Great Biblical Fiction Series

I am a historical fiction fan.  I love when my "light" fiction reading can also teach me something, so historical fiction is right up my alley.  And if it's biblical historical fiction, that is even better!

I think someday I will have to do a post on my favorite historical fiction series, but one that would make my list is Lynn Austin's The Restorations Chronicles series.  I read the first book a couple years ago, and I was hoping she would write more - and I discovered recently that she has!

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Keepers Of The Covenant opens with the Jewish people, exiled in Babylon, getting the decree from King Xerxes that all the Jews can be killed on the thirteenth of Adar (if this sounds familiar, it is from the story in the book of Esther).  It follows several families through the fear leading up to that day, and the triumph and tragedy of the aftermath.  It then dives into the story of Ezra, who petitioned King Artaxerxes to let the Jews return to their homeland, and it follows them back to the Jerusalem.

This whole story is told through the eyes of different characters, several in Babylon and one in Bethlehem.  The most fun part of the book is the last third, when all the characters are brought together in one place.  There are a couple different sweet romances in this book, which also made it fun to read.

One thing that bothered me initially in this book was the hatred the main character had toward the Gentiles.  It was mentioned so naturally in the first half of the book that I wasn't sure I liked it - I didn't remember reading anything in the Bible condoning hatred of the Babylonians and other Gentiles in Ezra's story.  I was going to mention that as something that I didn't like, but then the author addressed it in a really satisfactory way at the end of the book.  That is all I'll say.

Overall, I found the story to be really accurate to the facts while also adding enough of a story in the characters' relationships to keep the book interesting.  I would definitely recommend this series!

Note: I received digital copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

Blind As A Bat

I call the year I turned twelve the year that I fell apart.

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In a period of about six months my hair turned frizzy and I had to get braces.  Then I learned that I need something to correct my vision too!  All in the midst of middle school.  Even though I was homeschooled and didn't have to deal with traditional middle school culture (thank goodness), it was still a nightmare!




Thankfully, I think my awkward phase only lasted a couple years (that's not too bad, right?).  By the time I was fourteen, I was starting to figure out my hair, my braces came off, and I was starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin.  My eyesight, on the other hand, never recovered.

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You wouldn't necessarily know, because I almost always wear contacts, but I am technically legally blind!  With astigmatism too.  I am told vision can get much worse.  I believe it, because I have compared prescriptions with a friend who was much worse eyesight than me, so I can't complain too much.  But I honestly can't imagine having worse vision than I do.  Without corrective lenses, I can just start to make out words when I am about three inches away from the paper.  And even then it is hard to focus, because my eyes don't focus together correctly (because of my astigmatism)!  I usually have to close one eye and squint to be able to see anything, even three inches away.  All I can say is thank goodness I live in an era where corrective lenses are available and affordable!

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I usually wear contacts because I never particularly liked how glasses looked on me, but recently Firmoo offered to send me a pair of prescription eye glasses, and I think I have changed my mind.  I had so much fun searching through the options on their site!  They have so many different frame styles.

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I stuck with the same shape that I have gotten before, but these glasses are a fun color, and they are a little bigger than my other glasses (bigger glasses are back in).  I feel so trendy, and I think these glasses make me look bookish, in a cute, funky way!  I actually wore them out the other day, and unlike with my other glasses, I felt confident being seen in these ones.

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Firmoo's prices are also very affordable - even cheaper than the cheapest place I have purchased glasses before.  And it was easy to enter all the specifics of my prescription.  The next time I need a new pair of glasses, I will definitely be ordering from Firmoo!

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Who else out there wears glasses or contacts?  Come on contact people, admit it.  There is no shame.  Your vision is most likely not worse than mine!

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And because I know there will be comments on the snow - winter has come upon us with a vengeance!  Derek took these last week, and it was so cold.  At least it gave me a chance to wear my new coat.  It did the job nicely.

Yellow Coat: Target
Animal Print Scarf:  Walmart
Floral Tunic: Forever21
Pants: Forever21 
Taupe Boots: JustFab
Burgundy Glasses: Firmoo

Note: I received a standard pair of glasses from Firmoo for free in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.



Clyde At Seven Months

Clyde is seven months old!  It feels like the last month has gone by really fast.

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This was a big month for Clyde - we started solid foods!  We got kind of a late start because of a stomach bug.  He was barely eating r a whole week, and he was more fussy than normal.  I was really worried that he was developing milk sensitivity, but then it seemed to clear up a bit, so I started him on rice cereal.

Oh my goodness, he loved it!  He knew what to do right away and practically dove at the spoon.  With the other two I felt like they took a little time to figure out how to swallow, but he just gulped it right down.  He is a very enthusiastic eater, and it's just adorable!  We got his first taste of solids on camera, and I'm so glad we did, because it was so cute.  We've also tried green beans so far, and he likes those too.  He is already used to eating his solid food, and he is more fussy if I forget to feed him his cereal!

He is growing out of a lot of his six month clothes now, and when we took him for his checkup he was 26 inches long and almost 16 lbs.  He is wearing size 2 shoes, and size 2 diapers.

He is very interested in his toys, and he still attempts to scoot toward his toys when he can't reach them.  So far he usually ends up scooting backward, but this week (11/11) he got up on his hands and knees all by himself!  We made a big deal of it, and he looked so proud.  I was impressed that he figured this out, because the other two figured out a scoot-crawl first, and then got up on their hands and knees - but Clyde figured out the hands and knees thing first!  I am excited for him to learn to crawl, but I also am having a hard time with him growing so fast.

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As Clyde is getting bigger, he is playing with Wyatt and Gwen so much more.  They take such good care of him, and they like to play with him.  Sometimes they get Clyde laughing so hard, and it's just adorable!  He has this clear, throaty-sounding laugh, and I love it.  One of the best sounds in the world.

I think we are almost done with nursing, and it's bitter sweet for me.  With the other two I decided when to wean, and this time it's just kind of happening without my having as much of a say in it.  Clyde doesn't want to nurse as much, and my supply is going away.  We had a couple sweet times when he was sick and wanted the comfort, and I'll always remember those moments with him, because it's been more difficult to nurse since then.  We still get good snuggles in when I feed him a bottle though.

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Clyde has these cute little quirky things that he does - one of them is sticking his tongue out and curling it.  It's so funny and cute!  He also rolls his tongue around a lot while he is eating, and I love watching him eat.  His thing lately has been nodding his head.  He'll just randomly start nodding his head up and down.  I'm not sure where he figured out how to do that, or why he does it, but it's funny when you are talking to him and he starts nodding his head!

He is still my little buddy, and likes to hang out with me best, but he is becoming more happy to be held by other people (as long as he still knows where I am).  He has such an adorable dimpled grin, and he almost always smiles at everyone who looks at him!  He wins everyone over with his little grins.  I think his personality is more of a shy ham - he likes it when people pay attention to him, as long as he is in a comfortable situation.  I am loving watching his personality develop!

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My Sweet Clyde,

I can't believe how much you have grown!  You have gone from my little tiny baby who didn't want to be held by anyone but me, to this sweet, social baby who always seems to steal the show without even trying.  Your little smiles light up my day, and it's hard to even feel tired or stressed when you give me a happy grin.  I love how you are understanding and enjoying games more and more, and your little laughs are the cutest things!  You have such a sweet, almost humble personality, and I think you will be one of those people whom everyone can't help but like.  I love you Baby Boy, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for you as you grow up (but just don't grow up too fast).

Love Always,

Your Mama

Our Bedtime Routine

Today I thought I'd share our bedtime routine with the kids.  I feel like our bedtime routine continues to evolve as the kids get older, but it is fun to look back and see what we always did before tucking the kids in for the night.

When it's just me by myself, it takes some strategy and juggling to get three kids under four years old to bed on time!  I always shoot to get the kids in bed by 7:00 PM.  When Derek is home we like to have a little time together in the evenings, and we usually go to sleep ourselves between 9:00 and 10:00 PM.  I guess we're early-to-bed kind of people.  If Derek is traveling, the evening is still my best time to get things done around the house, so an early bedtime works well for us.

For simplicity's sake, I'll share what I do when it's just me, but when Derek is home this whole process is a lot faster and easier!

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If it's not a bath night, around 6:00 or 6:15 I start getting them ready for bed.  I have to start early, because it seems like there is always some extra mess to clean!  I have them help me put their toys away, and then I get Wyatt and Gwen in their pajamas.  Wyatt is becoming so helpful, and he'll get me a diaper for Gwen and pick out his own pajamas.  He can partially dress himself, but for the most part he still prefers me to help him, and I don't really mind.  Clyde is usually playing on the floor during all this.

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After I get the kids dressed I take Wyatt and Gwen to the bathroom and brush their teeth. I let them brush their own teeth, but they obviously don't do a good job by themselves, so I take a turn as well.  Gwen is really into brushing her teeth right now.  She actually cried the other night because I almost forgot to brush her teeth!  She always wants water on her toothbrush too.  I think it's so funny.

Wyatt uses the bathroom, and then I get Clyde and we all pile onto Wyatt's bed to read a Bible story.  The kids are so cute about Bible story time - they love reading a book together, and I hope it's something we always do as part of our bedtime routine.  I usually read them a story from one of their Bible storybooks, and I like to read a devotion for them too when we have a good one.

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The devotion book we are using right now is "Devotions For Beginning Readers" by Crystal Bowman.  I love this devotional for this age group!  My kids aren't reading by themselves yet, but the devotions are really simple and perfect for preschoolers.  Since the language and word choices are geared for young readers, they are also easy for younger kids to understand.  The illustrations are really colorful and cute, which is very important for the kids right now.  If a book doesn't have pretty pictures, they aren't interested, so I like the illustrations that are included on each page. This is a devotion that can really grow with the kids during these early years - it is easy for Wyatt and Gwen to pay attention and understand now, and it will be a great book for them to practice their reading skills when we get to that point too!  We haven't finished reading it yet, so I can't vouch for every devotion in there, but so far we love it.

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After our Bible story and devotion, we pray together.  The kids know to close their eyes and fold their hands, and Gwen's praying face is so cute right now (yes, I peek at them sometimes).  She scrunches her eyes shut so tight and tilts her chin up, with a big grin on her face the entire time we are praying.  It cracks me up!

Wyatt is really getting good at praying by himself, and I love hearing him list people he is thankful for.  I close our prayers with thanking Jesus for dying on the cross for us, and when Wyatt prays he does the same thing - I love hearing the gospel in his sweet little voice.

Then we sing a song!  It is almost always "Jesus Loves Me", and both Wyatt and Gwen sing along with us.  We are off key and off tempo, but it's probably my favorite part of our routine.  I love listening to the kids trying to sing the words!  It won't be too long before Clyde can add his attempts to the mix.

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I make sure the kids both have water.  I lay Gwen down in her crib, with her blanket bunched up into a ball on top of her (she does not like it spread out).  I tuck Wyatt under his covers.  Then I tell them goodnight and I love you, and "think about Jesus", and they usually repeat all three phrases back to me.

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Clyde's routine is the most simple right now.  After the older two are in bed, I feed Clyde his bottle - this is our one-on-one time during the day, when the older two are in bed.  He usually looks up at me while he is eating, and he likes to play with my shirt or hair.  Sometimes he will fall asleep in my arms - if not, I lay him down when his stomach is full.  Occasionally I need to snuggle him or walk him around a little before he will relax enough for me to lay him down in his crib.

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As I'm thinking through our routine, I realize how much I really do for the kids right now - they still need my help with so many things.  I dress them, I get them food and refill water cups, I brush their teeth, I help them find their blankets.  It might sometimes seem like a lot, especially when I have had a long day, but every night I try to enjoy it.

I looked through my baby box once, and found some old letters my mom wrote to me when I was a toddler.  One thing that stood out was a letter where she was sad because I had started dressing myself - and she was trying to enjoy the little things that I still needed her to do for me.

I can already see this happening with Wyatt - he is doing so much more by himself.  One day he won't need me to help him get his shirt on or brush his teeth anymore.  Even though doing all these things for our young kids is work, it is such a brief period.

They will never need us like this again.

Oh, they'll always need their mom, but not in the same way that they do right now.  I want to enjoy this time when my kids still need my help - because someday they won't.  And I might think back and miss being needed so much.

Note: I received "Devotions For Beginning Readers" from Tommy Nelson in exchange for a review.  The opinions expressed above are my honest opinions.

Snapshot Of A Saturday

Saturdayblog

Listening . . . To Clyde complaining at me from the living room - he wants me to pick him up so I will be typing most of this post one-handed.  But if we are talking music?  I have been listening to Taylor Swift radio on Pandora.  I'm trying to get a sneak peek of her new songs, since I want to wait until after Christmas to buy 1989.  I've heard three of them so far - thumbs up to two of them, and thumbs down to "Blank Space".  Singing about purposely letting a player take advantage of you?  Really Taylor?

Eating . . . Caramel Brownie Cheesecake.  My own invention.  It's really rich, and really fattening, and really good with a cup of tea.

Drinking . . . Water?  Not as much coffee lately, because I'm trying to wean myself off the caffeine.  I skipped my weekly Starbucks before work the other week, and I felt like I was in a fog all day.  That's when I realized I may have a problem.  I did drink a little tea today though, in my fancy tea cup, because I felt like it.

Wearing . . . Jeans, a green sweater, and a plaid infinity scarf (see, in the picture below?  I thought we needed a visual).  I was never much of a scarf person before, but I am really into them this year! It helps that I got an amazing deal on some clearance scarfs at Charming Charlie earlier this fall - 4 for $10!
 
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(That's the top of Wyatt's head behind me, in case you were wondering.)


Feeling . . . In limbo.  I feel like I am just waiting for situations to change, waiting for things to make sense, waiting for some direction from the Lord on what we're supposed to do next.  I feel like this in-between stage has become my new normal right now, and I have never been good with uncertainty.  The stress is getting to me.  I found a gray hair the other day and promptly plucked it out.

Weather . . . A gorgeous fall day, though a little on the windy side.  Good sweater weather.  And hopefully good hunting weather since Derek is elk hunting as I type this.

Wanting . . . To get all my Christmas shopping done.  It's a tight budget year, so I want to get everything bought and wrapped and off of my to-buy list.  That way I can start putting something aside for those unexpected Christmas expenses that always wreak havoc on our bank accounts in December.  I really sound like a scrooge right now.  I love Christmas, but I hate budgeting.

Needing . . . I don't know.  To quote Wyatt and Gwen's Little Angels movie "Wanting and needing are not the same thing." (Can you tell we've watched that one too may times this week?)  I suppose I need some time to finish some researching and writing, and I need to buy milk.

Thinking . . . I can't wait for my friend, Heather, to get married next weekend!  You might remember me mentioning Heather and Hazel before.  We grew up together in the same church, and even though they moved 3+ hours away, we still try to keep in touch. I was so surprised and happy to get a letter this summer from Hazel telling me Heather was engaged!  We are driving out on Saturday for the wedding, and I can't wait to see everyone.


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Enjoying . . . A lazy Saturday afternoon.  The kids are still in that mellow mood left over from nap time (though Wyatt didn't really nap - I think he's just tired).  They are laying all over the floor, playing and talking quietly.  The sun is streaming through the blinds right now and shining on my face.  Harvey is barking at something outside.  The plan for the rest of the day?  Watch a little TV, read a little of my book, and make something hot for dinner since Derek will probably be hungry when he gets home.

A Home Wish List

Derek says I have been in a "mood" lately - one of those I-hate-everything-in-my-house-and-I-want-to-change-everything moods.  I call it post-baby nesting, but the truth is that this happens at least once a year.  Unfortunately budget prevents me from doing everything I would like to do (especially since buying Gwen a "big girl" bed is something we will have to do sooner rather than later).   I have done a few things here and there, but I have so many ideas!

However, there is no reason I can't dream and plan a little, right?  Here are a few things I have been eyeing lately.


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I would never even look at this type of coffee table normally, but I saw a picture on Kaitlyn's Instagram feed that made me like it!  I like the rustic feel of it.

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These are classic books that have beautiful illustrations on the covers.  I love the idea of decorating with books, and these ones would be so pretty on an end table.  Rifle Paper Company also has gorgeous journals and prints.

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Aspen We Will Serve The Lord Watermarked



I really couldn't pick just one print from this shop!  These are my two favorites, and I will probably buy both of them at some point (or maybe if I feel brave, try to paint my own).  One of my goals is to incorporate more Scripture into our home decor, and I love these.  They are so appropriate too, since we live in the mountains!

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This is not from a shop, but I found this TV stand that I think we need.  We still have a hand-me-down TV stand from when we were first married, and I think it's time for something new.  I like how this one fits into corners, because our living room is laid out in such a way that the corner is the only place where we can put the TV.

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I already made my own striped curtains for our dining room, but these chevron ones caught my eye on Etsy the other day.  I'm thinking when I decorate our downstairs family room someday, these might be perfect.  If I can scrounge up 100+ dollars per set.  Oy.  I'm generally a cheap curtain person, but I might make an exception for these.

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And that is it, my friends!  Maybe someday I'll get everything on this list.  At least now I have a record to remind me what I really want when budget allows!  Any other favorite shops for home decor that I should check out?

Note: I received no compensation for mentioning these shops - I just like their stuff.

Urban Watercolor Sketching (A Review)

Watercolorblog


This past summer I started dabbling in watercolors.  I used to take oil painting lessons when I was a girl, and something made me decide to give watercolors a try.  I was thinking it might be a little easier to paint in short sessions than with oils, since I only have limited time to do that sort of thing with three munchkins.

Well, watercolors are way different than oils!  I experimented here and there and started to figure it out a little bit, but I still felt pretty lost, so I had to get this book when I saw it was up for review.

Urban Watercolor Sketching by Felix Scheintserger is a great beginner guide to painting with watercolors.  He starts with the very basics (such as the color wheel), but he addresses everything in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid if you didn't already know what he is writing about.  He goes over some basic watercolor techniques and gives tips throughout.

What I liked about this book is that it wasn't a "how to" sort of book as much as a book to give you inspiration.  He writes about watercolors in such an easy-going way that it gives you confidence to experiment and figure things out for yourself.  He paints from a very unique perspective, but he doesn't try to impose his style on the reader, and I like that.  The information is also broken up with many of Scheintserger's sketches and paintings, so it is easy and interesting to read.

Every time I read a chapter I was ready to break out my paper and paints and experiment, but the kids haven't allowed me to paint much lately.  However, I think I will keep this book handy and read a chapter here and there when I need a little inspiration to try watercolors again!

Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.
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