Friday, June 30, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: More Swimming Lessons

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Kids' Visual NIV Study Bible

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

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

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Do You Like What You Wear? You Should!

Maybe not the outfit you would choose!  :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Book Club

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Do You Plan Your Free Time? Why You Probably Should

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

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

What a cute photo opportunity!

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

Learning where some of our common household items come from.

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

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

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

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

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

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

Snow on the mountains!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Do You Bullet Journal?

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

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

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

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

Here's my table of contents:

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

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

The loaner van. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Reading

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

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

What have you read lately?