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?