Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend Links - August 31, 2013

Almost September. Is it me or has this year flown by at warp speed? (Shout out to all my fellow Star Trek fans) We don't have any particularly special Labor Day plans. Should be some time with friends and some time with my grandparents and we'll probably be stretching the holiday on to Tuesday because everything can't happen in one day and we can only be one place at a time. Flexible schedules for the win.

Links for this week:

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Books / Reading / Writing / Education
Home / Self
Interesting Stuff:
Pins of the Week:


So, what caught your eye this week?
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Read Aloud Thursday - Lucky Ducklings

Lately, I've been making more of an effort to read to the younger folk in this house. I spend a lot of time on school and such with the older kids. By the time bedtime rolls around I'm worn out and more likely to put on a book on CD for the kids instead of actually read to them.

Another hindrance (since we're talking excuses) is that a lot of our books are still packed and inaccessible at the moment.

I need to get back into reading a chapter book aloud, but right now I'm just focusing on reading stories at bedtime. (Baby steps, right?)

So, we've brought home a basket full of our favorite picture books and I've been picking out a few at the library. (The girls also choose books to get but I choose some that I figure I will actually enjoy too.)

So I picked this up at the library on a whim. That turned out to be a good decision. Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore and Nancy Carpenter is a gentle story with truly lovely illustrations and it is Miss Lili approved - that is, it kept her attention and she didn't wander off and she enjoyed pointing out the ducks and calling them by their names.

In this story Mama Duck is leading her ducklings (Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin and Little Joe) when disaster strikes. People gather and offer suggestions on how to help. Spoiler alert, just to set your mind at ease: there is a happy ending for all involved.

Fair warning: your resident toddler may insist that this book be read more than once.

Recommended if you like:

What have you read to your kids lately? I can use some suggestions!
(And, if you know of a site that reviews new middle grade fiction, I'd love to hear it. I can't pre-read everything my oldest daughter reads these days and our list of pre-approved classics that she hasn't already read is getting slim.)
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weekend Links - August 24, 2013

We've had a pretty good week here: lots of schoolwork done, time spent with the grandparents & great-grandparents, time spent with friends, fully stocked the cereal cabinet, and I bought a new label maker. See? Happy times.

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Education / Homeschooling
Pins of the Week:
 Love book pages as art:

So, what caught your eye this week?
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Not Back to School - Meet the Students

This is Polly. She'll be 12 in December. She's doing mostly 7th grade work.
  • Favorite subject: History / Reading
  • Nemesis: Algebra / Math
  • Strengths: logical, good memory, excellent reader, organized, dependable, hard-worker, managerial skills
  • Weaknesses: easily frustrated, sometimes procrastinates, atrocious handwriting, bossiness
 Girl on the right: Tigger. She'll be 9 next month and she's doing mostly 4th grade work
  • Favorite subject: Latin / Grammar
  • Nemesis: Math
  • Strengths: good memory, excellent writer, great penmanship, dependable, great with the littles, creative, generally quiet (I told her the other day her new nickname was "Mouse")
  • Weaknesses: easily distracted, hates change, can't be hurried, perfectionist tendencies
Girl on the left: Sweet Pea. She's 6 and she's doing mostly 1st grade work.
  • Favorite subject: Math
  • Nemesis: Learning to Read
  • Strengths: cheerful, creative, artistic, willing, diplomatic, unique perspective on everything
  • Weaknesses: forgetful, impatient, constantly moving
Miss Lili (AKA: Ladybug, Stinker, Buster). Will be 3 next month.
  • Favorite subject:Computer Skills. Girl loves her games.
  • Nemesis: potty training
  • Strengths: extreme cuteness, excellent memory, cheerful, exuberant, fearless
  • Weaknesses: strong willed, only two speeds: full speed ahead or asleep, fearlessness (if this seems similar to her list of strengths, it is)
iBoy. (AKA Baby Boy. The Boy. Bud) Will be 4 months old on September 1.
  • Favorite subject: lunch (and breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, snack, supper, midnight snack...)
  • Nemesis: tummy time
  • Strengths: extreme cuteness, smiles, blowing bubbles, holding up his head, mellow-est baby ever
  • Weaknesses: still pretty helpless. That's not actually a weakness since it's a joy for me to care for him.
I think I have the best students ever, but I'm willing to admit to a bit of bias. I'm truly grateful for the privilege of homeschooling these kiddos. The time we spend together can occasionally be nuts, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

How about you? How many students do you have in your homeschool?
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Links - August 17, 2013

This is not exactly a happy day for me. (See this post for why.) But that's no reason not to share the humongous list of links I have for you, so let's get on with it.

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Education / Homeschooling
Homemaking / Decorating
Not Categorized:
Pins of the Week:

Amazing Voice:

Could Be Helpful:

That's all for this week. What caught your eye?
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The Day That Is Not

Today is August 17, 2013. You know this. Just another Saturday. A summer day in a year that is rushing on.

Today is not my son's first birthday.

Today is not the day we watch him spread cake all over his face and highchair.

Today is not the day we watch him clap his hands in delight or tear wrapping paper or laugh while we sing "Happy Birthday."

This is another August 17 in which I do not hold the baby I expected. The first was last year, when he should have been born.

Then there's this year, when he should be a year old.

And the next August 17ths stretch before me: days that should be special in our family calendar. Days that should be filled with plans and logistics and presents and cake.

Today is not.

Last year I knew it would be a hard day. What surprises me is how hard it is this year.

The hardest thing is feeling that I'm the only one who remembers. I, blessed beyond belief with four beautiful daughters and the most amazing baby boy on the planet, still miss the Baby who is Not.

August 17 may only be significant to me. I can't forget what didn't happen this day. Death will be the last enemy to be destroyed. August 17 will remind me that I am waiting for my Redeemer to make all things new.

Today is not that day.

All things aren't made new yet. My son and I are still separated by the reality of death.

And, even if I'm the only one who remembers, August 17 is not my son's birthday.
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Matthew 2:18

Previous posts about our lost baby: In My Distress and Wherever I've Gone, Isaiah's Day, Things I Know at 20 Weeks.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Homeschooling Without Borders

In other words, we don't have a dedicated homeschool room and that's OK.

Here are some challenges we have:
  • we're not sure how long we'll be living here
  • we're not allowed to hang anything on the walls
  • our possessions are scattered between this house, my parents' house, Philip's church office, and some closets at church
  • limited space (only 2 bedrooms)
Here's how we're making it work for us (click any collage for larger image):
Each girl (except Miss Lili who doesn't need one yet) has an "office" constructed from folding foam core. This holds needed information and also hides the girls off from each other a bit.

The Expedit and the other black shelf are in the room where our dining table is. (Not exactly a dining room and the room also holds the only door we use to enter the house. We don't call it "The Carnival House" for nothing.)

The couch and the computer are in what we call the living room.

Tigger's bed and all the girls' CDs are in their bedroom (the biggest bedroom in the house). Some day I'll show you how all four girls fit neatly into that one room.

Anyway, that's how it's working so far. No homeschool room? No problem. Or, at least, not many problems. Getting a turn on the computer (wrestling it away from Miss Lili) now that's a problem.

Do you have a room dedicated just to homeschooling?

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Weekend Links - August 10, 2013

Another week gone. Frankly, although I don't want to wish my life away, I'm kind of glad this one is over. Some weeks are just like that.

On to the links!

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Education / Writing / Literary
Not Categorized
Pins of the Week:
So, so cool:

If you'll forgive a little passive-aggression on my part, I'm going to use this cartoon to complain about passive-aggressive Facebookers. (Irony, much?)
So, what caught your eye this week?
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Quarter Blessings

 Lately Philip and I have had money on our minds. OK, that didn't exactly sound right. (Anyone else get an image of money piled on top of a brain? Just me? Moving on...)

I hesitate to say we've been worried about money, first of all because I don't want our family and friends who read this to be concerned about us (more than they already are) and secondly because it just sound so...faithless. Unspiritual. Carnal.

But there it is. Maybe I don't want to call it "worry" but it's something and it is consuming a lot of our discussions. Should we get an extra job? Should we pursue this or that? Should we give up on looking for a house? Can we cut the budget more than we already have? MONEY.

I kind of hate it.

So then this happened: I was picking up a card at Hobby Lobby for some friends who were getting married. I love Hobby Lobby. And I love it more now that I've realized we can buy cards with Bible verses in them without driving thirty minutes away to the nearest Christian Bookstore.

Anyway, on with the story (yes, I am telling one): I only had a card to buy. They had three checkout lines open (unusual at our store but that's not part of the story). I chose one and ended up behind a nice looking young adult. She was paying cash. She handed over her cash to the cashier but she was $1.20 short.

"I'm so sorry," she said to the cashier and then to me. She sent her boyfriend out to the car to look for a couple more dollars or enough change to cover it.

I was already digging in my purse / diaper bag (too much trouble to carry two bags these days. Black diaper bag for the win.) See, I was also going to pay cash for my purchase. And I had my envelope at hand. I had a dollar and quarter out before you can say, "Dave Ramsey Envelope System".

"Let me pay that," I said.

"Oh my goodness, are you sure?" This flustered, nice young woman stammered. I laughed and handed the cashier the money. The girl left after saying thank-you a few more times. The cashier told me, "That was really nice of you."

I didn't expect a Nobel Peace Prize for my five quarter expense but I felt like a million bucks. I had that nice, comfortable feeling you get when you've done something nice for someone and no one was making you or even asking you to do it.

Five minutes. $1.20. Feeling good that even with all our stressing about money, I could still help someone else.

And then this happened later that day:
We were spending some time with my sister, her husband and my nephew. They had come to see our rental house and spend a few hours in the afternoon with us and the kids. We were talking. (When my sister and I are together, there is a lot of talking. Other folks squeeze in when they can.)

Then my sister reaches over in her backpack (she doesn't do the separate purse / diaper bag thing either. Backpack for the win.) and tosses a little baggie at me. A baggie full of quarters.

"Can you use these at the laundromat?"


"Good. You can have these and I don't have to carry them around any more." (She said something to this effect. That may not be a direct quote.)

You have to understand that the laundry has been one of the stresses of this move. No washer and dryer in this house means schlepping our stuff to the laundromat once a week. And it takes money our budget doesn't really have. I've been squeezing it out of other things in our budget. So doing laundry is also related to the money stress.

I paid the rest of someone's bill. Then my sister gives us a bag of quarters as if they were play money and useless to her.

And God was smacking me over the head with that baggie.

"Do you get it? The money is mine. Dollars, quarters, it's all mine."

This is what I know about God (and also about my sister): she didn't give us the quarters because we had given something to someone else. God is so good that He probably would have inspired my already generous sister to give us those quarters even if I had just impatiently waited for that young woman to pay her own bill. But He didn't. He used the two different incidents to teach me something about Himself and about me.

Does this mean He's preparing a house or a part time job or a less stressful situation for us? I don't know. What I do know is He's God. All the quarters are His. I'm thankful I get to be a part of giving and receiving the blessings of His quarters.

And later today, when I lug all these baskets to the laundromat, again, I'll be smiling a little more than I usually do.
 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Another Homeschool Year: Quick Overview

This is quite a challenge of a homeschool year for me. I have:
  • 11 almost 12 year old daughter doing mostly 7th grade work
  • 8 almost 9 year old daughter doing mostly 4th grade work
  • 6 year old daughter doing mostly 1st grade work
  • 2 year old almost 3 year old daughter doing preschool type work. Also: getting into EVERYTHING. Potty training. Battling a Starfall addiction.
  • 3 month old Baby Boy growing and changing every day. Also: being extremely cute. Needing held. Needing nursed. Distracting older sisters from work with extreme cuteness. 
So, even though we don't exactly follow a year-round schedule, we've already started back to school. The first week we did only math. Then we added a few things. This week we've added a few more.

So far, so good.

Here are some of the subjects and resources we're doing this year.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Books of 2013 - July

July is not a big reading month. And that was true again this year. I started more books than I finished. But I still managed to finish nine. Not too shabby for a particularly busy month.

1. What Darkness Brings. Fiction by C.S. Harris. Series mystery. Finishing this one brings me up to date on this series.What I said on Goodreads:
Not my favorite in the series as there was not nearly enough Hero or Gibson and far, FAR too much Kat. Still well written and atmospheric. Hoping that Harris moves the series along a bit in the next one, helps Devlin reconcile with Hendon, and she could add Kat to the body count as far as I'm concerned.
2. London War Notes 1939-1945. Non-fiction by Mollie Pnater-Downes. One of the most fascinating and helpful books I've read for my WW2 research in a long time. I really need want my own copy of this book but with the cheapest on Amazon being a whopping $64, I think I might be waiting a while. {Goodreads}

3. The Sirens Sang of Murder. Fiction by Sarah Caudwell. Series mystery. I'd missed Caudwell up until the last couple of months but I'm quickly catching up because she's delightful. Humor is great and the characters are memorable.{Goodreads}

4. Midnight at Marble Arch. Fiction by Anne Perry. Series mystery. An example of an accomplished mystery author who could use a bit more humor. What I said on Goodreads:
Anne Perry is a prolific mystery writer and I read each new entry in her different series more as a matter of habit than "this will knock my socks off". This is probably not the strongest entry in her Thomas & Charlotte Pitt series. I knew who the bad guy was (and why) far too early in the story. I finished the book but it was quite the downer and, therefore, a slog, to do so. Fans of the characters will want to read this one to keep up with what's going on in their lives. Other readers should not start with this book if you want to see what the fuss is about.
5. What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster. Non-fiction by Jonathan Last. Despite the subtitle, this was a more hopeful look at the very subject Mark Steyn has been sounding the alarm about for years. Philip and I both read this one and the applications certainly hit home. (Although Philip is pretty sure we've done more than our fair share in lifting the numbers. In other words: five is enough. Some other folks will have to do their share too.) {Goodreads}

6. Clear Winter Nights. Fiction by Trevin Wax. Received a free copy for my review. You can read that review here. {Goodreads}

7. Breath of Dawn. Fiction by Kristen Heitzmann. What I said on Goodreads:
Better than the usual Christian fiction fare. Interesting characters. Plot was a bit thin but story was compelling despite this book's length (437 pages).

Could, perhaps, have used a bit more editing as it was sometimes slightly difficult to follow all the different characters and their motivations(especially since I haven't read the first two books in the series).

8. King George V. Non-fiction by Kenneth Rose. I finished this biography before the world knew that Prince William and Princess Catherine would name their new little prince George. (And I'm still working on the next biography from my stack which is about George VI, the current queen's father.) Anyway, this is well written biography which I highly recommend to any Royal Watcher, History Buff, or general Anglophile. (I, of course, am all three.) {Goodreads}

9. The Dark Enquiry. Fiction by Deanna Raybourn. Series mystery. Not my favorite in the series and I found it quite difficult to get into. I must not care too much about this series or the characters because I didn't even realize I'd fallen behind until I was checking the author's blog for something else. {Goodreads}

Totals for July:
Fiction: 6 (5 series mysteries)
Non-fiction: 3

This seems like a good time to remind you all that I enjoy getting books and recommendations for books from the following two sites:
Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.
my currently-reading shelf:
Karen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (currently-reading shelf)
So, what did you read in July?
The images in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Except for it doesn't really. Amazon is continually making it harder for that to actually happen. Just in case you thought I was getting rich off this reading thing. Definitely not.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weekend Links - August 3, 2013

August?! Already?!

Whatever. Lots of links and not a lot of time, so let's get to it.

Spirituality / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Pins of the Week:
Loved this plaid dress. I'll be watching the thrift stores for one now.

Putting curtains around a bunk bed is a fantastic idea:

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Three Months

Yes, that is a grin you see captured there. I won't tell you how many pictures I had to take before we caught that.

The Boy is a Serious Boy, still. A Deep Thinker. A Ponderer of Life's Mysteries.

Mysteries like why Miss Lili is still allowed to run free range around here. I'm pretty sure if you could ask The Boy he would express his opinion that she ought to be locked up for her own safety, not to mention ours. (On a given day - today for instance - I'm inclined to agree.)

But anyway, another month has passed.

The Boy is basically the Best Baby Ever.

I'm not just saying that. Everyone says that.

And they are all correct.

This is one mellow baby. There's only one activity he really could do without: tummy time. This is, in his estimation, Baby Torture Time.

He is not interested in turning over, thankyouverymuch. Kicking arms and legs and squalling indignantly? Yes. Rolling over or actually enjoying tummy time? Not so much.

He still loves being held, music, bathtime, and pretty much anything else that comes along.

The Boy was born into an unsettled time in our family. There's moving (and wishing to move) and money questions and uncertainty. And he takes it all in stride. He helps me take it in stride too. Because this:
This face makes every day better.