Tag Archives: books

Birthdays, Books, Banquets, Bugs, and Bible Verses

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Birthdays, Books, Banquets, Bugs, and Bible Verses

What do all of these things have in common?  Birthdays, books, banquets, bugs (the bacterial kind), and Bible verses have kept me so busy these past few weeks that I have only posted once and that was a book review on my other blog.  Please excuse this random post to catch you up on all the chaos that is my life. 

These cuties turned three years old this month!

First, out of the six people in our house, five of us have a birthday in a four-week period.  If you take out the one January birthday, four of us celebrate our birth in less than two weeks.  It’s a crazier-than-normal time already, and then we throw in Valentine’s Day.  Guess who completely forgot to buy her children Valentines to pass out at school and had to stop at the store on the way to school that morning?  Yep.  Mom of the year right here.  This was my first year to have all four kids in classes where they were exchanging gifts/treats, and I was completely overwhelmed.  By the way, I wouldn’t advise waiting until the Friday before Valentine’s Day to try to find those cute little cards with your child’s favorite characters on them because we were only able to find one package in the whole store (with the help of an employee), and those were the cards you put suckers in, and none of my children wanted to pass out suckers.  We just gave friends cool treats without cute cards.  There’s always next year, right?

This handsome guy turned 10 a few weeks ago. I can’t believe I have been a mom for over a decade!

If you know me very well, you know I love to read.  I confessed to my students this morning that I’m addicted to books.  I have the hardest time closing a good book at night when I know I should be sleeping instead of reading.  Trying to teach on less than six hours of sleep is like trying to drive while taking pain medication.  Ok.  Maybe it’s not quite as dangerous, but my brain doesn’t function at 100%, and I forget the correct math words for what I’m supposed to be teaching my students.  Fortunately, they are smart and help me out when my memory lapses, and they are forgiving.  Anyway, I have received a few amazing novels recently and finally found the time to read them.  I read to pass the time while I’m on the elliptical in the mornings.  Last week, I ran out of new books to read and discovered a treasure of a book on my Kindle app (Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin).  I would have loved to curl up with that book and just read all day.  (If you don’t have young children at home, please don’t take that privilege for granted!)  I just finished another wonderful book today, and I need to write a couple of reviews ASAP.

  
My husband and I attended a couple of banquets this month, and I was stressing about what to wear, getting my haircut, trying to lose weight, deciding how to fix my hair, which jewelry looked best with each dress, what makeup to buy, etc.  I ordered dresses online because it’s too much trouble to go shopping with four children.  I also had to alter the length of the dresses because my feet refuse to endure the torture of six-inch heels.  My husband wore his class A uniform to the fire department banquet and slacks and a nice shirt to the other banquet.  He looked great without having to worry about any of the details.  Why do we (women) put so much pressure on ourselves?  The banquets were nice and enjoyable once the nights came, but the weeks leading up to them were filled with anxiety.  I should have been quoting Philippians 4:6-7 to myself during that time and putting it into practice!

  

Our sole summer birthday!


The twins were sick last week.  It had been five months since they had strep throat last.  I’m sure that was our longest stretch without strep in the last two years, but Little Sister had it really bad this time.  Even after two days on antibiotics, both girls were still fussy and clingy.  I got pretty much nothing done last week, so I’m playing catch up this week.  Fun times.  But I enjoyed extra snuggles and cuddles with my little girls, who are getting too big too fast. 

 

These verses took me more than two weeks to memorize!


I have continued with my personal challenge to memorize the book of Ephesians this year.   My goal is to commit half of a chapter to memory each month, and I just barely finished chapter one by the end of February.  The last few verses were challenging to commit to memory, but now they just roll off my tongue.  I am enjoying seeing what my sleep-deprived brain can do when I focus on achieving a goal.  Tomorrow begins a new month, and I will start memorizing chapter two.  If you committed to memorizing Ephesians with me, how are you doing?  How about those of you who are learning Philippians this year?  I’d love to hear from you for the encouragement and accountability.  
I am extremely blessed even in the midst of the chaos.  I am exhausted, but I am loved, and that makes it all worth it.

 

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No-Spend Month: Day 14

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Well, I survived my first day of teaching in almost 10 years. I had trouble going to sleep last night.  I was trying to finish reading a book when Big Sister got up (sleepwalking) at 10:20 pm.  I finished the book shortly after putting her back to bed, but my mind wouldn’t settle.  I tried praying for peace and ended up dozing off but only for a few moments because Sissy woke up at 11:20 pm.  I think I managed to sleep for just over five hours.  Despite my lack of sleep, I was able to learn all 34 students’ names quickly enough to impress them and myself!  My students were great, and I love teaching math again.  I’m looking forward to getting to know the kids and their parents better.

  • I got up at 5:00 am and started a pot of water for oatmeal before the kids woke up.  Big Brother thought he would have to eat cold cereal on school mornings from now on, so I tried preparing a hot breakfast to show him I could do it.  He was the only one who did not eat oatmeal this morning. 
  • The kids and I all packed lunches to eat at school.  Hubby took money for lunch again.  He only spent $7.50 today.  I passed some lunch tables at school that had Chick-fil-a bags waiting for students, and I felt deprived for a moment, especially with my husband eating out a few times this week, but that just reminded me what I have to look forward to in November.
  • The little girls needed fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereal, so we went to the store this afternoon. We spent $18.08 on groceries. 
  • They are having a book fair at our school this week, so I took the kids after I picked them up and let them “shop” for books. I took photos of the kids holding up books they want for Christmas.

  

 For a few years now, we have limited the kids’ Christmas gifts to four categories:

  1. Something to wear
  2. Something to read
  3. Something they want
  4. Something they need

All of our children love books and new clothes, so they end up getting several things they want.  I like buying books from the book fair because it helps our school, and I don’t have to go to a store.  Plus, the older kids fill out wish lists when they preview the book fair with their classes, so I know exactly what they want.  

Now, I know this is a no-spend month, but we already have this expense covered.  My husband sets aside money each quarter for Christmas, so I can take money from our Christmas fund for these books and not spend any money from our monthly income.  I will hide these gifts for two months and then wrap them up for Christmas.  I love getting some shopping done ahead of time. 

Happy New Year

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Happy New Year

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“The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.”
~The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

We love Dr. Seuss books. Our wintry weather this morning reminded me of the opening lines of Theodore Geisel’s most famous children’s book, so I read it to the twins. They sat in my lap for about three-fourths of the book and then listened to the rest while playing.

They have developed quite a love for reading in the last week or so, bringing us armfuls of books at a time to read to them. I read at least half of this stack of books to them yesterday afternoon, and now we are reading them again.

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We also love books by Eric Carle and Sandra Boynton as you can see. Most of our Dr. Seuss books are not board books, so they are not on the shelves for the little ones. We are still working on turning paper pages without tearing them. I’m just glad they enjoy reading and listening to books as much as their mama and big brother. I hope they always maintain their love of reading.

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This is a perfect way to spend a cold, wet holiday–reading a good book next to a warm fire. I hope your New Year is starting off as wonderful.

Book Baskets

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I’m fairly certain anyone who knows me or has read either of my blogs knows I love to read and always have. I believe it is important to read with children too. I taught public school for several years before being blessed with my own children, and I routinely read to my students, even as their math teacher. In fact, I spoke at state and national teacher conferences on how to teach math through children’s literature. I love books, and I want others to love them too.

When I was pregnant with our first child, the art teacher at the school where I was teaching gave me a book. At the time, I thought it was odd to receive The Read-Aloud Handbook as a baby shower gift, since I had made it clear that I was planning to quit teaching once our son was born, and I would have an infant too small for read-alouds for several months. Little did I know how much this book would change my thoughts and actions.

During the months after my son was born, I found that reading a book helped keep me awake during those nighttime feedings and helped pass the time during the day. I remember reading Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love during the first few months, and the baby would fall asleep while nursing, so I would just sit and hold him until the next feeding and continue to read. (Oh, the joy and simplicity of the first baby!) At some point, I ran out of other things to read and decided to read The Read-Aloud Handbook. I was intrigued by all of the research Jim Trelease had done–the interviews, the surveys, the long-term studies, personal experiences, the proof that reading makes children smarter and more successful!

I began reading aloud to my son right away, and it didn’t matter whether I was reading an educational book, a mystery, a romance, or a children’s book. He was hearing rich vocabulary, learning the rhythms and nuances of our language, being exposed to a variety of genres.

Jim Trelease suggests using book baskets in the bathroom and at the kitchen table–places kids will spend some time–so I put some board books in a basket and set it on the kitchen table. I began reading to him at the table while feeding him his meals. He loved David Shannon’s Oh, David and wanted to hear it over and over and over again. I soon had it memorized. His first sister was born a couple years later, and I know I read to her before every nap and at bedtime, but I can’t recall if we had a book basket at the kitchen table. Her favorite book was Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, and I had that one memorized as well.

When the twins came along more than four years after big sister, I must confess that I was out of practice for having an infant (let alone two!), and it took me awhile before I began reading to the babies. Big brother was actually the one who began to read board books to his sisters when they were about two months old, and I quickly followed suit.

We moved into our new house when the babies were four months old, and the house was in chaos for a few weeks because I spent most of my time caring for the babies. I kept putting off feeding them cereal, fruits, and vegetables. It was difficult to get them to eat without spitting it out, so I fed them individually for a couple months unless another adult was able to help me. Then they went through a phase (Who am I kidding? They are still in this phase!) where they would refuse to eat unless I entertained them in some way. This brought about a resurgence of our book basket.

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We have several board books in a small basket on the kitchen table, and I read them all to the babies at every feeding. I almost have them all memorized. They really enjoy The Greedy Python by Richard Buckley and Oh, David. We also have a tiny board book of “The Wheels on the Bus”, which I sing while trying to do the motions while holding the book with one hand and a spoon with the other hand. The effort is worth it when they finish their food without tears.

Both of our older two children continue to enjoy being read to, and they also enjoy reading on their own. Big brother is reading above grade level, and little sister is reading sight words and leveled readers in kindergarten. She also loves to read the board books from our book basket to the babies. She has them mostly memorized too.

I don’t share this to toot my own horn. I want to encourage others to read aloud to their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. because it will greatly benefit those children in the future. My nephew lived in a single-parent, low-income home for several years, which could have resulted in lower grades in school, but his mom and grandparents read aloud to him all the time. Now at ten years old, he reads above grade level and makes excellent grades in all subjects because reading is vital in every area of education. I love this quote from the book:
Reading is the ultimate weapon, destroying ignorance, poverty, and despair before they can destroy us. A nation that doesn’t read much doesn’t know much. A nation that doesn’t know much is more likely to make poor choices in the home, the marketplace, the jury box and the voting booth. And those decisions ultimately affect an entire nation – the literate and the illiterate.

I would encourage every family and every teacher to have a copy of Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook or at least to begin reading aloud to your children, even to your teenagers. The book includes a “giant treasury of great read-aloud books” for all ages in case you are wondering where to start. You can purchase the Kindle version here or a paperback here on Amazon.

Jennifer (Book Review)

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Dee Henderson is one of my favorite authors of Christian fiction, and I have read most of her books. When I learned that she had written a new one and that Jennifer was a prequel to the popular O’Malley series that she wrote several years ago, I couldn’t wait to read it. The O’Malley series focuses on the lives of seven adult siblings who had “adopted” each other by legally changing their last names to O’Malley after growing up together in an orphanage. Jennifer is the youngest of the seven and an integral part of the whole series. Jennifer is a love story that leaves off where book one in the series begins. Even though I knew how this book would end, I enjoyed reading this tender love story between Jennifer and Tom and learning how Jennifer developed a relationship with Jesus. This smaller, gift-sized book (154 pages) made for a light and quick read, which is perfect for summertime. The story is touching, moves quickly, and yet touches on difficult questions about faith and dealing with pain.

If you have never read the O’Malley series, this book will leave you hanging at the end. The author’s note at the end informs you that Jennifer’s story continues in the first book of the O’Malley series. While I loved the series and didn’t want it to end because I was so interested in the characters’ lives, I was eager to finish the series to find out how Jennifer’s story played out. If you are looking for a quick, light read but haven’t read the series, this book is probably not for you. I HAVE read the series, and Jennifer still left me wanting to read all of the books again! On the other hand, if you have read the series, you will enjoy this glimpse into the previous lives of two of the characters from the series. If you are looking for some new books to read, I would highly recommend beginning with the prequels Danger in the Shadows and Jennifer, then reading all six of the O’Malley books, and finishing up with Full Disclosure, in which we meet up again with some of the O’Malleys.

Bethany House Publishers sent me this book free upon my request and agreement to post a review (positive or negative) on my blog and on a retailer’s site. This review is my personal opinion and has not been influenced by the publisher.

Book reviews

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Several months ago, I learned about book review programs, where publishers will send you new books to read and review on your blog and another site like Amazon. I love to read, and I love to get free stuff, so I signed up with Bethany House and reviewed a few books on my previous blog. I found a new favorite author (Kristen Heitzmann) through this program and discovered that my children and I enjoy listening to dramatized audio books in the car. If you are interested in becoming a book reviewer for Bethany House, click here. For other publishers, you can simply Google the publisher’s name with the words “book reviewer”. I received a new book in the mail yesterday, so I’ll be posting a review soon. I’m looking forward to telling you about this book!