Saturday, January 31, 2009

What I read in January....

With ratings 1-5 of course! I know I am a day early, but I am not going to finish the book I am currently reading today!

1. Me, Myself and Bob: A True Story About Dreams, God, and Talking Vegetables – 5 – Phil Vischer – what a way to start the year! This was a great book – telling the story of the creation, rise, and incredible fall of Big Idea (VeggieTales). I enjoyed it from every aspect – it was an autobiography, a history, a business book (what not to do!) and a book about a relationship with God. Parts of it were incredibly funny. Overall, a very enjoyable book that left me with a lot to think about. I am going to recommend this book to my church reading group.

2. Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery – 4 – David Albert – I love his work – his families’ education is “child-directed, community based”. When I start getting all caught up in schedules and all the things that I think we “need to do and need to know” I love to read his books and just relax with it.

3. The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa – 3 – Bill Wallace – our Christmas read aloud. It probably would have been better if we’d been consistent with it. The chapters alternated between Don, the son and Frank, the family dog. The boys enjoyed it.

4. Boo – 3 – Rene Gutteridge – light Christian lit – a world famous horror novelist becomes a Christian and gives up writing horror. Only problem, the small town he lives in has built its’ entire industry on being the “home of “ – with all horror themed businesses. So, a group of very un-Christian townsfolk plot to make him lose his faith and go back to writing. Meanwhile, he is in love with the town good girl. It was an okay book, funny in spots, not particularly inspiring. I think it was sad reading a book about people who are supposed to be Christians doing mean and deceitful things.

5. Mama’s Homemade Love : A Southern Woman Leaves a Legacy– 4 – Barbara Sims – short little book, a collection of essays about her mother, who was a very Godly woman and left a legacy of “giving, godliness and love.”

6. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire – 5 – Jim Cymbala – the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle tells the story of how a church that was drawing its’ last gasp was turned around by the prayers of its’ people and the power of the Holy Spirit. Inspiring, and very convicting. This was my reading goal book for the month.

7. Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God – 4 – Stacy McDonald and Jennie Chancey. I’ve had this for months and really expected to not like it. I really enjoyed the chapters Stacy wrote about being at home with the family, and I did not care as much for Jennie’s chapters which were more “anti” the feminist movement. I am not a feminist, but I think Stacy’s chapters were just gentler and more joyful.

8. Guilty – 3.5 – Ann Coulter – I had a tough time finishing this, and I also was depressed all week – I think the book contributed. It was a good book, well-written, but it was all about the lies and hypocrisy of the media and I listen to conservative talk radio and read conservative books and mags, so none of it was really new. And it seems like the things that go on can’t be stopped, and it is so frustrating to me. So, a 200 page book took me almost a week to finish, when usually I can read 200 pages in a day or so. Passionate Housewives was the same way, took me a week to read. Guilty was better than How To Talk to a Liberal, and about the same as Godless, but no where near as good as Treason. I really learned things from that book.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Some fat free cheese with that whine....

The snow has really gotten us away from our school schedule. Generally, I would say that there is no time for school when there is outside fun to be had - that is my philosophy. If it is a great day, and I look out and four little boys are all playing, running, jumping and having fun together - there is no way I am going to make them come inside to diagram sentences or something. But, I am off my schedule this week, and being a creature of schedule, this has thrown me. And, there are boots, mittens, etc. everywhere. I know this is all good, the kids are loving it. I shall keep telling myself that.

I am, however,having a terrible week, Weight Watchers-wise. This probably ties in with my last post where I was eating gingerbread for lunch!

I was talking to my friend Angel on the phone last night and she says she can tell I'm not drinking my water and am bloated. She can tell this OVER THE PHONE.(note - get new friends, this one is very peculiar.....). And - here is the kicker. Most Sunday evenings I take my two oldest boys to Dairy Queen (I know, I know...) after AWANA. We go if one of them gets an award. Being overachievers, we usually go 3 times a month. I have been getting my dinner there - regular hamburger and small fry. According to the 2008 Dining Out book, that is 12 points. But now I have the 2009 book - and it is 17 points. I checked DQ's website. Yep. 17 points. A small hot fudge sundae with nuts is only 9! But it is so cold, and they have a fireplace, and I so look forward to my nice hot burger and fries. But 17 points! As I am on "maintenance" with WW (trying to maintain my weight loss) I get 28 points a day - so 17 is really quite a bit for one meal. No wonder I'm bloated, I've been eating 5 points more than I thought every week! This is so unfair.

Tony came in while I was grousing about it and he said, "So what - once a week - live a little." Grrr, get out of my room you little cretin!

I only called him that because I knew he didn't know what it meant.

So, today is the last day of my week, I have 3 Weekly Points left. I can do this. My gosh, last summer I only had 23 points a day and never ate my WP. I am really struggling now, though. All the produce in the store is a)yucky and b)$$$$$. So, I am not eating many veggies, and you know what? I DON'T WANT ANY. I want warm, baked (or fried, I'm not picky) food.

Just so you know I am whining needlessly, I lost 25 pounds last summer and I have maintained that loss. I did so good right up until Christmas, and I even didn't gain but 1 pound back from Thanksgiving to New Year. I have got to get back to my regular meeting - 3 more weeks of the swim lessons - I have not been able to make my regular meeting because it conflicts with the boys' swim class, and there just are not very many meetings where I live.

I know I need to QUIT whining and go eat a salad, or an orange with my breakfast, or any other real food.

Hmm, blueberry muffins sound good.....STOP IT!

Side note - because of the snow all week, I've been making lots of hot chocolate for the kids, the real kind, on the stove. And yes, I've been drinking it too.

Milk is good for you though. My story, I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Giving In (already!)

Today, I gave in.

It is so cold and snowy, and we got moving a little late. I try to start school by 9:00. Okay, by 9:30. Anyway, I am cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast. I have just broken my egg into the fat to fry it when the phone rings. Ozark Federal bank, calling because I am usually a good customer...uh, oh. You got it. Bounce. Bong. Bounce. No way, I know there is more in the account than that.

Pause for a moment to acknowledge that the bank is ALMOST ALWAYS right.

After my egg turned to yuck, many phone calls and trying to access their site on my dial up (which disconnects a lot!) I find that not only did I electronically pay my mortgage this month (my mortgage, checking and saving are with the same bank) but somehow I set it up to automatically transfer that same amount from my checking to my savings. So, I paid my mortgage and then it magically moved the exact same amount from my checking to my savings. My savings account looked quite nice this morning - too bad I had negative numbers in checking!

We will acknowledge that somehow I did this, and it was not the banks' fault. The good folks at Ozark waived the $40 nsf fee and ran my checks through, which was really nice since we don't want to be bouncing checks to the Baptist church!

Meanwhile, while this fun was going on, the older boys were supposed to be doing their schoolwork. Tony can't find his history book, so he walked around for 20 minutes. I found it in 2 seconds. Then he informed me he forgot to do his math yesterday. Then Joe and Henry got into an argument and started yelling.

And then I started yelling. And ran in my bedroom and laid facedown on the bed and prayed (dear God, please don't let me kill them.......) until it passed. Calmly I went downstairs, and we did history and science. And then I gave in and sent them outside in the snow.

Henry declined to go outside, and I gave in and let him have hot chocolate with marshmallows and gingerbread for lunch.

And then I gave in and had gingerbread for lunch.

And it was really good.

As they come in I will dry all their clothes, then this afternoon they will go back out and I will make a nice pot of hot chocolate. And maybe I will give in to some fresh cookies.

Reading Goals for 2009

I read a lot - last year I finished 114 books. It must be noted, that a lot of my reading falls into the fun/light (okay, twaddle!) category. Not all of it, but quite a bit. So, for the last few years I've given myself goals.

For two years, I read a classic each month. I have shelves full of books like Jane Eyre, Pride and Predjudice, etc. I just never "got around" to reading them. So, I made a list and read one a month.

That's pretty much run its' course, so this year I decided to tackle the huge stack of Christian books that have accumulated on my shelf. My goal is one a month. I don't necessarily expect to hit that, so I don't have 12 books in the stack - just in case. But here are the ones I set aside as "definite to-read" this year:

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire - Jim Cymbala (read this month, off to a good start)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism - I am going to just read it - I get bogged down because my copy has review questions and I always try to do them, on paper. This year, just read.
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
The Church of the East - John Holzmann
In His Steps - Charles M. Shelton
The Evolution of a Creationist - Jobe Martin
Singing Through the Night - Anneke Companjen
Whose Bible Is It? - Jaroslav Pelikan
Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament - Thomas Howard
The Jesus I Never Knew - Philip Yancey
Come Before Winter - Chuck Swindoll

I also have stacks of missionary biographies that I'd like to read - historical ones, like Amy Carmichael, as well as contemporary stories.

I really like to read about other denominations, too. I have read several books in the last few years about the Amish faith, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. And, I love to read Church history. Interesting the differences in events, based on who is telling the story!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mothering boys on a snowy day

We've had a cold, snowy, sleety day. The boys have loved it, of course! Because the local schools were closed, our swimming class at the Y was cancelled. So, we did some schoolwork this morning. We are reading a biography of William Penn right now, and really enjoying it, and we started a unit on electricity in science.

Anyway, I got done with lunch and I know that I really need to go get all the boys bundled up. Nevin got all their hats, gloves, etc. together last night. But, it is still this sort of hard, frozen snow. I think only a bad mother would send her children out in that. So, I called Nevin. He gave me a long dialogue on how boys need to be outside, how they WANT to be outside when it is like this, it is an adventure, etc. So, I got off the phone, got them ready and sent them out. I went out for a little to feed the chickens, take pictures of the snowman, etc. Henry only made it about 15 minutes, but the others stayed out about an hour. So, I made a pot of nice hot chocolate for them when they came in.

Later today I talked to Nevin and I told him that when we spoke earlier, he made me feel like an inadequate mother - that I didn't know they were supposed to be outside. He said no, I am a very good mother - but I am an inadequate FATHER. A father knows that boys want to be outside in this, and that is why he had to tell me.

Oh, that makes sense. Now I feel better!

I got to make another pot of chocolate tonight, because on his way home, Nevin bought a snowboard. After dinner they all bundled up again (including Dad!) and went out to snowboard and sled in the dark. No, I would not have ever thought of doing that!

And it is still sleeting, by the way!

Sometimes it is very strange to be the only girl in a house full of men. There are days when I get to be the princess - and many days where I am just the serving wench! But I am so blessed by all my men.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Priorities

I attend a womens' Bible study and discussion group on Sunday evenings. I love it. It has been so fun, especially since it is at a church I don't attend - no preconceived notions about anything or anyone. It is very casual, no workbook or homework. The jumping off place is Proverbs 31, and we take it from there. Mainly, the focus is our relationship with God, and how that plays out in our lives.

Last night we spoke about priorities. All of my adult life, I have had "the list" put in front of me. All together now! 1. God 2. Spouse 3. Children 4. church/home/work/extended family/community, etc. I have also had this expressed to me as "JOY" Jesus/others/yourself. However, the way it was presented last night is that there is no list, in descending order. We have one priority - God. Our relationship with him. When we are right with God, all the rest will fall into place. Instead of a vertical list, God is in the center, like the center of a wheel, and the other items radiating out like spokes.

If my relationship with God - if my study of the Word is solid, if my prayer is from my heart, if I am trusting Him, if I am walking in His ways - then the rest will come. I will not neglect my husband or children (not even for time to blog!). I will care for the home and "stuff" God has blessed us with. I will love others as I am commanded. The order may be different on different days. When a child is sick, I will probably put him first. If the house has hit "disaster stage" then I will make housework my priority that day. And when my husband walks in the door, I jump up and greet him (and have trained the kids to do so, too) and whatever I was reading or messing around with loses its' importance.

God will make His priorities our priorities. And what are they? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. No checklist.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bibliovore Life

I am an avid reader - last year I read 114 books. I do count chapter books that I read aloud with my older boys - I do not count picture books with the younger boys! I also only count cookbooks if I actually sat down and read through them. This does not happen often, but it does happen!

Ikeep a "Library List" in excel of the books I want to read - when I see a review, or someone gives me a recomendation I log it there. Then when I have time I check the local libraries' online catalogs, and note who has it (or if it is going to be interlibrary loan). I also use paperbackswap and bookmooch to trade books - I've gotten hundred of books in the last few years, and traded away almost as many. This is great for getting books for my sons' school, also.

After I read a book I log it on my Reading List and yes, I am obsessive enough to rate my books, 1-5.

I thought I'd post a few of the books I enjoyed in December, and every month I'll post the previous months' reviews.

48 Liberal Lies About American History (That You Probably Learned In School – 3 – Larry Schweikart – some of it was very interesting, some sleep-inducing. I’d recommend it for someone who is just beginning to understand the liberal bias that is prevalent in our history texts. Good start for those interested in learning our history from a conservative perspective.

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran – 3 – it was okay – it was really a lot of navel-gazing. I kept reading thinking I was getting to the good part.

Deeper Water – 4 – Robert Whitlow – homeschooled law student (Tammy/Tami) from very conservative rural family (dresses only, no cutting hair, etc.) takes a summer clerk position in a prestigious law firm. Actually, the girl’s story is interesting and her faith and the way her heart is and her personal convictions are very inspiring. The story as a crime/courtroom thriller – not so hot. First in a series, slight cliffhanger. Read this for my church book club. Overall, the book club gave it a 3.5. It did spark some really good discussion, too.

I have read other books by Whitlow – some were better courtroom stories, but this really gave you an opportunity to get to know Tammy and what makes her tick.

The Tale of Despereaux – 4.5 – Kate DiCamillo – excellent story of a young mouse with exceptionally large ears who becomes a hero. Read aloud with my older boys and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood – 4.75 – Charlotte Connors – fun, fun story. I liked this on so many levels. One that really stood out – Christian mothers, having to constantly defend and explain why they are working outside of the home, as they try to build a family-friendly business, where the kids are always welcome and family comes first. We moms seem to be divided so much on this issue, and it gets so personal – so dogmatic at times. It was interesting to read another perspective and to maybe (just maybe!) think that the way my family does things might not be the way for every family. I also enjoyed the story of the character who was a new Christian, and she did not dress like the ladies at her church, and her daughter did not fit in, either. Sometimes it is so good to get a stereotype slapped upside the head. Good clean, funny story. Sort of like Yada Yada Prayer Group, but lighter - more about the interaction of the characters. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

Do The Right Thing – 4 – Mike Huckabee – insider’s view of his campaign, and his plan to get America back on track – very interesting and fast-paced. I agreed with almost everything.

The Shape of Mercy – 5- Susan Meissner – excellent story of a rich college girl who takes a job transcribing a diary written by one of the victims of the Salem witch trials. The story is not so much about the witch trials, as it is about the three women (Lauren the student, Abigail the elderly employer and Mercy, the diarist) and how their lives are intertwined, and about the presumptions and judgments we make about others. Read it in about 24 hours –stayed up past midnight to finish.

The Howards of Caxley – 4 – Miss Read – I have read all her Fair Acre and Thrush Green books, and now the two Caxley Chronicles. I am so going to miss my villages in the Cotswolds.

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil – 4.25 – Nancy Atherton – more ghostly adventures with Aunt Dimity. I like how she manages to wrap a ghost story and a love story into each one.

Wishful Drinking – 1.25 – Carrie Fisher. I almost had to revise my “worst book of the year” nomination. I was really looking forward to this, and it was horrible. Totally disjointed and hard to follow, and filled with profanity and graphic sexual comments that really had no place in the story, other than to let us know that Carrie Fisher is a very crude person. Oh, and she hates George W. Bush, and only likes one Republican, but he’s dead now. No insight into her mental illness, no structured storyline of her journey – just a bunch of one-liners about peoples’ sex lives and drug use; sarcastic biting remarks about her father, etc. I was expecting something with some sort of triumph, or encouragement for others suffering – this was just a gobbledygook of “look how clever and smart-mouthed I am”. Extremely disappointing. I kept reading it, thinking we’d get past this and get to the recovery part.

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

I just finished reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Excellent book. He became the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle in 1972 when the place was falling apart and they were down to a handful in membership. Through the prayers of the people and the power of the Holy Spirit, the church has grown into many branches, serving all over the country. I love this quote:

"If the times are indeed as bad as we say they are.....if the darkness in our world is growing heavier by the moment....if we are facing spiritual battles right in our own homes and churches.....then we are foolish not to turn to the One who supplies unlimited grace and power. He is our only source. We are crazy to ignore Him."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Desire of Your Heart

A few weeks ago I started in a Bible discussion group at Faith Baptist. I am a member of First Baptist, but my two older boys Tony and Ben go to AWANA at Faith. So, when they started a womens' group I was so excited to join in. It is perfect for me - the same time as the boys are in AWANA and I'm already there, great discussion, and NO HOMEWORK. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Beth Moore Bible Studies, but I can't keep up with them in this season of life.

Anyway - for this Sunday we are supposed to be thinking and praying about the desire of our hearts.

We are studying Proverbs 31.

I love the part about her children rising up and calling her blessed. I want mine to - not because I am so wonderful, but because my being their mother has been a blessing to them. That I have done right by them. The desire of my heart is to see my children saved, to have faith in Christ.

We are now 50% there - this week Ben and I had much discussion, and he is saved. I was really taken back by how much he understands, and the things he wanted to know. He does not jump into anything lightly!

My prayer journal for 1/15 was all about praying that Ben would come to faith, that he would heed the Holy Spirit. I knew he'd been thinking about it for a while, but he seemed to have defenses up. So, we've just been open to discuss and pray. Then on the 16th he told me he was ready to believe - that he actually has always believed, but today he was professing (okay, he was telling me, I said professing) that Jesus is his Saviour.

What a wonderful day. What a wonderful eternity.

He does say that he does not want to "go in front of everyone and get baptized". Hey, one step at a time.

So, now I have something to share at my womens' group tomorrow night.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yesterday I had a wonderful afternoon - I got to take my very first Adult Sunday School teacher out to lunch. When I began coming to church as an adult, I was blessed enough to end up in Ann Adams' class. She was the first Christian woman who ever sort of "took me under her wing".

We went to Cracker Barrel and the library, then sat at her house and "visited" for about an hour. What a pleasant way to spend a cold afternoon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting started.....

One of the things I vowed I'd never do - have a blog.

I have always thought of blogs as being for people who "thought they were so important that they actually thought others cared what they thought".

But I signed up to follow my friend Debi's blog, and it asked if I'd like one of my very own......and well, who can turn it down!

To introduce myself - I am a homeschooling mom to four boys, wife to the best guy in the world, a Christian who is still "learning to trust" on a day-to-day (sometimes minute to minute) basis. An avid reader. An enthusiastic cook, a lifetime member of Weight Watchers (do the two go hand in hand, or what!). Mainly, I am a lifelong learner, and I hope to instill the love of learning in my boys.

I have no idea where this blog will go, or even if anyone else will ever read it, goes nuthin'!