2018 Book Review

9 Jan

It was my goal to read 60 books for 2018, and I only managed to finish 53. It was also my goal to only read books I enjoyed, and I dropped several without finishing, including Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway and Origin by Dan Brown.

My favorite fun reads: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand (Thanks Katie)

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, narrated by Jim Dale (this one is the first book I’ve listened to that I believe is a better experience listening than it would have been to just read myself)

Classic that I hadn’t read before that I still can’t talk about:

Random Harvest by James Hilton

All I can say for now is that it is what Brideshead Revisited could have been if Evelyn Waugh had written characters worth reading about.

The one book I read that I didn’t enjoy, but I finished because it was good for me:

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Books that I couldn’t stop talking about:

At Home by Bill Bryson (thanks, Ruth)

The War to End All Wars by Russell Freedman

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

Best Family Read-alouds:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Top 3:

No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown

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Christmas Crafting 2018

26 Dec

Merry Christmas!

Since the twins were born, and I think maybe even longer ago–possibly for the last 6 years–I have not attempted making anything for Christmas. I just accepted the impossibility of making anything with twin babies in the house. This year the Christmas crafting bug could not be denied. It was my turn to give to my little brother, Sammy, and My best idea was to make a family version of Pit (a favorite game in our family.) Its a trading game. Usually the commodities traded are things like Wheat, Sugar, Corn, and Barley …a.k.a. Stock Market commodities. I made it with pictures of our family, so the commodities are Sammy, Katie, Eddie, etc. Mom is the Bear card, and Dad is the Bull card. 😂😂. We had great fun playing on Christmas Day.

Let me tell you, it was more cutthroat than regular pit because the stakes felt higher.

How I made it:

I used the paint program on my computer to crop the pictures and add the point values. (Sammy got to be 100 since it was his present, and then I just went in reverse order. Peter suggested that I should have made our birth years the point values—which would have been cool-but significantly shortened the point spread.)

I printed the “wallet size” option, which was perfect for the cards.

I bought two 88 cent packs of playing cards, making sure to get the same pattern backs. I used double-sided tape to attach the pictures. Then I borrowed my friend’s laminator to laminate them. Originally I was just going to use clear packing tape to “laminate” them—and that might have been better, because they are pretty slippery and thicker than regular cards, it took a couple of rounds to get used to holding them.

However, I worried that the packing tape wouldn’t hold up as well.

I also made a birthday chart for my in-laws. They needed one :).

Now I know why most people use vinyl lettering instead of painting. I didn’t sand the board with a smooth enough grit, and the paint bled under the stencil edges pretty badly. So lesson learned: use at least 3 levels (probably more) of sandpaper , and just use vinyl cutouts. I fixed the big letters with a little paint brush. The little letters bled so badly that I gave up on that stencil and just painted the months freehand. They turned out better than I expected.

This board was 3/4″ by 6″ by 28″.

So you Have a New Baby and You Want to Know How to Get Dinner on the Table?

11 Dec

First of all, I present as a gift, my rule of thumb for time management after welcoming a new baby into your home.

Rule of Thumb:

Baby is 0-3 months old = you will get nothing done aside from feeding and diapering baby. Your family will survive on Cheerios, peanut butter sandwiches, ramen noodles, and popcorn. It’s fine. Order pizza as often as possible 😉 it’s good for moral.

Baby is 3-6 months old: you can accomplish 1-2 other tasks per day besides caring for the baby and toddler. This could be dinner, some cleaning, or laundry, but not all 3. Your toddler will watch much TV regardless of which task you choose. I recommend “Little Baby Bum”…

Baby is 6 plus months old: on good days you can accomplish 3-4 tasks. On bad days—zero.

If you have Twins:  basically double the length of each stage— maybe triple depending on how many other children you have and what their ages are.

Twins 0-6 months: feeding the twins is all you will accomplish.

When your twins have survived for 6 months, you will suddenly one day lift your head, take a breath, and realize that the outside world is still going on. You will probably be able to add one non-baby task per day at this point if your twins are formula fed and can hold their own bottles.

Now that you have realistic expectations, I’ll tell you the next most important thing.

The first key to being consistent at getting meals on the table is your attitude.  You need to recognize how important a part of your Mom job it is.  For years, I thought I had the best attitude about being a mother.  I “knew how important” it was to be a mom.  My day-to-day thought process did not reflect this, though.  Day in and day out, I viewed the work I did in my home as never ending drudgery, and I rushed through it hoping to have time to get to “something important” and time to do the “fun things I wanted to do.”

I am embarrassed to tell you how many years it took me to realize the truth that would set me free from daily frustration and misery.  I realized that feeding my family, clothing my family, and keeping our home clean WERE the important things I needed to do each day.  These chores were not the necessary evils of motherhood.   These chores were the most important daily service I could render to my husband and children and, by extension, the best service I could render to God.   Once I figured this out, I still needed to change my attitude so that I could rejoice in those daily tasks.  Reading this little pamphlet called Rejoicing in Repetition changed my attitude.  It is worth every penny!!

Now that your expectations and attitude are squared away, I’ll tell you my favorite way to get dinner done for the family. I’ve tried all the ideas: 30 minute meals, freezer meals, make ahead meals, crock-pot meals.  My favorite for ease of preparation and freshness of the food is doing a prep day once a week.

I started with a plan where someone else did the thinking for me: Five Dinners in One Hour. I began with the $2 trial plan. She gives you recipes, a grocery list, and instructions for how to do all the prep work for 5 dinners in about an hour on one day. Her meals are pretty traditional meat and potatoes type meals, but with lots of good veggies, and she had several meatless meals, which is very nice.

It was life changing for me even though my pep takes more like 2 hours since I’m prepping meals for 11 people.

Try Five Dinners Here

Fair Warning: kitchen must be clean and groceries bought. The prep time doesn’t count shopping or cleaning the kitchen. So I usually shop and clean on Friday and then prep on Saturday.

Seriously, this method is so much quicker and fresher tasting than making freezer meals (been there, tried that). Even on the weeks that I don’t do full prep, just taking time to wash and chop all the veggies makes getting food on the table 100% easier.

Another planning and preparation method I love is Mystie Winkler’s Simplified Dinner plan.  Family meals are a big deal, and if you want to learn how to make your meal preparation and planning go more smoothly and take as little brain space as possible, then this Simplified Dinner ebook is the thing you need.

You can do this, Momma!  God gave you this baby (babies) and He will give you the Grace and energy and wisdom to accomplish this mission.

❤️ Glowworm

Recap:

1. Get your Expectations Real!

2. Read Rejoicing in Repetition

3. Check out Five Dinners in One Hour

4. Check out Simplified Dinner

 

This post contains affiliate links.  That means that if you make a purchase from one of the links in this post, I will be paid a small commission.  I only recommend products and services that I use and love.  Thank you.

When all you can do is be there

11 Nov

This is a post I began 2 years ago. It got stuck in the purgatory of saved drafts, and I forgot about it. Reading through it was cathartic for me. The story had a happy ending. The little girl was reunited with her mother. The separation should never have happened in the first place, but they are together and happy now.

***********

Dec 1, 2016

John 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness

Today I went to a court hearing as a support to my friend.  Due to an overreaction at school and some language barrier problems, and probably some racism, her 8 year old daughter was taken into state custody 46 days ago.  She and her daughter have basically suffered all the agony of a kidnapping without the support of having a community behind them trying to help, because the state did the kidnapping.  Today was the hearing to determine what should be done next.  There is no evidence of abuse or neglect happening in the home, other than what the juvenile officers claim was told them by a little girl who has only spoken English for a year and was clearly asked leading questions that she nodded and smiled to because she didn’t understand what was being asked. I’m devastated that the decision was made for the government to retain custody pending more counseling for the daughter until March of next year, when another hearing will be held. That is months away. The harm and trauma it is causing this little girl and her mother can not be measured. I do not wish at this time to write a post about the terrifying amount of power that DFS and CPS have. My friend came to this country legally about a year ago, and our government has just bulldozed its way over her family.

I went to try to share my friend’s burden.  I do not know how to comfort her.  I cannot get her child back for her. But I was there, and I promised I would keep being there, and I assured her that in the end, right will prevail.

when I got home, I was pretty emotionally exhausted–too tired to do home school. I suggested to my girls that we do a service, and they voted to take cookies to our friend who is the primary care giver of her elderly mother with dementia.  The girls enjoyed making the cookies, and delivering them lifted  my spirits after such a difficult morning.

Best Oatmeal Cookies Ever:

1 cup coconut oil (the fragrant unrefined kind–butter also works here)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 325*F

2. Cream coconut oil/butter and sugars together.

3. Add eggs and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

5. Add the flour to the coconut oil/butter and mix thoroughly.

6. Add the oatmeal and raisins and stir until they are evenly distributed.

7. Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and firm when lightly tapped in the center.

A craft stash is for

5 Oct

When you decide at noon that the girls coming to your 10-year-old’s birthday party at 4pm that day need a party favor to take home.

Then you get out the piece of blue fleece left over from making a pillow for cousin Emily last year,

the ribbon from a box of lace that a sweet granny at church gave you when she decided to reduce her stash,

the fiber fill stuffing your friend gave you when it was left over from reupholstering a chair,

googley-eyes left over from a preschool project,

And E6000 glue because glue.

Enlist the help of your minions, and less than 2 hours later, you have blue cuteness.

Just enough time to clean-up the house…or catch a nap before eight 10-year-olds descend upon you en masse.

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Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

15 Aug

via Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

Home Schooling and Twin Toddlers

18 Jul

Home Schooling with toddler twins is extra hard. Find out my tips!!

Small and Simple Home School

TWINS (2)If you are a home schooling mother with twins or multiple toddlers, I want to share with you the things I tried that worked for us.

But first, the background story:

I have twin boys who are almost 3.

The year that the twins were 1-year-old, was a pretty good year, school-wise.  It was our first year home schooling, so I gave myself permission to not be perfect.

The twins were happy to sit by me on the couch, drinking their milk, while we did sort of an extended morning time version of home school.  I read aloud and my students narrated.  It was a beautiful time.  By May, as the twins reached 18 months and demanded more attention, school got harder and harder.   With a sigh of relief, we took summer break, and I reassured myself that school would be easier in the fall.  After all, I…

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