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Monday, August 31, 2015

A Snappy Side Table

This past spring I picked up this beverage cart at a thrift store for $10.
I had plans on painting it white and using it on the porch for potted plants. It sat in the garage waiting for some inspiration to hit.

This past weekend I moved some furniture in the living room around and realized that I was now in need of an end table. 

Inspiration finally hit.

I put hubby to work on "my project" (yeah, it pretty much was his project as he did all the work for me!)
I wanted a shabby chic feel to it and love the color of the paint he chose and the distressing that he did.
It fits in with our shabby chic little corner (I'm not sure what's up with the lighting in this photo...I couldn't turn the lamp on or there was too much of a glare...so just roll with it. :)
I'm going to find the perfect little basket for underneath and this is where we can store books and magazines. 

The nice thing is that this little side table can easily be rolled out to the middle of the room and it's sides can be expanded to make a large table for movie night. Add a tray of drinks and a big bowl of popcorn and it will come in extra handy. 

$10 table, a $3 can of spray paint, and a little imagination goes a long way.
 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Complete + Happy Home

A complete and happy home is so much more than a series of pretty rooms. Between these two covers, we’ve captured everything we’ve learned at Apartment Therapy about decorating, organizing, cleaning, and repairs, so you can make and maintain your own fabulous home.” —from the Introduction of Apartment Therapy; Complete + Happy Home by Maxwell Ryan & Janel Laban

I love home decorating and organizing books. I love peeks into people's homes, peeks into their style, peeks into who they are (because you can tell a lot about a person by their home).
This book fits the bill for eye candy when it comes to interiors. Just look at those gorgeous kitchens!
Though I long ago figured out that my decorating style is a bit of whimsy and a lot of vintage, paired with a teeny amount of kitsch (seriously!) this book just sealed the deal for me when it described the one bedroom I loved with the title "The world-of-whimsy bedroom" (I'll take everything but the creepy cat!).
It also has helpful fix-it-yourself tips, a handy monthly home calendar, and so much more.

This is a great coffee table book just to ogle over. My two year old even sits in bed and "reads" this book, pointing out rooms that she wants!

This book was sent to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Longing for Paris


For anyone who has ever daydreamed of another life . . . Most days, you wouldn't trade what you have for the world. You love your husband and your kids, and you are grateful to God for your life. But there are days when you feel as though life is rolling over you in waves and you are just going through the motions. You find yourself aching for something more, something that is calling to depths of who you are, maybe for something you can't even name. 

For Sarah Mae, it was Paris, a place that is known for breathtaking beauty, inspiring art, and exquisite food. But as she searched her heart, she found there was more to her longings than she anticipated. Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

We all have longings for something else. "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" type longings. Sarah Mae shows us her search for joy, beauty, and adventure - right where she is. 

Page xx "I wanted to get out of the dailiness of life and into an adventure. I wanted to travel and see and touch and do, but my life didn't afford me that luxury. I couldn't just up and leave my family in order to figure out what was going on in my soul."  

I so could have written that. This speaks to my heart. Probably yours as well.

Page xxvi "Life is like that, a mix of fun and hard, beautiful and ugly, painful and life giving. This book - the stories in it, the teaching- is all a mix, because I am a mix of this life, as are you."

Mae gets real, down and dirty, and shares about her marriage struggles, about an abortion as a teenager, and how she climbed out of that pit of despair. Because no one's life is perfect and life really is beautiful and ugly all at the same time.

This book encourages us to use our talents. To become who God made us to be. Page 84, "I often wonder if the distractions in today's culture hamper kids from releasing untapped talent. Instead of being bored and going out to discover their talents, they are glued to TV and video games and the internet. It takes an immense amount of time to create a masterpiece." This also speaks to me, not just for my kids but myself as well. Necessity is the mother of all invention. A child may not find out that they are a great artist if they don't "get bored enough" to first pick up that paintbrush. A mother may not find out that she is a wonderful quilter or writer or pianist if she is always "too busy" to perfect her hobby. 

So when it comes to mothering, it's important for us to help our children, to guide them to their talents. For every single person has a hidden talent. And we should let our children be the guide. Page 131 "This is what children do: They bring laughter to our world. They are curious and observant and innocent in their understanding of so many things. They make us remember, for a moment, what it is like to see the world with fresh eyes and unscathed hearts.
   They don't have scars yet. Life is truly wondrous to them."

While Mae makes the point throughout the book that she does long for Paris...the culture, the people, the beauty...she also knows that what she truly longs for is HOME - Heaven. She mentions a dream that she had about running. 
Page 186: "I ran, and I thought about Heaven, and I thought about the wind in my face.
No tired legs.
No twisted ankles.
No gasping for breath. 
No side aches.
I just ran.
My new body fit inside of me perfectly.
My spirit was not held back.
It was glorious.
Glorious.
I felt absolutely light and free, and I knew I would one day experience what was in my dream.
My longings are the reminder that there is more-another world, another place where I am meant to be."

Why did that make my heart skip a beat? Because I have that dream. That running dream, quite often since Jacob was sick. The running, the feeling of flying, the sense of freedom. I always, always, always wake up from those dreams with a wonderful peace. And I didn't realize, until reading those words of Mae, that someday I will run with that freedom, that lightness. And that my sweet Jacob already is. He is running without getting tired, flying across the ground with his strong legs and his happy spirit. He is HOME.

So while this book touched me on so many levels there was one thing bothering me, nagging at me through the whole book that I couldn't figure out, until page 137 when Mae writes "As I mentioned earlier, French women are known for accepting who they are, embracing it, and working to grow into it. They don't strive to be like someone else; they want to be fully themselves." Mae seems to put France, and it's people, on a pedestal. Though she's never been there. I am curious to see what she thinks of the culture after she gets there someday. Because I have a feeling she will find that they are just human as well...and not as perfect as she seems to think they are in her mind. That is the one fault I have with the book, that sense of Paris perfection didn't sit well with me and became quite annoying.

This book was sent to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.     
 

Friday, August 28, 2015

We Made It!

It's 2:50 on a Friday afternoon and we just finished our first week back to school. I feel a sense of relief as this week was like a roller coaster - lots of ups and downs.

It's an adjustment to go from the freedom of summer to a routine and if one child is up to par one day they often aren't the next. Soon it will even out to smooth sailing but I'm just so happy to mark week one off the calendar! :)

This week was lots of review, and lots of books. Both Amy and Joe studied farms this week (Amy with her little farm activity pack from the library and Joe's science focused on "Spring on the Farm" with seeds and how they grow) so we also toured a dairy farm with a friend who also homeschools. 

They learned that Kangaroos like bread for snacks and that it's best not to get near the daddy Kangaroo.  
They each were able to bottle feed a calf. Amy enjoyed petting "her calf" more than feeding it as it was only 24 hours old and didn't have the hang of the bottle quite yet. 
The kids were able to shake up a bottle of heavy cream to make their own butter. They poured the buttermilk out of the jar, rinsed it with cold water to make it set, added a bit of salt, and snacked on crackers spread with butter (or in Amy's case, ate it straight off the knife).
They were able to see a brand new calf walk on it's shaky legs, try milking a cow by hand (only Joe was brave enough to do so), and see where the milk and cheese and ice cream is processed. As well as choose a small tub of ice cream all of their own. 

Hands on learning is always the best!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Plain Choice

I've often wondered if many, or any, worldly people ever became Amish so I was excited when I saw The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore; A True Story of Choosing to Live An Amish Life. 

Unfortunately, I feel the headline and this story is a bit misleading. Yes, it is Sherry's story about choosing to live an Amish life but not about becoming Amish. It doesn't sound like she ever was baptized into the church and driving a car, having a computer with internet, and a cell phone are not the Amish lifestyle. I was expecting so much more...I should have figured something out when Sherry herself is photographed on the cover of the book - the Amish will not pose for photographs. Is she claiming to be Amish? A Mennonite? There are big differences between the two sects. 

Had this just been a journey of faith, a journey of life book I feel as though I would have appreciated it much more. As it was, I felt confused throughout the book. I didn't see any one lifestyle embraced, but rather a mixture of plain and modern. That could have been explained without the Amish headline.

It is a quick read and Sherry's life story is interesting. I just didn't feel I got much of a "plain sense" from the book, especially not an Amish one.

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.  
 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do You Believe?

I'm a little late to the party as this movie came out earlier this year but I just watched it at Bible Study last night. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. I borrowed the movie for my own family and think we will be having a family movie night on Friday to watch it together. With the action and story line I think even my husband will enjoy it.

I'm loving that movies like this one, God's Not Dead, and Mom's Night Out are becoming main stream and playing in theaters. Being available to the mass public and showcasing some moral, family-friendly movies is long overdue!
 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Not Back to School


This is our back to school picture. Because
1. we would have had to change out of pjs to get a photo 

2. The kids said "we aren't going back to school, we're homeschooled".

3. Everyone but Amy ran away from the camera 

4. The only reason she is carrying a backpack is to take it back to the library. 

The quote in my daily planner today was "Success each day should be judged by the seeds sown, not the harvest reaped." ~John C. Maxwell. Very fitting for the day that we started school. 

On a side note, the first day of school in our house only makes an absence more apparent. A child who would be starting 5th grade. This school year, instead of crying that your babies are starting school, growing up, spreading their wings...thank God for the fact that they are. 
 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Soaking it Up

We are soaking up the last day of "freedom". School starts in this house tomorrow. I can't tell if I'm excited or terrified!
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Time Garden

When I first heard about "adult" coloring books my immediate thought was "ain't nobody got time for that!" Fast forward a few months later when I saw so many friends coloring in the coolest books and I changed my tune to "that looks fun!"

The thing is, I'm not very artistically talented. If I drew something it may rival my first graders work. Yet I love art. I wish I could draw. Coloring, to me, is the next best thing because you can take someone's drawing and bring it to life. 

The Time Garden by Daria Song is such a beautiful journey, all about a little girl who discovered one magical world after another through her father's cuckoo clock.  
The pages literally take hours to completely color. It is a form of mediation to me, like knitting may be to others. Imagine waiting in a waiting room, long car rides, stressful moments. Times when your fingers may be itching to do something...why not use it to color?

My oldest daughter got into it too...coloring and chatting alongside me. A unique bonding experience.

Watson Guptill publishes these particular coloring books and the pages are thick and the covers are sturdy. Nothing like the coloring books of our childhood!

This is a page I worked on in another coloring book, "Enchanted Forest". Coloring isn't just for kids! ;)

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2 Years 8~19~13



“They say that time in heaven is compared to ‘the blink of an eye’ for us on this earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of my child running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what he is doing that when he looks behind him, I’ll already be there.” –Author Unknown
 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Precious Life

Losing three important people in my life in a three year span:

*My 83 year old Grandma who lived a full life

*My dad a day before his 61st birthday...not old enough to be called old

*My sweet 8 year old

It showed me how precious life is. How short it is.

I won't get a second chance - this is my one wild and precious life. Today is the last day I am this young. Today is also the first day of the rest of my life. I can either look at that as a depressing thought or I can see the opportunities that it gives me.

“It’s not enough to wish, dream, hope. Even children know this. We must set sail into the sea of uncertainty. We must meet fear face-to-face. We must take our dreams as maps for a greater journey. Dreams, to come true, need a good story. So go live one.
Vironika Tugaleva


 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sicko

This is what our Sunday looked like:
Bed.

Hankies. 

Books.

We are all sick (except for hubby, for now). I thought it was a cold but with the slight fevers and body aches I'm thinking it's the flu. In summer. Yuck!

This tea has been our saving grace. It works and is a way to get liquids into the kids. I may have drank several mugs of this yesterday myself.  

I'm so glad school starts next Monday and not today because there is no way that would have happened!
 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Stories

"I don't like people." We've heard it said and we've probably uttered it ourselves at some point. I know I've said it, as well as really felt it, before.

Really it's not people but rather the way society is. Because now, especially since Jacob's illness, I've seen the heart of so many people. I've met the most wonderful friends, seen the bravest souls, looked into the wisest eyes.

I've been known to hesitate about sharing my feelings or thoughts in public (says the girl with the blog!). Sometimes you don't feel like the other person is a good one to bare your soul to. But I've learned that everyone has a story. We are who we are because of the life we have been dealt. And it's fascinating! 

I think the "Be kind to everyone for everyone is facing some sort of battle" really hit in when I stumbled upon the Humans of New York Facebook page years ago. Just looking at someone can't even begin to tell you who that person is or what their story may be. 

I see now why my Grandma loved opportunities to meet new people. Whether it was a seat mate on a bus or random shoppers at a garage sale...she was interested in their stories! 

It's true the more you get to know someone the less you may like them, but sometimes the more someone's story comes out the more you love them for it. 


. . .sometimes one feels freer speaking to a stranger than to people one knows. Why is that?"
“Probably because a stranger sees us the way we are, not as he wishes to think we are.”
Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n, The Shadow of the Wind  



“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Holy Bible: King James Version

  “Every great love starts with a great story...”
Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Child-Like

Ah, to see the world through the eyes of four little souls has been a blessing. Just today in the garden Amy stopped her watering to watch a little beetle drink from a puddle that she had just made. 

"Bug! Bug!" she called to bring it to my attention. She was crouched over to observe her new little friend.

It was hot. Sticky. Totally gross out. I wanted to get the garden watered and return to the cool indoors.

Yet to stop and watch one of God's little creatures, a strange yellow beetle-like bug, enjoying a cool drink on a hot day that we had provided it by watering the flower it was perched on was worth it. 

The key word in the above quote is "see". Do we really see all the wonders around us? Do we see our blessings? Do we try to see the good in everything? (My fingers automatically typed "Do we see the GOD in everything?" That, too, applies.)   
To be like a child. Happy, free, exploring, content, trusting. In wonder of it all.

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”Mark 10:13-15

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FaithGirlz Bible

Now that I have a tween in my house I realized that the children's Bible's weren't cutting it. With her planning to join a teen study this fall she very well couldn't walk in carrying a Bible with Precious Moments on the front, nor a childish drawing of Noah's Ark. It was time to look for a "real" Bible for my 11 year old.

FaithGirlz Bible immediately appealed to me. A hardcover NIV Bible with a magnetic closure makes this Bible sturdy, which is especially helpful if one totes their Bibles around to church and studies. 

This isn't just a Bible but also part devotional. 

*Dream Girl feature will help you imagine yourself in some of the most familiar Bible stories.

*Bring It On feature is to really get to know yourself by answering some of the quizzes. 

*Book Introductions highlights the main topics of each book of the Bible and applies them to your life.

*Treasure This! are verses that you may want to memorize.

There is so much more and I see how this Bible can make reading God's word both precious and fun. I hope in years to come I find this book highlighted, written in, and a little dog eared and dented to show the use that my daughter will get out of it. For now I am hiding it to present it to her before she leaves for her first Bible Study this fall. 

This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. 
 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Planning

This is what awaited me this evening.

Piles of books. School books.
I've been putting off working on the lesson plans. Because that would mean that school is starting soon. And I so don't want summer to end!

With just a week and a half between now and the first day of school I decided I needed to buckle down and get to planning. Once I was immersed in the books I had fun and the first week's plans went well. I try not to plan more than a week in advance, that way if we fall behind or work ahead I don't have to rewrite the next week's plans. This has been very helpful when we've had sick days, a last minute field trip, or just an "off" day. That's the great thing about homeschooling - it's flexible! We always have weekends to catch up, or snow days, or the summer. That "rush to finish" isn't there like in a typical school setting.

I'm most excited about The Prairie Primer by Margie Gray. While this is meant to cover a year of academic studies (except for math and spelling) we will be using it more as a supplement.  
This primer is based on the 9 books from "The Little House" series. It's goal is one book a month for nine months and each day has it's own subjects based on what you would have read that day. It teaches U.S. History in the 1800's, U.S. geography, science, language, practical living, health and safety, nutrition, music, and art. As well as Biblical. Since this will be our supplement, and not our sole textbook for those subjects, I feel we will probably do three book studies a year...so this course will work for our family over three years. 

I see that there is also a literature based unit study utilizing C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia". If we enjoy this study as much as I think we will I'll have to try that one next!

When does school start in your area? Are you ready?

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