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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

How I "Fixed" My Bad Mood on Saturday

Mary had her first soccer practice Saturday, and she LOVED it!

When I chose joy for my word of the year, one thing I wanted to do was to figure out why I wasn't happy sometimes and see if I could "fix" it.  Some sadnesses can't be "fixed," and I'm not talking about those.  There are times, however, when I've gotten myself into a bad mood, and I don't know why.  Those times are the ones that I want to "fix."

These bad moods seem to happen consistently at two different times.  The first occurs when I put John into a cage of expectations -- and he doesn't meet my expectations.  The second seems to happen the most on Saturdays, and I wanted to figure out why.

My schedule is different on Saturdays than during the week because John is home.  But no, John isn't the cause of my bad moods.  I work really hard on Saturdays, but I work really hard the other days, too.  What's the difference?  I finally realized that the difference is that I have a built-in rest time for me during the week with nap time/play time.  While Hannah does still nap on Saturday, I don't send the other four upstairs to play because John is home, and they need that time with him.  I don't get my usual time to rest and recharge by doing something I enjoy.

This past Saturday, we had soccer games and practice all morning, then we came home for lunch.  After I cleaned up the dishes, did some laundry, and finished the grocery list, I headed to the grocery store -- with Rachel who had a great time!  When I got home and after I put the groceries away, I realized I had a choice.  I could immediately get to work on the dessert I was taking to church the next day, or I could rest for a few minutes and do something that I enjoyed.  I did the latter and was refreshed and recharged to continue my day.  

As a matter of fact, I took a couple more breaks that afternoon to do things that I enjoyed in between doing my other chores, and I stayed in a good mood.  And I think I actually accomplished more!  Since I was rested and happy, I was willing to keep going to get things done.

I have a question for you:  is there a certain time when you find yourself in a bad mood?  Have you ever tried to figure out why it occurs?  Maybe you'll have a breakthrough like I did!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What I Enjoyed this Week: Our Anniversary

We were so young!

Today is our anniversary!  Sixteen years!  As we tell each other often, it feels like forever and yet it also feels like it was just yesterday that we walked down the aisle.  :)

This week was a quiet one.  As I looked at my schedule Sunday night after writing everything down, I realized that I didn't have much going on, and I thought, "How nice!"  :)  Of course, my days were still fairly full with daily homemaking and homeschooling, but we didn't have much else.  But I am getting used to soccer season again, having to take Sarah Beth and Daniel to practice every evening which really impacts what I can fix for supper:  either something real quick when we get home or something real slow in the crock pot.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Daniel's birthday.  He's such a simple fellow that he didn't plan much, but he and John had a great time playing golf on Sunday.  
  • finishing a good book:  The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn
  • Daniel was invited to go fishing yesterday afternoon and had a great time
  • taking Daniel to the grocery store with me on Saturday.  We had so much fun together!  In order to spend more time with each child, I plan to take one with me on my weekly trip to the grocery store.  Rachel's eyes lit up when she discovered that she could go with me tomorrow.  
We're going out for supper tonight to celebrate our anniversary, and we have soccer games tomorrow morning.  Fun!

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn

Kindness seems like such a simple thing that's not worth much, but according to this author -- and her research -- kindness has the power to change the world.  As we show kindness to those around us, in general, they will respond in the same way.  Felhahn also describes several ways that we are unkind without even realizing it.  She gives many examples of ways that we can show kindness.  Then she challenges her readers to implement what they have learned and show kindness to someone in particular with her thirty day challenge.

This book is the second one by Feldhahn that I've read, and I was so impressed by the first that I immediately wanted to read this one.  I was not disappointed.  As she weaves together her research with anecdotes, the idea of kindness actually changing our difficult relationships seems possible and even probable.  I haven't tried the challenge on anyone -- yet, but I can see how, realistically, it can change the one doing the challenge and even the one on whom the challenge is being done.  Yes, I recommend this book, not just because it is interesting but also because it has the power to show you how to improve your relationships.

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Cage of Expectations

While I was at the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit, I heard about what Roxanne Parks calls "the cage of expectations."  In the same idea, Lindsey Lambert calls expectations the "chains that bind us."  Since I received a comment about this topic from what I brought home from the Summit and because it's something I'm working on, I thought I would extrapolate a little bit.

Let's see what this "cage" looks like.

When John arrives home from work, I expect him to help me.  Never mind that he has just worked a long day himself and is late because he stopped by to pick up Sarah Beth or Daniel from soccer practice.  Never mind that God designed wives as helpmeets, not the other way around.  And never mind that I don't even have a clear idea of what kind of help I want.  I just have a vague idea that I'm tired and want some help.

One of two things can happen when John walks through the door.  First, he could get distracted by a package that came in the mail that day, something that he has been waiting to arrive.  I'm irritated because he did not meet my expectations by helping me.  Secondly, he could walk in the door, see that Hannah is fussing at my feet while I'm washing dishes, and pick her up.  He just helped me, but I'm not grateful because I expected that help.

It's a lose-lose situation for both of us, and I have put my husband in the "cage of expectations."

Of course, this concept works with children as well.  When I expect my child to do well on a math test and he does, well, I'm not happy or grateful because I expected it.  If he does poorly, however, I'm upset because he did not meet my expectations.  (I'm using the generic "he;" I'm not singling out poor Daniel.)  I see this happening with chores, too, like setting the table.  You get the idea.

It's hard to let go of our expectations.  It's hard.  But we need to.  You can see from the examples above why it's called the "cage of expectations."  I've put my husband and my children in cages, and only I can let them out.

I'm working on this, and I wrote this post to remind me to work on it.

Do you put your loved ones in "the cage of expectations"?  If so, join me, and let's let them out!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Ninth Birthday, Daniel!

 Today is Daniel's ninth birthday!  I can't believe that in a year I will have two children in double digits!

He loves to build things:  legos, models, soccer goals.  :)

Daniel is very sweet and caring with his little sisters.

 Pictures like this one melt my heart!

He is also all boy and loves to have a good time.

But Daniel also loves to read.

Sometimes, he's a little goofy.  :)

I look forward to seeing what God has planned for my only son this year!

Friday, February 10, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: The Summit!

I do have more children, but this cutie is available more often for pictures.  She tends to be happier to smile for the camera, too.  :)

Last weekend, I attended the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit.  I had a wonderful time, and I learned a lot.  I wish every state had something similar for homeschooling mothers because we can all use that kind of encouragement and refreshment.  I went with a friend, and I also enjoyed spending time with her.  I think she went to spend time with me and was pleasantly surprised by how much she learned and was encouraged despite her twenty years of homeschooling.  :)  As I've told many people already, you know you have a good husband when he lets you go off for the weekend, leaving him alone with five children.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • texting my sister.  We don't do that enough.
  • finishing a good book
  • Hannah's birthday
  • an empty day.  One of my children was sick Wednesday, so we had to stay home from CC.  Since CC takes our whole day and we're tired when we get home, I schedule almost nothing to do on those days.  Staying home gave me a day with nothing planned!  I was able to catch up on a few things that I hadn't gotten to earlier in the week and also get ahead by doing things scheduled for Thursday.  That was nice!  In case you're wondering, we did do a little bit of school, too.  No need to waste the day!  ;)
  • soccer!  Sarah Beth and Daniel both started practices this week.  We were worried about Daniel's team because I received an email stating that they didn't have a coach for it yet.  But someone came through and volunteered!
  • listening to CDs of some of the workshops at the Summit that I missed because I was in different ones:  one by Lisa Pennington and one by Susan Seay.  I look forward to listening to the last one I have and then listening to them again!
We don't have much planned this weekend which is nice since I was gone last weekend.  Well, there's Daniel's birthday, but he hasn't asked for much, unlike Rachel.  :)

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Book Review: The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

After midwife Julianne is wrongly branded as a murderer, she feels her only way out of prison is to marry a man she has never met and sail to France's new colony New Orleans.  Things there are much worse than she had expected, and she experiences many misfortunes.  But she decides to make the best of things, as she and her new husband struggle to make their marriage work.  Along the way, she learns to trust God even through the hard times.

I enjoyed this book.  The writing was quick and lively, and I enjoyed how Green told Julianne's story.  I appreciated how she dealt with the difficult things in this book, not glossing over them, but not dwelling on them, either.  I especially liked learning about the early history of Louisiana since I had not heard any of this information before.  Also, I welcomed how the author chose to have Simon and Julianne struggle with their forced marriage, but determine to make it as good as possible.  All in all, I recommend this book.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I Brought Home from the Summit

I went out of town last weekend to the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit.  Yes, I missed Hannah's first birthday, and no, I didn't feel guilty.  :)  She didn't even know it was her birthday, we celebrated Sunday, and I came home with ideas and plans to be a better wife and mother.

Since I know you didn't attend, I want to share a few things that I learned.  Also, I'm hoping that by typing them out, I will help solidify these ideas in my mind, making it more likely that I will implement them and continue to do so.

Here are my top three "take home action steps:"
  1. Ask John his top priority for me every day.  I had heard this idea before, but I forgot about it.  As the speaker Lindsey Lambert said, if I get this one thing done everyday, it will bless John and show him how important he is to me even if I don't get anything else done that day.  *
  2. Speak John's love language.  I need to make a point to spend quality time with John since I think that's his love language (according to Gary Chapman's book).  This one will be hard because I crave time to myself, but it's important that I spend time with John.
  3. Plan family nights.  I think this idea will be fun.  I'm not sure yet how I will implement it, but I think I'll start with one night a month.  We'll have something fun and easy for supper, maybe a yummy dessert, and then do something together as a family.  I'm going to add this to my yearly goals.
Here are a few other things I learned this weekend:
  • Women were created to be relational life-givers.  It is part of my job to work on our marriage.  John's job is to provide for and protect our family while my job is more about the relationships inside our family.  Of course, he needs to work on our marriage, too, but God made women more relational, so it comes more naturally to us.
  • The number one thing, the top priority, in homeschooling is your marriage.  The best thing we can teach our children is how important a good marriage is, and how to have a good marriage.
  • It's important to have one-on-one time with each child weekly.  That will be a hard one with five children, but we need to make it a priority.  It doesn't have to be anything special, just time.
  • We have to let people out of our "cage of expectations."  When people meet our expectations, we aren't grateful because we expected it.  When they don't meet our expectation, we are disappointed and upset.  It's a lose-lose position that we need to get rid of.
  • Children need more grace and less law.
  • Incorporate more laughter and be more playful.
  • Study our children's gifts and build them up.
  • Have the youngest child who is capable do the chore.
  • Have children do more around the house.  My children aren't looking forward to this one!
I took a bunch of notes, and I ordered several CDs of sessions that I had to miss because I can't be in two places at one time.  :)  I look forward to seeing my marriage and my relationships with my children improve as I implement these ideas.

*In case you're wondering what John said his top priority for my day is, he said that he wants me to have some time to myself every day.  Isn't that sweet?  And it shows how well he knows me.  I already have nap time/play time in place most days, but I need to think about how to get some time alone the other days.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hannah's First Birthday!

Can you believe that today is Hannah's first birthday?  I can't, either!

She is a wonderful addition and blessing to our family.

I used to think that she was pretty laid back and easy going.  Not anymore!  This little girl is a firecracker, knowing what she wants and letting you know with no doubts!

But she's a sweet little thing, too, and her smile lights up her face!

Happy first birthday, Hannah!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January Reading and Goals

I didn't do well with my goals this month, but we were a little busy.  Besides, goals are things to aim for, and I refuse to beat myself up if/when I don't achieve them.  :)  Here are my goals for this year:
  • I want to run two 5Ks.  My training is right on schedule for the first one in March.
  • Fun School Days.  I didn't plan ahead enough to make this happen this month.  
  • Hospitality:  having other mothers and children over for games and such.  Again, I just didn't get this goal planned.
  • 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 with meeting friends for supper and the pregnancy center banquet.  Next month!
  • Date night.  Twice, if you count meeting friends and the banquet!
  • Get comfortable enough with my handgun to go shoot by myself.  I did not go shooting this month.
Here were my goals for January:
  • Increase my running from fifteen minutes to twenty.  Actually, I needed to increase my running to 25 minutes this month so I could be in shape for the 5K in March.  In order to do that, I had to decrease my running speed on the treadmill.  I had increased it in October after that 5K, but I just couldn't get past the 15 minute mark.  But now that I've decreased to my original speed, I'm amazed at how much easier my jogging is.  :)  Oh, and I achieved the 25 minutes.
  • Go through Crystal's Make Over Your Evenings Course.  I started it but keep forgetting to work on it.  I'll have to continue this goal in February.
My goals for February:
  • Increase my running from 25 minutes to thirty.  
  • Finish Crystal's course.
  • Schedule my days in blocks of time.  I got this suggestion from Crystal's course, and I think it might help me to use my time even more wisely.  I want to try it for a couple of weeks to see how it works for me. 
  • Celebrate the Tootsie Roll Anniversary on February 23rd.  That will be our "fun" school as we learn about tootsie rolls.  :)
  • Review four books.  I was offered four books to review this month that I just couldn't resist because I enjoy the authors so much.  :)  I think it's important to review books in a timely manner in order to hold up my side of the agreement, so I want to get these done as quickly as I can while giving them the time they deserve.  
I did get several books read in January.  While that wasn't a goal, it was enjoyable.  :)
  • The Book of the King by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry.  After Sarah Beth read this book, I thought it sounded interesting since it's about a boy who lives in a bookstore and loves books.  In this first book of the series, Owen learns that our world is not the only one and that others from another world are hunting him.  And maybe his father isn't who he says he is.  
  • Courage to Soar by Simone Biles.  You can read my review here.
  • Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig.  You can read my review here.
  • The Night Spies by Kathy Kacer.  As I helped pick out books for Sarah Beth, I found this one about a Jewish family in Austria who hide in a barn during the latter part of World War II.  I found it to be very interesting and also a good one for my daughter to read.  It gave her an idea of what life was like for Jews during that time without being overwhelming.
  • The Other 1492:  Jewish Settlement in the New World by Norman Finkelstein.  The title of this book caught my attention when I saw it in the juvenile section of the library.  It traces the history of Jews in Spain mostly, but also touches on how they came to be there and how they made their way to North America via Portuguese-held South America.  The most interesting part for me was learning about the Spanish Inquisition which I had always thought was formed to go after Protestants.  According to this book, it actually tried to find which Jews were only pretending to convert to Catholicism in order to avoid persecution.  
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino.  Who doesn't like this couple from Fixer Upper?  When amazon had this book on sale, I snatched it up and read it while jogging.  I enjoyed learning more about this couple, how they met and how they got into the home renovation business.  Their personalities come through very well, and this book is a joy to read.
  • When the Heavens Fall by Marc Turner.  This book reminds me of the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien although not as good.  The world-building and depth of characters was especially stunning when you consider that this was Turner's first book.  The story centers on four people with different backgrounds who all want the same thing but for different reasons.  I don't know how else to describe it to you.  I enjoyed it, but I don't know that I'll read any of the rest of the series especially since the other books don't have the same characters.
This post was rather lengthy, so I appreciate your sticking with me to the end.  :)  How are your goals going for the year?  What have you read lately?