Tuesday, September 26, 2017

August and September Reading

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Quiet Week at Home

Playing nicely in her playpen during school!

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter


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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Doing school at my parents' house.

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Our Harvey Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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