Friday, December 29, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Christmas!

My Yule Log isn't the prettiest thing, but it sure was delicious!

Christmas!  What a wonderful time of the year, that is, if it's not so busy that you can't contemplate the reason for celebration.  It's an amazing thing, isn't it, when you stop to think about it:  the Creator became the created, God limited Himself to being a human.  It's crazy, but so wonderful!

We had a quiet Christmas at home this year.  John couldn't even find any co-workers who needed some place to have Christmas dinner.  So we enjoyed each other and had a great time!  It was nice to be low-key and not have to worry about the mess being cleaned up for company.  Or trying to figure out how to get the dining room table cleared off because it's become the repository for Christmas gifts that need to be kept out of Hannah's hands.  :)

This week has been a nice mix of busy, i.e. doing things, and resting.  We took the week off from school, and we have all been enjoying the break.  The girls (but not Hannah) participated in a soccer clinic Wednesday through today which they enjoyed.  I appreciated the time with Daniel; it's not often that he's the only child -- not including the ever-present Hannah.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:

  • John being home Tuesday and, of course, Monday
  • how excited the children were as they opened their gifts.  It's like they forgot that John and I bought the presents so we knew exactly what they're getting.  They still show us like we may not know.  :)  It's fun!
  • being correct at how much my children enjoy some of their gifts.  When I saw these certain items in a catalog, I just knew they would love them.  
  • how much fun the girls had at their soccer clinic and how much they learned
  • that they moved the clinic indoors for two days because it was cold and rainy
  • getting the house mostly back in order after the storm of unwrapping presents hit.  Am I the only one who has trouble figuring out where the new gifts should go?  
  • no school!!
I think we're going to take down the tree this weekend.  It's supposed to stay cold, so we may as well stay inside and take care of that chore.  Other than that, we don't have any plans.

What did you enjoy this week?  Do you have trouble figuring out where some of your children's gifts should go?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December Reading

Yes, Hannah is reading a book about pharmacy!

We were busier this month than I had hoped, so I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked.  But two of the books were excellent, one was pretty good, and one was entertaining, so I can't complain!
  • A Good Place to Hide by Peter Grose.  This book tells the amazing story of how one French community rescued, hid, and took to safety thousands of people during World War II.  Honestly, I didn't think much of the French people because of their government's actions during the war, but this book changed my perspective.  I cannot recommend this book more highly, and Sarah Beth (11) loved it, too!
  • Come, Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp.  This book contains wonderful Advent devotionals for the month of December.  No, I haven't quite finished it since December isn't over yet, but I can't imagine it won't continue to be just as good for the last few days.  Put this one on your list for Advent readings next year.  
  • Patriot Pirates:  The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution by Robert H.  Patton.  The title of this book intrigued me, and it does contain many interesting facts.  But it's a little dry in places.  I did enjoy learning about how important privateers -- basically, pirates commissioned by the government -- were to securing our independence from Britain because I had no idea!
  • The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King.  When Kalinda is chosen to be the rajah's one hundredth queen, she becomes immersed in a political world where the high stakes could cost her her life.  She also has to fight in an arena against some of the rajah's courtesans who also want to become his queen.  This book was a good one for my running on the treadmill:  not too deep with lots of action.  :)
What have you read lately?

Friday, December 22, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Quiet One!

Oh my goodness!  This week was so nice and quiet!  We didn't have Classical Conversations; I cancelled piano lessons; and I didn't have Bible study.  It was so nice to have a wide-open week with nothing pressing to do, nowhere to go.  Yes, we have another planned for next week, and I'm looking forward to it!

Here are a few things I enjoyed from this week:
  • I took Sarah Beth to see Sleeping Beauty and her Winter Knight on Saturday.  I didn't realize that it was a panto which seems to be a comedic musical calling for audience participation, but we had a good time.  And that's what counts, right?
  • Preparing for Christmas.  I had time to get things done like wrap presents.  :)
  • Sarah Beth spent all day Tuesday with one of her friends.  I'm so glad she has opportunities like this, time to be a friend instead of always being the oldest child.
  • Running last minute errands.  I took the other four children with me Tuesday to run a few errands, like picking out Christmas gifts for John at a dollar store.  
  • Baking Green Kiss Cookies, at least, that's what we call them.  :)
  • The Health Museum.  I've meant to take the kids this fall since we're studying the human body in Classical Conversations, but we were just too busy.  Finally, we had time this week.
  • School.  Yes, I've enjoyed getting a few math lessons done this week, probably more than my children have.  :)
  • Puzzles.  I bought several Christmas puzzles, and we've enjoyed putting a couple together over the past few days.  Sarah Beth and Rachel are amazing at puzzles, and I enjoy spending the time with them.  Unfortunately, one of our puzzles is missing two pieces.  How do I know that we didn't just loose them?  We had just finished a 1000-piece puzzle without misplacing a piece (or letting Hannah carry one off).
We have another quiet weekend planned, just finishing up things for Christmas.

What did you enjoy this weekend?  What do you have planned for the weekend?  Have you ever put together a new puzzle only to find that it's missing a piece?  Or two?

Friday, December 15, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Snow!

My favorite snow picture, showing how much the kids enjoyed playing in it!

Can you believe it snowed here in south Texas?  Isn't it crazy?!  Apparently, the last time it snowed was back in 2002 or something like that.  When I saw the forecast before I went to bed last Thursday night, I didn't believe it.  "No way!"  I thought.  "It won't stick even if it does snow."  But when I woke up in the morning, the ground was covered!

Technically, maybe it didn't really stick since it wasn't on the ground, but the snow coated the grass and trees and everything else, so we had plenty to play with.  And play we did!  Unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on how you look at it -- the snow was mostly gone by noon.  But we enjoyed it while it lasted!  We even made a snowman!

The same day, to make things even more exciting, we heard a knock at the door.  A couple in our neighborhood have a nephew who visits them occasionally, and he is about Sarah Beth and Daniel's ages.  When he comes to visit his aunt and uncle, he drops by our house, too.  All of our children enjoy playing with him.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Mary's sixth birthday!  We had a fun day with a drive up to Houston for her to pick out some legos for her birthday.  She wanted Ham and Spinach Pie for supper along with a chocolate layer cake ("you know, one that goes up") with vanilla icing.  Done!
  • Bible study.  It was our last meeting this year, so we went out for brunch.  Yum!
  • No CC this week.  We ran errands instead.  ;)
  • Having babysitters who are available most of the time.  I will have needed them four times this week!  
John and I have a work party tonight.  Tomorrow I'm taking Sarah Beth along with a friend and her mother -- my friend! -- to a musical in the afternoon.  It should be a fun day!

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mary's Sixth Birthday!

Today is Mary's sixth birthday!  Things are never dull when Mary is around!

She enjoys her little sister and is glad not to be the baby of the family anymore.

She played soccer last spring and LOVED it!

Mary has such a neat personality!

She's not even afraid of Union soldiers storming up the hill!`

Much too cute to be an angel since real angels are scary-looking.

She played in snow the first time last Friday and was absolutely delighted!

We know that God has great things in store for Mary, and we are privileged to play a part in it!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Some of Our Favorite Children's Christmas Books

As you know, we love books at our house.  And I'm always on the lookout for new books to add to our Christmas collection.  In case you feel the same way, here are a few of our favorite Christmas books, some of which are out of print.  Hopefully, you can find them at your library which is where we discovered these gems.  
  • On Christmas Eve by Margaret Wise Brown.  This book captures the wonder and excitement that children have on Christmas Eve.
  • Mousekin's Christmas Eve by Edna Miller.  I love this book!  After the family moves out of the house where Mousekin lives, he has to make a journey through a cold night if he wants to survive.  He arrives at another house, finds a Christmas tree, and discovers a safe place to sleep.  The illustrations along with the text in this book are marvelous!
  • Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor.  Nancy wants so badly to decorate her Christmas tree, but her family is waiting for her grandfather to arrive to help.  She thinks of several diversions but finally can't think of anything else.  A disaster happens.  What I enjoy about the Fancy Nancy books is that she respects her parents and the close family they portray. Without diminishing Nancy's real disappointment, her grandfather helps her overcome the disaster in a pleasing way.
  • The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski.  After moving to town, a family helps a bitter woodcarver to learn how to feel joy again by sharing their friendship with him.  A wonderful story!
  • Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas by Russell Hoban.  This story is reminiscent of The Gift of the Magi but more easily understood by children.  Emmett Otter and his mother both sacrifice items they love and need to try to make a happier Christmas for the other one.  This book was made into a movie which was nicely done.
  • The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda.  This book is amazing!  It contains the familiar Christmas story of Jesus being born which is amazing enough, but the pop-ups in this book are absolutely wonderful!  Yes, it's worth the price tag -- if you don't let your children tear it up.  :)
  • Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert Barry.  When Mr. Willowby gets a terrifically tall tree for Christmas, he has to cut off the top because it won't fit in his parlor.  The top goes through different people and families as each one discovers it is too tall for their house, so they cut off the top, ending up with the Mouse family getting the very tippy top.  The poetry in this book is really nice, as are the illustrations.
Here are a couple of board books we like, too:
  • Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton.  This board book has wonderful rhythm as you read the different sounds each instrument makes during a Christmas parade.  
  • The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg.  Mr.  Sonneman moves into town, opening a candy store.  He explains to his helper Lucy the symbolism of the candy cane, how it tells about Jesus' birth and death.  
What Christmas books do you enjoy reading to your children?

Friday, December 8, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Cold Rain

Mary and Rachel at the Christmas parade.

Okay, I didn't really enjoy two days of cold rain.  As a matter of fact, these days were fairly miserable when we had to venture outside.  But it was nice to have a change in the weather.  It's supposed to warm up a little today and this weekend, and I'm grateful!

We started the week with several children having colds, so we had to stay home from Classical Conversations on Tuesday.  We were all pretty disappointed since it was the last meeting of the year, and we were having a party.  Oh, well!  It was more important not to infect everyone else.

Here are a few more things I enjoyed this week:
  • We were invited to join a local church's float in a Christmas parade.  Mary and Rachel chose to participate, and they had so much fun dressing as angels!
  • I found a babysitter for the mornings when we have Bible study.  Everyone is happier with that arrangement:  I don't have to deal with the kids during the study, and they aren't bored waiting for us to finish.
  • Yesterday John's company threw a Christmas party for children.  Ours had such a good time, especially because I told them to eat whatever they wanted, I didn't care.  (I get tired of being asked every other minute if they can have something.)
  • Hannah gave me a kiss on Wednesday.  It's the first time she's given anyone a kiss, and I got her first one!
  • I'm enjoying everyone being well again!
We don't have much planned this weekend except that John and I are attending a local Christmas concert.  Other than that, I hope it will be a quiet weekend at home.

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

What I Enjoyed the Past Two Weeks: Thanksgiving and Grandparents!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of fun!  My parents arrived last Monday, and their visits thrill all of us.  My mother helped prepare a couple of the sides for Thanksgiving dinner while John fried a turkey.  I appreciated all of the help!

Thursday morning, several of us ran in a Turkey Trot.  Daniel, Rachel, and Mary ran in the kids' run, and we adults ran the 5K.  My kids did great with Rachel and Mary finishing fourth in their divisions.  John and I both had personal best times, and we both finished tenth in our age divisions.  Isn't that funny?  My father won his division!

While we didn't do any Black Friday shopping per se, my mother and I did go out to find Christmas presents for my children -- her grandchildren.  They love receiving early Christmas presents, and my parents are glad to see them get them.

We took my parents back to the airport Monday morning and met some friends at the zoo that afternoon.  We haven't seen them in a while, so it was wonderful to spend some time with them.  And we always enjoy seeing the animals at the zoo.

After that, it was our standard week with Classical Conversations, piano lessons, etc., although I did skip Bible study because I needed the time at home to catch up.

One of my favorite parts of the week was Monday morning when my father dissected a sheep heart with my children.  Someone gave us a sheep heart last summer, and well, dissecting isn't my thing.  So I coerced asked my father to do it.  My kids loved spending the time with him and learning new things.

We may do another race tomorrow; we haven't decided yet.  Tomorrow Rachel and Mary are going to be in a Christmas parade, but that's it for our weekend.

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

October and November Reading

An interesting thing when you read history is how certain characters show up in unexpected places.  When I read The American Miracle, I was fascinated by Winfield Scott who led the expedition into Mexico when that country tried to re-annex Texas after it became a state.  He had an interesting relationship with Nicholas Trist, the man who negotiated the treaty with Mexico; it started as immense dislike yet they became friends.  And Scott had an attention-catching nickname:  Old Fuss and Feathers.  When I read the Lee biography, I was delighted to find that Lee had been sent to Texas as Scott's aid.  Lee was a big part of the American success in the Mexican War.  Later, during the Civil War, these friends were split as the Union was split.  While Lee ended up as the head of the Confederate army, Scott, a fellow Virginian, was already in charge of the Union forces although he was too old to lead them into battle, and he disagreed with Lee about their loyalties.  I enjoyed learning about this connection.

Another interesting thing is when you have visited a historic place.  The Lee biography describes the significant features of the Sharpsburg/Antietam Battlefield:  the cornfield, the sunken road, and a bridge.  Since I've been there, I could not just imagine, but actually see, these places as the author wrote about them.  I've walked through the cornfield, wandered down the sunken road, and seen the bridge.  It really made history come alive!

Here are the books I read during the last two months:
  • Noah:  Man of Resolve by Tim Chaffey and K.  Marie Adams.  This fictionalized account of Noah's life continues in this second book of this series.  (Here's my review of the first one.)  People increasingly stop worshiping the Creator and start following the Deceiver.  The reader can see how things will culminate in God destroying the world via a flood.
  • The Elfstones of Shanarra by Terry Brooks.  This series about a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by humans, elves, gnomes, trolls, etc. has enough depth and is interesting enough to keep me engaged while I jog.  :)
  • Where We Belong by Lynn Austin.  You can read my review of this wonderful book here.
  • The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.  You can read my review of this thought-provoking book here.
  • The American Miracle:  Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved.  Starting with the Pilgrims, the author takes the reader through several incidents in American history and shows how God intervened in amazing ways to accomplish His purposes.  I really enjoyed this book and its premise, seeing how wonderful "coincidences" occurred to help America succeed:  how the Pilgrims ended up in just the right spot despite being thrown off course, how George Washington survived several battles when he should have been killed, how the acquisition of California from Mexico happened just as gold was discovered.  I also found it interesting the way God orchestrated events around both Lincoln's election and his assassination.  Apparently, God wanted him to be president, as harsh as he was, and He did not want him leading Reconstruction, as gentle as he wanted to be.  The only thing I didn't like about this book was how the author thought Lincoln was a great president; he wasn't, but that's a subject for a different post.  ;)
  • The Man who Would not Be Washington by Jonathan Horn.  This book is a wonderful biography of Robert E. Lee, especially as it compares and contrasts him with George Washington.  Did you know that Lee married the daughter of Washington's adopted son?  And did you know that his father-in-law built Arlington House (now part of Arlington Cemetery) as a place to store relics from Washington?  And the Union government stole it from the Lees and buried Union soldiers there so that the Lees would never want to live there again?  But what wonderful man and general Robert E. Lee was!
  • The Wishsong of Shanarra by Terry Brooks.  This series keeps me going on the treadmill!
  • Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews.  You can read my review of this engaging book about Hezekiah and his wife here.
Have you ever found people in unexpected places in books you've read?  Have you ever read about a place after you've visited it and had an experience like I did?  What have you read lately?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Isaiah's Daughter by Mesu Andrews

When Ishma meets Prince Hezekiah as children, they are both scarred from traumatic experiences, but they help each other heal and form a wonderful friendship.  This friendship continues to grow and develop through the years as Hezekiah has to deal with his idol-worshipping father Azah and his terrible decisions for him and Judah.  As Isaiah's servant, Ishma learns to love Yahweh as her master Isaiah, who later becomes Isaiah's father via adoption, teaches her.  Hezekiah has many difficult decisions to make when he becomes king, but he does the best he can with his faithful wife as his side and Yahweh's leading through Isaiah.

This book was so much fun!  I enjoyed learning more about the righteous King Hezekiah and that time period in Judah.  While this story is fictionalized, it was interesting to read about what Hephzibah's life as queen might have been life, especially as she has to deal with barrenness for so long.  Honestly, the marriage of Hezekiah and Hephzibah might have been written a little too perfectly, but it was still a great book.  You will probably enjoy this book if you like historical fiction that centers on events in the Bible.

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Typical Week

Checking out groceries at the Children's Museum.

We had our typical, busy week which I'm getting used to.  With CC, piano lessons, and Bible study, we're out of the house three days a week.  I don't find that ideal, but it's life right now.  I have a feeling that our lives will only get busier and busier as my children get older.  :)

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • Bible study.  The study is convicting, and the fellowship is wonderful!
  • getting a nagging errand done.
  • yesterday afternoon I received an invitation to an Usborne book party drop-in.  I texted John to see if he could come home early, so I could go.  And he was able to!  I enjoyed looking at some books and getting some suggestions for Christmas presents for my children.  
  • how much the children in my CC Essentials class enjoy it.  The material can get dry, but they all love to learn.  
I've been looking forward to this weekend all week; we have no plans on Saturday!  It's the first time in almost a month we haven't had at least one soccer game, a race, a work party, etc., enough to fill our day.  Finally, I can get some of my normal Saturday chores done on Saturday!  (The little things that make me happy.  ;)

On Sunday I'm meeting the mothers of the children in my afternoon Essentials class to watch a DVD on what we're teaching next.  I have to admit that I'm a little bit of a nerd, and I actually enjoy watching Andrew Pudewa teach, but mostly I enjoy the time with these ladies.

Then next week is Thanksgiving!  My parents are coming into town, and friends are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, too.  It should be a fun week!  

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Running a Race with John

Hannah loves to be read to, and I love that some of her older siblings are willing to do it.

Running has become a bigger part of my life the past couple of weeks because of the two races I participated in, but even more so because John and I ran one of them together.  Well, we didn't actually run together because he's so much faster than I am, but we did run the same course at the same time.  :)  I forgot to mention last week that I came in third in my division in the race, and then I won my division last weekend.  (Honesty and humility require me to tell you that there were only seven women in my age division two weeks ago, and I was the only one in it last Saturday.  But I figure that you should take what you can get, right?)  John, however, came in third in his age division on Saturday, and I'm so proud of him, especially since he hasn't run a 5K in almost twenty years!  And no, we don't have a picture of our sweaty selves to put on my blog.  ;)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • the cooler weather.  It's been in the 60s a couple of days!
  • Bible study yesterday.  We didn't meet for a few weeks because so many ladies couldn't make it, so yesterday was especially nice.
  • Hannah said her first word this morning!  "Baby."  We were looking for her baby doll.  
  • John made it home in time last night to have supper with us!  It was lovely having him home with us all evening.
We're hosting our church's Bible study tonight.  Tomorrow Sarah Beth has a soccer tournament, so she will play three games.  Isn't that crazy?!  And we'll be there for all three of them!  Don't tell her, but I'm looking forward to the end of the season:  more time at home!

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review: Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Sisters Rebecca and Flora are traveling through the Egyptian desert, on their way to a remote monastery to find ancient Biblical manuscripts they hope are there.  On the way, they have problems with the sheik who is taking them there.  The journey also reminds them of previous trips they have taken where they were younger, and how they learned more about themselves and the Lord on them.  Their reminiscences are woven into their present adventure to create a poignant read.

I have loved every book by Lynn Austin that I have read, and this book was no exception.  The description of the middle to late 1800s Chicago was wonderful, including the flight from the Great Chicago Fire the sisters took.  I also really appreciated how the author wove in the historical finds from that time period along with some apologetics as the sisters converse with themselves and others.  Historical fiction at its best, I cannot recommend this book more highly.

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Learning Something New

Loving on one of my dolls from when I was Hannah's age!

I learned something this week:  not to run errands on Monday.  We took Monday off from school to run a bunch of errands, and it was not a good idea.  We got most of our errands done, but we arrived home exhausted.  I still had a bunch of things I needed to do to get ready for CC on Tuesday, and I just didn't have the energy.  Somehow I got everything done.  Phew!

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • I took the kids to a science show yesterday.  I think they learned some things, and I know they enjoyed it.
  • Getting most of my errands done on Monday, so nothing is hanging over my head.
  • Moms' Night Out last night.  It was women from my new Bible study, and I really enjoyed getting to know them better.
  • the Astros winning the World Series!  We stayed up much too late some nights to watch the games.
John convinced me to run another 5K tomorrow, this time with him.  Date night?  And Sarah Beth has a double-header tomorrow, too.  It's going to be a busy day! 

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A "Normal" Week

Rachel and I at The Secret Garden two weeks ago.

Our new normal week is just busy, well, busier than I would like.  I'm coming to terms with that.  ;)  My ideal week would have us staying home for three days, having CC on another, and running various other errands (including Bible study and piano lessons) on the last.  But it just doesn't work that way.  Now I feel fortunate when we're home for a whole day without leaving the house.  :)  Yes, I'm a homebody!

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • a new family is joining our CC campus!
  • while I did not enjoy not having Bible study this week, it was nice to be home that morning.
  • we're a little bit ahead in school, so we're going to take Monday off to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation along with running a few errands.
  • some time with Sarah Beth and Rachel.  They had a doctor's appointment yesterday, so I took them out for that and a few other errands.  (I left the other three home with a babysitter.)
  • getting some needed errands done!
Tomorrow I'm running my second race of the year.  It's supposed to be cold, so I hope I don't freeze!  Afterwards, John's work is throwing a party for the families of its employees.  My children are looking forward to that!

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Book Review: The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

from the back cover:  Jesus spent more time talking about money and possessions than about heaven and hell combined.  But too often we've overlooked or misunderstood His most profound teaching on this topic from His words in Matthew 6.  

Far from discouraging His followers from pursuing treasure, Jesus offers us life-changing investment advice.  He actually wants us to store up treasure for ourselves -- just not here on earth.  Instead He urges us to store our treasure in heaven, where they will await us, and last forever.  We can't take it with us -- but we can send it on ahead!

When I saw this book was available for review, I snatched it up!  I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author, and this book was no exception.  Jam-packed with Scripture backing up his claims, Alcorn lays out the case for not hoarding our wealth here on earth.  Rather we should use the resources God has blessed us with, and in so doing, send treasures ahead to heaven where we can enjoy them forever.  The author does not have any problems with wealth; he just wants to encourage his readers to use their wealth to further God's kingdom.  This short, little book will help you think about your possessions in a new way -- if you let it.

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Time with my Children

This week has been crazy!  At least, it has felt that way to me although I have a feeling that when I type it all out, it won't sound so bad.  :)  It actually started on Saturday when John left.  He's been gone all week, and that always throws a wrench into things.  Then I was gone almost all day, first to Sarah Beth's soccer game and then taking Rachel to see The Secret Garden.  We really enjoyed spending time together, but, well, the musical wasn't as good as I had hoped.  

Monday, I was again gone for a long time, most of the afternoon and evening.  One of my children had an appointment north of Houston, so I enjoyed spending that time with her, but it was a long drive!

I was able to schedule my week around these things, but we had plans Thursday and Friday that would keep us from doing school.  Thursday is my new Bible study.  Just as I had things figured out, friends gave us five tickets to the Houston Children's Museum.  How nice!  The only problem was that they expired on Friday, today!  So I had to rework my schedule -- again.  But this kind of opportunity doesn't come up very often, so I wanted to take advantage of it.

But then I was able to move things around on Friday so we could do school in the morning.  And Bible study was cancelled because no one else could go.  So my week ended up not as crazy as I had thought.  :)

Oh, and I made dermatologist appointments for two of my children that I had to cancel, and I had to schedule a meeting with some of the CC parents.  Two more things to deal with.  :)

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • the time with Rachel at The Secret Garden.
  • Sunday rest.  I needed it!
  • being home most of Tuesday.
  • Kroger's QuickPick because I certainly did not have time to grocery shop this week.
  • the wonderful time we had at the Children's Museum.  My children were old enough to enjoy it and to stay with me.  Except Hannah, of course, but chasing down one child is easy.  :)
  • being home Thursday to do school even though I missed Bible study.
  • the Homeschool Summit.  An online homeschool conference with wonderful speakers?  Yes, please!!  I listened to an excellent talk by Andrew Pudewa yesterday.
  • spending time with the CC mothers even though it was watching videos about CC.
  • the cooler weather.  We actually had to wear jeans a couple of days this week!  It is fall!
Sarah Beth has another soccer game tomorrow morning, and I look forward to cheering her on.  Other than that, I think it's going to be a quiet week.

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A New Bible Study and Running Errands with Hannah

It occurred to me last week that most of my friends don't stay with their children at their music lessons.  I thought, "I can do that, too."  So I checked with my children's piano teacher, and she said it was fine for me not to stay.  Hooray!  Now I've got an hour every week when I can run a few errands with Hannah alone.  Dealing with one toddler is easy compared with four children and a toddler.  :)

I also started a new Bible study this week and really enjoyed it.  Most of the other ladies homeschool their children and bring them to the study, too.  I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to work school around the study since we meet in the morning.  I will probably have to experiment with several different options before I figure out the best way to get both done.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • fall.  It feels like fall, although the weather hasn't cooled down much.  I think I feel it more in the wind blowing and the way the sunlight shines on our yard.  It's hard to explain; do you know what I mean?  But I like it!  Even though we're still wearing shorts.  :)
  • The American Miracle:  Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved.  I appreciate the way the author goes through the history of the United States starting with the Pilgrims, showing how God worked throughout it.
Tomorrow I'm taking Rachel to see The Secret Garden, a musical up in Houston.  She has been looking forward to this ever since I bought the tickets.  I look forward to spending time with her, too! But first, we'll watch Sarah Beth in her soccer game.  It's going to be a busy day, so I'll really appreciate resting on Sunday!

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review: How to Listen so People Will Talk by Becky Harling

Who doesn't want to connect with others by going deeper in conversation?  Who doesn't want others to confide more in them, growing the relationship?  But most of us don't know the best ways to accomplish these things.  The key, according to Becky Harling, is listening in such a way that others are encouraged to talk.  What a revolutionary idea that makes perfect sense!

Harling includes many helpful tips and loads of advice on how best to listen to others so that they feel heard.  By keeping our mouths shut, our advice to ourselves, and concentrating on what our family and friends are saying, our relationships can really grow.  There are even a couple of pages at the end of each chapter that give practical ways to implement her strategies.

I can't recommend this book enough!  As a matter of fact, I think this book would be an excellent one to read every year!

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

Friday, October 6, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Being Home!

At the World War II Memorial.

It has been a crazy six weeks for us!  First, we spent two weeks with my parents after evacuating our home because of Harvey.  Exactly two weeks after we returned, we drove to D.C. for a wonderful history tour and were gone more than a week.  Now I'm so glad to be home!  And I'm so glad that we don't have any trips planned for quite a while.  I'm ready to stay home!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • the wisdom to take Monday off from school.  I was busy all day unpacking, putting things away, and getting ready for the rest of the week.  
  • having done laundry at the hotel in D.C. so I didn't have to get it all done on Monday.
  • that my jogging is going well since I have a race at the end of the month.
Mostly, this week I enjoyed being home and getting back into our routine.  Since that was my goal, it was a great week!  :)

We look forward to cheering Sarah Beth on in her soccer game tomorrow.  Other than that, it should be a quiet weekend at home, thank goodness!

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our Truly Terrific Trip to Washington, DC

Mr. Potter with Mary and Rachel.  Not only is he extremely knowledgeable, but he is also very personable.

Do you remember that Civil War history tour we took in Atlanta back in May?  We spent all last week in Washington, DC, on another history tour with Landmark Events.  We had such a wonderful time that I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it was.  I'm already looking forward to our next one -- although it's not going to be any time soon.  It's good to be home!

At Sharpsburg, we had a relay race with flags used in the battle.

On Tuesday, we visited Mount Vernon and learned a lot about George Washington.  Then we made a quick stop at the Washington Monument and then the Jefferson Monument.  These men were extraordinary, and it was great to learn more about them.

Yes, there were Irish who fought in the America War for Independence!  
(That's an interesting story, too.)

On Wednesday, we took the Metro into Washington, DC, which was quite an experience for our children.  We toured the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives.  Each state is allowed to send two statues to the Capitol, and it was interesting to see what or whom the states chose.  Of course, the National Archives house the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights.  It was amazing to see those important documents in real life.

Sarah Beth listened intently to Mr. Potter and enjoyed every minute.

On Thursday, we drove out to the Antietam Battlefield.  Our historian/lecturer Bill Potter has a seemingly inexhaustible amount of knowledge about the Civil War.  He brought to life the battle as it progressed.  Standing on the battlefield, we could almost see the different companies as they charged each other -- and retreated.

Mary at the National Air and Space Museum; she's learning how propellers work to make planes fly.

On Friday, we again rode the Metro into the city, and this time we visited the Spy Museum.  That place is intriguing as you learn about what spies have done in the past and things that are being developed for future use.  After lunch, we met at the World War II Memorial which was impressive!  Then we went on to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial which can really touch your heart as you walk past all of the names of men who died in that war.  After that, we walked to the Korean War Veterans Memorial which was also sobering.  As we walked, Mr. Potter related much information about the wars that isn't common knowledge.  

The girls made friends!

These tours are truly amazing!  Mr. Potter relates how God worked in and through American history to accomplish His purposes.  You won't get that from most history books!  And the information is geared toward children because he wants them to get a feel for history and its importance.  But we adults sure learned a lot, too!  John and I brought home four books, and we plan to get a few more to increase our knowledge.  Sarah Beth and Daniel have already decided about whom they want to write their Essentials papers in the spring:  John B. Gordon and George Mason.  Yes!  We learned about important, but not well-known, men in history.  My children's imaginations were piqued, and I am thrilled about that!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

August and September Reading

I didn't get to post my reading for August since we weren't home, having evacuated due to Harvey.  So here is what I read the last two months:
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt.  Jethro is nine years old when the Civil War starts, so he is too young to fight.  But his older brothers and cousin decide to join the armies:  some for the North and one for the South.  This book does a wonderful job summarizing the War, why each battle was important, and how both sides felt about slavery and states' rights.  Every child should read this book while studying this period of American history because it doesn't give any easy answers and deals with the issues well.  We'll be reading it this year.
  • To Love, Honor, and Vacuum by Sheila Wray Gregoire.  This book contains wonderfully useful information for women "when you feel like your life is out of balance; everyone takes you for granted, and things aren't quite right."  It's a great book, and I highly recommend it!
  • The Assault by various authors.  You can read my review of this strange, Christian science fiction book here.
  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.  I really enjoyed learning more about Orville and Wilbur Wright and how their creative ingenuity along with their drive helped them build the first, successful airplane.  While many others had financial backers, the Wright brothers used their own money and built most of parts of their planes themselves.  What they didn't know, they learned.  
  • Tightropes and Teeter-Totters by Lisa Pennington.  Finding balance as a woman, mother, and wife can be difficult.  First you stray to one extreme, and then overcorrect to the other one.  Pennington does an excellent job giving a method for finding the elusive balance.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming.  Did you know that this is the only children's book that Fleming wrote?  Did you know that he wrote the James Bond books?  I started to read this story about a versatile, adventure-loving car to my children, but they just couldn't get into it.  But I loved it as a child, so I finished it myself!
  • Triss by Brian Jaques.  On our way home from Georgia, we listened to this book about mice, badgers, and other assorted rodents defending their home of Redwall from invading rats and ferrets.  It was interesting and kept our attention, but there were times when it was hard to follow because of the change in settings and too many characters.  
  • The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter.  You can read my review of this sequel to The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells here.
  • God's Promise of Happiness by Randy Alcorn.  Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I love almost everything by this author.  Since joy is my word for the year, I thought it would be appropriate to read this book.  All about happiness!  What more can I say?  In case you're wondering, this is the short version, not the long one.  :)
What have you read lately?

Friday, September 22, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Quiet Week at Home

Playing nicely in her playpen during school!

This week was another relatively quiet week for us which we really appreciated after being gone for so long recently.  We didn't have any plans over the weekend, and while we've been out of the house every day this week, most of it was for short errands.  Home!  What a wonderful place!

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • How much Daniel enjoys piano lessons
  • White Bean & Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe which Tracey recommended.  All of my children and John liked it which makes it a favorite recipe at our house.  Oh, and it's pretty easy to make which I appreciate.  :)  But I didn't think the tortilla chips added much to it, although my children enjoyed them.  
  • How to Listen so People Will Talk by Becky Harling.  This book is wonderfully convicting about how little I really listen when people talk even though that's exactly what I want from them when I speak.  
  • Whenever Hannah plays nicely and quietly while I do school with my other children.  Toddlers can really make school hard!  But they're worth it!!
Sarah Beth has her first soccer game tomorrow, and we look forward to cheering her on!  I don't think her team is as competitive as the one she was on last year which is not a bad thing.  Maybe she'll get to start, and maybe she'll get more playing time.  :)

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

Over a hundred years since H.G. Wells wrote War of the Worlds, Stephen Baxter was chosen to write a sequel.  Thirteen years after the Martians invade Earth and are defeated, they invade again.  This time they are ready for any resistance mankind might have, and they are no longer susceptible to our bacteria.  Again starting in England, the Martians eventually send armed forces all over the world.  The way the story is told is interesting, as the narrator recounts her own experiences along with the experiences of others as they have told them to her several years later.  It gives the book the perspective of one who saw the events personally but with the perspective of a few years difference.

Yes, I enjoyed this book.  I was expecting something similar to Wells' original work, but that's not quite what this book is.  Whereas Wells used a little over a hundred pages for his classic, Baxter uses more than 450.  But as I reflected on it, I don't think this is a negative thing.  The reader gains from several characters' points of view, and the extra detail adds nicely to the story.  The language and settings are in keeping with the original work.

If you are a science fiction enthusiast, especially if you enjoy the classic works of Wells and Jules Verne, you will probably appreciate this book, too.

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

What I Enjoyed The Past Few Weeks: A Safe Refuge and Being Home

I was able to spend some time with a dear friend!

Being home this week after being gone for more than two weeks has been wonderful as has getting back into a routine.  Maybe the children haven't enjoyed getting back to school as much as they could, but, well, isn't that normal?  :)

We enjoyed the 31st at Baskin Robbins; there were sixteen children between my friend and me.  :)

I enjoyed staying home all day Monday, putting the house back into order.  I don't know how houses that haven't been lived in can get so messy.  :)  My oldest four children had their first piano lessons this week, also; two enjoyed them, and two didn't.

Doing school at my parents' house.

Here are a few more things I've enjoyed from the last few weeks:
  • Spending time with friends and family while staying with my family.
  • Borrowing school books.  Hee hee!  My kids didn't enjoy that so much, but I was glad to be able get some school done so we're not quite so behind after two weeks away from home.
  • Seeing our CC community again, knowing that everyone is okay.  
  • Sarah Beth being able to attend soccer practice.
  • Getting back on the treadmill after three weeks off.  Yes, I enjoyed a vacation from jogging, but there's a race coming up at the end of October that I want to run in.  I need to get in shape for that.
  • A grace period from our library.  They extended everyone's due dates by a week or two because so many people were affected.
We have a quiet weekend planned although John may take Sarah Beth and Daniel out to help people clean out their houses.

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Our Harvey Adventure

On the left is our pond; on the right is our driveway.  

I haven't been around much the past couple of weeks because we weren't home.  Two weeks ago, we noticed that Hurricane Harvey was headed our way.  John was worried and wanted me to evacuate with our children.  It couldn't be that bad, I figured, so I put him off.   On Thursday of that week, John called me twice to urge me to leave.  I wanted to wait until things got bad; then we could leave.

But the Holy Spirit nudged me, and I felt like He was telling me to submit to my husband.  My mother also called, urging me to evacuate.  So I told my children to pack three changes of clothing because we were leaving.  Thankfully, Hannah was napping, so she wasn't discombobulated by our frantic activity.  After everything else was ready, I woke her up, put her in the van, and we left.  There was about an hour between the time I decided to leave and when we actually left.  It was quick!

We drove up to Huntsville, Tx., that first afternoon because I didn't know what else to do.  I still didn't think it was going to be that bad.  But as we saw the first pictures on tv that evening, I realized that I was wrong.  It was going to be worse, much worse, than I had thought.  So we started our drive to Georgia to spend some time with my parents.

We arrived at my parents' house late Saturday afternoon, and we stayed with them until Friday morning two weeks later.  Meanwhile, John had stayed home because he had to work; keeping plants safe is important!

We were worried that our house would flood.  It didn't, but many houses in our neighborhood did.  As a matter of fact, the water came within two feet of our house.  It was close!  I tried to keep in contact with friends in our area who were worried about flooding, too.

The first week at my parents' house felt like vacation, but as it drew to an end, I realized that we were all getting antsy.  Since I didn't know how much longer we were going to be there, I borrowed math books from a friend who uses the same curriculum we do.  Her children weren't using the actual books I needed, so it wasn't an inconvenience to her.  We may have only done math while we were gone, but we got something done.  :)

Finally, the water receded enough in our neighborhood for John to move back home from the hotel where he had been staying.  And we started on our two day trip back.

Most of the water had gone down by the time we returned, so we didn't see the flooding.  It's surreal knowing that it happened, that some of our friends were affected, but my children and I didn't see it at all.

It's easy to say that God is gracious for sparing our home, but isn't He gracious always?  Wouldn't He still be gracious if He had flooded our home?  Why did He spare us when He didn't spare so many?  I don't have the answer to that last question, but I do know that God is good.  Always.  Even when things we think are bad happen.  But in my small, human thinking, I must admit that I'm glad He did spare our home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Don't Apologize" is Good Advice

I ate a piece of Dove chocolate the other day (who doesn't need one of those occasionally!), and the advice inside the wrapper said, "Don't apologize."  I immediately thought that was horrible advice; do we really want to go through life not caring about how we treat others?

Then I thought about it a little more, and realized that it's actually pretty good advice.  Let me give you a purely hypothetical situation.  Let's say that I say something hurtful to John.  Later, I feel guilty, so I apologize.  "I'm sorry."  What exactly am I sorry for?

Am I sorry that I feel bad for hurting his feelings?  Then my apology only makes me feel better.

Am I sorry that I hurt his feelings?  Bah!  Apologizing because you hurt someone's feelings is worthless.

Or am I sorry that I got caught?  My negative thoughts spilled over into words which revealed the evil intent of my heart.

None of these get to the root of the problem, do they?

What does the Bible have to say about apologies?  Absolutely nothing.  But the Bible has much  to say about repentance and forgiveness.

Continuing the purely hypothetical scenario, I go to John and repent and ask for forgiveness.  How does that look?  I say, "I'm sorry that I said hurtful things to you; it was wrong (a sin).  Will you forgive me?"  I'm not perfect, so I'm sure that I will say ugly things to him again, but my repentance means that I know I was wrong and that I will try not to do it again.

And his forgiveness means that neither one of us will bring this situation up again to each other, another person, or to God.

How different is forgiveness than an apology!  I have to agree with Dove:  Don't apologize!

What do you think?

Friday, August 18, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Trip to HMNS for the Butterfly Release

I was hoping that things would quiet down a little bit once we started back to school, that we would be home more.  Maybe not.  :)  We were out of the house a good bit more than I wanted this week, but I guess the good thing is that we were still able to get school done.

We were supposed to start CC on Tuesday, but I didn't have the insurance forms the church where we're meeting requested, so we had to postpone a week.  Instead, I took my children to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for their butterfly release which happens on Tuesdays in the summer.  That was fun, and we enjoyed spending some time in the museum as well.

We had to run several more errands during the week which took us out of the house more than I wanted, but here are a few other things I enjoyed:
  • Daniel's glasses' warranty.  They broke Tuesday night, but they were still under warranty so we were able to get them replaced for FREE!  
  • Making plans with my mother for her to visit.
  • Picking up my groceries at Kroger.  I mention this again because we weren't there ten minutes altogether.  It was so quick this time that I couldn't believe it!
  • Spending time with friends at the museum.
  • Finding toys that actually occupy Hannah (18 months) during school.  
  • The free Bible study about friendship by Lifeway We Saved You a Seat.  I've enjoyed doing this study even though I'm doing it by myself.  I'm on week two, and it has some great tips for being a better friend.
John is taking our oldest four children to see an Astros game tonight, thanks to Mary winning the tickets during summer reading.  I'm glad they're not playing the Atlanta Braves because that could cause a problem since I grew up rooting for the Braves!  I think the rest of the weekend should be relatively quiet.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book Review: The Assault by Various Authors

The Assault continues the story from The Invitation where four very different people have come together to form a team.  The Professor is highly intelligent; Andi sees patterns; Brenda draws pictures that tell the future; and Tank has healing power -- sometimes.  Together, this team works to stop evil forces which are trying to destroy our world.  First they tackle alternate universes, then they battle a mind-controlling fungus.  When they have a little time to research what they've been fighting, the team has to deal with misplaced trust.  Finally, there's a fog which contains man-eating monsters.

Written by four different authors, these stories flow together nicely.  But they are strange!  The writing is interesting and lively and definitely keeps the reader's interest, but sometimes it's hard to follow exactly what's going on.

If you like the strange and weird, you might like this.  If not, well, you probably won't.

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Back to School and Preparing for CC

Mary (5) lost three teeth in a week.  After the third one came out, she told me, "Pretty soon, I won't have any left!"

I've had another busy week, preparing for our Classical Conversations campus to start back next week.  As director, it's a lot of work, but once we start back, it will mostly be done.  Hooray for that!

But I'm also tutoring the afternoon Essentials class which includes parsing sentences and IEW for writing.  I will have to prepare lesson plans each week which will keep me busy.  I look forward to it, however.

Things I enjoyed this week:
  • whenever I was able to cross something off my to-do list.  :)
  • a pool party for our CC campus on Monday.  One of the families graciously opened up their home and pool to us.  
  • the first Essentials parent/tutor meeting on Tuesday evening.  Despite problems with the DVD player, we got things figured out (with some help!) and were able to watch the required and very helpful DVDs.  We also enjoyed each other's company during the downtime.  
  • starting school back.  Okay, I wasn't really ready for this and maybe didn't enjoy it so much, but I do enjoy knowing that the first week is DONE!
  • picking up my groceries via Kroger's QuickPick.  Last week, it was a disaster, but I learned not to try to pick my groceries up on Friday evening.  A very, very bad time.
We have a quiet weekend planned which I look forward to.  I should have some time to finish up the last minute things for CC.

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

What I've Enjoyed This Week: Help in the Kitchen

I have felt discombobulated all week.  I seemed never to know if were coming or going; I knew there was lots I needed to do on the computer, but when I sat down, I forgot what it all was.  Meanwhile, my daily chores were neglected, too.  And this blog post is late.  :)

What's kept me so busy?  In short, getting ready for school.  We start back next week, and I needed to spend some time this week preparing.  But the main thing that has me flustered is CC.  Oh, it's not CC itself, but my preparations for our campus to start back up in less than two weeks.  There are supplies I need to purchase, money to collect, information to put into the computer, emails to send, facilities to check, etc.  And it's kept me busy.  But once we start back, it will be worth it!

I started something new this week, too, which in retrospect may not have been the best time.  I read somewhere recently about a mother who has one of her children help her in the kitchen for two months at a time, and then she switches children.  I thought that sounded like a great idea, so I implemented it.  Sarah Beth was first, and she wasn't thrilled, but she was a big help as we prepared Taco Ring.  I'm just going to have each child help for a week, and to sweeten the deal, they get to help with the menu planning.

Here are a few things I've enjoyed this week:
  • The Great British Baking Show.  My mother introduced me to this show, and I like that I can watch it with my children.  They certainly do a much more intricate kind of baking in Britain than we do here in the States, and I think I'd like to take a class on British baking at some point -- if I can find one.  :)
  • a relatively quiet week at home.  Well, we could have spent a good bit of time at home if I hadn't had so many errands to run!  :)
  • a couple of rainy afternoons.
  • summer reading.  Mary won a prize this year:  box tickets to an Astros game!  Their coordinator graciously is going to give us one more ticket (we were supposed to get four) so that John can take our four oldest children.  I thought about asking for one more -- for me! -- but I didn't want to push it.
  • my children's help with chores.  Sarah Beth vacuuming and Daniel mopping are a big help, along with everybody folding laundry.
  • an afternoon out to run errands.  It's so much easier for those quick in-an-out errands when I'm by myself.
I didn't enjoy this course much, but I wanted to include it since Tracey asked me to post what courses I've taken from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle:  The SAHM Wardrobe Basics Builder.  I didn't find this wardrobe course helpful at all for several reasons.  First, I'm not interested in a capsule wardrobe.  Second, there's too much denim in it; where's the color?  Third, I don't have most of the clothes she recommends, and I don't want to go buy a whole new wardrobe.  Fourth, it's too hot here to wear jeans, cardigans, jackets, etc., and I don't think I could adapt the wardrobe to our heat here.  With all of that said, other people might find this course helpful; I just didn't.  It's not a bad course; it's just not helpful to me.

Tomorrow we have plans to visit some friends for swimming and supper.  Our children are really looking forward to it!  John and I are, too, but more for the fellowship.  :)

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Reading

I love these old pictures!

I'm pleased with the books I read in July.  I enjoyed all of them and learned some things from a few of them.  As a matter of fact, I would recommend any one of them, but especially the first one -- if you have a son.  :)

Here's what I read in July:
  • Mother and Son:  The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs.  If I could give this book to every mother I know who has a son, I would.  It's that good!  Like our husbands, our sons need our respect just as our daughters need love.  Of course, we don't respect their bad choices and sins, but we should always show them respect because of their inherent worth as created in God's image.  If mothers let it, this book could be a game-changer in their relationships with their sons.  I plan to let it!
  • Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder.  Right after the Civil War ends, Will is sent to live with his uncle's family because all of his family has died.  His uncle did not fight in the war while Will's father did, so Will cannot respect his uncle because he thinks he is a coward.  As the book goes on, Will comes to understand that not fighting sometimes takes more courage.  And he also realizes that both his father and his uncle did what each thought was right, regardless of what others thought.  I picked this book up on our Atlanta Civil War tour, and I'm so glad I did.  It's a great coming of age story, and it shows how you need to understand another person before you can judge him.
  • Marooned:  The Strange but True Adventures of Alexander Selkirk, the Real Robinson Crusoe by Robert Kraske.  You can find amazing books in the children's nonfiction section at the library which is where I saw this one.  Having read Robinson Crusoe, I was intrigued to read about the "real" one.  Since this book was written for children, it was fairly short and a quick read which was nice, too.  :)  Selkirk tried to start a mutiny because he didn't agree with the captain that the ship was seaworthy.  None of the other men joined him, so the captain left him behind on an island.  Four years later, he was rescued.  I found this book to be very interesting, especially since it's a true story -- unlike Robinson Crusoe.
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.  Along the same storyline (although unintentionally), we listened to this book while driving to our first practicum.  This story about a girl who is left behind when her village leaves their island is wonderful!  I was so glad to find it on CD so my children could listen to it.  Did you know that it's based on a true story?  The woman it really happened to, was left alone for eighteen years.  Can you imagine that?  How do you keep from going crazy with no one to talk to?
  • Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan.  I'm so sad that this book is the last one in the Lady Trent series.  :(  But it is sufficiently exciting to make it a worthy finale, and I recommend it -- for those readers who enjoy this type of book.  :)
What have you read lately?  Anything especially interesting?