Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December Reading

With the holidays and everything, I didn't get as much read this month as I had wanted.  But I don't mind because I had more important things to do, like spending time with my family.  :)  Here is what I did manage to read:
  • For Women Only:  What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhan.  Tracey at Girls to Grow highly recommended this book, so I read it.  While I didn't learn much that was new, I did learn how important these things are.  I can see how using this information can make me a better wife.
  • Noah:  Man of Destiny by Tim Chaffey and K.  Marie Adams.  I must admit that I have a fascination with the time before and right after the Flood, so I scooped this book up as soon as I read about it.  Since it was written by people who have helped develop the ark for Answers in Genesis, they have researched this material, and it is as accurate as it could be for a work of fiction.  However, I enjoyed The Coming Wrath by John K.  Reed better.  :)
  • The Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks.  John and I watched the new tv series based on this book series, and it intrigued me even though I hadn't enjoyed this book much the first time I read it.  It seems like a rewritten Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.  I appreciated it better this time, and it kept me going on the treadmill.  And I actually look forward to reading the second one.  
  • The Warrior's Seal by Ronie Kendig.  In this novella, a special forces soldier is sent to rescue some VIPs kidnapped by a terrorist group in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, an ancient artifact has been stolen, and a mysterious plague is affecting those who have been in contact with it.  Tox and his team have to find the missing people and stop the plague.  An exciting adventure for my time on the treadmill.
What did you read this month?

Friday, December 16, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: A Five Year Old

I love seeing them do things together!

Tuesday was Mary's birthday, and she enjoyed almost every minute of it.  We don't have big parties, but we do try to celebrate each person on his birthday, letting him choose most of what we do on his special day.  Birthdays only happen once a year, right?!

John usually takes birthdays off work, and that helps make the day even more special.  Mary wanted doughnuts for breakfast, then we headed to the Lego store for her to pick out some legos.  That has become a birthday tradition.  :)  Daniel and Rachel took advantage of being at the lego store to buy some new sets, too, with their own money.  For lunch, Mary wanted a hamburger from Wendy's which was at the mall.  When we arrived home, all four older children became engrossed in the new legos, Sarah Beth helping put together Mary's new set.  For supper, we had spaghetti and meatballs, Mary's favorite.  She didn't want me to bake anything for her dessert; she wanted a clown face cone from Baskin Robbins.  Whatever.  John picked up an ice cream cake for the rest of us.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • the cooler weather.  I'm always glad for some cooler weather -- as long as I don't have to be out in it!  ;)
  • Christmas cards.  "Real" mail is always fun!
  • less school.  We're still slogging our way through it, but we're doing the bare minimum!
  • staying home Wednesday and Thursday since we were gone so long on Tuesday
  • a new recipe:  Slow-Cooked Loaded Potato Soup.  My children weren't big fans, but I enjoyed eating the leftovers all week for lunch -- especially with this cooler weather!
What did you enjoy this week?

John and I plan to do some Christmas shopping this weekend, and he's taking our older two children to help distribute food to the needy.  What do you have planned?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Happy Fifth Birthday, Mary!

I can't believe that Mary is five years old today!  It seems like she was just born yesterday.

Mary has a sweet, rambunctious personality.  You never know what she's going to do next.

Keeping up with her three older siblings wears her out sometimes, but she can do just about everything they can.  

She loves her baby sister, and I really think that she thinks we had Hannah just for her to play with.

I look forward to seeing what another year brings for Mary!

Friday, December 9, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

After a busy weekend, at least for  me, it was nice to spend all week at home.  And we've got another busy weekend coming with four parties, starting with two yesterday.  Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • Baking Green Kiss Cookies with my children.  That's what we call them anyway.  :)  We tripled the recipe so we could share some with our librarians and garbage collectors.  
  • Seeing how excited my children were, running to meet the garbage truck with the cookies!  
  • Eating said cookies.  ;)
  • The cooler weather.  It actually feels kind of like winter, at least for Texas.  :)
  • Getting back on the treadmill.  I'd taken the past couple of weeks off because my parents were here and then I had a cold.
  • Watching the Grinch with my children -- and reading it, too!
  • Decorating the Christmas tree!
  • Seeing how much fun our children had at John's work's Christmas party for kids.
What did you enjoy this week?

We have two more parties to attend this weekend, one is another Christmas work party (John has to go to both), and the other is a house warming party for friends whose home has been rebuilt after it flooded.  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ten Months!

Hannah turned ten months old yesterday!  It's hard to believe that she will be a year old in just two months!

She has her bottom front two teeth, and we think the top two will come in soon.  As you can see, her older sisters still think she's a baby doll for them to play with.  :)

Hannah is learning to crawl on her hands and knees instead of doing the army crawl on her belly.  Her shirts will be cleaner -- but not my floors.  :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

What I've Enjoyed The Past Two Weeks: Thanksgiving!

Three of my children playing a new card game with one of their cousins.

Look what Sarah Beth did!

Several wonderful things happened during Thanksgiving Week, things which I enjoyed immensely and for which I am very thankful.

First of all, my parents came to visit.  We always enjoy seeing them, and it's especially nice when they visit and insert themselves into our lives.  I was able to spend some time with just my mother (no children!) a couple of times, so we had some great conversations.  And my father went golfing with my husband and my son, and I know they had fun.

John was able to take a couple of days off from work, and it's always wonderful when he does that.  Having him home like that is something that we all enjoy, and I know that he enjoys the time off work.  :)

My brother and his family were hunting in a different part of Texas, so they came by our house on their way home.  They spent Sunday afternoon and evening with us and left early Monday morning.  Watching my children play and enjoy a couple of their cousins warmed my heart.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
  • a trip to the zoo with my mother and children.  We hadn't been in a year, and the kids had been eager to go.
  • Thanksgiving dinner!  Yum!!  John smoked the turkey on the grill and it was delicious!
  • the help that my mother was.  When she wasn't cleaning up the kitchen (and the mess I made), she was playing games with my children.  
  • seeing Daniel get more excited about playing golf as he learned some things from John and my father.
  • seeing how sweet my niece and nephew were with my children who are several years younger.
  • spending time with my sister-in-law and brother.  We don't see them enough!
  • the woodworking class that Daniel and Sarah Beth took Wednesday afternoon.  They sanded the pieces to make jeep puzzles and had a lot of fun with that.  When we got home, they assembled them.  Daniel's didn't fit together quite right, so I don't have a picture of his -- yet.
What did you enjoy during the past couple of weeks?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Reading

Since I was too busy in October to read much and because I had several books to review, I decided to read whatever I wanted this month instead of reading to enrich myself -- although I ended up doing just that.  :)  I read some good books this month, ones that I recommend.  I'm ready to start reading deeper books in December; with soccer over, I think -- I hope! -- I'll have a little more time.

Here's what I read:
  • The Secret File on John Birch by James and Marti Hefley.  This book tells the amazing story of a missionary-turned-spy during World War II in China.  John Birch went to China as a missionary before the war started, and when it started, he wanted to do his part.  Since he was fluent in Mandarin and already had many Chinese contacts, his superiors decided he should become a spy -- and he was excellent at it.  I enjoyed learning about our part of the war in China, but I really appreciated seeing how God used Birch to accomplish His goals.
  • Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller.  You can read my full review here.
  • My Father's World by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.  Corrie's mother decides to move her family out west to live with her brother, despite not knowing exactly where he lives.  When she dies en route, it's up to Corrie to find her uncle and convince him to let her and her four siblings live with him.  And there is a big surprise for all of the children in the person of Uncle Nick's gold mining partner, but I won't ruin it for you.  :)  I enjoyed this book, and it would be a great one for young girls to read except for one page.  Teenagers should be fine with it.  
  • The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr.  An excellent and exciting book, you can read my review here.  
  • Child of the River by Irma Joubert.   More than a coming of age story set in South Africa during the 1940s and 1950s, you can read my full review here.  
  • The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence.  I discovered this book while scouting for books for Sarah Beth at the library, so it's a juvenile book.  It tells the story of Robert Falcon Scott's race to the South Pole from the point of view of one of his ponies.  It's well-written, and I enjoyed learning more about the trials encountered by men who undertook this type of expedition.  In case you're wondering, Scott was not the first one to the pole although he did make it.  Unfortunately, he died on the way back.  I'm not going to have Sarah Beth read this yet, but one day I will.
What have you read lately?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Book Review: Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

After the events in The Shock of Night (you can read my review here), the Vigil has separated, each one of the remaining four to his -- or her -- own tasks.  Actually, Willet has been abandoned by the Vigil and left to be imprisoned by one of the church orders for his "safe-keeping."  When the disturbing news that the sentinels -- giant dogs who keep people out of the Blackwater Forest -- are being killed and that the streams coming out of the forest are being seeded with gold, Willet and the rest of the Vigil know that it's just a matter of time before the woods are overrun with new people who will be infected by the mysterious horrors there.

Oh, boy!  This book was wonderful!  All I wanted to do after I started it was to read.  I never knew what would happen next which made the story that much better.  I appreciated learning more about the other members of the Vigil, who they are and why they do what they do.  Reading about their interaction with the urchins, abandoned children who have resorted to thieving in order to survive, was especially fun:  the tight-laced, traditional Vigil versus the earthy, seat-of-the-pants urchins.  I can't wait for Carr to write the next and last of this trilogy!

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Week at Home

I guess it's time to drop her mattress!

We had a nice quiet week at home.  Other than a quick trip to the library before taking Hannah for a check-up, we were home.  Well, of course, we were gone all day for our weekly CC.  But it was lovely being home so much this week after being so busy last week.  Here are a few other things that I enjoyed:
  • The big moon on Monday.  Did you see it?
  • Our last day of CC for awhile.  We're now on our Christmas break -- at least, for our weekly CC meeting.  We're still doing school at home and reviewing our CC information.
  • I just love going to the library!
  • No soccer practice! 
  • A good book.  I'm reading Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr, and I would love to throw everything to the wind and just read all day long.  But I can't.  But I would if I could!
I'm not sure what we're going to do this weekend without soccer games.  Our town is having its annual Christmas celebration; yes, I know it's a bit early, but they didn't ask me.  ;)  We may try to spend some time there and then watch the parade.  

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: Child of the River by Irma Joubert

Persomi is the young, white daughter of poor sharecroppers in the pre-World War II time of South Africa.  She has a hard life, but she overcomes her hardships as she studies hard in school and works hard as an adult.  As a child, she compares herself to "real" people, showing how little she values herself.  Her relationships with her older brother Gerbrand and the son of the owner of the farm Boelie sustain her through the growing pangs as she realizes how much bigger the world is than the little farm where she was born.

Since I loved Joubert's first book (which was translated into English) The Girl from the Train, I jumped at the change to review this book.  While I may not have enjoyed this book quite as much, it is still very good, and I highly recommend it.  I welcomed the opportunity to  learn more about South Africa and how apartheid became law.  It was a hard time for the country, and I appreciated how the author portrayed both sides of the issue.  Here's another book I plan to keep and to have my children read when they get a little older.

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Being Busy

Such a cute picture...

but the tongue!  :)

Whew!  This week has been busy!  Monday was our typically full day as we recovered from the weekend and prepared for the week.  We also stayed up too late watching the election results come in.

After doing school Tuesday, I took Daniel and Sarah Beth to see Mathemagic, a show about math and magic.  :)  They loved it!  A friend offered to take care of the three little girls, and they had a wonderful time with her children.

We're always busy on Wednesdays since we're at CC all day, but it was also Daniel's last soccer practice.  To "celebrate" his coach proposed a scrimmage between the boys and their parents.  John volunteered me since I played some in high school.  I have to admit that I had a lot of fun -- and so did John.  Thankfully, I've been jogging lately, so I was hardly sore at all on Thursday, but I have to admit that I was worried about it!

Thursday, after doing school and having lunch, I took Sarah Beth and Daniel to the dentist with me.  After that, we ran a few errands, mostly buying things for Operation Christmas Child.

But after three afternoons in a row being gone from home along with a soccer scrimmage one evening, well, I'm just a little tired.  :)  Hopefully, I can get caught up today since I hope and plan to be home all day.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • A country where changes in power happen relatively violence-free.
  • My sweet husband who watched our five children so I could go out for dinner Friday night with a friend.
  • Wonderful fellowship with good friends!
  • Cooler weather.  It's actually been cool enough to wear jeans this week!  The highs have been in the lower to middle 70s!
  • A friend willing to keep my three younger children.
  • Spending time with my older two children.  
  • A babysitter who is available during the day and whose mother is willing to drop her off and pick her back up.  
  • Inexpensive books from Goodwill.  :)
  • Watching Hannah scoot all over the house.
  • Playing soccer!
  • Knowing this week is the last one for soccer practice which means that we'll all be home for supper from now on!  At least, until soccer starts back in the spring.  ;)
We have two soccer games Saturday (the last two!), and John and I have a date night planned!  It's been a while since we've had one, so we're looking forward to it!

What did you enjoy this week?  Did you stay up too late Monday night?  What do you have planned this weekend?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Review: Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World by Shelly Miller

From the back cover:
This book is for anyone who is weary--who longs for rest but doesn't know how to make it a reality.  Shelly Miller, a sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping, shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives--from small windows of time to a whole morning or day.  With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for not only finding physical refreshment but also restoring your soul.  Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through.  Discover how genuine rest is possible today.

I have to admit that I didn't really care for this book.  While it is an important reminder that we need Sabbath rest, that's about all I can say positively about it.  There's almost a mystical feel to the book as if doing Sabbath properly will fix one's problems.  Also, I'm just not comfortable with the author writing about hearing God's whispers.  God doesn't talk to people anymore, and even in Biblical times, it was very rare.  Yes, people feel led to do things by God, but that's very different from actually hearing His voice.  Then there's the times she acts as a prophet for others, telling them what she thinks God has told her to tell them.  If you're looking for a good book about Sabbath rest, there are other, better ones such as 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth.  But skip this one.

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Busy Weekend and a Nine Month Old!

Hannah turns nine months old today!  She enjoys eating her solid food -- which is still just baby food.  She also enjoys the freedom and flexibility of taking a bottle.  :)

And she especially loves doing the army crawl all over the house.  Sometimes, I cry out, "Where's the baby?"  And we find her in the dining room or the laundry room.  She has fun, and so do we!

 Hannah just couldn't stay awake through all of Sarah Beth's soccer game.  

Whew!  I knew last Saturday was going to be busy, and it sure was!  But we made it through the day, and it was worth it!  I met my goal of running the whole 5K.  While it certainly wasn't easy, it was easier than the last one I ran since I was in better shape.  And I wasn't nearly as sore afterwards.  Definitely, it was worth the extra training.  :)  As one of my friends told me, I was a winner because I ran the whole thing!  I like her thinking!

Then we were off to two soccer games.  Daniel's team played a good game and ended up with a tie.  Sarah Beth's team played girls who were bigger and probably older.  They had lost to this team before, but they played very well on Saturday.  It was a heartbreaking loss:  the other team scored on a controversial penalty kick with seconds left on the clock.  Ugh!  But we were so proud of these girls; they have come a long way this season!

We scurried home and quickly bathed everyone.  Then we had a few minutes to relax before eating a quick supper and heading to have our pictures taken.  We met the photographer at the beach, and we had a great session.  I had met her last spring at Mary's and Rachel's swimming lessons, and I thought she'd be good because she has children, too.  We're eagerly waiting to see some proofs!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • A week off from jogging!  Yes, I rewarded myself with sleeping in a little bit this week and being a little lazy.  :)  Honestly, I'm surprised that I actually miss jogging -- but not too much.  :)  
  • Sarah Beth and Daniel attended a wood-working class which they really enjoyed where they built birdhouses.
  • Baskin Robbins ice cream on Reformation Day.  Yum!  (Don't forget that BR has it's scoops for only $1.31 on the 31st!)
  • Watching the last three games of the World Series.  I haven't watched professional baseball since the early 1990's, and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  Daniel appreciated it, too!  We were excited that the Cubs won since they're from the National League.  
What did you enjoy this week?

I am meeting a friend for dinner tonight, and we both look forward to some uninterrupted time to talk.  :)  Tomorrow we have friends coming for supper after more soccer games, and we look forward to spending time with them.  

What do you have planned this weekend?

Do you know why I watched baseball in the early 1990's?  Hint:  I'm a Georgia native.

(If you can't figure it out, here's the answer.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

October Reading and Goals

An old picture that I've always loved!

This month has been busy!  You will probably be able to tell that by the amount of reading I did --which wasn't very much.  :)  I'm really glad that I kept my goals simple because I didn't do very well with them, either.  But we had a good month, and it was productive in other ways, so I'm not disappointed in myself.

Here are the two books I finished this month.  Yes, only two!
  • The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.  The author shows how being happy is compatible with being holy; that not only does God not mind us being happy, He wants us to be happy.  She has a neat happiness survey (which you can take here) to help the reader figure out what kinds of things make her happy.  While I wasn't surprised to find out that I'm a "Thinker," it did help me see why I enjoy what I enjoy.  More than that, it helps me understand my Doer husband a little better.  :)
  • Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin.  Another wonderful book by this author, here is my full review.  
I completely forgot to tell you how I did with my goals during September.  I made my goals very simple and fairly easy, and I continued them into October.  
  • Take my children to the pool twice.  I took them once in September but not at all in October.  John took Rachel and Mary once in September, and he took them again along with Daniel in October.  I'm going to be honest with you:  it's very boring for me at the pool.  We are usually the only ones there, so there's no one for me to talk with.  And I have to get in the pool with my children while holding Hannah because they don't allow any kind of baby floats, only Coast Guard approved life vests.  What I'm trying to say is that I just don't want to go.  :(  So I need to figure out a way to make it more fun for me -- because my children already enjoy it!
  • Continuing exercising, getting ready for a 5K.  While I may not have been as consistent with this as I should have been, I was ready for my 5K last Saturday.  Hooray!  I'll tell you more about my race on Friday.
What have you read recently?  How are you doing on your goals?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Reformation Day!!

This post was originally published October 31, 2012.

Tomorrow we will 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 also 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?  How so?

Friday, October 28, 2016

What I Enjoyed this Week: A Whole Week at Home!

We had a lovely week of being home everyday except our CC day.  It was still busy as I worked to keep on top of things, but it wasn't as crazy as usual.  I'm learning to do things early to keep from being overwhelmed by too much to do at the last minute.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Preparing a meal my children were actually excited about!  Chili Cheese Dip.  Yes, we eat it as a meal.  :)
  • My children didn't appreciate Carolina Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, but I sure did!  Yum!!
  • The cooler weather.  Our highs have dropped to the lower to middle 80s.  It's much more pleasant outside, although, honestly, it's still a little warm.  :)
  • Not being joined at the hip, so to speak, with Hannah now that she's weaned.  I went to a children's book party Friday night, and it was wonderful to leave all of the children at home with John without having to worry about, well, anything.  
  • I also enjoyed the ladies at the book party, and of course, I had a lot of fun looking at all of the books!  (Christmas presents!)
We have a busy weekend planned.  First thing Saturday morning, I've got a 5K to run.  My goal is just to run the whole thing.  :)  Afterwards, Sarah Beth and Daniel have soccer games; thankfully, they're in town, but there should be about an hour in between which makes it more difficult on the other children (and therefore us parents).  Just in case that's not enough, we're having our pictures taken professionally that evening.  Oh, I'm tired just thinking about it.  :)  

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why I Impulsively Clean -- And Maybe Why You Do, Too

photo source

I know that I've written a couple of times already about Triggers:  Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake, but when I read this paragraph I knew that I needed to share it with you.  I've always wondered why I start cleaning when I'm upset, and why clutter doesn't bother me -- until I'm upset about something totally unrelated.  Now I know.  :)
The confusing problem is, this isn't really about my house at all...my need for order in the home goes much deeper than a woman's affection for a freshly swept floor and Windexed windows.  What I'm learning about my need for a clean home is that uncluttered countertops are a tangible way to rank the control I have over my life.  When I can't control my husband's work schedule, my children's volume, their behavior at dinner or in their beds at night...I want to have just one aspect of my life in order.  Just one.  That's all I ask!  (p.183)
In other words, when my life feels out of control -- out of my control, I want to assert my control over something, anything, and that oftentimes is my home.

I remember the first time I realized this about myself.  John and I hadn't been married long, and I had a new recipe to try out.  I was excited about it and had spent a good bit of time preparing it.  When I pulled it out of the oven, however, it was completely inedible.  So I started cleaning the kitchen like I had never done before.  John and I were both surprised by my reaction.  :)

Do you clean when you're upset?

Friday, October 21, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Day Off (Kind of) and a Scooter

Look who we found under the kitchen table!

I felt like I was running behind all week, and it was only Tuesday!  I felt like my days just needed one more hour in them because I didn't have enough time to get everything done that I needed to.  Simple, quick things like folding one load of laundry were not getting done.  I needed a day where I could stay home all day long, and I hoped that would help.  Well, I got that day on Wednesday, a day I really didn't want it.  :)  My car battery died Tuesday, and it had a corroded cable which John wasn't able to fix that evening.  Then Hannah started running a fever.  So we stayed home Wednesday instead of heading to CC.  We were all very disappointed, especially my older two children who had worked hard preparing their presentations.

The other big thing that happened this week was that Hannah became mobile.  She's moved around a little bit, but mostly stayed within a five-foot radius of where we put her down.  Not anymore!  Overnight -- Tuesday, to be exact -- she started scooting all over downstairs.  From the living room to the kitchen and again to the library.  I'm excited that she's scooting, but I also miss her being fairly stationary.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Staying home and getting things (mostly) caught up.
  • Sending Sarah Beth to CC on Wednesday when a friend offered to take her.  :)
  • A relatively quiet day at home with just four of my children.
  • A husband who knows things about cars.
  • A good night's sleep Wednesday night after getting up with Hannah a couple of times the night before.  I didn't even realize I was so tired!  :)
  • Children who enjoy the library as much as I do!
What did you enjoy this week?  

We planned to meet friends again at the park this afternoon, but John is taking the car to the shop today to have it repaired.  UnFortunately, we have another day completely at home in which to get some things done.  We also have two soccer games tomorrow.  What do you have planned?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

After a harrowing trip by ship to a resort on Lake Michigan, Anna's childhood nightmares of surviving a shipwreck return.  She befriends one of the resort workers Derk who encourages her in her faith and helps her to work through some issues with her fiancee.  At the same time, Geesje , struggles to write down her part of the history of how her family helped found the town of Holland fifty years previously.  While these two stories seem unconnected, the reader can see how Geesje's experiences could help Anna -- if only they could meet.  :)

I always enjoy reading Austin's books, and this one has become one of my favorites.  As Anna deals with her faith and how it relates to her relationship with her fiancee, the author does not give easy answers.  The struggles that Geesje dealt with in her early life are heartbreaking, and again, the author does not give trite answers to her suffering.  I usually prefer neat and tidy endings to the books I read, but this one doesn't do that, although the conclusion is satisfying in its own way.  I also enjoyed learning more about why families immigrated to America and about the difficulties they had when setting up new settlements in the mid-1800's.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Uncle Ray

Uncle Ray came to visit last Saturday and stayed until Tuesday.  We had a great time with him like we always do.  John took Monday and Tuesday off, so we enjoyed having him around, too.  Our children especially appreciated all of the time that Ray took with them, teaching them new things.  John and Ray took the older four children to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Monday; we hadn't been in a while so that was a treat.  Hannah and I couldn't go because we don't all fit in one car.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Meeting friends at the park last Friday.
  • Making a new homeschooling friend.
  • Spending Saturday morning with just Hannah and Mary when John took the older three to pick up Ray from the airport.  Mary and I had so much fun finishing the cleaning of the house and grocery shopping.  
  • Having time on Monday to myself when everyone but Hannah went to the museum.  I almost didn't know what to do with myself -- except that I had made a list of things I wanted to do:  watch a CC webinar while knitting and reply to an email from a special friend.
  • An "off" week for soccer games.  But I look forward to games tomorrow!
What did you enjoy this week?  We just have the soccer games this weekend so it ought to be a quiet weekend -- as quiet as our house gets, anyway!  :)  What do you have planned?

Friday, October 7, 2016

Enjoyment: Mary's First Lost Tooth!

It's hard to see, but Mary lost her first tooth!

The weather has finally cooled off somewhat, and we've enjoyed spending time outside.  Rachel even suggested having picnics for lunch, so we've carried everything outside to eat a couple of days.  What a great idea!  I've also enjoyed sending the kids outside for a while without having to deal with their complaints about the heat.  And they're having a great time, too, especially eating the pecans that have fallen from our trees.  :)

Here are a few other things that I've enjoyed this week:
  • I forgot to mention last week that Mary lost her first tooth!  She was so excited to lose her first tooth and that the Tooth Fairy visited!
  • Hannah is completely weaned which is great because now we're not "joined at the hip," so to speak.  
  • A week off from CC.  We love CC, but a mid-semester break is nice.  
  • I took the opportunity to get a babysitter one afternoon so I could run a few errands by myself and get my hair cut.
  • I also ate lunch with John which was wonderful!
  • While it's nowhere near cool, the cooler weather reminded me that the kids needed new shoes, so we bought shoes one morning.  I had dreaded that errand, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  :)
We have company coming into town tomorrow, so that should be fun!  Sarah Beth and Daniel don't have soccer games this weekend for some reason, but don't tell them that it's kind of nice for a change.  :)

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

September Reading

 A few years ago.

Spending thirty to forty-five minutes on the treadmill four times a week gives me lots of time to read!  And since I need something lively and interesting, I've been able to read several fiction books this month.  Other than that time, I haven't had much time to read, but I finally figured out why.  :)
  • Carthage Must be Destroyed:  the Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles.  I'm interested in ancient Roman history, so I thought I would enjoy this book since it was Rome that destroyed Carthage.  And I did appreciate all of the history, but it was very dry.  :)  I'm glad I read it, and I'm glad I'm done!
  • From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson.  The third book in this trilogy, it was just as exciting and well-written as the previous two books.  
  • Curly Girl:  the Handbook by Lorraine Massey.  I read this book about the care of curly hair because Mary has curly hair, but I learned a few things about my own hair as well.
  • Sweet Olive by Julie Christie.  Tracey at Girls to Grow recommended this book, and I enjoyed it while jogging on the treadmill.  Camille travels back to a small town from her childhood, trying to figure out how to make her oil and gas boss happy while not destroying a lovely neighborhood.
  • Kingdom at Sea by Jill Williamson.  After their land is destroyed, the people of Armania travel on ships trying to find a new land to inhabit.  Another exciting book by this author that made my exercising more pleasant.  :)
  • Triggers:  Exchanging Parents' Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake.   I've said it before, and I mean it:  I would buy a copy of this book for every parent that I know, if I could.  Yes, it is that good!
  • The White Horse King:  The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin R. Merkle.  After listening to The Dragon and the Raven, I wanted to learn more about the amazing King Alfred.  My father recommended this book to me, and I recommend it to you:  it's an easy, yet informative read about one of the best English kings.
What have you read recently?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Eight Months!

Hannah is eight months old today!  While she's not crawling yet, she does get around a little bit by scooting.  I have to admit that I like the fact that she's still pretty immobile.  :)

As you can see, she can sit up by herself.  We have also started her on baby food, and she decided to wean herself last week.  :(  None of my other children have weaned themselves, so I was caught by surprise. 

I love this picture.  Daniel enjoys his littlest sister as much as her other siblings, but he doesn't show it as much.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Puzzles and Friends

Lately, I've been wondering where all my time is going.  I don't seem to have the time that I used to have, so I'm getting left behind on my chores and other things.  Then I realized the two things that are sapping my time:  soccer practice and feeding Hannah.  Taking Sarah Beth and Daniel to practice every day takes thirty to forty minutes including drive time and getting ready.  And feeding Hannah food along with a bottle takes much longer than just nursing her.  Oh, well.  I'm sure I'll figure this season out soon -- probably in time for it to end.  :)

Here are a few things I've enjoyed this week:
  • Watching Daniel play soccer last Saturday.  It was the first time I'd been able to see him play.  His team didn't win, but they fought hard and had fun which is what really counts, right?
  • Doing puzzles with my children.  Our library has a bunch of puzzles, and they let patrons borrow them.  Hooray for free puzzles!  As quickly as Rachel can put together a 500-piece puzzles, we go through a lot of puzzles.
  • Having friends over Monday.  We haven't seen these friends in a couple of months, so it was especially nice to spend time with them.
Sarah Beth's soccer game was moved from tomorrow to this evening, so I look forward to watching her play.  Also, it will be nice to have only one game in the hot sun tomorrow.  :)  We have friends coming over for supper tomorrow night which should be fun.  

What have you enjoyed this week?  What plans do you have for the weekend?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Loneliness: There's More of it Than You Might Think

I have a confession to make:  I'm lonely.

Are you?

In my humble opinion (for what it's worth), I think more people are lonely than we realize.  Why do I think this?  Because of the women I invite over for lunch and they stay all afternoon.  Because of the women who can't stop talking once they get started because they have so much to say and no one to tell.

Why are we lonely?  I think there are many reasons, but here are a couple.  We're so busy, too busy to spend time with people and really get to know them.  We're also afraid of being vulnerable because others might reject us if they knew who we really are.

Yes, our husbands should be our friends, maybe even our best friends.  But God designed us women to need fellowship from other woman -- just as our husbands need other men friends.

How do we "fix" our loneliness?  I wish I knew!  But I do know one thing that won't help:  waiting around for someone else to seek us out, to initiate something.

You have to take charge and do something yourself.  Invite someone over or out for lunch.  Speak to the other mothers at your child's soccer game.  Introduce yourself to another mother at story time at the library.

If you are blessed enough not to be lonely, I want to plead with you to extend your friendship to other women outside of your circle.  There are women around you who need your friendship, even if you don't really need theirs.

So, are you lonely?  What are you going to do about it?

Friday, September 23, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Hannah Taking a Bottle

I have been busy this week weaning Hannah.  Well, maybe "busy" isn't quite the right word.  But we've been working on it, and she's doing great.  I usually take about a month to wean my babies because slow seems to work best -- at least, for me.  :)  I am weaning Hannah a little earlier than I usually wean, but she's losing interest in nursing:  she wants to look around while eating, and it's hard to do that while nursing.  Honestly, I'm amazed at how quickly she took to the bottle, especially since three of my other children refused to take a bottle.

Here are a few things I've enjoyed this week:

  • How quickly Hannah has adapted to drinking from a bottle.
  • The possibility of leaving Hannah with John or a babysitter and not worrying about her getting hungry while I'm gone.  :)
  • I must admit that I don't enjoy washing bottles or buying formula.  
  • Watching hummingbirds outside our kitchen window.  Their amazing flight never gets old!
  • Having Sarah Beth's paper due a week early.  I misunderstood her assignment schedule, so we worked hard to get it ready for CC, only to find out that it's not due until next week.  Whoohoo!  We just need to add a couple of "because clauses" (for those of you familiar with IEW), and we'll be done!
  • While I didn't really enjoy going to the pool on Monday, I did enjoy seeing how excited my children were and how much fun they had.  
Tomorrow Sarah Beth and Daniel have soccer games, but this time they're at different times!  So all of us will be able to see both games.  While I'm looking forward to seeing Daniel play (since I missed his game last week), I have to admit that spending all morning in the sun at the soccer fields is going to be exhausting.

What have you enjoyed this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Book Review: Saffire by Sigmund Brouwer

When James Holt arrives in Panama, he is given a mystery to solve:  what happened to a local girl's mother who is presumed to have run away, leaving her daughter behind.  However, the girl Saffire doesn't believe that, and neither does Holt.  But no one will talk about the mystery, and it's obvious that something else is going on.  Using the persistence he learned as a cowboy, Holt perseveres even when his life is threatened.  All of this occurs with the building of the Panama Canal in the background.

First of all, I enjoyed learning more about how the Panama Canal was built, what a monumental endeavor it was.  I also enjoyed the characters:  Holt just wanted to get home to the Dakotas where his daughter was waiting; Saffire was a spunky, streetwise girl; and there were several others who were painted so convincingly.  While the writing is excellent, I just find it frustrating how Brouwer unwraps a little bit of the puzzle at a time, making the reader (and the main character) feel like he's in the dark until the very end of the book.  But I guess that's the point.  :)  However, the intriguing writing kept me reading, and since I've read several of Brouwer's books, I knew what to expect.  I did enjoy the book, and I'm sure I'll read more by this author.

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: Soccer

I wish I had a picture of her playing!

Sarah Beth had her first soccer game last Saturday, and I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching her play!  Honestly, I yelled myself hoarse.  :)  While her team didn't win, she had fun playing, and that's what it's all about anyway, isn't it?

Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
  • the sunny weather
  • spending time with my friends during lunch at CC this week
  • trying something new with my hair.  No, I don't have any pictures, but I've enjoyed seeing what happens to it when I let it do its own thing instead of drying and straightening it.
  • a trip to the library.  I have to admit that I enjoy the look on new librarians' faces when they see how many books we return and check out.  :)
Tomorrow is Daniel's first soccer game, and it's at the same time as Sarah Beth's.  So John and I will "divide and conquer," so to speak, as I watch her game and he watches Daniel's.

What did you enjoy this week?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What We're Using This Year in Our Home School

Since I enjoy reading about the curricula that others use in their home schools, I thought I would share what we're using in case you're interested as well.  It's our sixth year to homeschool; we began when Sarah Beth was in kindergarten.  I have to admit that I haven't enjoyed every single moment, but I have appreciated how much we have all learned together.

Classical Conversations.  This program overarches almost everything we do.  Our science and history are based on what we're learning in CC, although we're learning lots of other things, as well.  This year is the fifth for Sarah Beth and Daniel, the third for Rachel, and the first for Mary.  It's our second time for Cycle 2.

As part of CC, Sarah Beth is in the Essentials class where she learns how to write using Institute for Excellence in Writing and how to diagram sentences.  She also practices her math facts.

Bible.  We're going through Proverbs I Study Guide from Generations with Vision.

Saxon Math.  We've used Saxon math since Sarah Beth was in kindergarten.  I appreciate how Saxon teaches math concepts with loads of review and time in-between new ideas to give children time to learn them well.

History.  We're studying the Middle Ages in CC, but I wanted to supplement that.  When I discovered that Heirloom Audio had a history curriculum based off The Dragon and the Raven, I snatched it up!  We love these CDs, and it's fun learning more about one of them.  In order to make the most of this curriculum, I'm supplementing with books from the library.

Spelling.  I'm using Spelling Plus with Sarah Beth and Daniel.

Science.  We read books from the library to learn more about what we're studying in CC.

What are you using this year?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Moms, Let Them Try!

Sarah Beth and Daniel are playing soccer for the first time and having a wonderful time.  John and I want to encourage them and help them develop some skills, so we purchased this goal for them.  It arrived last Friday, and Saturday morning John told them to put it together while he went on his bike ride.

Honestly, I didn't think they would be able to do it.  I figured they would come back inside after five minutes complaining how hard it was to put together.  But I was busy, and I trusted John, so I left them to it.

Half an hour later, my curiosity got the better of me, and I went outside to check on them.  Lo and behold!  The goal was almost completely put together!  I was so proud of my children.

Let me encourage you, fellow mothers, to let your children try things you don't think they can do.  (And I'm talking to myself, too!)  They just might surprise you!  Mine sure did!

Have you had an experience like this, where your children accomplished something you didn't think they could?

Friday, September 9, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Three Day Weekend

This week, oh, this week!  I felt like I was running behind all week!  Monday is my usual day to catch up from the weekend, but when Monday is part of the weekend -- well, there goes my week!

Okay, it wasn't really that bad this week although it did feel like it at times.  :)

Since John was home on Monday, he took our oldest four children out in the boat to do some crabbing.  Wasn't that brave of him?  :)  They had a great time!  And I had some time to myself!!  Hannah and I ran a couple of errands and enjoyed being home by ourselves for a little while.

Thursday, Mary and Sarah Beth had an appointment with the ophthalmologist, and they did fine.  But the doctor found a piece of metal in Sarah Beth's eye.  It had been there long enough to rust, but it didn't do any damage.  He was able to remove it, and things are fine now.  Honestly, I thought he was joking at first because it was just so strange.  "Your daughter has a piece of metal in her eye."  What?!

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • A three-day weekend with John.
  • A little time to myself (with Hannah) on Monday.
  • Having Sarah Beth and Daniel vacuum and mop on Tuesday.  :)  Yes, I enjoyed not doing it.
  • Booking an appointment to have our pictures taken professionally.  We haven't had professional pictures done since Daniel was a baby.  
  • Triggers:  Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake.  This book is amazing!  Each short chapter talks about the different things that can trigger anger in us, and then the authors give other ways to respond.  The first half of the book deals with the ways that children trigger anger in us, and it gives ways we should respond instead of getting angry while still dealing with whatever triggered the anger.  I wish I could buy this book for everyone I know!  I think it's that good!
Tomorrow is Sarah Beth's first soccer game, and we look forward to cheering her on!  What do you have planned?  And what have you enjoyed this week?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Forgotten Post: My August Reading and Goals

I completely forgot about this post until this past weekend when I remembered that I hadn't written about the books I read in August or even how I did with my goals.  Oops!  Since it's just the first week in September, however, I think it's still okay.  :)

Here are the books I read:
  • Patrick Henry by Thomas Kidd.  I learned much about about this Founder of our country through this biography.  I was most surprised to learn that Henry fought against the Constitution, thinking it gave the federal government too much power and took too much from the states.
  • The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.  This excellent book shows how to love our children better, in ways they understand more.  It also shows how to discipline our children more effectively, and even how their love languages affect their learning.  
  • Mama Needs a Do-Over by Lisa Pennington.  This book is filled with practical advice to show us how to take a problem and use the gifts God has given us to make it better.  We can't solve all of our problems, but we can make them better.  Also, the author shows us how to take a bad situation or a bad day and turn it around into a good one.
  • Dr. Seuss:  Young Author and Artist by Kathleen Kudlinski.  Sarah Beth recommended this book to me, and I enjoyed reading about the legendary children's book writer.  I learned some interesting things about his life, like where he got some of the inspiration for his stories.  
  • Heaven:  A World of Love by Jonathan Edwards.  This short, little book has amazing information in it about how wonderful Heaven will be.  I'm even more eager to see Heaven now!
  • To Darkness Fled by Jill Williamson.  The second in the series, this exciting book made the exercise on my treadmill go by much more quickly!
  • How to Manage Your Mouth:  A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge by Connie Hughes.  I highly recommend this book as it takes Scripture and shows what we should be saying, how to say it, and what we should refrain from.  
I didn't do as well with my goals for August as I had hoped, but I'm not too disappointed.  I certainly could have done better, but I also could have done much worse.  :)
  • Start back to school well.  We did, and we settled into a nice routine.  We're doing a new history curriculum which I hope to tell you about soon.  
  • Take my children to the pool once a week.  I did not take my children to the pool a single time, but John took the two little girls (not Hannah, of course) twice.  We were just too busy with school and everything else.
  • Continue using the treadmill four times a week.  I walked/jogged a good bit, but I probably only exercised four times in two weeks.  I couldn't get motivated the week John was out of town, and there were other times when things happened.  
Here are my new goals for September:
  • Take my children to the pool twice.  Let's make it realistic.  :)  I know I won't take them weekly.  
  • Continue exercising, getting in shape for a 5K.  I heard about a 5K in town at the end of October, so I plan to run this.  My goal for the 5K is just to run the whole thing like I did last time.  Since it's near Halloween, they would like for us to wear a costume; I told John I would dress as a homeschooling mother of five.  He thought that was funny.  
What have you read lately?  How are you doing towards any goals you've made?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hannah is Seven Months Old!

Hannah turned seven months old yesterday, and she is such a joy to have in our family.  

Her siblings still treat her like a doll baby, but I'm glad they love her so much.

This seems to be her favorite face right now with her bottom lip stuck out.  She's not unhappy; she just seems to like having her face like this.  I think she looks kind of like a grumpy old man.  :)

So what's new with Hannah?  She's rolling over which makes napping more difficult.  We started baby food this past weekend, and she loves it!   We had to pry the spoon in between her lips the first couple of times, but now she opens right up, ready for more!  Exciting times!

Friday, September 2, 2016

What I Enjoyed This Week: New Glasses and Ice Cream

Last weekend, we traveled to Louisiana for a family reunion.  This time, it was John's mother's family who came together.  Being gone all weekend, however, set me behind for the week.  I spent Monday catching up, Tuesday running errands, and Wednesday at CC.  Finally, I feel like I've got some time to breathe -- but it's almost the weekend again!

Other things I've enjoyed this week:

  • Daniel's glasses.  I don't enjoy the fact that he needs them, but I do enjoy knowing that he can see better now.  It's been fun watching him compare what he can see without his glasses with what he can see with them.  :)
  • Our CC group.  I really enjoy the mothers of the other children and spending time with them.  I also appreciate the hard work the tutors do to get ready to tutor our children.
  • The library.  I'm not sure how many books we checked out earlier this week, but it was quite a few!  I appreciate how my children can pick out random books that they might enjoy, and then we can check them out.  If we don't like them, it's not a big deal; we just take them back!
  • Naps.  While I did take one earlier this week (and it was lovely!), I'm actually talking about Hannah's naps.  She has started rolled over, so sometimes she rolls over so she can't sleep.  Then I have to roll her back over, and sometimes she misses a nap because it happens so much. Even though she's my fifth child to do this, it's still a little stressful for me when she doesn't nap.  
  • A new lego catalog.  I've enjoyed watching my three oldest daughters gather around the magazine, dreaming about what they will request for their birthdays and/or Christmas.  Mostly, I enjoy seeing them sitting together, spending time together.
  • Ice cream.  Did you know that Baskin Robbins prices their regular scoops at $1.31 on the 31st?  Well, Wednesday was the 31st, and we enjoyed less expensive ice cream!  We're looking forward to Halloween because it's the next 31st and therefore cheap ice cream!
What did you enjoy this week?

Friday, August 26, 2016

What I've Enjoyed This Week: Our New CC Campus

We started CC this week, and I think it's going to be another good year.  It's a new campus for us since we didn't have enough children to continue in our hometown.  We're making new friends, and that's always a good thing!

A few more things that I enjoyed this week:
  • How much Sarah Beth remembers in her Essentials class from last year.  It was a hard year because there was so much to learn, and I am thrilled at how much she remembers and how excited she is about it all this year.
  • Seeing SB act as a leader in her class.  This is the first year of Essentials for the other children in her class, and she's stepping up nicely.
  • Watching Mary participate in CC.  This year is her first, and she's been so excited about starting.  She kept asking when we were going to start, how many days.  :)
  • The Olympics being over.  We enjoyed watching them, but we watched way too much tv!
What did you enjoy this week?