Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jefferson's America by Julie M. Fenster

Product Details

The President, The Purchase, and the Explorers who Transformed a Nation


Wow!! I did it. I finally made it through this book. It feels like I have been reading and reading and reading and reading, are you getting the idea, it.

When I was looking to pick a book a long while back now, I wasn't finding anything that was striking me and I decided I should read more history and learn about the past, so I saw this book and thought it would be a good one to start with. I was unprepared for the size of the book. I'm not sure why I thought it would be a smallish book, think novel size, but it's a nice hardcover book instead.

It turned out to be a very interesting read. It talked a lot about Lewis and Clark and their explorations and also some of the other ones that you don't read as much about. Zebulon Pike, for example, I knew the name, but never realized that's where Pike's Peak got its name. Then there were explorers like Freeman and Dunbar who I had never heard of. So it definitely fulfilled the thing of me reading history and learning more about our country and the people that helped discover and settle it.

I will be honest, I was probably looking for a little less in depth history lesson, but I thought Julie did do a good job of getting the details. To me, there were so many names and places mentioned that if you didn't read it consistently on a daily basis, you lost track of who she was talking about. Another thing I didn't like as well was she could switch from explorer to explorer to talking about Jefferson, the President, to some other place all within a page or two, so it hopped around a lot. I didn't like that as much, but I will say Julie made the transition very easy. The writing isn't disjointed or hard to follow

So if you are looking for an in-depth view of the Louisiana Purchase and the Cold War of that era between the United States and Spain, then I would recommend this book.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mommy Guilt Revisited

I've been thinking about where I want to go with my blog and if I want to have a theme and a focus that predominates on here and beings I am in the beginning stages of the trenches of motherhood, it makes sense to gear this more towards moms. But then I thought about some of the other things I write about and I don't want to give that up either. And obviously there will still be my book reviews that will be shared on here, likely more frequently than any other post, but I'm not interested in making this a book blog or a reading blog or anything down that line.

So mostly, this blog will continue as it has been. I think I will make a greater effort to share some of my homemaking experiences. I am striving to be a good wife and mom and to make my home a haven. For the first five years of our marriage, I worked and our home often reflected that busy stage and didn't always stay up to par as far as decorating. Along with that, was a serious lack of energy and ambition to try and make our trailer look like we were in the 21st century. (This is the 21st century right? I get so confused about that. :) ) So while I would blame work, that was just an excuse. Now we've moved into a rental house and I read "The Nesting Place" and it has inspired me to make our home cheery and happy and inviting. I have also listened to Sally Clarkson on "At Home with Sally" podcast and while she strikes me as so idealistic that it's unattainable to me, it has challenged me in that regard to try and create memories even now when Amber will never remember them, but it sets a stage for when she does remember. 

I have also been challenged to try and see stories and life lessons in the mundane around me. I was picking raspberries a few weeks ago and kept pondering the life lessons that could be learned from picking food among the thorns, but never was really able to pull anything together. Maybe I still will yet. 

One of the things I do want to do is encourage other young moms who are in the same stage as I am. I don't have any answers, but I can share stories and lessons I have learned that will maybe help others to realize they are not alone. I don't know. That was a lot of gibberish to say that really nothing is going to change. 

Now to the real meat of this post. I had a case of mommy guilt yesterday and this was real and true and certainly needed. I took Amber shopping after her nap. First mistake, I think, was to not give her a snack first. She seemed incredibly hungry by the time we were heading home. The second big mistake was to take my phone with me. I had gotten an unexpected package from UPS just before we left and I was trying to figure out if I had won a giveaway or something. It's a beautiful coloring book/journal from Tyndale House. So we went to where Mom was still working and I was distracted by trying to figure this out and so I wasn't paying attention to Amber like I should have been or to anybody else. I'm sorry to all that were affected. Amber then took to running a little wild, not really anything bad, just not taking kindly to being told no. This then led to me saying those words that I don't think you should ever tell a child, "You're embarrassing me". We left and she fussed about getting back into her car seat and I was left wondering why we came to town. The next stop was much better. It hit me though. I was consumed by my electronic device and I wasn't giving her the proper attention except to tell her "No, you can't do that. No you can't have that. No, come here." Etc. etc. My pride took a nose dive, my guilt escalated, and while I hate to admit this, it was what I needed. 

My daughter is more important than any electronic or other distracting device. My relationships are much more important than any electronic or unexpected package. If I cannot give the undivided attention I need to be giving to the people around me because I am distracted by my phone, then I need to leave the device at home or at least in the car. I do use a few shopping apps if I'm going to Walmart, etc, but I don't need to be controlled by my phone and if even that is causing me to lose focus, then maybe I need to revert to pen and pencil.

I don't know if other mothers have faced this or not, but it was a hard lesson to learn and it has been sitting there niggling at me and bothering me. I also realize that now I need to let it go. I messed up, I made a mistake. God and I have discussed it and know I need to learn from it and move on.

What things have you learned from shopping with littles?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Yertle the Turtle

So I went thrift shopping yesterday and there is a distinct chance I might have bought too many books. I think I'm going to have to promise D to pack and move all the book boxes myself!!! It's the only thing he seems to care about in relation to my need to hoard collect books.

I got a couple Dr. Seuss and one of them was Yertle the Turtle. I had never read it before and I have to say it really struck me while I was reading it. I read it aloud to Amber, ha ha, who was rather crabby and not that interested, so basically I read it to me, but it was fun.

So here's a few snippets from it.

Yertle the Turtle is the king of all he can see and all of a sudden he decides that he can't see enough, so he orders turtles to climb on top of each other so he can see more.

"So Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one's back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see 'most a mile!

'All mine!' Yertle cried. 'Oh the things I now rule!
I'm the kind of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!'...

And all through that morning, he sat there up high
Saying over and over, 'A great king am I!'
Until 'long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
'What's that?' snapped the king
And he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, 'Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I've pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?'

'SILENCE!' the King of the Turtles barked back.
'I'm king, and you're only a turtle named Mack.'

'You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I'm king of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!
I'm king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
Bat that isn't all. I'll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!' his royal voice thundered,
'So pile up more turtles! I want 'bout two hundred!'"

And then poor Mack he was really hurting by this point as all the new turtles had to step on his head to climb up, but the mighty King had no time to listen

"'You hush up your mouth!' howled the might King Yertle.
'You've no right to talk to the world's highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There's nothing, no, NOTHING, that's higher than me!'....

And so he decides to go even higher, but...

"But as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he'd taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a little bit mad
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!...

For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell of his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!"

I just had to think while I was reading this how true this is to real life which may very well be what Dr. Suess intended to portray. How often am I so concerned about getting to the top and having the best relationships, the best house, the best car, the most money, the nicest DIY decor, the best-behaved child, etc. etc. etc.? And I don't think about all the "turtles" I am crawling on to get there or all the ones I am stomping on in my own self-importance or how much pain I am causing those of my own kin and family in my impatience?  It is definitely something to think about because I don't want to take that big mighty splash into the pond and live the rest of my life in mud. I want to be considerate of those around me, to treat people with compassion and not as stepping stones to my own throne.

What do you think Dr. Suess intended to portray with this story?

Also, I am trying something different with the comments. I was told that some cannot comment and for that I apologize. It's hard to enter for a giveaway if you can't comment. So I am going to extend the giveaway one week and also add that if you comment on this post and give some thoughts on Yertle the Turtle you will also add an entry for the book. So comment here and/or on the giveaway post. Each comment earns you one entry.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Month of Sundays by Paula Hartman

A Month of Sundays: Striding Toward Spiritual Refreshment One Sunday at a Time by [Hartman, Paula]

Striding Toward Spiritual Refreshment One Sunday at a Time

A Month of Sundays provides food for the body as well as the soul. It offers thirty-one weeks of delicious Sabbath meals along with reflections on the need for true Sabbath rest. This book will leave you feeling spiritually refreshed, reconnected with your Creator, and at peace with yourself.

That is the book cover description. 

I got this as an ebook which I often end up regretting. I like to hold a book in my hand, plus I feel like ebooks can tend to have a few more grammatical errors and misspelled words than a paperback. I don't know if that is really true or not, but this book did contain some minor errors like that.

Paula did have some good thoughts on rest and refreshing oneself on the Sabbath. While I don't necessarily agree with it being relaxing and refreshing to do my housework on Sunday, I can understand that for some people it is. And like the book description said there were menus with each chapter. The thing I liked about those was there were also calorie counts included, but I'm not very likely to go find an ebook to find a recipe I want to make, so while being nice to scan over when reading the book, the recipes will not be very practical to me.

I do think it is so very important to take that day of rest to rest and regroup and allow the Lord to work in our hearts and fill us with a sense of peace and refreshment.  

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Today's Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg

Product Details

Devotions to Deepen Your Faith in Christ

This is a beautiful padded hardcover devotional book. It contains 180 devotions that are intended to strengthen a Christian's belief that there is a God and that the God of the Bible can be trusted.

Lee Strobel is well-known as the atheist that went searching to disprove the Bible and instead became a Christian. Mark, I hadn't heard as much about, but now after reading this book, I would like to read some other of his books.

It's hard for me to just pull out one phrase or even devotional from this book. It was just good. It was faith strengthening to see how science and history confirm over and over and over again the validity of the Bible, how the very idea of a moral right and wrong confirms a Higher Power and so many other examples that Lee and Mark gave.

There are devotionals on who Jesus is, how we can know there's a God, truth, etc.

It was a very good book and I highly recommend it for anyone. It is deep and I feel like I only scratched the surface because I was racing to get it read.

It would make an excellent Christmas gift if anyone is starting to think that direction.  This is one book I would consider giving away and yet I want my children to read it and so it might just be a good option for buying another one as a Christmas gift. I'll have to see.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

This is What It's All About

The day was long, but the to-do list was longer. There was laundry to do and bills to pay and bookwork to enter. There was food to make, cupcakes with yummy frosting and rice krispy bars and then bread because why not choose today to make bread. It doesn't matter that fresh homemade bread hasn't been churned out in close to two years, but today is the day to change that. Then there's the random spur of the moment decision that the birthday cake I need to make for Sunday should be an ice cream cake and there's ice cream on sale at Gordy's and so I should go today and get said ice cream. Nobody please tell me that WalMart's ice cream is always cheaper because I might just sit down and cry.

So it's not really that long of a list and really didn't take that long to do, but the other factor that wasn't considered here was a little 17 month old girl who decided that today was the day she needed mom to sit with her on the floor while she played, that she really wanted more of Mom's attention than Mom wanted to give. Now I don't mind sitting on the floor with her if I can read my book and generally that works.

But evening rolled around and the grumpies were hitting hard. The nap had been short and long ago and so, of course, the perfect solution is an early bedtime. Ha Ha. So after repeated attempts and much crying, we had a snack, because what if hunger was causing the uneasy settling. It's not like it's normal for her to wail her eyes out in her crib.

We rocked and we sang and then we tried again and still wailing. So what do you do when you don't know what's wrong? You get the Tylenol bottle out and you give her a dose. Then the rocking and singing commenced again along with a cuddly blanket and soothing backrub.

Then it all came together. The cuddling changed to a relaxed posture and eyelids dropped shut and my little girl fell asleep in my arms. Now for many of you moms, that's nothing to write home about, but this is the girl who we have to basically let cry herself to sleep at church because she will not just go to sleep when we are holding her. This is the girl who doesn't do much cuddling except just before bed and never to the point of going to sleep. But there she was, sitting upright, sucking her pacifier, leaning into her security blanket, and wrapped in a pink fuzzy blanket, and I was singing, "We Have This Moment" and the tears came to my eyes. Yes, this was a moment, a moment when time could stand still and I rocked a little more just treasuring this moment of peace and quiet and my little girl contentedly sleeping, with only the occasional crying hiccup that accompanies that first sleep after a bout of crying.

These moments make the long days, the longer evenings, especially when Daddy is gone, it's these little moments when it all comes to come together and I am reminded that it's worth it, it's so worth it.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Day in the Life, Things I'm Loving and a Little Giveaway

 So this little miss is a high energy, fun-loving, running through life kind of girl. She has been doing much better at playing by herself and keeping herself occupied, but yesterday was an exceptionally good day. I'm sure it helped that I was up and around and not sitting and sewing or being on the computer. She loves to help in the kitchen, so in the morning we made granola and the pie that's coming up further down in the pictures.
 I'll be honest, I didn't know you could love someone quite so much and then sometimes be that frustrated with them all at the same time. Actually, I guess I did, but maybe just not on someone so little. She is so much fun. I think I've said this before, but I am loving this age. She chatters nonstop. I don't know what it will be like when I can actually understand what she is saying. Her main words seem start with b. Ball, Baby. A similar word that starts with B for puppy. Ni-ni is night night and good bye. And to be really sappy, she has started to give real hugs, not ones where she leans in for you to give her a hug, but if you make sure her arms are free, ones where she actually squeezes you and that melts this mom's heart completely. She is a four-wheeler fanatic. All we have to mention is going on a ride and she is all over it, knows where the keys are kept, knows where they go in the four-wheeler, and is unhappy until she gets her ride. Okay, enough of an update on her life. Boring for most of you, but the family of Amber might be interested.

She had toys strewn from one end of the house to the other yesterday. There was coconut all over the floor from her attempts to eat it yesterday morning while making granola. But in the midst of all that mess, I got some stuff done. 

Like this yummy Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken made with fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil and fresh picked cherry tomatoes.

I also made this scrumptious Magnolia Lemon Pie


Finally, finally, my sign for behind the couch is taking shape and so far I am tickled with how it is turning out. Hey, we've only lived here for 2 years. It's a little embarrassing considering how quick it is coming together, but I wouldn't have used discarded pallet boards from my brother's burn pile two years ago, so good things come to those who procrastinate. 
This is a sign I saw on the world wide web somewhere and it's one of the things I loved or actually it was a sign and then my blog host or whatever you call them freaked me out by telling me that hackers might be trying to steal my information from that site, so I'll just tell you what the sign said: "It's not procrastination, if you're drinking coffee; it's procafinating."


Let's play under the table where mom is working because it's more fun there. These markers are washable stamps that I thought she could maybe manage playing with. Oh play with them she does, but not with the lids off. 

The storage room because lids and rings from canning jars are just the best toys and while I'm at it, I may as well drag out some books, some legos, and some balls. 

I peeked at her yesterday because it was quiet of course and she was sitting by the love seat looking at a book. She has been loving books lately. I don't read much to her, because book lover that I am, it drives me nuts that her attention span barely lasts a page. If I'm reading a book, I want to read the whole book and not half a page.

And I didn't post the picture that showed where she had dragged the kitchen run into the living room because it wasn't at its normal spot in the kitchen. It had been put out in the entry so I could sweep and mop the very dirty kitchen floor. She was busy, busy, busy, but it was fun to watch her bustling about. 

Other things I'm loving right now is as always this website: Mel's Kitchen Cafe I have been making such yummy food from there, like this and this and this.
Fresh Strawberry Cobbler

I actually have two homemade cookbooks with 99.9% of her recipes in them. I print them out, stick them in sleeve protectors, and organize them by category. My first book is a 3 inch binder which covers from the beginning to the end of 2014. My second book is 2015 and 2016. I know I have expounded the virtues of her blog before, but her food is so so yummy. 

Product Details

And last, but not least, is my giveaway. As I mentioned in my book review, Tyndale accidentally sent out two copies of this book to their book reviewers. They encouraged us to pass them along through a giveaway, etc. So I decided I would do a giveaway. Now, I would feel so much more noble if this was a good inspiration nonfiction book that I was giving away that if you read it, it would change your life. But it's not. You can't look a gift horse in the mouth and I'm not about to give away my own books at this stage in my life. So to enter the giveaway, comment on my blog and my blog only what three things you are enjoying in life. Also you need to make sure that I have a way of contacting you if you won. I will close out the giveaway around August 15th. I'm leaving myself lots of options and leeway here because after all, it is my first giveaway. So go ahead and enter. I'll even let you enter once each week until then, but you have to have three different things you're loving, no copying and pasting. Now without further ado or making this more challenging for myself, you may now enter your comments. Thank you for your cooperation!!!!!!!!!