Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review - From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

I was looking forward to diving into Elizabeth Camden's latest historical novel, From This Moment, and it did not disappoint.  Main characters Stella and Romulus are people that you want to root for, and I enjoyed watching their characters develop throughout the novel.  The mystery of what happened to Stella's sister is intriguing, and her single-minded quest to find answers feels authentic.  There are several twists in this story, and it was a solidly good read from start to finish.  Like Camden's other books, the historical details in From This Moment are charming.  I love how the author weaves the science of the times into her stories.  I also liked how secondary characters Evelyn and Clyde were woven into the story.  The insecurities, faults, and virtues of all of the main characters give the reader a treat; the characters flesh out as real people.  I highly recommend this book.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, Bethany House, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bulgarian Reunion

We had a great weekend at the Bulgarian Adoptive Families Reunion.  All of the kids really enjoy it, and I enjoy talking to other moms who "get it".  There are so many families there.  This year, I think there were around 130 people, more kids than adults.  Some grandparents and extended family attend, too, but many of the families are large, so seeing big vans is the norm.  Nathaniel jokes that this weekend always makes me lobby for more kids ("See, they have 6!  They have 13!) but the truth is, I'm always game for more kids.  :)

Anyway, we had a great time.  Gyunay gained a friend in a 15-year-old young lady who was so kind and caring to him.  Lydia had a couple of little friends, especially a 7-year-old Armenian American girl.  Malachi and Elijah often stick together, but they were separated a few times, and they enjoyed the weekend very much.  Elijah got to participate in a teens' scavenger hunt.  Malachi and Lydia enjoyed a Bulgarian cooking lesson.
This is Banitsa, which Malachi really enjoyed.  They also made tarator (cold cucumber soup), which Gyunay ate, and shopska salata (a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and Bulgarian cheese), which I devoured.  I ate a lot of shopska salata in Bulgaria because it is just so good.  Gyunay also ate most of Lydia's banitsa, although Nathaniel and I both tried it and liked it, too.  It's mostly cheese and phyllo, so what's not to like?

My happy Bulgarian American

He was so wiped out!  The crowds and activity do overwhelm him, and he would beg to go nigh-night.  Sometimes he passed out (for nap and bedtime) and sometimes we just snuggled in the cabin for a while to regroup.  

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Bulgarian Reunion, here is the website: http://bulgarianadopteesreunion.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review - More Than Rivals by Ken Abraham

 More Than Rivals by Ken Abraham is the story of two boys, Eddie Sherlin and Bob Ligon, who played basketball secretly together in a segregated Tennessee town in the 1960s.  This story is a good one, particularly when describing how the two races were separated within one small town.  I grew up in a small Indiana town that had integrated before my mom went to elementary school, so the racially charged atmosphere in Gallatin, Tennessee was far from my own experiences.  I felt that the author did a good job of letting the reader get to know Eddie's character, and Bob's mom Anna, very well, but I did feel that Bob himself was not as fully portrayed as he could have been.  The story starts when the boys are eleven years old and culminates at the big game of their senior year in high school.  Both boys' Christian faith and the faith of many others in the town is woven into the story.  The final game is told very well, with plenty of tension, and I am happy that I didn't know the outcome before reading.  I would have loved to know more about what happened to both Eddie and Bob afterwards.

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Epic Water Balloon Fight

The kids love water balloons, so Nathaniel bought some of those new ones where you can fill up around 35 at a time, and they are tied by just pulling the green part off.  So it's a huge time-saver and finger-saver.  Anyway, he and the kids had an epic water balloon fight this weekend.
Luckily, we have 2 outdoor water spigots, so the kids were filling balloons at one (their "secret base"), and Nathaniel was filling them at the other.  Gyunay mostly just wandered in between holding a balloon and saying "Balloon.  Gyunay balloon". 

He did like it when Nathaniel threw water balloons at the concrete in front of him, so that it splashed up on him.  He's also very proud of his goggles, probably because Malachi always wears tinted goggles in the water due to his tendency to get migraines.  Gyunay, however, also wears them for water balloon fights.

We finally had the science experiment the kids did at school once two years ago and have been asking to do at home: sticking some mentos in a coke bottle and watching it bubble/explode all over.

It was a big hit.  This picture was taken pre-haircuts, so the big boys' hair is considerably shorter now.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Library and Lake

I went to the library alone for a few minutes today.  Nathaniel had the little ones, and I went just a bit before it was time to pick up the big ones from their Harry Potter program.  I intended to look for a book on growing vegetables, and a novel from the new shelf.  Well, the novel I intended to get, The Taxidermist's Daughter, was checked out, so I found a few other things to read, although none of them are novels.  Now, let's be honest, I will not get all of these books read before they are due.  But it shows you how crazy I can go in a library in less than 15 minutes, and how wide-ranging the titles I read really are.  I'm also currently reading one of the two books I need to review this month.  

We had a great time this past weekend with my family at Land Between the Lakes.  This friendly piggie really wanted us to pet him.  Lydia commented that if she had a pig, she would name him Bacon and would eat him.  That's my girl.

The boys loved their first attempt at tubing.  Lydia even went tubing, which was a surprise.  They had a great time on the lake.  Gyunay is the only one who's not too excited about going on a boat ride, but he does love sitting in the boat when it's not moving.

Friday, June 10, 2016


I told the kids that they could pick paint for their bedrooms, and this summer all will get painted.  Lydia jumped at the opportunity, and her bedroom is the first painted!
She worked on a small section and was very proud of herself.  I finished painting it this morning, but no "after" pictures now; we haven't gotten it all put back together yet.  It does look really nice, and it is the first time Lydia has had a change of color for her bedroom in her life.  The boys will pick paint soon, and there will be more painting, but for now, I'm happy to call at least one room done.

Monday, June 6, 2016


This little man loves having his big siblings home all day:

He is also really loving water guns this year, so every day the kids have had water gun fights.  It's something all four can enjoy together, and that works out really well.  Gyunay gets up in the morning begging for his water gun!  He and Lydia also have enjoyed the water table on the deck.  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review - Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Sea Rose Lane: A Hope Harbor Novel
I recently finished Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon, and I was very happy with this contemporary romance.  The main characters, BJ and Eric, were enjoyable and both had back story that was realistic.  I really enjoyed the secondary characters of Luis and Eleanor, and I liked the way they were woven into B.J. and Eric's story.  Those characters' stories added a depth and diversity to the story.  This is an easy-reading romance, but that is not a criticism.  It was fun to read and a welcome story that I knew would have a positive ending.  This is the second in a series, but I didn't even realize that until after I read it and saw the advertisements for the first in the series, so I can confidently say that it is a stand-alone novel.  

I received this book from the publisher, Revell, for the purpose of writing a review, but all opinions are my own.

Chipmunks and Squirrels

I went out to take pictures for a garden update, and two squirrels and one chipmunk were in the garden.  I'm having a bit of trouble from both of these rodents.
This is the garden where the squirrels and chipmunks were frolicking.  It has purple cabbage, broccoli, dill, golden crescent beans, calypso beans, a few radishes, 1 mound of cantaloupes, and raspberries.

The beans

This is the other side of the fence from the first garden I photographed.  I am currently expanding it, so you can see the dirt and cardboard of the expansion.  It has a row of potatoes, cucumbers, tomatillos (although the chipmunks have eaten most of those plants), eggplant, and cantaloupes.  All of the blocks have smaller plants, like marigolds, swiss chard, peas, herbs, etc.

This shows how much bigger the hens still are compared to the pullets.  They are all enjoying the third yard when we let them wander into it.

The  tomato and pepper garden. 

Unfortunately, most of the tomato and pepper plants are this size.

This one, though, has some tiny green tomatoes.