Saturday, May 04, 2019

Week in the Life 2019

Once upon a time, I liked to scrapbook. A lot. I read scrapbook magazines, bought scrapbooking books, read alllll the scrapbooking blogs. You can guess where a chunk of my play money went, too. 😉 I loved this creative outlet. In a sense, it was my form of gratitude journaling as I documented school memories, places we went, books we read, etc. However, as it's gotten busy, scrapbooking has taken a backseat to schooling, teens, all the driving, and just life. Scrolling through other people's photos and adventures took place over documenting our own. (Sad, but true!)

This week, I'm taking back a little bit of me. I miss writing and story telling and taking photos. I've found an old Week in the Life kit I purchase a few years ago from Ali Edwards and have dusted it off. (Quite literally with the dust!) I'm making plans to be mindful of next week. What I do, where I go, what I eat, what I'm reading, and what I'm grateful for. While I'm also working on getting back into the swing of our family's Project Life albums, I think this project will mostly be for me. I haven't decided if and/or how much I'll document online. I don't want to pronounce that I'm going to blog every single day ... that's a sure-fire way to set myself up to fizzle out by Wednesday. Maybe an occasional photo on Instagram here or there, but maybe not. This is about really being present and so grateful for MY life and no one else's.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

April's Reading

There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason as to when I get on here and post a reading up date. I used to be more consistent, but that has fallen by the wayside. Either way, I felt like sharing my April books tonight so here I am. We'll see how coherent this is as it's approaching bedtime, but I'm trying to hang in here for bit longer so I can make sure kids go to bed at a decent time. (I miss little kid bedtimes!)

I read nine books this month - most on the lighter side. They were:

Seed of Rebellion (Beyonders #2) by Brandon Mull (a reread) - I started rereading the Beyonders in March (I think?) when I was wanting something familiar. So far, anything by Brandon Mull is a great story and since I'd read these before, easy to pick up and put down when it was busy. Also, I only own books 1 and 2, so after finishing this, I wasn't dying to go on to #3 since I already know what happens!

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman - I have listened to Emily Freeman's podcast of the same name on and off again - I'm just not a great podcast listener! It's too easy for my mind to wander when I have earbuds in and no words to follow along with. I was a last minute orderer of her book, but I really did enjoying seeing her podcast live and breathe here and it all made so much more sense to me on the written page than in audio. Decision making wears me out and the guiding principles and thoughts she shares in this book are golden - many are just common sense, but sometimes you need someone to tell you that it's ok and give you a couple nudges if you are wrestling through big decisions. This book was that for me and I'll be revisiting it.

The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton - This was a series I recently spotted at our library. They had books 2-4 on the shelves, but no book 1 so I found an inexpensive used copy online and ordered it. Such a fun little book. Reminded me so much of Swallows and Amazons or the children in E. Nesbit tales. I've finally gone back to the library and gotten my hands on a sequel or two to this series and want to revisit these children in May now that school is winding down! This will be a read-aloud with Ethan soon, I hope!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - I read this one to fulfill a requirement for the Modern Mrs. Darcy bookclub that I'm working through with a few friends. The category was a book recommended by someone with good taste (I think that's the gist ... it's late and I'm not being exact). My friend Amy at Hope is the Word has talked about this one several times and it was already on my shelf so it made an easy pick. As I told my friends in the group, I couldn't decide how I felt about this book. It was very unique in the way it was written (I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read it), and it was extremely well done. Maybe because it was a WWII book from a child's vantage point that made it harder. I'm glad I can move this from my to-be-read pile, but I don't know that it will go down as a favorite or one that I'll reread though it would be a good book for a younger reader without much of the atrocities that come with other WWII reading.

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis - Ethan and I knocked another Narnian tale off our list. This is my favorite story, mainly because of the conversation between Aslan and Shasta when he finally meets the great lion and realizes that he was with him all along the way, from the moment he was abandoned as a baby to the dangerous moments on his journey. It reminds me so much of the verse: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

Bluecrowne by Kate Milford / The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford - Sometime in 2017, I fiiiinallly read The Greenglass House which had been tucked away on my kindle for ages. I was completely mesmerized by that book, along with it's sequel, The Ghosts of Greenglass House. (I need to go back and reread both one of these days). These two books are prequels to the Greenglass books, telling the story of the Bluecrownes who where sailors (privateers) and the original owners of the Greenglass house. I'm already eagerly looking forward to another prequel coming out in this series later this year. Super fun reading for junior readers.

Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin - The last book I finished was one I found on my bookshelves that Natalie had brought to me. Sometime last year, I signed her and Ethan each up for Amazon book boxes. I've it set up where they rotate who gets a box (they come alternating months) and if we spot books we are interested in, we make our selection and set it to ship. (And when nothing catches our eye, we pass on the box with no penalty). It's the first time I've done any kind of a book subscription service and we've really enjoyed it. This was a book that came in Natalie's box sometime last fall - she devoured it and immediately brought it to me to read. I confess, I read 20-30 pages of it and set it aside. It didn't grab me so I moved on. However, as I was cleaning my office this weekend, it surfaced and I finished it off in about two days. It's fairytale in the style of Grimm, a little on the dark side, but with an unexpected twist at the end that I enjoyed. If you like Jonathan Auxier's books like The Night Gardener or Peter Nimble / Sophie Quire, you would probably like this, though it's much shorter and without as much wit and depth. Definitely more fairy to it, if that makes sense!

Hank the Cowdog by John Erikson - Ethan and I finished a second read-aloud this month! We blame spring weather and new chairs on the front porch entirely! He has been reading the Mercy Watson books aloud to me and I have been reading Hank the Cowdog to him. This has been recommended as a book for boys so many times - we needed a break from Narnia (and to be honest, I'm not sure about reading The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle to him now. I know he's going to miss all the cool stuff that makes those books magic!) This book was perfect for an 8 year old. Hank is trying to solve the mystery of who is killing chickens in the coop and he gets into all sorts of predicaments along the way. Ethan loved it so much that he immediately requested that we find a copy of Hank #2 (which I now have on Kindle) and we're already one-third of the way into it. That said, there are 62 books in the Hank the Cowdog series (last I checked) and we are NOT going to be reading them all out loud! But I'm hoping I'm piquing Ethan's attention enough that he might be interested in reading them on his own soon.

Lots of fun kid-lit books here this month - I always seem to default to that when my brain is heavy and burdened with other things. Now that we are about 17 days away from the end of our school year, I'm looking forward to even more reading - my library hold list is crazy!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Currently, April 2019

Listening ... to the sound of a boy watching nerf gun you tube videos on a Friday night (he's living his best life right now) and an Avengers movie on my computer.

Waiting ... until it's time to go pick my oldest up from her job (!) and then I can get pjs on and head to bed.

Field-tripping ... with the boy to see a real tyrannosaurus rex. Not gonna lie - these Jurassic Park fans were very, very excited! Locals should check out The Earth Experience in Murfreesboro. It's small (and not too expensive), but was a great way to wrap up this year of school where we studied animals and plants, and their systems, and ended the year with a study of rocks and minerals. 

Counting ... the days left for our school year. (We're in the twenties now!) Our school girls finish up the Thursday before Memorial Day, and our goal is for the homeschooled crew to finish up right about then. We may have a boy with 1-2 math lessons to tack on, but thankful we aren't straggling into June this year.

Cheering ... all the baseball.

Baking ... my mom's strawberry pie. True signs of spring and Easter.

Planning ... a stay-cation sort of summer this year. We trekked to England last year, and the year before we took a two-week road trip to California. This year (for the most part), we are staying put. (See also: teenager with job). We've got a few days we're going to drive to visit recently moved grandparents in Kansas, and one overnight trip to Memphis to visit the zoo and Ikea. (Mom's pick). 😉 I also am now realizing, as the girls especially are getting older, the weeks fill up fast and fly by with VBS (helping, not attending now that they are too old), a middle school camp for one, and many days at the pool.

Cleaning (out) ... all my materials from directing our homeschool group for the last two years. Since we have put two of the girls in school (for very good and right reasons for both of them), our homeschool organization decided not to renew my contract for the next year. I get corporate policies but I loved directing and visiting with moms and tutors in that role, and was not ready to move on past it. It will be nice to get all the stuff packed up for its new home with an amazing mom who's stepping into the role after me.

Reading ... on the front porch. He reads to me (right now it's the Mercy Watson books) and I read to him (right now we're reading the first Hank the Cowdog book). It's been a good break from our Narnia streak that we've been on since January. We've two chapters left in Hank and he's informed me that we're headed back to Narnia after that. Fine by me!

Closing ... with a photo of Kitty, just because. She here in her current favorite spot where the morning bird watching is premium. She has it good around here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Spring Break Best Life and Tolkien Tales

Living her best life after the exhaustion of the vet and groomer

We are spring break-ing this week. No travel here (minus a quick overnight trip my husband is on this week). So far we have mostly hung around the house and tackled a few less glamorous projects - deep cleaning the kid bathroom 🤢, a trip to vet/groomer for the pup, and an eye appointment for me. (Embracing my worsening eyes with prescription sunglasses this year - woo-hoo!)

I did finish one book that I've been working my way through this month as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge that I'm doing with a group. The theme of this month was "a book on the backlist of a favorite author." This book by Tolkien came to my attention several months ago when Rachel mentioned it on Instagram. In the last couple years, I finally read through the full LoTR series and have been wanting to turn right back around and read them again. I haven't though I did squeeze in a re-read of The Hobbit around Christmas! Anyway, this is a collection of some of Tolkien's short stories and poems that I had never heard of so it seemed like a great fit for this category.

First off, I did enjoy this book. Tolkien is just a master at story telling and characters and I enjoyed every bit of that in this book. That said, I have decided that I just don't love short stories! It takes a bit to get into the story and figure out the characters and what's going on ... and then the tale wraps up and it's done and we're on to the next group and tale. As someone who loooooves a good, long series, it's no surprise this frustrated me. 🙂 I also went into these stories expecting more LoTR type tales. These weren't with the exception of one poem that went on for a good 30-plus pages about Tom Bombadil (from The Hobbit). There rest were all stand-alone tales and the introduction to the book was well worth reading the explanations behind some of them. Ie., the first story about a little dog that gets lost from his owner is one based on a tale Tolkien told his son when a beloved toy was lost and the adventures that pup went on. The backstory made the tale even more enjoyable.

If you are a Tolkien fan, this would be a fun addition to your library if you like short stories. I did enjoy it, even though I'm still looking forward to that LoTR reread hopefully sometime soon. 🙂

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Lent is not something that I grew up with. I have always gone to your basic expository Bible teaching church - a good thing - but I wasn't exposed to church calendar concepts like Lent and Advent until an adult. Even then, they were fuzzy foreign concepts. The more I have learned about them, the more that I have come to look forward to these seasons, even though I still feel like I am no expert!

In my Bible study that I'm doing with Community Bible study this fall, we are working our way through Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Throughout these pages, you see so many times where God is telling his children, the Israelites, to look back and remember what he has done for them. Make a memorial, build a remembrance, tell the stories to their children. Then He tells them to look forward to see what is to come. For His people, wandering in the wilderness until they finished their 40 year debt for their grumbling and lack of trust in Him, he reminded them over and over that a promised land is coming! A land of milk and honey! A land where one day God would lead them in victory over the surrounding pagan armies! But, as it was for the Israelites, it sure is easy to keep my eyes focused on what I'm lacking in the moment, than the bounty that is ahead.

This is mirrored in the New Testament when young believers in churches across the Middle East and Asia are encouraged to look back on their old self and see that it is done away with. Behold, a new thing has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) But again, it sure is easy for me to get bogged down in my self-pity, my lack, my suffering, etc. Instead of staying in the suffering, look forward to what the Lord has in store - his grace that is sufficient for me, his peace that passes all understanding, his joy that will be my strength, both here and in the new land that he is preparing for us this very moment. (Revelation 21:1)

The past two (+) years have been doozies. Harder than hard. I have grieved over some things and cried and asked God why is he not fixing ___ and making it right! But God is not mine to command (thankfully!) so even though He hasn't "fixed" things, I haven't given up on Him even if the "fixing" needs to be me.

For Lent this year, I decided I needed to just sit with God on this. See what he says about suffering. Look for beauty in the midst of hard seasons. To that end, I'm reading through Job. I did get the She Reads Truth journal so I will have somewhere dedicated to journal and scribble my way through this, but I'll probably be taking it more my speed than theirs. I'm also reading Christine Hoover's book Searching for Spring. I love what she said in chapter 1: "We may not be able to see and comprehend clearly all of what God is doing in the present, but we can always mine the past the future for treasures."

I'll be doing some mining for treasure as I prepare my heart for Easter. Looking back to see what God has done for me, counting those blessings one by one. Looking forward to what is yet to come.

Soli deo gloria.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Reading Round-up - January & February 2019

Settling back into this space on a wet Saturday evening, as one does. Actually most of our weekends have been wet the last month - ridiculously so! Spring is here and early this year by the sight and sound of it. I am ready for the sunshine and warm breezes and all that brings. I am nearing the end of a commitment to direct our homeschool group and with that "freedom" I'm hoping to putter here a bit more. I find I think about this space more than just a bit and miss stringing thoughts together, even if just for myself. :)

On to the bookish bit!

In January, I read six books and uncharacteristically, 4 of them were rereads. There are certain times of the year that I crave a reread - fall especially as school starts back and I don't have the mental energy to tackle something new for myself. I lapse into a reread of a good series - last year it was the Harry Potter series - and feel no guilt about it one bit. This year I participated in Carrie's LM Montgomery reading challenge for the first year in ... a few ... and revisited her Emily series. Thanks to Goodreads, I realized I hadn't read through this series since 2011 and I really enjoyed getting into it again. Definitely a "darker" series than the more popular Anne, it fit my mood and season of life perfectly.

Our read aloud for January was also a reread - Ethan and I started from the beginning of the Narnia series and have a determined purpose to see it through this spring. :) We had read The LWW last summer but it didn't click with him enough to jump into book two, however that has since changed! He is enjoying it so much that we have been reading a bit during our school day and then continuing it at night before bed when we can (instead of our usually school day and separate bedtime read-aloud). No complaints here.

In other January reading, I dabbled in two series mentioned via Sarah (Read Aloud Revival). I'm a sucker for a good junior or YA fantasy series. I read Flyte by Angie Sage, which is the second book in the Septimus Heap series. I think this could be a fun read aloud for Ethan down the road or one to hand off to him in a few years. Adventure and quirky characters galore, but yet not one that I'm dying to fly through myself. I also started the YA Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen and read the first book, The False Prince. I will probably finish this series slowly - enjoying it, but no rush to devour it.

In February, Ethan and I finished Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader in our Narnian journey. Onward and upward! I also read several stand-alone books this month. I dearly love a good series, but haven't found a good long one to draw me in right now! I finished:

Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge. I love her books The Little White Horse and The Scent of Water. This one was a little bit more of chore to get through, but I finished it and enjoyed it. Not as much as the others, but it is beautiful writing set in the English landscape which drew me in!

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. I had read Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale which was a haunting folktale set in Russia. I couldn't put it down - I really loved the glimpse into Russian folklore and legend - but yet haven't moved on to the sequel. This book is also a creepy ghost story but set for 10-12 (and up), I'd say. (I'm starting to get the impression she writes more spooky stuff than I am used to). I would be careful what child I handed this too as I hustled to finish it - I really wanted to find out what happened but I also wanted to get to the end of the book! If you like Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener, you would probably like this book!

I also did go ahead and read The Runaway King (book 2 in the Ascendance Trilogy). Not as captivating as the first book, but still a great series so far.

My first non-fiction for the year - Finding Holy in the Suburbs by Ashley Hales. I LOVED this book. For someone that has always struggled with measuring up, fitting in, and trying to hard, t this book was a needed reminder to me of who I need to rely on to fill my needs - not a spouse, not my children, not my calendar ... the Lord is the only one that can bring contentment and peace and when I do slow down to ponder and grasp that, the outflow into my life and the life of others is world-changing. Of all I have read in the first two months of the year? This book, hands down, is my first highly recommend of the bunch.

And there's the first two months of the year wrapped up in a nutshell. And now, to curl up under a blanket and maybe get a few pages in this evening!