Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rambling Review from a Reader

The Right Thing by Amy Connor. 

Firstly, this review is written from my moral convictions and my literary point of view.

Secondly, I don't claim to be a professional book reviewer. I simply review books through my experience as the reader.

I had high hopes for this book. The cover looks is inviting giving the book a sense of innocence that one can find here in Mississippi. The title The Right Thing is also a reflection of the theme throughout the story. This is where my moral conviction influences my review. Annie is telling her story, vacillating from her childhood to present day. Throughout her childhood and present day adulthood, Annie finds herself with the daily struggle of doing "the right thing". Measured by the convictions in which I hold my own standards, there are only a few circumstances that I believe were actually the right thing to do. One being that Annie welcomes and befriends the little girl, Starr, who is the daughter of wandering preacher. Due to Starr's circumstances, she's always labeled the "white trash" of the community while Annie lives amongst the high socialites of the community. In the world of both classes, it's taboo for them to interact. But Annie does the right thing and befriends Starr seeing passed the social class taboos and in spite of the ridicule it brings her from family and friends. Annie also learns that sometimes choosing the right thing doesn't always result in the most rewarding consequences. Annie's desire to do the right thing is certainly honoring but some of her choices aren't morally right. This is what I don't like about the story. In a culture that embraces "the right thing" equates to whatever makes you happy, I can't truthfully enjoy or condone the way this author allows Annie to finally obtain the ultimate "right thing" for her life. Annie makes a conscience decision to do the right thing for herself because she feels she has always done the right thing for everyone else. The moral of the story, which is ultimately the ending, is that whatever makes us happy is the right thing and this is something I just can't support if it was the author's intent to justify Annie's choice in the end thus justifying such decisions made by all humans.

Now from a literary point of view. This is Amy's debut novel. I did not enjoy the writing as it's not well written. The book drowns in clich├ęs. There are too many and many of them do not make sense to me. The analogies she uses to try to make the reader understand her statement didn't do the writing any favors. As for the character development, I don't think Du (Duane) Annie's husband's character is developed enough to warrant the ending of why Annie makes the choice she does.

When reading books, I try to resonate with something in the story. I did find one aspect of Annie's life that resonated with me. Living the socialite life because it's expected or because it's the class you were born into it doesn't guarantee happiness. In fact, it can result in a life of superficial friendships and constant acting. Annie comes to realize this as an adult. And while her desire to no longer live this type of lifestyle that isn't the problem, it's the solution she chooses to get out of it just isn't "the right thing".

For the sensitive reader: you will find strong language throughout the book. There are elements of infidelity, mild racial issues (part of the story takes place during the 60s), transgender, mild religious mockery.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

No Phone Zone

Neither of our boys has a fully functioning mobile device. They each have an Ipad but we don't have a data plan on it so all downloading or internet use must be with wifi. We have old smartphones that we have set up for them to be able to text and FaceTime but no data plan.

One of our boys really has no intense interest in having a fully functional device. He's really indifferent, the other...reminds us every day that he's the only kid who doesn't have one and he'd like to remedy that. He's eager to grow up and having one of these would speed up the process.
Now, there are several ways I can handle this. If I follow the pc culture trend, I can approach this perceived disadvantage, crippling dilemma my son has with one of the following options:

1). I could create a safe place that will not allow him around fellow peers who have what he so desperately thinks he needs. I could only surround him with others who share in his despair. This scenario would allow only those who are like him, creating a scenario of sharing in their self pity or celebrating their uniqueness.

2). I could implore all other parents who allow his peers to have a smartphone to please cease with this privilege. I mean, their kid's privileges and material possessions are upsetting to my son. I don't like that he's upset so I must hold others responsible for his emotional distress brought on by not having what his friends have. It would be further upsetting if I told my son that he's responsible for his feelings about this so in effort to prevent further emotional distress, I explain that it's not his fault and others should stop with this privilege so he can he can feel better about himself.

3). I could give in to his pleas and follow the crowd. I could make myself a better friend to my son if I help him be like the kids he wants to emulate. I mean, what a cool parent I would be to allow him to dictate and further have his wants in our house and our society.

4). I could lobby for a law that would not allow anyone his age or under to own such devices. Since the parents obviously can't make the best decisions for their children, the government must step in.
Instead, I choose to be the parent who exerts a more therapeutic approach...reality therapy.

A). Your problem isn't really a problem. It's a mere perceived idea that having a fully functioning smartphone will make your life better, cooler and you will be like your friends.

B). What you have is a 1st world problem...not a smartphone problem.

C). And finally, I don't care who has aren't getting one and no amount of whining, complaining, begging or just pure anger at me is going to change my mind. But I will make a suggestion that will help you better deal with this reality in life...get over it and appreciate what you do have. When you do this, you will be able to better deal with the disappointments as you face them in life.

Oh, one more thing...I love you, Son

Friday, April 7, 2017

When You Aren't a Speller

When you have a child who is weak in spelling, you teach him to compensate for that weakness. Recognizing his weakness, he does what is necessary to make it work. Ignoring doesn't work, cramming the words into his brain doesn't work (that's not even learning), nagging about or condemning his weakness, thinking he's just not trying doesn't work. Instead, you teach what needs to be done to improve or make more possible in this area. For him, it's learning ways to compensate for it.

Some people aren't "spellers", at this point in his life, he's just not so I refuse to let him think he can't do it or believe he's not smart...he just has to find a different way. When he doesn't know how spell something, he uses the dictionary. If he has a misspelled word in his writing or other assignments, I show him the misspelled word and he corrects it by using the dictionary. Only after he has tried the dictionary with no success, I will give him the correct spelling, of course, this is case by case basis.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Rambling Reviews from a Reader...Commonwealth

I did not like this book. It's along the lines of a soap opera family saga..affairs, drama, self centered parents and over indulgent drinking. There are about 17 characters making it a little difficult to keep up with them.

Upon finishing the book, I don't have a clear understanding of the purpose of this book. The ending didn't even seem to bring it all together.

There is unnecessary use of strong language. (I'm not advocating that it should be acceptable in all books, by my convictions) but the use in this book had no bearing of the circumstances or setting. This kind of use is a turn off to me. I'm more understanding if the author is trying to make the situation more realistic but that's just not the case in this book.

It was written okay but the story just kind of dragged on with no seeming purpose. But there's always the possibility that I just missed it all together.
2.5 stars rounded to 3.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday

That #23 is my man!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Rambling Reveiw from a Reader...Teaching from Rest

I read this book in 3 days with a highlighter in hand. As a homeschooling mother, this book resonated with me on multiple levels. But I think moms, homeschooling or not can resonate with Sarah's perspectives of mothering. We, moms, struggle with balancing our children's education and life whether we homeschool or not. She understands and tries to help parents see that our children are images of God with souls and hearts to be ...nurtured even through education. They are not images of a curriculum nor images of a grade level nor images of test scores.

She also encourages mothers to trust God with the final result of who our children become or how they yield to the education they've been given. We plant the seed, we cultivate the seed, we encourage growth through love, prayer and diligence but we do not nor can we force it into the final fruit it bears. What a release of burdens to know that by trusting God through obedience of His will, He holds their future results...and that is Teaching from Rest.

I highly recommend this book to homeschooling mothers or anyone who may be considering it. But it's also a great encouraging book for any mom.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rambling Review from a Reader...The Prophet

The cover of this book alone exhibits the emotions I felt when reading it.

God has truly blessed Francine Rivers with the gift of putting emotions into a written story.  Biblical fiction, when written rightly with the right intentions, helps make the stories of the Bible come to life.  This isn't to take away from what God reveals to us when we seek Him in His Word but I believe God gifted some with the ability to write stories that help the reader relate to the humanity of those God used.  And this is exactly what Francine did with this story of Amos.

Amos was a shepherd by trade.  He was not educated by the scribes and priests of his time though he was an intelligent man. This story of Amos reveals the great lengths a good shepherd goes through to protect his flock as it parallels the lengths Christ as the Good Shepherd went through for His flock of sheep.   At one point in the story Amos must intentionally injure one of his little lambs in order to protect the flock because it kept wandering putting the whole flock at risk.

"It's this or death, little one." Amos took a stone from his pouch, weighing it in his hand.  Too heavy and it would kill the lamb; too light and it would not serve to discipline him...   Tears burning, Amos went to the wounded lamb and knelt, 'I am here, little one.  I would rather wound you myself than see you come to greater harm.'....'You belong with the flock, not out here on your own where death will find you.'  He ran his hand gently over the lamb's head. 'You will learn to stay close to me where you're safe.'...Amos sat on a flat rock that gave him a full view of the pasture. Lifting the lamb from his shoulders, he held it close.  'You will learn to trust me and not think you can find better forage on your own.  I will lead you to green pastures and still waters.' He took a few grains of wheat from the scrip he wore at his waist and shared his food with the lamb. 'Sometimes I must wound in order to protect.' He smiled as the lamb ate from his hand.  'You will get used to my voice and come when I call.'  He rubbed the notch in the lamb's ear. 'You bear my mark, little one.  You are mine.  Let me take care of you.'

The story of Amos being a shepherd isn't detailed in the Bible but the author of this book gives a descriptive point of view of what it meant to be a good shepherd of Amos' time so that we can understand how Christ came to be the Good Shepherd and also how Amos came to see God's people as God's flock. 

As Amos came to see the sinful pride God's sheep lived day to day, God softened Amos' heart so that Amos grew to love God's sheep as he had loved his own.  In the story, you experience Amos' heartache as he sees the people reject his warning to repent.  Amos' knew what would come if they didn't repent.  God had revealed to him the destruction of judgment He would pour out on Israel if they didn't repent and Amos' heart broke for the people.

"Amos cried, weary, heartsick.  A year ago, he wouldn't have cared about what happened to these people.  And then he had prayed and God answered.  Now he cares so much that his heart broke every time he thought of Jerusalem, every time he entered the gates of Bethel, every time he looked into the faces of the people who could not stand before the judgment of a righteous God, least of all he.  God was holding the nations accountable for what they'd done against His people, but the Lord would also hold His people accountable for the way they live before nations."

I cried, throughout the whole book.  What conviction to know that I, too, am an Israelite in need of repentance yet I'm also called to be an Amos among God's sheep.  I am to love in truth no matter the cost.

The Bible doesn't tell of Amos' death but history tells of a violent death at the hands of Jeroboam II.  The story ends with Amos' death and in his death, The Good Shepherd takes him home. 
When reading Biblical fiction stories, the reader needs to understand that the story is built around Biblical facts with a mix of cultural history of the time. Not all details and descriptions are Biblical fact though the event is...Amos was a prophet who was sent by God to Israel to warn of God's judgment that was to come if they didn't repent of their sins. The story around Amos' daily life is fictional based on the culture of the time.

I will be using this book as a read aloud with my sons.  It presents wonderful discussion opportunities that are relevant to our lives of today.  There are elements of mild gore from the physical persecution Amos suffered at the hands of the high priest he prophesied to. The priest of the time saw Amos' prophecy as blasphemy against them...revealing of the just how corrupt God's people had become. 
5 Stars.  I consider this a must read as a book to help the Bible come to life and further reveal Christ's love for us.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Perspectives to Ponder

Perspectives to think about:

In today's modern theology of education, the word "rigor" or "rigorous" has become a popular description of the education goal at hand.

"After Common Core, States Set Rigorous Standards"

"Remember the three Rs – reading, writing and ’rithmetic? Get ready to add a fourth: rigor. It’s the buzzword in education"

" “include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills” – the concept of rigor will be a mainstay of the education agenda for the foreseeable future."

"Ever since, the idea that with the right support all students can master rigorous content has dominated public policy discussions and put a new spotlight on the idea of rigor."

The word "rigor" is Latin, meaning: "numbness, stiffness, hardness, firmness, roughness, rudeness. Rigor mortis derives from this meaning which is "the stiffness of death".

I read the above statement from a homeschool book (Teaching from Rest) that encourages a peaceful education experience. Obviously, applying a rigorous aspect to a homeschool education wouldn't likely contribute to a more peaceful experience, at least not in our home.

The author goes on to use the word "diligence". This word comes from the Latin word "diligere" which means to "single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, take delight in, appreciate."

Now, applying those 2 theories into education whether it be at a traditional school or homeschooling, to the students can result into 2 very different types of students. The word "student" also comes from Latin, "studium" meaning "zeal, affection, eagerness." Based on the above meanings, do we want our children to be "rigorous students" or "diligent students"?

As homeschooling parents, Jeremy and I must choose which theory to apply to our boys as we create an education lifestyle. Rearing "diligent students" is more appealing and pleasing than rigorous. Neither are easy but the consequences of both make for very different perspectives of life. My goal in rearing "diligent" students, is that our boys will find that learning, however that's defined by them, will be enjoyable as they grow into being who God has purposed them to be.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Baseball Season Begins

Tournament baseball...I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love that CB gets to play. I love to watch him improve and play a sport he loves. I love the parents on his team. I love that his coaches are truly there to coach these kids into better players, not to make a name for themselves or for their own kid. I love his fellow teammates. These fellow sportsmen exhibit the same class, sportsmanship and gratitude of their parents...they make their parents proud. And ...I certainly love the lessons CB is learning in both the failures and successes.

I love seeing friends from former teams or friends on other teams who also make this game an enjoyment. There are some parents who are doing it right...keep on my help keep the sport family friendly.

What I hate is that many parents allow this sport to bring out the worst in them. Some coaches can't seem to keep a realistic perspective of why the game is played and who is playing the game. Some players think they are the next MLB MVP as much as their parents do and it's exhibited in their cocky/hot-headed attitudes (not to be confused with confidence). Although, this weekend's tournament didn't present any of the negative behaviors I just mentioned, the season is young.
And I hate just as much when the ladies' bathrooms run out of toilet paper and baking in the sun when mother nature turns the thermostat to "southern heat/hell degrees"

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Tale of Which end is the Tail...

Another tale of...

A puppy whose hair was do flowing
He really had know way of knowing
Which end was his head...
Once stopped me and said,
"Please, sir, am I coming or going?"

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rambling Review from a Reader...Secret Daughter

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

My sister knows my love for reading.  She calls me from Georgia when she's shopping at her local thrift stores and allows me to shop for books.  This is one of the books that came from my over-the-phone shopping in GA.

I consider this book to be an average read with an exceptional story. The writing doesn't mirror the storyline which keeps me from giving it 5 stars.

The story takes place between 2 families, one in America and one in India with 3 of the 4 main characters being Indian. Somer and Krishnan are an inter-culture couple who met in med school in America. Somer is American and Kris is Indian. Somer's first visit to Kris' home country, India, was to adopt their daughter, Asha. The story unfolds with the lives of Asha's biological and adoptive families and how being oceans apart isn't the only literal difference. The chapters are vacillating tales from each family.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Indian culture entwined in the story. One of the reasons I enjoy reading as much as I do is because a good story can take me to places I would otherwise never be able to visit. This book took to me to India where I was able to vicariously experience both cultures of India...the poverty stricken culture as well as the wealthy culture. Living in America, I hear about other cultures such as India but books like this give a better understanding when it's tied to characters the reader is able to connect with. This book also taught me the unfortunate acceptance of infanticide and sex-selection abortions within the Indian culture. Due to poverty, girls are not wanted as children. Dowries and the cost of living are deemed a burden for families with girls. As a result, there are generational shortages of girls in the population.  The daughters who do not become a victim to infanticide or sex-selection abortion become "secret daughters" in the adoption system.  Most mothers simply leave their daughters at the doorsteps of the orphanages with no more info than the child's name, and even then, a name for her daughter is rare. India is not friendly to international adoptions so many of the girls grow up without a family and age out of the system around sixteen. Boys are desired because they can help earn money for the family and dowries paid to the family are considered an income for the future. Education for most of the impoverished families is minimal at best and doesn't particularly serve to improve one's future. The reader experiences all these circumstances through the book's characters.

There are a few mild curse words but it's not a common theme throughout. There are no sexual scenes nor innuendos. Issues that some may find sensitive within the story include: pregnancy loss, infertility, infanticide, abortion, adoption, poverty, religious gods, inter-cultural marriage, mild spousal abuse and women as inferior citizens.

I give the book 3 stars because the writing doesn't necessarily beckon you to read it but the storyline is one that any reader can be transported to another place in this world experiencing the culture. If you read for the mere aspect of learning, this is a great book and deserves 5 stars for this merit alone. But, as I mentioned, the writing and choppy chapters doesn't help the best cause of being a great book.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Homeschool Happenings

Brother B: "Do we have detention in our homeschool?"

Me: "yes. It's called 'go to your room'!"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Picky Pooches

Apparently, they didn't appreciate the carrots I added to their food...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Worst Case Valentine Scenario

I heard on the radio that the worst case scenario on Valentine's Day is to be empty handed with no flowers or gifts for your special someone in hopes you will fall for their marketing attempts.

May I just debunk that MYTH.

There are much more worse case scenarios on Valentine's Day:
1. measuring your love based on what gift you get or if you don't get anything.

2. Comparing your gift to someone else's as a measure of someone else's love to yours. A diamond ring vs flowers doesn't measure more love nor less love. It doesn't even necessarily measure financial status.

3. Expecting a gift only to publicly prove to others he/she loves you so not to be left out among those who must be "truly" loved more than you.

4. Expecting a gift as proof of love.

Don't get me wrong, gifts on Valentine's Day are not the problem. It's the dependence of them to express true love... that is the problem.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recent Reading Adventures

A review for the latest book I've read:

I finished reading the last saga of this book at midnight a few nights ago. May I recommend not doing this. Or maybe it's because I'm such a scaredy cat, that only I hear "sleepers" with every noise a house makes when reading about them in bed, at night.

Strictly based on the genre, this is not a book I would choose to read. I am not a fan of horror, paranormal, even more so with violent killings as in this story. I read this book because i...t was picked for my book club. I didn't know to what degree of thriller, horror to expect. No one in my group had read it. Even still, it's not a genre I will choose on my own accord and the ways I find this book disturbing with parts I wish I can unread, only proves why I don't read them.
However, even though I find it disturbing and it still didn't make me a fan of horror, I admit the story is well written. It's obvious Jennifer is a talented writer with quite the imagination even if I do find it dark and scary.

This story vacillates from the early 1900s to the present. I was a little lost in the first 100 pages but soon after I was able to catch on and found it easy to follow through the rest of the story. Ruthie and Fawn's mother comes up missing. They live in West Hall, VT where legends of a "sleeper" may be the cause of their mother's disappearance along with many others who have gone missing and were never found. In the search for their mother, Ruthie and Fawn discover more about this legend and come to realize some legends are more than tales. But instead of exposing the legend as truth, the world is a safer place when the truth is kept silent. Only now, the truth has been exposed by one other who didn't keep silent...

Since I'm not used to this genre, some of the twists were unpredictable to me, though, if you read a lot of these kinds of stories, you may find them predictable.

There are no sex scenes but for the sensitive reader, there are quite a few uses of strong language.
I'll end with this...before I read this book, I had hopes of one day living in the woods in a small, obscure house, to enjoy the peace and quiet, away from the busy life. Now, that desire is no longer. The woods no longer call my name and if they do, I'll run the other way. I highly recommend you do the same.

I give this book 4 stars because I do think it is well written . I can't in good conscious rate it based on my dislike of the genre.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Goals and Dreams of an 11 Year Old Fisherman

I found this list while cleaning our school room that Brother C had's also my hope he gets to put check marks by all of them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Did You Know?

One our recent lessons in reading were about Native Americans. We learned the following words are derived from their languages:

Moose, opossum, raccoon, skunk, hickory, pecan, squash, moccasin and toboggan.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Refugees and Politics

Unless you've been living under a rock, we have seen the political issues regarding the whole immigration/refugee issue here in America.  I haven't engaged in any discussions or debates about this.  I honestly don't know all the facts about it. If you are on Facebook for any length of time during the day then you've probably seen some of the ugliness that has come from both friends and foes regarding this issue.  All I've seen is that people can find articles to support both points of view.  If you hate Trump for signing it, then there are plenty of articles to fuel your flames.  If you love Trump for doing this, then you can find plenty of articles to fuel your flames. The news media has published their share of the situation with none giving the whole truth and all slanting the story to fit their agenda. 

During this hurricane of fury or excitement, depending one where you stand, it was coincidental that one of our history lessons was about Israel falling to the Assyrians.  In that lesson, the activity was to discuss what a community can do to help refugees.  The correlation is that the Israelites became refugees in a foreign land when they were forced to leave their country to live in Assyria. 

Our boys and I watched a YouTube documentary about a refugee camp in Kenya for Somalians.  It discussed the reasons the refugees were leaving Somalia and how Kenya was taking care of them.  During and after the video we discussed in details what all is involved in taking care of refugees.  I've listed the aspects we discussed below.  Obviously, I added to the discussion but I wanted them to understand what all is involved and that it's not a matter of "political" disagreement or agreement. There certainly are more to be considered but these are the ones we noticed from watching the video. 

Facets of taking care of refugees we have discussed so far:

1. Provide shelter: will it be permanent or temporary and how to transition from one to another. How will it be determined where they will stay (cities, land)? What kind of shelter? (Buildings, trailers, tents)

2. Provide food: figuring out what is the least expensive that goes the farthest. How much does each family get and how often? Food allergies? How to store the food? Where do we get the food that is provided t...o the refugees? How to keep it from spoiling or keep rats/mice/bugs out of it.

3. Provide clothing: how much clothing does each person get? How do you accommodate for growing children who need newer sizes more often? Clothing for pregnant women?

4. Providing healthcare: who will be the healthcare providers? Who will provide the medicine? Who much medicine does each family or person receives and how is that determined? Prenatal care, postnatal care.

5. Determining healthcare needs: what is the process to screen for communicable diseases among people with no medical records? Who provides this service and then what is to be done when a serious disease is detected? Where do you send them?

6. Providing Education: do these people deserve to be educated? Who will educate them? Who provides the materials needed? How is it determined who among them receive an education?

7. Providing Transportation: who will transport them to where they need to be once established as a refugee? Transporting to hospitals or medical clinics? What vehicles are used to transport and who provides it? Liability?

8. Maintaining Safety: how is order maintained? Who provides the safety? (National military, state policing)??? What is to be done when a refugee commits a crime against another or against a citizen of the country they live in? What kind of punishment is executed? Where do you send criminals and how do you house them?

9. Providing Jobs: will refugees be allowed to work or forced to work? How will they make currency in order to purchase items they want?

10. Providing Currency: will they be allowed to have currency or will they be able to exchange their country's currency for the currency of the country they are living in?

11. Records keeping: what records need to be kept? How do you gather the info? Who gathers the info and what is to be done with it? What measures are to be taken when someone doesn't meet the requirements?

12. Last but not are all the above services financed? Who finances them?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pouting in the Sun

When Momma will not share her food with me, I pout in the sun....

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Podcasts about Books and Reading

So, I'm a little late to the game.  I've known about podcasts and what they do but I've never really taken advantage of them.  Now that I am trying to exercise everyday at the gym, they have become a great friend to listen to.  One of my favorites is linked below, Read Aloud Revival by Sarah McKenzie.  She's a homeschooling mother after my own heart.  She has taken her voice, wisdom, and experience to start a sort of "read aloud revival", an attempt to bring back the acceptance and importance of reading aloud as a family.  Before electricity, this was the most popular form of entertainment.  If no one in the family could read, then they sat around telling stories that had been passed down from generations gone by; this was just as effective.

I encourage you to become a family who reads aloud.  It's the one organic thing you can do to give your children an advantage in academics and learning.  You can never start too soon or too late. 

Our boys really enjoy the time I read aloud to them.  Not only am I broadening their minds, I'm also broadening mine, too.  And then there are the memories I am making with them; this is possibly the greatest aspect about it. 

There is always the question of what to read.  Some will encourage living books only, some encourage the classics only and some will never encourage "twaddle" books.  "Twaddle" is a term Charlotte Mason (educator) gave to books that have no significant value to the story.  I know that value depends on the reader.  But there is a significant difference in many books we read.  Examples of higher value books would be the Little House books, Tom Sawyer, Wind in the Willows and other such type of books compared the Dork Diaries, Junie B Jones, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and so forth.  Some say that many modern books have be written in a way that dumb us down.  While I agree and notice the difference, I'm not so legalistic that I don't allow our boys to enjoy a book of their choice so long that the content doesn't compromise our convictions.  I, too, enjoy the occasional "twaddle" books for adults but I do recognize the ones with much more significant value in the content. 

As for our choice of read aloud books, I choose non-twaddle books to read aloud. These are books that I really want our boys to comprehend the content.  I use these books to engage in discussions with them.  These books teach lessons, help understand history, or help guide our boys in our walk of convictions and morality.  For the most part, I let them choose the books they read on their own.  Some of these are "twaddle" such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I cringed at first when they asked to read this series but not now I see that these books are what led them to enjoy reading.  In this case, whatever works to help encourage our children to become readers.  I will limit these kinds of books but occasionally let them go back to them for mere entertainment.  Our boys have actually moved on to more significant books on their own accord. 

Right now, if I had to give one of the most successful aspects or our homeschooling is that it has allowed me to create a love for reading in our boys.  Sure, they would rather be playing a video game but it's not an act of war to get them to read.  Most nights, they stay up later reading in their bed.  I can think of much worse to be doing that late so I don't discourage it. 

Below is a link to Amongst Lovely Things. This is Sarah's blog that hosts her Read Aloud Revival podcasts.  I highly encourage you to give them a try and then try for 30 days to read aloud to your children.  What could it hurt, right?  Oh, and her philosophy is to become a read aloud family, including the daddy.  We aren't a read aloud family.  JB just isn't interested but I haven't let that discourage me for participating.

PS: You don't have to be a homeschooling family to be a part of the Read Aloud Revival.

Amongst Lovely Things: Read Aloud Revival

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Homeschool Moments

That moment you yell "I'm not opening that door. You can go around to come inside!", only then to see your children walk out of their rooms and tell you that the neighbor is at our door.

To my defense, my boys had been outside raking a pile leaves their daddy told them to take care of. Our 3 dogs knew they were in the front yard and have been whining to go out. I knew if I opened the front door to let my boys in, the dogs would bolt down the street. Apparently, my boys had come in and I didn't notice.

I apologized to our neighbor and explained my, um, "firm statement"...but I don't think she was buying it. and I may or may not have still been in my pjs.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reading Adventure

5 stars

Oh the tears I have cried. With each book I read set during WW II, I've yet to be ceased with amazement this war bestowed on civilians and soldiers alike. I learn something new with every book, every character and every story. And this book proved no different.

I was captivated from the very beginning and the only reason for having to stop reading was because life got in the way.

This book is marketed as young adult, historical fiction but she holds nothing back in regards to the adult terrors of war. Though most of the characters are young, ranging from an abandoned 5 year old to a grandfather figure, they all suffered the ravages of war no one of any age should have to face.

"What a group we were. A pregnant girl in love, a kindly shoemaker, a blind girl and a giantess who complained that everyone was in her way when she herself took up most of the room. And me, a lonely girl who missed her family and begged for a second chance."

The story is set at the end of the war when Germany and Russia were fighting for final power...Stalin vs Hitler but may no mistake, these two weren't good vs was evil vs evil with neither sparing any lives to prove who is the most evil.

"No one wanted to fall into the hands of the enemy. But it was growing harder to distinguish who the enemy was"~ Joana, Latvian

"I moved from body to body, treating blisters, wounds, frostbite. But I had no treatment for what plagued people the most.


Germany had invaded Russia in 1941. For the past 4 years, the two countries had committed unspeakable atrocities, not only against each other, but against innocent civilians in their path."~Joana, Latvian

The main characters in the story are traveling in danger as a group of refugees to get to a ship that promises to send them to safety. This part of the story is based on actual events of the war that the author researched. There was in fact a final edict for Germans to flee on a series of ships to sail to safety away from the upcoming Russian invasion. The story of the ship in the book is an actual event that happened but very little is ever mentioned when studying or discussing WW II tragedies. The characters' stories are based on those who survived this tragedy.

This book will be shelved on my "must-read" list and as one of my favorites. The writing style is obviously that of young adult fiction with a minor love story entwined. I loved every character, even those who seem unlovable. You can't help but recognize that the effects of the war from propaganda to mere experience helped mold them into the character they are...the good, the bad and the ugly.

There are elements of mild wartime gore and wartime peril. There is mild offensive language but used as emphasis as you would imagine during this time. This is not prominent throughout the book, only a handful of times. No sexual scenes but as mentioned a light love story entwined as typical of young adult fiction. You realize this element only adds to the humanity of the story.

I highly recommend this for older teens who can handle wartime tragedy and especially any adults who want to learn more of WW II set outside the stories of Americans. It will certainly bring more awareness of just how we need to always understand the worst of history, so generations to come will do their best to prevent it to never happen and fight for justice of the present evil we see happening even as I type this.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Quiet Hands and Feet of Christ

Our boys may never win The Nobel Peace Prize because of some world changing contribution they performed.

We don't know her. Today was the first time we've ever seen her and it may also be the only time. But our boys made her little world better, if only for the moment or maybe the rest of her day.

While I was finishing our grocery business, I looked over and saw Brother B loading her groceries in her buggy after they were bagged. Then as I was pushing our buggy in the direction to head to our car, both boys said they were going to carry her groceries out to her car.

She wasn't far from our car as I followed.

No, they most likely want win a Nobel Prize. But I'm just as proud to have children quietly being the hands and feet of Christ.

It was nice meeting Ms Ray. I sure hope we have the pleasure again one day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Recent Reading Adventure

This is the latest book I have finished. It was a book chosen by a member of my book club.
This book is not one I would have chosen on my own accord but I've seen it on many must-read lists. Even so, I'm always glad to read books I can tell y'all about...the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This book is a hard book to give a star rating. There are many factors to this book that just don't allow an easy review.

It is set in the mid-1800s in Amsterdam. The setting isn't one I've read or really studied so some of the references were lost to me.

It's one of the most unique books I've ever read. It is well written for a debut novel. While the plot includes the sensitive issue of homosexuality, her ability to create this story with such intriguing characters and setting as her debut novel is truly amazing. For this, I give it 5 stars.
But that 5 stars doesn't reflect my enjoyment of the book. There are some sexual scenes and commentary that the sensitive reader may not enjoy. It's not the highlight of the story but be aware, it exists.

I finished the book confused and disappointed. I'm still not sure of the purpose or meaning of this book. The women characters are strong and independent even in a culture where they are considered below the man. I felt like ending left their stories unfinished. For this, I give it a 3.

There are many scandalous relationships throughout the story and how they have to be kept secret so the church leaders and burgomasters (city authorities) do not find out. In keeping these secrets with some being found out, the hypocrisy of the church and government of that time era is exposed.

There are elements of sadness, scandal, mystery, suspense, sex and mild gore. I'm not quick to recommend this book. I advise you to read it at your own discretion. Definitely not recommended for teenagers due to the sexual element.

Friday, January 6, 2017

My New Love for Laundry

I had read about these from several people who use them who are trying to use more natural, less chemicals in their household.  After reading enough testimonies, I decided to order some to give a try.  And I must admit, I'm a believer.  I actually don't dry a whole lot of our laundry in my dryer.  I prefer to hang dry most of our cotton clothes.  But I do dry our towels, sheets, socks and other household laundry items...I just don't use the dryer for most of our clothes.  These don't give any odor to the laundry so if you prefer a light scent, you can put a few drops of your favorite essential oils on the balls, most use lavender. 

I ordered these off Amazon but you can find them on Etsy, also.  They cost 13.99 with free shipping for Prime members.  I also bought several more as Christmas gifts. 

I have a friend who posted on Facebook that she had started using them and her daughter's eczema has since cleared.  She thinks her eczema was aggravated by the chemicals used in dryer sheets.  So if any of you reading, have sensitive skin issues, you may want to try these. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Christmas Family

It's always a joy to have my sister home, especially for the holidays.  Here are few pictures of my nieces, my sister, our boys and my parents.  These were taken at local restaurant we try to eat at when she's home.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Big Fish, Big Big Fish

To be twins, they are so different.  One likes to hunt the other likes to fish.  A few days ago, Brother B and Brother C spent the day out in the country in AL.  While Brother B was hunting, Brother C was fishing.  He pulled out this monster from the pond.  A 20lb carp.  According the Grandpa, they put carp in the pond about 15-20 years ago.  They honestly didn't know there were any still living.  Well, here's proof that they are.  Here is Brother C with my FIL.