Smile for the Joy of Others

Smile for the Joy of Others

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.