Thursday, December 31, 2015

December Blessings

December has flown by in so many ways. It has been good and busy but also challenging in different ways. God has continued to bless our family far more than we deserve and we are reminded of this everyday. Here is a glimpse of the blessings from this month.

  1. Reuben and Gabriel sleeping until after 7 and pooping in the toilet!
  2. Gabriel and Sam playing together
  3. Sam praying
  4. CG dinner
  5. Kids playing well together
  6. Writing blog posts
  7. Moments with Jim throughout the day
  8. Talking with Jamey about what it means to be a Christian
  9. Learning to have a date night at home
  10. Getting a duck!
  11. Talking through more hard feelings
  12. God's great grace
  13. Kisses from Neo
  14. Teaching Jamey natural consequences
  15. God stirring my heart to pray more
  16. Napping with Lillian
  17. Reading with the middle boys
  18. Learning together
  19. Making granola by myself
  20. Getting school work completed
  21. Writing end of year letter
  22. Dealing with hard circumstances with the kids while Jim was at work
  23. Women's gift exchange
  24. Lillian going with us
  25. Catching up with friends
  26. Bec going to the gift exchange
  27. Productive afternoon
  28. Family movie night with friends
  29. Learning about the tabernacle
  30. Talking about the sermon with the kids
  31. Kids napping
  32. Talking and resting with Jim
  33. Celebrating Hanukkah
  34. Latkes and donuts
  35. Productive school day
  36. Make-shifting a recipe from things we had in the pantry
  37. Going to bed early
  38. Jim being home
  39. Getting 8 hours of sleep
  40. Getting a good report form lead people and inspection bid getting done quickly
  41. Good conversation at Starbucks
  42. Adventure
  43. Waking early
  44. Getting through the day by myself
  45. Good member meeting
  46. Taking the kids caroling
  47. Help from Becca and Ryan
  48. God's grace to get through
  49. Jamey understanding a joke
  50. Getting some emails written
  51. Connecting with people
  52. Kids wanting to draw instead of watching TV
  53. Cleaning out some email
  54. Low-key evening
  55. Coffee with Amy N
  56. Finishing school week
  57. Learning more about myself
  58. packages
  59. Making class plans with Jim
  60. Good time at writing group
  61. Remembering Kimberly
  62. helping Margaret
  63. Getting plans for the week figured out
  64. Adult movie night
  65. Good conversation with Jim
  66. Norwex party
  67. Connecting with other ladies
  68. Graduation party
  69. Seeing Jen
  70. Meeting Kathy
  71. Last night of Hanukkah
  72. Fun family evening
  73. Good wake up
  74. Working through stressors together
  75. Getting 2 days of school work completed
  76. Getting some of the to-do list done
  77. READING!
  78. Finishing The Man Who Was Thursday and the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015
  79. Getting some extra work completed with Jamey
  80. Low-key yet productive day
  81. Working through things
  82. Time at CG
  83. Sleep
  84. Getting more restful sleep
  85. Becca being home much of the day
  86. Getting stuff done
  87. Having a good day overall
  88. God's grace
  89. Sam being sweet to Neo
  90. Obedience
  91. Being calm
  92. Making it through 3 days in a row
  93. Time to reflect
  94. Sam giving Neo kisses
  95. Sharing with Jim
  96. Mandy taking the kids for the day
  97. Opening a new account!
  98. Getting our room more organized
  99. Relaxing evening at home
  100. Good coffee date
  101. Talking through hard things
  102. Taking a nap
  103. Jim having a productive afternoon
  104. Talking through calendar with Bec
  105. Am Vet Christmas party
  106. Time with Jessica
  107. Early bed time
  108. Great concluding Exodus sermon
  109. Becca and Ryan going to church with us
  110. Time to rest and talk
  111. Iron Chef
  112. Early bedtime
  113. Movie night in
  114. Time to rest
  115. Low-key day
  116. Leftovers for dinner
  117. Talking through emotions
  118. Being together
  119. Getting through the day
  120. Working on emails
  121. Updating address list
  122. Jamey feeding Nehemiah
  123. God's great to get through
  124. Snuggling with Lillian
  125. CSI
  126. Baby number 7!
  127. Sleeping in
  128. Getting errands run in 3 hours
  129. Medicine for Jim's arm- not neuro pain
  130. Low-key evening
  131. Snuggling with Lillian
  132. Reading after dinner
  133. Early bed time
  134. Jim being off of work
  135. Brunch date
  136. Christmas eve service with 4 kids
  137. Mac and Cheese dinner
  138. Teaching Jamey and Lillian how to play "Sequence"
  139. Home made hot cocoa
  140. Talking with Becca and Ryan
  141. Sleeping in
  142. Pancakes
  143. Wathing "The Nativity Story"
  144. Celebrating Jesus's birthday
  145. Relaxing family day
  146. Duck, homemade rolls, twice baked potatoes and green bean casserole
  147. Jim's cooking ability
  148. Telling kids about the baby and their excitement
  149. Parents getting here safely and early
  150. Low-key morning
  151. New PJs
  152. Nice encouragement from Jim
  153. Good sermon on loving God and loving others
  154. Pieology!
  155. Good conversation with Becca, Daddy and Ryan
  156. Gifts with the whole family
  157. Jim getting a lot of reading completed
  158. Nehemiah turning 6 months!
  159. Good, deep sleep
  160. Low-key day
  161. Repair guy coming by
  162. Creation Museum
  163. Live Nativity and Christmas lights
  164. Prayer
  165. Wrestling with God
  166. Talking with Daddy
  167. Honesty
  168. Pie Kitchen from Becca
  169. Relaxing evening at home
  170. Finishing the Old Testament!
  171. Sleeping in
  172. Movie day
  173. Getting blog posts written
  174. Finishing Challenges
  175. Talking through goals for 2016
  176. Connecting with Jim
  177. Being together
  178. Left overs
  179. Becca making soup for everyone
  180. God's great grace in 2016

December Evaluation

Due to circumstances this past year, I'm not really changing my goals. Some will go that are not top priority, but I'm keeping the ones that fit with the overarching goal of having a God-centered life and the things I see Him leading me to right now. So thus far this is how it goes:

  • Spend at least 10 minutes praying daily- Yes, I'm working more directed prayer into my day
  • Spend at least 10 minutes reading and reflecting on the Bible daily- Yes! 
  • Memorize verses with the kids - We have memorized 13 verses together
  • Memorize Scripture- Doing this with the kids in school time
  • Go out for a date once a week- Yes
  • Go on a night away once this yearYes we went away for our anniversary!
  • Read 3 books together this year- Did not read any this month, this goal will not be met
  • Discuss plan weekly on Sunday Saturday afternoon- We are discussing plans but still need improvement on consistency and sticking to our plans as much as it depends on us
  • Spend 30 minutes of one on one time with each child every week- Getting better at this, still have a lot of growing, but at least we are progressing :)
  • Go to playgroup each Tuesday- Did not really happen this month and this one will likely be going away
  • Write in individual journals at least 3 times this yearI have met this goal! 
  • Finish Jamey's 1st year Scrapbook- Need to go through pictures with Jim so this is on hold currently
  • Keep up with cleaning schedule- Not at all, did some cleaning, but there is still no consistency here
  • Keep up with my calendar- Status quo, still need improvement here
  • Being fully present when with my family- Getting better at this but always room for improvement
  • Continue sending out Prayer List- Yes
  • Read a book a month for myself- Yes! This month I read "A Christmas Carol" and "The Man Who Was Thursday" to complete the Back to the Classics challenge I have been doing this year
  • Journal 5 days a week- Yes! God has really been giving me opportunity to do this in the morning
  • Write (books) 3 days a week- I have written down some ideas for my nonfiction book I'm working on, and looked at part of a section with my writing group
  • Edit novel to prepare for publishing and research publishing options- No additional work on this during the month
  • Finish Rosetta Stone Russian level 1 - Have not worked on this
  • Continue to meet once a month with writing group- YES! So thankful to have a new Sister in the group
  • Blog 3 days a week- Thanks to all the book reviews I did I met this goal!
  • Go to water aerobics once a weekStarted back to find out that our instructor was moving and they are going to begin charging for classes so only did this half the month and this will be no more
  • Maintain weight until birthDid well with this, still gained some but far better than other pregnancies
  • Lose weight after giving birth- Just maintained this month
December and 2016 is at an end. It's so hard to believe that another month and year have come and gone. As I look at my goals for this year, I am reminded once again that God is ultimately in control of all things and that our goals are good for guidance, but God ordains our days. As our family grows and the stages of life change, different things have a greater priority and for a season life looks different than it did before. As Jim and I look forward to 2016 priorities are going to look a little different because the size of our family has grown, our kids are older, and we desire to do life together as much as possible, something that has not really happened since moving to Louisville. This means some goals that have been present will go and other things will be added. But we know God is working in all of this and by His grace we will grow in being a family that He wants us to be.

How was your December? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Back to the Classics Challenge Final Wrap-Up

I did it! I finished all 12 categories in the Back to the Classics Challenge 2015 that I participated in. I really enjoyed doing this challenge as I read books that I have been wanting to read for quite some time. These books challenged me and helped me in wrestling through everyday life as portrayed in literature. If you do not read classics, I recommend trying it. You can be part of the 2016 Back to the Classics challenge or just plan to read 1 this year and see how it broadens your appreciation of literature.

I read everything that I put in the beginning post except for changing my Shakespeare play to "The Comedy of Errors". Below are links to all 12 of the classics I read.

19th Century Classic: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
20th Century Classic: Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Classic by a Woman Author: Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Very Long Classic: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Classic in Translation: The Odyssey by Homer
Classic Novella: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Classic with a Person's Name in the Title: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Humorous or Satirical Classic: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Forgotten Classic: The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
Nonfiction Classic: The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Classic Children's Book: Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Classic Play: "A Comedy of Errors" by Shakespeare

I hope you enjoy these reviews and that you will be encouraged to read more classics!

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

I have completed my 12th book for the Back to the Classics Challenge I have been participating in this year. This is in the category of Forgotten Classics.

The Man Who Was Thursday was a very interesting read. The beginning half in particular was very much like reading a suspense novel and had me wanting to read more and more. In fact the subtitle is "A Nightmare." The conversation is deep and intellectual. The descriptions capture your imagination and put you into the story. The suspense of what is happening drives the story.

Near the end of the book it got a little weird in that, "what is really going on" sense, and I lost a little momentum. But the conclusion was interesting and extremely ethereal. I do not want to spoil the ending, but it was very interesting to say the least. I would like to read this again and look for more clues throughout the book, now that I know how it ends.

I would recommend this book and would love to read more of Chesterton's works.

4.5 stars for this forgotten classic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dolphin Adventure

This was one of our read-alouds with our Core A Sonlight curriculum.

This book was a quick and easy read that my kids enjoyed and so did I. Who doesn't like dolphins? Though simply written you can feel everything going on in the words expressed on the pages. And it really is an adventure.

I would highly recommend this book as a good family read.

4.5 Stars

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Here's A Penny

This is one of our read aloud books from our Core A Sonlight curriculum.

Our family really enjoyed this book! These are fun stories about a little boy called Penny because of his bright copper hair. What I love the most about this book is that Penny is adopted and so it allowed for many conversations with our kids about adoption and how God adopts us. The last few chapters had the tears flowing in a good way.

A couple of the chapters were a little long, but they were still enjoyable.

I would highly recommend this book.

4.5 stars

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Mary On Horseback

This book was part of our Core A curriculum with Sonlight.

It was interesting reading these stories as they take place in Appalatia, not far from where we live, and is about nursing care (my husband and I are both nurses). These stories are very serious stories, but still very interesting. I can't say my kids enjoyed reading them because of the solemnity of the stories, but it was a good look at rural life in our country and brought about good discussions.

If your kids are really sensitive, I might not read this book to them or at least preview it to see if they can handle the stories. Otherwise I would recommend this book.

4.5 stars

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Father's Dragon

This book is part of our Core A Sonlight curriculum. It is good story of a boy sailing to an island to rescue a dragon. The boy uses cleaver devices to trick the animals of the island as he explores and looks for the dragon. My kids really enjoyed this book. I highly recommend this book, especially for a family read.

4.5 stars

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Boxcar Children

This classic children's book was the first read aloud in our Core A curriculum from Sonlight.

Even though I have read it several time, it does not fail to disappoint. It is a story of 4 orphans seeking to survive on their own and not be found by their grandfather, of whom they are very afraid. I love the ingenuity of the kids as they figure out how to make a refrigerator, a ladle, and a swimming pool, among other things. I really enjoyed pointing these things out to Lillian as we read this together. I also appreciate that the kids are hard workers, all of them, which is a great encouragement to me.

The ending is a little too "happily ever after" for my taste, but as a whole I like the book very much.

5 stars for this book.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Animals Animals

This was the poetry book in our P4/5 curriculum through Sonlight. Though poetry is not my thing, this book is not too bad. I like that it has a variety of poetry types and poetry from different cultures. The pictures are done by Eric Carle, which make them interesting to fit with the poems.

4 Stars

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I finished my 11th book in the Back to the Classics Challenge I am doing! This was my book for 19th century classic and even though I am very familiar with the story I really enjoyed reading it.

If you have been around for any length of time you have probably seen or heard some rendition of this story, but it is worth the read. It is clearly written, which is a great comfort as some classics can get lost in the words. I also appreciated that this book was short and a quick read, but still deep. There are certainly many thought provoking statements. It also is sobering to think of yourself and how you treat people. It would be great if it were truly Christian, but for not being a Christian work it was very good.

I am really glad I read it and recommend it for others.

4.5 stars for this classic!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Stories from Around the World

This book was part of the read alouds in our P4/5 Curriculum from Sonlight. As with any story book, you will not necessarily like them all, but I did enjoy the majority of the stories in this book. It is fun to see different folk tales from around the world and compare them to each other. Lillian enjoyed reading these stories and learning a little more about the cultures we were talking about.

4 stars

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Leading Little Ones To God

This book was given to us as our devotional book for Core B in our Sonlight Curriculum. It is a good basic book for introducing and explaining truths to children. The wording makes it evident that it was written awhile again and can feel awkward to read, but it was not bad. There were also times I did not agree with how they said something, so I wish I had read it ahead of time to know it was coming. These were very few and easy to correct.

As a whole I would recommend this as a devotional book for kids.

4 Stars

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

My 10th book for my Back to the Classics Challenge, was Lady Chatterly's Lover for the category of 20th Century Classic.

I bought this book years ago, I think in high school, so I was a little leery of reading it for likely obvious reasons. But I was quite surprised by this book. It wasn't excellent, but I was intrigued by many of the passages in this book. The words and pictures painted, though very vivid and risque, were similar to the pictures painted in the Song of Songs. It was a complete admiration for one another and the way, I believe, God wants us to look at our spouses. It is frustrating that this is such a secular view of this, but much can be learned in it.

I do not condone the actions in the book at all. I will say it is also a good picture of how easy it is to become disenchanted and abandon what you know to be true and right, no matter who you are.

At times it was difficult to read as parts were written in a cockney-esc dialect. The beginning was also slow and a bit unnecessary.

I also appreciate that there is an open-ended ending with no idea as to when, if ever, they will be together.

Does that mean I recommend this book? Yes and No. If you know yourself and have good control of your mind, you may be able to read this book and enjoy it as I did. If you are single, DO NOT READ IT! And if you have problems handling romance, I would not recommend this either.

I give this book 3 stars.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare

The Comedy of Errors is my 9th classic in my Back to the Classics Challenge and is the book for the "classic play" category.

Like most Shakespeare comedies, I quite enjoyed this play. It was a quick and easy read, which I greatly appreciated.

It was certainly funny, but sadly overly predictable. Act 1 Scene 1 allowed me to guess the play without having read it and without ever hearing a synopsis of the play. The ins and outs were not as predictable, which kept the humor for me.

Because I enjoy Shakespeare and this play kept well to the fashion I enjoy, I give it 4 stars, deducting 1 for the giveaway at the beginning of the play.