Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fall Into Reading Wrap Up

Wow! How is it another reading challenge is over?!

I started with a diverse list of 8 fiction and non-fiction. I made a dent but didn't finish as well as I had hoped. Unfortunately, the siren song of an e-book reader swayed me away from the hard-copy straight and narrow. LOL

I completed my fiction choices: Lost Hero and Safe From the Sea. I enjoyed both immensely. I also got a fiction wish list granted from and also read Redeeming Love.

As for my nonfiction, I couldn't get my hands on a copy of the Carl D. And, when I realized what an enormous door stop Plain, Honest Men was, I turned it right back in to the librarian. LOL I have a minor in American history and have taught it at the secondary level but that book (really, I DID try) was worse than textbook I read in college. LOL

I'm in the middle of One Thousand Gifts but never got a chance to start the Tim Challies book. And, I never got to either parenting book despite the fact I OWN them both and they sit on the living room shelves staring at me the last 3 months!

The upside of this whole story? I got a new little Android tablet with a Kindle AND Nook app! Woo-hoo! I read seven books on it since the challenge started...I did a review here and here plus read two more.

So, to crunch the numbers...I started with a wish list of eight and, while I didn't finish all of the original eight, my final count of completed books was ten (and a half if you count "One Thousand Gifts"! )

Thank you, Katrina, for hosting. Count me for another round in the spring. And, merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

An unscheduled day

Most Sunday nights or Monday mornings, you would find me at my desk coordinating my week, checking upcoming events, glancing at my Google calendar, the kids' school calendar, (at this time of year) our family Advent calendar, and my housework program.

I coordinate all my tasks, to-do's, housework, events, reading, and craftiness onto one page that I follow through the week.

Blame my darn ADD but this is the only way I've consistently ever got anything done.

My ADD causes me unending anxiety...did I forget something, will I forget a crucial piece of paper, did I check this site or the bank accounts before heading out for grocery shopping, did I pay the bills, how long has it been since I cleaned the toilet, is it one of the kids' turn for treats? And, on and on and on.

Now, working on lowering my stress and anxiety has become more of a concrete thing since I've also been working on losing weight ESPECIALLY since I tend to be an emotional and "fidgety" eater...and I spend a lot of time emotional and fidgety with all this anxiety. LOL

Back to today...

I had put everything on hold this weekend because we had family visiting this weekend. Short of cooking for all of us, there were no to-do's and only visiting.

They didn't leave 'til this (Monday) morning. I put the kids on the bus, went and had breakfast with my parents before they headed back to the Detroit area, do my daily walk for the day, and, found that when I was done, it was about time for the kids' lunch hours so I stuck around for an extra 30 minutes and ate with them.

With no to-do list.

Arrived home to get a couple loads of laundry done, some dishes done, some computer work done, and *suddenly* it was time to wake up DaHubby (who had been sleeping all day due to being on a night shift schedule this week) and get ready to feed the kids when they got off the bus.

No checking off completed to-do's yet.

We ate together. More dishes. More laundry. Double-checking homework and book bags. Got DaHubs off to work.

Yet, still no to-do list had been made.

Now, I sit here with DaHubs gone at work and the kids in bed 15 minutes ago and when I sit down to finally make up my to-do list, it occurs to me: this was probably the best, most enjoyable day I've had in a really long time.

I think I'm going to start deliberately planning for an intentional "no to-do list day" regularly. My ADD-addled, control-freak-list-maker brain seems to benefit from a little free-flowing, free-thinking, free-to-respond time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30DOT: Day Twenty-Two

Can't believe it's been a WEEK! Need to improve on that bad habit of letting time get away from me.

To see the original 30DOT post, you can go here.

79 a perfect fall sunset shillouetting the farm-scape
80 lunch dates with DaHubby
81 looking into DaHub's eyes without glasses following his LASIK surgery. Falling in love with him all over again.
82 a good night's sleep
83 sun streaming in my kitchen door wall
84 sealed upnwindows means it's cozy in here now
85 having lunch with the Vikings at their school
86 hanging with the Vikings in their classrooms
87 random hugs from unknown kindergartners
88 repeating perfect spelling tests from Flicka after a rough start
89 no more bus crying from Pojke
90 discovering some formerly-unknown employee/spouse perks of DaHub's new job
91 the feeling of optimism after some goal setting
92 another DaHubby wood project: a new sitting bench by our entrance
93 the smell of blankets and clothes dried outside
94 long holiday weekends
95 veterans on Veterans' Day...and the rest of the year too
96 a full-moon lit night hike for the first time as a family

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Into Reading #3: Sin and Sacrifice

Curse you, Kindle! You've distracted me again! LOL

This is another FREE contribution to my reading list thanks to Free Books For Kindle on Facebook. It was not on my original list for the reading challenge but one I'm glad I read.

Sin and Scarifice: Daughters of Eve Book #1 is a little bit of everything...thriller, suspense, romance, supernatural all rolled into one. While it refers to Adam, Eve, Eden, the Bible, and the Templar Knights, it is NOT Christian fiction.

Evelyn and her sisters have a secret. They are ancient remnants of Eden and literally daughters of Adam and Eve. While not immortal, they have lived since that time until present day. And, they are on the run. A sect within the Templar Knights is tracking them down...but it will be Templar Knights that save them as well.

The characters were good but it was hard to care for or believe in the main character, Evelyn. The sisters, whom we met briefly here and there, seem more interesting than Evelyn. On the flip side, the "good" Templar Knights, including the main love interest, Rhett, are pretty well developed but leave enough questions and such to push this into multiple books.

While hardly the best book I've ever read, it's an interesting story premise and some good brain candy for a summer read or a cold winter's day.

About half of the Fall Into Reading challenge is over but you can still join us from now until late December. Stop by Katrina's site and sign up!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day Fourteen

See what 30 Days of Thanksgiving are all about here.

68. cozy days reading in bed
69. comfort food like mac and cheese
70. warm laundry, freshly folded
71. a long, lounging, steamy shower
72. the wet, windy smell of fall
73. leftover birthday cake
74. vacuumed couches
75. a clean desk
76. a clean sink
77. clean floors
78. an easy to-do list on a lazy day

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day Thirteen

See my original 30 Days of Thanksgiving post here.

47. Flicka cleaning the house
48. My new mud room locker room...
49. ...and my handy hubby.
50. Spending nearly the whole day alone with DaHubby for his birthday
51. Snuggling on the couch
52. Before-bed hugs from Flicka
53. Backyard campfires
54. The smell of onions, garlic, and celery sauting
55. Really good batch of potato soup
56. Care packages from grandparents
57. Visits from grandparents
58. Waking up at 5:30am with Pojke next to the bed..."what's wrong?" "Nothing, I just want to spend time with you."
59. Good, well written stories
60. An electric blanket and flannel sheets
61. Family around the table - even with some joining via Skype LOL
63. Giving the Vikings "underdogs" on the swings and listening to them squeal!
64. The rich farmland giving way to its stark (but still beautiful) winter sleep
65. A quiet morning alone
66. A good night's sleep
67. Listening to God's whisper in a moment of parental frustration and having that "new sudden idea" work to calm a sibling storm

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Nine

Read my original post here.

40. chocolate chip cookies
41. a warm bed while listening to cold rain
42. the Vikings' teachers and principal
43. a tech-savvy hubby
44. moose tracks ice cream
45. free coupons to Pizza Hut
46. good reports at parent teacher conferences

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day Eight of Thanksgiving

See my original 30 Days of Thanksgiving explanation here.

31. bright cold mornings with long warm shadows
32. comfort food leftovers
33. the ability to read
34. Reese's peanut butter cups
35. golden orange sunsets
36. "cheesy taters" aka scalloped potatoes with ham
37. family that loves me NO MATTER WHAT
38. little "work angels" that look out for DaHubby for me :)
39. tangerines

Wordless Wednesday

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Laughing Without Fear?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day Seven of Thanksgiving

See my original explanation for my 30 Days of Thanksgiving here.

21. for the children's ministry at our local church
22. for a true day of rest for all four of us on Sunday
23. for music and a message that fits *exactly* with the worries and concerns I've been having
24. for the innocence of my children...
25. ...and the recent encouragement of several fronts to defend that innocence.
26. the most amazing start-gazing reward for taking out the trash the morning of instead of the evening before
27. the ladies of my Bible study who make this newbie feel welcome by having someone saying "hello" each Sunday
28. for lil' ones who were thrilled with their "Dollar Store"/homemade costumes
29. for new friends found here who make us laugh and remind us all is well
30. for a good landlord (can I get an amen? LOL)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day Three of Thanksgiving

My original explanation is here.

11. productive quiet time
12. time alone with DaHubby while kids are in school
13. Pojke's teacher who has been a Godsend this year during his difficult transition from being home all day with me in Michigan to full-day kindergarten without me here in Illinois
14. that Pojke was able to go back to bed for another 2 hrs after waking up yet again during the night as has been his habit since school started
15. for friends who FedEx missing papers from Michigan so I can get my new IL license plates :)
16. "open sky" which seems increased after the local corn and soybean harvest
17. the smell of onions, garlic, and sausage browning while I made jambalaya tonight
18. 100% on Flicka's spelling test so she experiences the "return" for working and studying hard
19. a little more "financial comfort" than we've been used to the last few years
20. friendly state employees at our local branch of the IL Secretary of State :)

What was in my hand THIS week?

Just like I've mentioned before, I really like the idea of using what you have to recycle or "up-cycle" into something else.

A recent problem? We needed curtains for the our bedroom. Not only did we need curtains but DaHubby really needs black-out curtains for the days after he works an overnight shift. But, ones from the store were still more expensive than what we wanted to part with.

Plus, we would still be using my frugal solution to curtain rods and didn't really want to invest in something expensive and then hang them from dowel rods. LOL

Meanwhile, my mom passed on a fleece blanket she had bought to keep dog hair off her couch but it wasn't working for them. We have several of these type of blankets so we put it aside. DaHubby came across it after the move...and wouldn't ya know it? It matched our bedspread perfectly!

Initially, we simply slit the blanket in two and tacked up each piece over our bedroom windows with small finish nails. Functional but not an ideal long term solution.

So, today, I had the sewing machine out for "mending day" and to make Pojke's Halloween costume. I took down the two panels DaHubby created, hemmed them and made a slot for the curtain/dowel rod, installed my 3M Command Hooks, and VOILA!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day Two of Thanksgiving

See my original explanation here of how I'm trying to be more thankful daily (using this as my inspiration) for the 30 days before Thanksgiving. My goal is 100 things. What will YOURS be?

1.Sun and rain at the same time
2.The sound of my kids laughing
3. Feeling crafty
4.Working in kitchen with DaHubby
5.The way DaHubby problem solves
6.The smell of bananas
7. DaHubby building stuff
8.The feel of fleece on a damp day
9.The maple-red of autumn
10.People who donate their time to kids

"God Makes Lemonade" Blog Tour

When I was blogging more often, I got hooked up with with Glass Road Public Relations and their book promotions. Now that life has slowed down (a little), I wanted to get back in the swing of things so I jumped on board for a recent blog tour.

"God Makes Lemonade" seemed like a book I could really appreciate in this season of life. After all we've been through recently, I thought I'd find camaraderie, smiles, head nods, faith building, and tears reading this book.

Not so much.

And, since I was provided with a free copy to review, it pains me to say that.

While the formatting reminded me of the "Chicken Soup for the (Fill-in-the-Blank) Soul" series, "God Makes Lemonade" just didn't grab me the same way. It was difficult to finish. I was bored after getting about halfway through.

And, for having "God..." in the title, I didn't see the faith, the prayer, the leaps I had hoped for.

However, each story WAS a great example of looking positively and searching for silver linings in all circumstances and how, in hindsight, one can see great good coming out of heart-breaking and/or challenging circumstances.

Since 2008 since our trials began, I've been clinging to Romans 8.28 ("...we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose") but, with the challenges still ahead of us, I didn't find the book particularly encouraging but more of a awkward "atta girl" punch in the shoulder to tough it out and have some hope that things would turn out eventually.

Now, according to the Amazon reviews, I am in the minority opinion here. Don Jacobson (the creator of this book) has more than 25 years of publishing experience so he probably knows what he's doing. LOL So, if you liked the "Chicken Soup" books, this one may be right up your alley.

Disclosure: as I said above, I was provided a copy of this book for free to review. However, the opinions herein are my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

30 Days of Thanksgiving

In 2007 and 2010, this was the bloggy home of "30 Days of Thanksgiving" (30DOT). I've organized it different could be the 30 days including the weekends or one year I did it without.

I've also participated with my dear bloggy friend,
Pam, who hosts her weekly Thursday Thanks Tank. And, I've made it a habit for several years to challenge myself to write down 100 things I'm thankful for each Thanksgiving.

And, then I found
A Holy Experience and fell in love with Ann Voskamp's writing. And, I've having spent the last three weeks trying to get through her book "One Thousand Gifts" which has re-ignited a desire in me to try to be thankful on a daily basis.

This quote from Ann's book reminds me of the heart behind what Pam does on her blog:

"Now, in the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it."
LinkAnd, I was so convicted over this quote as well:

"I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: 'And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 5.20. And, I too would nod and say straight-faced, "I'm thankful for everything." But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life."

So, I'm combining it all together.

Over the next 30 days, I'm going to start counting up my (at least) 100 things I see around me each day for which I am thankful.

Will you join me?

Wordless Wednesday

Another generation of "gymp"/ laynards dedication! LOL

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

$10 no-damage curatin rods

We are renting our new place in IL since we haven't sold our former home in MI yet. And, in the interest of being good and responsible tenants, we are trying to wreck as little havoc on this house while we live here.

I've been wanting to put up curtains in the bedrooms (for starters) because it make a room feel cozier than mini-blinds. However, we didn't want to have to drill a bunch of holes and nail a bunch of curtain rod supplies into the bumpy, stucco-looking walls or window frames.

So I cruised Google last week looking for a solution...and TA DA! For $10 in dowel rods and 3M Command hooks, I give you...the Vikings new bedroom curtains!


Found on FB at Laugh It Out!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The things you can do with paint chips...

More Pinterest-inspired crafty goodness...

One for Momma

One for Flicka

One for Pojke

Friday, October 21, 2011

FIR book reviews: the Kindle edition

I'm still chugging my way through my Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. If you check out my original book list, there were no Kindle books on there. LOL Unfortunately, my darling hubby tempted me off the straight and narrow path of hard-copy book reading by getting me a new tablet running Android with a Kindle for Android app! LOL

And, my new addiction to the
Free Books for Kindle page on Facebook offered me even more temptation! LOL So, while I'm working on two black-and-white hard copy books off my list, I managed to complete four more novels on my tablet. (If you follow the Amazon links and are interested in downloading, keep in mind that these titles were free at the time I downloaded them - some as a limtited time offers - and may not be free now.)

The Brotherhood by Jerry Jenkins I read the Left Behind series that Jenkins co-wrote but nothing else from him. I was interested what "regular" fiction might look like plus it was a cop story so I gave it a chance. It started off good - plot, characters, and even the faith-based stuff was handled well. Didn't feel much for the main character, Boone, but saw in him much of the same stoic nature I saw around me in the years I worked in law enforcement. Then, there was a catastrophic accident that rocks the Boone's world and challenges his faith. And, it was brutal to endure but the writing was so real that I couldn't stop myself. Watching Boone dig back out left me anticipating the next chapters but ended up leaving me going "huh?" All the momentum built up just kind of fell apart and got tied up a little too neatly at the end.

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher Giving the Amish Christian genre another chance...and this one was pretty good. Lots of extra drama constructed by a high number of chance occurrences but well worth a "brain candy" status for a quick read.

Love Finds You in Homestead Iowa by Melanie Dobson Wasn't sure I was going to like this one either but the story of a father and daughter taken in by Mennonite community was a little different twist.

Throwaway by Heather Huffman This one reminded me a lot of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers but with a modern twist where a struggling prostitute joins forces with an undercover cop to get out of the life. The change in both is remarkable, believable, and makes it a page-turner.

So...six books down, two in progress, four to go. I'm "halfway" done...assuming I'm not overtaken by my Kindle again! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 Ways To Love

as seen on Tully NewsInfo on FB

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A favorite spot in a new favorite park...

For more WW, go here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Parenting in Tough Times

We were doing all right until recently. My kids were floating through all the changes with relative ease.

The kids missed DaHubby during all the hours he put in working full time while schooling full time but they seemed to cope well. They fussed significantly less than expected when DaHubs was laid off and we had to say "no" to SO many splurges, purchases, and events.

Flicka leaving her old school and her Daisy Scout troop didn't result in one tear. News of the move? Barely anything more than "I'm gonna miss our old house" or "...miss our old town" out of either of them. New school? Timid but OK.

The actual move was uneventful. Our new rental was not ready so the four of us lived in DaHub's one-bedroom apartment for a month even with him on different days working and different shifts on a rotating schedule.

While it doesn't feel like it most days, my kids really are good kids. Pretty compliant on the whole. Questioning in a non-bratty way the majority of the time. Tantrums have been getting rarer and rarer. Discipline is more of a "as needed" thing as issues arise, are explained, and then corrected.

Then, school started. And, the bus riding. And, the bullying.

And, with DaHubs still working rotating days and shifts, I'm still the primary disciplinarian along with in-house psychologist. And, I'm really starting to feel VERY under-equipped.

We are seven weeks into school and Pojke is still crying at bedtime and/or every morning because he doesn't want to get on the bus. Teachers says he's fine, polite, productive, and on-task when he gets there but, the last two days, school staff has had to physically pick him up to get him either on the bus or into class.

Flicka is faring better but her behavior is all over the place emotionally. Dramatic highs and lows (more than usual LOL) and lots of crying and drama especially over a daily spelling words worksheet.

And, in the midst of this, I am losing my way on how to discipline with love. I want what appears to be irrational behavior to cease but also know it's likely a result of a tidal wave of stress they are both feeling.

While I don't mind easing off the discipline during this season of transition for them, I also don't want to inadvertently endorse new bad habits to form that will be harder to break later when things even out.

When I read
this article about real solutions for parents, it struck me that both the Vikings are showing significant physiological and psychological signs of stress. But, the author also offers some suggestions for solutions using the following steps:

1. Early intervention
ID the reason
Get enough sleep
ID potential stressors
Cut one thing
Keep to family routines
Monitor TV viewing
Help child learn their stress signs
Don't overprotect

I've done pretty well with those listed above. Finding the real reasons, getting them to bed early, our schedule is SUPER pared down due to the move, our routine pretty strict but still flexible due to DaHub's schedule, and other than some cartoons on Netflix, they don't watch a lot of TV. The only one I could really improve on is helping the Vikings learn their stress signals.

As for the "don't overprotect" suggestion, when I had to call the head of school transportation for the THIRD time that someone was laying hands on my kids (including an older kids writing "shut up" on Pojke's forehead during his bus ride home), the fact I kept it together and acted like a rational human being is the best I can manage.

2. Rapid response
Stay calm
Melt the tension
Use a positive phrase
Teach "elevator breathing"
Visualize a calm place

This is where I think most of my work is going to be. My fuse is short lately as well. The tension level in our home is often off the charts and gets that way from zero to full blast in about 5 seconds. We could ALL benefit from these.

3. Develop habits for change
Reduce stress as a family
Label emotions
Find a relaxer
Open communication
Model how to cope

Same with these ideas. While I feel like I label emotions I'm having and say things like "it's sounds like you're angry about..." and such, the older the Vikings get the more shades of gray are appearing. "Sad," "mad," "angry," "scared" don't always cut it anymore and things are getting way more complicated lately. But, most of these are do-able and I need to make them a priority ASAP.

I've needed a lifeline of sorts with parenting lately and I'm hoping this is a step in the right direction. Kids are resilient. And I know God puts things in our path to help us grow and learn. And, as a parent, sometimes I'm going to have to let the Vikings walk through some tough stuff but I want this change to be a positive one in the end and not one that did some irreversible damage.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What "obedience" means?

I'm starting the Priscilla Shirer study Discerning the Voice of God at my new church. And, when I sat down to do my homework tonight, the word "obedience" kept jumping out at me.

We are still working through the first five lessons but belief that God still speaks, that one must expect God will speak, and one must be obedient to hear God speak have been the general theme.

So, I sat down and used "obedience" as a mnemonic to review the things we talked about so far...

O bey His will
B elieve in God's goodness
E xpect to hear from Him in His timing
D evote time to spend with Him
I mmerse yourself in His Word
E ntrust your troubles to Him
N uture and serve those around you while you wait
C ommune with Him and other believers
E mbrace what's going on NOW while you are waiting

Just wanted to share.

Can I get an AMEN!?

source: kushandwizdom.tumblr

Fall Into Reading book review #2: Safe From the Sea

I love northern Michigan. Most Michiganders do. I love it so much that I married someone from the Upper Peninsula! LOL

The fascination and mystique about Lake Superior, Sault Ste Marie, Marquette, Calumet, Thunder Bay, and Duluth is hard to explain. And, the love of Great Lakes freighters is one many people around the Great Lakes can attest to. I'd bet more than half have wondered what it would be like to be on those grand iron ore hauling queens grandly sailing through weather so horrible that it's unseen anywhere on inland lakes and rarely seen on the ocean. And, the shipwrecks! Oh! In those five lakes, there have been approximately 6,000 shipwrecks recorded.

"Safe from the Sea" by Peter Geye is a fictional account of a Superior Steel employee who was one of only three survivors of a Great Lakes freighter shipwreck near Isle Royale. The Torr family is based in Duluth and, like many immigrants from that area as well as the U.P., they were of Norweigian descent. Olaf's career was spent out on the ore ship leaving his wife, his son Noah, and his daughter alone for weeks and months at a time.

After many years of estrangement, Noah receives a call from his father. Olaf is sick and at their rustic cabin in need of some help before winter sets in. Noah finds his way to Duluth and then to his father farther north where they awkwardly begin to sort through years of misunderstanding and resentment.

This book was as near to perfect as I could imagine. The detail was amazing but not so deep that the story was lost. Geye's descriptions of Lake Superior life and the strange beauty of the lake in the winter was spot-on and made me re-think all the times I thought I'd never want to spend a winter upstate.

The reconciliation between Noah and his father was honest, real, awkward but so rewarding. Geye's also allows a peek any Great Lakes buff would appreciate into the life upon an ore freighter.

And, the description of the sinking of Olaf's ship, the Ragnarok, makes you mystified and terrified for anyone whose ever faced a November storm on Lake Superior.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone whose heart belongs to the Great Lakes area.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Into Reading '11 book review #1: Redeeming Love

I can't believe I finished my first book in the first week of Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge! Woo-hoo! LOL However, this book wasn't even on my list. I hit "publish" last Friday on my FIR post, went to check the mailbox, and there it was from! Can I tell you how much I *LOVE* getting books for free!?

Anyway, "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers was suggested to me by some of the ladies in my Bible study. I hadn't heard of Rivers before. It appears everyone but me has read this book before. LOL Normally, I'm not a big fan of Christian fiction, particularly historical fiction, and the Old Testament re-telling nearly scared me off! LOL But, I enjoyed "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant so I gave it a whirl.

And, Francine Rivers proved it was worth it.

"Redeeming Love" is a bit of a "doorstop book" at over a couple hundred pages but, once I started, I couldn't put it down. I read it in 3 days.

The characters were real, believable, and deep. The interactions between the characters were of equal quality. The restoration, change, and conversion of Angel/Amanda heart-breaking and bittersweet. The strength, patience, devotedness, and faith of Michael has put him at the top of my "dreamy guys of literature" list. :)

As a word of warning, there are serious issues discussed here: incest, rape, prostitution, infidelity, martial relations, etc. so even the author suggests a book-equivalent of a PG rating. But, all are handled respectfully and appropriately.

To be honest, I was very impressed by Rivers' ability to balance the "raunch" of Angel's former life as well as her coming-to-Christ faith issues. This didn't feel overly preachy or dripping with attempts to keep shoving more Biblical references in the narrative. It was that powerful, faith-filled, everyday walk that we all wish for. And, the discussions of sex didn't pull any punches either.

I would highly recommend this book and, now that I have my own copy, I plan on reading it again...maybe once the challenge is over though. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

For more WW, go here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Worry List

I recently started a Bible study through the new church we've been attending since school started. Having participated in our former church's women's ministry and its "Just For Joy" Bible studies, including some by Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, it seemed familiar to take "Discerning the Voice of God" by Shirer this fall.

While there are a lot of REALLY good nuggets (and I'm only two days into the homework), one particular exercise has hit me hard...the "worry list."

"...make a list of personal circumstances troubling you. As you work through this Bible study, focus on these circumstances and how God is speaking to you concerning them."

Didn't seem too difficult. And, we've had and have A LOT of worries the last few years. I was able to write a lengthy list.

But...then came another instruction the following day.

"Look back at the list you a plus sign beside the ones in which you are patiently waiting to hear from God and a minus sign beside the ones in which you have taken action before hearing from Him."


Here I am thinking I've really learned to depend on God and to listen to His leadings the last few years. Well, I have...but only to a point apparently.

As I looked down the list of 8 major things I stress about regularly, only two had plus signs by them.


Now, to keep myself accountable for being aware and alert for His voice and to be thankful for the things He does provide, I've kept dates and circumstance that follow that stand as a testament of how God is not only hearing me but He is taking care of things despite my lack of listening.

And, if He is already doing THAT much for me, how much better would it be if I actually STOPPED and LISTENED to Him back?

I'm praying that this study continues to open up these kinds of doors for me. I'd love to have the confidence like that I see in others that I'm truly, sincerely, honestly hearing God speak and that I'm responding to His plan for me and my family.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Into Reading 2011

Today is the first day of Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge! This is the first one I've done in this fall season. Usually, I do the spring challenge but, things being as they are around here right now with both kids in school all day and DaHubby working endless hours at his new job, I *finally* have time to do some leisure reading. Woo hoo!

As I prepared my list, I picked eight books I'd like to get done. I have two here at home that I already own so I should be able to start with a bang! LOL But, I'm already having trouble with tracking down the others I wanted. Plus, I have a few that suddenly came up in the last few days via
So, this is my list as of today! LOL But, due my learning curve with my new inter-library loan system here in Illinois and depending on what arrives from PBS in the next few weeks, I'm leaving the door open to change.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp I'm absolutely addicted to Ann's blog and her photography. Her writing breaks my heart (in a good way) often. I can't WAIT to read this book once it arrives via my local library.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies I've had this on my wish list at for a while. And, if you believe in coincidence, I just so happened to pop up as available the same week I started Priscilla Shirer's "Discerning the Voice of God" Bible study. So, I can take a hint! LOL

Lost Hero by Rick Riordan My first reading love was young adult lit. There's a very good reason I became a middle school language arts teacher! LOL This is book one of another series from Riordan who wrote the Percy Jackson series.

Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye This is my hat tip to my homesickness - a fictional account of a family's reaction to a shipwreck on Michigan's Lake Superior.

Wreck of the Carl D by Michael Schumacher This time a true story of a Great Lakes shipwreck - this time in Lake Michigan.

Plain, Honest Men by Richard Beeman (I tried but I just couldn't do it. LOL WAY to academic for me. LOL) This is a large doorstop of a book so I'm not sure I'll get through it but this book is reported to be an in-depth , detailed, humanizing, personality-driven account by an acclaimed historical Constitutional expert of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution Convention in 1787.

Rhythm of Family by Amanda Soule With all the upheaval in our family the last few years, I've been looking for parenting books that can restore some peace, help us focus on what's important, and knit us together even more tightly. I think this may be one of them.

Rite of Passage Parenting by Walker Moore Ditto for this one what I wrote above.

Well, that's my list. Stop by Katrina's page today and see what everyone else will be reading. I'll guarantee that you will find some other gems to read and, if you are participating already in this challenge, you'll find some you'll want to add! :)

I ended also reading the following:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
And, a batch of Kindle books...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

More WW here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Square, Level, and Plumb

We've been at our new address here in Illinois for about 7 weeks. Lots of unpacking, purging, cleaning, and hanging stuff up going on.

Despite the gender stereotypes, I have no talent and no real interest in house decorating. The extent of my need to decorate usually entails covering windows with curtains so I don't feel like I'm living in a fishbowl or, not liking a blank wall and finding something to put something on it. LOL Generally, DaHubby and I work as a team to sort out what goes where.

One thing I never try to do alone is hang pictures. If I did it solo, the wall would end up looking like a half-done demolition project with a large, crooked photo put up on the wall with tape and a couple push pins.

DaHubby has a better eye for all things square, level, and plumb so I'm generally standing at the wall, too close to tell what's going on, responding to his directions of "a little to the left" and "push that corner up just a bit" as he stands back and sees the whole picture and wall. I trust what he tells me and it always turns out perfect.

So why can't we trust God the same way with our lives?

We are too close, focused on the little details while He has the whole "wall" in His sights. If we could only listen to his "a little to the left" and " up a bit on the right," we could have faith that it would always turn out perfect.

Trust God's plan and His direction and your "picture" should turn out square, level, and plumb enough to give Him all the glory He deserves! :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

What was in MY hand this week?

I stumbled across a post at Frugal Hacks this week from its "DeputyHeadmistress" and how she solved a home decorating/organization problem without buying a thing! *gasp*

Imagine that!

She did it with what she already had and re-purposed it.

Now, "re-purposing" is either exalted or looked down on depending on which side of the frugalness aisle you're walking these days.

But, after the last four years, we've walked the line between forced frugalness, to be able to splurge but being responsible about our resources anyways, and back to not having any other choice.

That being said, we were looking to decorate the big, bare walls in our new rental home in IL. Thinking about what had made the trip already from our home in Michigan, DaHubby remembered that we had several homemade pieces of canoe-related stuff. So, I let DaHubby decorate the living room walls.

First to go up on the wall, his handmade Inuit kayak paddles....followed by his prize wood and carbon-fiber canoe paddles in a corner.

Then, we found several hand-caned canoe seats that were going to be used on a newly-built canoe some day in the future. Instead of them sitting and collecting dust, DaHubby took them - along with several pieces of scrap wood in the garage, and made us some wall art.

Now, my living room is decorated in "early paddler," DaHubby gets to show off some of his handiwork, and I get a decorated room we all can enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

When You're Stressed - CRAFT!

So, I'm SO tired of packing and unpacking boxes, de-cluttering, sorting, organizing, and cleaning that I needed a crafty "coffee break".

I took this idea I found on Pinterest and made the little dry erase board for our bathroom ($1.20):

Then, I took this idea from Pinterest and made this fall banner for our front porch ($3):

And, finally I took an idea from our house in Michigan and asked DaHubby to install a new version for our new dining room here in Illinois ($9 in hardware, $2 in clips):

It's not much but it's starting to feel even more like home. :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank

It has been another emotionally brutal week at the Viking bones about it.

At one time or another this week, one or more of us has collapsed under the combined pressure of all the stress we've been under the last couple apart, then new jobs, schools, homes, states, friends, churches, etc.

And, it's been hard.

Really hard.

But, we will praise Him in the storm. So...

Thankful for my home. Not just this house but the HOME we've created. DaHubby and I, even in our pre-Vikings life, have always wanted our home to be a safe place for all of us to take refuge from the world. Even with all the upheaval and even with some unexpected things that have slipped passed our "radar" that have tipped us off balance, where the four of us gather is still HOME.

Thankful for honesty. Even when it hurts. WAY better than the alternative.

Thankful for those who God sends to reach out with help even when you don't know or don't think you need it.

Thankful for friends who hear "something" in a voice and say "hey, are you all right?"

Thankful for the gorgeous summer-turning-to-fall scenery that is NW Illinois farmland.

Thankful that Pojke's intestinal problems yesterday turned out to be nothing.

Thankful for quiet time doing simple things with DaHubby before he heads back to work after several scheduled days well as thank you, LORD, (again) for the new job!

Pam is my thankfulness "coach" of sorts so stop by her bloggy home and see what's she's thankful for today!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank

It has been a simple week here at the Viking Hus. Simple in that we are FINALLY in our new home. That we have made a conscious decision to move towards less clutter and only things we love coming into the house while all the mess of moving boxes and such stay out of sight in the garage.

Simplify, simplify, simplify has been a type of glue holding everything together through the last 4 weeks of chaos of starting school, being the "new kid" myself, and DaHubby being on rotating shifts (days, nights, weekdays, weekends).

So, in the spirit of simplicity, here's what I am thankful for this week: new neighbor and "momma friend", Erin. She lives four houses down and our boys are in the same kindergarten class. She's also a growing Christian who is interested in possibly starting a Moms In Touch International (MITI) prayer group for the kids PLUS she hooked us up with a new possible church. AND, knowing we have no family around and haven't found any babysitters yet, she's offered to corral the Vikings for one evening so DaHubby and I can have a date night before a major project begins at DaHub's new job which will require him to work six 12 hr midnight shifts/week for 3-4 weeks. (An aside: I didn't want to freak her out but the day before I met her I had prayed [along with several of my friends back in Michigan] that I would find just one other mom to start a MITI prayer group. Twelve hours later, I met Erin at the bus stop. :) Yea, God!)

...the Vikings' new teachers. While Flicka is adjusting with relative ease, I'm still thrilled to have found out that her teacher is a Christian who used to teach in a Lutheran school. Meanwhile, Pojke has been simply miserable with the whole school experience to-date but his teacher (a "rookie" of three years) has been helpful and accommodating in assisting him acclimatize to yet another change in his little life this year. We have been running at high-flyin', survival-only speed since about 2009. While the move has been more upsetting and discombobulating than expected, there have been times recently of sweet, sweet rest and silence lately in the new house. I'm home alone more during the day with both kids in school. PLUS, DaHub's schedule is such that he not only rotates shifts but what days he works as well so he has been home some weekdays and it has just been the two of us for the first time in a VERY long time.

...reading. Directly relates to the resting thing. Being out of "survival mode" means more time for pleasure reading, time to put feet up and lose myself in a good story for an hour or so. My local librarians are probably already tired of me, probably thinks my account's been hacked, and I've found a new addiction on a Facebook page with daily listings of free books for my Android Kindle app.

That's what I'm thankful for this week. What about you? Pam hosts Thursday Thanks Tank. Stop by her bloggy home today and see what see has to say.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wider Margins

Transition time.

Those are often words that strike fear into the heart of any mom occasionally. Tranistions are prime and ripe for a battle of wills or temper tantrum.

We become experts at trying to get ahead of the curve. We give time warnings: "you have 5 minutes left to play before we have to leave." We make it a game: "it's time to clean up. The first one done gets a prize." We remind: "you only have 10 minutes so don't start a new game."

At one point when the Vikings were smaller and I was weary from being the focus of "transitional wrath," I finally got some success with carrying a timer everywhere we went. LOL "When the timer goes off, it's time to go" so it became the timer that was the taskmaster and not me.

But, big shocker, adults often have trouble with transitions too. Particularly those of us blessed with some non-linear, out-of-the-box thinking with ADD/ADHD.

Someone recommended to me "If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?: Help for the Highly Distractible Mom" by Carol Barnier. it's a quick read of about 100 pages but it's full of ideas for helping distractible moms cope and excel with their particular gifts.

One chapter is on margins. Barnier's definition of margin is the space that exists between our resources (including time) and our commitments of those resources. And, she argues that we moms tend to live "every hour of every day so packed from start to finish that there is no margin for error or change or spontaneity."

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. And, this is where I see my problems with impatience the most.

Transition times are killer for me and, as a result, a big source of stress. I have a plan most days. And, even if I plan for some delay, inevitably there's something unexpected. For an ADD-er trying to keep a grip on life with a set-out plan to cover all the bases and make sure nothing is forgotten, a deviance from said plan tends to throw me into a tizzy. And, tizzy = impatience to get BACK ON TRACK!

So, at Barnier's behest, I'm trying to have fewer things in my day and greater margins. She has four main suggestions:

1. Shoot for early. If you know it takes 10 minutes to get out the door, set a timer for 20 because something WILL happen...a diaper will leak, something will be spilled, someone will forget something. And, if all DOES go well and you arrive way ahead of the others, you have found the added benefit of being able to be of service to someone else setting things up! But, even if your time is not needed in that way, you may find time for something unthinkable...time to chat, talk, tell jokes, or just visit!

2. Home sweet home. Barnier suggests we need to start worrying less about what our kids might be missing. We, as a parenting culture, are overextending them and their schedules to a ridiculous, un-keepable pace. I know it's shocking, especially with the community we just moved from, but my kids have never played soccer! Or any organized team sport. *gasp*

The question becomes where do you want to live? Do you live at home? Or is home just a refueling zone between activities? We have deeply found this to be true with this recent move. While I loved the activities and groups we were involved with in Michigan, can I be transparent and say, with all due respect, there was a wonderful lack of pressure and slower pace moving to Illinois. Not just because we moved to a rural community of 3100 people in about a 2 square mile town but because we had no commitments, no where to be, no watching the clock, no playdates, no coordinating schedules. My phone barely rings now - and when it does, it's either my husband or one of the grandparents checking in on us.

And, I've stumbled onto a trick of sorts. It works really well with my ADD. The big trick? I blame my hubby. LOL As someone who tended to get over committed on a regular basis, I needed a polite way to basically say "no" or "I don't know" or "can I check my schedule" without it seeming like an unintentional brush off. I blame it on DaHubby. And, he blames it on me. So, now when someone asks me to do something, I generally say "I need to check with (DaHubby) and I'll get back to you." And, I make sure I DO get back with them. I can barely keep track of what I'm doing this afternoon much less a week or month in the future. This way I have time to check my calendar and double-check with DaHubby that there's not something else going on that I've forgotten about or conflicts logistically with the request.

Barnier says "jealously guard your time with your family. And don't feel the need to apologize for it...Never apologize for putting your investments where they can make an eternal difference - in your family."

3. Learn to Love Boredom. I know this goes against most parenting advice out there these days but...our kids do NOT need us to keep them entertained every moment of every day. Constant stimulation is NOT a good thing. Everyone needs down time, time to reflect, digest, and contemplate. Barnier suggests declaring a Boredom Day - no computer, no tech, no TV, no friends over. They may whine initially but, she argues, sooner or later they will allow themselves to be motivated by the boredom and come up with some amazing and creative things. Learn to love boredom. Even seek it out.

4, Schedule laughter. Don't forget to stop and laugh occasionally. It's Biblical (the Proverbs 31 woman LAUGHS). And, it's medical (a Loma Linda Univeristy study demonstrated that the act of luaghing increased disease-fighting white blood cells by 25 percent). Set time aside to watch funny shows, play games, whatever tickles your funny bone.

All of these things are designed to give you some elbow room emotionally and spiritually speaking so you have great margins and more peace in your home.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gratitude. Patience. Love.

I have a real problem with patience.

No, seriously.

It's probably the one greatest (non-physical) thing I would change about myself. It's the biggest fault that ties all my other foibles together.

And, while I know my impatience stains and strains nearly every aspect of my life (my faith, my parenting, my marriage, friendships, self-concept, etc.) I was pulled up short last week by a blog post by Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts."

As described in 1 Corinthians, Ann posited that while love is kind, not jealous, does not brag, not arrogant - it is first patient!

We know that the greatest of faith, hope, and love is LOVE. And, the greatest trait of love is PATIENCE.

Ann goes on further to say love walks with patience when it is first GRATEFUL for what is present in each moment.

"Lack gratitude - then lack patience - then, ultimately, lack love."

I love my kids. I love my hubby. So why are they most often the target for my impatience?

And, instead of working on my faith, my parenting, my marriage, and my friendships like they are all separate balls to be anxiously juggling, I could just work on being grateful.

No, REALLY grateful. Even for the tough stuff.

Even if it means being grateful for the kids challenging my authority - I want independent, curious, thoughtful thinkers, right?

Or, for my husband to challenge my decisions, question my motives, ask me to explain (again) my thinking because iron sharpens iron and he is looking out for me.

Or, for a pastor who asks me to really think about what I believe about God, the Bible, and what a fellowship of believers really looks like.

Gratitude about the muddy feet, broken toys, and spilled juice.

Thankfulness for temper tantrums, sassy children, and sibling bickering.

Appreciate disruptions, interruptions, and unending questions.

Gratitude brings patience. And, patience begets true love. And, ultimately, I want a house filled with True Love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anxiety creeps in...

Our little idyllic existence kinda crashed over the weekend.

Inferno-like temps. Too much whining. Too many short tempers. Too much "new stuff" for the kids. They're on complete overload - shots, new dentist, new church, off to VBS with another new church building and not one person they know.

DaHubby's on overload as well. After 6 months of constant 40 hr/week schooling and training (basically like jamming one's junior and senior yrs of college in 6 months), he FINALLY got to start his on-the-job training which will last another 6 months. This includes a very thick notebook filled with stuff he needs to learn and then perform in front of someone knowledgeable and eventually obtain their signature. As if it wasn't overwhelming enough, there's literally HUNDREDS of procedures he needs to get signatures for.

And, as the CEO of the VikingHus, I'm still trying to manage schedules, put out fires, complete the move, unpack, set up new banking and insurance accts, and get the STACKS of documents, appointments, and paperwork organized and completed to get the Vikings into school. It'll be $200 to register them and needs to be done before the end of this month or there are additional late fees. School also starts 3 weeks earlier here than in Michigan so I'm heading for a time crunch.

The peaceful, vacation-like feel of the last three weeks has slowly crept away. And, there's so much change left to deal with and sort out. :P Momma's back to stress-induced eating but haven't lost my new fingernails...yet! LOL

The kids are in VBS each morning this week so I'm trying to take that time to chill, plan, organize, and make phone calls so the rest of the day can just be spent with them. The new house should be ready soon. In the meantime, trying to take one day (and one hour) at a time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Establish my heart

Establish my heart, oh Lord...

Take me
Make me
Re-make me
Into that which glorifies You

Asking You in
Asking You near
Knowing You were there already
But I was afraid

Peel away
Burn away
Yank away
All that keep me from You.

Strengthen me
Purify me
Validate me
for Your service.

You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:8

Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes

As Jen sets the example, so I follow...

1. I was invited. I registered. Still don't get it. Pinterest. Anyone wanna explain it to me? LOL

2. One of the most beautiful blogs to read, to see, to digest, to learn from: A Holy Experience Go there now!

3. Can I tell ya how incredibly, entirely, sublimely THRILLED Pojke is that this place is right down the road from us here in Illinois now? LOL

4. If we don't run back to Michigan for another load of stuff, this is where we will be this weekend. Who said there would be nothing for us to do when we got here?? LOL This is the third weekend in a row there's a festival within a 20 minute drive!

5. Oh, and if we DO go back to Michigan, this is going on in our other hometown! :) Fireworks Saturday night baby!

6. Shots, dentist, and cavities, oh my! It's been a long week. 4 immunizations (thanks Illinois for the more strict/less optional shot schedule) and the first cavity for Flicka this week makes me hope things go REALLY smoothly once the pediatrician appt is scheduled and completed.

7. If God ever made a perfect, heaven-sent medication as an answer to prayer, it would be Mucinex. I swear I'm gonna buy stock in this company. Because there is nothing sweeter to someone allergic to decongestants and fighting off a cold than a single box of Mucinex! :)

So, those are my 7 Quick Takes. Go by Jen's and check out hers and everyone else's today!

A parenting experiment

The "be where you say you will be" rule was broken last night.

For the second time.

First time? We talked, re-iterated the rule and reasons, and restricted that particular activity for a time.

Second time, she was with a friend. And, the friend got "grounded." We haven't used those before but I had an idea. I wanted to see if she was really *getting* it.

After explaining again what the rule was and how it was broken and at what point she may have wanted to remove herself from problem...

"(Flicka), what do YOU think your punishment should be? This is the second time with the same rule."

She suggested doing chores. I mentioned she had to do those anyway. LOL

She suggested losing her bike privileges for a while...particularly since Pojke had just lost his for a breaking a similar rule about going around the block.

"For how long?"

"All day tomorrow?" she said.

"OK, what else?" I was looking for something that might clue her in to the following-her-friends-into-rule-breaking part of the equation. LOL

"No playing outside with the boys?" Bingo.

"OK, for how long?"

"Tomorrow morning?"

Stuck in the house with mean ol' mom on a beautiful morning while all the other neighborhood kids played just out front?

"OK, 'til lunch time. Deal?"

Well, she agreed at the time but forgot by this morning. Yet, after her initial protests, she settled in while Pojke went out to play. When I turned off the TV and PC for her enjoyment, it didn't go over well. Neither did my "no" to her request to bake cookies. LOL Hey, this isn't supposed to be fun, right?

So, she's playing quietly with her homemade playdoh acting out the last episode of "MasterChef" probably. :) But, things are good.

But, this afternoon will be the test. We shall see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday Thanks Tank

Well, it looks like Pam and I are both jumping back in today with the thankfulness habit...

Things filling my tank today:

Like an "unspoken prayer" at church and to save everyone from a little TMI, I'm thankful for a resolution in a female health area.

I'm thankful for a hubby who recognized I was completely out of energy and completely inundated with boogers and took over dinner clean-up and bedtime duty this week.

As someone who is allergic to most decongestants and fighting off a quick-moving cold that went to my lungs, can I get an AMEN for MUCINEX! 'Nuff said.

I'm thankful for the sweet, new neighbors we've found here. Three sets of neighbors have kept us laughing and our kids busy not missing Michigan for the last two weeks.

I'm thankful for the wonderful health care people we came in contact with this week getting the Vikings up to Illinois standard of immunizations and getting their teeth cleaned and checked. They treated the Vikings sweetly and patiently. Let's hope the new pediatrician follows this trend. LOL

I'm thankful for the wonderful welcome we received at a little church we visited last Sunday. Including the four of us, there were about 20 people in the whole place. LOL DaHubby played around on the piano after service and, as a result, has quite a following already with the little old ladies there. :)

That's what's filling MY tank this week. What about you? Feel free to stop by Pam's place today to read up on previous Thursday Thanks Tanks as well!