Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Recent Reading Adventure



Reconstructing Amelia. * * * * * (5 Stars)

Wow! This book. If you weren't aware of high school bullying, high school social classes and peer pressures most of us were most likely never exposed to, this book will be an eye opener.

Firstly, let me put out some disclaimers here: This book is full of strong, foul language. There is a lesbian relationship with details (some of which I think could have been left out). This book exposes bullying to the extreme, so some of the content may be disturbing to some. This book exposes the lack of respect for authority. Also exposed is the lack of awareness parents have in regards to their children's social life, media life and academic life.

While I don't make it a habit and I'm not drawn to books with such foul language, I do believe the author included this as a way to expose how teens talk to each other and authority. And sadly, it's true. There has been such an increase of disregard to authority and the abundance of disrespect displayed it's staggering.

In Reconstructing Amelia, Kate is a single a mother rearing Amelia. Kate is an attorney at a prestigious law firm in New York and pays high tuition for Amelia to attend a prestigious academy. However, in spite of the family dynamics of an overworked mother who leaves her daughter home alone most of the days, Amelia is a good student and a good daughter. However, she quickly became wrapped up in a social clique and became a good girl who was targeted thus leading Amelia to make bad choices.

Kate was at work when she received a phone call that Amelia had been suspended for cheating on a paper and Kate needed to come pick her up immediately. Kate was later than she had planned to pick up Amelia and when she walked up to the school, she walked up to find her daughter dead. Amelia had jumped off the school's roof. Or had she? When Kate returned to work after her sabbatical to grieve Amelia's death, she received an anonymous text from a blocked number "Amelia didn't jump". This text takes the reader on a journey full of twists and anticipation to finding the truth behind Amelia's death. And in finding the truth, the world of high school social life is exposed.

I can't say that the book is well written. It's a debut for Kimberly McCreight. But the plot is one full of twists and suspense. The plot is entertaining in regards to reading. But sadly, the plot is very real in regards to teen/high school social life. And for that reason, is why I would encourage parents to read it. This was a book I chose for our book club. Two of the women said they couldn't finish because it hit too close to home with some issues they had had with their children. They were most respectful of the choice and wouldn't discourage others to read it and they both agreed that they need to read it but in due time. I had read several discussions where mothers found this to be a hard book to read because of all the issues it exposes.

When reading this, I felt I was reading an episode of Law & Order SVU. You know the ones where a teen is involved and the detectives just keep uncovering the most twisted of plots in the secret of life the kids involved. Well, this book is much like that.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Parenting vs Screen Time

There are days I could honestly throw our TV, PlayStation, IPads and phones into the lake that's 1/2 a mile from our house. There are days I have a very real guilt for the amount of time I spend on my phone and the amount of time I allow my boys to spend in front of a screen. It's a difficult struggle to balance active play, active family time with screen time.

I find it much easier to park in front of a TV than to plan active family time or non-screen activities, especially, when there are 4 of us with different ideas of what is "fun".

I'm a convinced believer that TV has helped contribute to the breakdown of the family. Well, not the TV itself but the influences TV/media has had on the family. And now, in my lifetime, I can add Smartphone, computer and social media technology to the list of modern influences to the contributing factors.

I'm very well aware that these facets in and of themselves aren't the enemy but we easily and conveniently choose them to entertain us to the point they separate us instead of bringing us together. And in the worst cases, causing heartache and harm to the family.

I wish I had some testimony of how I am able to convince myself and my family to spend less time looking at a screen. But truth is, I don't. I go through sporadic interventions with our boys of cutting back but then we seem to fall back to the old convenient entertainment of screens.
I can attest, though, that my boys exhibit much better behavior and attitudes when they have been detoxed from video games and TV.

Parenting...it's hard and screen/media certainly adds to the pressures and vigilance of trying to do it rightly.


^^^^The above link is an article from Forbes "The Truth About Parenting in a World Full of Screens

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Easy Crockpot Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
1 30oz. bag of frozen diced hash browns
1 32 oz box of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup (10 oz)
1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz, not fat free)
3 oz bacon bits 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:
Put the hash browns in the crockpot.  Add in the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and half of the bacon bits.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until potatoes are tender.  
An hour before serving, cut the cream cheese into small cubes.  Place the cubes in the crock pot.  Mix a few times throughout the hour before serving.  
 Once the cream cheese is completely mixed in, it's ready to serve.  
Top with cheddar cheese and some additional bacon bits.  

**** I've used both frozen shredded and diced hashbrowns.  Both worked the same.  Instead of bacon, I use cubed ham.  And don't use fat free cream cheese.  I know it's tempting so to make it less fattening but it doesn't mix well.  I tried it and it stayed clumpy in the soup.  I also add velveeta cheese to taste to help make it creamier.  And I don't a blended cheese such as casserole blend or Monterey jack.  Cheddar can be a little greasy.  It usually takes less than 7-8 hours.  Just keep checking to see how tender the potatoes are to your liking.

All 3 of my boys love this soup.  So when it's a winner for all 3, it's a keeper. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Neighborhood Libraries

If you recall, you may remember a blog that mentions me making a proposal to our neighborhood's council to install 2 Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood.  I'm excited to announce that Board also approved the idea and we now have 2 Little Libraries.  One is used for children's books and the other is used for adult books. 

A resident graciously purchased one and the other was purchased using homeowner fee money.

You will see the ones that were chosen for our neighborhood.  Though the picks don't show books in there, they are now filled with books. 

This one is placed in the neighborhood park to be used for children's books.

This one was purchased by a resident.  He wanted the classic library.  This is the first version of the Little Free Library. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas, Consumerism and Commercialism

As I watch all the marketing strategies in commercials used to get us to buy more stuff for Christmas, I can't help but wish I had tried something different for our traditions when my children were born.

For the Christian, Christmas is and should be ALL about celebrating and recognizing the birth of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Yet, it's no secret that we've allowed materialism, commercialism to be the spotlight of the year instead. We've adopted this theory that if there are ...no toys or gifts under a Christmas tree, whether put there by Santa or not, then there can't possibly be a Christmas. We've watched an increasing amount of mainstream cartoons and movies highlight a secular cultural theme "save Christmas" by helping Santa get out of some predicament that would otherwise prevent him from delivering toys to the children of the world. Again, that theory of no Santa, no toys equals no Christmas.

Even with good intentions, Christian ministries and churches resonate the same panic by hosting toy drives. "Help the less fortunate have a Merry Christmas"...Donate toys, choose an angel on a tree, purchasing the requested items on the back. I'm not saying these ministries or acts aren't needed or I'll-intended, it's just that they can easily resonate the same secular theory "no gifts equates no Christmas".

So where does my wish play into all of this? I wish I had considered and recognized all these troubling facets that have taken over this season sooner. As I ponder them, I also try to think of solutions that would work for my family. If I could go back, I would consider making the whole Santa effect of surprise gifts happen for my children's birthday instead of Christmas Day. At the time of their bday, we would have a Saturday where they wake up to a plethora of surprise gifts. I would take the energy, money and intent used for Christmas giving and use it at their birthday, instead.
Come Christmas, the energy, intent and money we use for Christmas morning would be used to provide necessities or a service to a less fortunate family.

For our family, I honestly think it would help keep more focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas.
My thoughts are in no way condemning anyone for how you celebrate. These thoughts solely regard my family and my family alone. I do not in any way project my convictions and thoughts upon any else's traditions or convictions.

My hope is that your family will be truly blessed with celebrating Christ's birth and not worried with what is under your tree on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cinnamon Bun Cake

This past Saturday, Brother C, the Daddy, and Pappaw went fishing in a nearby lake about 45 minutes away.  Brother C lives for the days he can fish.  Brother B on the other hand doesn't have much interest in fishing.  So, he and I decided it was as good a time as any to try a new recipe. 

Let me introduce you to the newest cake added to our recipes. Cinnamon Bun Cake, it's, oh so very rich but worth it...add in a glass of milk and it's melt in your mouth heavenly!


Base:
3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter, melted

Topping:
1 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cinnamon

Glaze:
2 c icing sugar
5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan (buttered).

Mix all of the base ingredients together, with the exception of the butter.  Add the melted butter last, and then pour into your prepared pan,

Mix all of the topping ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Mix well.  Drop by teaspoonful over the base, as evenly as you can over the entire base.  Take a butter knife and swirl the topping into the base.  Pop into the oven and bake for 28-30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze and set aside.

Remove from oven and glaze the cake while still warm.

***I cannot take credit for creating the recipe.  I found it on Pinterest so the source is unknown to me.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Back Among the Living

To my minimal followers, you can tell I've been absent from my blog.  The following blog may be "too much information" for some.  You've been forewarned.

Well, I actually have a better reason than just failing to blog.  November 7th, I had surgery.  I finally had a long awaited hysterectomy along with some other issues dealt with.

For the past 4 years of my annual pap smears, they have all come back abnormal.  And during those four years my periods have become increasingly worse with severe cramping.  (I'll just leave it at that).  And within the past 2 years, my C-section scar had begun to stretch vertically causing pain, inflammation and bleeding under the skin. 

My GYN has been offering to do a hysterectomy or other procedures during these past few years to help correct the bleeding issue but after the 4th abnormal pap smear, he highly recommended a hysterectomy.  "It's best to do the hysterectomy now before we are dealing with more than just 'abnormal' pap smears."  And I fully agreed.  However, there were issues that prevented the routine hysterectomy.  Scar tissue from my C-section had attached itself to my uterus. This is what was causing the issues with my scar. It had gotten to where if I did any length of walking or mild exercising, it would become inflamed and blood to pool under the skin.  The scar tissue was being pulled and, yes, I could feel it. I didn't know what it was but I knew it hurt, kind of like sharp pains. 

In order to fix this, my C-section scar was going to have to be completely removed and then the tissue under it was going to have to be cut out and removed from my uterus before they could remove it.  And then I would have to be closed back up making a new scar. 

Because of my C-section and the size my stomach became carrying twins to a full 37 weeks, my abdomen was a wreck with rolls over my C-section scar.  These rolls had to be removed in order to make the new scar and to successfully remove the scar tissue for the uterus to be removed.

My GYN told me he could do this but that I might want to seek the opinion of a plastic surgeon.  I was so very appreciate of my GYN being honest with me.  "We GYN's are the one who made the C-section scar, we don't have much training in removing them and dealing with all the scar tissue.  I've done it before and I can do it again. But if you would like the opinion of a PS, I'd support you on this."  To which I took his suggestions.  After consulting with the PS, he read and talked to my GYN and agreed that he would be best at fixing the scar, removing the scar tissue and fixing me a new scar. 

So the surgery went as follows:  My GYN wanted the PS to open me up.  The PS then shaved and cut away the scar tissue and removed what needed to be removed in order for my GYN to do the hysterectomy.  What happened next is a confirmation that getting the PS to do this was the right choice.  His skills were so good that he was able to remove the scar tissue from the uterus so precisely that my GYN was able to remove my uterus laproscopically.  It was questionable going into it if that would be possible or if it would have to be removed abdominally.  This is one reason my GYN suggested the possibility of a PS dealing with the scar tissue. 

My GYN removed my cervix, uterus and tubes.  (I'll explain the tubes later in a following paragraph.) After my GYN did his thing, the PS removed my C-section scar and then had to repair the muscles and other tissue that had been cut from removing the scar tissue.  He did remove the lower "roll" of my stomach to aid in making a better scar.  One issue that had been a possibility that I had hoped wouldn't be was having to move my belly button.  It did, in fact, have to be moved.  With the amount of scar tissue that had to be removed, which had also attached itself to my umbilical tissue, he felt removing it and replacing it would prevent a future umbilical hernia.  Yet, another reason I'm grateful I sought a PS to do this.  When researching the option of a PS doing all this, I had read several testimonies of umbilical hernias happening if it wasn't done correctly.  This gave me more confidence in my GYN...I guess in the years he's been doing this, his experience with outcomes was valuable. 

So, with all that done, my recovery has been harder, longer and slower than a routine hysterectomy.  Not that a routine hysterectomy is an easy recovery...my surgery required more than a conventional approach to a hysterectomy. 

If you have had hysterectomy, you may not have had your tubes removed.  Keeping your tubes was the standard if there was no reason to remove them.  That's not the case these days.  My GYN had already planned to remove my tubes, especially if they were damaged from the scar tissue but also because he does this with the routine hysterectomy.  He said that in the recent years, studies have shown that ovarian cancer may actually start in the fallopian tubes so removing them has shown fewer cases of ovarian cancer.  But this doesn't come without a trade off.  Removing the tubes can cause ovarian failure because it cuts off the blood supply to the ovaries.  There is a high chance that I will go into early menopause.  I guess early menopause is a better case than ovarian cancer.  Removing my tubes would have most likely been the case anyway just due to the damage they had from the scar tissue wrapping around them. 

There you have it.  This has been the reason for my absence the past month.  I have a one month post op appointment with my PS next Monday.  At my one week post op, I had my drain tubes removed and he was very pleased with my progress.  I already feel better without the sharp pains shooting through my lower abdomen.  While I have pain from the surgery, the sharp pains aren't there anymore.  And the best thing....neither are my periods!!!  This is the best aspect of this surgery.

And I can't end this blog without mentioning God's humor...I started my period the day of my surgery.  It made for a great laugh when going into surgery. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Devil Dogs

For this tasty sweet treat, head over to  Taste and See for the recipe.





Friday, November 4, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Recent Reading Adventures


* * * * stars

You could say this book is about good people making bad choices and the consequences of those choices. Many people were hurt by their decisions, including themselves.

The characters are well developed and so is the plot. The story builds for a heart wrenching end. I found myself asking what I would do in their position and I guess for some the answer would be easier but I can... see for others how the lines of right or wrong can be blurred when isolation and grief become a part of life as it did for Izzy.

This is the most recent book I've read. I finished it yesterday.

The first 60% can drag a bit but it's not until the end do you appreciate it.

It's set in Australia just after WW I.

I loved Izzy until I didn't. Even upon finishing the book, I still felt some disdain for her even though I realize why she did what she did. But my love for Tom never wavered.

The last 2 chapters had me ugly crying. We were actually arriving at our vacation destination, beach, when I finished the book. I was a mess. My husband told me to get it together before we approach the front desk to get our keys. "It's just wrong to be crying when arriving at the beach."

This book has been made into a movie.







* * * stars out of 5.

I wish the story of this book was as beautiful as the cover.

This book was chosen by a member of my book club. I didn't have this book prior to the choosing but happened up on it while pilfering through a bin of books at a local Gateway. I paid a total of .10 for this hardcover edition.
While this book isn't a terrible story, I find it to be average. 3 stars out of 5.


The two main characters introduce each other with white lies about themselves that continue to grow because they don't like who they really are. Their relationship is built on who they want to be until they are finally exposed as who they really are.

Ella is struggling with her husband's infidelity, resulting in denying the truth about him. Her husband, Sims, vacillates his feelings between his mistress and Ella.

Hunter/Blake uses Ella's vulnerability to get a good love story for his next romantic comedy movie. Unbeknownst to him, the story Ella is sharing with him are partial lies. He believes he's getting the perfect, small town love story while she thinks he's a struggling author looking to write a book on the history of the town Ella lives in.

It's all too soap opera-ish to me, with predictable outcomes.

There are no sexual scenes or but there is mild cursing.

If you like romance "When Harry Met Sally" or "While You Were Sleeping" type books, this book may appeal to you. It's not a serious read being suitable for the more casual reader.







* * * stars of out 5

I chose this book to read while on our vacation at the beach. It's the only "beach" book I could find in my library (notice I didn't call it my hoarding stacks) and I wanted something light and relaxing.
Hatteras Girl is a chic-lit, contemporary Christian fiction set in Hatteras, North Carolina.

Jackie has a dream of owning the once prosperous bed and breakfast in her town of Hatteras. But for most of the book, she's a writer for a local magazine. Her best friend, Minnie, and Minnie's young son are living with her as they grieve the lost of Minnie's husband.


Jackie meets the real estate agent who is selling the bed and breakfast and a relationship ensues. She eventually finds out he's not who he appears to be, exposing his deceptive tactics in his real estate business. Meanwhile, a lifelong friend, Buck, knows Jackie's heart and uses his charm to win it.

This book, like most chic lit books is predictable but like those of Christian fiction, there is an innocent, sweet charm to it. Minnie's character and life was actually more realistic then the main character, Jackie. Minnie's grief of losing her husband and how she is moving on with her life is well developed. I enjoyed the more realistic storyline of Minnie than the predictable one of Jackie.

I give it 3 stars. It's not that I dislike this book, I just prefer books with more depth. But true to Christian fiction, it's clean and wholesome.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Parental Awareness

This is random, I know.

But parents, please, please, please be intentional and diligent to know what your child is being taught. Discuss with them what is said by their teachers and fellow classmates in the classroom. Goodness, at church, also, if you attend.

This isn't to incite distrust of their teachers but rather to be aware of what and how your child is being influenced. When you aren't with your child 8 hours of the day, someone else is influencing them. Make it top priority to know how they are being influenced and how it effects them now and how it will in the future.

(This is not school vs homeschool). I'm just saddened and burdened by parents who have no idea what is going on nor do they care.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Life With Boys...Size Matters

Size really does matter...

"Boys, you can each cut yourself 1 brownie"



Bigger is Better.

(Please note, I cut what was left as meager attempt of better portion control.)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Outside of the Classroom

A few weeks ago, my dad and I took my boys to tour the LST 325.  This is a ship that was used on the banks of Normandy during WW II.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Opposites Attract, Right?



Each side of our bed (when we wake up and how we sleep) is a perfect representation of our personalities and how we handle life.

Jeremy's side of the bed (right)...Calm, neat, organized, intentional, "peaceful"

My side of the bed...not so much.

(Please excuse the ragged, old blankets. Our dogs jump on the bed so I don't keep our nicer comforters on the bed).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Comparing as a Voting Tactic Tool

Our history lessons for the past few weeks have been on the kings of Israel starting with Saul and including David and Solomon. Saul and David were anointed King by the prophet Samuel. Solomon became king by way of being David's son. Saul and Solomon began as godly Kings but ended not. In fact, God turned Saul's heart away from Him. David started and ended a godly King.
During Solomon's reign, his Kingdom became divided...Northern Israel being 10 of the 12 trib...es and Southern Israel being 2 of the tribes (Judah and Benjamin).
After Solomon's reign, Jeroboam was anointed king by a prophet and like those before him, began as a godly king but ended not. He was the last king Israel had for centuries that began as a godly king. All the kings after him went from bad to worse.

I've seen many evangelicals reference American presidents or candidates to be King David as a way to understand that God can use sinners to complete his will, which, I partly agree. God can take the vilest of sinners and change his heart when the sinner repents. And he can further use that sinner to build his eternal kingdom. He proved this in the Bible and he still proves this today.

As we were discussing these kings and the tragic kingship they led, I couldn't help but wonder if America has already had her "King David" (not that I think we've had someone whom God has called a man after His heart). David was the only one God called "a man after his heart". David was the only one who showed true repentance after his vile sins of murder and adultery. He is the only who one began and ended his kingship a godly man.

You see, as Israel's people became less godly, God's judgment came through their kings. He basically gave them what they thought they wanted in a king until Christ. And then they even still rejected Christ.

As Christians we should know, that when we reject Christ, even as "nation" judgment still comes, and just maybe by way of our leaders, too, as God has done before.
It's something I've pondered today. It's certainly had me in prayer for the upcoming election and the future of American Christians.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sovereignty as a Voting Tactic Tool

This election, y'all.  It has made me realize how much I've trusted elected officials in the past too much.  It's made me recognize the deceit, the chaos, the doubt, and the faithlessness that satan has used to divide evangelical Christians.  It's proving that far too many times in the past, Christians have relied on government to change America and 'encourage' American Christians when government can actually be the enemy.  American Christians, again, are relying on a particular candidate the 'save' them from an opposing politician or political party.  We've even resulted to condemning our own brothers and sisters by way in which they vote when we should be instead encouraging them to vote according to their convictions upon which are given by God through prayer. 

Evangelicals have resulted in some of the same tactics as their opposing voters.  I've seen some of the nastiest words spoken against fellow believers because they have either chosen not to vote or not to vote for one of the 2 major party candidates, all in spite of genuine conviction.  I don't like the "not voting" stance, but I must remember that stance, too, is a freedom of choice.  And no amount of ugly condemnation is going to change their minds no more than the same condemnation will change the votes of those who choose to vote a third party.  No amount of guilt shaming will change that either.  And I'd expect better behavior from fellow evangelicals. 

One guilt tactic I see is shaming those who do not vote Trump by questioning their faith in sovereignty.  "You must not trust God's sovereignty if you think Trump shouldn't be president." Sure, there are some who are placing too much faith in a political candidate to save them from Hillary and to save the greatness of America. (I mentioned this point above).  However, I want to counter that theory of sovereignty. If you are going to use sovereignty to guilt people into voting for Trump, then you must trust this same sovereignty if Hillary becomes next President. If sovereignty is going to be used to convince Christians to vote for Trump, then you have to trust sovereignty if he loses and Hillary is president. You have to trust sovereignty in response to the past 8 years of Obama.  We don't suddenly choose sovereignty as a way to convince because we prefer one candidate over another. God doesn't reign with sovereignty based on political parties. He sees a man's heart, not his political party.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Moments in the Life of Homeschooling Boys: Take 3



Some days you are just thankful he spelled all the words correctly. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Moments: Take 2...In the Life of Rearing Boys

"Brother B, go.get.in.the.shower." (For the 20th time.)

Brother B: "Do, I have to change my underwear?"

Brother C in the background making vomit noises: "Brooks, yes you have to change underwear. It's like a dirty diaper in there."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Moments

Another moment in the life of homeschooling boys....he's not even a catcher.  You chose your battles.  I would rather diligent work in LA than fight about what he is wearing, even it is catcher's gear.  And if wearing catcher's gear helps accomplish diligent work, than who am I to argue such strategy. 




Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Little Neighborhood Libraries

If you recall a few posts back, I was to present a proposal of placing a few Free Little Libraries in our neighborhood. 

Overcoming my phobia of speaking in front of people, I'm excited to say that my proposal passed both the Advisory Committee and the homeowner's board with the help of a fellow Advisory Committee member.

The Board has even agreed to purchase one of them with a resident volunteering to buy a second.  They have also approved for future libraries if there is a desire for other areas of the our neighborhood.  One of the libraries will be designated for children and the other for adults.  They each will be placed in respectful areas. 

My presentation part was to present to the Committee the advantages and positive influences of having a free little library in our neighborhood.  I polled members of a Facebook reading group I am a member of to help with this.  I have no doubt their perspectives helped me in my presentation.

1. Having a little library adds nostalgia to the neighborhood.  It creates a sense of anticipation and excitement especially if there is a little library designated for children. 

2.  Having a little library in your neighborhood allows for those who aren't financially able to buy books to have access to free books.  Our local libraries aren't conveniently close to our neighborhood.

3.  Having a little library in your neighborhood allows access to books for those who are unable to drive due to various reasons.

4.  Having a little library, specifically for children, allows access to free books for children whose parents don't value the importance of reading. 

5.  Having a little library in your neighborhood helps promote reading and literacy and this in turn helps promote lifelong learning.

Since approval, I've been asked to help plan some sort of 'ribbon cutting' to make aware of the little libraries.  I'm excited to see an idea come to fruition and even more excited to see it made into a bigger deal than just purchasing the libraries. 

Below are pictures the 2 libraries that will be purchased. 


The blue one is a Songbird theme.  It will be placed in the neighborhood park near the children's playground area designated for children's books.

The white on is a replica of the original Little Free Library built. It will be placed near one of the club houses and will be designated for adult books. 

I look forward to keep y'all posted on the adventures and successes of the Free Little Libraries in our neighborhood.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Recent Reads


This is a wonderful book of how one girl refuses to be silenced by the Taliban's threats when speaking out against their ideology.

I learned much about a nation whose majority is uneducated and illiterate came to be ruled by tyranny and terrorists. This book proves the importance of being able to read and the importance of an education that is not government agenda driven. It also proves that education needs to be used to allow children to learn h...ow to think instead of being told what to think.

The world needs more Malalas to speak against religious and government oppression.

Though some of her ideals differ than mine, I am inspired by her courage to speak in the face of threats and danger. She defied one of the world's most evil terrorist groups. The Taliban's attempt to silence her backfired. They only fueled a flame into a roaring inferno with the world cheering her on and inspiring others to find their courage to defeat tyranny.

I plan to have our boys read it when they are older.




This book should be required reading in either high school or college and for Colin Kaepernick.
This a book I want to throw at people who whine and complain because their entitlement mentality isn't being enabled.

Just when you think life can't become worse for the young Sierra Leonenian, Ishmael, he survives and overcomes the next hell that comes his way, until he finally doesn't have to fear dying again.
Stories like this burst the bubble I live in with my amenities, so many I can't even list them all.

If and when you think the American flag represents oppression, read this book. If and when you meet someone who thinks the same, give them this book, challenge them to read it and then dare them to complain again. If they continue to complain, they've proven just how spoiled they really are. So much so, they can't see beyond themselves.

I give 5 stars because of the subject matter and his courage to overcome. As for the writing, I can't say it's the best written memoir I've read. He sometimes suddenly reminisces in the next paragraph causing some confusion to the reader. There are also times in the story where the plot will suddenly change making the reader wonder if he/she missed a paragraph that would have transitioned to the new scenario or situation. And the ending was abrupt lacking a closure.

However, in spite of the writing, his story needs to be told and even more, needs to be heard.
This book gives gory details of his life as a soldier. There are 2 strong curse words. I do believe he was just being honest in what the rebel soldier said to him.

This book also gives a testament to what childhood trauma looks like and a hard look at how it's overcome. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Navy Week

Ever since Brother B could express what he wants to be when he grows up, he has always chosen a career that protects people.  For a while it was a policeman, but for the past 2 years it's been to join the armed forces, specifically the Navy.  He loves to watch documentaries about the Navy and their battleships.  He enjoys reading fiction books involving the Navy and their experiences. 

I try to encourage his interests whether it be his current career choice or current hobby.  Last Friday, we traveled to Natchez for him to experience their Navy week exhibits.  He was thrilled to meet Navy men, mostly SeaBees.  I enjoyed learning more about what the Navy does.  I learned of many duties the Navy holds that I was not aware of.  Most of the men we talked to had never been on a ship.  In my ignorance, I assumed all Navy men would at least spend some time on a ship.  Nope, that's not true.

Speaking to those who serve gives creates a better respect for them.  All we talked to had done tours of duty to the Middle East.  I was grateful to them for encouraging Brother B to do well in school.  They informed him that a good education is important even in the armed forces. 



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall Ball, Y'all

Brother C is continuing to play with his All Stars team from the Summer.  They are playing a few tournaments this fall to continue to learn the fundamentals of baseball.  There are plans for the team to continue also for the spring but as always, time will tell. 

We had our first fall tournament this past weekend.  We didn't do as well as we did this past summer, however, we are playing against more competitive teams.  We went 2-2.  Our boys played well but just not quite good enough to win this tournament.  I'm sure we will improve as each player has a heart to play.  Unless people change, our experience with this team including last year and this year, has been the best we have so far in Brother C's baseball experience. 







Monday, September 19, 2016

Modest is Hottest

Since college football has started, I've seen many Facebook posts every weekend about the way girls are dressing for the tailgate parties and games. It's been noted that the newest trend is to have shorts, skirts or dresses so short that butts are literally showing. Some as young as teens with their parents.

Dads, where are you? You know what goes on inside a man's head when such images are in your sight. What a shame that you are okay with your daughter dressed like this. If you are a father who claims to be a Christian, it is your duty to see to that your family glorifies even in their dress code.  It is your duty to teach your daughters what self-respect is and what kind of respect to expect from men and boys.  While teaching sons to respect women and to control their thoughts, it's also just as much of a father's duty to teach their daughters also. 

Wives, where are you?  Mothers, where are you? It is our place to allow our husbands to be this leader of our family.  And furthermore, it is our duty to be an example of a woman who glorifies God with her dress and actions. 

And before anyone wants to blame the male for his thoughts, God made them visual beings. And, yes, they can control their thoughts, but they can't control what your daughter is wearing and there is responsibility from both sexes.

Lastly, come on, Southern Belles. We can do better than this. Belles are classy, not slutty.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Detour in Lessons

The other day we took a detour for a mini lesson on how our school days could go quicker and how much control the student has implementing the ways. This detour came as result of ongoing moaning and complaining of how long school takes without recognizing how much they control this. The conclusion proved to the complainers that they have the most control of how long their school day takes.

They were required to list the following ways that make for shorter school days. This list was created and comprised through discussion between teacher and students. Upon any more complaining, students will rewrite his list.


1. Do my work correctly the first time. Do, I, as the student control this? YES.

2. Do my work neatly. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

3. Do my work to the best of my ability. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

4. Do not argue with the teacher. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

5. Stay focused on my schoolwork. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

6. Follow instructions both from the lessons and the teacher. Do, I, as a student control this? YES

7. Be organized putting my books and workbooks in the correct place and cleaning my work space. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

8. Be quiet during the lesson when the teacher is talking. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

9. Obey the teacher. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

10. Have a good attitude. Do, I as the student control this? YES

11. Start lessons sooner without waiting on the teacher to tell me to start. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

12. Listen to the teacher. Do, I, as the student control this? YES

13. Check my work when it's completed. Did I follow the instructions? Did I complete all questions or problems? Do, I, as the student control this? YES

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reading "Dixie"

This last month's book club choice was Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Patton.  It is the first book in a 3 book series called Dixie.  I enjoyed the 1st so much that I read all 3 book in the series. 

I can't begin to write a review for all 3 books.  I've never claimed to be a professional reviewer and trying to summarize 3 books, is a bit overwhelming for me.  Instead, I'll leave a 4 star rating for the whole series.  The 2nd book is a 3 star for me but the 1st and 3rd books started and ended the series well. 

Being from the South, I enjoyed some of the references to Memphis and Ole Miss.  However, I would like to add that not all Southern Belles act and live as some of the ones depicted in the series.  Leelee and her friends can seem a bit superficial as their need to impress their peers and with worry of what others think of them.  While it's true that some live like this, not all of us do. 

For the most part, this was a clean read even though it was secular. There are few curse words and references to drunkenness.  I was quite impressed that Leelee saved her sexual relationship with her boyfriend until she was married. The author makes a specific reference to this. 

This series is a light-hearted, fun, quirky adventure that both the Southern Belle and Yankee would enjoy if you are looking to read such books.  I wouldn't consider this series to be a work of literature so there isn't deep analytical elements to seek out.  It's just fun and entertaining. 





Monday, August 29, 2016

Cinnamon Bun Cake

This past Saturday, Brother C, the Daddy, and Pappaw went fishing in a nearby lake about 45 minutes away.  Brother C lives for the days he can fish.  Brother B on the other hand doesn't have much interest in fishing.  So, he and I decided it was as good a time as any to try a new recipe. 

Let me introduce you to the newest cake added to our recipes. Cinnamon Bun Cake, it's, oh so very rich but worth it...add in a glass of milk and it's melt in your mouth heavenly!


Base:
3 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter, melted

Topping:
1 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cinnamon

Glaze:
2 c icing sugar
5 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan (buttered).

Mix all of the base ingredients together, with the exception of the butter.  Add the melted butter last, and then pour into your prepared pan,

Mix all of the topping ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Mix well.  Drop by teaspoonful over the base, as evenly as you can over the entire base.  Take a butter knife and swirl the topping into the base.  Pop into the oven and bake for 28-30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze and set aside.

Remove from oven and glaze the cake while still warm.

***I cannot take credit for creating the recipe.  I found it on Pinterest so the source is unknown to me.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mobile Library

If you've read the past few posts, then you have noticed they have been about reading and books.  It's obvious I'm an avid reader.  And as an avid reader, I love nothing more than to pass on books to other readers or help influence others to become readers.  Reading is a passion of mine and I am firm believer that those who read, enjoy a lifetime of learning. 

Homeschooling has allowed me to encourage our boys to enjoy reading more than they did when they attended traditional school.  Our boys are required to read 30 minutes a day from a book of their choice.  I also read to them.  The books I read are usually books I want to use as discussion topics or they are books suggested as part of the unit we are learning. 

Because of my love for reading, I have built my own library.  I currently own hundreds of books I keep stashed in our hope.  I know, some would call it hoarding but I'm confident enough to call it building a library. I have built my library from books bought at thrift stores or online used book sites.  I rarely buy books brand new.  I've also acquired many books from friends and family who clean out and pass their unwanted books on to me.  It's not uncommon for me to inadvertently end up with more than 1 copy of a book or I've bought a book that after reading or try to read, I do not want it as part of my library. 

So I found myself with these 'leftover' books without the ability to throw them away.  And as I mentioned above, I love nothing more than pass them on. 

I had read about the "Little Free Library" movement and wanted start my own version of it for our neighborhood.  After looking around our home for something to put my leftover books in, I spotted one of my many wooden crates.  I filled it with most of the leftover books, including Christian fiction, secular fiction, non fiction, young adult and children's fiction.  I created a flyer to place in my crate explaining the concept.  I took my little mobile library to the neighborhood's park and left it and then picked up later that evening.

I then posted on our neighborhood's Facebook group page what I had done along with a picture of my crate of books.  There was such a positive reaction to my idea that within the day, I had been recruited to partition the neighborhood's Advisory Council to place "Little Libraries" throughout the neighborhood. 

Now I am working with 2 other residents to write and present the Little Free Library idea at one of the upcoming Advisory Committee meetings.  The proposal is to have at least 2 libraries...one for children and one for adults.  Having a Little Free Library box will be better suited than my crate as it's weather proof and a permanent fixture.  However, they do cost money and will have to be monitored because of the potential for vandalism and obvious inappropriate material left in the box.  We've already had one our residents volunteer to purchase one of the libraries. 

I'm excited about this opportunity and if the Advisory Committee doesn't approve, well, then I will just keep taking my little crate of books to different locations of our neighborhood with the hopes of encouraging others to read. 

I hope to have a future blog post with positive news regarding our proposal but until then, the link below will take you to the Little Library movement website for more info:

Little Free Library

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Cry from Egypt

* * * * *
This rating is based on my boys' liking. I read this as a read-aloud for our history/Bible homeschooling curriculum.

This book gives great insight into the life of the Israelites during their time as Egyptian slaves. It helps children and adults have a more realistic idea of how life was and how the plagues effected them and the Egyptians.

I highly recommend this book to those who want to help their children better understand the Bible.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Tipsy Magnolias

Last year I ventured into something that is out of my comfort zone in regards to organizing and meeting people.  I'm an introvert with social anxiety so meeting new people is hard for me; organizing something that requires my leadership over a group of people is not typical of me.  But my enjoyment of reading and lack of close friends and family who do not share this same enthusiasm inspired me to start a book club for our neighborhood.  Our neighborhood has 2 club houses that can be used by LC residents.  We met at one of the club houses for the few months but scheduling around other neighborhood activities got to be difficult and non LC residents could not participate. 

After discussing with a few other members, we decided to change the location to a restaurant located in our neighborhood.  There were 3 consistent members, Diane, Lissa and me.  We each had friends who wanted to join so meeting at the Mermaid CafĂ© allowed for non LC residents to join. 

We currently have 5 members.  I'm the youngest but thoroughly enjoy the conversation and fellowship with the other members.  We have chosen some great books, most of which you have seen posted on this blog. 

One of the members, Lissa, jokingly started calling us The Tipsy Magnolias because we all bring our own quirks to the group.  (No...we aren't tipsy from too much drinking...though I'm the only teetotaler, all other members are too classy to make this into a drinking celebration).  So The Tipsy Magnolias inadvertently became the "unofficial" name of our group.

We meet the 1st Tuesday of the month. We do actually discuss the book along with updating each other about our life.  The fellowship and food are always a treat for me as this is the only 'adult' activity I'm involved in outside of church. 

In December, I'll list 2016's choice of books but for now, I'll list the few we read for 2015.  We only met a few months last year because I started the group in September.

Gone Girl
All the Light We Cannot See
The Life of Pi

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent Reading Adventures

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book considering that I had randomly chose it to read. I had no substantial reason for choosing it.

The storyline includes some heavy topics. One of the characters is raped and the reader is exposed to her struggle as a result of this traumatic experience. To add to her struggle, it takes place during an era when women didn't report nor talk about rape. The reader sees how such a traumatic experience effects her life including her relationships.

The story's chapters vacillate from mother and daughter with each giving their own life's point of view. In reading the story, it's obvious that if truth had been revealed, relationships could have been much more pleasant and life for them wouldn't have been as heartbreaking.

Moms and daughters alike will appreciate the relationship between Babs and Laney as much of their struggle is what mom wants vs what daughter wants. Laney grew up in a time when feminism was growing and her mother Babs tried her best to keep morally and culturally to the time she grew up when women's lives were at home happily married. And their desires in life clashed. Mix this clashing with deep rooted trauma and the storyline did not disappoint.

For those who prefer clean books, this book does have a rape scene and some sexuality in it. I personally think some of the sexuality could have been less detailed but it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the overall story. * * * *

This genre is not my typical go to for reading so I'm basing my rating on my experience with this genre. I rated this using different measures than I would other genres and types of writing styles. The 4 star rating is based on measures compared to other books written in similar fashion as this one in the same genre. Another words, I didn't rate this compared to a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

This book was predictable as most contemporary, Christian chic-lit is but even so, it's an enjoyable read. I chose this to read as a relaxing, easy read since my previous books contained heavier more emotional issues and plots. It's a fun book with a quirky plot of Gretchen taking on her first house flipping project with a handsome carpenter at her side. And you probably already know the rest of the story. * * * *

The setting of this book takes place in a fictional town on the Mississippi coast. The story spans across a few days leading up to and through hurricane Katrina. The characters are a struggling poverty stricken African American family. The reader is exposed to the issues this family faces including poverty, joblessness, alcoholism, death and also the cultural issues that plague poverty stricken families. These issues include teen pregnancy, dog fighting, stealing, lack of education, hunger and the lack of parental involvement. One of the most saddening and infuriating issues the author brings to story is older boys taking sexual advantages of younger girls. The girl in this story innocently allows herself to be used believing she is truly being loved but not old enough to know the difference. It's heartbreaking to know this happens more than not in poor communities.

This book contains strong language though I don't believe the author used these words just to fill space and sell the the book. I believe she used them to accurately portray the conversations the characters would have used had it been real.

This book was different than what I usually read. The author's style of writing was bit hard to follow at times but it is written well.

From this book, I gained insight to some of the cultural issues that plague the poverty stricken African American community. This was both saddening and hard to understand but does give the reader a more empathetic POV into these families...and for that I am grateful to have read this book.  * * * *

* * * *
This is a historical fiction with the protagonists being Italian immigrants in the early 1900s before WW I. I enjoyed being exposed to this part of American culture through the lives of Italian immigrants. It's a clean, secular book. There isn't much action in the way of unexpected twists so it can be slow read, not to be mistaken as boring but rather slow and easy.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Preparing for our upcoming School Year!

It seems I've become MIA but not really.  There just hasn't been that much to blog about. 

I just finished ordering our curriculum for this coming year's school. We are using the same as last year.  It is nice to have found something that we will stick with for right now.  As our boys graduate to higher grades, I will have to adjust but right now, we comfortable with what we are using.

Language Arts....Christian Light Education
Math...Christian Light Education
Reading...Christian Light Education
Penmanship (cursive)....Christian Light Eduation
Science...Apologia Zoology 3: Land Animals
Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing
Bible/History: Biblioplan with Mystery of History


And, of course, they will be reading from books at least 30 minutes a day.

We are trying a different scheduling approach this upcoming year.  We will school for 6 weeks with a week off.  This will allow a much needed break and give us goals to reach.  We are also adding some co-op classes.  I've signed them up for a PE class that will meet once a week for an hour and a half at a local fitness club. They will also be involved with homeschool club called Generation Joshua.  This group focuses on civics and government.  I'm excited about this and hope to have more details of our experience in future blog posts. 

Until then, we are taking it easy and look forward to our upcoming school year.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I just finished reading this book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I read it because it is marketed to teens and having a niece who loves to read, I try to keep aware of what is out there vying for their attention, their money and their minds. This book has also been made into a movie. It's an older book that I haven't heard of until recently through reading groups. I saw young teens and parents raving over this book and the movie and I saw some parents asking questions about it regarding the appropriateness for their child. It was first published in 1999 by MTV books.

Let me preface my review by acknowledging that I understand the issues brought up in this book, sadly, are real and more abundant in today's culture than generations ago. This book includes topics such as rape, incest, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, suicide and dating. It also includes innocent topics such as friendships, the importance of family, accepting people for who they are, and academics.

The book is written in the form of letters by the main character, Charlie. Charlie is a 15 year old freshman starting high school. Charlie's letter are written as if he's around 12 years old but his perception of life at times can be well beyond his years. The reader can easily wonder if Charlie is autistic or has Asperger's with a higher level of function or he may have neither.

Charlie's letters are how the heavy topics I mentioned above are introduced in the story. He writes about these topics as he is exposed to them in his letters to a friend the reader is not privy to.
Here's why I have a hard time with this book. It's not necessarily because of the topics in this book, though I think some could be detailed less. Again, I understand these issues are real and today's younger generations are exposed to them, more than they should be. The problem I have is it's marketed to teens as if all teens have experienced or been exposed to these issues. It's written as if all these behaviors are normal for everyone. It bothers me that Charlie is 15 and experiencing these issues as if all 15 year olds have been exposed and/or participate in these behaviors. I also find it disturbing that one of the reasons Charlie is being exposed is because his parents don't show much concern with who Charlie is hanging out. His friends in the book are all seniors and he's a freshman. I know my parents were stricter than some but never would they have just let me go hang out with a group of seniors whom they didn't know. Charlie's parents allow Charlie to take the car, never asking where he is going, never giving a time to be home, and never asking what he has been doing even though he's clearly high or drunk when he returns home. Meantime, Charlie is being introduced to so much...sex, drugs, smoking, rape, alcohol, homosexuality, etc. All the while, the reader is trying to figure out Charlie's social issues. And maybe the lack of parental concern was an intention of the writer. Let me clarify, it's not that his parents aren't involved, they just are concerned with his social activity.

In the end, the reader realizes that Charlie was sexually abused. This could be why he's a "wallflower" or seems to be different than his peers.

I asked my 16 year old niece if she had heard of this book. I wasn't surprised when she said yes. I told me sister that I didn't recommend that my niece read this book, even though she's never mentioned a desire to read it. Some may call me over protective saying that I am "too sheltering". That's okay, I believe it is my responsibility as a Christian parent to keep my children's hearts innocent and guarded as long as I can. I simply would not allow them to read such a book solely based on "they are going to face it one day" or "everyone else is reading it" or "you can't protect them forever"...all of which are reasons I read for parents allowing this book to be read by their children as young as 10.

Let me end with this. If your child has read it or watched the movie, I highly recommend that you discuss these topics with them. They are heavy topics that young minds do not need to figure out without an adult perspective and guidance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Protect your Nuts...

Sitting in the waiting room at the Drs office to have blood drawn for follow up thyroid levels.

"Ms B. "please come with me."

Me: "boys, sit here. It won't take long. You know how to act. Yes, Mam?"

"Yes, mam."

I return to find them rolling in that gut like laughter while the close neighbors snickering in attempt to keep from laughing out loud.

"Boys, come on. I'm finished. We can go now."

"Momma, look at this ad. 'Protect your nuts'"

At this point the elderly lady sitting next to us starts laughing out loud along with the 2 teenage girls sitting across from us."

I'm mortified as my face turns all shades of red. "What did you just say?"

Brother B: "Protect your nuts, C!"

"That is enough. What are you looking at? Give me that."

And this my friends, is the innocent ad that went awry.