Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 9



I'm trying to bring back the Wednesday Five on the blog!  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want.

A Quote

"The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path, or a breath caught at the sight of a pretty girl, or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil." 
-John Steinbeck, East Of Eden

A Book

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary.  Tonight we all sat down together for dinner, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like, and Derek and I took turns reading it aloud to the kids.  It is nostalgic, written about a different era, and I love it so much during this crazy time.

A Bit Of Nature



A Recommendation

You have to check out this Youtube channel I just found - this little old lady has a channel called Great Depression Cooking, and she cooks a meal that her family ate during the Great Depression, and tells her memories from that time.  She's got to be at least pushing 90 then?  Man, I hope I'm like her when I'm 90. I thought it was particularly nice to stumble across her channel during uncertain economic times.  Hopefully we don't have a full-blown depression in our future, but her stories are interesting.

(Seconds of potato soup while I type this)

A Moment Of Happiness

When we were eating dinner tonight, the kids were all listening to the story so carefully while Derek was reading, and I was feeding Georgie a few spoonfuls of soup to help her not spill.  I put particular effort into a creamy potato soup for dinner tonight, and she really liked the potatoes. She takes a bite from the spoon, and then all of a sudden she looks at me and makes this wide-eyed, stretched-out silly face at me.  It was so cute and unexpected, I laughed.  Then I made the face back, and she laughed.  Then she said something cute and all my adorable little clan laughed.  

It's moments like that which remind me how even "hard" times have fun in them.  The world could fall apart, and I like to think we'd still find ways to make each other laugh. 

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 8





I'm trying to bring back the Wednesday Five on the blog!  You can read other Wednesday Five posts here, and feel free to join in if you want. You can borrow the format and slap any old day of the week on there.


A Quote


"Shake not the head, feet, or legs; roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth; and bedew no man's face with your spittle, by approaching too near him when you speak."
-George Washington, from his rules for civility 

I thought you all would appreciate that part about not "bedewing" any man's face with your spittle in light of the events this week!


A Book

East Of Eden by John Steinbeck.  Our little local library, the one that is a ten minute walk from my house, was still open today.  I went in (careful not to touch anything), and rented this book.  I've never read anything by Steinbeck, have you?  Grapes Of Wrath I've heard of, but this one sounded interesting.



A Bit Of Nature


Isn't this fence in our neighborhood so neat?


A Recommendation

I recommend you keep an eye on your email this week, because a lot of companies are having online sales to combat the fact that people aren't out shopping in person.  I'll probably have alot of packages coming next week (so glad that postal service is still up and running)!  I ordered a swimsuit I've had my eye on for a while at 20% off, dresses for the girls at over 50% off, and some new essential oil blends from Plant Therapy at 30% off.  Good deals this week, and lots of homeschool websites are sending out freebies too - email/online is where it's at right now!


A Moment Of Happiness

Georgie was following me round the kitchen this morning, and I bent down with my lips pressed together to give her a kiss.  She threw her chubby little arms on either side of my head and pulled my face to hers, crossing her eyes as she aimed at kissing me on the lips.  I don't want to ever forget her concentration and precious little face.

Post-Apocalyptic Books To Read During A Pandemic





What should one read in the middle of a pandemic? That is the question.

I won't tell you all what to read, but I will say that over the last week, with hysteria over the coronavirus and social distancing protocols in place, I have really been enjoying books with a post-apocalyptic vibe.  That might seem a little morbid, but it's not really.  At a time when so many people are scared, it's comforting in a weird way to think of how much worse things could be.

You could be on an outer space mission and come back to an earth that has no people left on it.  You could be in a traveling orchestra that is being chased by vigilantes after 90% of the people on the planet have been wiped out.  All the electricity in the world could suddenly fail.  You could find yourself unable to provide for your family while a dust cloud fills your lungs and covers your car (that one actually happened).

There, now don't you feel a little better about this whole coronovirus thing?  No?  I'm the only weirdo here?



All joking aside, a little escapist reading never hurt anyone, and people need a break from coronavirus news.  Turn off the TV and try one of these! (My post-apocalyptic reading is limited, so I welcome your suggestions in the comments!  I'll also add to this post as I read more.)


Books I've Read




Last Light by Terri Blackstock

It's been...possibly a decade since I read this book, but I do remember being pretty into the story.  An electromagnetic catastrophe knocks out the world's electrical systems, cars, etc, basically plunging everyone back into the 1800's when it comes to technology.  This book is a murder mystery/thriller type book that takes place with that backdrop.  I remember enjoying it, and maybe it's time to pick up the rest of the series.

Content Notes:  This is Christian fiction, it was clean!






Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Probably alot of you have already read this, but this book follows a traveling orchestra after a virus wipes out...somewhere in the ball park of 90% of the population (worst estimates for the coronavirus are around 3%, so keep that in mind lest you get anxious!).  It's less about the apocalyptic event, and more about how people might keep art and music alive after something like that happens.  I really was taken by the characters in this book and enjoyed it alot.

Content Notes: Definitely some cussing and some crude/inappropriate sexual references, but not too densely if I remember right.






Good Morning Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

I just read this one, and it ended so sadly.  I still have a book hangover from it.  This book is about a man who is stranded in the arctic, and a crew who is stranded in space, when the radio waves of the world suddenly go silent.  No one knows why.  This is very much a character-driven book, and the characters aren't necessarily likable, but I thought it was an interesting portrayal of loneliness and finding the things that really matter.

Content Notes: Some cussing and crude/inapropriate sexual references, not too dense, the characters are atheistic and that comes through.






The Age Of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I read this one a few years back, and it really resonated with me for some reason.  The earth is slowing it's rotation, just as the protagonist is coming of age.  I'm kind of a sucker for coming of age novels, so I liked it, but I also remember it ending rather sadly.  But the scientific speculation of what would happen if the earth slowed it's rotation was also fascinating.

Content Notes: Some language and sexual references.






The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

Note: Free to read if you have Amazon Prime!

I mentioned this book in my post yesterday, and I'm still reading it now.  This is the only non-fiction book on this list, about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and what it was like to live through that. People can't afford to feed their families, farmers can't sell their crops, and enormous dust clouds sweep across millions of acres, destroying homes and whatever livelihoods were left.  I'm finding it really compelling, and interesting on a personal level since I had some relatives not too far from the Dust Bowl around this time in history.  I am finding this book particularly encouraging in times of uncertainty.  Those people went through so much, way more hardship than you and I will probably ever face.  There is a reason these people gave rise to and/or are called the Greatest Generation.

Content Notes: Some cussing and references related to prostitutes.

Other Suggestions Via My Online Buddies

I put the word out about this post on social media, and a couple of my Instagram buddies offered some additional suggestions!  I haven't read these, but they sound interesting.






Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

A middle grade historical fiction that follows a girl through the yellow fever that hit Philadelphia in the 1700's.  This one sounds really interesting to me, and I love middle grade!  Thanks to Brittney for this suggestion.






Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

The world has mostly been destroyed through nuclear disaster, and survivors in a small town in Florida band together to survive.  Also sounds interesting! This on is $3 on Kindle.  Also suggested by Brittney, thanks friend!






The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I haven't read this one in years, but it would be very appropriate with the way we're all stuck at home right now!  Might try this one with the kids.  Only $1 on Kindle right now!  Thanks to Anna for reminding me of this one!



Also on my reading list?  The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (didn't like his last book, so we'll see what I think of this one), and Unbroken by Laura Hilderbrand (catastrophe on an individual scale, but I expect to be inspired).


Keep In Mind

None of these novels end particularly happily (with the exception of the Dust Bowl book - haven't finished it yet, but humanity obviously survives).  Most are bittersweet.  Keep that in mind if you don't like that kind of book, or can't handle anything but a happy ending right now.

Also keep in mind that as believers in Jesus, we know the world isn't going to end any of these ways!  Someday Christ will return and put everything to right.  He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).  Maybe that's why I don't mind post-apocalyptic stories.  I can appreciate the imagination of them without fear, because I already know the end of the story for those of us who have put our trust in Christ to save us - and it's a good one.  I hope all my sisters in Christ who are reading this will remember that too in these uncertain days, and not let news stories or silly books bring any anxiety.  No matter what, we are safely in His hands.


Ways To Read When The Libraries Are Closed

I highly encourage you to see if your library participates in any digital services, because you can get ebooks and audiobooks that way!  My favorite library apps in the past have been Overdrive, Axis 360, and Hoopla.  Download the apps and check to see if your library is listed!  You can also apply for library card numbers for libraries in surrounding counties and check to see if any of those libraries participate in these app services.

If you are a Prime member, you should be aware that you can read some books for free on Kindle through Prime Reading!  The Worst Hard Time is available that way, if that one sounded good to you.



What post-apocalyptic-y books would you add to the list?

Goals For The Dreariest Months | March And April Goals



March is upon us, which means it is time for me to check in with my 2020 goals!  Making goals for a couple months at a time (January/February), as opposed to monthly goals, ended up working out really well over the last couple months.  It gave me a little more wiggle room to catch up when life got a little crazy, so I think I'm going to do that again and make goals for March and April together.  I'll write a check-in at the end of May.

But anyway, how did my January and February goals go?

-Memorize Hebrews chapter 5.
-Set up prayer pages in my bullet journal.
-Start the day hugging each kid, and hug Derek when he gets home. (Did pretty well at this - I didn't succeed at starting every day with a hug, but there were more hugs in general!)
-Clean out my Facebook friends list.   (Read more about this here.)
-Send snail mail.
-Save $100 in February.
-Participate in the Read Your Bookshelf challenge.

I was pretty happy overall - focusing on a few small goals in specific areas was great because I never got too overwhelmed or behind, and I did succeed at mostly every goal I made.

As I've been looking ahead, I'm glad to have a few specific things to work on during what is arguably the dreariest time of year in the mountains.  March and April are usually interspersed random snow days and muddy days in between, and as a consequence, Spring never been my favorite time of year.  One of my dear friends moved up into the mountains several years ago, and she said she finally understood why I hated spring, ha!  But writing this out, I'm looking forward to trying to accomplish a few things instead of letting the momentum get buried with all the spring snow and mud.

(Spring looks kind of pretty in this photo though, doesn't it?)

I'm thinking I might have added too many things to my list for this next two-month period, but we'll see how it goes! Here are more specific updates and thoughts for my goal areas, and the things I'd like to focus on for the next period:


Spiritual

Overall Goal: Memorize Hebrews, and spend more time in prayer each day.

Update:  I did successfully memorize Hebrews 5, but I want to spend a little time reviewing it over the next couple weeks and then move on to memorize Hebrews 6.  I did create some prayer pages in my journal, but I'd like to figure out more specific items to pray for each member of my family.

Little Steps Goal: Memorize Hebrews 6 before May, and be more specific and thoughtful in my prayers for each family member by coming up with a prayer list for each person.

Marriage And Motherhood

Overall Goal: Be a happier and more thankful wife and mother.

Update: Last month I did get much more intentional about doling out the hugs, though I didn't always catch every kid every morning.   But I did my best, and I think the kids and Derek appreciated my attempt to start our day on a better note!

Next Little Steps Goal:  Over the next two months, I'd like to make a written list of specific ways I am thankful for each kid and Derek (and perhaps write them a note telling them what I come up with).  I also want to re-read Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager.  I read it several years ago, and remember it being thought-provoking and helpful!

Social

Overall Goal: Spend less time on social media, and spend more time investing in and encouraging my real-life friends (including family).

Update:  I think I've been pretty successful at staying off social media so far this year - so much so that I think I'm going to have to tip the balance the other way again!  I haven't been sharing enough of our day-to-day photos on Instagram, and I don't want to drop off too much on that because I still want those photos and memories for our Instagram photo book.  I wasn't 100% happy with my snail mail attempt last month, so I'd like to try that goal again.

Next Little Steps Goal: Write a letter to a friend, have my sister over for poetry tea time with the kids, and plan a joint birthday party for the boys.

Financial

Overall Goal: Save $1000.

Update: I saved the $100 I had hoped for, and also got paid for a couple of my freelance articles, so I squirreled that money away too!

Next Little Steps Goal: Save $100 in March and $100 in April.


Reading

Overall Goal: Read more books I own.

Update: I did finish two books I already owned as part of Chantel's Read Your Bookshelf Challenge.  The two I finished were And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and Ember Falls by S. D. Smith (part of the Green Ember series, so I'm sort of counting it for the read-a-book-with-a-color-in-the-title challenge).  I enjoyed them both, and enjoyed crossing them off my list!  I have also decided that for this goal area, I'd specifically like to focus on reading the physical and audio books I own.  I have a bunch of ebooks I haven't read, but I would like to focus on physical books to clear space on my bookshelf, and audiobooks are a no-brainer since I listen to them while I'm doing chores.

Next Little Steps Goal: Read at least one book from my physical shelf (I'm thinking The Lake House by Kate Morton, so I can cross off the March prompt in the Read Your Bookshelf Challenge), and one audiobook (I'm thinking The Accidental President by A. J. Baime). I also have to read Adopted For Life: The Priority Of Adoption For Christian Families And Churches by Russel Moore, because the challenge prompt for April is "the book that has been on your unread shelf the longest".




So here is the full list for March and April!


-Memorize Hebrews 6
-Make a specific prayer list for each family member
-Read Happiness Is A Serious Problem by Dennis Prager
-Make a gratitude list for each family member
-Write a letter
-Have my sister over for poetry tea time
-Plan the boys' birthday party
-Save $100 in March
-Save $100 in April
-Read one physical book from my unread shelf
-Read one audiobook from my unread shelf
-Read Adopted For Life by Russel Moore

How are your 2020 goals going so far?  

My Favorite Books From Last Year



Is it too late to write a post about my favorite books in 2019?

I have been slacking quite a bit on recording the books that I'm reading, ever since...well, our vacation, which was in August.  I met my goal of 52 books for 2019, but I didn't record many of them on Goodreads.  But I wanted to at least share a few of the books that stood out to me on here!



Non Fiction

I read a lot of non-fiction books that I really liked, so it was hard to leave some of them out.  These were the ones that stood out - I especially read some great Christian non-fiction, so if you are looking for some Christian encouragement-type books, read on!

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham

I bought this book when Voddie Baucham visited our local homeschool conference a few years ago, and I finally finished it.  Wow, if you want to be challenged in your parenting and in training your kids up to know the Lord, this is one you should pick up!  I was convicted to re-think a lot about my parenting and refocus on what is really important because of this book.  In fact, it's probably time I read it again.

Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges

This book is about the smaller sins that aren't mentioned much in Christian circles - we brush over these sins in ourselves and others, we tolerate them.  Bridges challenges us in this book to root those sins out of our lives.  This book is soundly rooted in the Gospel, and I found it not just convicting but very uplifting as well.  I highly recommend it!

None Like Him by Jen Wilkins

I feel like I've mentioned this book a million times between my blog and Instagram, but it was really good.  Wilkins looks at ten attributes of God, but these are not attributes that we can reflect (such as love, grace, etc), but attributes that belong to Him alone.  I found this book insightful and inspiring, and it was biblically sound and very readable.  It's a great book to start with if you are just beginning to dip your toes into theology.  Even though I was somewhat familiar with alot of the attributes she discusses, there were terms I learned and specific points that made me think more deeply about the ways that God is set apart from us.

Devoted: Great Men And Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies

If you've ever wondered if the little things you do for your kids are making a difference, pick up this book!  It's short and sweet, and would be perfect for Mother's Day.  I found it both convicting as I read about different godly moms through history and how they impacted their sons, and encouraging because of the little things they did that made such a big difference.  Highly recommend.

What Wondrous Love Is This by Joni Eareckson Tada

This is a book about hymns, and I used it as an addition to my morning Bible time.  Each chapter covers a different hymn, it's history, the theological breakdown, and it's personal impact on the authors.  I didn't even know half of the hymns in this book, but I would read a chapter and then look up the hymn on Spotify, and it was such an uplifting addition to my morning routine.  I'd recommend it if you also love hymns and are up for learning some new ones!

You Who? Why You Matter And How To Deal With It by Rachel Jankovic

I liked Jankovic's Loving The Little Years, which I read years ago, and finally remembered her as an author this year when I saw this book.  She discusses the "self help" culture, and why it is not the way we should approach life as Christians.  I think I need to read this book again, because I flew through it so fast the first time.  I read it during a discouraging period, and it was exactly what I needed to break me out of my doldrums, but I can't remember everything about it.  I inhaled it the first time, and I'd like to read it more thoughtfully a second time.  But anyway, it was good.

Them: Why We Hate Each Other And How To Heal by Ben Sasse

This book was timely for the current political climate, and the epidemic of loneliness in our culture.  We are more connected than ever, via the internet, but less rooted and less likely to actually know the names of our neighbors.  Sasse discusses why this is, what's really dividing us as Americans, and little ways that we can start to fix it.  I thought his view of why our culture is changing in our level of connection to one another was interesting, and in the end I was so encouraged by this book.  Though Sasse is a Republican senator, the information in this book and the points he makes are bipartisan, so I'd recommend it no matter your political leanings.

Chasing New Horizons by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

I started several space books last year after our visit to NASA, and I'm still working through most of my space books, but I shot through this book on audio!  It gives the history of Pluto, and how we finally sent a spacecraft to that distant planet.  What I found really interesting about this book was how involved it is to fund and plan an unmanned space mission, and all the logistics of sending a spacecraft to such a distant planet (even going as fast as 52,000 mph at times, and traveling almost a million miles per day, it still took 9.5 years for it to arrive at Pluto!).  I listened to it on audio, and I'd recommend reading it that way, I think it could be a little dry if read in print.  But it was a fascinating book to me.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This book was so timely, since I read it after I decided to go on a Facebook break in December.  It challenged me to think more carefully about social media and how I wanted to be using it.  Highly recommend this book if you struggle, like I do, to put down your phone!



Fiction

As I was looking over my list, I did not have as good of luck with fiction books last year.  I'm going to list the books I really liked first, and then do some "honorable mentions".

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have to be honest, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book.  I have seen the movie before and the characters weren't exactly likable, and there was alot of debauchery, cheating, etc.  But what made this book worthwhile for me was reading while also listening to the Close Reads discussion of The Great Gatsby.  Because of reading the book while listening to that podcast, I noticed so many things that I wouldn't have otherwise, and I realized the message of the book is completely different than what I originally thought it was.  I ended up really liking it!  You can bet that if I ever have my kids read this for school, it will be assigned WITH the podcast.  Here are the links to the episodes if you're interested:

Chapters 1-3
Chapters 4-5
Chapters 6-7
Last Chapters


1984 by George Orwell

Does anyone really like 1984?  I'm not sure that's quite the right word, but I did get alot out of this book.  Some of it was creepily similar to aspects of our political environment today.  It's not like any book I would normally enjoy (more sexual aspects of the plot than I expected, and the ending was NOT uplifting), but I have to include it here because I think every adult should read it.  Very interesting.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

The first book I've read by Montgomery that wasn't an Anne book, and I loved every second of it.  It was completely delightful.  I especially liked the nature writing and the ending.  This book didn't feel anything like Anne Of Green Gables to me, but the writing was the same ol' Montgomery-style that I loved from the Anne series.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

I love every Schmidt book I've read, and this is no exception.  A boy opens the door one day, and finds out his family has "inherited" a butler from his grandfather.  The butler starts putting the family in order and teaching Carter about cricket.  Really fun and delightful while also wrestling with some deeper subjects.  If you haven't read Gary D. Schmidt, you just should.  I usually recommend The Wednesday Wars first, but I loved this book because it had the same feel.



Honorable Mentions

A couple more books I read and enjoyed alot...

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

All the "book celebrities" (ie. Anne Bogel and booktubers) mention this book all the time, and I finally read it.  It didn't completely blow me away, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.  It's a post-apocalyptic book, but it imagines how art might survive in a post-apocalyptic world through following a traveling orchestra.  I think I enjoyed it even more because I've never quite read another book like this, so it was something new.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I listened to this book, and I'd recommend it in that format, because I think it would get slow in print (and also, the narrator was very good).  Whoever recommended this book to me said I should go into it without reading the synopsis, and I'm glad I did.  But let's just say if you are into time travel plots, you might like this one.  It's more character-driven than plot-driven.  Even though it's a slower-paced book, I still really enjoyed it.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Horror books aren't really my speed, but this one is a classic, and I'm glad I read it.  I understand vampire references in pop culture so much better now.  That Gilligan's Island episode where Gilligan is bitten by a bat?  Makes so much more sense.



There we go, my favorite books from 2019!

What did you all read last year?  Any stand-outs?






Long Before Luther - A Review


Affiliate link below.

This book, Long Before Luther: Tracing The Heart Of The Gospel From Christ To The Reformation by Nathan Busenitz, caught my eye late last year.  I had recently heard someone claiming that the Reformers basically "made up" a new doctrine when they formally established the doctrines of "by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone" as the means by which we are saved.  The claim was that no one before in church history had viewed salvation the way the Reformers did - that Luther, Calvin, and others were unsupported by previous church history and theologians.  I didn't believe that, but I am not completely familiar with church history either, so I wasn't sure what to think about that claim.  When I saw this book, I snagged it.

This book is pretty scholarly, but it has to be to address some of the specific charges of Reformation theology being unsupported previously.  The author does a great job of breaking down Reformation theology into three specific points - the forensics nature of justification, a distinction between justification and sanctification, and the imputed righteousness of Christ.  Each area is explained in a clear and accessible way, and then the author goes about showing that there are evidences of theologians before Luther who held views in line with these doctrines.

I really loved that the author starts with showing where Scripture itself is in support of each of these doctrines.  The Bible is our ultimate authority, and I love that the author clearly laid out how Scripture presents these issues of justification, sanctification, and salvation.  After firmly grounding us in Scripture, the author then presented his evidence from pre-Luther history, showing how many theologians held similar views to the Reformers in each of these areas.

I thought the author's presentation was thorough and convincing, while also being honest and fair in explaining the ways some of these theologians differed from the Reformers.  But my favorite section of the book was the Appendix, where the author includes 100 quotes from pre-Reformation theologians and church fathers that support the idea of being saved by grace, through faith in Christ, apart from any works.  The book itself thoroughly explains how these theologians viewed each of the specific Reformation doctrines the author was investigating, but the Appendix compiles all the evidence in one place, and it's really compelling.

After reading this book, I feel confident that the next time I hear someone claim that the Reformers were making up new doctrines, I will know there are specific church fathers and theologians that we can look at to prove otherwise.  Excellent book if you have ever wondered where the true Gospel was before Luther.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 7


A Quote

"I make myself rich by making my wants few." - Henry David Thoreau

"He is richest who is content with the least." - Socrates

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5

I was thinking about the Thoreau quote, and then found the Socrates quote by accident, so you get two for one, plus a Bible verse.  I don't know why, but contentment was on my mind this morning, perhaps because it is Thanksgiving week.  I think contentment and thankfulness go hand in hand - it's hard to have one without the other.  The Bible exhorts us over and over to be content, and the secret for the believer to contentment is that we have everything we truly need in Christ.  When we focus our hearts on what He has done to save us, how can we not be thankful?  Just some things I was mulling over this morning.

A Book

It's hard to come up with a book recommendation this morning, because I'm still working through the same old ones.  I'm going to throw out Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens as a suggestion.  My goal is to finish it before the end of my social media break.  Dickens can be really dense reading, but also, no one can turn a sentence quite like him!  I read A Christmas Carol last December, and loved it so much that I've been wanting to tackle one of his other books ever since.  They are just so long though.  Have you read any Dickens?

A Bit Of Nature




You also get two pictures, one because it snowed and it's gorgeous, and another one because the sunrise this morning was so striking.  I feel blessed to live somewhere now where I can see the sunrise!

A Recommendation

Yesterday, I spent most of the day finishing my Christmas shopping online, and I got 80% of the kids' presents from Rainbow Resource.  It's actually a homeschooling curriculum website, but they recently sent us their toy catalog.  I had the kids circle all the things they liked in it, and I was so impressed with their choices!  The toys Rainbow Resource carries are geared more toward imaginative play and creativity, and they carry good quality items (I didn't find many...or maybe not any...cheap plastic items).  Anyway, you should check out their toy section on the website.  I got so many ideas for the kids it was hard to choose!

A Moment Of Happiness

Last night I asked Derek if he would string up some Christmas lights in our room.  He was tired after a long day of work, but he was sweet enough to do one more thing for me anyway.  I put out some Christmas pillows on our couch and bed, and after he was finished we enjoyed our festive room, sparkling lights, and eggnog while we laughed through an episode of The Middle.  Our nightly routine is pretty simple, and may not seem exciting.  But I think it's a special thing to cuddle next to my husband and laugh a little together before we go to sleep.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 6



A Quote

"The woods are so human that to know them one must live with them.  An occasional saunter through them, keeping to the well-trodden paths, will never admit us to their intimacy,  If we wish to be friends, we must seek them out and win them by frequent, reverent visits at all hours, by morning, by noon, and by night; and at all seasons, in spring, in summer, in autumn, in winter...They have their own effective way of keeping aliens at a distance and shutting their hearts to mere casual sightseers.  It is no use to seek the woods from any motive except sheer love of them; they will find us out at once and hide all their sweet, old-world secrets from us.  But if they know we come to them because we love them, they will be very kind to us and give us such treasures of beauty and delight as are not bought or sold in any marketplace."
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle

A little anthropomorphizing of the woods for you this morning, ha!  I always like L. M Montgomery's fanciful descriptions in her books though, and this one was sweet and a little true, I thought.

A Book

So, I started reading Little Women, which I've never actually read.  You are all welcome to be shocked now.

A Bit Of Nature


If you wake up early enough, and keep an eye out, there is a five minute window when the light coming up over the mountains is just gorgeous.

A Recommendation

So, I thought I'd give you a couple recommendations that were given to me this week.  One is this pumpkin chili recipe.  I had friends over for a book chat this week, and the conversation turned to different chili recipes.  Pumpkin chili sounds interesting, so I think I'm going to have to try it one of these days!

The other recommendation was Wick Wish Candle Co - this company makes "literary and fandom" candles.  One of the girls brought over a couple of hers on our book chat night, so we could smell them, and they were so cool!  And weirdly they did smell like the books they were representing.  I want one now (maybe for Christmas).  The ones I smelled were "Jane Austen", "Anne Shirley", and "Little Women" and they were so good.

A Moment Of Happiness

This one is going to double as one more recommendation - if you have the room, you should consider a big dog.  Maybe a bloodhound mutt, like our Harvey.


(Harvey, crashing the pictures I was trying to take for the Stitchfix post that I keep forgetting to share!)

As I was doing my devotions this morning, our big 'ole dog came over to me and stuck his nose on top my lap, and while it can be a little annoying at times, I love how sweetly he gets his message across.  I scratched his ears and let him outside, and now he is back in, snoring behind me as I type this.  The sound makes me smile.

I love having a big dog, because whenever the kids are outside I know he is keeping an eye on them and will alert me if any strangers or questionable wildlife come too close.  And when Derek has to be gone for work trips, I honestly don't know what I'd do without Harvey - he sleeps at the foot of the stairs and makes me feel safe.  I'm really grateful for him.  He started out a little like the puppy in Marley And Me, but just like in that movie, he is a better and better dog with each year.

(If you want to join me for your own "Wednesday Five", feel free!)

Tools For A Social Media Break




I knew from the start that I wanted to completely break my phone habit with this year's social media break.  I don't like how my hand is often reaching for my hone before I even realize it, and I figured getting rid of Facebook and Instagram for a while would be the first step.

There are some complications though, with taking a break from social media.  How am I going to still share photos with my family (which is a big value of Facebook to me)?  How am I going to be able to get my blog posts to people who only read through Instagram?  How am I going to have the motivation to resist signing back in to check just "one more thing"?  And would getting rid of those two apps be enough, or would I just find other ways to waste time on my phone?

I don't want my bad habits to be diverted to other digital activities during this break.  I want to spend time doing things in the real world, and develop some "analog" skills that have been languishing for too long.

As I was mulling all that over, I found a few resources that have been or hopefully will be very helpful in making the most of my attempt to break my phone habit over the next couple months, and I wanted to share them with you here!

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport - I listened to this book in two days over the weekend, and picking this book up now was so timely for me.  Newport is talking about the very thing I've been struggling with, getting a handle on your "digital life" and making sure that the ways in which you use technology are actually serving you, instead of making you a slave to technology.  This book gave me so many things to think about, and strategies for making sure that I break my phone habit long-term, not just until my break is over in January.

Freedom.to - This is a tool I read about in Digital Minimalism, and I went straight home and signed up.  Freedom.to allows you to block distracting websites (specified by you) for certain blocks of time or on regular schedules (also specified by you).  I've set mine up to block time-suck websites for the hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Like I said, I didn't want my bad phone habits to just get diverted to other digital time wasters, so this tool should help alot!  They are running a special right now too - you can try it monthly for $7, or get a whole year for $20!

Later.com - I mentioned in my first post about taking a social media break that I am still going to use a scheduler, to let people know that I've posted here on my blog.  This is the scheduler!  You can set it up to share to multiple social media websites (without being signed in), but the one that is most useful at this time for me is posting to my blog Instagram, because this is the only website I'm aware of that let's you schedule posts to Instagram.  I know there is a decent portion of readers (though not as many as you might think) who keep up with blogs through Instagram, and I didn't want those of you who keep up with me that way to totally miss out while I have the app removed from my phone.

Chatbooks - Another hesitation I had with giving up Instagram specifically is that I have a recurring series that automatically prints my pictures to these cute little photo books through Chatbooks.  My kids LOVE these books and are constantly carrying them around.  I was a little sad to miss a couple months of capturing our memories this way, until I remembered that you can add photos to a Chatbook manually through the app.  Did you know that?  It will take a little more intention from me to remember to add photos to the book when I don't have an instant audience or the boost of "likes", but that's also the whole point of my social media break - to be more intentional with how I'm spending my time.  I'm thinking about printing out books of the best photos from the month and sending them to our family members who really enjoy photos of the kids.  Yes, this will cost me more money, but I have to think it will mean a little more too.  (There is also just good ol' texting for sending photos, which I plan on putting to use!)



I'll write another post soon about things I'm hoping to spend time on instead of my phone, but I wanted to share these tools this morning for a few of you who I know were also considering some sort of digital break!

Do you have any other resources I should know about that are helpful for breaking bad phone habits?

Also, real quick, did you know that I actually had a newsletter for this blog?  I haven't sent a newsletter out in years, but I figured now might be a good time to dust it off.  If you need a way beside social media for keeping up with this blog, you can sign up for updates below!



The Wednesday Five | Vol. 5


(The Wednesday Five is back!  I started this during my October writing challenge, and I really liked it, so I'm going to try to write one each week.  Feel free to snag the prompts and join if you want!  I originally got the inspiration from a similar series on The Autumn Girl, and then Robin at Grace Enough and Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse have joined in with their own versions too!)

A Quote

"We are all worms.  But I do believe I am a glowworm."-Winston Churchill

Good ole Winston.

A Book

After wanting to read it for years, last night I finally picked up the first in C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, Out Of The Silent Planet.  Have any of you read it?  I've heard it has a lot of the same charm as The Chronicles Of Narnia, and if that's true, I'm here for it!

A Bit Of Nature


This tree produces the prettiest pine cones, and my kids even extracted the seeds from one of them.

A Recommendation

(Referral link below.)

I have mentioned before that I subscribed to Skylar's scent club in the spring.  It's $20 a month, and they send you a roller ball with a seasonal scent (it's also supposed to be "natural" and "clean", if that matters to you).  Basically I am a sucker for anything that smells good, and I've really been enjoying it!

Anyway, I have to say, I love the scents they have sent out this fall.  November's is "By Firelight" and it's a smokey-spiced-honey sort of smell.  It's so good.  I really wish they would let you buy extras of your favorites from the scent club, I'm going to be sad when I run out.

A Moment Of Happiness


After letting my kids watch too much TV last week, I'm re-imposing screen time limits this week.  They played hard yesterday, and I finally let them watch a show last night.  I picked an animated version of Ken Ham's "D Is For Dinosaur" which is one of those shows that has a calming influence on my kids (rather than hyping them up).  I turned the corner, and there they were, my gaggle of children sprawled out in the playroom, watching their movie.  And for a second I just had a flashback to when it was hard to get pregnant and I wished for a handful of pajama-clad kids to be watching a cartoon in the next room while I cooked dinner.  They are often boisterous, and rowdy, and tiring; and also sweet, and precious, and my dream come true.  I don't want to ever forget that.


The Wednesday Five | Vol. 4


A Quote

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago,
And people who will see a world,
That I shall never know.
But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door.
-Poem from The Fellowship Of The Ring
Maybe you are tired of Lord Of The Rings quotes, but this is the end of a really lovely poem in the Fellowship.  Part 2, Chapter 3, a few pages into the chapter titled "The Ring Goes South".  If you have a copy handy, you should go read the whole poem.  I'm not very good at poetry, but I really liked this one.


A Book

I was working on a new post for Rooted last week, and I raided my shelves for some inspiration.  Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra Kuykendall was the first book I grabbed.  I'm thinking it might be time for a re-read.  I remember how calming this book was for me the first time I read it, leading up to the holiday season.  If I remember right, it has lots of practical tips, but also great encouragement for reflecting on why we celebrate in the first place.


A Bit Of Nature



A photo from the nature hike with my sister last week!  The cousins loved crashing through the woods together.


A Recommendation

While I don't actually think I would do well as a business person, I have a little bit of a fascination regarding how businesses start, grow, or fail, and how that's so often tied in with cultural elements and trends.  Maybe my interest stems from the fact that I like to shop?  Anyway, I came across this channel on Youtube, and his videos are so interesting to me.  I especially like the "Bigger Than You Know" series, and the "Rise And Fall" series.  If you are interested in how and why brands appear on and disappear from the shelves, you might like this channel too.


A Moment Of Happiness

When I took Clarice on a day out with me the other week, I let her pick out a toy.  She picked out this play-cleaning set, with a broom, dustpan, pretend spray bottles, rags, etc.  Ever since she got this set, whenever I start to clean up the house or sweep the floor, she runs to grab her cleaning "supplies" and helps me.  It's so cute to see my little four year old diligently "sweeping" the floor or "wiping" the table.

The other day I was baking, and she ran for her broom, and then all I saw were two blue eyes peering up over the other side of the counter, and a tiny hand with a mini broom carefully sweeping away that flour I had spilled.  I walked into the pantry during nap time, and noticed that she had hung her little broom and dustpan on the spare hook right next to my broom and dustpan.  It melted my heart and brought a grin to my face.  I love this age.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 3


A Quote
"'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli. 
'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli. 
'Or break it,' said Elrond."                                                                         
-Fellowship Of The Ring

You can probably guess which book I'm reading right now!  This exchange stood out to me this time, and I found it interesting.  I tend to side with Gimli, I think, but curious if you all have any thoughts.  I'm mulling it over.


A Book

Alot of the books from Anne Bogel's summer reading guide were duds for me this time around, but I am listening to one of them, Searching For Sylvia Lee by Jean Kwok, on audio now.  I'm halfway through and really enjoying it, especially in audio format!  This is a mystery/thriller book, and a good portion of the story involves Chinese immigrants in the Netherlands.  The way those two cultures come together here is really unexpected and interesting.  I'm not completely vouching for it yet since I haven't finished, but so far it's also been fairly clean.


A Bit Of Nature


Pretty fall view.  My little white church where I grew up is down in that valley.


An Recommendation

This recommendation is a little different - I'm going to recommend you check out the makeup section at TJ Maxx.  I have two lip glosses and a lipstick that I bought from there that are name brand (Anastasia Beverly Hills and Flesh), but they cost less than half the normal price.  Just thought of that because I particularly like the Flesh lipglosses, and I never would have bought them otherwise!  So if you have a TJ Maxx near you, check it out!

A Moment Of Happiness

The kids had been outside for a while, and I didn't hear much except for occasional squeals of delight.  I was getting a little suspicious, and I went over the window to see what was making them so happy, expecting to see some mischief.

What I saw was my four big children gathered around our red wagon, positioned at the top of the hill of our driveway.  Two of the kids started pulling the wagon down the hill while one sat inside, gripping the sides.  The looks of joy on their faces, and the sun backlighting their hair...it was one of those golden moments I don't ever want to forget.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 2



A Quote

"Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here.  It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there...Nevertheless, let it never be said of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to it's highest uses...The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigor, for the joy of the Lord is his strength...He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come." -Charles Spurgeon


This is from Morning And Evening by Charles Spurgeon, which I've been loving as an addition to my Bible reading lately.  A little bonus book pick for you!


A Book

Dracula by Bram Stoker.  This book is really not my style at all, but so far I'm kind of enjoying it?  I never read horror, but I am in a classics book club with some friends from my college days, and Dracula is what we picked for this season.  It is a classic, so I figure it's worthwhile to read just for the cultural references, but I'm halfway through and now I'm rather curious to see how it's going to turn out!  The ending in the book is supposed to be good...




Sidenote:  I am reading my leather-bound copy from Barnes And Noble, because it's the prettiest and least creepy cover I could find...also, I know I'm pale.  I promise I'm not a vampire.

A Bit Of Nature


The aspen trees peaked this last week!  But there are still a few areas where they have yet to change color.  I should really record peak week each year so I can plan our fall hikes to coincide.

A Recommendation

I have attended a few of these homeschool summits in the past - this is basically a free online conference with encouragement for Christian homeschool parents!  This year there will be sessions with Ken Ham and Voddie Baucham, so you should obviously sign up just for that.  But there also other speakers I have appreciated in the past, like Hal and Melanie Young, and Todd Wilson.  I expect good things!  It's happening next week, if you are interested.

A Moment Of Happiness

I took Clarice on a "mom day" last weekend.  We went grocery shopping, and I loved the feel of her dainty little hand in mine.  She insisted on riding in the cart until she was practically covered in groceries, and I remember doing the same when I was a kid.  I bought her a toy, a set of cleaning supplies.  "Mama, I can help you clean the house!" she declared excitedly.

We finished at the store, and I got her a happy meal as a special treat for dinner, since we never get happy meals when I have all the kids together.  She sat across the table, deconstructing her hamburger before she ate it, and every now and then she looked at me and gave me one of her dazzling grins.  Then she'd make a face at me to make me laugh.

She bounced along beside me as we left, like a little Tigger.  ON the way home she spotted the moon out the window.  "Mama, the moon is following us home!  He must be hungry!"  Then she laughed at her own joke, and I laughed too.

And I just kind of wish she could stay four years old forever.

Homeschool Bravely | A Book Review



I picked up this book in May, right before we finished school for the summer.  It has taken me this long to finish it because I basically took a break from even thinking about school as soon as I could.  But with starting up homeschooling again in the fall, it was time to finish this book.

What I Liked

Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erickson is a book to encourage Christian homeschool moms who are doubting their homeschool choice or worried they aren't doing a good enough job.  I thought it completely lived up to that purpose.  Erickson has so much hard-won, practical encouragement for homeschool moms, and she tells it all from her own experience.

This book is solidly a Christian homeschool book.  Erickson weaves her faith through every aspect of homeschooling that she addresses, and I love that - it's as it should be!  Her encouragement is definitely geared toward Christian homeschoolers, and I appreciated alot of what she has to say, especially her encouragements to trust God for our homeschools, not on ourselves or crossing things off our to-do lists.  She encourages Christian moms to keep their eyes on the big picture of why we are homeschooling in the first place, and that is always valuable to me.

What I Didn't Love

My only complaints with this book have to do with some muddied Christian messages in it.  Though Erickson refers to the gospel, and based on different things she says she seems to understand that we are saved by faith in Christ alone and His atoning sacrifice for our sins, it's not really clearly explained.  If a book is going to focus on Christian encouragement and teaching, and refer to the "gospel" so much, I really appreciate when the gospel is clearly spelled out.  Not everyone who picks up a book like this may have a clear understanding of how to be saved.  This book didn't reach that bar for me of clearly explaining the salvation message.

The other thing I didn't love was the way Erickson took different Bible stories or isolated verses and applied them to a homeschooling point she was trying to make.  Sometimes I felt like she seemed to reduce everything Jesus did on earth as merely for our example.  He is our example, but that is not the primary reason He came.  Her use of Scripture felt forced sometimes, and also led to some theological interpretations I would question.

The best example of this is on page 141.  Erickson writes:

"God constrained Himself when He took on human flesh.  He gave Himself physical limitations.  If God recognized the need to do less for a time, then why shouldn't you?  Why shouldn't I?"

I think it's a big jump to use the fact that God became flesh in Jesus Christ to then state that God recognized a "need to do less".  I just cringe even typing that. I may be misunderstanding her, but I still need to point out that God is not like us, He has no need to rest or "do less".  He wasn't doing any less when He became flesh in order to live a sinless life and take the punishment for our sin upon Himself!  Sure, in His humanness, Christ rested in His physical body.  But as He was also fully God, He was also doing everything God normally does, upholding all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3), even while He had become fully man in order to become the sacrifice for our sins.  He certainly wasn't doing any less.

---

Anyway, aside from all that, I did appreciate how Erickson wove the Christian faith into her encouragement for homeschool moms.  Alot of her homeschool advice was right on the money, and I appreciated reading it.  I'd recommend this book to Christian homeschool moms, while encouraging them to still read with discernment since I thought some of her use of Scripture and theological statements were questionable.  But there is certainly alot of encouragement to be had here.

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Stuff I Like | July 2019



Well, now that we are halfway through August, let me tell you about things I liked in July!

First off, these two moose that we saw in July were pretty cool.








Pina Colada Iced Tea

When we went to Seattle last fall, Derek and I visited MarketSpice at the Seattle Market.  Man, I wished I could bring home every type of tea they had in there, but I restrained myself.  When we got home, I looked up MarketSpice to see if you could order tea, and you can!  Alot of their loose-leaf teas end up being cheaper than teas you can buy in the grocery store, even with shipping, as long as you buy 6-8 at a time.  So in the Spring I ordered several summer teas, and this was one of them.  It is so good with a little sweetener, it almost gives me dessert vibes!

Skinny Syrups

Speaking of sweetener, I was browsing in HomeGoods the other day and ran across these bottles of flavored syrups in the food aisle.  They are sugar-free, but I think they still taste pretty good, without that weird sugar-free aftertaste.  I bought a few and have been using them for my iced coffee and tea this summer, and they are so yummy!  So far the Coconut and Mango are my favorites.  The coconut is really good with the Pina Colada tea.

Moss And Lichen Nature Journal

These free nature journal worksheets are just too inspiring not to share!  I wish I could draw as well as she does.

Tarte Shade Shifting Color Splash Lipstick

Tarte was having a really good sale, and I tend to like their makeup, so I decided to try some lipstick. These shades are really fun because they are somewhat iridescent, without being over-the-top!  I got them in "Bodysurf" and "Sunlit", and I really like both.  They are coming on vacation with me this week.

Tarte Sizzle Eyeshadow Palette

While we are on the topic of makeup, I have to say, I really like Tarte's "Rainforest Of The Sea" eyeshadows.  They are a nice consistency and really pigmented, and if you aren't a crazy makeup artist (as I'm not), the shades are perfect.  I really like the Sizzle palette this summer, and this one has been my go-to for a while now.  Just put a lighter shade on your lid, and one of the darker shades on the outer half of your lid and your crease, and I really don't think you can go wrong.  They blend so well, and all the shades are really neutral and brightening. (And if $36 seems like too much for an eyeshadow palette, try to catch one of the sales on their website - you can often get them for $20 on sale.)

The Princess And The Goblin by George MacDonald

I've mentioned that a few friends and I are trying to read more classics together this year.  We just finished up The Great Gatsby, and our next pick is The Princess And The Goblin.  I read through almost half the book in just a few days!  It's a fairytale written by a Christian minister in 1872, and it is delightful.  I really like some of the little subtle virtues he's giving Princess Irene, like this line:

"'What a strange creature you are," said the nurse - "first to want a thing and then to refuse it!'
But she did not say it crossly, and the princess never minded any remarks that were not unfriendly."

I just love that so much, because that is the kind of person I am trying to be, and the kind of person I want my daughters to be.  I know so many people who take offense to any comment that rubs them wrong, and I've been that way too at times.  And because of that, I know how exhausting it is.  It's so much better to have an attitude of never minding any remarks that aren't unfriendly.

It's also free on Kindle, so check it out!

Apollo 11: What We Saw

In case you didn't know, July was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing!  This is a podcast that goes over the history of the moon landing, and also kind of places it in it's cultural context so you can understand how important that moment was (besides the obvious reasons).  Derek and I have listened to two of the four episodes, and I think we'll listen to the rest as we are traveling to Cape Canaveral on vacation!

Speaking of vacation, I'm supposed to be finished packing today, so I better finish this and go to it!  If you have any tips for where to eat or things to see in Miami and Orlando, send them my way, and you can follow me on Instagram to see what we are up to!

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