Books, Books, ​and More Books

I LOVE to read. I wasn’t always a reader. Growing up I felt accomplished if I read a teen magazine. However, when a night owl marries an early bird, the night owl has to do something to keep her mind occupied in those lonely night hours. I was the night owl married to a very early riser.  With no one to talk to, no internet back then, and a mind that needed to stay busy books became one of my best friends. I can’t remember what book I first read. I do know that I started out very slow and really had no idea where to start. Non-fiction began to fill in that gap and fill me with the love of reading.

IMG_2582(I picked these up at a thrift store for no more than 60 cents each. Most were 50 cents. At that rate, if a book doesn’t suit my fancy it’s no great loss. Three of these I have already started and won’t finish.)

I have ventured out from a non-fiction only diet. Juvenile fiction, historical fiction, a very occasional thriller/mystery are mixed in now. I don’t read romance, books with sexual content, if it has too much foul language I usually stop reading. I think military books are my only exception to that rule. No horror or fantasy books. Very rarely a Sci-Fi crosses my reading path. I really try to filter what I read and live out the Bible verse: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” Psalms 101:3. My favorite subjects to read are still history and biographies/memoirs.

IMG_2546I have a basket of already read books to give and to keep. I usually give them away rather quick. For me, this is a big pile.

IMG_2545(Please excuse the dust. It is a constant chore to keep it off furniture here.) 

When our local bookstore closed I stocked up, well over $300 worth of books for a fraction of the price. I bought many children’s books as well. These are just my books. We have a whole other growing bookshelf for our children’s books. And two bookshelves in the living room that house Hubby’s books, encyclopedias, reference books, and old-school photo albums.

The books you see here are only the front row. The back of my nightstand is fuller than the front. The three books on the top-left are what I am currently reading. Yes, sometimes I read more than one book at a time. That big old book helping to elevate my lamp is a vintage dictionary. The seven books piled in the center I just picked up at our used bookstore. I had to stop looking before I spent all of my money on books!! I have actually just started volunteering at this used bookstore. Don’t know if that’s a good thing for my budget, especially when it’s my day to sort!! (Sorting, such a relaxing job.) I have set a goal of reading at least half of my current books before I buy I bunch more. The only exception is if I come across a REALLY good find or a REALLY good deal. (Not really a firm limit, but it will have to do.) **I have found six books while sorting worth buying since I originally wrote this post!**  

 

That’s IT!?!

Okay, soapbox warning here.

I just ran into a former co-worker. I re-entered the workforce for a short time a few years ago before exiting to adopt. This co-worker and I worked together for an even shorter amount of time. That being said, I ran into her while at two of our kids’ parent-teacher conference. She quickly asked what I was “up to these days.” I replied, “Being a mom.” (She knew we were going to adopt, knew we got matched, she knew were took on FOUR kids ALL.AT.ONE.TIME, etc., etc.) To which she replied, rather condescendingly, “That’s it!?!” (In front of my kids mind you.) “She didn’t just say that” ran through my head faster than Flash himself. I wanted to scream and laugh at her, to stand and defend my stance as a mom. But I knew my efforts would fall on deaf ears. “That’s it?” I simply questioned. There was a third lady in the room and she sort of came to my defense. A very short discussion between the two women, more like throwing opinions out, took place. One of which I was having none of. Again, those deaf ears.

Yet, as three of our six kids and I were leaving, I felt the need to defend my choice to stay-at-home to my kids, especially my daughter.

So, to all of you blessed SAHMs, to all of the girls and boys who are blessed to have a SAHM, and to all of the naysayers this is for you:

img_0410

Dear Fellow Stay-at-Home Mamas,

First, I commend all that you do to be home with your babies no matter how old they are. There is no higher calling than to be a wife and a mom. Today I took one for the team. “That’s it!?!” should not be the response we get for making the choice to be the one to raise our kiddos (and sometimes someone else’s kids). It should not be the response we get for running our kids all over the place, to sports, doctors, school, extracurricular activities, clothes shopping, doctors, dentists, shoe shopping, did I mention the doctors (if you have any child with any extra needs you know I could’ve added doctors in a few more times), and or any other place they need to be at any given time. Being the one who comforts our babies, soothes their little hearts, rocks them to sleep at nap time, introduces them to the wonder of books, changes almost all of the diapers, wakes with them in the middle of the night, teaches them the importance of sharing, of getting along should not be diminished by anyone. All of the times you sat in IEP meetings, attending award ceremonies, helped out in their classes, sold fundraiser goodies door-to-door, made sure their clothes and uniforms were clean and ready should make you stand tall. When you were there for their first steps, their first words, their first smile, their first fall, their first heartbreak, their first straight A, or F report card is irreplaceable. Being able to create a safe, unstressed, stable, loving atmosphere for your husband and kids on a daily basis reaps the reward that will only be seen far down the road. Providing structure, creativity, calmness, responsibility serves such a greater picture than ourselves.

When you are standing in old shoes, in a mom bun, looking at yet another load of soiled laundry, wiping another nose and or bum, when you are cleaning up spills off a freshly washed floor, feeling like your days are filled with useless, mundane tasks that no one sees or even cares about take heart. Know it does matter. When you are lonely and in desperate need of adult conversation. Know you matter. When you are fighting that kid for the hundredth time today, know that no one can replace you. While standing over that hot stove making your family a homemade meal, know you and your family are blessed. When the sacrifices you make start to wear you down, know that no one can care for your child the way you can. Even though they often don’t show it your kids need and crave what you provide. Your husband, your marriage needs what you do, who you are. Even on our worst days, our children would rather be with us than a stranger at daycare.

The outside may see us as lazy, as underachievers, sitting on our bums all day eating bonbons. We may have no certificate to hang on our walls, no capital letters behind our names, no paycheck to cash and spend. They may see us and what we do and think and sometimes say, “That’s it!?!” But my dear mama, God is watching. God sees all that you do and give your babies no matter how old. He sees all of the things to lay down so you can give your kids and your husband the best of you. I believe that God has a special place in His heart for mamas. Dear mama, trust and know that you are held in His hands.

Nevermind the naysayers. Nevermind those that belittle what you do. You aren’t doing it for them anyway. Your babies are watching and learning. They will know you cared and know they are important. Your marriage will be stronger and your husband will be blessed.

So look yourself in the mirror, adjust your mom bun and go hug those children of yours. Go enjoy that cookie you made with your toddler. And make sure your kids know how happy it makes you to be their mom. That you don’t need others or an outside job to make you content. And let your husband know how grateful you are for his hard work so you can stay home.

**I realize this is one sided. I know that there are mamas out there who want more than anything to be a SAHM. Rest assured this was not aimed at you.**

Fair and Rodeo

IMG_2451Every year we try to make it to our local fair and rodeo. We don’t really ride the rides or eat too much fair food. Besides being too much money, sometimes meeting Smokey the Bear is just way cooler!IMG_2452

IMG_2454So is winning prizes from the free games.

IMG_2461Of course our favorite cowgirl and her hubby joined us.

I was also able to catch up to an former coworker, which was very nice.

A Bit of What I have Been Cooking

Between the kids being home for the summer and just the plain ‘ole heat factor I have rekindled love for our slow cooker. Super easy to put all of the ingredients in during the morning and get on with your day. (Just remember to turn it on AND plug it in. I have done that too many times.) Plus it doesn’t heat up the kitchen at all.

IMG_2301Slow-cooked lasagna from Tastes Better From Scratch. While it tasted good the noodles were overcooked. Maybe it was me, but the few slow-cooked noodle recipes I have made have all had over cooked noodles. S0 don’t see slow cooked noodle recipes on our menu anymore.

I have also cooked these recipes: (all from my Pinterest boards)

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup, Slow Cooker Garlic Butter and Chicken and Vegetables, One Pot Crock Pot Sausage Dinner, Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, amongst other recipes from my Pinterest Slow Cooker board.

IMG_2460Then there were these beans, inspired by Mandy from Biblical Homemaking blog. I just put a bay leaf and a generous amount of salt, low boil for a few hours. Beans, so healthy, so cheap. They are mainly pinto beans with a few black beans I had sitting around. These didn’t go with any recipe but our kids, especially The Chief, LOVE beans.

IMG_2463Green Chili Posole from Around the World in Eighty Days with pre-packaged cornbread. This was super YUMMY. Then again most food is better with green chili. Can anyway say green chili cheeseburgers!?! One of my favorite foods.

IMG_2392

Our two daughters and I made these Thick and Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…SOOO very good. Recipe from The Kitchen Magpie.

FUN Writing Exercise

I want to be a writer, pen my own book/s one day. Yet I don’t have much time to sit down and actually take classes and/or practice. This blog is truly my biggest outlet for my writing practice. But every now and then I steal away a corner of time to hone my craft just a bit more.

Writing Challenges podcasts afford me a (free) class that is ready and available when I am. Earlier this week I was able to sit down and give it a go. This is my second such writing challenge from this podcast. This one proved to be rather fun and invigorating. Here’s how it went.

IMG_2585

Imagine if you will the instructions are spoken in an older British male voice. Here’s your assignment:

*Pick a book of your self, poetry or fiction.

*Close your eyes, open the book and point your finger somewhere on the page.

*Take that word, the three words after and the three words before it.

*Write that phrase down.

*Now you have 5 minutes to write. Don’t think (which is harder than you’d think), try to write as fast as you can. You are not producing a work of art.

This was one of the most fun writing exercises I have done. What I wrote completely ended up different than what I started off with. So I am going to put myself out there, be vulnerable before you, my readers.

My word was OBJECT. The phrase: “…down, examined the object and slipped it…” Here it is, as is, no corrections made or revisions done.

Down, examined it and slipped it back into his pocket and walked away. Away from the dark, away from the mess. Away from the noise that seemed to grip him and not let him go. He walked out into the sunlight. Out into the fresh air. He felt alive. He felt free. With a sense of purpose, a newfound freedom, he looked at the forest before him and he just walked. He walked until he couldn’t walk anymore. Then he sat down and took a deep breath. The years had been hard on him. His hair was no longer deep rich brown. It has started to turn gray. His eyes were no longer sharp and bright. And his heart once broken actually felt like it was coming back to life. He took another deep long breath. He filled his lungs with the dewy freshness of the earth. It had just rained the previous night. He felt the moisture of the ground with his fingertips. Some clinging to… (5 minutes is up)

British instructor resumes his instructions; “After 5 minutes you should have covered quite a lot of pages.” Well, not this mama writer. I didn’t cover much ground at all. No worries though. “Now read what you have written, but read it forwards then read through it word for word backward.” No here’s where I had a harder time, “Underline one phrase that strikes you as possessing any one of the following qualities: it has energy, it surprises you, it has never been written before in your language. The phrase must make a kind of sense. It must possess it’s own inner sense, at the very least. That is it must not be completely opaque in meaning. It might be a whole sentence or at the end of a sentence and the beginning of the next.” I had a hard time finding that sentence or phrase. I need it to finish the assignment. As I need to write either a short story or poem in which it occurs without seeming out of place.

So, can you help me and tell me what sentence or phrase fits the bill? Thanks so much. And thank you for letting me put myself out here all of the time without judging me.

Power of a Game

IMG_2495

There is so much meaning behind this photo.

You may just see two people playing chess.

I see a father and son finding something that helps them bond.

I see a young man who has a diagnosed learning disability, who once was addicted to video games, who didn’t know how to function outside of video games almost beat his dad, who is very good at chess.

I see how our son, The Chief, being an example to his siblings and starting a wave of chess playing in our home.

I see a young man who has studied the game, went over plays in his head, practiced and even made his own chess sets.

I see the power of a game.

The Clubhouse

IMG_2480Building a blanket fort should be a right of passage for every child sometime in their life. Our kids LOVE building blanket forts or clubhouses as The General calls them.

IMG_2482Sometimes they are very elaborate with a room for everyone. Sometimes it’s a very open space, plenty of room to chat the night away.

IMG_2483Sometimes the “party light” is added for a festive atmosphere.

IMG_2481No matter what, they LOVE the togetherness this brings and reminds them of the good days with their birth family.

Why I Won’t Homeschool

I get asked every school year by at least two people if I am going to homeschool. I have an 8th, 6th, 3rd graders and a kindergartner. I have two adult children, one who is in college. My answer is always no.

See, I have home schooled. For six straight years and a short stint last year. I have homeschooled full-time and part time three of our six children. I don’t see homeschooling in my future. Just to be clear though, I am NOT against homeschooling at all. I know it is a great and wonderful experience and there are SO many reasons to homeschool.

But here’s my reasons for not:

*I know my limitations, academically, emotionally, mentally, and time wise.

**While I did well in school myself, that was ages ago and many of the things life have filed those academic resources and pushed them far into the recesses of my brain. My ability to figure out language, math, and the like are not as good as they used to be. If my child cannot figure certain things out on their own or we can’t find the help we need (our resources are limited here) then it just won’t get taught leading to educational gaps. While I am sure they learn things they wouldn’t have in public school, having that on my conscience is not good.

**Emotionally and mentally, homeschooling is super fun and rewarding. You really grow closer to your kids and get to experience some things you may not otherwise experience. There’s also that sense of gratification and success when your child finally grabs a hold of a concept they struggled with and you see the lights come on. However, I remember the days when my brain was fried and all of the other things I needed to get done became such a drag for me. I know we all have those days, but there really has to be a balance.

**Time. Can we just stop right there? It really takes a chunk of time out of your day/life to homeschool and to do it right. That amount of time is not a luxury for us at this point in our lives.

Part of me wants to homeschool again…very rarely but I still have that small spark in there that gets excited when seeing curriculum or the shelves of school supplies. My oldest two and I had a wonderful time homeschooling. We have a lot of happy memories. I can point to certain times that our lives were really enriched by the whole experience. But here’s the catch, besides all that I said above, with our older two we had a strong foundation in our relationship from their birth. Not so with our younger four. When I homeschooled one of our sons part-time, I saw that this foundation that we are slowly building upon and forming, weaken under the role of teacher and student that caused me to close my homeschool doors. My intentions were good. I wanted to help our son grow academically and give him that one-on-one attention he needed. In the end our relationship and continuing to grow it came first.

To sum it all up. I loved much of homeschooling. I also love the fact that someone else can teach our kids. I love spending time with our kids. I also love the break. For us, homeschooling is not the best. As a mom, I have learned (okay, am still learning) to set many expectations, sometimes my heart, aside, and look reality in the eye and do what we can do. If you homeschool, good for you. If you private school, good for you. If you public school, good for you. You be the best mom you are able to be for your precious kids.

My Favorite-Food Hack

IMG_2341

I am starting a new “series” called My Favorite.

This series will be about anything and everything as long as it is my favorite.

One of my latest and favorite food prep hacks is for salad. I like to buy the container of four small heads of different lettuce. Or the bagged mix. I eat a lot of salad, but unfortunately, we can’t always eat them before they go bad. Such a waste of food and money.

So, here’s my trick. I cut the ends off each root base, wash and shake the excess water out. I then separate each leaf onto a paper towel sheet, cover with a dry sheet. Repeat. The water from the lettuce leaves dampens each sheet and keeps the lettuce moist but not too wet. I do the same with bagged leaves minus the cutting off of the ends. This trick makes the lettuce last much longer.

What’s your favorite food hack?

Solar Eclipse

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I am playing catch up here.

So the 2017 solar eclipse, have you heard of it? Did you see it?

Me? I am one of those people who get excited about these type of once in a (fill in the blank) events. Especially, natural. As a family, we talked about it, but no one seemed to really care. So, when I heard our local space museum (our area is big on astronomy…I know the Mr. Hale of the famous Halebop.) was hosting an event I wanted to go. Going by myself was something new for me. I invited our older kids. One had college and the other couldn’t make it. Our younger kids all had school events planned around the solar eclipse.

Let me tell you, I learned something new about myself that day (that week before). I am so used to having someone with me for this kind of things that I almost didn’t go. I wasn’t afraid or anything just felt like a fish out of water. I pushed down whatever uncomfortable feelings I had and went. Boy, am I glad I did!

IMG_2471Besides being the type who gets excited by big natural occurrences, I can procrastinate as well. Especially when I hear that they will teach us to make viewing devices at the space museum.

The event started on the first floor. It was packed. Warm, sweaty bodies kept filling in. Confused and looking for the direction they came. Some who planned and came early sat in the front able to hear the solar eclipse talk.  I scoped the place out an ended up leaning on a wall looking out over the city.

There was mention of eclipse glasses being handed out the first-come-first-serve style on the ground floor at the such and such time and feeling the need for freash air I went down. Glad I did because I was able to make this cool eclipse mirror.

IMG_2472Here you can see a collection of reflections from the mirrors. It was fun to people watch, yet weird not to have anyone to talk to, to share it with.

However, maybe being alone helped me take more in, be able to pay attention to the details surrounding me. What cooler place to be than the space museum where much our states, countries space endeavors happened, had a part in, here. While taking it all in I spotted museum staff with a box. A box just the right size to hold eclipse glasses. I felt like a secret agent making my way to the truck where they handed them out. Again, so glad I went and so glad I spotted the staff. To be able to view a work of God, His wonderous powers and the moon and the sun at the same time was awesome.

IMG_2473

I know I saw a solar eclipse way back in elementary through a pinhole, but this had a stabilizing effect on me. Knowing that God is in control of everything.

Even at 67%, I really had to share it with my kids. I wanted to take my glasses to the schools…but didn’t want to disrupt their events. I text my daughter. She still couldn’t make it. So, I took the glasses to her. Again, glad I did. It is always nice to share life with someone else. Her husband came by with a different DIY viewer and we saw the eclipse three different ways. Very neat. Our eldest son got home from college in time to see the end of the eclipse, but still cool.