Friday, December 30, 2016

December Reads




From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage by Craig & Amy Groeschel: This book was gifted to me by a ministry mentor couple in early December.  This was my first experience reading or listening to anything by the Groeschels.  I aim to read a few marriage books every year so I jumped at the chance to dive into this one.  I thought this book was filled with some great, practical advice.  It was also very funny!  The five commitments mentioned in the book are: 1) Seek God. 2) Fight fair. 3) Have fun. 4) Stay pure. 5) Never give up.  These are all great commitments to implement in your life.  Personally I plan on working on number two and number three.  We moved this month and Brandon and I have both been working so hard.  We could definitely use a little more fun in our life!

The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice: Every December I try to read some type of Advent devotional as I prepare my heart for Christmas.  This book contained many good stories but did come across as a wee bit scholarly to me.  Honestly I did have a few thoughts of abandoning it but I continued.  I'm glad I did because I really think the second half of the book is much better than the first.  The book is divided into four sections: 1) Christ and Christmas. 2) The Virgin Birth and Christmas. 3) The First Christmas. 4) People of Christmas.

Ariel Custer by Grace Livingston Hill:  Are you familiar with this author?  My friend introduced me to her in high school.  Since then I've read a number of her books over the years when I find them at the library or a used book store.  At one time I had some vintage books (the kind that look adorable as home decor) that I found at an antique store.  They are all very typical and what I would call a feel good, vacation type novel.  Usually they are quite predictable much like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie.

Praying through the Bible for your Kids by Nancy Guthrie: I have thoroughly enjoyed every Bible Study and book that I have had the chance to read by this author.  I couldn't wait for the opportunity to review this book.  Ever since reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian I knew I wanted something to help guide me in praying for my children.  I think a mother's natural inclination is just to pray for good things to happen to her children.  (I care more about my children's souls then I do their happiness so I really want to move past that in my prayer life.)  This book is organized with one page for every single day of the year.  Just one page.  How practical!  It includes a Scripture, devotion, and a short guided prayer for your children.  I actually keep this book on my vanity and read it while fixing my hair or makeup.  Such a great book for any parent.  What better way to spend five minutes than in praying for your children?  Please note that I did receive this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review which I have provided.

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd: I ended up reading this novel while on vacation at the beach.  Hooray!  It was fantastic in every way that a Gothic novel can be.  This was such a page turner that I found myself staying up way past bedtime to read it.  Isn't that the true mark of a great book?  In the book Rebecca Ravenshaw returns from India to her homeland of England only to find that someone impersonated her in order to steal her inheritance.  The pretender ended up dying before her arrival but Rebecca finds herself untangling webs of lies for months.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore: When I found this book on the "New Releases" shelf at the new library I jumped at the chance to dive into it.  I've done a few Beth Moore bible studies and I was simply intrigued by the fact that she wrote a novel!  (It just seemed so out of character to me.)  While parts of this book were good it left a lot to be desired.  I really felt like the author went way too far in some of the things she included in the book.  For example: taking the Lord's name in vain is NEVER acceptable.  She could have easily said that the person cursed and the reader would have experienced the same emotion.  I also felt like the book was ridiculously long.  It moved a little too slow for my taste.  That said if Beth Moore does decide to write another fiction novel I will probably read it if I find it at my library.

Currently Reading:
Enjoy by Trilla Newbell
Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman
Mason Jar Nation by Joann Moser

If you would like to see a fun info graphic from Goodreads of all the books I read in 2016 you can click here.  This year I hit my reading goal!  What books did you read in December?  What was your favorite book you read in 2016?


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Week's Goals: The Week of Christmas

My bunch playing around at the St. Louis zoo a few weeks ago.  

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Set aside most "projects" this week to focus on celebrating Christmas with my family.  I'm still not unpacked but I'm going to try to put most of that on hold this week.  (This is actually a hard goal for me as I can't wait to finish unpacking!)  I'm looking forward to reading lots of books, playing games, and watching Christmas movies!
2.  Enjoy an at home date night with the happy husband.
3.  Brandon & I are planning on taking our kiddos on some fun outing.

Homemaking
4.  Make cookies with the children.  Evangeline received a sweet pretend mixer and she has been so anxious to bake with me!
5.  Sew two final Christmas presents.

Personal
6.  Write at least five thank you notes this week.
7.  Finish reading The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice.
8.  Spend time reflecting on 2016 and praying about the upcoming year.  I'm also hoping to spend some time writing in my journal.  I love writing in my journal but it has been collecting dust for the majority of the month.

Ministry & Friendships
8.  Enjoy meeting up with friends at a coffee shop.  We also have some out of town friends that I hope we get to meet up with.  
9.  Deliver handmade goodies to our the rest of our neighbors and our mail carrier.

Other
10.  Sit down and have a budget meeting with the happy husband.  (Not a part of our at home date night.)

What goals do you have for this week?  Are you traveling to visit family?  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas




I just wanted to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas!  We just moved (as in we moved less than a month ago) so we are sticking close to home this Christmas.  I'm looking forward to sharing more frugal ideas, organization hints, and tips for intentional living in the following weeks.  For now I'm making memories and savoring the moments.  I hope you are as well. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fall Reads


I still can't believe I took a three month break from blogging.  I had every intention of sharing but our life has been so crazy the past three months.  We went on two separate vacations (including Disney) in the month of September so I had plenty of time to read to my heart’s content!  The above photograph only includes about half of the books that I managed to read in September and early October.  I accidentally returned the rest of the library books before I snapped a picture!  Then I found out that we were MOVING to a new town!  I'll share more about that later but for now here are the books I managed to read this fall.  I read ZERO books in the month of November but I hope to add reading back into my life sometime this month!  

True Companion: Thoughts on Being a Pastor's Wife by Nancy Wilson: This dear book felt as though I had invited Mrs. Wilson over to visit for an afternoon of fellowship where I asked her a myriad of questions.  It was delightful and chocked full of sound, godly advice on blessing your husband.  For those of you who might not be aware I became a pastor's wife the day I said "I do" at age 23.  One of the best pieces of advice I was given early on is the fact that my marriage is very unique because I am married to a minister.  It has its own sets of challenges that other couples don't face.  My marriage also gets to experience many joys and special blessings.  I really enjoyed reading Wilson's book and would recommend it to anyone whose husband is in the ministry.  

Wee Alphas by wee society:  Although not technically a book, I found this assortment of postcards to be simply delightful.  There is one for each letter of the alphabet.  I think the children and I will be using them to surprise some cousins and friends with snail mail sometime later this month!  What’s more fun than receiving a cute postcard in the mail?  I think they would also be cute used as nursery decor.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of Wee Alphas from Blogging for Books.  All opinions are my own. 

The Wish by Beverly Lewis:  One of the things I really enjoy about Lewis’ books is the fact that they are so similar.  Every once in a while (and usually while on vacation) I’m in the mood to curl up with one of her delicious Amish fiction novels.  This one was no different.  I read it while on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains and it was just delightful.  In this book Leona seeks out her friend Gloria after Gloria and her family mysteriously disappear after her father is expelled.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Bethany House publishers.  All opinions are my own. 

Mrs. Lincoln's  Dressmaker by Jen Chiaverini: As a history nerd and seamstress I found this book absolutely fascinating.  It details the life of modiste Elizabeth Keckley dressmaker and personal friend of Mary Todd Lincoln.  Born a slave, Ms. Keckley earned her freedom by the skill of her needle and lived life as an accomplished black free woman.  This historical fiction book was a delight to read.  

Flash the Donkey Makes New Friends by Rachel Anne Ridge: While the story line of this book was adorable it left me longing for so much more.  If I am going to shell out $13 for a “Christian children’s book” I really expect the book to be oozing with Jesus.  Is that snobby?  We own oodles of books but if I choose to purchase a children's book brand new it has to be absolutely stellar.  The last page of the book does include Proverbs 11:30 but I just had much higher expectations for this book.  I think this was the first Christian children’s book that I have ever reviewed and I just expected that the book would be similar to many of the other Christian books that we have in our home library for our children.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers.

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim: I knew from the back cover that this was a book that I would enjoy.  It marries two interests of mine: Amish/Mennonite living and bio-ethics.  As if the issue of surrogacy was not complicated enough, Beth Winslow finds herself in the midst of difficulties when early tests indicate possible abnormalities.  Not willing to terminate the pregnancy she escapes and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus.  There she spends the next 20 years of her life hiding from her past.  Her own past comes back when a young woman named Amelia arrives.  This book was fabulous.  So good in fact that I laid awake in our tent (we were camping in the Smokies while I read the book) and simply could not sleep.  I really should have just finished the book then but I thought my head lamp would wake everyone up.  

Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield: This book was fascinating and so challenging.  I was first introduced to Rosaria Butterfield while listening to a series on  Revive our Hearts broadcast.  Mrs. Butterfield challenged me to think about current issues in light of the Gospel in such a fresh new way.  I look forward to hearing more from this author in the future.  I would recommend this book to anyone and I have no doubt that it will prove to be one of the most insightful books I read in 2016.  


Books I'm Currently Reading:
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore (her first novel) 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift 

Books I Abandoned:
Homeschooling with Joy 

What books did you read last month?  I would love to hear any of your suggestions!  I'm planning on exploring our new library sometime this week.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Favorite Skirt Tutorial



I whipped up another skirt for Evangeline this past week and decided that I simply must share the tutorial that I used.  I used Owly Baby's Free Pattern for a Simple Skirt.  You can find the directions and fabric requirements by clicking the link and scrolling down below the photo.

I simply love this simple skirt pattern and have made a number for Eva and my niece Paisley.  Sewing an elastic waist skirt is very simple and would make a great beginner project!  I love that the pattern included fabric amounts and elastic guides for sizes 6 months to size 7.  This is a great tutorial to use if you are sewing a gift for a child and don't have their measurements.  If you know what size the child wears in ready to wear clothing you should be able to come up with a skirt that will fit them.
It took only 1/3 yard of fabric to sew a skirt for Eva.  I actually used leftover fabric that I had in my stash.  I used the same fabric to sew Evangeline's coming home dress from the hospital.  I look forward to this tutorial being my go-to tutorial for years to come.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August Reads



None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us by Jen Wilkin:  I'm quickly becoming quite the fan of Mrs. Jen Wilkin.  I've been working through her 1 Peter Bible Study this summer and I absolutely loved reading through this book on the attributes of God.  I found myself reminded of so many things and almost felt a sense of relief as I contemplated what God is like.  This book was a delight to read.  I love that there is now a book on God's attributes written especially for women.  Pure awesomeness!  I highly recommend this book for both new believers and those with years of experience.  I also think it would make a great book club book.

The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian: This book is one that I have been wanting to read for years and I just never got around to it.  I am so glad that I finally took the time to read and pray through this book!  What better gift could I give my husband the past month than to spend time earnestly praying for him through a variety of issues?

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis & Lisa Chan:  This was a fantastic recommendation from my sister-in-law Renee.  She raved about the book so much when I saw her in July that I knew I had to get my hands on a copy in August.  She was right.  This book was fantastic and really challenged my walk with the Lord.  I saw many areas that I want to work on alongside my husband.

Live Your Life for 1/2 Half the Price by Mary Hunt: I enjoyed reading this book on saving money that I picked up from my local library.  I find it incredibly helpful to read books on saving money a couple times a year.  I always find myself inspired to save money or come up with other money saving ideas. When I find myself wanting to abandon my frugal ways and spend money I always read a new book on saving money or revisit an old favorite.  (One of my favorite books is still The Tightwad Gazette.)  The author also included a number of inexpensive recipes in the back of the book that I thought was clever.  One of the fastest ways to save a lot of money is to stop eating out.

Children's Read Alouds
Doomesday in Pompeii (The Imagination Station Book 16) by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker:  We read this book in the span of just a few days since one of the children wasn't feeling well this week.  Eli & Eva both enjoyed listening to this book.  I can honestly say that I do enjoy reading these outloud because they have a good story line.  I also appreciate the good discussion that comes as a result of reading these stories.

Winnie the Pooh: The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne:  Although I read this book aloud last summer both children really enjoyed listening to the audiobook in the van this past month.  We listened to the audio recording that included a number of narrators including Judi Dench.  I thought it was fabulous.

Currently Reading:
True Companion: Thoughts on Being a Pastor's Wife by Nancy Wilson
Your Marriage Masterpiece by Al Janssen
10 Boys Who Made History 

What books did you read in August?  I would love to hear your recommendations especially since we are planning a long road trip for our Fall Break trip.  



Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week's Goals & Recap


  
Happy Monday!  I hope your Monday is off to a great start.  I woke up to one of my kids with a fever and not feeling well.  That's just a good excuse to curl up and devour a large number of read aloud books this week!  I read half of an Imagination Station book just this morning.  Some of my goals will be adjusted depending on how long they are not feeling well.  

Last Week's Goals
Last week was such a fun filled week!  I ended up crossing off a fair amount of goals and we even made a trip to Louisville for the KY State Fair.  The state fair is one of my favorite things every summer!  
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Eli is playing flag football this fall!  I'm excited to attend his game on Saturday.  It was so fun to watch Eli in action on Saturday!  I teach piano lessons during Eli's practice times so this was my first time to see him play.  
2.  Eva has a therapy appointment this week.  I am so thankful for all of the incredible progress that she has made over the past year.  
3.  Take both children to the park to play this week.  We had a great time playing one afternoon and even met some new friends!  

Homemaking
4.  Work on plans for Disney.  I need to work on our packing list and make some reservations.  I also need to purchase a number of items before we leave.  Eli & Eva both need new bigger shoes and socks.  We nailed down some plans and I made a few travel reservations.  We will be flying into Orlando the day before we go to Disney in order to maximize our time at the park.  Brandon purchased new clothes this weekend and I plan on ordering a number of things for myself.  I think I just need to buy gym shoes for both kids and we are ready to go.  
5.  Spend at least one hour sewing on Evangeline's new dress.  I'm sewing a much requested Frozen dress for Eva using McCall's 7308.  This looks like a great pattern so I hope it turns out well.  

Personal
6.  Visit the chiropractor.
7.  Read four chapters of Gospel Treason and continue working through the book of 1 Peter in the Bible.  I obviously wasn't actually familiar with the Gospel Treason book when I set the previous goal.  This book will take a lot of time to actually work through since there are many questions and personal applications to apply.  :)  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Meet up with a friend for coffee one afternoon.  I had a lovely time getting together at Panera with a new friend this past week.  I left feeling so encouraged after our time together.  She blessed my heart so much by her powerful testimony that was such great evidence to the Lord's great mercy.  

Other
10.  Help my grandmother one afternoon this week.  
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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Attend the fair parade with the entire family.
2.  Eva has a therapy appointment this week.  
3.  Enjoy an at-home date night or possibly a real date night.  I really want to go kayaking with Brandon but it is so warm outside!
4.  Spend extra time taking care of a sick child this week.  

Homemaking
5.  Finish sewing Evangeline's dress.  I think I should definitely be able to finish sewing it in an hour.  I just need to finish the arm holes and the hem.  One of the ways that I fit some of my hobbies into an already very full life is to simply allocate a certain amount of time for them.  I might not be able to spend an hour sewing every day like I would like but I can definitely find ways to squeeze in a fifteen minutes four days a week.  It helps to have a space where my sewing machine is set up and my space is organized.
6.  Purchase gym shoes for both children and order a number of things that I keep putting off because it takes time.  

Personal
7.  Read 1 Peter five days this week.  If time permits I would like to read a chapter of Gospel Treason but Bible before books.
8.  Exercise three times this week.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Spend at least an hour working on new piano music for church.  I'd like to come up with a list of songs to work on learning in the next month.  I usually start working on Christmas music sometime in September.  

Other
10.  Help my grandmother one afternoon this week.  

What goals do you have for this week?  

Monday, August 22, 2016

This Week's Goals

We have been so blessed to fill our August with such fun family memories.
In the picture above we enjoyed a day trip to the Columbus Zoo where we got to get up close with some kangaroos!  
August has been so busy for our family that I've neglected to share my goals the past few weeks.  We've been squeezing in lots of summer fun as we transition back to school days.  I also began teaching fall piano lessons.  Here are a few of my goals for this upcoming week.  
  
This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Eli is playing flag football this fall!  I'm excited to attend his game on Saturday.
2.  Eva has a therapy appointment this week.  I am so thankful for all of the incredible progress that she has made over the past year.  
3.  Take both children to the park to play this week.  

Homemaking
4.  Work on plans for Disney.  I need to work on our packing list and make some reservations.  I also need to purchase a number of items before we leave.  Eli & Eva both need new bigger shoes and socks.
5.  Spend at least one hour sewing on Evangeline's new dress.  

Personal
6.  Visit the chiropractor.
7.  Read four chapters of Gospel Treason and continue working through the book of 1 Peter in the Bible.  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Meet up with a friend for coffee one afternoon.  

Other
10.  Help my grandmother one afternoon this week.  

What goals do you have for this week?  Have you settled into a new fall semester routine?  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July Reads




Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary: This book was phenomenal and I simply could not put it down.  I was gripped by Rifqa's story and the amount of suffering she endured simply for becoming a Christian.  It really helped me to better understand Islam and what is means for a Muslim woman to come to faith in Jesus Christ.  I loved hearing Rifqa speak about her deep relationship with the Savior and her gratefulness for all that He has done f.  I cried with her as I read her story and watched as numerous obstacles continued to bombard her from seemingly every direction.  This book was so inspiring and I can't recommend it enough.



The Out of Synch Child by Carol Stark Kranowitz: One of my daughter's occupational therapists recommended this book to me and I am so glad I got around to reading it in July.  It really helped me to more fully understand the extent of Evangeline's sensory needs.  This book was so easy to read and did not read like a textbook at all.  The author gives wonderful examples of children who struggle and who do not struggle with various sensory issues.  I really appreciated the checklists that the author included at the end of each chapter to help parents determine the extent to which their children struggled in a different area.



Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery:  Emily becomes an orphan after the death of her beloved father.  She is soon taken to the New Moon Farm by her snobby relatives who care for her out of obligation but soon finds herself calling it home.  She finds new friends and plenty of adventure along the way.  I am fairly certain that I have been a Montgomery fan since I was about ten years old and fell in love with Anne of Green Gables.  Although I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as an Anne book it was still a great summer read.  I think among many L.M. Montgomery fans you either prefer Anne or the "darker" Emily.  There are also two more books in the "Emily" trilogy.



The Well Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole: I picked up this book from our local library because I was in the mood to read a book on home education.  Our library has a tiny amount of books on homeschooling.  I wasn't overly impressed with this but it is probably because I already realize many of the social benefits of homeschooling.  I don't need to be convinced.  This book would be great for anyone who has concerns about the socialization aspect of educating your children at home.  I think the author included a lot of good information and my indifference is mainly because I read this book when I really wasn't in the mood for it.



Kentucky Off the Beaten Path by Zoe Ayn Strecker: This was another gem I picked up from the library this month.  I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of research and knowledge that the author put into writing this book.  The author has taken the time to seek out the most interesting places to eat, visit, or things to do.  She also includes many interesting facts.  I was pleasantly surprised that our library also owns the Ohio and Tennessee books from this series which we also enjoyed visiting.




Home Sewn by Cassandra Ellis: While I do plan on attempting the "cotton block-printed pillowcases" pattern in this book, I was very disappointed with the overall projects.  There just simply weren't many projects that I was interested in trying.  I did enjoy looking at the beautiful photographs but since the goal in purchasing a book of sewing projects is to actually sew items (not just look at pictures) I can't recommend this book.  Please note that I received a review copy of this book from Blogging For Books.  All opinions are my own.



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Currently Reading:

None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different From Us by Jen Wilkin


You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis & Lisa Chan

Ten Boys Who Made History by Irene Howat


The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian



What books did you read in July?  Do you have any recommendations for me?


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This Week's Goals & Review


Happy Tuesday!  Whenever I am late to share my list of goals for the week it either means I have been traveling or my week is not going according to plan.  Unfortunately it is the latter.  I'm suffering from some serious back pain which started at church on Sunday morning.  I've been to the doctor and the majority of my week will be spent walking and taking it easy.  No gardening and no deep de-cluttering like I had originally hoped.  I'm hoping to spend time sufficiently resting this week and catching up on some computer work.  

Last Week's Goals

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy taking the children to the bike rodeo in town.  I'm still not entirely sure what we have signed up for but I am sure it will be fun.  I had never even heard of a "bike rodeo" before I saw the flyer!  It was pretty fun and both of the children had a blast!  They learned about bike safety and rode their bicycles through a number of obstacles.  Eli was thrilled! 
2.  Eva has one therapy appointment this week.
3.  Read and pray through five chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife.  

Personal
4.  Read 100 pages from The Out of Synch Child.  This book came highly recommended by one of Evangeline's therapists.  Since it is an inter-library loan book I better start reading!  (We can only keep inter-library loan books for two weeks.)  With my back injury I actually finished reading the book yesterday.  
5.  Exercise three times this week.  I'm hoping to enjoy at least one of these workouts at our gym.  I did make it to the gym for a great workout but I ended up only exercising twice.  

Homemaking
6.  Spend two hours organizing financial paperwork.
7.  Sew a birthday gift for my niece.  In the end I did not sew a birthday gift for my niece.  I opted to travel out of town to visit my grandmother for the day and I really did not have time.  I just purchased an outfit when I visited Rural King.  
8.  Spend at least two hours organizing the basement.  I still have at least a few hours left to organize and I am disappointed I won't be able to work on it this week.  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy a picnic at the park with friends.  It was so fun to enjoy a picnic and catch up with a number of friends.  

Other
10.  Help my grandmother one day this week.  Check.  

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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Eva is scheduled for a therapy appointment but I don't know if I will feel well enough to drive her so it might not happen.
2.  We have an out of town day trip planned with the family but it all depends on how quickly my back heals. 
3.  Read five chapters of Ten Boys Who Made History to the children.  

Homemaking
4.  Work on plans for Disney.
5.  Have a budget meeting for August spending and for our upcoming fall vacation.  

Personal
6.  With all of my extra time resting I plan to devote a lot of time to reading my Bible and prayer.  This week I plan to continue studying 1 Peter and complete Week 4 of my Bible Study.  
7. Begin reading None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.   
8.  Spend lots of time resting.  I'm also thinking about possibly trying out one of the aquatic classes at our local gym geared for senior adults that involves a lot of stretching.  It just seems like that type of aquatic class would be similar to aquatic physical therapy?  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Hopefully spend time visiting with a friend this week.

Other
10.  Order new business cards for both my tutoring business and my piano lessons business. 

What goals do you have for this week?

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Week's Goals


Happy Monday!  I'm starting to feel the end of summer time crunch.  Has it hit you yet?  Where we live school starts in just a few short weeks!  We have enjoyed a fantastic summer so far but I will still be a wee bit sad to watch it end.  Now I am coming face to face with my lovely summer to do list.  (It's always overly ambitious.)  There are still quite a few cleaning items on that summer list that I really do need to finish in the next three weeks.  Last week was a full week of re-adjusting to home life after our week away but I'm happy with how my goals turned out.  Here's a few of the things I hope to accomplish this week while we squeeze as much fun out of summer as we possibly can.  

Last Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family  
1.  Eva has a therapy appointment and a GI appt this week.
2.  Enjoy an at home date with the happy hubby.  We had a great time watching "The Finest Hours" together after the children went to bed.  We've also been a lot more intentional to spend time together talking.  Last weekend we even enjoyed a "workout date" at the gym.  
3.  Spend extra time reading, playing, and snuggling my kiddos.  Road trips are always difficult on children and I think it always takes them a few days to bounce back.  One kid is back to their happy self while another child is still struggling.  I'm making a note NEVER to let our children adjust to a different time zone again!  

Homemaking
4.  Make a large Costco haul.  We've been out of town for a week so that means we are completely out of groceries!  I'm also hoping to do a lot of cooking this week.   So thankful for a fridge full of food.  
5.  Catch up on laundry and clean the entire upstairs.

Personal
6.  Read and pray through 5 chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife.  I made it through four chapters last week.  
7.  Visit my doctor for a yearly checkup.  I also went to the eye doctor.  I'm hoping to knock out many of my appointments this summer in order to free up more time later.  

Ministry & Friendships
8.  Enjoy a playdate with friends.   It was so fun!  One of my favorite parts of summer is the extra time to get together with friends.  

Other
9.  Make my final decisions regarding textbooks for the classes I will be teaching this year at co-op.  I also plan to start working on my syllabuses for the fall semester so that I'm not scrambling at the end of summer.  Super excited to cross this one off my list! I had the hardest time narrowing down our science choice.  
10.  Help my grandmother one day this week.

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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy taking the children to the bike rodeo in town.  I'm still not entirely sure what we have signed up for but I am sure it will be fun.  I had never even heard of a "bike rodeo" before I saw the flyer!
2.  Eva has one therapy appointment this week.
3.  Read and pray through five chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife.  

Personal
4.  Read 100 pages from The Out of Synch Child.  This book came highly recommended by one of Evangeline's therapists.  Since it is an inter-library loan book I better start reading!  (We can only keep inter-library loan books for two weeks.)
5.  Exercise three times this week.  I'm hoping to enjoy at least one of these workouts at our gym.

Homemaking
6.  Spend two hours organizing financial paperwork.
7.  Sew a birthday gift for my niece.
8.  Spend at least two hours organizing the basement.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy a picnic at the park with friends.

Other
10.  Help my grandmother one day this week.

What goals do you have for this week?  Do you conquer a lot of household projects in the summer?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

June Reads


Here is what I have been reading this past month.  I actually only made it through three of these books this month.  Do I get credit for reading through three teacher guides for Vacation Bible School? :)  Ha, ha!  

God's Guidance: a Slow and Certain Light by Elisabeth Elliot: I absolutely adore Elisabeth Elliot and have been incredibly blessed by each and everyone of her books.  This book is no different.  Every summer I try to spend time reflecting on my life.  What a great book to read this past month while I contemplate the many hats that I currently wear.  Elliot is such a kindred spirit and honestly shares many of the same questions that I have wrestled with.

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer: This light read came highly recommended by my friend Kelly.  It was the perfect accompaniment for our most recent road trip.  (I read the entire book on the way there.)  :)  I absolutely loved the protagonist Adelaide Proctor.  She is girly, quirky, and tough when she needs to be.

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson: This book was okay but it really left me longing for more.  I'm thankful this one came from the library.  In many ways it felt like a required reading course in education.

How to Blog For Profit by Ruth Soukoup: Unfortunately I only made it through the first two chapters of this book.  I ended up not finishing the book because I simply ran out of time.  I borrowed this book through inter-library loan and didn't have time to finish it before the book was due back at the library.

What books did you read in June?


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Frugal Things I Did Last Week: Road Trip Edition



Hello friends!  As I mentioned in this week’s goals, we spent the majority of our week in Arkansas visiting with extended family.  Here’s a few of the things I did to save money even while spending most of the week out of town.  

We drove the ten hour trip to Arkansas in lieu of flying.  I still prefer flying any day over a long road trip but as the years go by we are definitely perfecting our road tripping skills.  The cheapest flights available would cost us about $1000 vs. the $100 it (currently) costs to drive.  Even if you include another $100 for meals there and back we have stilled saved a ton of money.   

We packed a cooler for our road trip.  This took care of two meals and numerous snacks.  We did opt to stop at a restaurant with a play place during both legs of our trip.  (If you are really looking to save money you could stop at a park or a local elementary school playground instead.)

My sister-in-law and I took our children to play at the Arkansas State Museum.  I was blown away by the fact that they have a children's section in a state college museum.  It was so fun and very interactive.  Did I mention that it was free?  I'm curious if any other state universities have similar exhibits.


All of the cousins enjoyed a ballet lesson at my in-laws house.  Eva's favorite part was definitely the leaping and twirling.

I ordered 99 prints from Shutterfly delivered for $6.

We passed along a bag of clothes to my niece.  My sister-in-law and I do a great job of sharing books and clothes back and forth.  A good portion of the books I read each year are books I have borrowed from her!

I brought along birthday gifts for two of my nieces in order to save on shipping costs.

My mother-in-law purchased a few much needed outfits for our children.  This was really fun because Eva had the opportunity to match with her cousins for the week!

After years of waiting my husband purchased an incredibly nice bicycle used for a fraction of the price that it would have been new.  I am super excited for him!

We went swimming once or twice a day while we were in Arkansas at my in-laws house.

We made do by cooking from our pantry for two days until I could make a trip to the grocery.  I harvested the first of the zucchini and yellow squash from the garden which really helped!

What frugal things did you do to save money last week?  

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week's Goals



Happy Monday!  I hope that your week is off to an excellent start.  We actually spent the majority of last week visiting family in Arkansas.  It was so fun spending time with cousins and Brandon's side of the family.  The picture above includes my children, three of my nieces who live in Arkansas, and their great grandmother Meme.  Not only does Meme have 13 grandchildren but she also has 17 great-grandchildren so far with one more on the way!  She is one of my favorite people and I am so blessed we were also able to spend the weekend with her.  This week I will be primarily focusing on recovering from our trip.  :)  Here is how my goals from my last week turned out and what I am working on this week.  

Last Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy a date with the happy hubby.   We went out to one of our favorite restaurants in Arkansas and then went shoe shopping. It was so much fun!  I actually had running shoes fitted and they feel amazing!  I'm looking forward to breaking these in this upcoming week before we head to Disney World in the fall.    We also took a bike ride together around town which was so much fun.  
2.  One of my kiddos caught a bug so I'll be focusing a lot of attention on helping them get well.   So thankful that the bug only hit one of us!
3.  Spend extra time hanging out with family this week.  Nailed it.

Homemaking
4.  Order prints of photos from the beginning of this year.  This is one of those things that I am always putting off but it is going to happen by tomorrow.  (You can get 99 prints shipped from Shutterfly for only 5.99 through July 5.  Use the code 101SPARKLERS. Six cents for prints is awesome and is my current motivation for getting this done!)   Check.  
5.  Reschedule a number of appointments for Evangeline.  We somehow had a mix up with scheduling.  I am just so thankful that I noticed it!  Check
6.  Change the oil in our van.  Check

Personal
7.  Finish reading Elisabeth Elliot's God's Guidance.  Check.  One of the best things about a road trip is the time for reading.  
8.  Sit down with my husband and learn how Logos software works.  He has been wanting to show this to me for months and I haven't made time for it.  I hate that we didn't get around to doing this but we were able to sneak away for some time together.  
9.  Continue working through 1 Peter and write in my journal two times this week.  

Ministry & Friendships 
10.  Write a letter to my grandmother.  

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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family  
1.  Eva has a therapy appointment and a GI appt this week.
2.  Enjoy an at home date with the happy hubby.
3.  Spend extra time reading, playing, and snuggling my kiddos.  Road trips are always difficult on children and I think it always takes them a few days to bounce back.

Homemaking
4.  Make a large Costco haul.  We've been out of town for a week so that means we are completely out of groceries!  I'm also hoping to do a lot of cooking this week.
5.  Catch up on laundry and clean the entire upstairs.

Personal
6.  Read and pray through 5 chapters of The Power of a Praying Wife.  
7.  Visit my doctor for a yearly checkup.

Ministry & Friendships
8.  Enjoy a playdate with friends.

Other
9.  Make my final decisions regarding textbooks for the classes I will be teaching this year at co-op.  I also plan to start working on my syllabuses for the fall semester so that I'm not scrambling at the end of summer.
10.  Help my grandmother one day this week.

What goals do you have for this week? 


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Frugal Things I Did Last Week


Happy Summer!  I hope you are soaking up lots of sun and managing to save some money in the process.  Here is what we did to save money this week.  

We harvested mint, Romaine lettuce (Freckles variety), and a pepper from our garden.  Next week I anticipate picking some squash!

Our entire family enjoyed Vacation Bible School at our church.  VBS is one of the highlights of our summer and we honestly plan our entire summer around the week of VBS.  They learned so much about the Gospel and had an absolute blast.  We even enjoyed an inflatable water slide on Thursday evening!

The children and I had a fantastic time meeting friends at the park for a play date.  Since the weather has started to really heat up here, we met a little earlier which worked out great.  When Eli was a baby the park near our house only had metal slides which would get really hot.  My solution was to wake up, grab breakfast, and head to the park before the slides heated up.  This way we were still able to enjoy the park.  Sweet memories.

I did NOT go to the grocery last week!  I'm still trying to transition to not visiting the grocery every week so this was a huge accomplishment for me.  I think in August I am going to try bi-monthly grocery shopping again.  Does anyone else visit the grocery only twice a month?

We cashed in some of our summer reading logs at our local library.  Evangeline picked out a very nice copy of Curious George.

After Evangeline's therapy appointment we headed to Goodwill.  I found two shirts, a dress for Eva, a number of items for the happy hubby, and about 25 books.  Still can't believe I purchased that many books.  Eva and I looked through all of the books this trip.  (Usually I only skim through the bookshelves.)  We scored a number of books which will be integrated into our learning for next year.  I bought a set of counting books for Evangeline and a nice set of Southwestern Advantage "Ask Me" book.

I went through all of Evangeline's clothing and organized her drawers.  So thankful that this little lady is outgrowing some of her clothes!  (That might sound crazy to many of you but we have really struggled the past year to see Eva gain weight.  Thankfully she is now growing like a weed.)  I brought up her next size tote from the basement and breathed a sigh of thanksgiving for how much money this is saving us.

I picked up an inter-library loan book from the library.  Did you know that your library will request books for you from other libraries in America free of charge if they do not have the book?

What did you do to save money last week?

Monday, July 4, 2016

This Week's Goals & Recap


Happy 4th of July!  I hope your day was filled with family, fun, and celebration.  Here's a recap of last week and the ten goals I have planned for this week.  

Last Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Take my children to Vacation Bible School at our church every evening.  It was pure awesomeness.  
2.  Finish rowing "Madeline" and begin our next book.  We had a blast rowing Madeline and I am SO excited about doing Five in a Row for the next few months.  We just started The Rag Coat.  
3.  Evangeline has two therapy appointments this week.  Check. We actually had a really difficult therapy session on Thursday and Friday.  I am thankful for the encouragement of Eva's therapists and try to remind myself of the incredible progress she has made in the past 11 months.  

Homemaking
4.  Sew a skirt for Evangeline.  (The skirt is cut out and sitting on top of my sewing machine.  I just need about 20 minutes to sew it together.)  It's ridiculous that this is still on my goal list but that is just life.  
5.  Weed all 8 rows in the garden and replant any areas that did not come up as well as expected.  So thankful for a gorgeous 70 degree day to spend a few hours in the garden.  The children played (and helped) alongside me for hours.  (I also took the opportunity to listen to the Revive Our Hearts podcast.  It is fantastic!)
6.  Spend two hours on various household cleaning/organizing projects.  I cleaned and organized all of Evangeline's clothing and drawers.  

Personal
7.  Exercise three times.  I worked out twice but I did put in a good number of steps last week.  Hoping to do better this week!  Do any of you set specific daily workout goals? 
8.  Complete Week 2 of Jen Wilkin's study of 1 Peter.  Almost.  I have one day left on week 2.  It's fantastic and really stretching me.  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy at least one playdate with friends this week.  We hit up our local park early one morning last week.  
10.  Spend time helping at VBS.  (I will be devoting a lot of time to VBS this week so I gave it two of my goal spots.)  I'm so thankful for the many seeds that were sown at vbs.  

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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy a date with the happy hubby. 
2.  One of my kiddos caught a bug so I'll be focusing a lot of attention on helping them get well. 
3.  Spend extra time hanging out with family this week.  

Homemaking
4.  Order prints of photos from the beginning of this year.  This is one of those things that I am always putting off but it is going to happen by tomorrow.  (You can get 99 prints shipped from Shutterfly for only 5.99 through July 5.  Use the code 101SPARKLERS. Six cents for prints is awesome and is my current motivation for getting this done!) 
5.  Reschedule a number of appointments for Evangeline.  We somehow had a mix up with scheduling.  I am just so thankful that I noticed it!  
6.  Change the oil in our van.     

Personal
7.  Finish reading Elisabeth Elliot's God's Guidance.  
8.  Sit down with my husband and learn how Logos software works.  He has been wanting to show this to me for months and I haven't made time for it.  
9.  Continue working through 1 Peter and write in my journal two times this week.  

Ministry & Friendships 
10.  Write a letter to my grandmother.  

I'm hoping to check off a number of tasks that I have been putting off for the last few months while also squeezing in lots of time with family.  What do you have planned for this week?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Our First Tent Camping Experience


Earlier in June we embarked on a new adventure.  TENT CAMPING!   Two summers ago we enjoyed a wonderful time camping in a borrowed pop-up camper but this was our first experience sleeping in a tent as a family.  We loaded up our very full van and headed to Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky for a new adventure.  It was wonderful.  


One of the neatest aspects of our trip was the fact that Nina & Poppy Steve (Brandon's parents) were able to meet up with us!  (They live a good 10 hours away from us so this was a real treat.)  We had so much spending time with them.  We stayed at Hillman Ferry Campground and I would definitely stay there again.  


Hillman Ferry Campground has a lovely beach with an area roped off for swimming.  The kids enjoyed playing in the sand and I even took them swimming in the lake.  I have been swimming many times in a lake but I think this was my children's first real time swimming in a lake.  (The closest lake to us no longer allows swimming.)  Brandon and I also enjoyed walking around the campground together.


Land Between the Lakes is also home to The Elk & Bison Prairie.  Although we didn't see any elk while we were there, it was so neat to see so many bison up close and personal.  It reminded me a lot of the summer I spent living on a Lakota Native American Reservation as a missionary.  The kids were enthralled with the bison.


One of the most memorable parts of our trip was when we were startled to find intense winds ripping through the campground.  We stayed very close to the water and I was blown away by just how powerful the winds were.  I woke up and the first thing I remember thinking was, "Oh no.  We didn't stake the tent!"  Brandon and I were in a frantic rush to stake the tent before the storm blew in.  Thankfully we were able to stake the tent right as the wind really began to pick up.  I was so surprised (and thankful) that Eli & Eva slept right through it!  I still can't believe they didn't wake up.


The water was simply stunning.  If only we would have had a way to take our kayaks along with us!  Maybe next time.


We also really enjoyed the Woodlands Nature Station (not pictured).  Eli was thrilled to see that they even had Bald Eagles which are currently his favorite animal.


Before heading home we all enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Kentucky Dam Village State Park Lodge restaurant.  It was fantastic and I am sure we will be visiting there again the next time we are in the area.   


Overall our first tent camping experience was definitely a success and very memorable!  I hope that tent camping turns into a yearly tradition for the Emerson family.  (Especially since we are now the proud owners of a tent and many camping supplies.)  The kids are already talking about our next camping trip!

Have you ever been tent camping with your family?  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This Week's Goals & Recap


Happy Wednesday!  I hope you are squeezing lots of life out of this week.  We have been having such a fun, full week.  Here's what we have planned for this week and a recap.  

Last Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy a great time camping with my family this week.  We had a fantastic time camping at Alpine Hideaway Campground in Pigeon Forge, TN.  The weather was lovely and we were also able to meet up with some dear friends.  
2.  Begin Five in a Row Volume 1.  We are rowing Madeline this week and having the best time!  Last year we worked through the entire Before Five in a Row and it was so delightful.  (Let me know if you would be interested in more details.)  I've always been a fan of the book Madeline and it was such fun to share with both of my children last week.  I'm hoping to share more about our Five in a Row adventures next week.  
3.  Be intentional this week to spend time talking with my husband each evening.  Practically speaking this means staying on top of my workload and choosing to make Brandon a priority.  Bingo.  I love my husband.  I am so thankful we were able to spend some time together especially since this week has been absolutely crazy.  

Homemaking
4.  Weather permitting I hope to spend time weeding and planting flowers in the garden.  Nope.  It was hot so I didn't even attempt it.  I'm such a wimp.  
5.  Spend time organizing financial paperwork and health insurance explanation of benefits.  I worked on this for a little while but I need to put this on my to do list for sometime in July.  
6.  Sew new skirt for Evangeline.  This week?  

Personal
7.  Begin studying a new book of the Bible.  I'm also hoping to journal at least two times this week.  I am starting Jen Wilken's Bible Study on 1 Peter.  I'm so excited!  
8.  Visit the chiropractor.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy time spent visiting one of my dearest best friends from college.  It was a blast!  
10.  Continue working on VBS preparations and decorate my classroom on Friday.  VBS starts next week!

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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Take my children to Vacation Bible School at our church every evening.
2.  Finish rowing "Madeline" and begin our next book.
3.  Evangeline has two therapy appointments this week.

Homemaking
4.  Sew a skirt for Evangeline.  (The skirt is cut out and sitting on top of my sewing machine.  I just need about 20 minutes to sew it together.)
5.  Weed all 8 rows in the garden and replant any areas that did not come up as well as expected.
6.  Spend two hours on various household cleaning/organizing projects.

Personal
7.  Exercise three times.
8.  Complete Week 2 of Jen Wilkin's study of 1 Peter.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy at least one playdate with friends this week.
10.  Spend time helping at VBS.  (I will be devoting a lot of time to VBS this week so I gave it two of my goal spots.)

Do you have any goals for this week?  Do your children attend VBS?  


Thursday, June 23, 2016

This Week's Goals and Recap


Well the week is half spent and I've neglected to share my goals for the week.  That's because we went camping.  Tent camping that is!  I did work on my goals on Sunday just like every week so I thought I would still share.  Happy Thursday!  

Last Week's Goals:
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Work on plans for Father's Day.  We treated the happy hubby to a trip to TN for Father's Day.  It was just wonderful.  
2.  Eva has two therapy appointments this week.  Check. 
3.  Enjoy a playdate at the zoo with friends.  It was fantastic despite the crowds!  
4.  Spend a day at home catching up with my children.  (I actually went out of town overnight to surprise a friend at her 30th birthday party on Saturday.  While I had a great time I really missed my sweet kids.)  I'm planning on spending lots of time outside playing and then enjoying some extended reading time in the afternoon.  I think I am going to try to make sure that we spend at least one day every week at home where we do not drive anywhere.  

Homemaking
5.  Plant another row in my garden and weed five rows.  Continuing harvesting lettuce for our table.  I planted three more rows last week.  We harvested lettuce and our first banana pepper which Eli proceeded to eat raw in the garden!  
6.  Catch up on laundry and cleaning.  Time permitting I hope to begin working on re-organizing part of the basement.

Personal
7.  Write two blog posts this week.
8.  Begin reading a new book.  (I'd love book recommendations for the summer months.)  I read Douglas Wilson's Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.  

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy having friends over for dinner one evening.  We had a great time visiting with friends despite my casserole which just didn't taste the same as last time!  
10.  Spend three hours working on Vacation Bible School preparations.  It's almost here!  I finished reading through all of my lessons and making a supply list.  
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This Week's Goals
Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Enjoy a great time camping with my family this week.
2.  Begin Five in a Row Volume 1.  We are rowing Madeline this week and having the best time!  Last year we worked through the entire Before Five in a Row and it was so delightful.  (Let me know if you would be interested in more details.)
3.  Be intentional this week to spend time talking with my husband each evening.  Practically speaking this means staying on top of my workload and choosing to make Brandon a priority.

Homemaking
4.  Weather permitting I hope to spend time weeding and planting flowers in the garden.
5.  Spend time organizing financial paperwork and health insurance explanation of benefits.
6.  Sew new skirt for Evangeline.

Personal
7.  Begin studying a new book of the Bible.  I'm also hoping to journal at least two times this week.
8.  Visit the chiropractor.

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy time spent visiting one of my dearest best friends from college.
10.  Continue working on VBS preparations and decorate my classroom on Friday.  VBS starts next week!

That sums up my goals for this week.  Since many of my goals involve mundane tasks like organizing paperwork and cleaning I'm planning on listening to some podcasts or audiobooks.  What are your favorite podcasts?  Do you have any goals for this week?





Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Frugal Things I Did Last Week


Ahh summer!  It's the most wonderful time of the year!  It's also the most expensive time of the year (well aside from December).  In an attempt to save more money this summer I'm going to resume the Frugal Things posts.  Here's what we did this past week to have fun and save money:

On Monday we stayed home all day and simply had the best time.  We played outside for hours, read stories together, and just really enjoyed being at home together.  I think it can be easy to think that in order to have a great summer we must be going somewhere each and every day.  Some of the best memories from my childhood involve days spent entirely at home.

We enjoyed a fantastic time at the zoo with friends.  I am so thankful for our zoo pass which we make good use out of.  We packed our own food and drinks.

The happy hubby and I finally flipped the mattress on our king bed.  When we purchased our mattress we made sure to buy one that could be "flipped" to extend the life of our mattress.

On Tuesday evening we had some dear friends over for dinner.  Not only does this save everyone money but I personally think it is just much more enjoyable.  (Especially if there are children involved.)

We enjoyed harvesting lettuce and a variety of mint.  I enjoy infusing my water with a variety of mints that I grow (mostly in containers).

I picked up a free cooler (with wheels).

I used 9.00 in Kroger money.  Since the machine occasionally gives me Kroger Bucks to spend on my next purchase I usually divide my groceries into 2 separate transactions.  (I also often purchase items where I need to be reimbursed.)  I only frequent Kroger about once per month so I found it annoying to have to return just to spend my Kroger Bucks.  This has been a great solution!

We were invited to a last minute cookout at a friend's house.  We took a large container of homemade pasta salad and juice rather than stopping at the store.  I also appliqued a bag with an initial for one of my son's friend's birthday.  I knew that the family loves to read and thought he might enjoy having his own personalized monster bag.

I planted another three rows in my garden with seeds.

We donated items to charity and received a receipt for tax purposes.

I made popsicles and cooked the majority of our meals (except for date night).

I picked up an inter library loan book from the library instead of just purchasing the book.  I'm really glad I didn't purchase the book because it ended up being a disappointment.

I roasted a chicken in the Crockpot which I used in a number of meals this week.


I am so thankful for such a fun, full week!  What did you do to save money and enjoy summertime?  

Monday, June 13, 2016

This Week's Goals


Happy Monday!  I hope your week is off to a great start.  Last week was an absolute blast filled with two out of town trips (camping and a trip to see friends) so this week I'm focusing on things at home.  I don't know about you but I have so many projects around the home that I save for the summer months when I have just a little bit more time.  Hopefully I can begin working on a few of those projects while squeezing in as much fun as possible.   I'm also planning a day that we just spend playing outside and diving into a ridiculously large stack of library books.  

Marriage, Mothering, & Family
1.  Work on plans for Father's Day.
2.  Eva has two therapy appointments this week.
3.  Enjoy a playdate at the zoo with friends.
4.  Spend a day at home catching up with my children.  (I actually went out of town overnight to surprise a friend at her 30th birthday party on Saturday.  While I had a great time I really missed my sweet kids.)  I'm planning on spending lots of time outside playing and then enjoying some extended reading time in the afternoon.

Homemaking
5.  Plant another row in my garden and weed five rows.  Continuing harvesting lettuce for our table.
6.  Catch up on laundry and cleaning.  Time permitting I hope to begin working on re-organizing part of the basement.

Personal
7.  Write two blog posts this week.
8.  Begin reading a new book.  (I'd love book recommendations for the summer months.)

Ministry & Friendships
9.  Enjoy having friends over for dinner one evening.
10.  Spend three hours working on Vacation Bible School preparations.

How did you do on your goals for last week?  What goals do you have for this week?  

Friday, June 3, 2016

May Reads


I think you can always tell if I have been on a trip during the last month based on the size of my book stack!  I did indeed go on a wonderful late spring break trip to Florida at the beginning of the month. Reflecting back on the past month's reading I am reminded of wonderful evenings spent reading along the beach and early mornings reading on the covered porch that overlooks a lake.   

Own Your Life: Living with deep intention, bold faith, and generous love by Sally Clarkson: This book is simply fabulous and exactly what I need for this season of life.  Especially now that summer break has officially begun.  One of the things that I really want to focus on this summer is my walk with the Lord and evaluating different priorities in my life.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago I actually started journaling through the questions after I read the first few chapters.  I knew that this book had the potential to really pierce my heart and that's exactly what it did.  God radically used this book to lovingly speak to my heart about a myriad of things.  The 25 pages of journal entries are a testimony to just how powerful this book is.  I am so thankful at how God has used this book in my life the past month.  Clarkson does an excellent job speaking with such warmth and encouragement.  It felt as though I had my own wise mentor speaking to me on every page.  I simply cannot recommend this book enough. Own Your Life is probably my favorite book this year!

Reaching Milennials by David Stark: As a millennial myself I felt like the author had a good understanding of what makes millennials tick.  I really appreciated his critique of the subculture that often develops within a church.  One of the biggest dangers of this little subculture is becoming too comfortable or too busy doing church activities that you don't develop relationships with unbelievers.  Unfortunately I really felt like Stark missed the mark when it comes to this book.  If we really want to reach millennials then where we really need to start with is prayer.  This was completely lacking in the book.  The entire tone of the book also really annoyed me.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Bethany House.  All opinions are my own.

surprised by motherhood: everything i never expected about being a mom by Lisa-Jo Baker: I loved reading this down to earth book about a lady who never planned on having children.  She shares about loosing her mother as a teenager and what it was like to grow up in South Africa.  So much of her book is spot on.  "One, motherhood is hard.  Two, motherhood is glorious.  Three, motherhood is very hard."  This memoir was a beautiful story but the organization and flashbacks in time did drive me a little bit crazy.  The last quarter of the book just didn't seem to fit with the rest and almost undermines its message.  Overall it was a nice read but not one I hope to add to my personal library.

Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski: I have no earthly idea how this book ended up in our weekly library bag!  It was intriguing enough that I did find myself picking up the book and reading the entire thing one afternoon.  The book itself is actually very good and tells the story of young Mary who is captured by Indians.  Although she later could have returned to live in the settlements of the white men she chose to stay with the Indians.  I'm fairly certain that I read this book as a child because it was so familiar.

The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time by Arianna Huffington: One of the things that have probably changed the most in my life over the past decade is amount of sleep that I get each night.  For years I thought I only needed six hours of sleep and I spent years and years only sleeping six hours.  Almost every night of college I went to bed at midnight and woke up at six.  This continued throughout seminary until I became pregnant with my first child.  All of a sudden I was exhausted and realized I couldn't keep pushing my body to such extremes.  Since then I have grown up and realized that six hours isn't enough sleep.  Huffington agrees wholeheartedly and I found her book insightful and amusing.  A good portion of her book includes the sleep habits of highly successful and famous people.  Not surprising at all, many successful people sleep eight hours a night and go to bed early.  I thought it was really interesting to hear how many companies are now installing nap rooms and encouraging their workers to take an afternoon siesta.  After a terrible bout with mono in college I also changed my attitude towards taking a nap.  I absolutely adore them now and think they help increase my overall productivity.  Huffington also included many good tips for people who struggle with falling asleep at night.  Sleep plays a vital role in a person's overall health and I hope that more people will realize its importance.  Please note that I did receive a review copy of this book from Blogging For Books.  All opinions are my own.

A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine: I heard it said once that for every modern day book you read (or two) be sure to read a classic.  I've noticed lately that I have been slacking in this area so this book was my attempt to get back on track.  There is so much wisdom to be gained by reading fellow believers who have gone on before us.  I especially enjoy reading the Puritans.  This was my first introduction to Joseph Alleine and it was great.  The title might be slightly odd to us in 2016 but remember this book was first published in 1671.  This book was such an encouragement to me personally and a great reminder of the importance of sharing the Gospel with others.

Children's Read Aloud
Attack at the Arena (Imagination Station #2) by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker:  My children and I are all enjoying reading through this series.  (I only wish our library had them.)  In this book Patrick ad Beth end up in ancient Rome where they must find a special cup.  Along the way Beth is enslaved to the emperor.  This was a great introduction for my kids on what life was like in Rome.  If you aren't familiar with these books they are easier to read books (2nd grade) that are similar to Magic Tree House books.  Personally I enjoy them a lot more than the Magic Tree House books.  We read most of this book while on vacation snuggled up at night after a packed day at the beach.

What books did you read last month?  Do you tend to read more or less during the summer months?