Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Reading

One thing I have always loved about summer is that I tend to have more uninterrupted time to read. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, love to read. It is one of my very favorite things to do because books offer so many things. Books can take you away to a different time or place, books can teach you, books can help you, books can motivate you, and books can show you how others have lived. I stated before in other posts that the library is one of my favorite places to go and that it is like a black hole for me that sucks me in and I can spend hours at a time in there. I love the fact that during the summer while the kids are having reading time (I try to have them read every single day), that I have the time to sit down and read to as opposed to the school year where I spend that chunk of time grading, lesson planning, or doing housework. So while I do read for fun during the school year, it is more interrupted and intermittent. This summer I am looking forward to reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction. So far this is my list....

Refiner's Fire Series by Lynn Austin - READ - excellent fiction series set in the Civil War
-Candle in the Darkness
-Fire by Night
-A Light to My Path

Chronicles of the Kings Series by Lynn Austin
-Gods and Kings
-Song of Redemption
-The Strength of His Hand
-Faith of My Fathers
-Among the Gods

 Sophie Trace Trilogy by Kathy Herman - READ/Reading the last book currently - excellent fiction mystery series
-The Real Enemy
-The Last Word
-The Right Call

The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer - partially READ (I'm just at a stuck spot that I have to work through, but I want to finish it this summer)

Made to Crave by Lisa Terkeurst

The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine

This is just the start to my summer reading list. I am sure I will find more books along the way to read. Are you doing any summer reading? What is on your list?

(Sorry for the issues with formatting for those of you who may have read an earlier version of this post.  I am still getting use to my new computer and how blogger shows up in it.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ripping Out the Seams

My latest project that I have undertaken is making some dresses for Baby Bear. I originally learned to sew on a sewing machine a bazillion years ago as a project in elementary school. I have always been intrigued by sewing my own clothes and when we had a little girl I knew that someday I would sew something for her too. My issue is that it has been FOREVER since I sewed on a machine from a pattern and it makes me really nervous because of course I want my project to be perfect. So this week I have spent time reading my pattern, figuring it out, and preparing to make a (what should be simple) dress for Baby Bear. I cut apart the pattern pieces, laid them out on the fabric, pinned them down, and cut out my pattern. I even learned how to use interfacing (that was a new one for me). Then it was time for the part I had to psych myself up for...the actual sewing. It isn't that I don't think that I can sew the dress, it is the fact that it may not be perfect. You see in my head I can see the finished dress and it is perfect without any flaws, but I know that in reality the dress won't be perfect, it will have a flaw or two. As I started sewing today, I quickly realized that I was going to need my seam ripper (I might have a lead foot). I sat there ripping out the stitches that didn't go exactly as I had planned and I realized that I could either sit there taking the stitches out being mad or I could sit there taking the stitches out being glad. I chose to be glad. No it wasn't fun to take out the stitches, but as I was ripping out the wrong stitches, I was glad to get a chance to fix my mistakes. I was glad to have the opportunity to right my wrongs and have a second (or even third) chance to get my sewing right. The more I thought about the mistakes I made sewing the more God showed me ripping out the stitches and fixing my mistakes is like the work He does in our life. When we do something wrong, God lovingly corrects us and reguides our path to help us get back on track. He rips out the wrong stitches and prepares the material to be sewed on again. He corrects us hoping we have learned from our mistakes, but He knows that sometimes we will make the same mistake several times. He doesn't give up when we don't get it right the first time, instead He continues to lovingly correct us until we do get it right. Realizing this is what made me glad about ripping out the stitches I messed up on. I am so glad that God doesn't give us just one chance to get it right and that He doesn't give up on us when we don't get it right the second time or the third time. He just waits patiently while continuing to guide us in the right direction and for that I am thankful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A New Curriculum

I promised to let everyone know what curriculum I picked after I went to the Home School Expo last weekend. My friend and I ended up not being able to attend the expo due to some things not working out in the schedule at the very last minute. I was a little bummed, but it was really okay because I had pretty much made my decision already. I just wanted to go to the expo to see the materials in person from my second choice because what I could see online was not quite enough for me. I wanted to see just a little more, but after talking to a couple of people about my first choice of curriculum and their experience with it, I know that it is the right choice. (Confusing sentence right...guess it goes with the territory when you talk about curriculum.) Anyway, without any further delay I will tell you our choice for curriculum next year...drumroll, please....Sonlight. I am looking forward to switching to the Sonlight Curriculum and all that it has to offer. I know that Sonlight is not right for every home school family, but I truly feel that it is the best fit for our family and it offers exactly what I have been looking for in our home school. I am excited to get it ordered and have it arrive so that we can check it out in detail. I am also excited to see how it will work for us and to see how it will change and improve our school. We will be using Sonlight for both of our kids at their appropriate grade levels and I can't wait to see what results we get by switching to our new curriculum.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let the Summer Begin

Woo Hoo!  I am excited to tell you that as of today our school year is officially over.  We finished our work last Friday, but I still had grading, calculating, and recording to do.  Remember I had about 3/4 of our grades in the computer and then it puked and died, so I had to go back and put everything done on paper.  I finished up all of my grading and recording this morning before doing anything else.  I had set the goal of finishing up all of the recording this week.  I was super excited to finish it up this morning a day earlier than I had planned.  I was even more excited to see how well Buddy Bear had done on his work and his grades for the year.  They were good, very good.  I am happy that we can officially close out this school year and I can go to the home school expo this weekend with next year's work on my mind.  It is a big weight off my shoulders.  So....without further ado...Let the Summer Begin!!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Randomness

Today I am pretty excited.  It is our last day of school and my brain just can't concentrate completely.  So here are some random things I am thinking this morning....

  • My ears are so happy because I don't have to hear any more complaints about doing school for a few months (while my son loves home school, he loves playing more so every day we have to go through the whole battle - Go get your school...I don't want to start yet...Let's get going...Focus....Get back to work....I'm almost done....Why do I have to do school every day? - blah, blah, blah)
  • I can't wait to start working on a new project I have lined up...I bought fabric on clearance and some patterns, can you see the blog post coming?
  • I am in the search for a new laptop or Ipad or something similar so I can have my own machine to work on again and not have to borrow my mom's.  (Thanks mom for letting me borrow your laptop every day, guess that is one advantage to having her stay here right now.)
  • We will finish planting our garden this weekend.  This makes me very happy because it means I will be eventually dining on wonderful fruits and veggies that I know exactly where they came from and how they were grown.  A garden is a lot of work, but well worth it in my opinion.
  • I've been trying to work out a little every day.  I am sure I will be able to feel my legs again one day.  :)
  • Next Saturday I am going with some friends to a home school expo so I will be able to look through the curriculum I have been checking out online and make the final, FINAL decision about a curriculum for next year.  I am 99% sure right now and just have a couple of final questions to get answered.  As soon I as I purchase one I will share my decision with anyone who cares to read it.  
  • I am finally getting caught up on my housework and maybe getting ahead...don't tell my to-do list.
  • I am hoping that once I get all of Buddy Bear's grades figured (remember my computer died with all the grades on it and I have to go back and figure them by hand), I will have time to do some of the little crafts that I have been planning on doing and make some tutorials/blog posts out of them.
  • You can finally find me on Google Plus, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can follow me on any of them by clicking the links on the side of my blog.  I know I said I wasn't going to do it, but it became necessary to join Google + and I really just wanted to join Pinterest.  :)
That is about all that is rolling around in the brain today.  One more thing before I go.  We have a busy weekend and I am not sure I will get around to posting again this weekend so to all the Mom's out there...

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lack of Posts

I sincerely apologize for my lack of posts this week and last week as well.  I am sad to say that my computer officially died.  It was still hanging on by a thread at the end of last week and then I apparently made the mistake of hitting the back button.  That is what killed it, I went back.  :)  So the computer started doing some crazy things and I had to turn it off.  Now it is just dead....okay I think it is just the video card and maybe something more.  Anyway, it live a pretty good life and had some other issues too.  So now we are in the process of hunting down the best deal on the right laptop.  The second reason for my lack of posting this week is that it is our last week of school.  We are so close to being done and I think Buddy Bear and I are equally excited.  I was more excited before my computer crashed because now I have to go back and figure his grades by hand (yep, they were almost done on the computer program I use, but that is on said dead laptop), so I guess I will be in school a little longer than I thought.  So once I get a laptop and school finished up, I hope to have creative bursts again so I can post something great for you all to read.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Jealousy

So I have never been very good at just doing one thing at a time and that includes reading books.  I usually read multiple books at once, doesn't everyone?  Anyway one of the books I am currently reading is for one of our Women's Bible Studies at my church.  The book is "Managing Your Moods" from the Women of Faith Study Guide Series.  This thin little book is packed full of many nuggets of wisdom.  The chapter I have been working on this month for our study is called "The Green-Eyed Monster."  When I first started reading I thought that it would be a pretty easy chapter because I thought I didn't really struggle with jealousy too much, but I was completely wrong.  Jealousy isn't just a longing for what others have, it is an attitude of "what about me" and "it isn't fair for me..."  That hit home pretty hard.  How many times have I complained that I have too much to do, I have too many things to take care of, I feel overwhelmed....me, me, me.  I am guilty of wanting more free time, more help, more sympathy and I am guilty of trying to make my situation sound worse than it is when I really have it pretty good.  I shouldn't be complaining or wanting things that I don't need like more free time when the truth is I would just waste it.  I should be serving others, reading my Bible, and doing the things that God has called me to do.  The book pointed out that "jealousy brings with it other emotions - envy, resentment, bitterness, covetousness."  Is that who I really want to be?  No, because that is not living my best.  Those emotions that come with jealousy is the world creeping in and taking over my life.  I have to stomp down those emotions and jealousy so that they don't take over and ruin what I work for every day, a closer walk with God.  Allowing the littlest bit of jealousy to enter into my thoughts, opens the door for the other emotions and they will quickly take over and throw me off the path of God and that is the last thing that I want.  We have to constantly pray that God helps us see that what we have is more than enough, it is exactly what He wants us to have and if we need more He will give it to us.  God knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it.  When we are struggling with jealousy, then we are wanting what God has not given to us and saying that He doesn't know our needs which is absolutely not true.  The way to combat jealousy is to serve others more.  It sounds overwhelming, but we know that more we give the more God will renew us.

Galatians 6:9  "We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up."
Luke 6:38 "Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands--more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you."

So the next time the Green-Eyed Monster threatens to take over, stomp it down, pray, and tell it you have no use for it.  Then go out and give to others in some way - bake cookies, send an encouraging note, surprise a friend with coffee - just go lift up someone else and you will be lifted too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Garden Transformation

When we moved into our house about 7 years ago, our house needed some "TLC."  It had sat empty for awhile before we bought it and it needed some cleaning and love so that we could move in.  We took care of the waist high yard and cut down some of the trees that were growing in random places throughout the yard, but that is about all we did with the landscaping that first year.  We focused more of our attention on the inside of the house.  Over the last few years though, we have put in several flower beds and worked on maintain those.  All that time there is an area of the yard that bothered me.  It was our front flower bed.  It was large and covered with large stones and had just a couple of random bushes in it.  The bushes that were there didn't go together and they seemed to be random thoughts of the previous owners (you know, "huh, guess this looks nice, I'll plant it....here).  There was no order, method, or warmth to the flower bed.  The first thing to go in the flower bed was a barberry bush.  I don't have anything against them when they are planted in the right place, but this one was right where kids were destined to run into its painful thorns.  The next thing I decide was that I never really liked it and it just felt cold and uninviting to me.  I had nothing against the stones that were there and there are many stone gardens that are beautiful, but this one just didn't go with the house and it wasn't the feel that I wanted for our entryway.  I decided that I really wanted to make my flower bed into more of a sustainable garden and less of a flower bed.  So we started digging out the rock and planning out what to plant.  I used frames from my hubby's work to start my sustainable garden and that is where I planted my herbs.  Last year, we tried growing more veggies up in the sustainable garden bed, but they didn't do so well.  So this year we added some plants and flowers to it as well as some veggies that we could plant already and we will be planting more herbs and veggies in the front sustainable garden as soon as the weather breaks for good.  It is our front garden that is a true work in progress.  I am still researching sustainable gardens and trying to figure out what will grow best out there, but for now I thought I would show some before and after during pictures of my rock bed transformed into a garden area.

The rock garden at the beginning.

Rocks gone, porch mostly gone and in planning stages.  You can see my frames I use for my herbs.

A new walk way and the patio in process.

My talented hubby built my trellis out of leftover material so that my grapes have a place to grow.

My front garden early this spring after planting some bulbs...we are patiently waiting for it to grow and see how it turns out this year.