Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best of 2013

I take a lot of photos. (I know that is a shock). I had the thought of doing an end of the year photo recap of some of my favorites and was then reminded of the thought when I saw that Pam was doing a 13 for 13 end of the year photo link-up. However, as much as I tried, I couldn't limit myself to thirteen. (And I really tried). So, then I went with thirteen catagories ... and still ended up with sixteen I think. : ) Ah, well.

It was bittersweet looking over the past year and seeing milestones and how much our family has changed in just the last twelve months. I could have spent a lot longer looking and chosen a lot more pictures so it's probably good that I limited myself.

Best Birthday Shots:


Best Sibling Shot(s):


Best Baptism Shot(s):


Best Photobombed Shot:


Best Summer Shot:


Best Baseball Game Shot:


Best Photo with Mama and All-the-Kids Shot:


Best of the Boy Shot(s):


Best I Didn't See What Was Going on In the Photo Until Later Shot:

Hint: Look to the right of the birthday girl at what B is doing to E. I died when I saw what I cropped out of the picture initially!


Best Big Summer Adventure Shot(s):

6'28'2013iPaDSCN01312013-07-05 09.27.25

Best Sports Shot(s):


Best Library Shot:


Best Family Camp Shot:


Best Music Shot(s):


Best Friend Shot:


Best Him Shot:


Linking up with Pam at Everyday Snapshots and sharing 13(+) from 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 :: By the Books

I love reading end-of-the-year bookish wrap-up posts. Generally they feed my never ending pile of books that I want to read (I'm not saying that's a bad thing!) It's been several years that I've done one so I thought I would give it a stab for 2013. My total 2013 reading list is linked here - if I counted correctly I managed to read 62 books this past year. That's a big number, but it is more quantity than it is quality. I read very few non-fiction books this year and reread two longish (7-8 books each) series. I'm hoping that I am a bit more focused this next year in my reading but there were still some gems in there.

2013 by the books

Best fiction:

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. This was a read-aloud I did with the girls last spring and it was hands-down my favorite fiction of the year (either adult or children). We have now read this book of hers and The 5 Children and It and E. Nesbit hasn't disappointed yet.

Best non-fiction:

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson (Boomama). I've read Boomama's blog for several years now and her book, which is a series of essays on southern family life and food, was just wonderful. I literally laughed out loud multiple times when reading it. I loved reading about some of her family memories and recipes and it reminded me of some of my own that I need to write down to share with my own kids (though I don't have aspirations of a book!)

Best new (to me) author:

I read Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse on Amy's recommendation and I'm looking forward to reading some more of her books this coming year (I hope!) And I get to reread this one and host it for the Reading to Know book club in March which I'm very excited about.

Book that made me cry / Book that made me laugh out loud:

Both of these would go to A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. I laughed, I cried, it moved me. Seriously.

Book that changed my perspective on something:

A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman. This book surprised me with how much I resonated and needed its message. To very briefly sum up: it encouraged me and nudged me to think about what inspires me and how I love creating. That that is something that God put in me and I need to be thinking about how I can use that for His glory. I'll be revisiting this book again.

Best homeschooling book:

Did I read a homeschooling book this year? I don't think I did, unless I reread The Core by Leigh Bortins and didn't record it. I'll be rectifying this in 2014.

Worst book:

I was not impressed with Divergent by Veronica Roth. (I may be the only person who thinks that). I read this book to find out what the fuss was about - it was popping up on blogs everywhere I turned. Without giving away too much for the two people out there that still haven't read the book, I found it very violent. More so than the Hunger Games. And where the main character of the Hunger Games found herself in a situation where she had to defend herself, she didn't seek out violence. This character did. That turned me off from the series. I don't anticipate reading the rest of it.

Best surprise plot twist:

I don't know if this would qualify, but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Redwall by Brian Jacques. I had a hard time putting down book 1 in the series, and went on to read books 2 and 3. The series goes on (almost) forever so it will still be there when I feel like going back to it.

Most disappointing / Most over-hyped:


Most challenging:

By far, both the C.S. Lewis books that I tackled this year stretched my reading chops. This summer I read Out of the Silent Planet and it took me quite a while to get into the story. (And wrap my brain around the fact that it was written by the writer of Narnia!) Secondly, I just finished The Screwtape Letters. That book was amazing and so chock full of stuff that I probably should have read the book with a notepad handy. I did better when I read it out loud to Travis on a recent road trip as it helped me concentrate more. Another book I should probably go back to sooner rather than later.

Best cover:

I've been eyeballing this book for sometime and finally picked up a used copy and devoured it in about two days. I think the reason that I loved this book so much was her writing style. She wove stories from her family and life seamlessly together and tied it with food and memories in a way that sucked me in completely. Such a good writer.

Best young person's book:

That's a hard choice, but I'm going to go with the fourth book in The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. I've enjoyed books 1-3, but it felt like book 4 picked up the pace and bit and tied up a few loose ends (though there are still many more that makes me anxious for book 5!)

Book I’ve been meaning to read for years and finally got to:

The Wind in the Willows. I read and hosted this for the 2013 Reading to Know book club this summer and was glad to check this one off my list finally.

Best book on homemaking:

This seems to be another category noticeably missing from my list. A-hem.

Book I have recommended the most this year:

I don't know that I recommended much of anything from this year, but I've loaned out my copy of The Core to at least one (if not several more) folks this year.

Best philosophical or spiritual book:

The Screwtape Letters, hands down. I've got big plans to read more C.S. Lewis in 2014!

If you wrote a bookish wrap up post for the year, please let me know! If not, what was your favorite book that you read recently? 

Prompts borrowed from Sarah at Amongst Lovely things. Amazon affiliate links used throughout this post.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Eve Eve

Counting down those last few days until Christmas. It feels like things are finally slowing down around here and the last few days have been very nice. There has been a lot of hosting of events that last couple weeks - all things that were very fun and we were very happy to do - but also draining for this introvert. : )

Yesterday we took the munchkins to see a matinee of Frozen. We loved it. There was a moment or two where the boy crawled in my lap and got a little nervous, but the girls were spellbound. And I have to say, this movie has got the best Disney soundtrack that I have heard in years. It brings out the musical theater side of me. (It's a very small side, but it pops out occasionally when watching a favorite musical.)

Two thumbs up. I want to sing all the songs!

The kids and I also went to the science center on Friday afternoon. I had hopes of being outside and going to the zoo, but it didn't happen due to big rains that swept through. I'll be honest on this one as well. The science center isn't my favorite place to go, but my kids LOVE it. It's too dark and has too many small crawl spaces for me to really enjoy it. The last time that we went, the boy was contained in a stroller so he was a bit giddy with the freedom to explore and run around. (And then he slept most of the way home in the car. Bonus).

Just hanging out by Saturn. No big deal.

Also bonus: cute shot of my girls standing next to Saturn.

Today was a busy at home day. For my Christmas, T hired two very sweet and thorough women to come and deep clean the house for us. What a treat. Of the many things that are on my plate (and that of any stay-at-home mama / homeschooling mama / working mama) the really deep cleaning just doesn't happen. Counters get wiped and floors get mopped, but this was such a blessing to have everything cleaned REALLY well. While they were working, I did some work upstairs, hung out with the kids, folded laundry, etc. I had a few minutes to make some updates on the blog and if you look over to the left you should see a page for my 2013 booklist, as well as an updated Family Read-Aloud list. As I updated those lists, I was surprised at how little book blogging I've done this last year. Lost of reading ... just not lots of writing about it.

Making lists. Checking them twice.

We are hosting Christmas Eve at our house tomorrow night and I'm excited to finish up food preparation tomorrow and have my family over for a few hours after our church's Christmas Eve service. It's been fun putting together a menu and getting the food ready - I really do love hosting things and putting together grocery lists and meal ideas. We aren't having a huge, heavy meal tomorrow. Several appetizers + soup and bread. On the menu:
  • bbq meatballs (made by my sister, very yum)
  • build your own ham and cheese sandwiches (on rolls)
  • chicken nuggets tray (for the kids, mostly)
  • relish tray
  • creamy tomato basil soup
  • cheesy potato soup
  • garlic bread
  • cheese bread
  • this cheesecake
  • cake balls (made by my sister at my girls' request, so good)
I'm looking forward to dinner tomorrow already. : )

Hope your Christmas Eve tomorrow is full of family and friends, food and fellowship. I leave you with a picture N1 took of one of my favorite elves while we were out running errands one day. I died when I saw these on my phone. The cuteness.

I die. Cutest elf ever.

Happy (late) Monday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Project Life Update // Thanksgiving Week!

It's Thanksgiving! (Or it was). : )

With the exception of one picture at the beginning and two pictures at the end, this entire layout (+ inserts) is all Thanksgiving, all the time. I had too many that I wanted to include and so I did!



On the left:

  • a pretty leaf picture became my date card. I love using all the random nature shots as my date cards with a label slapped on them. Not that I need to justify taking the picture, but I love that I'm using them in my albums.
  • The morning that we headed out for Thanksgiving a certain girl had to have a couple teeth pulled. Little teeth that didn't want to come out on their own and big teeth that wanted to make their presence known were not getting along. This was a slightly traumatic experience for all involved - the girl was NERVOUS. The mama had to have two of her other kids with her at the appointment instead of being 100% focused on calming the patient. But. We survived and there was ice cream. And happy gas.
  • The giant table where we took our meals at the cabin we stayed at with my side of the family. There were twelve of us there and you could have sat another six comfortably at this table - no joke. I want a table like this in my house someday!
  • T relaxing. 



On the right:
  • getting the kids out of the cabin for a hike. It was cooooold this day (I think it was Wednesday?) Flurries the whole day long though nothing really accumulated.
  • A lake we walked past near our cabin.
  • T and B singing/working on one of the Christmas songs for the church program. A little impromptu music after we put up our tree...
  • which is here! This is our first year for a LIVE tree and I am so enjoying it. This was not a great picture by any stretch of the imagination. I actually used my point and shoot for this shot and it gave the picture a funny orange tint but it's the only one we had. 


Insert #1:


On Friday, we went on a horseback / trail ride with everyone thanks to Grandpa's generosity. The kids had a blast!!! Even the boy got to ride the whole time with T and he kept turning around and telling me he was riding a black horse! This was such a thrill for them all.

The back of Insert #1:


More pictures from outside around our cabin that we stayed at, minus the selfie with the horse that I took. His name was Smokey, but it should have been Pokey. He was soooo slow.

Insert #2:


A cut down PL page to hold just a few more shots.


B put away that whole turkey leg. Pretty impressive.


A fun getaway that is DONE and in the books. 

Questions? As you can see I've had a bit more time for blogging now that we are on break and am hoping to do more in the coming weeks. I'm curious who all out there is a Project Lifer or has interest in that? Anyone taking this on for 2014? 

Supplies used in this layout:
Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on Amazon.comDigitalProjectLife.com, and many major craft retailersIt can be anything you want it to be. You can view all my posts about Project Life here. I'm always happy to answer questions about how Project Life works for me, if you have any. Affiliate links used where available.