Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Read-Aloud Thursday :: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

We recently finished our first read-loud for 2014. I picked this one because it had been languishing on my Kindle for a while and I thought it would tie in nicely with the cold, winter weather. Little did I know how much a book about life in the Arctic Circle would fit with our current temps! Ha!

We finished our first read aloud of 2014 today. We LOVED it (with a little editing as I read).

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George is a fantastic book. It tells the story of Julie, a 13 year old girl who is trying to stay alive in the Arctic after she has run away from her husband. (Yes, husband.) Julie was raised by her father, Kapugen, after the death of her mother, and lived alone with him until an aunt and the government come and tell them that Julie must go to school. Julie goes to live with her aunt and later receives word that her father is lost at sea after hunting. Plans had been put in place before her father's death that if Julie was not happy living with her aunt and going to school, she could decide to be married to the son of her father's close friend. This decision is made, but it turns out to be an unfortunate one for Julie. Shortly after her marriage, she runs away and is bound for the coast of Alaska where she can catch a boat and get to San Francisco where her pen pal Amy lives. This is what keeps her going as she is living during the long Alaskan winter in a hut that she has constructed out of skins when it is dark for 24-hours a day. She survives using knowledge her Eskimo father taught her and through befriending and becoming part of a wolf pack. She is able to develop relationships with the pack - specifically the leader Amaroq and one of the pups, Kapu - and learns in her fumbling way to communicate with them.

This book is a treasure trove of information on arctic animal life, weather, and the lifestyle of the Eskimo. I could have easily made this a huge unit study for the girls and we could have done a ton of research and additional reading from picture and non-fiction books to supplement this. Most reading times had lots of interruptions as we discussed what different animals in the books were, why Julie did what she did when she cleaned animals for food, breaking to look at our map and find where Alaska and San Francisco were in relation to each other. And all this doesn't even touch on the time that Julie spent living in close proximity to a wolf pack which the book goes into great detail on.

A note of forewarning: there was one section of the book that I deliberately skipped over involving Julie's marriage. She moves to live with her new "in-law's" and the book described the alcoholic abusive nature of her new father-in-law and eventually, her new husband's abuse of her. I'll leave the description at that. We skipped completely over this part of the story, only reading the parts about what life was like for Julie as she lived in a small Alaskan town. These are issues that I'm not ready to tackle with my girls and it was easy to move seamlessly back to where Julie lived with the wolves without losing any of the story.

Minus that one section which I'd encourage the parent to make their own judgment whether or not to share with their kids, I highly recommend this book. The animal life, flora and fauna of the Arctic, and Julie's determination to survive and thrive in these conditions make this an excellent read-aloud and discussion book.

I'll leave you with a very cool picture that my Dad emailed me last week! He and my mom (newly retired) were wandering their way across the U.S., headed towards Yellowstone National Park for some winter photography. He snapped this photo in South Dakota (I believe) and we were so excited that it arrived right as we were reading this cool book on wolves. Alas, it is a coyote ... but still a cool shot. : )


For more great read-alouds, visit my friend Amy at Hope is the Word. I'm linking up with her!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Project Life 2014, Week 2 :: January 6-12, 2014

Week 2 of Project Life, 2014!

The overview:



On the left:
  • A shot of the cold, cold, cold weather we have been having. This day was near 0* and the boy lasted about 3 minutes outside before asking to go in!
  • A shot of our nighttime reading ritual. Of late, every night involves a stack of Elephant & Piggie books (by Mo Willems). He is starting to get the humor and chuckles as we read. Love.
  • N1 tackled a HUGE project for her Essentials class (the afternoon portion of Classical Conversations that she attends this year). Out of her whole class only two of completed the extra credit and Travis and I were super impressed by how hard she worked and set up a schedule to get it done on time. As a reward, Travis surprised her with a trip to see The Desolation of Smaug in the theater (before I had even seen it, I might add!)

On the right:
  • a recent egg muffin recipe that I tried. (Tasty, but I can think of other ways that I prefer to eat eggs).
  • a night on the town for me and the girls. We went to a friend's performance of High School Musical at a local children's theater group to cheer her on.
  • A photo of a clean kitchen (one of my favorite things). : )
  • A photo of Travis that I (sneakily) shot while he was teaching the adults' Sunday School class. I missed the last time that he taught because I was teaching one of the kids' classes and so I'm thoroughly enjoying listening to him teach this go-round.


Cards used: either from the Blush kit or the January Studio Calico (I think). This was a super simple week to throw together - nothing fancy to it at all. : )

Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on, 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.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

The Short Version of a Long Tale

Vision, values, character, and disciplines developed in the spring-time of life serve even into winter. Whatever the age, it is not too soon to prepare for the rest of life. Looking ahead, giving thought, pondering what I know of God, His will and ways, t

If you saw my blog post yesterday, then you saw this picture. It was right before I ran the 5K at the Nashville Zoo in chiiiiiiilllly temperatures. (There are two pairs of pants on, a tank top, long sleeve shirt, and hoodie. Plus gloves.)

If you had asked me a year ago if I saw myself running a 5K I would have laughed. I am SOOOO not a runner. I am so not a sports person. I do NOT like to sweat. : ) But something had to happen. The photo below was taken December 14, 2012 and it was time for a change.


I was physically "healthy" - cholesterol was fine, my bloodwork all came back fine at a recent physical - but obviously I was very out of shape. I was tired of tired. Tired of my clothes not fitting well. Tired of being winded going up and down stairs and not being able to keep up with my kids.

I have not done anything fancy. No paid program. No premade meals. The only outlay of funds has been for groceries which I was buying anyway - I just changed what I bought and what I ate, and some passes to the local rec center. And there has been a lot of prayer because it was not easy. I got tired and discouraged. A lot.

As far as the apps I used, I used My Fitness Pal and a free Couch-to-5k Program. That's it. Once I finished the 5K program this spring, I just tried to keep up with running 2-3 times a week and sometimes I made my "quota", sometimes not. And, when I ran, aimed for at least one mile - two miles was a really big deal when I went that far. When I ran the 5K that was the first time I had run over three miles and my one goal for the race was to run the whole thing without stopping. And I did. I was shaky and exhausted when it was over, but I did it!

Over the last year, I tried running several different times during the day, but by far the best and most consistent time for me is to get up at 5am and go run at the gym EARLY. I do not love it. : ) But I can get there and get back home before anyone is (usually) awake, get a quick shower and have about 45 minutes uninterrupted before the first one rolls out of bed. Getting up to run might be the hardest part. I just have to tell myself, that if I get up and go, then it will all be over in the next 45 minutes and I don't have to think about getting up and running again for at least 48 hours. Sometimes that helps. : )

A little over one year + one month later, I am so thankful for the past (hard) year. I am in better shape that I have probably been in my whole life (truly!) and I am hopeful that I can keep this healthier lifestyle up long term. A great incentive for me was when I realized that when I hit my goal weight, I had lost more weight that my 10 year old weighs - wow. A sobering reminder of how out of shape I was! My husband and my best friend were huge support systems for me and I'm so thankful for how encouraging they were over this past year.

I will never have a flat stomach. (Hello four c-sections and big babies). Or be the smallest size there is. And that's okay.


Soli deo gloria.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Quotes

01'25'2014a1Boom. I did it.

Vision, values, character, and disciplines developed in the spring-time of life serve even into winter. Whatever the age, it is not too soon to prepare for the rest of life. Looking ahead, giving thought, pondering what I know of God, His will and ways, taking appropriate actions as a result, strengthens me rather than fosters dread.

-- Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

-- Hebrews 2:1-3

Photos: from my first 5K which I ran yesterday.

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chasing Sunlight


It has been so bitterly cold here. I have loved these days of cozying up inside, justifying that I can drink as much coffee and hot water with lemon as I want to because my hands will not stay warm. Folding the laundry fresh from the dryer isn't a drudgery right now because the clothes are hot on my hands.

But I'm missing the sunlight! The light has been there (off and on - we've haven't had too many truly grey days), but even when I'm in the light, it is still so cold outside! The last couple days I've been mindful as I've walked around the house with my camera and tried to pin down the sunlight and soak in that little bit of warmth that is coming through our windows.

Light across a face in the schoolroom.

Light across the well-used recipe book on the counter.

Light across the pile of potato peelings in a bowl.

Light across lunch spread out in the sunniest seat in the kitchen.

In my prayer book, there is a verse that is titled the refrain and it's repeated three times during the course of the morning reading. This morning's verse was so timely for me:

For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

While I'm searching for literal sunlight to get through these long winter days of homeschooling my three girls (and chasing down that one boy) I am wanting that temporal fix. If I get out of the house, if I change my circumstances, if I can get just one minute alone! While the sunlight is good and needed, it's not the light that is going to sustain me long-term. That will keep my from snapping at my kids and losing my temper. Jesus is the light (John 9:5) that I want shining through me, spurring me on to obedience. Steadfastness. Faithfulness in my daily tasks. Being intentional in the words that I speak to those I live with and cross today's path. When I am worried or tired or just plain overwhelmed with all that is on my plate, I need to remind myself to look to the light from Jesus for the grace I need for my day. That's the light I want to be steeping myself in and living off of throughout the day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2013 Family Movie Night, Listed


For the past two years, I've tucked a sheet of notebook paper inside my planner and have kept a list of what we have watched for our Friday family movie night. This event (FMN for short) is a Big Deal. Each child (and adult) gets a turn picking the movie of choice and everyone else watches with (very little) complaint. (Though I admit to a quiet sigh at the second viewing of a certain American Girl movie). : ) 

We try to keep movies and video to a minimum during the school week and for the most part I stick to my guns on this. We won't discuss my laxness during our recent Christmas break. Ahem. This makes our Friday night fun something that we all look forward to. Anyway, our routine is to have pizza and some kind of sweet treat on Friday night and we rotate who gets to pick our movie. There is plotting, planning and much secrecy as your movie night approaches! The guessing of someone's pick is half the fun. And it's always fun to go back over the list and remember how we spent our Friday nights the last year. In our pjs, eating pizza, hanging out under afghans and blankets and relaxing together at the end of the week.

Here's what we watched in 2013. Please note: this is just the list. I'm not going to give any kind of rating (although if you want an opinion on something you are welcome to ask). There are always a few duds that we come across in our viewing. (And by duds, I mean they are generally - in our opinion - just not worth rewatching. We're pretty careful about what we put on to start with as far as it being appropriate for all the kids).

Where the Red Fern Grows
The Lorax
Finding Nemo
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur
McKenna, American Girl Movie
The Last Airbender
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
The Princess Bride
Wreck-It Ralph
Despicable Me
Spy Kids 3: Game Over
Home Alone
Pirates of the Carribean
Winnie the Pooh
Journey to the Center of the Earth 2: The Mysterious Island
Wild Stallions
The Fellowship of the Ring
How to Train Your Dragon
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Sky High
Prince Caspian
Kung Fu Panda 2
Cars 2
Disney's Robin Hood (cartoon)
Evan Almighty
Legends of Ga'Hoole
The Croods
Cats and Dogs
Despicable Me 2

I've already started our list for 2014. Any good movies that you would suggest for Family Movie Night? 

 photo ListswithFriendsBlue_zps3dfee69b.jpg

This post is part of a list-making project called Lists With Friends 2014, an effort to document the year in lists of all types. I love lists and am excited to be taking part of this fun project. : )

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Project Life 2014, Week 1 :: December 29 - January 5, 2014

Week of 1 of Project Life, 2014!

It's always so fun to start a new year of Project Life. I'm inspired with an empty album and excited to get the pages filled in. It's probably just the mental game that I am not behind yet for the year, but whatever it is, I'll take it.

A look at our week ... the overview.


On the left:


I was a little sparse on pictures as I was finishing up 2013 ... most good photos that I took, I wanted to include with the last layout of my 2013 album. This side of the page is therefore a bit random.
  • My 2014 calendar and what I was currently reading.
  • Some chicken enchiladas that were so good, they had to go in the album. Seriously. 
  • A photo from our New Year's Eve. Good friends hosted a karaoke party at our church and I didn't take one single picture. My sister sent me this one and it went in the album. Some guys (Travis is on the left and my brother-in-law is the one with his hand raised) were seriously rocking out to Born to be Wild.
  • The photo on the journaling card is Travis trying out his turkey deep-fryer for Sunday lunch with my extended family. Two thumbs up. 


On the right:
  • A sunset photo of the kids finally getting a chance to take a quick ride on their Christmas bikes. (After this, it has been so cold they have hardly gotten to ride them at all).
  • I'm in a picture! Travis snapped this at a fun celebratory lunch for my mom who retired on December 31. The grandkids, my sister, Travis and I all met up for lunch to celebrate and we got a surprisingly good photo of the whole crew.
  • I'm hoping for a Russian themed dinner on the night of the Olympic opening ceremonies in a few weeks. To that end, I made a test batch of cabbage rolls. The bright color of the cabbage as it cooked was just brilliant. I had to include it.
  • A 4x6 journaling card with a few thoughts on my birthday this year.
  • The journaling slot photo is a photo of an apron that was given to me over Christmas - it was Travis' grandma's and one of his aunts saved it to hand it down to me. 


A couple inserts for the week ... I printed out my two January blog posts on being intention{al} and slipped those in the album.


I'm pretty sure that all the cards were from the Blush kit in this layout. I think. : ) The photos on journaling cards were laid out in Tracy Larsen's simply white collection.

Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on, 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.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Quotes

School at the dentist office this morning.

Christ's life given up for others is the centerpiece of our faith. Our lives given up for others is the centerpiece of our faithfulness.

-- Fit to Burst by Rachel Jancovic

Photo: school + dentist office = busy Wednesday morning

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read this week that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Morning Prayer


Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen

-- from The Divine Hours, Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Quotes*


Every room in it meant something ... had some vital message for her. It had the look that houses wear when they have been loved for years. It was a house where nobody ever seemed to be in a hurry ... a house from which nobody ever went away without feeling better in some way ... a house in which there was always laughter. There had been so much laughter at Silver Bush that the very walls seemed soaked in it. It was a house where you felt welcome the moment you stepped into it. It took you in ... rested you. The very chairs clamoured to be sat upon, so hospitable was it!

-- Mistress Pat, L.M. Montgomery

*Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read this week that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

It's Not the Holidays Anymore


January brings with it the return to a regular schedule of sorts. It also brought extremely cold temperatures this week. Like many, we have had uncharacteristically cold days (single digit temperatures) that have made it hard to return to the books. Not like the normal snow days where there is the cry to play outside with the neighbors and build snowmen - no, it's been far too cold for that. Even when bundled as tightly as possible the girls were only able to manage a few minutes outside before coming back in for hot chocolate. Myself, I have spent the last few days trying to stay warm and drinking unheard of amounts of hot coffee and hot tea.

We are slowly returning to our school day schedule. Yesterday there was quite a bit of reading aloud to get us in the right frame of mind. We finally finished book 1 in Little Women - our pre-Christmas read-aloud - and will be taking a breather before starting book 2. Today saw the return of math for everyone (always a sign that school is in session) and a library trip to pick up holds and replenish our reading shelf.

I am also trying to get back into a "it is not the holidays anymore" frame of mind in many different areas. The carbs have disappeared off my plate for the most part and lots of winter veggies are being roasted in the oven. Today's lunch looked so pretty in the sunlight on the table that I had to take a picture. (I admit it. I like to photograph my food. I can't help myself). : ) Early morning outings to get my running in before little people awake are back on the schedule. Social media check-ins are dwindling down each day as the time wasted spent is now being redeemed in other areas. (I'm planning an extended break from Facebook for the next several months - I find it's hard to be intentional about relationships there and it generally leaves me feeling ruffled and not at all like I've caught up with anyone. I'm learning that my introverted self, the one that avoids conflict like the plague, doesn't handle it well. Instagram is by and large my favorite place for capturing moments and memories and if you are inclined, you can find me there.)

I'm looking forward to a January filled with some returning activities as well as some intentional pauses to hibernate and rest during this winter season. Winter may be my favorite time of all for just that very reason.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Project Life 2014


My 2014 title page - simple and done. The photos of the kids are from their Christmas program at Bible study. I cropped down some of the individual pictures that I took and put them in one of Tracy Larsen's white frames. (I'm just now noticing with the three girls lined up like that how similar their eyes crinkle when they smile. I love that). I also absolutely adore this picture of the four of them. On my list of projects is to get that blown up and hung in our family room. One of these days. I would have liked a more recent picture of me and Travis, but this one was my favorite from last year so in it goes.

I am excited to start my 2014 album! I have picked up (with Hobby Lobby or Michael's coupons) the Blush kit, Fifth and Frolic (which is a Michael's exclusive), and Midnight. I'm hoping to work primarily from these kits this year - less purchasing of digi kits and using the ones that I have already in hand (or on file). I'm also continuing my subscription to Studio Calico for this year. I have loved, loved, loved getting this monthly kit and the last two kits have just been fabulous. It has been a good investment for me and (mostly) kept me out of the craft stores and scrapbooking aisles. : )

Are you doing Project Life this year?


Friday, January 03, 2014

Friday Glimpses

It's been a #projectlife sort of afternoon.
UntitledI'm thinking of starting a recipe series called The Enchilada Project in my quest to learn how to make really good Mexican food. However, I may not need to go beyond this recipe from @martawrites. Unbelievably good!Untitled
UntitledUntitledChristmas bikes. First ride.

Miscellany from this week:

  • starting a new Project Life album for 2014.
  • and finishing up the one for 2013.
  • making amazing chicken enchiladas and contemplating making up The Enchilada Project so that I can justify making more enchiladas this year and searching out the perfect recipe. (Or just eating these over and over again because they were that good).
  • Picking this up to start next.
  • And finishing this one. Excellent.
  • Wearing a new apron handed down to me from Travis' grandma who passed away last year.
  • Watching munchkins ride Christmas bikes ... and then parking them in the garage for a few days because it. is. so. cold.
  • Reading (and already finishing) the January selection from the Reading to Know bookclub for this year. (FYI, it's The Blue Castle by L.M. Mongomery if you want to play along). Contemplating reading another L.M.M. book to round out the month ... maybe Pat of Silver Bush
Our Christmas break has FLOWN by and I am certainly not ready to start school next week. And I've enjoyed pecking out words here with much more frequency that I have in the last six months combined ... that has been good. But today includes an orthodontic check up for one and a celebratory retirement lunch for my mom and a few miscellaneous errands that we need to tackle. Off to make this Friday a good one with my little crew.

Happy Friday. : )