Thursday, January 28, 2016

Books I Read in January

The other day, Rachel asked me if I were in school.  I told her that I'm not, but that I do try to read books that will teach me things and that I think it's a good idea to keep learning throughout our lives.  Over the past couple of months, I've really tried to read educational books, not just novels.  Here is what I read (or finished) in January.
  • Freedom by Kevin Swanson.  This book starts off with a look at men who fought for God-given freedom in the Bible and in England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and the United States.  I really enjoyed the history told from a Christian perspective, how these men tried to do what God would have them do.  The second part of the book tells how we are losing (and have already lost) many of the freedoms those men have fought for.  Our government is becoming more and more tyrannical as it steals our liberties, and we don't even care.  This part of the book was not enjoyable, but it was educational.
  • The Color of the Soul by Tracey Bateman.  This book goes back and forth, telling the story of  a slave during the War Between the States and a black man in the 1940's.  Both stories have hard parts to them, realistic parts, but the author redeems those parts.  And the way she ties these two people together at the end is worth the read.
  • Friends of the Heart by Emilie Barnes and Donna Otto.  A great read about being a friend.  Unfortunately, I feel like most of the advice just wasn't relevant to those of us with children who aren't in school.  While I would love to get together frequently with my friends for lunch or whatever, it's hard to coordinate when we both have children.  Yes, I know that I can invite my friend and her children over, but it's just not the same.  :)
  • Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse.  You can read my full review here.
  • Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.  Recently, I read Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt, and I wrote down many books that I thought I would enjoy reading.  This book was the first one I read, and I have to admit that I was disappointed.  Set in the 1950's, Mildred is a 30 year old spinster who gets involved in her downstairs neighbors' marriage and her vicar's engagement, too involved.  There wasn't much to this book, and it was frustrating to watch Mildred get taken advantage of by her friends.  I don't think I'll read another book by this author.  However, I'm sure there are many other great reads in my list, so I look forward to reading those.
  • A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck.  This hilarious books tells about the visits a boy and his sister have with their grandmother every summer during the 1930's.  I laughed out loud so many times while I read this book, and I even sent my mother a copy because I knew she would enjoy it, too!
  • Lord Peter Wimsey:  Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers.  This book was another recommendation I found in Honey for a Woman's Heart, and it's another one that I didn't quite enjoy.  :)  Lord Peter is an amateur detective who is trying to figure out how a naked body ended up in an acquaintance's bathtub.  Meanwhile, his friend Parker, who is a police detective, is trying to solve a murder.  Somehow these two cases seem to be related, but how?  This book takes place shortly after World War I, so I enjoyed that aspect of it, but the story was a little gruesome.  
What have you read lately?  Anything worth a recommendation?

Book Review: All Aboard the Ark

This cute board book tells the story of Noah's ark in a fun rhyme that young children should enjoy.  There's nothing new about this book as lots of children's books have been written about the Flood, but it is a good one.  Of course, the theology leaves some things missing:  the size of the ark is much too small and the animals are pastel colors (lavender giraffe?).  But for a toddler book, really I don't think that's such a big deal, and it's easily corrected as children age.

I'm glad to add this book to our library for our new baby coming soon, and I look forward to reading this book to her many times.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Sixth Birthday, Rachel!

Rachel turns six today!  Her joy is infectious, and she wants everyone to be just as happy as she is.

While she doesn't feel the need to try to keep up with her older siblings, she does a pretty good job at it!

One of the best things of our year was when she was discharged from her pediatric rheumatologist.

She is usually willing to try something new, even if it's a little bit silly.

It's been wonderful watching Rachel grow and develop this year, and we look forward to seeing what another year brings!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekly Update (#3) of January's Goals

I had another productive week last week, trying to get some things finished before we started back with CC this week.  I know that added schooling will make us busier during the day, so I didn't want the distraction of decluttering or making meals for the freezer.  Also, my due date is coming, and I need to spend some time getting things ready for the baby.  :)

Preparing meals.  I made a double batch of spaghetti last week, so half of that is in the freezer.  I also made two more casseroles, divided in half to make four meals.  And I cut up some raw chicken to freeze for a crockpot meal.  I also made four dozen muffins, but I'm not sure they'll last until the baby gets here.  :)

Afternoon schoolwork.  I couldn't get motivated this week for this, I think partly because I was working so hard preparing the materials for science and art for CC for the next six weeks.  But we did out morning school, so don't think we took the week off.  :)

Decluttering.  The end of the 14 day challenge was Thursday, and I was supposed to get rid of 500 things, but I actually threw out or donated 530 things.  Best of all, the donated items have all been taken to their new homes, and the trash has been picked up.
  • Day 11:  Closet.  Since I went completely through my closet (except for two boxes of mementos) two months ago, I decided not even to look in there.  Besides, it's a mess because I've been throwing all kinds of baby things in there to keep it out of the way for now.  And I've recently gone through the rest of the closets in the house, so I tackled the drawers in my bathroom and under my bathroom sink.  I was able to throw away 45 items including samples that I know I will never use.  It's so much cleaner and neater down there now!  It's wonderful!!
  • Day 12:  Car.  I knew there were some things that needed to come out of my car:  CD's that I wanted in the house and the ubiquitous trash.  I counted 45 things that I took out of my car, but I did not count the trash that had accumulated in the trash receptacles since it belonged there -- kind of.  :)  I usually empty those receptacles when I put gas in my car, but my sweet husband has been filling it up for me lately.  So they were kind of full.
  • Day 13:  Dining room.  My dining room is usually pretty spartan, but it was actually a mess last week.  I had to go through all of the CC supplies for art and science for the next six weeks, and that covered most of the dining room table.  And some friends threw me a baby shower last Saturday, and all of their gifts were dumped on the dining room floor.  So I put away what I could from the CC stuff, and I went through all of the gifts, putting things where they temporarily (before the baby comes) belong.  I was able to move 46 things although I actually threw away less than five.  And now all of the CC stuff is gone, too, since we had tutor training, and I handed it all over to them.  :)
  • Day 14:  I was supposed to come back to the garage at some point, but I just couldn't get motivated.  Bending over (while eight months pregnant) to pick things up off the floor, moving around heavy stuff, and sweeping the garage out just didn't appeal to me.  :)  So I left the garage for another time.  But I'm not done decluttering!  I spent a few minutes working in my bedside table, and cleaned it out nicely.  I didn't count, however, how much I got rid of since the challenge is technically over. 
I enjoy thinking back over what I accomplished last week.  Our freezer is full of food ready for after the baby comes and lots of our drawers, cabinets, etc. have been decluttered.  I feel so much lighter, like a burden I didn't even know I had has been lifted.  It's a wonderful feeling!
Maybe this week I can work on baby stuff.  :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Weekly Update (#2) of January Goals

I feel like I had another productive week.  While I don't know that I'm actually nesting, I do feel the urge to get things done before this baby arrives.

Preparing Meals.  When John went to the grocery store last Saturday, he brought home some boneless, skinless chicken breasts which I cut up into bite-sized pieces and froze in two batches.  Technically, these packs aren't meals, but they are the hard part of getting a couple of meals into the crockpot.  It's easy to add a few other ingredients and have the meal put together.

Sarah Beth's Schoolwork.  I only worked with her twice this week, but I think she got the hang of diagramming imperative sentences.  So I'm not too upset.  Besides, we were gone one afternoon for the kids' appointments and I was gone another afternoon for mine.  And then John came came home early on Friday (yea!),  so we just didn't have the time (or inclination) for our afternoon work.

  • Day 6:  Kitchen drawers.  I started with my baking supply drawer and threw out thirteen things, most of which were measuring cups and spoons whose size had been washed off along with a few cheap or in-poor-condition duplicates.  Why did I keep them when I couldn't even tell how much they measured?  :)  Then I moved to the catch-all drawer where I threw out rusty duplicates; again, why did I keep them?  Next, I cleaned out the drawer where we keep the phone book and other like supplies.  While this is really part of our home office, I was saving it for today.  I threw out old catalogs, old phone books (one from five years ago when we lived in Georgia), and an old checkbook (the starter one with its handwritten label from Florida).  Lastly, I tackled the two drawers where I keep plastic bags and miscellaneous things.  All together, I was able to throw away, give away, or move to a better place 74 things.  Now there's so much more room in all of my drawers.  Wonderful!!
  • Day 7:  Crafting stuff.  Actually, day 2 was supposed to be the garage, but I'm waiting for the weather to be a little nicer before I tackle that one!  :)  I went through almost everything related to my knitting and crocheting back in November and got rid of donated almost 100 skeins of yarn, so I didn't think I would have too much to do today.  The only thing I needed to go through was my knitting/crocheting basket where I keep my current project and the tools I need for it.  Well, I was wrong!  I took everything out of this basket, sorted through it, and was able to throw away, donate, or relocate 42 things.  I mean, how many size K crochet hooks do you need?  :)  I removed all of this stuff from a basket measuring only 10 x 14".  Crazy!
  • Day 8:  Living room.  Since I'm a minimalist when it comes to decorating, there wasn't much on the shelves in our living room that I needed or wanted to get rid of.  So I tackled the drawers in the bookshelf and in the side tables.  I found seven DVD's to post on Swap-a-DVD, and threw away or relocated another 35 things for a total of 42.  There are probably more DVD's that I can get rid of, but I need to check with John first because he may want to keep them, and that's fine.  
  • Day 9:  Laundry room.  I knew this room would have a lot in it to get rid of because we keep puzzles, coloring things, and a few other things in there that the kids use at the kitchen table (which is right next to the laundry room).  As I sorted through and straightened the two bookshelves in there, I was able to throw away 40 things, mostly pictures they had started to color and never finished but also a few coloring books that were almost completely used up and a few other things.  Then I looked into the cabinets above the washer and dryer.  I didn't have much up there to get rid of, just a few (nine) candles.  I found four unused candles which I plan to donate along with nine puzzles that my children never do.  Altogether, today I got rid of 62 things!
  • Day 10:  Medicine cabinet.  Since I am a non-working pharmacist, it's in my nature to go through our medications fairly frequently and dispose of expired ones.  I wasn't surprised to find only two expired prescriptions and only three or four over-the-counter medicines.  But I did throw away the droppers that we've used to dispense medications since my children are old enough not to need those anymore.  (If the baby needs one, I'm sure the pharmacy will give us one.)  There were a few other things in there, too, that we don't need, so I was able to throw seventeen things away.  
I still need to work at going through the baby's stuff, but I plan to do that on Saturday.  I've got to get things ready for CC first!

How was your week?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Finished Object Friday: Another Table Runner

Our local pregnancy help center is having their annual banquet and silent auction later this month.  I wanted to do something to help them raise money, and John suggested crocheting a table runner which I started last spring but just finished last week.  (I took over six months off because of morning sickness and to make blankets for friends having babies.)

Do these pictures look familiar?  I made this table runner a few years ago, and I made another one just like it for the silent auction.  These pictures are actually the ones I took of mine several years ago; I was too lazy to clean off the dining room table to take pictures of the new one.  :)  It's exactly the same except that it's not quite as long.

I don't know how much money the pregnancy center will raise from this table runner, but even if it's only $50, that's more than they would have had otherwise.  Looking at etsy was a little disheartening because similar table runners are selling for only $100.  I wouldn't make one of these for that little amount of money!  It took too much time!

I want to encourage you to think outside the box when supporting organizations.  Sometimes, we think we can only give money, but God wants us to use our time and talents to help others.  Is there something you can do (besides give money) to help an organization that you support?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Beyond the Silence by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

When Lillian moves to become Jimmy's nanny after his mother dies, she doesn't know what God has in store for her.  As soon as she arrives in town, she discovers that most of the town thinks that Jimmy's father Woody murdered his wife and that Lillian will be next.  As she gets to know Woody better, Lillian realizes there is no way he could have committed this crime.  Meanwhile, the killer is still out there, skulking around.

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would.  What I enjoyed the most about this book is the characters' faith; they are already strong Christians who constantly pray, asking for God's guidance in difficult decisions.  Of course, Woody and Lillian fall in love; isn't that expected in this kind of book?  But the romance is sweet, genuine, and refreshingly platonic.  I also enjoyed how the authors treated Harry who is a boy trapped in a man's body.  Most books leave this type of person out.

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Weekly Update on My January Goals

This little girl is having a birthday later this month; turning six is exciting!

Because I made goals for January instead of the whole year, I thought I would keep you updated weekly on how I'm doing.  Actually, I'm using you to hold me accountable to finish what I've started.  :)  I'm posting about my progress on Monday because it lets me use all of Friday and Saturday to finish things, if I need that extra time.

First of all, I doubled my lasagna recipe and divided it into four 8x8 pans.  I froze three for the time after the baby comes.  Three more meals in the freezer makes seven in there altogether!

Secondly, I worked with Sarah Beth four times this week with her CC Essentials schoolwork.  My goal was four times.  She's not behind in her work, but it is a lot of information, and I want her to have a good grasp on it before we start back with CC in a few weeks.

Third, as I told you last week, one of my goals for this month is to complete Kathi Lipp's Clutter Free Academy, and I thought it would be fun to document everything that I'm getting rid of -- at least, for me!

Day 1:  Paperwork.  I don't tend to keep much paperwork, so I didn't have too much to go through, especially since I just went through our filing cabinet last year.  However, I do have a problem with recipes:  I print them out and tear them out of magazines, and I never rarely try them.  So I went through my recipe notebook and was able to throw out 125 recipes that my family didn't like or that I know I will never try.  My notebook is much skinner now, and lighter, too!

Day 2:  Bedroom.  I don't usually let things pile up in our bedroom, and I've been decluttering lately anyway, so I wasn't sure that I could come up with 25 things.  But there were a few things in there that we had hidden away when we had a Christmas party that I hadn't put back where they belong, so I took care of that.  Then I tackled my jewelry box.  Oh, my!  I hadn't gone through my earrings since I got my ears pierced nearly 25 years ago, and I was able to get rid of a bunch along with some other cheap, ugly things I had held onto for too long.  All together, I got rid of 46 things from my bedroom.  Hooray!  (Now I'm not scared to open my jewelry box, and I can actually wear some of my necklaces since they're not all tangled up anymore.)

Day 3:  Kitchen Counters.  Since I hate having cluttered counters, mine were already pretty clear.  I was surprised, though, to find ten things on them that I could move or get rid of.  I also tackled my recipe books and old recipe magazines.  I was able to discard all but one of the magazines and twelve of the books which opened up some room on my kitchen shelves.

Day 4:  Home Office.  While we don't have a home office, we do have a desk in the kitchen where we keep our computer.  There are a few shelves above the computer, too.  I cleaned a few things off the shelves, mostly expired coupons.  (I was surprised to find one that expired in 2014 -- until I found one that expired in 2013.  :) )  Then I went through the two drawers in the desk and cleaned out a few more things.  All together, I was able to get rid of 54 things.

Day 5:  Pantry.  My pantry had been a mess, and I kept putting off cleaning it out.  But once I started, it actually became kind of fun -- although a little disgusting, considering how much expired food (mostly pasta) I found on the shelves.  I cleaned out enough stuff (46 things!) that I was able to clear off the floor (yes, it was that full) and sweep it out.  Even my children noticed that it was much cleaner and neater!

So I've gotten five of the fourteen days of decluttering done, and it's gratifying.  If you come over, you won't be able to see that I've done much decluttering because the spaces are so small -- except for maybe the pantry.  But I know, and I feel so much lighter with all of that stuff gone.  :)

I just want to add that everything I've gotten rid of has been mine (well, except for the broken toy I found in the pantry), so my husband and children aren't freaking out.  ;)

I look forward to getting more done this week!

How are you doing with your goals for the month?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goals for January -- Mostly Related to the Baby

Since I found out that I was pregnant, my vision seems to have become focused, almost like tunnel vision.  First, all I could think about was getting out of the first trimester with its nausea and exhaustion.  Then my focus was on CC and getting through the semester -- not that it was a chore; we enjoyed every minute.  Next the holidays were all I could think about.  Now, finally, it's time to focus on the baby.  And I feel like I've got tunnel vision about her and getting things ready for her.  Don't ask me about plans for the spring or summer, much less fall or next winter.  I can't even think about those things.  :)

It's the time of year for setting goals, and I want to -- but, as I just said, I can't think beyond the baby's arrival.  All I could come up with is copying my goals from last year, and I knew that most of them would not get met for several months while I dealt with a new baby.

Then I read Tracey's post about her goals for the year and found my solution:  I'll just make goals for each month.  What a great idea!  So here are my goals for January, most of which have to do with the baby (surprise!  surprise!):
  • Wash the baby's clothes and put them away.
  • Buy the last minute things that I still need for her.
  • Make at least two meals for the freezer each week.  I actually made four meals last week:  two casseroles split in half.  Whoohoo!  
  • Set up the bassinet, swing, etc., and get them ready for her arrival.  I plan to do this the last week of January.
  • Figure out a good time to read a chapter book to my children.
  • Review her Essentials work with Sarah Beth to get her prepared for starting back with CC at the end of the month.  Along with the rest of school, of course!
  • Go through Kathi Lipp's Clutter Free Academy.  Since I didn't finish using the KonMari challenge, I thought this might help, and so far I've gotten rid of over 150 things in two days.  Not bad!
There are my goals for this month.  Do you make New Year's goals or monthly goals?  Have you ever had tunnel vision like this before?  I certainly haven't.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Almost 35 Weeks! Getting Close!

This picture isn't the best, but we'll just blame it on the iPhone!  :)

I figure it's time for another update for those of you what want to know how I'm doing.  I am almost 35 weeks, so I've got about a month to go before this baby comes.  All of us are so excited about finally meeting her, but I'm not anxious for her to come early.  I've still got lots to do before she arrives.  I decided to wait until after the holidays to get ready for her, but I think I still have plenty of time.  :)

I feel pretty good; I'm just tired more easily.  But isn't that what you expect when you're pregnant?  We've taken the last two weeks off from school and aren't really looking forward to starting back this week.  ;)  We've really enjoyed having John home for most of those two weeks, and I've been able to get a few things done.

We had a lovely Christmas, although I didn't take a single picture.  My parents flew over for the week, and we loved having them here.  Our children are still young enough that they get excited about opening and receiving gifts, pretty much regardless of what they receive.  (We didn't, however, give them any socks or underwear.)  We even attended a wonderful Christmas Eve service at a church different from the one we attend because ours doesn't have a service on Christmas Eve.

I'll be counting down the weeks and days until this baby arrives, trying to get as much done as I can without exhausting myself.  Having had four babies already, I realize that if I don't get a few things done, it will be okay.  :)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: The Midwife's Choice by Delia Parr

In The Midwife's Choice by Delia Parr, Martha delivers babies and treats other women and children in a small town along with dealing with other of the town's problems.  From the old seaman who has just gone blind to the woman who's husband is beating her, Martha carries these burdens on her shoulders.  Meanwhile, her daughter is in town for a visit, and Martha has to figure out where their relationship stands, as well.  When she remembers to ask God for wisdom and help, He supplies it.

I enjoyed this book, especially learning about midwifery a hundred years ago.  I did not love this book, however, as I felt like the author wanted Martha to solve every single one of the town's troubles.  (I ended up being wrong about this, as I discovered toward the end of the book.)  The story was good and the characters likable, but there just seemed to be something missing, the "something" that would have made it a great story.  Also, and this is minor thing, but everyone in the book "murmured;" that word appeared on almost every page.  Couldn't someone have whispered, spoken quietly, or even muttered?

If you want to learn more about midwifery in the 1800's, you should read this book and the one before it.  If not, you still may enjoy the story.  I did.

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