Friday, May 26, 2017

Happy Eleventh Birthday, Sarah Beth!

Eleven.  How did that happen?  When did that happen?

Sarah Beth enjoys all kinds of crafts, especially the needle arts.

She also appreciates spending time outdoors, camping or fishing with her daddy.

This year was Sarah Beth's first to play soccer, and she LOVED it!

I've started teaching her how to bake which she enjoys and I find helpful.  :)

Not quite "two peas in a pod," but they do enjoy spending time together.

Don't forget that she is also a voracious reader!  She wants to go to Half Price Books for her special day!

It's crazy to think that I have an eleven year old, but it's true, and it's wonderful!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What I've Enjoyed This Week: Being Home!

Hannah loved playing with Sparky at my parents' house -- once she got used to her!

After being gone for almost two weeks to visit family and learn more about the Atlanta campaign during the Civil War, it was lovely to have a quiet week at home.  I checked my to-do list everyday and was surprised to see so little on it.  We didn't have to prepare for CC or go to soccer practice.  Sarah Beth does have swim team practice, but it's so late in the evening that John is able to take her and stay with her until she finishes which leaves me free to stay home.  :)

Here are a few more things I enjoyed this week:
  • a rainy Monday.  We've needed the rain badly.
  • finishing school.  I didn't expect to finish this week and certainly not yesterday, but it's just the way it happened.  I'm not going to complain about being done with school for the summer!
  • an invitation for Sarah Beth to go to the beach with a friend today.  I hope they're having fun!
  • webinars.  Tracey asked me to let her know which ones I've enjoyed from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle:  the Temper Toolkit -- which had some great information about keeping one's temper -- and Raising Siblings to Be Best Friends from the Mom Conference which had some useful information but wasn't from a Christian point of view.  
  • I've also enjoyed several sessions from the Homeschool Curriculum Online Summit.  If you'd like to know which ones specifically, let me know.
One thing that I did not enjoy this week was dropping a set of children's books on my foot Tuesday.  Ouch!  Although it's very bruised and swollen, it's not broken, and I can walk, so I'm not complaining -- too much.  ;)  Actually, I was amazed at how much better it was yesterday morning.

Today we plan to get half-price milkshakes from Sonic.  Yum!  Tomorrow we're going to look at vans because my vehicle is getting old, and we have a quiet weekend scheduled.  Yea!  Maybe I can get caught up on my blog reading; I'm so behind!

What have you enjoyed this week?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where We've Been: Two Weeks with Family and Learning about the Civil War in Atlanta

Doesn't Mary look fierce with her upside-down musket?  :)  What about Daniel right behind her?

Two weeks ago, I left with my children to visit my family in Georgia.  On the way, we stopped in Atlanta to participate in the Civil War tour with Landmark Events.  I was amazed at how much I learned, even though I grew up in Georgia and had taken a Georgia history class in school.  Of course, much of what I learned on this tour were things that you won't read in history books.  For example, Confederate General Lowery called a temporary ceasefire to save wounded Union soldiers who were being burned alive because they were unable to move themselves from the woods which had been set on fire by the cannons.  A Confederate general concerned with the lives of Union soldiers?  Yes, he was a Christian.  :)

A memorial to the unknown Confederate dead in the Oakland Cemetery.

The tour ended on Thursday, and my parents took my children home with them while I stayed in Atlanta for the Teach Them Diligently Conference.  I was able to attend Thursday evening and Friday morning, and I enjoyed the meetings I attended.  Boy, the convention hall was jam-packed!  I was glad that I had already decided on most of our curricula for next year because it was a little overwhelming!

 Three of my children at the base of John B. Gordon memorial at the Georgia Capitol.

Over the weekend, we spent some time with my brothers and, of course, my parents.  My younger brother, his wife, and children dropped by a couple of times to see us.  And my older brother came over Saturday night.  Then we had supper with my sister the next Wednesday, and I finally got to meet her fiancee!  

 The John B. Gordon Memorial.

As much as I could, I rested up over the weekend because I had a busy week planned, spending time with friends.  I met one friend for breakfast; we've been friends for more than thirty years!  My children and I went to visit other friends for lunch, and there were four women and twenty-two children!  So much fun!  Lastly but definitely not unimportantly, I met Tracey from Girls to Grow in person!  She is no longer a blogging friend, but she is now a real live friend!

 The only picture I have of Sarah Beth.  :(

We had such a good time spending time with friends and family and learning new things that we almost didn't want to come back home.  Almost.  :)  But we missed our husband and daddy, so we got back in the car for the drive home.  And he was waiting outside when we arrived.  :)

It was a whirlwind two weeks, but it sure was an amazing time!

Friday, May 5, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A New Camera and Bullet Journaling

We had a nice quiet week scheduled for which I am so very glad because several of us were "under the weather."  It started Saturday with Rachel, then I caught it on Sunday.  Finally, on Wednesday when we started feeling better, it was Mary's turn.  Ugh!

On Sunday when I had to stay home from church, I watched a webinar about bullet journaling, and my attention was immediately piqued.  Apparently, you can use bullet journaling for all kinds of things, even as a daily planner, but I'm using it as a place to keep collections of ideas.  For example, I now have a running list of movies to watch, fun books to read, and things to do with my children.  And it's all contained in one journal, so it's all together; I know where it is when I need an idea or when I want to add something else.  I'm very excited about this.  Knowing me, however, I hope I keep up with it because I really think it could help declutter my mind.  :)

Also, Daniel earned some money, and since he's a spender, I tried to help him come up with a good way to spend it instead of on a bunch of junk.  I remembered that he loves taking pictures.  He used to always ask to take pictures with our camera, but I guess he stopped because we always told him "no."  I suggested a camera to him, and I wish you could have seen how his face lit up.  When we mentioned it to John, he remembered that we have an old camera that just need a charger.  So Daniel now has a new-to-him camera for the cost of a charger.  And he has been taking pictures up a storm!  He's taken some good ones, too, and I plan to share some with you soon.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:

  • feeling well enough to do school.  I was afraid we might have to cancel some school, and I really didn't want to do that because we're so close to finishing for the year.
  • watching my children put puzzles together.  For some reason, puzzles have been popular this week, and I think it's wonderful when they work on them.
  • the Homeschool Online Curriculum Summit.  An online homeschool conference?  That's free?  Yes, please!  I've only watched a couple of webinars so far, but I've enjoyed them.  
  • finishing up school.  We only have nine more days!
Tomorrow is Sarah Beth's last soccer game.  Sadly, soccer will be over for our family until the fall.  Other than that, we have a relatively free weekend which will be nice.  Maybe I can get some errands run since we've been stuck at home all week.  :)

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

We are going to be very, very busy for the next couple of weeks, so I may not be online much.  I just wanted to let you know ahead of time.  :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

April Reading and Goals Review

Mary was thrilled with her soccer trophy!

April was full of Memory Masters.  It seemed to be all I could think about, and I'm sure you noticed that here on my blog.  :)  I'm so glad that Sarah Beth and Daniel decided to take on that project, but I'm also very glad that it's over.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I did not get much read in April.  Of the four books I have listed here, I didn't even finish one of them.  :)  Here's  what I read:
  • To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey.  While this book is fiction, it reads like non-fiction.  As Colonel Allen Forrester explores the interior of Alaska for the army during the 1880s, he has to leave his new wife behind in Vancouver.  His journal entries are interspersed with hers, showing what each went through during their separation.   He survived dangers and hardships while exploring, and she had to navigate the social scene of the fort while learning a new hobby:  photography.  I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would.
  • Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray.  This book was recommended when I attended the Winter Summit, and I thought I might learn a few things.  But I had to stop reading it halfway through because I felt like the author was trying to say that we women have to accept our men just as they are.  We can never ask them to change, certainly not expect them to.  Basically, we have to walk on eggshells all the time.  I'm sure there is some truth in that, but it made me mad every time I read it.  The author is not a Christian so there was no hope that God might change one's husband, that as Christians we should expect our husbands to become more Christ-like -- as we wives also work to become more Christ-like.  This message would have been much better with that influence and truth.
  • The Harbingers Cycle One:  Invitation.  You can read read my review here.
  • The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan.  You can read my review here.
Here's how I did with my yearly goals:
  • I want to run two 5Ks.  I ran the first one in March, so one down, one to go!  I jog on the treadmill four times a week almost every week, so I'll be ready for the next one.
  • Fun School Days.  I planned to celebrate Jelly Bean Day (the 22nd), but it just didn't happen.
  • Hospitality:  having other mothers and children over for games and such.  We were so busy with Memory Masters that I couldn't even think about it. 
  • Hospitality:  we also used to have families over for supper one night each month, and we need to get back into doing this again, too.  We were too busy this month -- and probably will be again next month.
  • Date night.  It didn't happen.
  • Get comfortable enough with my handgun to go shoot by myself.  Getting there.
    My goals are:
    • Review and test for Memory Masters.  Done and done!  Sarah Beth and Daniel did great and achieved Memory Masters for CC!
    • Increase my speed on the treadmill to work toward running my next 5K a little more quickly.  I did speed up a little bit.  It's hard!
    • Get as much school as possible done, so our summer break can get here faster!  :)  Yes!
    May looks to be very busy, so I'm not going to make any goals other than working hard to finish up our school year -- when we can.  We actually have about twelve more days, but I'm not exactly sure when that last day will happen.

    What have you read lately?  How are you doing with your goals?

    Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    Book Review: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

    During World War II, most of the men in Britain left to fight, leaving the women behind to run things as well as they could.  This book tells the fictional stories of several women in the town of Chilbury who band together to form a women's choir.  Told through journal entries and letters, the reader gets an inside look at why these women do what they do, how they feel, and their justifications.  Teenage sisters Kitty and Venetia go through their own love stories, but they mature as they learn to appreciate each other.  Timid Mrs. Tilling develops a backbone as she deals with an unwanted boarder and other problems in the village.

    This book was an interesting look into the home front during the War.  I'm sure women had to deal with experiences similar to those portrayed in this book.  Newcomers to the village who aren't quite what they seem:  are they spies or just black marketeers?  What happens when the local lord loses his only son in battle, and he needs another son to inherit the estate?  How do women cope with overbearing men living with them as part of the war effort?

    Yes, I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it.  While it dealt with some hard issues, it was also encouraging to read about how women banded together to deal with the harsh realities of war.

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

    Friday, April 28, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: Two "Problems:" Extra Days and Hannah

    With CC ending and Memory Masters being completed, this week felt wide open.  We are usually gone all day on Wednesday, and a good bit of Tuesday is taken with getting ready for CC. When I was planning my week last weekend, I wasn't sure what to do with those two days since they were basically empty from my usual tasks!  A very nice "problem"!

    Another "problem" I've had this week is Hannah.  She's at that stage where she is quite mobile, though not walking, and she can open cabinets to play with what is inside them.  That's not a good combination when considering what kinds of things are usually kept in cabinets.  I was complaining to discussing with my mother about this, and she offered a solution.  (My mother seems to get wiser as I get older; how does that happen?)  She suggested I give Hannah one cabinet to play in, so that hopefully she will leave the rest alone.  So I pulled all of our school books out of a cabinet, the cabinet where I also keep the plastic plates and cups for my children so that she can play in there.  But where was I to put the school books?  In the laundry room!  But you saw what a mess it was in there, so I had to clean it out first.  That's how I've spent my extra time this week!  Cleaning out the laundry room.  But I'm pleased with the results, and I hope it will last -- for more than a week.  :)

    Here are a few other things I've enjoyed this week:
    • A shorter school day.  With no CC, school takes less time which is lovely since we're counting down the days until summer break!
    • Discovering that Sarah Beth and Daniel are on lesson 96 instead of 86 in math which means that we'll be done with school a little bit sooner than I expected.  Hooray!
    • A baby gate!  Hannah is determined to climb the stairs, and my jerry-rigged attempts to keep her off of them haven't been working.  We finally invested in a baby gate, and so far it's working great!  (Knock on wood and cross my fingers.)
    • Daniel and John feeling better.  They had to cut short their camping trip to Big Bend last weekend because they were sick.  :(
    • Running a few errands yesterday afternoon by myself, getting some things done that are hard to do with five children in tow.  :)
    Tonight we have our end of the year program for CC, and tomorrow we have the last soccer games for Daniel and Mary.  After that is John's annual family work party which is great fun for the kids; they look forward to it all year long!

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

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Book Review: Harbingers Cycle One: Invitation

    Four people with special powers, not really super powers, are brought together by fate to help defend others against supernatural evil.  The Professor relies entirely on logic to make decisions and deductions.  Andi, his assistant, can see patterns that others miss.  Brenda, a tattoo artist, occasionally sees pictures of events before they happen.  And Tank, a college football player, has the ability sometimes to heal others; he is also the only Christian on this "team."  Using their combined gifts, they are able to keep evil forces from hurting some defenseless people.

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book since I've never read anything by these authors, and actually I've only heard of Frank Peretti.  In the introduction, they tell the rules of this book:  each author would write one short story in this book (as opposed to all of them writing together), and he would write it from the point of view of one of the characters.  It's supposed to work like a tv series, and it does.  Each novella is a different episode that builds on the ones before it.

    I enjoyed each of the stories, even though they were a little crazy and strange.  Obviously, occult supernatural forces are at work in the stories -- as they are in real life.  But only Tank can see the obvious, that what they experience is the battle between good and evil, between God and Satan.  I was disappointed that none of the other characters became Christians in the book, but maybe they will in a future one.  Given the opportunity, I would probably read more in this series and will probably check out some other books by these authors.

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

    Monday, April 24, 2017

    Book Review: Berenstain Bears Friendship Blessings Collection

    We enjoy the Berenstain Bears in our family, and I appreciate having five stories combined into one volume, a hardback book which should last longer.  Since we did not enjoy the stories equally, I thought I would treat each one separately.
    1. The Perfect Fishing Spot.  I did not like this story.  After Mama Bear tells Papa Bear that he should just buy some fish for their supper, he goes on a bumbling trip around the countryside trying to find somewhere to catch some fish.  He keeps getting into troubles and scrapes until he finally follows Mama's advice and just buys some fish.  The moral of the story seems to be that husbands should just do what their wives tell them to.  In our world where man are made fun of and treated like idiots in movies and on tv, we don't need to add to this disrespect by reading such stories to our children.
    2. Reap the Harvest.  Brother and Sister don't know what to do with their summer until they see Farmer Ben's "Help Wanted" sign.  He agrees to hire them but will only pay them at the end of the summer via his cash crop.  He won't know how much he earns, and therefore how much he can pay them, until the corn is harvested.  The cubs work hard all summer and earn a nice paycheck at the end.  They learn about hard work and how rewards often don't come until it's all over.
    3. Faithful Friends.  Sister has a disagreement with one of her friends because she's been spending a lot of time with a different friend.  Brother shows Sister how maybe her friend is jealous because she thinks Sister has forgotten her, and he encourages her to do things with all of her friends.  The girls make up and appreciate their friendship even more.
    4. Kindness Counts.  Brother Bear loves putting together model airplanes, and a younger cub would like to help him.  Brother remembers how Papa let him help when he didn't know how, so he lets this other cub help.  Brother learns that what goes around often comes around, especially with kindness.
    5. God Made You Special.  This story is my favorite.  The Bear family has friends come visit, and they bring a cub who doesn't act like the other cubs.  It seems like he has Down's syndrome or something similar.  Mama Bear explains to Sister that God made everyone special, even people who are different.  The other mother bear adds that maybe God uses these people to teach us something.
    As you can see, we enjoyed four of the five tales in this book.  I plan to keep it and read them often, just omitting the first one.

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

    Friday, April 21, 2017

    What I've Enjoyed This Week: Memory Masters! and Two Finished Blankets

    Sarah Beth and Daniel did it!  They passed all four of their testings for Memory Masters!  I'm so proud of them!  I just wish I had taken a picture of them.  :(

    I also finished these two blankets.  The purple one I actually finished last month except for weaving in the ends.  I enjoyed working on the blue one:  it was a new pattern which I found intriguing.  It started in one corner and each row increased stitches until it was time to start decreasing stitches, ending up in the opposite corner.  It also did not require too much mental energy which was good because I don't have much of that right now with all of the prep work for Memory Masters.  :)  The color didn't show up very well, but it's a very light blue:  not baby blue, more of a sky blue.

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
    • My birthday was last Friday, and we had a nice, quiet day at home.  Then we went out for supper which was lovely since I didn't have to prepare or clean up after a meal.  :)  And I had a delicious store-bought cake!
    • Sarah Beth made the swim team!  Daniel decided he wasn't interested.
    • A few days off school.  Several of the children have been sick with colds, but they're getting better.  And we've all enjoyed a break!
    • Getting caught up on some neglected chores since we didn't have school.  Well, doing the chores wasn't much fun, but knowing that they're done feels pretty good!
    I'm not sure why, but we don't have soccer games this weekend.  We don't really have anything planned, so we should have a nice, quiet weekend.  

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

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Why You are the Perfect Mother for Your Children, Part 2

    Last week, I wrote a post about how you are the perfect mother for your children.  How can I be so sure about this?  God gave my children to me and  your children to you, and He does not make mistakes.

    Of course, this fact is all well and good as long as you and your child are similar, when you both love to read or when neither of you enjoys going to parties.  But what happens when you are different?

    What if your child craves being around people and you crave time alone?  What if your child doesn't want to nurse as long you had planned?  What if you would just prefer to do all the chores yourself because it's easier than taking the time and effort to teach your children?  What if you are just different?  Did God make a mistake then?  Of course not!  God doesn't make mistakes.  Should we continue in our own personalities and temperaments and let things end up however they will?  No!

    God can use our differences to help us grow.  And these examples come straight from my relationships with my children, so I can speak to them directly.  I hope that you can extrapolate from my experiences to you and your children.

    I have a child who loves to be around people.  Her love language is quality time, and she needs attention from me.  However, I crave time alone.  As a matter of fact, that's what I asked for for Christmas.  :)  What are we to do?  Well, I look for ways to spend time with her that I enjoy as well, so we end up reading lots of books.  I also make a point to listen to her and speak with her when she's trying to carry on a conversation with me.  I've had to change and to give up some of what I want in order to nurture her.  I'm learning to make sacrifices, and that's a good thing.  Didn't God the Father give the ultimate sacrifice when He sent Jesus to die on the cross?  Isn't it a good thing for me to emulate the Son?  So I work on it.  :)

    As for the baby weaning herself before I was ready, well, I had to learn to be flexible.  I had things all planned out for how long I would nurse her, when I would wean her, and how long I would take.  But my child decided one morning that she was done with me; she just wanted a bottle.  I had to learn to roll with the punches, so to speak, and that's also an excellent thing to know.

    I have to be honest.  Most of the time, I prefer to do the household chores myself.  It's a little bit of selfishness, a little bit of efficiency, and a little bit of laziness.  I can do things better and quicker than my children can, so it's just easier for me to do it all.  But if I don't teach them how to do things themselves, they will have a harder time when they move out and have their own places.  I need to teach them now how to do things, how to work hard, so they will be better prepared for life when they leave my house.

    Am I a perfect mother?  Of course not!  But I am a work in progress, and I pray that God will continue to use me to teach my children more about Him -- as He uses them to teach me more about Him.

    How are you different from your child(ren)?  How have you handled it?

    Friday, April 14, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: Memory Masters, a Medal, My Birthday, and First Steps

    First of all, I don't want to forget to mention that it's Good Friday, the day that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died for our sins.  What a wonderful gift that He gave us that day, and I don't ever want to forget it.  The only thing that is better than Him dying on the cross was that He rose from the grave three days later.  Hallelujah!

    Sarah Beth, Daniel and I have been busy the last few weeks with getting ready for and testing for their Memory Masters.  We started last weekend with my testing both of them, and they did wonderfully.  Sarah Beth forgot the name of the Netherlands, and Daniel got Cambodia and Thailand mixed up.  Those kinds of things are what they're being tested on.   Daniel had his second testing with another adult yesterday, and he did great.  He just forgot one out of a list of twenty-seven indefinite pronouns (all, another, any, some, several, etc.).  Sarah Beth has her second testing this afternoon.  Then they have another testing with a CC tutor on Monday, and an abbreviated testing with our director on Wednesday.

    Remember that 5K I ran a couple of weeks ago?  I received an interesting email last Saturday:  it turns out that I won my age division.  Can you believe it?  I certainly couldn't!  Honestly, I'm such a slow jogger that I must have been the only one in my age group who ran; there were lots of people who walked the whole thing.

    Lastly, today is my birthday!  My children kept asking me what I wanted, and I just couldn't think of anything.  But I kept pondering and pondering, and it finally came to me:  I want someone else to do my job for me on my birthday.  I want someone else to get up early with the children.  I want someone else to make sure the dishes are put in the dishwasher and the table wiped off.  I want someone else to change any diapers that need to be changed and make sure the baby is fed.  I want a day off from my responsibilities.  :)  There's the incentive I need to keep training my children, so that one day I will get my birthday wish -- and hopefully, in the not-too-distant future.  :)

    Hannah gave me a lovely birthday gift a day early:  she took her first steps!

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
    • Our last day of CC.  It's bittersweet, really, because we'll miss our friends, but it will be nice to stay home instead of heading off to class once a week.
    • Swim clinic.  Daniel wanted to attend the swim clinic which the swim team puts on before try-outs, so I took him.  And then Sarah Beth decided she wanted to do it, too.  They're having a great time and learning better how to swim.
    • Rain.  We had a couple of rainy days which was wonderful since it's been so dry lately.
    • No soccer practice.  Since it's Easter weekend and the kids don't have soccer games, their coaches cancelled practice all week.  Hooray!  (But don't tell my children I said that.  :)
    • A mixed-up date.  We thought something important was next Saturday, but it's actually the Saturday after that.  So we thought we were going to miss a couple of things, but now we're not!
    This afternoon, Sarah Beth has her second Memory Master testing, and we're going out to eat to celebrate my birthday!  Tomorrow, I'm taking Rachel and Mary to an Easter egg hunt which should be easy-peasy since I will only have two children!  Then a relatively quiet weekend, celebrating Resurrection Day.

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

    Tuesday, April 11, 2017

    Why You are the Perfect Mother for Your Children

    I've been thinking about this post for a couple of months now, and I was finally inspired to write it after I read (un)Natural Mom by Hettie Brittz.  We mothers tend to compare ourselves to other mothers, wondering why we can't do the wonderful things they do.  Why can't we throw such memory-making birthday parties?  Why don't we enjoy co-sleeping?

    I will tell you why:  God made us all differently, and He gave our children to us on purpose.  He uses our gifts and our weaknesses to develop our children.  He can also use our natural tendencies to protect our children.  Brittz has a great story in her book about why it was a wonderful thing that her children sleep independently in their own rooms.  But she also has a great reason why other mothers would be better having their children sleep with them.  God knows these things when He gives us our children and the circumstances in which we raise them.

    Do you enjoy doing crafts with your children?  I don't.  But I do love to read to my children.  While your children develop their artistic sides, my children develop a love of books.  Both are wonderful!  Neither are bad.

    Do you struggle with getting places on time?  Maybe you're more flexible or more hopeful than I am; I'm pretty regimented.  God can use both aspects in our children's lives, as yours learn flexibility and mine learn discipline.  Again, both are great things to know, and neither are bad.  (My husband would probably say that I need to learn some flexibility.  :)

    Please, keep these things in mind as you look at other mothers and what they do with their children.  As long as you are doing your best, God will use that to turn your children into the people He wants them to be.

    But -- what if your natural temperament works against your child?  What if you crave time alone, and God gave you a child whose love language is quality time?  What if your personality tells you just to do it all yourself because it's too much trouble to teach your children how to do it?

    That is a post for next week.  :)

    Friday, April 7, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: An Unexpected Visit

    Doesn't this look like Hannah?  But it's Mary!

    We are working really hard this month finishing up with our CC work.  Next week is our last campus day, our day to meet, and we've got a lot to do.  Sarah Beth needs to finish her last research paper for her Essentials class, and both she and Daniel are working hard to attain the elusive Memory Master title.  So we are spending as much time as possible at home, getting these things done.  I have to admit that I look forward to being done with all of this!  I can't seem to think about much beyond the next two weeks, but it will be worth it when it's all done!

    I may not have much down this week, but I have been busy!  :)  Here are a few things I've enjoyed this week:
    • Yesterday, some friends dropped by unexpectedly, and it was wonderful reconnecting with them!
    • Podcasts.  Tracey had an interesting post about listening to podcasts, and I thought that sounded like a great idea -- but I wasn't sure when I would find the time.  Finally, it occurred to me that after lunch when the kids go outside to play, the house is relatively quiet so I can listen to something.  And I usually use that time to clean up after lunch (and maybe breakfast) along with doing any prep work for supper that I can.  It's a wonderful time, and I'm so glad that Tracey suggested it!
    • Music.  When I remember, I stream the Amazon music station with the classical focus.  We get to hear all kinds of classical music, and it continues to play until I turn it off -- which doesn't happen with CDs.  :)  My children don't enjoy it as much as I do; when they have their own homes, they can do whatever they want!
    • While I haven't exactly enjoyed going over CC memory work over and over and over again, I have enjoyed watching Sarah Beth and Daniel get more comfortable with it, as the answers come more easily.
    I start the testing process this afternoon with Daniel, and tomorrow I will start with Sarah Beth.  We also have three soccer games in the morning.  

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

    Wednesday, April 5, 2017

    March Reading and Review of Goals

    I didn't think I had read much this month until I looked at this list.  I felt like I got bogged down in the biography about Drake and just couldn't get anything else read until I finally finished it.  But I didn't do too badly.  :)

    Here's what I read:
    • Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith.  This fictionalized  account of Sarah's life is well-written, and I really enjoyed it. Why did she do what she did?  How did she feel about giving Hagar to Abraham?  Of course, we don't know, but this author did a great job supposing!
    • Cherish by Gary Thomas.  You can read my review of this excellent book here.
    • Sir Frances Drake by John Sugden.  After listening to Under Drake's Flag, I was intrigued by Drake and decided to read a biography.  I slogged my way through this one; it was academic and included many trivial details.  However, I did learn a lot about the New World, Spain, Portugal, and England during the late 1500s, and I did appreciate that.
    • The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight.  This book continues the story of Kyrin and Jace as they try to rescue the King's scrolls and the man keeping them before the evil Emperor gets there first.  This book has dragons which was a fun addition, and it kept my treadmill time interesting and feeling shorter than it really was.  :)
    • Fly Away by Lynn Austin.  Mike Dolan and Wilhemina Brewster are complete opposites.  He loves to have fun, and she is very serious.  She's a Christian, and he is not.  But the Lord puts him on her heart, so she tries to find a way to witness to him.  Meanwhile, Mike struggles to help Wilhemina have fun and enjoy life, as he knows the end of his is coming via terminal cancer.  Such a good book, I'm never disappointed by this author!
    • (un)Natural Mom:  Why You are the Perfect Mom for Your Kids by Hettie Brittz.  God places our children with us because we are the perfect mothers for them.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses and pairs them with our children to give them what they need.  No, we don't do things perfectly, but He knows this, too, and can use our mistakes to help our children grow as they should.  None of us does everything that we think every other mother does well.  I don't do crafts with my children, and this book helps me not feel guilty about that.  There are mothers who do lots of crafts with their children, and that's great!  God uses what we have.  There's a neat assessment you can do online (free!) to tell you what kind of mother you are.  I'm a Boxwood, and that chapter described me to a tee.  
    We had a busy month in March!  My mother was here for a week, John took the oldest four children camping, and we had at least three soccer games every Saturday along with practice almost every evening.  It makes me tired just thinking about it!  :)  Here's how I did with my yearly goals:
    • I want to run two 5Ks.  I ran the first one in March, so one down, one to go!
    • Fun School Days.  We were supposed to celebrate pi Day, but my mother came into town that day, and we were too excited to see her to celebrate.  :)
    • Hospitality:  having other mothers and children over for games and such.  We were just too busy.
    • Hospitality:  we also used to have families over for supper one night each month, and we need to get back into doing this again, too.  We were too busy this month -- and probably will be again next month.
    • Date night.  It wasn't really date night, but we did go out by ourselves one morning to shoot.
    • Get comfortable enough with my handgun to go shoot by myself.  Getting there.
    April looks to be busy, also, as Sarah Beth, Daniel, and I will be spending every spare minute reviewing their CC for memory masters.  Basically, they will have to recite every piece of information they've learned all year at one time, four times.  There are seven subjects and 24 weeks, so you can do the math to see how impressive this feat is!  My goals are:
    • Review and test for Memory Masters.
    • Increase my speed on the treadmill to work toward running my next 5K a little more quickly.
    • Get as much school as possible done, so our summer break can get here faster!  :)
    • Fun School Day.  If I can get my act together, maybe we'll celebrate Jelly Bean Day on the 22nd.  
    What have you read lately?  How are you doing with your goals?

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    How to Homeschool With Five Children, Part 2 -- How to Keep the Little Ones Entertained

    I want to start off by saying that I don't feel like an expert in homeschooling.  While this is our sixth year, I certainly don't feel like I have it all together, that I know exactly what we're doing each and every day.  But I do have some experience, and I want to share what I've learned in the hopes that it may help you.

    We started homeschooling when Sarah Beth was in kindergarten and I was pregnant with Mary.  So I've always had little ones to deal with while doing school.  I remember working with Sarah Beth (5) while Daniel (3) and Rachel (1) sat with us at the kitchen table working puzzles or coloring.  That was so long ago that I don't remember much about Daniel; he must have sat there patiently during our hour or so of school.  Rachel, however, would get bored, and she would want to get down and do her own thing.  She was not to be trusted loose in the house, though, so I would put her in her bed with some books and toys, and she would be happy long enough for us to finish school.  Whew!

    Mary, however, was a different story.  When she was almost a year old and we were starting our second year of homeschooling, this time including Daniel since we had started CC, I remember telling my mother that I wanted to pull my hair out because Mary was such a distraction to our schooling.  If I held her, she pulled the books off the table.  If I put her down, she did stay with us, but again, she pulled the books off the table.  Although my mother did not homeschool us, she had a great solution, one that I tell everyone who asks, one that I plan to use with Hannah starting very soon.  :)

    Here are some ways to keep your younger child(ren) occupied while doing school:
    1. Keep it simple.  See my post last week about keeping school short enough not to exasperate your younger children.
    2. Have lots of toys, games, etc. to keep them entertained at the table.   You can see in the picture above that I have two shelves full of things they can do at the table.  I also allow them to bring books to the table and other things, as long as it's not too distracting to those who are actually doing school.
    3. Have older children play with the younger ones.  Sometimes, Rachel will get done with her school before I've finished with Sarah Beth and Daniel, and I will have her play with Hannah.  Sometimes, Mary helps, too, even though she's not technically doing school yet -- other than CC.
    4. When all else fails, here is my best piece of advice for those of you who are homeschooling with little ones underfoot:  make use of your pack-n-play.  Set it up, leave it set up, and keep some toys in it that are only for playing with during school.  My mother gave me this piece of advice, and it worked wonderfully.  The only reason I'm not doing this with Hannah right now is that she still sleeps in her pack-n-play.  Well, that and the fact that she is still relatively happy in her exersaucer.  
    I must admit that it's really nice that Mary is old enough to be trustworthy for a little while by herself.  When she's finally had enough, I let her go upstairs to play.

    How do you keep your little ones happy, occupied, and out of trouble while you homeschool?  Since I still have a little one, I'm still looking for suggestions!

    Do you have any other questions for me about homeschooling?

    Friday, March 31, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: Four Soccer Games and a 5K

    I haven't posted a picture of this cutie in a while, so here you go!  She's almost fourteen months old, can you believe it?

    Last Saturday was almost crazy-busy, but we did it!  I ran the 5K, all of it!  After a quick shower, we started on our four soccer games which took the whole day.  We all got a little too much sun except Rachel with whom we are always careful, and we were exhausted when the evening rolled around.  But it was a good day for everyone.

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
    • the finish line of the 5K!
    • sleeping late.  As a reward for running the 5K, I took the week off from jogging which let me sleep late.  :)
    • a quiet week at home except for soccer practice.
    • a day off from school.  Yesterday, Sarah Beth and Rachel weren't feeling well, so we took the day off from school.
    • reading (un)Natural Mom by Hettie Brittz.  When I read the chapter about the Boxwood Mother, I felt like the author had followed me around for a week taking notes before she wrote it.  :)  I'll tell you more about this book next week in my monthly review of the books that I've read.
    • tutoring Essentials on Wednesday.  Our tutor was not there for CC this week, so I was asked to step in to tutor the afternoon class for the older students which includes writing instruction, parsing sentences, and a little bit of math.  It was the first time I've done this, but I look forward to tutoring the whole class next year!
    Tomorrow we have more soccer games, but they're early -- which is good and bad.  We'll get them over with early (and be less likely to burn!), but we have to get out of the door early.  Other than that, we've got a quiet weekend at home which will be lovely.

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

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    How to Homeschool with Five Children -- No More, No Less

    Before I get started, I want to be clear that I do not feel like a homeschool expert.  Yes, I started homeschooling Sarah Beth six years ago, but she's only in the fifth grade now.  There are many people with tons more experience.  However, I am the most experienced homeschooling mother in our CC group; the other families either have younger children or have recently started homeschooling, and they ask my opinions sometimes.

    I thought it might be helpful to write about what we do and why, in case you need a few ideas or some encouragement.
    1. Be as quick as possible.  Did you gasp when you read that?  :)  With a baby, however, I've got to get school done as quickly as possible or she explodes.  I absolutely cannot teach school while holding Hannah (if you've tried teaching while holding a baby, you understand), and I don't like her wandering around without supervision.  Right now, I put her in the exersaucer for school time, and if I keep us on track, we finish about when she's ready to get out.  Also, Rachel (7) and Mary (5) can't take too much school, and I'll be honest, I can't either.  :)
    2. Keep it simple.  I'll be honest with you, we don't do projects very often -- like never.  Often they're too messy especially with four children wanting to participate, and they always take more time than I feel like I have.  
    3. Do as much as possible with all the children.  Things like science, history, and geography can be done with all children no matter how old they are.  That's one of the many reasons I love Classical Conversations; we can do all of these subjects together as a family which means less prep work and time.  
    4. Don't waste time.  I feel like I'm on a time crunch, and we need to get done as much as possible in as little time as possible.  So we don't do worksheets.  I have to admit that when I heard a CC trainer say this, too, I felt justified and not alone anymore.  :)  When I extrapolate science and history, I just read excerpts from books to my children.  They don't fill in blanks on worksheets or write papers on it.  (Remember, my children are still fairly young.)  The big thing is that they memorize their CC grammar, and if they get that, I'm good.  They'll get explanations, etc., later in their schooling.
    The biggest question I get, however, is how I keep the younger ones occupied while I teach the older ones.  I'll answer that question next week.  :)

    What tips do you have for homeschooling five (or more -- or fewer) children?

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: My Mother

    My mother came into town last week, and we had so much fun running around town with her.  If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that my mother keeps us busier than we're used to while she is here.  But we enjoy it, and we get a lot done.  Most importantly, we love spending the time with her.

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
    • Haircuts.  It's just easier to take all of my children to get haircuts at the same time, especially if I have a couple of extra hands to help deal with Hannah.  We took care of this chore while my mother was here.
    • A clean garage!  My mother can't seem to stand our dirty, messy garage, so she usually (but not always) ropes the children into helping her clean it out.  Then she rewards them with a milkshake or something, and it's all good!
    • A clean car.  She also tackled my car, cleaning it out and getting it washed.  
    • An unexpected visit.  I received a surprise text Sunday evening from a friend we haven't seen in a while.  She wanted to know if we wanted to meet her and her children and go hiking Monday morning.  Of course!  We always enjoy spending time with friends!
    • New books.  I bought a couple of collections of abridged classic books at my Usborne Books party.  While I hoped that Daniel would read and enjoy them, I had no idea he would dive into them as quickly as he did.  He read Huckleberry Finn and then started Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I wasn't sure about these books when I bought them, but now I'm so happy I did!
    • I got a letter in the mail!  All of my children (except Hannah) have pen pals, so I've been a little jealous of their getting real, live mail.  But Wednesday it was my turn!
    We did not enjoy taking my mother back to the airport.  :(  We even tried to think of some ways to keep her here, but it just wouldn't work.  However, we are a little bit, just a little bit, glad to get back to our relatively quiet routine.  :)

    Tomorrow, I run my first 5K of the year!  And we have four soccer games.  Yes, four.  Sarah Beth has a double-header.  It's going to be a busy, busy day!

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

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Honor the Sabbath to Keep it Holy -- Part 2

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the Sabbath, things we should avoid.  Today I will tackle the question, "What can we do, then?"

    First of all, remember that the Sabbath Day is supposed to holy, that is, set apart.  You should do things on this day that you don't do the other days, especially things that honor and please God.

    First of all, you should attend church.  As Hebrews 10:25 says, we should not forsake meeting together, as some people do.  God wants us to worship Him corporately in church, and Sunday is the only day we can do that.  Yes, I understand that some churches have meetings on Wednesday evenings, but it's not a worship service.  It's not church.

    Skipping church to spend time with your family, I don't think God appreciates that.

    Of course, there are some times that you just can't make it to church, like when you have a sick child. God understands that.  When you're traveling, it's hard to make it to church, too.  I'm talking about normal Sundays.

    Here are a few other things that you can do on Sunday:
    • Spending time with family.  I try to play games with my children on Sunday because I enjoy spending time with them, and we don't usually have time for games during the week.
    • Hobbies.  I don't see any problem with things like reading and knitting, as long as it's something that you enjoy and doesn't feel like work.
    • Napping.  Other than attending church, is there anything better to do on a day of rest?  :)
    Now I'll be honest with you.  I do tend to a little bit of work on Sundays in order to start my week off nicely without a lot of work left over from Sunday.  After cleaning up after supper, I may start a load of laundry or make sure the kitchen is good and straight, just so that these things aren't hanging over my head all night and so I don't have to deal with them first thing on Monday morning.  A head start, so to speak.  But I don't do much; generally, it takes me about half an hour and it comes after I've spent most of the day resting and honoring the Sabbath.

    What kinds of things do you avoid on Sunday?  What do you like to do?

    Friday, March 17, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: My Christmas Present!

    I have the best husband!  When he asked me what I wanted for Christmas back in November, I thought about it for a while and then asked him to take the kids camping.  Since he's taken them before, I wasn't asking for something he might not want to do.  Hannah and I would stay home, and I would get a vacation!  I wasn't in a hurry for my gift, so John took them this past weekend to Caprock Canyon State Park.

    They had a great time!  They hiked a lot, and there were some challenging trails as you can see in the pictures.  But it was cold!  They managed, however, and now my children have great memories with their father.

    What did I do?  Well, it took me two days to get to the point where I could look around and think, "I don't really have anything to do" which is what I was going for!  I did some cleaning and straightening the first couple of days, and then enjoyed my clean house for the rest of the weekend.  I also hosted an Usborne Books party Friday night.  It was the first time I've hosted any kind of party, and while it was small, we all had a great time.

    To top it all off, my mother came into town on Tuesday, and we're having a wonderful time with her!

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
    • Lisa from the Pennington Point wrote this post about finding joy when unexpected (bad) things happen.  (Remember my word for the year?  Joy!)  I love her daily goal so much that I wrote it down and posted it on my refrigerator.  "My goal today is to glorify God and further His kingdom through my children."  
    • Shopping.  My mother took us shopping one morning, and we had so much fun picking out new clothes.  While I do buy new clothes for my children -- when they need them, we don't usually go shopping like this.  We all enjoyed the time.
    • Swimming.  My mother and I took the kids swimming one morning, and they had a great time.
    • Time off from school!  With Mom here, I'm declaring it spring break!
    We don't have anything planned this weekend.  It's spring break in our county, so there aren't any soccer games this weekend.  A quiet weekend at home?  Not likely with my mother here!  :)

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

    By the way, happy St. Patrick's Day!  If you don't know why we should celebrate it, check out this post.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    Book Review: When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, Illustrated by David Catrow

    When God Made You tells children that they are uniquely made by God, for a special reason.  Children are told that God made them with a specific purpose, a role that He created them to fill.  The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful, as you can see from the front of the book.

    I appreciate the message in this book.  God does create each person on purpose with specific gifts and talents for him to use, and He expects us to use our talents for His glory even when we are children.  This book is very encouraging and esteem-building, and I like that.  I like the message in this book and most of the pictures.  Some of them are a little strange, but children would enjoy them.  :)

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

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Why We Should Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

    We celebrated with these cupcakes a few years ago; maybe we should again this year.  :)

    What does St. Patrick's Day mean to you?  When I was growing up, I just thought it meant wearing green so you didn't get pinched.  But then I read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, and my thinking changed.

    Patrick was kidnapped as a young man and taken to Ireland where he was basically a slave.  He remembered the Christian teaching he had received back when he lived in England and turned to Christ.

    After he made his way back home, his heart became burdened by the unsaved Irish, so he returned there to tell them about Christ.  Many believed.

    Then the Western Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) collapsed, and masses of barbarians streamed through Europe, looting and pillaging.  They destroyed all the civilization they could find, including monasteries which were the centers for learning at that time, not just Christianity.  Europe which had been Christian was now mostly pagan.

    So the Irish sent missionaries to Europe to lead the people back to God.

    Instead of  How the Irish Saved Civilization,  maybe it should be "How Patrick Saved Civilization."

    What stands out the most in this story is how God used one man in a mighty way to save Christianity.  One man is such a small thing, but God often works through just one man in this way.  Isn't it wonderful?

    Can you think of other times in history when God used just one man?  What about David when he killed Goliath?  After that battle the Israelites never had a serious problem with the Philistines again, although there were a few small battles.  What about Abraham Lincoln?  As much as I think he was a horrible president, God used him to keep the United States together so that the Allies could defeat Hitler's Germany.

    One man.  Such a small thing, but in the hands of a mighty God, well, almost anything is possible!  That's why we should celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    Book Review: Cherish by Gary Thomas

    Cherish.  What a great word!  Wouldn't we all loved to be cherished in our marriages?  Gary Thomas took that one little word and wrote a whole book about it:  what it means to cherish, how to actually cherish your spouse, and even how to make yourself more cherish-able (is that a word?).  There is a ton of practical information in this book that will help you improve your marriage -- that is, if you follow his advice.

    I have read a couple of books by Gary Thomas, and when I had the chance to review this one, I jumped at it.  His books are always filled with great information pertaining to marriage.  And who's marriage can't use at least a little improvement?  :)  I loved this book with its advice for cherishing one's spouse, and I can't recommend it enough!

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

    Tuesday, March 7, 2017

    Honor the Sabbath to Keep it Holy -- Part 1

    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work:  you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
    Exodus 20:8-11
    What does the fourth commandment mean to you?  Have you thought much about it?  I have thought about it for a while and considered writing these posts for just as long.  Here are my thoughts about the Sabbath which we celebrate on Sunday.  I'm certainly no expert on the Sabbath; these are just my thoughts, and you can and should take them with a grain of salt.

    We all know that we shouldn't work on Sunday, but exactly what does that mean?  I think we can agree that cleaning the entire house or doing all of the laundry qualifies as work.  But what about things like reading books, cooking a nice Sunday dinner, or knitting?  Then there are things like preparing simple meals and cleaning up afterwards.  And what if there's a sick child and there's an emergency load of laundry?  What about these situations?

    I've divided these things up into four categories:
    1. Unnecessary work.  I put things like cleaning the entire house in this category because we should refrain from this type of work on Sunday.  Why?  It's not necessary, and God commands us to rest on the Sabbath.  And cleaning the entire house certainly is not restful!
    2. Gray areas.  You may enjoy cooking a gourmet Sunday dinner for your family even though it sounds like work to me.  So I try not to cook much on Sunday.  You may not enjoy things like knitting; since it's work for you, you should refrain.  But I enjoy knitting and reading, so I do those things.  That's why I call this category the "gray area."  
    3. Necessary work.  Even making a simple meal for your family is work, and the dishes need to be done afterwords, and that is work.  I don't think that God intends for our families to go hungry on Sunday, so I think preparing meals and cleaning up afterwards is necessary and therefore permitted.  
    4. "Ox in a ditch" work.  This type of work isn't necessary most Sundays, but sometimes an emergency happens.  There's an accident that has to be cleaned up, or there's a sick child who makes it necessary to do some laundry.  Our "ox is in a ditch," and I think God doesn't mind this type of work, either.  
    What about going out to eat or shopping on Sunday?  I think that falls into not having your servants work.  No, those employees are not your servants, but you do require them to work when you show up to eat or shop.  It's more honoring to God when we stay home on Sunday, and do our eating out and shopping on other days.

    What are your thoughts about the Sabbath?  Do you treat it differently than the other six days of the week?

    Next week, I plan to tackle the question, "If we can't do any work, what can we do?  What should we do?"

    Friday, March 3, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: Texas Independence Day

    Yesterday was Texas Independence Day, and we enjoyed learning about that time period at the Stephen F. Austin statue outside of Angleton.  There were different stations where my children had a chance to try making butter, learn about firearms and doctoring, hear about cooking over an open fire, and so much more!  Daniel and Hannah enjoyed the cannons the most; Hannah couldn't stop giggling after they shot it!  Mary enjoyed the sewing, Sarah Beth the rope-making, and Rachel a game with sticks and a hoop.  My favorite was learning how to spin wool into yarn.  Maybe when I have fewer children at home and theoretically more time, I can get a spinning wheel.  :)  As you can see, we had a great time and learned a lot.  Unfortunately, Hannah was a little fussy, so I wasn't able to get many pictures.  :(  Oh, well!

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
    • dinner with friends.  We were invited to some friends' house last Saturday evening, and we always enjoy spending time with them.  They have children whose ages are close to ours, so they have a great time playing with them, too.
    • running.  Okay, I don't really enjoy running, but I've felt really good this week while jogging.  My 5K is at the end of the month, but I feel ready for it now.  :)
    • meeting friends yesterday.  It was much more fun with friends!
    • Sonic half-priced milkshakes on Wednesday.
    Other than three soccer games on Saturday, we have a quiet day planned which will be nice!  

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

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    February Reading

    One of my goals for February was to read and review the four books I had or was expecting.  I got three of them done, and they made up the bulk of my reading for the month.

    Here's what I read:
    • The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee.  Yes, I read this again as there was an online book club with the author on Facebook.  I picked up a few more tricks during this read, too, for maximizing my happiness in my year of joy.  
    • Against the Tide:  The Valor of Margaret Wilson by Hope Irvin Marston.  This fictionalized retelling of the story of Margaret Wilson gives a wonderful look into what life was like for the Covenanters during the reign of Charles II when they were persecuted, tortured, and martyred for their faith.  The heroine was only eighteen when she was killed for her faith, and the book doesn't have anything graphic in it, so I had Sarah Beth (10) read it.  She enjoyed it, but I could tell that it started her thinking which was my goal.  Knowing that people have been and are tortured and killed for their faith is something our children should know.
    • King's Blood by Jill Williamson.  You can read my review of this exciting fantasy here.
    • The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn.  You can read my review here.
    • The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green.  You can read my review of this historical fiction of the founding of Louisiana here.
    What have you read lately?

    Monday, February 27, 2017

    February Review of Goals

    My little cowboy girl.

    We've had a fairly quiet month at home which has been nice.  I always enjoy my time at home.  :)  I feel like I did well with my goals except for the ones having to do with hospitality.  I'm out of practice which makes it harder.
    • I want to run two 5Ks.  My training is right on schedule for the first one in March.
    • Fun School Days.  We celebrated National Tootsie Roll Day and remembered the siege of the Alamo.
    • Hospitality:  having other mothers and children over for games and such.  I invited several mothers and their children to meet us at the park, but no one was available.
    • Hospitality:  we also used to have families over for supper one night each month, and we need to get back into doing this again, too.  We were too busy this month -- and probably will be again next month.
    • Date night.  John and I celebrated our anniversary by going out to eat.
    • Get comfortable enough with my handgun to go shoot by myself.  I did not go shooting this month.
    My goals for February:
    • Increase my running from 25 minutes to thirty.  I exceeded this goal and made it to thirty-six minutes which puts me in a great place with a month to go until the 5K.
    • Finish Crystal's course.  I've still got a couple more days to finish.  
    • Schedule my days in blocks of time.  I tried this idea for a few days and didn't find it helpful.  I found that I already do this mentally.  :)
    • Review four books.  I reviewed three of them, and I hope to get the fourth done next week.  
    March is going to be very busy for us with a couple of trips and my mother coming to visit, so I'm keeping my goals fairly easy:  
    • Run a 5K.  My goal is to run the whole thing, and maybe, just maybe, I'll run it a little faster than I did the last one.  :)
    • Celebrate pi Day.  That day will be our fun school day for the month as we celebrate circles.
    How are you doing with your goals?  What have you accomplished lately?

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    What I Enjoyed This Week: A Finished Blanket, Rain, and John Being Home for Presidents' Day

    Last weekend, we got a taste of what it's like to have children in the neighborhood.  It's been almost six years since we lived in a neighborhood with other children, and, well, you don't miss what you don't know.  A couple who lives a few doors down from us and to whom the children have sold eggs, had two of their nephews visiting, and one of them was close to Daniel's age.  Andrew came over several times over the weekend, and my children couldn't get enough of him.  Hearing his knock on our door was really nice, and we all enjoyed having him over.  As added benefits, he is also homeschooled, and they even do Classical Conversations.  Hopefully, the next time he's in town, he'll come over again.

    Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
    • Finishing this blanket!  
    • Presidents' Day because John was home!  We did a little bit of school (math), and then just enjoyed having a quiet day at home.  It rained all day so we were kind of stuck at home anyway.  I was able to get a few things done to help start my week a little more nicely.
    • No CC this week.  We had a break this week, and I've said this before, but while we love CC, we also enjoy a week off.  It gave me an extra day to get my weekly chores done which was refreshing.  I didn't have so much to do the other days of the week.
    • Rain.  As I said earlier, it rained all day Monday, and we haven't had a day like that in quite a while.  I enjoyed the sound of the rain all day -- with no reason to venture out into it!
    • Sarah Beth and Daniel are working toward CC Memory Masters which is where they recite all of the information they have learned all year in one sitting -- four times.  It's a really big deal, and I'm confident that they can do it.  We started reviewing seriously this week, and I'm pleased with how much they can recall.  It's still going to take some hard work, but it'll be worth it!
    • National Tootsie Roll Day was yesterday, so we read some of the history of that candy along with eating some.  :)  Fun school day at its best!
    • Yesterday was also the anniversary of the first day of the siege of the Alamo, so we read some history of that event, too.  Not nearly as much fun, but much more important.  
    Daniel and Mary have soccer games tomorrow, and Mary has been counting down the days!  I can't wait to see her play.  Then we're heading to some friends' house for supper, and it will be wonderful to spend time with them.  

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

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Book Review: King's Blood by Jill Williamson

    This book continues the story of Prince Wilek, his brothers, and their people as they make their way via ships to find a new land to settle after their old one was destroyed because of their unfaithfulness to the Creator-God. This one book actually contains three books bound together; the three were published originally via e-book.  In this one, the people have to deal with betrayal and treachery aboard ship, along with  storms and not knowing where to go.  After they find land, they still have old enemies to contend with as well as giants in the new land.  Will their newfound faith prove strong enough?  Will their God?

    As the first book in this series, King's Folly, was a kind of retelling of the story of God's judgement -- and destruction -- of Judah, this book seems like a retelling of Judah's return from exile.  Wilek encourages his people to worship the true God instead of the false ones, especially since He has brought them to this new land.  Of course, not everyone does and Wilek has to deal with these problems as well.

    I enjoyed this book as much as the first, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the final book in this trilogy.  Williamson's writing is interesting, and her characters have depth.  Some people may complain about there being too many characters to keep track of, but I didn't have a problem.  In fact, I appreciated learning about the different situations from each one's point of view.  There are some characters that I really like and others that I don't care for at all -- which is as it should be.  As long as the ones I like are the ones that are good, I'm fine with it.  :)

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