to my children.
  • Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson.  This strange book was my read from South America.  A Spanish Venezuelan runs away into the jungle in the early 1900's and falls in love with a native who is unlike any others.  Apparently, her tribe was destroyed earlier.  Things end tragically for the two.
  • The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.  A man is sent to a distant planet as a missionary to the natives there, leaving his wife behind.  I read this book based on its being World Magazine's fiction book of the year, but this book was awful.  The premise was a good one, but the author ruined it.  I only finished it to find out what happened to this man's marriage -- and it ended inconclusively.  
  • Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy.  A woman in the late 1800's is chosen to investigate the murder of a leading citizen, having to deal with opposition from people not wanting a woman to do this.  You can read my full review here.
  • The Core by Leigh Bortins.  This book was written by the founder of Classical Conversations, and I read it so that I could get an even better understanding of this homeschool program.  It was full of wonderful information about classical schooling and how to implement it at home as simply as possible.  
What have you been reading lately?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy

In Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy, Mary Handley wants to work for the police.  Unfortunately, in the late 1800's, this option isn't a viable one for women.  Out of the blue, however, Mary gets her chance to investigate the murder of one of New York's leading citizens, although the "powers-that-be" plan to use her as a scapegoat, if things don't work out.  But of course, she solves the crime and catches the murderer, showing that women can be policemen, too.

I did enjoy this book, even though it has some feminist propaganda in it, because it's a fun story.  Levy brings in all kinds of famous people who lived in New York at the time:  J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse.  Even Mary Handley was a real person!  I've read a biography of Tesla, and Levy seems to have portrayed him accurately, so I can only assume that he did the same with the other figures.

Mary has to work hard to overcome her limitations as a woman to fit in with the all-men's police department, but she does it without too much bitterness.  The story is fast-paced and exciting, although at times the language is a little much, almost like the author is going for a shock value -- which maybe he is.

Like I said, I enjoyed this book, but I may or may not read any more works by this author.

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson

In Your Sacred Yes:  Trading Life-Draining Obligations for Freedom, Passion, and Joy, Susie Larson shows how to take advantage of God's gift of rest while evaluating the obligations we choose to see if they are God's best for us.  Sometimes we think being busy, busy, and getting as much done as we possibly can is the best thing to do.  But Larson shows that that is not how God wants us to live.  He wants us to choose the best things that He has to offer and to take time to rest so that we can be more productive at what He has called us to do.

I enjoyed this book as it does encourage us to slow down and rest, to choose the best things instead of things that are just "good."  While I don't have the problem right now with over-scheduling myself, I do see this as a problem and this book could help many women to slow down and actually get more done while getting the rest their Heavenly Father knows they need.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Blessings Abound!

It's been a while since I've written a "Thankful Thursday" post, but I've been wanting to write this one.  I've dropped a few hints over the past couple of weeks, but it's time to come clean, so to speak.  We're expecting again!  So here are some things for which I'm thankful this week:
  • nausea, etc. as it points to a normally-progressing pregnancy
  • that I don't feel as bad as I did when I was pregnant with Mary
  • children who are old enough actually to help around the house
  • a supportive husband
  • maternity clothes:  I gave some to a friend, and she graciously sent them back when she found out I was pregnant
  • mostly, that God is blessing us with another child!
We also started back to (limited) school this week.  We received our new math books in the mail last week, and Rachel started begging to do math, and Sarah Beth joined in.  How can you tell a child "no" to that?  So we started this week with math and a little bit of writing for each of my oldest three children.  Also, I figured that getting an early start would be a good thing considering our middle-of-the-year-interruption:  the baby!  In a couple of weeks, we will add a little more, and then a couple weeks after that, we will start back to Classical Conversations.  

For what are you thankful this week?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday's Quote: Do You Let Others Determine Your Worth?

How often do we judge others for how well (or not) they live their lives?  I know that's something that I work on; I want to show others the grace that I want them to show me.  On the other hand, how often do we let others determine our worth?  How often do we let their negative comments affect us when they obviously have no idea what we're going through?  Here's another quote from Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson:
When you look at your life from the inside of your mess--and apart from God's involvement in your life--your assessment will always be incomplete.  And when others toss out their assessments of you based on partial information, their assessments will always be incorrect. 
Don't let the reality of your beauty fall underfoot like a used gum wrapper simply because you don't feel or see your worth quite yet.  Trust me.  Better yet, trust God when He says that you're worth far more than you can even comprehend.  And don't give away your power to those who know you either from a distance or through a skewed lens.  They only know in part.  (p.105)
The only Person whose judgement really matters is God.  He's the only One who truly knows what each of us is going through and why exactly we're doing what we're doing.  As long as we're in His will, it doesn't matter what others think we should be doing.  I'm trying to work on this, as well.

What do you think?  Do you let others' opinions affect you?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson

In Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson, Militine Scott has enrolled in the Madison Bridal School in Seattle in the last year of the nineteenth century, although she has no desire for marriage.  Because of her violent past, she does not think any man would want to marry her.  Thane Patton, who helps out at the school, has a similar past, and as the two develop their friendship, they find they have much in common.  This friendship leads to a romance that neither one saw coming as they deal with their respective pasts and are drawn to the Lord.

I was intrigued when I read about this book, as it sounded like the author was going to bring two people together and have them work through their pasts as their romance develops.  And that's what happens except that the "dealing with their pasts" happens very quickly in one scene, and then it's all better.  I was hoping for something more realistic, as I read about these two people with troubled pasts.  My biggest problem with this book, however, has to do with Abrianna.  Who? you are probably thinking.  Exactly!  She's not mentioned on in the book summary at all, and yet over half of the book is about her.  I felt like that was misleading and detracted from Militine and Thane's story.

I did enjoy this book, but I have no desire to read any more in this series.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

June Review of Goals

This month has been an eventful one!  I started my training for Classical Conversations, and I hosted my first Information Meeting which actually wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  We've got two or three new families which is exciting!  Then we took Rachel for her appointment with her pediatric rheumatologist, and we received excellent news:  we never have to go back!!!  I also haven't been feeling well, so I haven't done so well with my goals.  I'm not upset or concerned because there is plenty of time for goals when I am feeling better.  ;)

Personal Goals:
  • Read through my book list.  I didn't read anything off my list in June, but I did read several good books.
  • Walk on the treadmill three times a week for twenty minutes.  Like I mentioned above, I haven't been feeling well, so I let this go.
  • 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've been busy with other things and just didn't make this one happen.
  • Have one fun day in school a month.  I meant to celebrate Flag Day, but it just slipped by me.
  • Take my children on one field trip a month.  We didn't even make it to the planetarium.
  • Teach my children to do more around the house.  Working on this!
  • Read a book about motherhood.  Not yet.
  • Read a chapter book with my children.  We listened to several on the way to my CC training.
Goals as a Wife:
  • Schedule monthly date nights for John and me.   This didn't happen, either.
  • Read a book about being a godly wife.  I've read one so far this year.
Goals as a Family:
  • Continue having another family over for supper once a month.  We have fallen off the bandwagon, so to speak, and need to get back on.
  • Continue our family devotional time.  We have done great with this goal this month!
How are you doing with your yearly goals?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday's Quote: Can you Homeschool Your Child?

I've always thought that anyone can homeschool her children, but I read this quote in The Core:  Teaching Your Children the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations.  I have to agree with Leigh that not everyone can homeschool her children, and I'll let her explain why:
The most important point I can make is that any parent who really tries can become more involved in his or her children's education....  The first requirement is to believe that it is important and that you can do it.  Whenever I hear a parent groan, "I could never homeschool my children" or "The classical model is too hard," I find I have to agree with them -- not for everyone, but for those who lack confidence.  The person who says, "I can" and the person who says, "I can't" are both right.  I believe every parent can participate in the restoration of our culture to one that appreciates classical learning, but only if they will believe it about themselves.  I believe the strong love of parents for their children makes them capable of providing a quality education for children centered from the home.  (p.  4)
What do you think?  Do you think everyone is capable of teaching her children at home?

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Wonderful Husband!

Today is John's birthday, and I won't tell you hold old he is.  ;)  But I will tell you some of the things that I appreciate about him:
  • he loves God and is trying to instill that love in our children
  • he is a loving, supportive husband
  • he loves me even when there's little about me to make him love me
  • he enjoys spending time with our children
  • he works hard supporting our family
  • he likes my family
  • he always calls on his way home from work so I know when to expect him
  • he helps out with my chickens even though the deal was that he wouldn't have to 
Happy birthday to my wonderful, sweet husband!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Reading

Our library system has adult summer reading along with the children's, and the challenge this summer is to read books from the six major continents with a bonus given if you read a book about Antarctica.  This goal influenced what I read this month, and I have to admit that I found a new series to read thanks to it.

Here's what I read:
  • Onion Tears by Diana Kidd.  A refugee from Vietnam, Nam-Huong has to learn to adjust to her new life in Australia after leaving her family behind and seeing her grandfather die.  Her teacher, neighbors, and friends all help to bring this young girl out and help her to talk again.
  • Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon.  The latest in the Father Tim novels.
  • Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley.  Another adventure for eleven year old detective Flavia de Luce in Britain (Europe).
  • The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah Mccoy.  You can read my review of this excellent book here.
  • The No.  1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.  Precious becomes the first lady detective in Botswana (Africa) when she opens her agency.  She has several adventures as she solves a few crimes and helps her clients.  This book is especially enlightening as it tells of life in Botswana.
I'm in the middle of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (Asia), and I plan to read Hotel Brasil by Frei Betto (South America).  I'll probably pick up a book about James Cook who discovered Antarctica or something like that, unless you have a suggestion.  :)

Does your library have adult summer reading?  What have you read lately?