Monday, December 31, 2018

Merry Christmas!

I took very few pictures of our Christmas celebrations.  I did get this one of my parents and Mamaw with the grandkids.  Of course, two days later, my sister-in-law gave birth to the latest addition, so he is not pictured here.

It was a busy week, with Christmas, moving my parents to a new house, and the sweet new baby.  Right now, we are thankful to have a few days where everyone is home and off work and school.  

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Book Review - Made for the Journey by Elisabeth Elliot

Made for the Journey: One Missionary's First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador by Elisabeth Elliot gives a fascinating glimpse into life in the mountains of Ecuador in the 1950s.  I was not familiar with Elliot at all - in fact, I had never heard of her - so I didn't have expectations into what I was to read.  She did a good job of painting a picture of the unfamiliar world she was immersed into as a young missionary.  Since I was not familiar with her, some of the elements of backstory were missing for me, and I did wonder exactly how this young woman ended up in the jungle trying to create a written form of a language that few people understood.  Also, as I am a Catholic, my religious world view is certainly different from that of the author, but it was easy to like her and sympathize with her efforts.  Elliot's account of that year near the Colorado people is full of vibrant descriptions, but the overall goals of the missionaries seemed a bit obscure to me.  Naturally, they wanted to share the word of God, but their methods and desires were largely unaddressed.  It did seem that several of the women in the mission field, Elliot included, were just spending some time here while waiting for marriage.  Still, this is a valuable first-person account of the early interactions between foreign missionaries and the indigenous people of Ecuador.  Her descriptions of the environment made it easy to imagine being there, although her descriptions of the native people themselves left something more to desire.  Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I don't know how much a casual reader would. 

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

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gingerbread Houses

Every year, our library has a make-your-own gingerbread house session.  Lydia and Gyunay really enjoyed it!
The librarian "glues" two graham crackers together at a right angle with melted sugar, and each child gets 3 of these to create the house.  Also, 2 kids share one tub of icing, and there are lots of candies and things to decorate with.  You can see why the kids love this.  

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday (which means rejoice in Latin), so I was glad I finished up the younger kids' outfits.  They wore them today.  (They will wear them again on Christmas.)

They look very serious here.

This is the fabric on Gyunay's vest.

And this is the bottom of Lydia's dress.  

And lastly, I got a picture of Elijah.  I took some photos for his ACT registration.  It turns out that this one doesn't meet their requirements, but it was the best of the bunch, so I'm sharing it here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Lydia's Nativity Play

Lydia decided today that her dolls would act out the nativity.  She made costumes for them, primarily out of old socks.  Joseph's pants (the doll standing in the back) are one example of her ingenuity.  Some of the dolls in the front have little shifts on that were also made from socks.

Baby Jesus in His manger

And, of course, pipe cleaner halo and wings on an angel.  Even her toy dog was dressed as a sheep for his part.  She had her dolls perform a nativity play for me and Gyunay.  She did a really nice job.  I love to see her use her creativity.  

Also today, Gyunay has been working hard on letters and numbers.  He's starting to write more, although it is still a struggle for him on each individual letter/number.  We have to talk through how to form the letter, then we have to trace or do hand-over-hand so he can know the right motions.  He can make several letters independently now, though, and with help he can do a fairly recognizable job on most.

And thankfully, last week my man did a lot of this:

We have been enjoying the fires in the basement fireplace.  They really warm the whole house in a way the heater just does not.  (And of course, since we had so many dead trees, it is free heat!)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

More Wreath-Making and Blackberry Fool

I was happy to finally make a wreath with real greenery.  I've wanted to attend the wreath making at our local history center for the past 2 or 3 years, but it never worked out.  I finally was able to attend this year, and I am really happy with my new wreath.  It looks very festive on the front door.

Also this week, the kids enjoyed friends Friday.  On Fridays, we get together with our friends and do homeschool together.  Lydia and her friend are now studying nutrition, and we added some cooking to it.  It all began with a history picture book, actually, that showed how people made blackberry fool around 1700, 1800, 1900, and today.  I had never heard of blackberry fool, but it is very easy today.  (Not so much in 1700, when a bundle of twigs was used to beat the cream.)  

Here are the girls making blackberry fool.  Basically, they whipped heavy cream with some powdered sugar, and then they folded in smashed blackberries.  The result was delicious, and I don't even like blackberries.  It was such a hit that Lydia has already made it again.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Advent and Harvest Totals

On Friday, our church held a potluck/advent wreath making activity.  We really enjoyed making this wreath as a family.

I've always liked the wreaths with fresh greenery, and this was fun.  The kids got into it, and Nathaniel and I tried to supervise/help with the most prickly parts.

They were excited to light it for the first time yesterday evening.  Lighting the advent candles each night is a tradition that all of my kids really love.

Also, the November Harvest totals:
arugula - 2c
carrots -4
eggs - 160
peppers (Bulgarian) - 6

Needless to say, I won't be able to feed us entirely off of our harvest totals this month. :)

Friday, November 30, 2018


The youngest two have really enjoyed riding their bikes lately.
It is so nice to see them happily playing outside when it is wet and chilly.  We hope to get them to the bike trail some weekend when the weather is decent, so they can really ride farther.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Everyone is very excited about our new pop-up camper.  Well, new is a relative term; it's a 2006, but our last camper was 30 years old, so it sure seems new to us.

It's very cold, but these two are excited to play in the new camper.  It is noticeably bigger than our last one - which is good because we were pretty cramped in it - but it is not too heavy for us to pull with a minivan.   And it has air conditioning, which means that Nathaniel will go camping when it's warmer, not just when nights are cold.  We plan to break it in at Spring Mill in the spring!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

4th Grade Book List

Someone asked me to write up which books I'm having Lydia read this year, so I thought I'd post it.  These are just the ones that she's required to read each month - in reality she reads many, many more.  For example, last week she finished Pippi Longstocking, a book about a pioneer girl, and Farmer Boy during her free time, as well as several nonfiction books on animals and at least one American Girl book.  She has just recently turned into a voracious reader, and I am so glad!  It was only a year ago that I struggled to convince her to read a chapter book - any chapter book.

Anyway, here is the book list, with both the books I read aloud to her and the ones she reads on her own:
 Read-aloud: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
 Independent: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
 Read-aloud: The Mitchells: Five for Victory by Hilda van Stockum
 Independent: Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Praire by Laura Ingalls Wilder
 Read-aloud: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
 Independent: Willy Finds Victory by Joan Stromberg
 Read-aloud: Canadian Summer by Hilda von Stockum
 Independent: Mr. Mysterious and Company by Sid Fleischman
 Read-aloud: Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
 Independent: The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks
 Read-aloud: Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo
 Independent: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
 Read-aloud: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
 Independent: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
 Read-aloud: Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff and My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada
 Independent: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
 Read-aloud: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
 Independent: Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
 Read-aloud: Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth
 Independent: The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatly Snyder

I have read most of these books, but not all of them.  I've never actually read The Hobbit, for instance, so that is one we'll discover together.  (Nathaniel, Elijah, and Malachi have all read it and loved it, but I have neither read it nor seen the movie.)  Some of these books I haven't read since I was a child, and it is often interesting to re-read books as an adult.  I've already got more books in mind for the summer or next year...

Monday, November 19, 2018

Museum trip

We headed to visit my family for the weekend.  While Nathaniel and the big boys were helping Pa on the new house and Nana was busy making Thanksgiving dinner for all of us, my sister and I joined 2 friends and headed to the museum for their free winter event.

Gyunay was excited to see that Santa was there.  He hopped right up on his lap.

We had a great time.  The kids were very fond of the real train.

Here's the kids in our crew.  Fortunately, there were 4 of us moms to keep a head count, as parts of the museum were very busy, and the playground was insane!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Holy Land of Kentucky and a Trampoline

There is no school in Kentucky on election days, so Malachi and I went on his confirmation field trip to the Holy Land of Kentucky, Bardstown.

Here Malachi is in the old log cabin that belonged to some of the first Catholics (and first settlers) in the area.

We also visited the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, two early churches, and the Abbey of Gethsemane.  

Back on the home front, Nathaniel put together our gift to the kids:

They are all very excited about it!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

October Harvest Totals & Etc

I made this rack to hold my sweet potatoes, but unfortunately, I've got lots of room for more.  I only harvested 8 lbs of sweet potatoes.  I'm pretty sure they needed more sun.  The good news is that I planted them from slips I grew myself, so at least it was free.  The rack, of course, is not, and I still need to finish the last 3 or 4 trays to go into it, but it can hold winter squash, onions, or potatoes, too, so it will still be used.  When I get it totally done and sanded, I will move it upstairs.  I may paint or stain the rack (but not the trays that the food sits on).

October Harvest Totals:
arugula - 2c
cucumbers -1
eggs - 165
peppers (Bulgarian) - 2
radishes - 3
sweet potatoes (purple) 8 lbs
tomatillos - 4.3 lbs
tomatoes - 3

The boys were playing a video game together.  Both Malachi and Gyunay jump up and down while they play, while Elijah holds the gamepad entirely too close to his face.  Meanwhile, Lydia was thrilled that the shop roof was full of leaves again.  After sweeping it, she hung around up there for at least half an hour.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

As you can see, Lydia traded in the penguin costume for the owl costume.  At the last minute, she decided to be Hedwig (the snowy owl from Harry Potter) because her friend was dressed as Hermione.  Nevermind that the two girls were not trick or treating together!  But that is the benefit of keeping a box of costumes; the kids have free reign to choose from whatever we've got.  Malachi had us buy him a shark costume a few weeks back, when he got to play the tuba in costume.  Gyunay requested the eagle, which I made.  Elijah waffled for a while, but settled on the Batman jacket that turned out to be a really good costume for him.

I realize that it's weird that we went trick-or-treating last night.  Our county and most surrounding areas changed trick-or-treating to October 30 this year due to impending storms on Halloween night.  This was a huge disappointment to our family, because Nathaniel wasn't here yet.  He was hoping to get home in time to take the kids trick-or-treating tonight, especially since it's really his favorite night of the whole year.  But he was still in China Tuesday night, and so he missed it.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Book Review - Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon has suspense and international intrigue.  I really enjoyed the opening, which did a good job of hooking the reader.  The main characters, Detective Luke Carter and former Peace Corp volunteer and current shop owner Kristin Dane, are both likable with realistic flaws.  Both have backstory issues adding to the complexity of the story, and their characters both show growth and depth.  The details on the police work and terror cells rang pretty true.  The story overall leans more on the romantic side, with the romance keeping a prominent role throughout the book, but there is also suspense and a good, solid plot.  The Christian aspects of the book are woven into the story without being preachy, which I prefer. This book is the second in a series, and I didn't read the first, but it is a stand-alone novel.  It did seem to go on a bit in places, but maybe that's just me.  I enjoyed this book, and I do recommend it.

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

CVC words

We have been working hard in homeschool.  Gyunay can recognize his letters (although b,d,p, and q are interchangeable, as are u and n, and f and t), and he knows all of the letter sounds.  We've been working on a phonics program called I Can Read, but it was getting discouraging.  Since hands-on works best for us, I made up some CVC cards (consonant-vowel-consonant).  He has been working with word puzzles and other things, so these words are not unknown, but he has never seemed to be able to sound out a word, or to recognize the words.
Here is one of the cards I made:

Gyunay successfully spelled "pig" when I helped him sound it out.  We then progressed through the other cards, some of which (cow, dog) he needed more help with than others.  Then we got to fox, and he spelled it completely on his own!!!  

Meanwhile, Lydia was working on her Latin.  As you can tell, my kids prefer to work on the floor.  Disregard the stacks of books in the background.  :)

Gyunay is also showing some progress with writing, but that is much slower.  We are still working on pre-writing skills like shapes more than actual letters (although we work on those, too, particularly the ones in his name).  The slant board (pictured above, black) has been very helpful.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Eagle Costume

This year, Gyunay wanted to be a bald eagle with "2 big wings".  So, I set to work making him a costume.  He also wanted a big head with a really big beak. 
After consulting pinterest and making a trip to JoAnn's for the felt, I got started.

I put some tubing that is used to insulate pipes in the right wing, so Gyunay can flap it with his little arm.  He is so happy and proud to be an eagle!

And here is Lydia, in the penguin costume that Nathaniel's Aunt Sherri made years ago for Elijah.  

Several kids have worn this costume through the years, and it is a great dress-up item when it's not Halloween.  Animal costumes have always been very popular around here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Fall Break

We had a good fall break, although Nathaniel was very much missed as he was in China.  We did go to visit my parents.

The younger two enjoyed playing on the front porch of Mom and Dad's new house.  It's currently a fixer-upper, so while they played, the big boys helped work.

Malachi enjoyed sweeping off the garage roof, while Elijah power washed the house.

And we made it back home in time for our parish trunk or treat.  My little penguin and bald eagle had a great time!