Tulips and turkeys (Weekly wrap-up)

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Tulip Festival

We took a drive into Holland, Michigan on Saturday for the tulip festival. It was our first time going up there – the kids and my first time in Michigan overall, another state I can check off my list! – so we didn’t know quite what to expect. The first big part of the trip was that the baby managed a 4-hour car ride without having a major meltdown. Yay! I was worried we would get halfway there and decide to turn around because the baby wasn’t digging the long hours in his carseat, but he was a trooper, even getting in a decent nap before we got there.

DSCN0321The Dutch village was quite a bit more expensive to get into than we were expecting so we wandered around Holland, looking at tulips (they were everywhere). We walked through the craft fair portion of the festival until the husband and I got tired of the kids asking to buy everything they saw, then we jumped in the car and drove to a park on the shore of Lake Michigan. None of the kids had ever seen one of the Great Lakes before, so we braved the chilly wind and walked along the beach until the baby got fussy. The trip wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be, but it was still a lot of fun.

DSCN0338On the Homestead

We added 6 animals to our homestead on Monday – turkeys! Turkey poults are adorable! Last year we raised a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner and it was an all-around fantastic experience, so we decided to repeat it this year, but with more turkeys. Our chicken coop is full, so we need to build another coop for the turkeys, but we have several weeks to do so. Turkeys are very personable and fun to be around, and it’s nice to have more of them.

Homeschooling

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Photo by my middle son

I have to admit that not a whole lot happened on the homeschooling front this week. My boys are working on writing research papers. My daughter’s new writing curriculum came in at the start of the week – we’re going to try Writers in Residence by Apologia – but my week was so busy that I haven’t even gotten it out of the box!

Other Happenings

We need some roosters to help protect our layers, so on Tuesday I ordered more chicks from a hatchery. They’ll be delivered next week. Wednesday was my husband’s last day of school, but he didn’t sign up for the graduation ceremony so it felt a little anti-climactic. I finished reading Thirteen Reasons Why this week to figure out what all the controversy is about, and wow was that book terrible! This is my review on Goodreads. Tonight we’re going to a friend’s house for pizza and games.

That’s it for my week. How was your week?

Weekly Wrap-Up

April Reading Log

Resurrection in May – Christian fiction. After being caught in a war-torn region of Africa and almost dying, May Seymour returns to a Kentucky farm to heal. This book is a hard read, but compelling. After disliking the most recent of Lisa Samson’s books I didn’t get my hopes up too much about this one, but I liked it quite a bit.

Pastrix – Christian memoir. Quick confession – I’m a sucker for a spiritual memoir, even one that isn’t written by someone who shares my theological views. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a liberal Christian, and we would disagree quite strongly on some points, but I think we would be friends. The book contains a good amount of profanity and some simply vulgar language, so it’s not for the faint of heart, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Slave – Christian living. I was fairly disappointed with this book. It was slow-moving, seemed to rehash the early chapters in later chapters, and seemed to be more a compilation of other people’s quotes than MacArthur’s own thoughts on the subject. The book contained some really interesting historical information, but overall I was unimpressed.

Otherworld – Christian spiritual warfare thriller. A cow dies in mysterious circumstances in Texas, kicking off a strange series of events. Is it aliens? Or worse? Otherworld started slow and I have to work to keep reading it, but about halfway through it took off and I ended up reading until late in the night to finish it. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who liked Peretti’s This Present Darkness.

The Scars That Have Shaped Me – Christian living. I wanted to like this book about suffering, but I didn’t. It is a collection of the author’s blog posts, and wasn’t editing to make it a cohesive book, so it feels disjointed and random. There are things you have to do when writing a blog  – such as re-introducing a chronic issue in every post – that you don’t have to in a book, but that were kept in this book and made the reading somewhat tedious. Also, the Kindle version (which I read) is terribly formatted. There are much better books on suffering available.

The Assurance of Faith – Theology. This short book should be read by every Christian. Berkhof looks at the historical teachings on assurance as well as how a Christian receives assurance. This is a book to be read slowly and considered well.

In Harm’s Way – Historical true story. This is the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. A story of courage and survival in the face of extreme circumstances. The writing is so vivid that you feel like you’re in the water with the sharks and dying sailors. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who can’t deal with violence in books, but it was incredible. I am strongly considering adding this book to my 15 year old’s History of the 20th Century curriculum.

Nothing to Prove – Christian living, Christian women. I am not a huge fan of Christian books written specifically to women because most of them rely heavily on personal experience, and this book was no exception. Some shining spots, but much of it I couldn’t relate to.

Histories and Fallacies – How to, history. Trueman’s book is basically a book on how to avoid certain logic fallacies when writing history. It was dry and hard to read, but I’m glad I stuck it out. I know how to spot these fallacies when reading history now, and I think this will be a valuable skill.

How to Murder Your Life – Memoir. Marnell’s addiction memoir makes her out to be equal parts flighty party girl and hopeless junkie. Hard to read, yet I couldn’t put it down. Book contains profanity and descriptions of abortion, drug use, abuse, violence, and sexual acts.

If We Were Villains – Literary fiction. Set at an arts conservatory, If We Were Villains is the story of what happens to six theater students after the seventh of their number dies. Part mystery story, part tour of Shakespeare’s plays, this is a compelling book. I am a huge Shakespeare fan and loved this book. Book contains profanity and talk of sex.

Feel free to friend me on Goodreads. I’m pretty active there and write somewhat more in depth reviews of the books I’ve read.

Books are listed approximately in the order they were read. Books not in the picture I either read on Kindle or borrowed from Booklender.

Mostly about chickens (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week was very hectic but somehow uneventful at my house. It felt like we were going and going and going – and yet, looking back, we actually did very little.

Homeschooling

We are taking a bit of an unscheduled break this week. My daughter has kept up on her schoolwork, but she has less to do than my sons, who decidedly have not been keeping up – and the weather has been so nice that I haven’t had the drive to make them stay in with their books! This is one of the reasons we homeschool year round. We can take nice spring days off and school during the hot and humid summer days. I love the flexibility of homeschooling!

DSCN0280Homesteading

This was a big week for our homestead. We are what I like to call amateur homesteaders – we do some of the homesteading stuff but aren’t really throwing ourselves into it. We keep chickens and have a garden, but that’s it. We bought some chicks last month and have been keeping them in a brooder in our garage, letting them get big enough to be outside in the coop. They had more than enough time in the brooder, and on Wednesday we clipped their wings and moved them into the coop!DSCN0274

My husband had the hard job – picking up each chicken out of the brooder. Sounds easy, but they were mad and scratched him up a bit. My big kids helped clip the wings and carry the chickens to their new home. Even the baby and I got to help a little – although mainly by overseeing and taking pictures. Today we’re opening up the coop and letting the chickens have the run of the yard. I can’t wait until our new ladies are big enough to lay eggs.DSCN0282

Other stuff this week

I had two meetings with ladies from my church this week. I am doing a Bible study with one and reading a book with the other. We’re almost at the end of our Bible study on Philippians and will be moving on to Joshua. I haven’t studied the Old Testament very much, so I’m pretty excited to start our new study.

My middle son made lasagna for dinner on Tuesday, but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures. It was delicious! He even made the sauce from scratch. Yum!

Well, that’s it for my week. How was yours?

Menu Plan Monday #8

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The name of the game this week is cheap and easy. I already have all the meat and most of the dairy called for in this plan, so most of what I have to buy are vegetables. The Italian beef sandwiches are a slow cooker recipe, and while our Sunday night dinner might sound complicated, most of it can be preped the night before and finished on Sunday. Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Monday – Cauliflower soup, ham and cheese sliders

Tuesday – Lasagna, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday – Sausage with cabbage & potatoes, rolls

Thursday – Italian beef sandwiches, mac and cheese, green beans

Friday – Baked potato bar

Saturday – Lentil and sausage soup, rolls

Sunday – Country ribs, southwest pasta salad, cheesy potatoes, green beans, corn bread

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Easter weekend (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up

This was a busy week. Between the holiday and homeschooling and regular life stuff, it feels like the week just flew by. Here’s what we did:

Holiday

IMG_0202[1]It was Easter weekend! On Saturday we had a nice brunch with bunny pancakes. Brunch may be my favorite meal, so I try to make it for holidays when we’ll be eating dinner mid-afternoon.

Later, my family came over and we had Easter dinner and an egg hunt with the kids. My big kids are egg hunt experts, but it was the baby’s first egg hunt. He just learned how to walk a few weeks ago, so I envisioned him walking in the grass and picking up eggs for his little basket – but that’s not how it worked at all. Instead, he found one egg and parked himself in the grass, trying to eat the plastic egg. My mom and I brought him more of the eggs that we specially put out for him, and he would crawl and grab them if they were close enough, but he wasn’t really into it.

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Hunting for the last eggs

The big kids managed to not find 4 eggs, probably because they were yellow in a lawn of dandelions. We combed the lawn looking for them, but eventually gave up and went inside to eat turkey. Yum!

Homeschooling

School went really well this week. Last week, my middle son started using Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 and this week we found a groove for how to best use it in our house. New curriculum always takes a little bit of time to figure out how to make it work for us, and I’m pleased that we figured this one out pretty quickly.

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One of my son’s pictures for his restaurant review. He’s such a goof!
My oldest kids have their first papers due today, and both handed them in yesterday. We’re coming to the paper-writing thing a little later than some, but my boys seem to be picking it up quickly. I found a red pen and went to work grading their first drafts. I also found a free grading rubric online that I gave the boys with their corrected first draft. They’re also writing restaurant reviews in their Cover Story writing curriculum, which has been such a fun assignment. My middle son is doing a review in pictures, and we went to a ice cream place for his review. They had all sorts of flavors of soft-serve, something none of us had ever seen before.IMG_0203[1]

My Big Happy Planner came in and I started using it for homeschooling this week. I’m so excited! I’ve been using Homeschool Planet’s online planner and will keep using that for the kid’s assignments, but I’m going to use the Happy Planner to keep notes on when long projects are due, homeschooling stuff that I have to do, notes on projects and field trips. I also bought a punch so I can use the planner partially as a scrapbook of what the kids have done, like my daughter’s family newsletter.

Other

I’m reading the book In Harm’s Way. It’s the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, something that I knew a little about but not much. What a gripping book! I stayed up until late reading last night, but when I realized at 1 am that I still had 100 pages left, I made myself put the book down and go to bed.DSCN0260

The baby is getting his 5th tooth. He struggles so much with teething – runny nose, fever, crankiness – which is new for me, because none of my older kids did. Poor baby. It’s been rough week for him.

I realized this week that my husband only has three weeks of technical school left, which is kind of bittersweet. It will be nice for him to go full-time at work, but I’ll miss the days that he has extra time at home with us.

Well, that was my week. How was yours?

Menu Plan Monday #7

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It’s “clean out the fridge” week for us. We had a turkey for Easter dinner that I want to use up, and for the rest of the meals I went through my fridge, freezer, and pantry and planned around their contents. Two of my kids are making a dinner each this week as well, and I let them pick anything they wanted to make, so this is a minimal shopping week for us instead of a no shopping week. Here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Monday – Turkey gnocchi soup, rolls

Tuesday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

Wednesday – Creamy turkey soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday – Lasagna, garlic bread, salad

Friday – Sloppy joes, cheesy potatoes, broccoli

Saturday – BBQ country ribs, tex-mex pasta salad, cornbread, cauliflower gratin, peas

Sunday – Salmon, baked potatoes, green beans, rolls

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

Is the week over yet? (Weekly wrap-up)

Weekly Wrap-Up
 So I’m going to be honest – I’ve had a terrible week. The baby smacked my eyeball with a pointy plastic toy, I found out that the funding I was counting on to go back to school in the fall isn’t going to come through and I probably won’t be able to go, our power got turned off for half a day because of a mix-up with our bill, my middle son and I had a some contentious moments over homeschooling, I fell down on some sharp rocks while taking a walk with my kids and ripped up my knee, my fibromyalgia flared up, and the chronic depression I battle seems to be winning right now. While none of this is unrecoverable, it was a rough week once everything was added together. Lots of tears were shed and ice cream consumed.
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The coming storm

But, as is generally true, there were some bright spots this week. The weather this week has been lovely. We’ve gotten a lot of outside time, and the baby especially has been enjoying running around on the grass. Hubby and I have taken walks almost every night, and the kids have been riding their bikes. We did have one evening storm, but there is something about a storm that I like, when the sky gets turbulent and greeny-blue and the temperature drops so fast you can feel it getting colder.

On Wednesday I met up with a friend for a Bible study we’re doing. We meet most Wednesday mornings at Panera, and it’s such a good time of fellowship and talking about Jesus. We’re doing a study on Philippians called Joy!, which is a topic I need help focusing on right now.

On Thursday I met up with another friend, again at Panera, for a discussion on a book. We started meeting irregularly in February to discuss a book we read together, and we’re on our second book now. She is such a good friend, even though our friendship is a bit unlikely because we are in completely different places in our lives. Talking about Jesus and what he’s done for us (and eating Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup) was so good.

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My son browning the veal patties on our electric griddle
My oldest son made dinner one night – veal parmesan, portobello mushroom caps with marinara and mozzarella, spaghetti with marinara, garlic bread, salad. It was so tasty, and it’s an amazing thing to watch my children slowly grow independent and capable of caring for themselves and others.

Today we cleaned the house in anticipation of celebrating Easter with my family tomorrow, and tonight we’re going to relax with Rogue One and Hawaiian ham sliders. I can’t wait for some down time with my family! Here’s hoping next week is better.

How was your week?

Menu Plan Monday #6

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Last week was chaotic for us. We had a convention and guests and a bad test result at the veterinarian…it was a rough week. We ended up not eating anything on the meal plan, so this week I’m simply repeating last week’s with the addition of a few new things. Here’s my plan for this week:

Monday – Leftovers

Tuesday – Veal parmesan, spaghetti w/ marinara, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my oldest son

Wednesday – Tuna noodle casserole, broccoli, applesauce, rolls

Thursday – Pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls

Friday – Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my middle son

Saturday – Easter dinner with my family!
My parents are bringing the meat, my sister some side dishes.
I’m making sweet potatoes, pistachio whip, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, and dessert.

Sunday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

For more menu plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.

March reading log

Along with a resolution to read my Bible more often, I have resolved that this year I will read more in general. I have bookshelves full of books that I haven’t read all the way through, and I want to read them. I also have a huge list of books I want to buy, but it’s difficult to justify buying more books when I haven’t read the ones I have. So, every month I’ll make a list of what I read that month and add a short blurb about my thoughts on each book. Here we go:

Sleep Like a Tiger – Children’s fiction. This is an adorable children’s book. When my newest baby was tiny he would make these noises that sounded like growling when he wanted to eat, and we called him our tiny tiger, so obviously I needed a book about a tiger for him.

Praying Drunk – Fiction. This collection of short stories is dark, haunting, bleak, pessimistic. It was also seriously fascinating and a page-turner. I’m honestly not sure what my feelings are on this book.

The Forever War – Sci-fi. I’ve heard it called a sci-fi classic, but it took me reading 3/4 of the book to figure out why. The book starts in the 1990’s and follows William Mandella through his 1100+ year military career. The author does an excellent job showing how futile war (and other government actions) can be. About half way through I still wasn’t into it and thought about giving up, but I’m glad I didn’t. Seriously good ending.

Bruchko – Memoir. Missionary story about a man who felt a call to missions in his teenage years and went to South America to evangelize a native tribe. Amazing story of God’s faithfulness. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but this is a must read.

The Heart of Christ – Christian non-fiction, theology. Thomas Goodwin, the author, was a Puritan pastor. This little book looks at how Jesus still has affection for His people even though He is in heaven and not here on earth anymore. I don’t agree with all of his ideas, but overall it was a very good book. As with most of the Puritan works, this is not a book to be read quickly but one to be absorbed.

Big Little Lies – Fiction. I haven’t seen the tv show, my comments are all about the book. This was a fast and enjoyable read. Three moms whose children attend the same school meet and become friends, secrets are revealed, and in the end someone dies. The audience knows about the death at the start of the book, but aren’t told who dies, and the book is written almost like a mystery as the story works from the first day of school forward to the death in the middle of the school year. Plenty of plot twists and turns, but it still felt realistic enough.

Side by Side – Christian living non-fiction. Side by Side is a guide on how to be honest with ourselves about our need for help in the Christian walk, and then how to reach out to others in their need and walk with them. It’s a helpful book, but I thought there were quite a few places where Welch could have expanded his thoughts and explained a bit more.

We, the Grateful Few – Dystopian YA novel. This is the sequel to a book I read back in 2015. At the time, I didn’t know there was a sequel and was very disappointed in the ending of the other book (We, the Lucky Few). This book follows the survivors of the first book into the Upperlands and introduces us to a few new characters. While I found it to be an enjoyable enough read, for a YA book there is a lot of graphic violence and quite a few references to sex. I wouldn’t recommend it for teens.

We, the Final Few – Dystopian YA novel. The third and final book in the series. My thoughts on this book are very similar to my thoughts on We, the Grateful Few. I was somewhat disappointed in the end, as well, which I found to be a little too easy and unrealistic.

Menu Plan Monday #5

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When my sons, who are each cooking a meal this week, chose their meals, they chose very similar dinners – but I don’t want to discourage them, so we’re going to have two spaghetti-and-meat dinners this week. Then, I decided to make this an Italian food week. Pasta always goes over well in my house, and the Italian beef can be made on Saturday and reheated on Sunday for ease of meal prep after church. Here’s what’s on my menu this week:

Monday & Tuesday – Going to a convention and will be eating out.

Wednesday – Pizza, breadsticks, salad

Thursday – Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my middle son

Friday – Chicken &/ gnocchi soup, creamy sun dried tomato pasta, garlic bread, salad

Saturday – Chicken parmesan, spaghetti w/ marinara, garlic bread, salad
*Made by my oldest son

Sunday – Italian beef sandwiches, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans

For more meal plans, head over to I’m an Organizing Junkie.