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?

Friday, July 28, 2017

What I Enjoyed this Week: Learning that I'm not As Necessary As I Think I Am

First day of practicum wore these girls out!

Two weeks ago, my children and I attended our first Classical Conversations practicum of the summer, and I went through my first required training:  training to tutor the afternoon Essentials class.  This week we attended the second required practicum; at least, we were supposed to.  Until my children got sick.

For my first practicum, I didn't really know anyone, and that was okay.  CC is a community of like-minded parents, mostly mothers, and I enjoyed spending time with them, even if I didn't catch their names.  :)

But I was really looking forward to this week because a couple of my tutors were coming, and I wanted to introduce them to each other and be involved as they got to know each other.  God had other plans.

When my children first started showing symptoms, I went into denial.  They're not really sick, I thought.  They'll get better when we get home.  But they didn't.  Then I thought, These ladies need me there to help them get along.  They can't do it without me.  But of course, they could, and they did.

It was an eye-opening experience, one that I honestly should have figured out a long time ago.  I'm not needed nearly as much as I think I am.  The world will continue to turn if I'm stuck at home taking care of my children.  It was a humbling experience, but it was a good one.

The best thing was that I got to see part of God's plan in this.  We don't always usually get to see how He's working, so it's nice when we do.  I had felt pressed for time this week, and the Lord graciously gave me an extra two days to get some things done I hadn't felt I had time for.

Then Thursday, I got sick.  Ugh!  My children are old enough to take care of themselves for the most part, and Sarah Beth was a tremendous help with Hannah.  It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been!

Here are a few more things I enjoyed this week:

  • Spending time with  my friends at practicum on Monday.
  • Staying home and getting things done on Tuesday and Wednesday so that...
  • I wasn't distressed and anxious about how much I needed to get done on Thursday when I could hardly get off the couch.
  • Meeting two other women who want to do CC with their children.
We don't have much planned this weekend which actually seems really nice!  

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: Night Night, Train by Amy Parker

In this appealing book, a child boards a train with his family before bedtime.  As he gets ready for bed, he wishes good night to the things around him.  The story is told in sweet rhymes which are a little forced at times, but they are perfectly fine for this book.  The illustrations are nicely done with vivid colors and clear pictures.  There is a mention of praying before bedtime, normalizing it for our Christian children.

I enjoy reading this delightful book to my toddler, and I'm glad that I've added it to our library.  If you have children who are the right ages for board books, I think you'll like it, too!

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

How to Cut Up a Watermelon Without Making (Too Much of) a Mess

John and I really enjoy watermelon, but I have to admit that I dreaded buying one for years because of how much of a mess I made when I cut it up.  One day, I learned a neat trick that helped keep the mess to a minimum, and I've expounded on that idea since then.

First of all, I put a cutting board inside a rimmed cookie sheet, as you can see in the picture above.  That way the juice is corralled inside the cookie sheet -- and I don't leave marks on the pan with my knife.  A good knife is always helpful, too!

Then I like to slice off the bottom off the watermelon so that it doesn't wobble as I cut it up.  Then I continue cutting the watermelon into bite-sized pieces.

My next problem was how to get all of the pieces into my bowl.  I didn't want to have to pick up each and every piece.  A spatula!  I can pick up many pieces of the watermelon without using my hands and getting them messy.

How do you cut up a watermelon?  Do you avoid certain foods because of the mess they make while you prepare them -- like I do?  :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Friends, CC Training, and Date Night

We visited Antarctica this week!

Saturday evening John took me on a date to a restaurant that he had been wanting to try for a long time.  It was a nice place which was a lovely change from the casual restaurants that we usually patronize.  An evening out is always fun!

On Monday, we drove up to Houston to the Museum of Natural Science to spend some time with friends.  We hadn't seen them in a while, so it was wonderful to see them again.  And the museum had some new exhibits that we enjoyed.  I especially enjoyed the Hall of Curiosities; apparently, the museum had a bunch of stuff in the basement, and they decided to display it.  We were allowed to touch almost all of it, and the museum didn't even know what some of it was.  :)  There was another exhibit of pictures someone had taken in Antarctica which is where I took the picture above.

That evening, my book club met.  But we didn't discuss the book.  There were several reasons why, but we enjoyed good fellowship.  So we had a good time.

I had training on Tuesday for my being the director of our local Classical Conversations campus.  It was all day long, so my wonderful husband took the day off to keep our children.  Shortly after I arrived at the training, he called to say that Hannah was running a fever.  So he had to deal with a fussy, sick toddler, too.  What a man!

I was glad to stay home Wednesday to get caught up on my household chores!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Sarah Beth had a swimming lesson on Thursday, working on her flip turns.  While she learned, I took advantage of the nursery for Hannah and went swimming with my other children.
  • I finished a short course from Adore Your Wardrobe and found it interesting.  I feel like I've been wearing too many t-shirts and jean shorts, so I want to start dressing a little bit nicer when I'm headed out of the house.  This course gave me a nice beginning!
  • We're starting CC in just a few weeks, and I've enjoyed starting to set things up and get things ready.  
I have several errands to take care of this morning.  Then we have a quiet weekend at home planned which will be useful because I have a lot to do to get ready for another CC training course next week.  

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

How Many Emails Do You Have in Your Inbox? Four Ways to Decrease that Number

Sometimes my email feels as cluttered as this bed!

A couple of years ago, I read that having a bunch of emails in your inbox can make it feel cluttered.  Since I was in the middle of decluttering my house, I thought that was significant.  A little later, I read that Crystal Paine tries to keep only five emails in her inbox at a time.  I thought, Wow!  What a concept!

At the time, I probably had about a hundred emails in my inbox which really isn't very many.  But I immediately started whittling down that number.  It took a month or two, but I finally got it down to less than ten.  And I was amazed at how clean and clear my inbox looked, how un-stressful it was to check my email.  I determined then to keep my inbox fairly empty.

How do I do that?
  1. Unsubscribe.  I saw that I was receiving a lot of email that I wasn't even opening before I deleted them.  So I opened one up and unsubscribed.  It was so freeing not to get those emails anymore!  Five seconds well spent!
  2. Delete.  I delete any and every email that I can as soon as I can.  While I enjoy getting notices from Redbox about their new releases, I don't want to keep those emails.  I look at them, make a mental or written note, and delete them.  
  3. Respond.  I deal with every other email as soon as I can.  If I need to reply to an email, I try to write it as soon as possible -- and then delete it.  If I get a coupon, I either use it as soon as I can or delete it if I don't think I'm going to use it.
  4. File.  I move emails into files.  I don't know about you, but I order a lot online.  It's just easier than taking all five of my children with me.  But I had to figure out what to do with those emails.  I made a file "orders en route."  Whenever I order something, I put that email (and subsequent ones) in that file.  I have one for my CC emails, along with those that deal with soccer and swimming.  I need them, but I don't need to look at them everyday.  
Typically, I have about ten emails in my inbox every night when I go to bed.  It takes me all day to deal with some of them, and honestly, it stresses me out some when I see them and can't take care of them yet.  But it's a lovely feeling to have a cleaned out inbox.

How many emails do you regularly have in your inbox?  Is that too many or just right?  

Friday, July 14, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Practicum

This week I had my first of two Classical Conversations practicums.  I need these to get my training for being director of our local campus.  They were three long days, but we enjoyed them.  Yes, we.  While I was being trained, my children went to CC camp which they love.  But we were exhausted every evening when we arrived home.  And it's hard for this homeschooling family to get out of the house three days in a row before 8:00 -- but we did it!  I utilized this strategy that I learned last year, and it was so helpful!

We spend Thursday catching up on household chores like the laundry.  And resting up!

Some other things I enjoyed:
  • sleeping late on Thursday.  Yes, I did!
  • talking with fellow CC mothers.
  • receiving necessary information to make this year a great one!
  • how well Hannah did; she was a trooper being in a nursery all day without a good nap.
  • being able to stay home all day Thursday.
  • Kroger's QuickList.  It was wonderful picking up my order last week without having to do the grocery shopping myself.  We're heading out this morning to pick up this week's order.  
I'm taking our oldest four children to see the play Mary Poppins this evening.  John wasn't very interested, and he was willing to stay home with Hannah, so he should have a quiet evening.  We have a date night planned for tomorrow night, and we look forward to that.  Other than those two things, we have a slow weekend planned.  I don't even have to go grocery shopping!  ;)

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

June Reading

Without school last month, I had more time to read although I have to admit that two of these books were fairly short, so they didn't take long to read.  I've enjoyed having more time to read -- and being able to tackle some of the books that I just haven't had time to read until now.
  • Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty.  On the Atlanta tour in May, we learned about the Roswell, Ga., mill workers.  Sherman captured the mill because they made cloth and rope for the Confederacy, and then he burned it -- which is understandable.  What I find horrendous, though, is that he sent all of the millworkers, mostly women and children, up North.  And most of them were never heard from again.  Can you imagine a man coming back from the war only to discover that his wife and children had been shipped up North?  How awful!  Anyway, this book tells a fictionalized story of two children who worked in the Roswell mill and how they made their way back home.  The author includes some interesting historic notes at the end of the book which I found fascinating.  It was written for children, and it's appropriate for children, and I highly recommend it, especially because it shows what life was like for most Southerners before the War:  they were poor and did not own slaves unlike what most history books would have us believe.
  • In the Labyrinth of the Drakes by Marie Brennan.  I've read the previous books in this series and enjoyed them all.  Imagine dragon hunting (for research) during the Renaissance, and you get the gist.  In this book, Lady Trent braves the desert to research the dragons there, and she finds an amazingly preserved building from an ancient civilization.  I can't wait to read the next one!
  • A Hearth in Candlewood by Delia Parr.  This book gave me something to read while jogging on the treadmill.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad.  Emma runs a boarding house along a canal in Pennsylvania during the mid 1800s.  She gets caught up in everyone else's problems, trying to solve them herself.  Finally, at the end of the book, she realizes that she can't do it alone:  she finally prays about these difficult problems and asks her friends for help.
  • North by Night:  A Story of the Underground Railroad by Katherine Ayres.  Sixteen year old Lucy Spencer has been helping her family in Ohio on the Underground Railroad, assisting escaped slaves to their freedom in Canada.  I bought this book for my children to read so they could understand this period in our country's history a little better, but they won't be reading it anytime soon.  The story itself is interesting and informative, but Lucy is caught between the affections of two men.  In their letters and Lucy's journal entries, it seems like all they can talk about is kissing, kissing, and more kissing.  On the other hand, this book would be a great example of how some "harmless" kissing can change one's heart toward the one being kissed.  Maybe I'll have them read it for that perspective -- when they're older.  :)
  • High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin.  You can read my full review of this wonderful book about World War I here.
  • Alive in Him by Gloria Furman.  This book goes through Ephesians slowly and carefully, looking at everything that we have been given by God through Jesus and how that knowledge should change our lives.  As with other books by this author, there is so much deep, wonderful knowledge here that I feel like I need to read it more than once to get all I can.  By the way, this book is not a commentary; it's just a book about Ephesians.
What have you read lately?

Friday, July 7, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Trip and a Long Weekend

Saturday morning we packed up and left to visit John's mother in Louisiana.  We enjoyed spending time with her and her husband, and while we were there, we also got to see John's brother and his wife.  It was a good trip.

Monday was John's birthday, and he took our three oldest children to a water park to celebrate.  I stayed home with Mary and Hannah, and I worked on getting laundry and some other household chores done.  John grilled steak for supper, and we followed that up with a caramel cake, that, yes, I bought.  It was still good.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • the Homeschool Chess Club.  Sarah Beth and Daniel are both participating in this online club and having great fun!  They even had a tournament Wednesday which Daniel won!  
  • a long weekend with John!  He didn't have to work Friday, he took Monday off, and then he had Tuesday off -- a five day weekend.
  • getting ahead on my laundry.  Okay, I didn't enjoy that so much, but it was nice taking a couple of days off from laundry afterwards.  :)
  • slow days.  We didn't have much to do Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, so it was nice to have that downtime.
  • a new recipe:  Crescent-Wrapped Chicken Parmesan.  A couple of my children weren't sure they would like this meal, but they tried it.  And they all loved it!  A new recipe that everyone likes?  That's a winner in my book!
  • Kroger's new QuickList.  I ordered my groceries online this morning and will pick them up this afternoon.  Having someone else do my grocery shopping for me sounds absolutely wonderful!  But I guess I'll find out how well they did this afternoon when I pick them up.  ;)
Sarah Beth has her last swim meet of the season tomorrow, and I'm going to be busy getting ready for my CC training next week.  But that's about it for our weekend.

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

Eve and Simon married just before World War I started; then he was apparently killed in the fighting soon after.  Three years later, Eve discovers that Simon is still alive when she finds him at a plane crash where she is living in German-occupied Belgium.  He has actually been a POW in German prisons, and now he wants to rescue Eve and take her to England with him where they can start their married life over again.  Meanwhile, Eve has been working with La Dame Blanche, a spy network, and she has secrets she feels like she needs to keep from Simon.  Both have changed a great deal due to what they have endured during the war, and they wonder if they can make their marriage work.

I loved this book!  The characters were well-developed, and the struggles they faced within themselves and their circumstances were believable.  I especially enjoyed watching as Eve dealt with her inner demons and the barriers she had erected to protect herself, in order to love Simon again and to trust the Lord with her future.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction because it is so well written.  I will definitely look for other books by this author!

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: More Swimming Lessons

My middle three children had swimming lessons again this week, and once again it disrupted my thoughts of how our week should go.  :)  We're only gone from home for a little more than an hour, but it just throws me off.  I have a hard time settling down later in the day to get things done, so I must admit that I'm glad we're done with the lessons now.  ;)

Sarah Beth had her first swim meet last Saturday, and she did great!  I'm so proud of her!  I wasn't able to watch her swim because I was home with our other children, but John was there.  He said that she beamed when her races were over because she had so much fun.  She hadn't been enjoying her swim team practice lately, but I think the meet reenergized her!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • watching my children work on their swimming skills.
  • the rain.  We've needed it.
  • being indoor for the swimming lessons.  The threat of thunderstorms moved the lessons to the indoor pool which made it much nicer for me, being out of the hot sun.
  • seeing how much Rachel enjoyed diving.  Since they were at the deeper, indoor pool, Rachel and Daniel were able to start learning how to dive, and Rachel loved it.  And she did fairly well.
  • receiving a letter.  That's always fun!
We're looking forward to a long weekend with Independence Day next week.  

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Kids' Visual NIV Study Bible

This Bible contains all kinds of notes and explanations to help children understand the Bible better:  the culture, the language, the traditions, etc.  There are many pictures and diagrams also to help explain things.  As a matter of fact, I'm sure this Bible could help a lot of adults, too.  :)

I have to admit that I did not read the entire thing, every single note.  But I looked through it, and one of my children read a good bit.  We liked most of what we saw.  My biggest problem was the note in Genesis 1 that the word day could "have been 24 hours, just like we understand a day to be -- or the word day could have represented a very long period of time."   It's not helpful at all as it implies that evolution might be true.  Despite this flaw, I think this Bible could be a great help to a child who is starting to study the Bible on his own for the first time.  However, it could also be a distraction if he takes it with him to church; it might be more fun to look at the pictures than listen to the sermon.  With those two caveats, I do appreciate and recommend this Bible.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Do You Like What You Wear? You Should!

Maybe not the outfit you would choose!  :)

The other day I tried on a pair of shorts I had ordered, and it was a marvelous experience!  Why?  Because they fit!  When I pulled them on, I didn't have to tug them into place, and they were comfortable while looking nice.  It was wonderful!  They cost a little more than I wanted to pay, but this pair of shorts is worth it because I plan to wear them for years -- and enjoy wearing them that long!

Another fun thing happened last week, too.  As I looked into my drawer, I couldn't decide which shirt to wear -- because there were so many good ones to choose!  A great feeling!

After reading Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up a couple of years ago, I sorted through my clothes and gave away the ones that didn't fit or that I didn't enjoy wearing.  And I started only buying clothes that fit me well and that I want to wear.

I'm no fashionista, but I do think it's important to have clothes that you enjoy wearing and that fit you well.  It's better to have fewer items that you love to wear rather than more that you don't like.

Do you have a hard time deciding what to wear?  Is that because you have so many that you love to wear -- or so few?

If you have too many clothes that you don't like to wear, let me challenge you to do something about it.
  • Clean out your closet.  There's no reason to take up valuable room with clothes that you never wear.
  • Only buy clothes that you really enjoy.  Don't waste money on items that you may or may not wear.
  • Be willing to spend a little more on them.  I understand being on a budget.  That's why I only bought one pair of those wonderfully fitting shorts.  Meanwhile I can make do with ones that I don't enjoy so much, and maybe next year I can get another pair.  As I said before, it's better to have fewer clothes that you enjoy wearing rather than tons that you don't.
  • Take care of them so they last longer.   My mother dries her shirts for just a few minutes then hangs them up to finish drying so they last longer.  If you get something on your shirt, go ahead and treat it so hopefully it won't stain.  Wear an apron.  :)
I will admit that I do still have some clothes that I don't enjoy wearing, but I'm working on replacing them with things that I do.  I will also admit that I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts, but there's no reason my jeans and shirts can't fit me well and look nice.

How do you like your wardrobe?  Is there anything you'd like to change?

Friday, June 23, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Book Club

When I made my plans this week, I marveled that I didn't have too many chores to do and that I should be able to get them done relatively easily.  Boy, was I wrong!  We had swimming lessons all week, and I guess that threw my routine off just enough that I hardly got any of my chores done all week.  Ugh!  Maybe next week will be better -- except swimming lessons continue.  :)

Here are some things that I did enjoy this week:
  • Hannah's new shoes.  She wasn't too sure about them at first, but they're growing on her.  I don't put shoes on my children until they're walking and actually need them.  :)
  • how much my children enjoyed their swimming lessons
  • two cloudy days at the pool so it wasn't quite so HOT
  • Strawberry Lemonade Bars.  I made these for our church potluck on Sunday, and they were pretty good.  Well, let me say that people who LOVE lemon-y things LOVED this dessert, while those who don't, not so much
  • that we weren't deluged by the tropical storm this week, although we could have used some rain.
The best part of this week was Tuesday evening.  I watched a CC webinar about making your own summer learning plan, and the speaker encouraged us to read something good and maybe even start a book club.  So I did!  And we met for the first time Tuesday evening.  It was wonderful to spend time with a couple of other ladies, discussing our children's education.  We plan to meet again in a couple of weeks, and I look forward to it!  In case you're wondering, we're reading The Core by Leigh Bortins who is the founder of Classical Conversations.

Sarah Beth has a swim meet tomorrow, and there are some adult classes as well, so John is going to compete, too.  I'll probably stay home most of the morning with our other children.  That's the extent of our plans this weekend.

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do You Plan Your Free Time? Why You Probably Should

Awards for things I did during my free time.  :)

First of all, do you even know what I mean by "free time?"  It's those times when you don't have children underfoot and you can get some things done without interruption.  Specifically, I can think of four times when I have free time for me:  nap time/ play time, when I send my children outside to play, after their bedtime, and when my wonderful husband takes them out for a while.  The bonus is when they dis appear upstairs, and the baby is occupied happily (and out of trouble).

There have been so many times when I think, "When I get a few minutes, I want to read this or do that."  Then the few minutes arrive, and I figure I'll get to it after I finish a few things like changing the laundry over, doing the dishes, etc.  The next thing I know, the kids are back underfoot, and I've lost the time I wanted.

I realized that I needed to start planning my free time, making sure that I do the important things in that time, things that I can't get done any other time.

Before I go any further, I want to encourage you to take some time for yourself every day when you can.  I have found that when I do and do and do all day long, I wear myself out and get irritated with everyone and everything.  However, when I stop for a few minutes, as few as ten or fifteen, and do something that I enjoy, I get refreshed, and I'm ready to tackle the rest of my day with a pleasant attitude.  Please don't think that taking a little time for yourself is selfish.  If it keeps you from yelling at your children and resenting your husband, they will be glad for you to take some time.  :)

On the other hand, I am talking about a few minutes.  I don't know how much you have to do or how much time it takes, but if you're taking so much time for yourself that nothing else gets done, well, you're taking too much.  :)

With all of that said, these days when I have a few minutes to myself, I think, "What's the best thing I can do right now?"  And the best thing for the moment is usually something that I can't do -- or have a hard time doing -- with children underfoot.  For example, I'm reading Alive in Him by Gloria Furman, and it's so good and deep that I absolutely cannot keep my mind on it and comprehend it with any kind of interruptions.  So when I send my children outside, the first thing I do is sit down and read.  These quiet times are excellent for reading books that help me be a better wife, mother, or Christian.

Do you plan your free time?  If you don't, let me encourage you to start!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: The Most Misused Stories in the Bible by Eric J. Bargerhuff

In The Most Misused Stories in the Bible by Eric Bargerhuff, the author goes through several popular Bible stories and shows how their meanings have been distorted to promote man's message instead of God's.  For example, the story of Jonah and the big fish is not about Jonah; it is actually the story of God and His redeeming love.  David and Goliath is not about overcoming fear but how we can do great things when we rely on God's strength.  Several other stories he deals with are Zacchaeus, Judas Iscariot, Gideon and his fleece, and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Reading this book was enlightening.  I appreciated how the author went through each story showing how it has been misinterpreted and then showing the proper way to view it.  I enjoyed his clear, concise way of looking at things and how he communicates it.  I recommend this book, even if you feel you have an accurate understanding of these stories in the Bible because you may still learn something.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: Spending Time with Friends and My Van!

What a cute photo opportunity!

We started our week off with a fun outing; we visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Sugar Land campus on Monday.  It was the first time we had been there, so it was great fun walking around and playing with the various hands-on activities.  We met some friends which made the time even better.  There was a special exhibit on the history of candy which we really enjoyed.  If only there had been some samples....  :)  They also had some different stations set up; in one we learned which rocks give us some common household items.

Learning where some of our common household items come from.

Since summer started, I feel like my days have been full but not productive -- if that makes sense.  Without school, I thought I would have more time:  time to read more, time to get some projects done.  But no.  I've been so busy running my children hither and yon that I get to the end of the day, wondering why my to-do list is still full.  I think we're busier now than we were during school time!  :)

Here are some other things I enjoyed this week:
  • my new van!  They delivered it Friday afternoon.  It still needs the running boards, so it's more difficult getting in and out, but it's nice to have it!
  • having supper with friends Saturday night.  We enjoyed wonderful fellowship without children.  :)
  • getting laundry folded -- finally.   Wednesday I finally got around to folding towels I had washed on Saturday.  That's just how my week has been.
  • staying home on Wednesday.  I think it's the first day since we finished with school that we haven't had to leave the house before 9:00.  It was nice!  (You may laugh, if you like, but remember that we homeschool.  :)  
  • swimming.  I took the kids yesterday, and it was much better.  At the very least, I didn't have to hold Hannah the whole time because I was able to put her in the nursery.  But the kids had a great time, and I wasn't too bored.  :)
  • a good book!
  • my little walker.  Hannah is adorable as she toddles around the house -- when she remembers.  Sometimes she forgets and does her knee-walking.
We're planning to see an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz put on by a local teen group tonight.  We don't have any plans tomorrow so we should be able to get some things done -- hopefully.  :)

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

What I've Enjoyed This Week: A Hunting Trip for the Boys and Spending Time with my Girls

John and Daniel also drove to visit Uncle Ray who lives in New Mexico, too!

I told you last week that John was spending time with Daniel, so I was having some quality time with my daughters.  Actually, John took Daniel prairie dog hunting in New Mexico which is apparently like whack-a-mole with a gun.  :)  They left last Wednesday and got back on Monday.  So it was just we girls for almost a week.  Daniel took some great pictures; as a matter of fact, he took all of them on this post today except for the one above -- obviously.  :)  While they were out there, they also spent a day with Uncle Ray and enjoyed seeing more of that part of the country.

Snow on the mountains!

While John and Daniel were driving and hunting -- and driving some more, the girls and I spent a lot of time at home.  We played many games, watched a few movies, and ate out too much.  :)

I love this picture of the different strata which were laid down after the Flood.

We had some friends over Friday afternoon.  She has three girls who are just about my oldest three girls' ages, so that was a lot of fun, especially without Daniel at home.  Poor boy!  He would have been the only boy among all of those girls!

They saw several rainbows on the way home because it kept raining on them!

Here are a few more things I've enjoyed this week:
  • our first real week of "normal" summer.  I don't count last week because it wasn't normal with John and Daniel gone.
  • Rachel had art camp all week and absolutely loved it!
  • reading a good book.
  • watching Hannah walk.  Beginning walkers are so cute!
  • the rental van.
This afternoon, they're bringing our new van.  The running boards haven't come in yet, but we'll make do until they do.  We're having supper with friends tomorrow night, and that's all of the plans that we have.  Hooray for a quiet weekend.  (I'm sure we'll still be busy, though.)  

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Book Review: Love Letters from God -- Bible Stories for a Girl's Heart by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Rachel Clowes

This book retells several stories about women from the Bible, using each as an illustration of a specific character trait.  For example, Rahab is the "brave girl," Deborah is the "strong girl," and Hannah is the "hopeful girl."  After each story, there is a brief letter supposedly from God to the girl reading the book (or having it read to them) extolling her to exhibit this trait as the girl in the story did.

The idea for this book is excellent, and I had high hopes for it.  But I was disappointed.  First of all, the "love letters" are strange, as if they were written by God, but they come across as forced and fake -- and patronizing.  Some of the traits don't seem to fit well with the stories chosen to illustrate them, like Miriam being the "trusting girl."  I think it was more her parents who trusted God to take care of Moses when they put him into the Nile River.  In the picture of Deborah, she is holding a sword as if she fought in the battle, too, but the Bible is clear that she did not.  In the story of the woman caught in adultery, it talks about the "law of love" as if Jesus brought love so we don't need to worry about sin anymore.  Almost every story had something I needed to correct for my children.  One of my biggest problems with this book was classifying every person as a "girl."  Most of these were women, and it diminishes them and what they accomplished by calling them girls.

Like I said, I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Do You Bullet Journal?

Some people use a fancy book, but I just use a cheap one.  :)

Last month I mentioned that I had started "bullet journaling" and was really enjoying it. Because I find it so helpful, I thought that maybe you would, too.  :)  Has it transformed my life?  No, but I would say that it has simplified my life, specifically, I have a place to write random things so that I don't lose them or forget them.

It all started one Sunday when one of my children was sick, and I stayed home from church with her. I didn't want to watch what she wanted to watch on tv, and she got to choose since she was sick.  So I picked a webinar from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle I had just purchased:  Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers.  I had no idea what bullet journaling was, but I am a book lover, so I figured I would enjoy it.

Basically, when you bullet journal, you take a blank book, number the pages, create a table of contents, and start making lists.  And checking things off after you do them.  That's the best part!

Here's my table of contents:

After I purchased the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, I wanted to keep track of the sessions I wanted to watch and the courses I wanted to take.  As you can see, that was the first thing in my table of contents.  I knew I was going to attend the Teach Them Diligently Conference in Atlanta, and I wanted to write down the sessions I wanted to watch there, too.  Usually, I try to keep track of these things in my head, or I write them down on a scrap piece of paper -- which inevitably gets lost.  With my bullet journal, they're kept together in the same book so I won't lose them, I can find each list easily because of the numbered pages, and it's written down so I don't have to waste precious brain space trying to remember.

I now have lists of movies that I want to watch, books to reads, etc.  What I really enjoy is that when I watch one of these webinars and want to take notes, I write them down in my bullet journal.  My notes are bound together with my lists, so nothing gets lost, and it's all easily referenced.

Honestly, I don't know how much I will use some of the notes that I've taken.  I may never look at  them again, but I know where they are if I should want to.  But the lists, well, I keep adding to them.  And when I have some time to watch a webinar, I have an easily accessible list to help me decide which one to watch instead of having to scroll through the whole list every time.

Do you bullet journal?  What kinds of things do you keep track of in yours?

Friday, June 2, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Walker, a Van, and a Finished Blanket

The loaner van. 

We've decided to buy a new van.  All seven of us fit in my Toyota Sienna, but Sarah Beth is squashed in between two booster seats which isn't very comfortable for her.  We've been thinking about new vehicles for two years, ever since we discovered I was pregnant with Hannah.  Since my minivan is now ten years old -- and our children are getting bigger, it was time to seriously think about a replacement vehicle.

In all honesty, I dragged my heels about making this decision.  I loved my minivan.  Loved it!  And these ten-passenger vans are so very big!  But John did the research, and God kept using people to show me how much nicer life would be with a full-size van.  So we bit the bullet, so to speak, and bought one.

Oops!  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Before we bought one, I wanted to test drive one in our town.  But the nearest dealer was an hour away in Houston, and we weren't sure they would let us borrow one that far away.  But they did!  They let us have one to try Memorial Day weekend, and John went back on that Monday to buy one.  We wanted blue, but the one they lent us is black.  Unfortunately, our blue van won't be ready for another week or two because we requested running boards which won't come in for that long.  So they're letting us keep the loaner van for that long.  Can you believe it?!

So I've spent the last week driving this huge vehicle around town, figuring things out.  Parking is the hardest thing, but we live in Texas.  Lots of people here drive trucks, so parking spaces tend to be bigger which helps a lot.  :)

The other big thing that happened this week is that Hannah decided to walk.  She's been taking a few steps at a time, and we knew she could do more.  She just didn't want to.  But she decided Wednesday evening that she could, and she walked around and around and around, making sure I was watching.  I wish you could see the proud expression on her face!

I also finished this blanket which isn't nearly as big a deal as the first two things, but I'm glad I'm done.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • No school.  We finished last week, and we're getting used to our no-school routine.  
  • Swim team practice.  Sarah Beth has that most mornings, or she can do it in the evenings.  They don't care, so we do what's best for us.  :)
  • Getting dentist appointments out of the way.  I'm so glad I can schedule the kids all at the same time.
  • Rain.  We had some the other night, but not too much.
  • Time with my girls.  John and Daniel have been spending some quality time with each other this week, leaving us girls together.  :)
We don't have much planned this weekend.  Hopefully, some friends will be able to come over this afternoon; it depends on what time their repairman comes over.  Other than that, it should be a quiet weekend.

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Reading

I didn't get much read this month, and I'm okay with that considering that we spent almost two weeks traveling to Georgia, learning about the Civil War and spending time with family.  Books can wait; those other things can't.

Here's what I did get read:
  • Vet in the Vestry by Alexander Cameron.  This book combines more adventures by this vet-turned-pastor.  In humorous and serious stories, he shows that the life of a vet is not that different from life as a pastor.  I really enjoyed reading about his adventures in both of his roles.
  • 8 Great Smarts:  Discover and Nurture Your Child's Intelligences by Kathy Koch, Ph.D.  God has given everyone eight different "smarts," but nature and nurture determine which ones are stronger in each person.  For example, we all have music smarts, but some of us have more than others.  I love how this author showed how everybody is smart in his own way, even if it doesn't show up in places like school.  She also gives practical ways that we parents can increase our children's smarts in order to help them become the people God wants them to be.
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.  I didn't read much of this book, less than a hundred pages, because I just couldn't get into it.  But I wanted to give it a try since I enjoyed her other book To the Bright Edge of the World so much.
  • Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette.  I loved this book about the Israelites beginning the conquest of Canaan.  You can read my full review here.
Hopefully with summer here -- and no school! -- I will have a little more time to read.  :)

What have you read lately?