Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Books We Read in 2015

I began the year intending to read more. I joined the reading challenge at Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I started off with much enthusiasm and inspiration from the group Pinterest board. Twelve books seemed totally doable!

I've learned something about myself this year: perhaps I'm not quite the voracious reader I thought I was! I love books. I love reading. I think it's important as all get out. But I apparently lack focus. Call it being an INFP, call it being a mom with (now) four young children (my fourth was born late this spring!), call it being a homeschooling mom. At any rate, I fell short of my twelve book goal, but ultimately, I'm sure I read more books than I would have if I didn't participate in the challenge at all!

Here are the books that my eyeballs scanned in 2015! (I will include some of the homeschooling books we read aloud as well!)

Books I Read

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan- A hilarious (yet extremely accurate) look at parenthood. I laughed out loud many times.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (A book in a genre you don't typically read)- A story of a young woman who unintentionally adopts a little girl. They end up making a happy life for themselves in the Arizona desert.
Supernatural Childbirth by Terry Mize (A book you've been meaning to read)- Such a powerful look at what the Word of God says about pregnancy and birth. Definitely a must-read for any woman who desires to have children.
Family: The Ties that Bind...and Gag by Erma Bombeck (A book your mom loves)- My mom loved Erma Bombeck, and I actually had a copy of this book that my mom owned. A funny and reflective look at family life from the "empty nest" season. (Yet still relatable for those of us with young children at home).
Scream-Free Parenting by Hal Runkel- Definitely needed (and still could probably stand to re-read) this book about controlling our responses to our children.

Abandoned Books (AKA "good intentions").

I'm including these because I did invest a significant amount of time in these titles, and plan to get back to them at some point! 

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (a part of the Read Great Books Challenge with Hollywood Housewife- apparently I like reading challenges!)- Tom Joad gets out of jail, and heads out on the road with his family from the Dust Bowl to greener pastures, and then...(my sister actually bought me a copy for my birthday after she heard I couldn't finish it before it was due back at the library.)
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson- An amusing and informative look at life on the Appalachian Trail. Is it ironic that I put this down midway through and have vowed to get back to it...sometime? Ha.
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (a book "everyone" has read but you)- I really wanted to get sucked into this book so that I could understand the love and devotion of the fans of this series. I may pick it back up another time, but did I mention that I am notorious for falling asleep during these movies (and once in the theater!)? Someday, Bilbo.

Currently Reading

Discipline the Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot- Probably one of the most life-changing and encouraging books I've read in a while (I have abandoned this not once, but twice, but SO need this message). I love Elliot's no-nonsense style and so far the attitudes she has confronted in me have helped me so much in my day to day life.
Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt- Children and the books to read to them. Two of my favorite things to talk about!
The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer- A book for grown-ups about getting the education you never had. I love this idea, and the books recommended in it. It's about training your mind, and filling in the gaps you may have from your own school years.
The Making of Home by Judith Flanders- A really interesting look at how the modern home came to be.

Children's Books

These are just some of the bigger books I've read aloud with my older children this year for school. I'm working on developing the habit of consistently reading to my two younger ones (ages 3.5 and almost 8 months). I've read many books to my younger two, but only started keeping track of them recently.

Charlotte's Web by EB White- A classic story of the redemptive friendship between a spider and a pig.
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary- The quirky and lovable Ramona Quimby and the tales of her adventures at home and school.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes- A short chapter book about a quiet, unpopular girl and how she surprises her classmates.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder- Life on the prairie with Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie.
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz- A family moves west, as told from the perspective of a young girl. (A must-read if your family likes the Little House on the Prairie books, though it is chronologically before Laura's time).
The Children's Book of Heroes by William J. Bennett- A book of short stories and poems about the people we call heroes.
Mad About Madeline: the Complete Tales by Ludwig Bemelmans- Madeline and all of her adventures.

I'd love to hear what you've read this year! Leave a comment!

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Five Minute Friday- Freedom

I'm laughing to myself about how hard it was to write without a specific prompt. I tried out a few different words, but found myself really unhappy with all of them. I almost didn't participate this week, but I told myself I would do so for at least the month of December, so, here you have it. Freedom. Untamed brain. Enjoy! Hee hee. 


This week's five minute Friday was a "choose your own word" edition. Yikes! My first thought, was "that's great! So much to choose from!" But when I started to try to narrow it down from the vast sea of random words, I was intimidated. What would I writea bout?

Freedom. Freedom to choose. Freedome to do, or not do. Freedom to express yourself---or not.

What are we choosing to do? We have much more freedom than we realize. Free to respond. Free to assume something about someone. Free to fill in the blank.

Freedome to speak. Freedom to think and imagine. Freedom must be paired with discipline. We must discipline ourselves. I'm free to sleep until my children wake up in the morning, but with discipline, I actually find more freedom to create, to rest, to be.

At times, freedom can be too much. It can be too free.

And stop.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

One Small Habit

I have been through seasons of mothering where I just feel frazzled. The house won't stay tidy(ish), every time I turn around, someone needs something from me, I don't have any "me time" set aside in my day.

What I realized is that a lot of times, my own personal habits were contributing to my feelings of being stressed! At times, I go around putting out all these little fires, when something really simple could have prevented that "fire" altogether.

  • If I come across my preschooler's stray shoe in a random room, and take a minute to put it away instead of telling myself that I'll remember where I saw it earlier
  • If I wash the dishes in the sink before bed instead of leaving them for later
  • If I get my coffee ready to brew the night before instead of trying to measure coffee grounds and water first thing in the morning
  • If I renew a book through the library's website right when I remember to instead of putting it off
  • If I decide what I want to make for dinner early in the morning, and pull meat from the freezer to thaw right away instead of thinking that I have time to think about it

I'm sensing a theme! If the task is something that only takes a moment, do it NOW, rather than promising yourself that you'll remember to do it later, at a more convenient time. I don't know how many times I've kicked myself for putting something off that could have been done quickly and easily.

What I tell myself in these moments when I'm tempted to ignore a task, is "doing this now will be a blessing to me later!" That may sound like a selfish way of thinking, but it really is a help to everyone in my family. In the instance of putting the shoes away the moment I notice them abandoned on the floor, I won't be scrambling later, or delayed on our way out the door. It really helps everyone! (And mom isn't stressing out, which I've come to realize is hugely important to my husband and children!)

How about you? Are you taking an extra minute to bless your future self? Is there anything you could do right now, that you'll thank yourself for later? 

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Reflect


Reflect. I pause to reflect on this past year. I'm not feeling terribly nostalgic at this moment, but I reflect to see how far I've come this year, and where to go next.

I'm in a state of re-establishment. Defining our new normal, after the birth of my fourth baby. Creating time to pursue some goals. Getting back in the practice of writing. Enjoying it.

Getting our home back in order after the long last months of pregnancy. And the long/short months of the newborn period. Finding our rhythm as a family of six.

Finding discipline for myself. A daily check-in with God. Seeing my reflection again. Oh, there I am!

Reflect. This year has been one of growth in many ways. I pray for continued growth in the year to come.


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Monday, December 7, 2015

My Christmas Playlist 2015

I'm no music expert (I generally like to leave to that my husband), but I like finding new Christmas music to listen to along with my "old standbys" of the season (Harry Connick, Jr, Jewel, and The Chipmunks if you're curious). This year, here are some songs that are new-to-me. Apparently, I'm drawn to mellow acoustic sounds mixed with female vocals (mostly). I think this is a pretty good mix of traditional and newer, original songs, but they have encouraged a light, peaceful tone in my home, so I really like that! I hope you check out some of these songs and enjoy them as much as I have!

(I have linked to the actual artist's YouTube video as much as possible for those who want to follow them or purchase the music). 

1. It Really is (a Wonderful Life) by Mindy Smith
2. What Child is This by Mindy Smith
3. White Christmas by Bright Eyes
4. Mele Kalikimaka by Jadon Lavik
5. The Christmas Waltz by She & Him
6. O Come O Come Emmanuel by Sixpence None the Richer
7. Silent Night by Sixpence None the Richer
8. Christmastime is Here by Sixpence None the Richer
9. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by The Good Lovelies
10. Jingle Bells by Tyrone Wells
11. No Christmas for Me by Zee Avi
12. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson

What Christmas music are you enjoying this year? 

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Seasons are About Change

Season. We are well into the Christmas season.

With that comes the lists from my children. My oldest is now eight, and the seasons are changing for him, too. It used to be that he was a bit oblivious of the times and seasons, and now it's a big deal for him. He recently has begun counting down to his birthday, and Christmas, and other occasions when he might get stuff.

It's so important to him. I miss the seasons when it was easier to surprise him. Times were simpler when he was younger.

My six year old is still in that season of simplicity. My three year old is coming into the season where he is aware of different occasions. And the baby? Everything is new for her!

Seasons are about change. For children and for mothers. 

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