Friday, April 13, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: Memory Masters Preparation and a Finished Blanket

This week started off dark and gloomy and cool, but it ended up warm and sunny which was a nice improvement!  We want to enjoy this warm weather before it becomes hot.

My week has been filled with Memory Master preparation and testing, or at least it feels that way.  :)  Sarah Beth and Daniel also have a research paper due next week, and we've spent a good bit of time on those, too.  Other than that, it's been a relatively normal week.

Here are some more things I appreciated this week:
  • finishing the blanket pictured above.  It's always exciting to finish one blanket and start a new one!
  • finishing up the Missional Motherhood Bible study.  We're starting Hosea by Jennifer Rothschild next week, and I'm excited about that one, too.  (Lifeway has the videos for this study online free until the end of May, if you're interested.)
  • seeing Sarah Beth work so hard on her memory work for Memory Masters.
  • having friends willing to help proof my children for Memory Masters.  They're busy, too, at this time of year, but they carved out some time in their schedules to help.
Can you tell how much Memory Masters has dominated my mind lately?  ;)  We have at least one more week, and then it will be done!

Tomorrow is my birthday, so I've got a slow, lazy day planned.  Rachel has a soccer game in the morning, first, though.  John is taking Sarah Beth and Daniel to hunter education so they can do some hunting this summer.  Tonight we're going out to eat to celebrate my birthday.

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Monday's Quote: Are You "Just" a Mom? NO!

Upon meeting someone new, have you been asked what you do?  Have you ever responded, "I'm just a mom"?  Let me tell you something you may not know already:  you are not just a mom.  God can and does use us mothers to move the world, to shape it His way.  We have important work to do, and we need to keep that in the front of our minds because so many people tell us otherwise.  Here is Gloria Furman in Missional Motherhood:
The world says that you are just a mom and that your mothering ministry is not newsworthy.  The world says your work is mundane, but every offering and discipling moment in your life is actually unique--unprecedented in history and never to be repeated.  Your work in evangelism and discipleship done through the power of the Spirit gives Jesus praise that echoes in eternity.  And this moves heaven to notice.  (p.  198)
Does that amaze you as much as it does me?  Every time I speak to one of my children is a unique opportunity:  do I waste it with harshness and exasperation, or do I use it to bring God glory?  It also terrifies me because I think of the many times I have lashed out at my children and hurt their tender spirits.  I can never go back and "fix" that moment.  Thankfully, with the grace of God, I am learning more patience and understanding as I deal with my children, hopefully pointing them to our ever patient, ever understanding Father.

Have you ever felt like "just" a mom?  After reading this quote, do you feel like there's more to the role of motherhood than you may have thought?

Friday, April 6, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Day off from School

What is it about little girls and their mothers' high heels?!

Wednesday morning, I woke up to no lights.  The electricity was out.  Ugh!  That's never fun!  I had to figure out what to fix for breakfast and what to do with the rest of our day.  I don't know about you, but a house without power depresses me because usually it's dark outside, too.  Sarah Beth sweetly asked if we could skip school, and I told her that was fine since I wasn't feeling too studious, either.  Finally, right before lunch (right before we left to go out for lunch), the power came back on.  While being without electricity is not fun, it is a wonderful reminder of how much I appreciate having it.  And a reminder not to take it for granted.  :)

Other than that, we had another fairly normal week.  I think I've said it before, but I like normal and routine.  :)  That way I know what to expect and can plan around it.  It's the unexpected that throws me for a loop because I haven't planned for it.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Daniel passing his first Memory Masters proof.  He has three more to go.
  • a trip to the library.  We don't have the time to go as often as we would like.
  • rain.  We received a nice rain Thursday afternoon.
  • only one soccer practice for each girl this week.
This afternoon I plan to take Sarah Beth for her first Memory Master proof.  Tomorrow I will take the girls to their soccer games while John takes Daniel to scout out a potential hunting camp to lease.

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

March Reading

As I look down this list, I'm surprised at how much I read this month -- and at how many good books there are on it.  I had a hard time putting them in order of how much I enjoyed them, and honestly I'm still not sure I like the order.  :)

Here's what I read:
  • Missional Motherhood:  The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman.  Does this book sound familiar to you?  It might because this is the third time I've read it.  It's just that good!  There is no such thing as "just" a mom; God uses us mothers to grow His kingdom as we teach our children about Him.  But He doesn't stop with mothers as He also uses every woman as she ministers within her sphere of influence.  It's amazing to think how God can use us "just" moms.  
  • Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimee K. Runyan.  When my mother recommended this book, I knew it was  a good one!  Telling the story of a Soviet Union women's flying squadron during WWII, it is a fascinating fictional read based on a real squadron.  This book tells the tale of a specific woman as she goes to flight school, gets married, and enlists.  It kept me riveted while I jogged on the treadmill!
  • Mary Slessor:  Queen of Calabar by Sam Wellman.  I read a little blurb about this lady in an email I received from Christian History Institute, and I thought she sounded very interesting.  So I picked up a book about her, and she did indeed live a fascinating life!  Slessor moved to Africa to be a missionary, but the Lord placed the unreached people on her heart.  She moved into the jungle to teach them about Jesus.  Once they knew, she moved further inland, and again.  The Lord used her in a mighty way to end barbaric practices and to bring people to Him.
  • The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan.  Sarah Beth found this series at a bookstore and loved it.  After Daniel read it, too, and really enjoyed it, I thought I would read it, as well.  I was surprisingly pleased with the engaging story and interesting characters.  Rangers are a kind of peace-keeper in a medieval-type world, and this book tells the story of Will who is apprenticed to one.  
  • Exiles by Jaye L.  Knight.  This book is the fourth in this Christian fantasy series.  I think it is absolutely wonderful, and I recommend it highly.  But I won't bore you with a summary because if you haven't read the first three, it won't mean anything to you.  :)
  • All She Left Behind by Jane Kirkpatrick.  Based on a true story, this book tells about Jennie Parrish one of the first women doctors in the state of Oregon.  She had to overcome many obstacles along the way from an abusive husband and subsequent divorce to the prevailing idea that women should not be doctors.  I really enjoyed this book.
  • Sacred Influence:  How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of their Husbands by Gary Thomas.  I've read several books by this author, and usually I find his advice on marriage to be very helpful.  I guess his teaching in this book is as well, but I didn't like it.  Neither did the other ladies who studied it with me.  Thomas feels like wives can have a tremendous influence on their husbands, and I agree with that.  However, the point in the book seems to be that we wives need to help our husbands as much as possible, accommodate them completely (as long as no sin is involved), and basically bend over backwards to make them happy.  Then maybe, just maybe, if we're lucky, our husbands will respond in kind and do nice things for us, too, hopefully.  Honestly, this advice made us angry:  why should we give and give and give just for the hope that we will receive something in return?  I know it appears to be scriptural, but it's exhausting.  
What have you read recently?  Anything good?  Or not so good?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monday's Quote: Why Helicopter Parenting Teaches Our Children Not to Trust God

I have never wanted to be a helicopter mother.  I have always felt that children should learn to do for themselves so they learn to be independent.  However, I must admit that sometimes I do step in when I shouldn't.  But I have always figured that the biggest problem with helicopter parenting was that it did not teach children that their actions have consequences.  I was wrong.  The biggest problem with helicopter parenting is that it teaches children that they cannot trust God.  Gloria Furman in Missional Motherhood says this:
The greater concern about helicopter parenting is not that children will not learn independence, but that we will inadvertently model to them that God's faithfulness is not dependable....  The overarching consequence of obsessive overparenting is simply that in our failure to live out the truth of the big story, we fail to pass on that big story.  What is this helicopter parenting subconsciously teaching our children about God, themselves, and His call to spread His glory to every corner of the earth?  In our disciples' [our children's] eyes it may seem that God, who is so big, so strong, and so mighty, is really no bigger than we are.  God is not mighty to save; Mommy is.  (p. 168)
I have been convicted.  In addition to working hard to teach my children independence (which is still a great thing), I also need to teach them to trust a loving, all-powerful God.  And to teach them that, I have to model it.  What a huge responsibility!  Thank God that He will provide plenty of opportunities to live this trust out.

What do you think about helicopter parenting?  Are you one?  Or not?

Friday, March 30, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Normal Week

We returned to our regular schedule this week with Classical Conversations, piano lessons, and school.  It was a good week with a wonderful ending:  John has today off!  We always enjoy him being home, but especially when we have him home for a long weekend.  Good Friday, indeed!

Seriously, though, one of my children asks every year, "Why is it called Good Friday?"  Since Jesus died, shouldn't it be "Bad Friday"?  No, no!  We call it "Good Friday" because Jesus took our place when He was nailed to the cross.  Yes, it was bad that He died, but it is wonderful that His sacrifice took our sins away and gave us hope, a sure hope of eternity with Him.  We should call it "Wonderful Friday," don't you think?

Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:
  • we had supper with friends last Saturday.  We've made an effort to try to get together monthly, and we've all appreciated that!
  • CC.  Several children were sick this week, but we still had class.  It was a smaller, more intimate setting which was nice -- occasionally.  Honestly, we missed having everyone there! 
  • having some time during piano lessons to get ahead by working on my lesson plans for CC next week.
  • the nice weather.  It's been sunny and warm, but not hot.  Perfect weather for playing outside!
  • rain.  We did get a bunch of rain Wednesday night with thunderstorms, but since it came during the night, it didn't interfere with anything.
  • only one soccer practice this week.  Due to various things, we only had one of the four soccer practices this week -- which made things a little easier for me.  :)
We don't have any big plans for this weekend other than church as usual on Sunday.  Unfortunately, our church doesn't do anything special for Easter, and I miss that.  

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

Friday, March 23, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: My Christmas Present!

For Christmas the past couple of years, I have asked for a weekend (almost) to myself.  John does this by taking our oldest four children camping one weekend while I stay home with Hannah.  It works out wonderfully:  John and the kids have a great time camping, and I have a relatively restful weekend at home.

Last weekend was my weekend.  John and the kids left on Thursday, and they arrived back home on Sunday.  They drove up to Lawton, Ok, where John's father grew up.  Actually, it was closer than some of the parks John looked into here in Texas.  They had a wonderful time.  The weather was just about perfect, and there was lots to do.

Meanwhile, I was home with Hannah.  She loved being an only child for the weekend!  We ran a few errands and got some things done.  Mostly, I enjoyed the slower pace of having only one child for a few days.  It's hard to remember what those days were like!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • visiting Challenge A up in the Houston area.  This is the next step up in Classical Conversations, and Sarah Beth will start this program next year.
  • getting my oven repaired.  I've lived without a display that can be read for almost five years, and it's been fine.  But now it works!  I can see what the temperature in the oven is!
  • families visiting our campus.  We had an Open House this week, and there are some families who are interested in CC for next year!
Tomorrow, Sarah Beth has two soccer games, and Rachel has one.  Then we're going to eat supper with some friends.  Fun!

What did you enjoy this week?  Have you asked for anything unusual like a weekend to yourself for Christmas?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Visual Reminder to Watch What I Say and How I Say It

A couple of months ago, I read an article about how the author tried an experiment to see if she could learn not to yell at her children anymore.  She put five rings on her left ring finger, and whenever she lost her temper with her children, she would move one ring over to her right hand.  I thought that was a neat idea and immediately bought some rings for myself.

I hate to admit that I lose my temper with my children and my husband.  I hate to admit that I speak harshly to them without real cause.  I hate to admit that I use sarcasm to belittle my children.  But I do.  I am not perfect, and I will not be until I die and arrive in Heaven.  So I need cues to help me remember to watch, not just what I say, but how I say it.

In the picture above, you can see that I only have three rings on.  That's not because I think I will mess up fewer than three times in one day.  No, if I wear more than that, they cut off the circulation in my finger.  So I wear three, and so far it's working.

That is, when I remember to wear them.

The really great thing about these rings is that they are noticeable.  My children and John know why I'm wearing them.  The really bad thing about these rings is that they are noticeable.  When I say something unkind or yell, they will quietly remind me to move a ring to the other hand.  It's humbling.  But I need their help and accountability.

With this post, I'm letting more people know why I wear these rings, and you can also help to hold me accountable.  Especially when I'm not wearing them.

Please just don't look too closely to my left hand to see how many times I've messed up already today.  ;)

Friday, March 16, 2018

What I Enjoyed this Week: A Trip to the Zoo and a Broken Dryer

 Daffodils have always been a sign to me that spring is coming!

Actually, I did not enjoy the broken dryer.  What a snag in our day-to-day operations!  Do you know how much laundry is generated by seven people?  ;)  And I really want to blame it on Hannah since it was her sheets that were in the dryer when it quit working.

Seriously, though, my dryer stopped heating up Sunday afternoon.  (While I don't usually do laundry on Sunday, this was kind of an emergency.)  It still ran, but the sheets inside it were cold and were not drying.  And I almost panicked because how was I supposed to do laundry?!!!  So I called the repairman Monday morning, and he wasn't going to be able to come out until Wednesday.  Again, the panicky feeling.  My hero husband came to the rescue.  I thought I would just wash several loads since my washer still worked fine, and then take them all to the laundromat to dry.  When I told John that, he said, "With all five children?"  Like, have you lost your mind?  He told me to take the dirty clothes to the laundromat and just pay them to wash, dry, and fold them.  I thought about arguing because it's so expensive, but then I submitted.  And how nice was that!

The repairman came out first thing Wednesday morning, and he was able to fix my eighteen year old dryer in less than thirty minutes.  Hooray!  But -- there's always a but, isn't there? -- my dryer vent was clogged.  So he told me I should not use the dryer until the chimney sweep could come out and clear it.  What?!  He was just here two or three years ago!  The way our dryer vent goes up and around our garage, it gets stopped up easily.  So we're going to need the chimney sweep out here regularly from now on, that is, if I want my dryer to continue to function properly.

By the way, did you know that there is such a thing as a chimney sweep?  And that they clean out dryer vents?  I had no idea -- until three years ago.  I had that song from Mary Poppins stuck in my head all day.

Anyway, the chimney sweep was able to come out Wednesday afternoon, so I was able to start getting caught up on all of the laundry I hadn't taken to the laundromat and that we had generated since then.

That was my adventure for the week!

Here are a few things I actually enjoyed this week:
  • a working dryer!!
  • getting caught up on laundry.  Yes, I did!
  • no CC this week!  It's spring break in our area, so I scheduled us to be off, too.  With all of the craziness with the dryer, it was nice to have one less thing to worry about.
  • a trip to the zoo.  Since we didn't have CC, we went to the zoo with a couple of families from our CC campus.  We had so much fun!
  • texting with a distant friend.  We try to interact daily via texts, and it's absolutely wonderful!
  • a meeting for one of the CC classes.  Even though it was a working meeting, it was still enjoyable to spend time with those ladies.
  • meeting a friend for coffee/tea.  She drank coffee, I drank tea, and we both enjoyed wonderful fellowship.  :)
  • pi Day.  I made a chocolate pie to celebrate!  It was pretty good, definitely worth making again, although I will use a graham cracker crust next time.  
It looks to be a quiet weekend which I'm planning to enjoy.  :)

What did you enjoy this week?  What do you have planned for the weekend?  Did you celebrate pi Day?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My Word for the Year: Fun

When I went to the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit this year, I heard a talk by two women who had graduated their children from their homeschools.  Both mothers said that, if they could go back and change one thing, they wish they would have been more fun.  I sat up to pay close attention because you should when wiser women are speaking.

I mean, honestly, which parent is the more fun usually?  It's not the mother.  We have so much on our plates, all the time, with maintaining a home (laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning) and schooling our children, if homeschooling, and/or working.  We don't have much time left for fun.

After the Summit, I determined to change things a little, to try to have more fun at home.  But how?  That's a great question.

One of the mothers said that every time it rained where she lived in western Texas, they would stop school and read books.  But it didn't rain often because that part of the state is fairly dry.  I don't want to do that because it rains a lot here, but I thought raining might give me somewhere to start.  So I made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, scooped it out, and froze the raw dough.  Now I have frozen cookie dough, ready to bake when it rains.  Unfortunately, it hasn't rained since I did that.  :(

I am also trying to remember to celebrate some of these fun holidays.  We celebrated Tootsie Roll Day Anniversary by reading some of the history of the Tootsie Roll and, of course, by eating some.

Now I'm out of ideas.  Do you have any?  What have you done, or what do you do, to make school more fun?  Or even what do you wish you could do to make school more fun?  I would love to hear your ideas.  :)

Friday, March 9, 2018

What I Enjoyed this Week: Racing with a Friend

I ran a 5K last Saturday, and it was great to run it with a friend.  Okay, we didn't actually run it together; she ran a good bit faster than I did.  But it was fun to have someone to talk with before the race and afterward, waiting to hear the results.  And I came in second!  (We're in different age divisions; I'm older.)  I always find it exciting to hear my name called because I run so slowly.  :)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • talking with a woman who wants to start homeschooling her children next year
  • texting daily with a friend
  • watching Rachel read chapter books, ones I bought for Sarah Beth several years ago to start her on chapter books
We don't have any plans for the weekend which is nice.  Next week is spring break in our area so there's no soccer practice or games.

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: A Light on the Hill by Connily Cossette

Moriyah's face was badly scarred during her short visit in Jericho seven years ago, so she doesn't think any man will want her for a wife.  However, her father finds someone, and she has high hopes for the marriage.  Unfortunately, something goes drastically wrong, and she is forced to flee to a sanctuary city.  The journey she takes along with the things she learns, help her see how valuable she is despite the scar and how much God loves her.

I did enjoy this book about Moriyah fleeing to a sanctuary city during the early settlement of Canaan after the Israelites started its conquest.  But the journey seemed far-fetched, too much too believe, almost like the author was trying to figure out how to give Moriyah and Darek more time together.  It was long and drawn out, and I was ready for it to end.  However, I really appreciated the twist at the end at Moriyah's trial.  But to find out what that was, you'll have to read the book!  I enjoyed how the author wove it all together at the end.

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

What I Enjoyed the Past Three Weeks: A Weekend Away and Other Things

I can't believe I haven't written an "enjoyment post" in three weeks!  It just shows you how busy I have been lately!

My mother came into town two weeks ago.  When she visited at Thanksgiving, she asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I replied that I would like her to keep our children for a weekend so John and I could take a short trip, just we two.  So she did!  John and I drove down to San Antonio for the weekend.  We visited the Alamo, walked the Riverwalk, and enjoyed the resort where we stayed.  Oh, boy!  The food was delicious!  Mostly, we enjoyed the time together, connecting.  And we really appreciate my mother doing that!  But I cannot believe I did not get a single picture!

Rachel and Sarah Beth have both started soccer this spring.  Rachel had her first game last weekend, and she played hard and great.  Either she's a little bit of a natural, or she learned a lot watching Sarah Beth and Daniel play.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed recently:
  • visiting with my mother although I didn't see her as much as I would have liked since John and I were out of town for the weekend.
  • having supper with friends last weekend.  We don't see them often enough!
  • a productive information meeting for Classical Conversations.  Several people came, and it looks like we will have some new families on our campus next year.  Yea!
  • watching the Olympics!  We stayed up too late and watched too much tv, but the games only happen every two years, right?!
  • seeing a rainbow on the way to soccer practice one evening.
  • I started a new Bible study on Sunday evenings which won't interfere with school like the Thursday morning ones did.  :)
I have a 5K to run tomorrow, then two soccer games:  one for Sarah Beth (her first) and one for Rachel.  It should be a busy day!  

What have you enjoyed recently?  What do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Reading -- Including a Couple of Children's Books

I feel like I read quite a bit this month, and most of it was very interesting.  Again, I've put them in order of how much I enjoyed each book with the top being my favorite.
  • Devotions, Advice, and Renewal for when Motherhood Feels too Hard by Kelly Crawford.  This book contains thirty-one devotions which are absolutely wonderful and applicable to us mothers when life is hard, as the title says.  I cannot recommend this book enough!
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary:  Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by  Tish Harrison Warren.  The author makes wonderful connections between things we consider sacred and things we consider ordinary, showing that really they are all sacred.  There is so much great material in this book that I plan to reread it soon.  
  • Judah's Wife by Angela Hunt.  I didn't know much about the Macabees or the time between the Old and New Testaments, so I enjoyed reading this book and learning some things.  My full review is here.  
  • An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor.  After I started this book, I realized that I had already read it!  But I didn't have anything else to read, so I continued, and it was good enough for a second read.  Dr. Barry Lafferty is straight out of medical school and gets hired as an assistant to Dr. O'Reilly who is a curmudgeon with a soft heart.  As the younger doctor works with the older one, he learns many things about practicing medicine that he did not learn in books or at school.  Warning, there is some bad language.
  • Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar.  This book tells the story of the woman in the Bible who had the flow of blood, whom Jesus healed on the way to heal Jairus' daughter.  It was an interesting read, but there was tons of backstory, and Elianna didn't get her illness until 3/4 of the way through the book.  
  • The Flint Heart by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson.  When Charles' father discovers an amulet that makes the finder cruel and heartless, Charles has to figure out how to help him.  The flint heart then gets passed from person to person until Charles with help from his fairy friends and his sister figures out how to get rid of it.  I read this book to my children as our read aloud book, and they enjoyed it.  And I enjoyed the lesson they learned about having a hard heart.  :)
I thought I would also add some children's books that we pick up at the library that my readers may be interested in:
  • Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade by Trinka Hakes Noble.  During 1918 as World War I ends and the Spanish Flu epidemic sweeps across the world, Rettie has her own concern:  will there be the Ragamuffin Parade?  The parade gives poor children the chance to earn a few pennies, and Rettie desperately wants them so that her family can have a better Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed reading this book to my children because they need to know that not everyone lives the way we do and how privileged we are.  The pictures are lovely and descriptive.  
  • Sergeant Reckless:  The True Story of the Little Horse who Became a Hero by Patricia McCormick.  A group of Marines need help getting missiles to the top of a hill during the Korean War, and they recruit a little horse to help.  Everyone is amazed at her bravery in battle, and we loved this book.
What have you read recently?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Review: Judah's Wife by Angela Hunt

Seeking safety and security from an abusive father, Leah agrees to marry Judah Maccabeus.  She does grow to love him, but her desire for peace wars with his need to fulfill God's will for him to fight the enemies of the Jews.  Although she tries to change him, to keep him home with her, eventually she learns that a man can make war on his enemies without destroying his family at the same time.  She also learns to embrace the plan that God has for her and for her husband.

I enjoyed this book about the Jewish people during the "Silent Years," the time in-between the Old and New Testaments.  I did not know anything about the Maccabees except for the myth of the oil not burning out for eight days which the author deals with in the afterword.  As the the love bloomed between Judah and Leah despite their differences, their reliance on each other and their God also grew.  The book seemed to be well-researched, and I do recommend it.

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

Daniel's Tenth Birthday

Today is Daniel's tenth birthday.

He loves his sisters although sometimes he forgets they are girls and gets a little rough.  :)

He works hard at his schoolwork. 

He loves taking pictures.

He took this beautiful one.

Daniel has an adventurous spirit that seems to be normal for boys, so we encourage it as much as we can!

I can't wait to see how the Lord continues to work in Daniel's life!

Friday, February 9, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: A Hunting Trip

Okay, I didn't go on the hunting trip.  John took Sarah Beth hunting last weekend, and they got three deer.  Sarah Beth killed one of them, and she was so proud of herself and rightly so.  Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to a stocked freezer!  Beyond the hunting and food acquiring, I'm really happy that they had the weekend to spend together.  My children have a wonderful father who loves to spend time with them -- and take them on the adventures that I would rather not.  :)

Other than that, I feel like we had a cold, rainy week.  It didn't actually rain every day, nor was it gloomy every day.  But that's the overall impression I have of this week.  We did not have Classical Conversations this week, so I enjoyed the extra day home.

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • celebrating Hannah's birthday on Sunday
  • Sarah Beth's good friend who took her up to a museum in Houston this week
  • hearing my children play hymns on the piano.  I know I've mentioned that before, but I love it!
  • taking a day off school to run some needed errands, like getting the kids' hair cut
We have a quiet Saturday planned and then I start a new Bible study Sunday evening.  We're going to study Gloria Furman's Missional Motherhood, and I'm so excited!

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday's Quote: Does God Care About our Boring Days?

An ordinary school day.

Life is usually made up of many ordinary moments with just a few exciting ones sprinkled throughout it.  As people, maybe more so as Americans, we think life should be full of exciting moments with a few boring parts interspersed in it.  Our spiritual lives, especially, we think should be full of mountain top experiences and maybe a few valleys, and that's it.  Otherwise, we're not doing something correctly, right?  What if we're wrong?  As Tish Harrison Warren says in Liturgy of the Ordinary:  Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:
We tend to want a Christian life with the dull bits cut out. 
Yet God made us to spend our days in rest, work, and play, taking care of our bodies, our families, our neighborhoods, our homes.  What if all these boring parts matter to God?  What if days passed in ways that feel small and insignificant to us are weighty with meaning and part of the abundant life that God has for us? 
When I think about my children's growth, usually it's indiscernible:  they grow just a teeny bit every day, and it's immeasurable.  But when I look at their growth over several years, well, there's a huge difference from where they were to where they are now.  I think our spiritual growth is like that.

Honestly, I have to admit that I appreciate a relatively boring life.  I appreciate a husband who comes home from work every evening, and I appreciate my days going on as they have in the past.  But maybe that's because I tend to think that "exciting" is bad:  a broken leg, a car crash, even a gallon of milk spilled all over the kitchen.  But in that "boring-ness," there is tremendous potential for growth -- if we're patient.

What do you think about this?  Do you enjoy a boring life?  Or do you crave excitement?

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hannah's Second Birthday

Today is Hannah's second birthday!

It's been fun to watch her grow and develop this year.

Her siblings are enthralled with her, too.

She loves getting into things and making messes.  :)

She loves to play outside!

Learning to walk -- very important!

A ready smile.

She loves to look at books and listening to them, too. 

We look forward to watching Hannah continue to grow and develop as the Lord wills!

Friday, February 2, 2018

What I Enjoyed this Week: A Weekend Away at the Summit

Going with a friend is so much better than going alone.

Last weekend, I went to the Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit for the fourth year and had a wonderful time.  Every year I learn something new and come home with things to work on in order to become a better wife and mother.  I also come home refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the school year.  My sweet husband came home early from work on Friday so that he could take care of our children while I was gone.

Here are a few other things that I enjoyed this week:
  • how well my husband did with the children.  He even took them to the Lego store in Houston for Rachel's birthday and the next day to the Houston zoo.  They had a great time while I was gone.  Hmmm.  Maybe I should go out of town more often.  ;)
  • being able to breathe through my nose.  When you're all stopped up, you realize how much you take such a simple thing for granted.
  • Baskin Robbin's ice cream.  Remember scoops are only $1.50 on the 31st!  We take advantage of this deal every time it's available.
  • reminders of things I learned last year at the Summit like not putting my loved ones in the cage of expectations.
  • the warmer weather.  It certainly hasn't been hot, but it has been freezing, either, so I'll take it!
  • The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison.  What a wonderful book about how we can find the sacred in the ordinary and vice versa.  
  • being home.  As much as I enjoyed my weekend away, I'm so glad to be home!
We have another quiet weekend planned which I really appreciate because I know they're going to get very busy once soccer starts.  

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January Reading

I read a diverse group of books this month, but I enjoyed all of them and would recommend any of them.  As a new thing, I thought I would start listing them in order of importance, that is, how important or entertaining each book was to me.  Here's a list of what I read:
  • The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance:  Nurturing Your Marriage Through the Homeschool Years by Heidi St. John.  I listened to a podcast by the author, and it intrigued me, so I found a copy of this book.  What a wonderful reminder of how important marriage is, even when a family is homeschooling.  As wives, we must remember that our husbands are more important than our children, and the author gives practical ways to help busy homeschooling mothers do this.
  • Destination Moon by James Irwin.  This engaging book was written by the eighth man to walk on the moon.  While it is written for children, I found it fascinating, and I learned a lot while reading it.  Irwin gives a quick summary of the previous space missions, then concentrates on his personal trip to the moon and how it changed his perspective.  After visiting the moon, his new mission was to tell the world about Jesus Christ who created the moon and saved his soul.
  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The narrator is transported to Mars from the "Wild West" in the late 1800s, and he doesn't know how.  While there, John Carter makes friends in a savage, warring tribe and falls in love with, you guessed it, a princess of Mars.  This book is jam-packed full of action and adventure, and it's still a wonderful read even though it's over a hundred years old.
  • The Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart.  When World War II ends, Fran receives a letter from her fiancee that he has found someone else.  In order to start a new life and to continue her nursing training, she moves to the Kentucky Applachians to learn midwifery.  She has many adventures as she finds her way in the mountains and learns new skills.  I really enjoyed this book, especially when I learned that it's based on the work of a real person.
  • Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas.  This book was recommended in World Magazine, and I'm glad I read it.  When Perla moves into town with her daughter and no husband, almost the whole town judges her.  As she becomes an important part of keeping the town going through a severe drought, they come to appreciate her more.  The author reminds us not to judge others for their repented, forgiven sin because we have our own sin, too.  
What did you read this month?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Happy Eighth Birthday, Rachel!

It's hard to believe that today is Rachel's eighth birthday!  It feels like she was just a little baby.

She enjoys having fun and being a little silly sometimes.

She makes friends wherever she goes!

Mostly, though, she loves spending time with her daddy and me.

I am constantly amazed at how much she thinks of others.

Rachel is a wonderful big sister.

Happy birthday to our sweet Rachel!

Friday, January 19, 2018

What I Didn't Enjoy This Week: Freezing Weather

It didn't actually snow this week, but it was sure cold enough!

After a cool weekend, Monday was beautiful:  sunny with a high about 65.  And then Tuesday happened.  It rained off and on while the temperatures dropped from about 40 at midnight Tuesday morning to 22 Wednesday morning at sunrise.  It was miserable weather compounded by our losing power not once, but twice on Tuesday.  And John wasn't able to come home from work until 9:30 Tuesday night, but we were thankful for that because he wasn't sure he'd be able to leave work.  Oh, the cold, miserable weather!  It's supposed to finally warm up today to about 60.

On the bright side, we had an unusually quiet week due to everything being closed.  I had to cancel CC because of the potential for icy roads Tuesday afternoon, and we stayed home from piano lessons, too.

But there were still plenty of things for which to be thankful:
  • a wonderful evening of great fellowship with friends on Saturday night
  • a nice warm house -- that didn't get too cold when the power was off
  • hard-working men who repaired the power lines to restore our electricity
  • sweet children.  They could have been whiny and irritable about being cooped up inside with no power, but they weren't
  • Kroger QuickList.  We were able to stay in our nice, warm van while someone else braved the cold to bring us our groceries.
  • listening to podcasts again.  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them until a friend reminded me.
  • how much my children love going to the library and how "new" books keep them occupied for so long.  ;)
  • the weather was nice enough Thursday for Bible study.  Hooray!
  • I tried a new recipe Popcorn Chicken Parmesan, and it was absolutely delicious.  Definitely a keeper!  A couple of us love chicken parmesan, and this recipe is an easy way to fix it.
John was supposed to take Sarah Beth hunting this weekend, but work responsibilities caused him to postpone it.  So we're excited to have them home with us for a quiet weekend.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monday's Quote: How do We Deal with Hardship?

I haven't written a Monday's Quote post in quite a while, so I'm excited to have one for you today from Devotions, Advice, and Renewal for when Motherhood Feels too Hard by Kelly Crawford.
You know the breakdowns, computer breakdowns, air conditioner breakdowns, the flu, traffic jams, bickering siblings, overflowing toilets -- they can be managed, but if we don't keep the right perspective, we can really miss out on life!

"For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake."  (Philippians 1:29) 
It is when we get into the state of thinking that life is about escaping hardship, that the hardships become unbearable.  If I don't expect hardship and hassles in life, when they inevitably come, I will have the wrong response. 
I don't know about you, but when things don't go as I want expect, I feel like God doesn't love me anymore.  Yes, I know it's not true, but it's how I feel.  But life is full of hardships, and here in the United States, we really have life pretty easy.

So when I'm sitting in traffic, waiting to get out of the parking garage after watching a musical with my daughter, I try to remember to tell myself that God is using this situation somehow to sanctify me.   Maybe it doesn't improve my attitude much, but it does make me think that there is a purpose to this irritation.

What about you?  How do you feel when things don't go as you planned?

Friday, January 12, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: Getting Back into Our Busy Routine

My new blanket.

This week we went back to our regular routine which is much busier than our slow holiday routine.  We started back to CC along with my children's piano lessons.  While I didn't go to Bible study because I was too busy, we did have a couple of doctor's appointments that took up all of yesterday afternoon. That's why I didn't go to Bible study.  I was too busy to do one of the things that makes me so busy.  :)

But it was a good week for all of that.  We all enjoyed seeing our friends at CC and getting back into that part of our schoolwork.  Even though only one of my children actually enjoys piano lessons, the others weren't as negative when they got back into the van afterwards, and that's a plus!

Here are a few other things I enjoyed this week:
  • Using my new blanket.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago, and it's so nice and warm for those chilly evenings.
  • Warmer weather this week although it's colder today and is supposed to remain cold through the weekend.  But it's been warm enough to send the kids outside!
  • With CC starting back, it means that I've gotten all of the supplies gathered that we need for art and science projects.  And that means that I've got one less burden on my mind.  :)
  • New boots.  They're not the most comfortable shoes I have, but they dress up a pair of jeans nicely.  And I'm excited to have them!
We have friends coming over for supper tomorrow evening, and we haven't seen them in a while.  So we're looking forward to some good fellowship.  Other than that, it looks to be a quiet weekend, and I'm enjoying these quiet weekends while they last.  Sarah Beth and Rachel are both playing soccer this spring, so when their games start, we will have busy weekends!

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

Friday, January 5, 2018

What I Enjoyed This Week: Another Slow Week

We had another quiet week at home which I really enjoyed.  John was home Monday for New Year's Day, and that was lovely.  But it was cold all week; highs were in the 30s a couple of days with lows in the 20s.  Cold!  Especially for south Texas where we live.  So we stayed home, watched some movies, and started back to school.  Yes, yes, we did!

If you're counting, we only took one week off for the holidays, but we take off lots of time during the year.  So it all works out.  Any my children don't know any differently, so please don't tell them.  ;)

Here are a few other things I enjoyed:
  • no piano lesson and no Bible study.  That's why we had such a quiet week.
  • getting some errands run despite the cold.  My kids were troopers.
  • heavy, winter jackets.  I bought my children some half-price last week for when they go camping.  I didn't realize we would need them this week!
My children started getting stir-crazy yesterday afternoon, so I'm glad we're heading to Houston this morning to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  We need to get out of the house!

We don't have much planned this weekend; another quiet weekend at home.  But we start back to CC next week, so I need to spend some time getting ready for that!

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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Five Best Books I Read in 2017

I read many great books in 2017 and some that weren't so great.  But I wanted to take a look and see if I could narrow my list down to the top five books.  So I went back through all of my monthly lists to see what I had read throughout the year, and here are my results:
  1. Mother and Son:  The Respect Effect by Emerson Eggerichs.  A wonderful book about how mothers can build their sons up to become grounded, mature men.
  2. A Good Place to Hide by Peter Grose.  The amazing story of how one community in France saved thousands of people from the Nazis.
  3. 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch.  Everyone is smart in his own way, and there are eight ways in which we can be smart.  This book demonstrates these different types of "smarts" and how we can strengthen our own and our children's.
  4. The American Miracle:  Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic by Michael Medved.  This book does what its title announces, and it's a great way to learn how God worked things out for our republic.
  5. (un)Natural Mom by Hettie Brittz.  Different mothers raise their children in different ways, and God uses those differences to bring about His plans. 
Did you notice that all of my top five books are nonfiction?  I don't know if I just didn't read as much fiction this year or if the fiction books just weren't that good.  But here are two excellent fiction books that I read this year, surprisingly (or not) by the same author.

  • Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette.  A wonderful retelling of the fall of Jericho told through one of the Canaanites' point of view.
  • Where We Belong by Lynn Austin.  Two sisters travel the world in the late 1800s learning about themselves and how archaeology proves the truth of the Bible.
What were your favorite books this year?