End-of-October Reflections

October tends to be a somewhat quiet month for us, with no birthdays or anniversaries in our immediate family (though there are a few in the extended family). I love our “birthday season,” but it’s nice to have a quiet spot between it and the holidays. My yearly physical in September usually sets off a couple of other appointments, but I am putting off some non-essential ones for now. I do have a sleep study scheduled for next week to test for sleep apnea, at home rather than the lab per insurance requirements. We’ll see what happens!

We had our annual pumpkin decorating last Saturday. We weren’t into that when our children were small, but our daughter-in-law requested it a few years ago. It has become a fun tradition. And since the places that would normally be open for safe trick-or-treating are closed due to COVID-19, we’re not only invited to a family get-together this weekend, but invited to dress up! I’m still contemplating what to do, but I have a couple of ideas.

Timothyisms

My little 6-year-old grandson is almost as tall as my shoulder now. I love how his mind works. He was making Lego creations, and had a flower on a lower level that was pushing over a column. His dad asked if he wanted to take the flower off so the column would fit better. Timothy said, “No, that’s the turbine,” and told him how the water flowed through his building.

A couple of texts my daughter-in-law sent:

Jason was explaining what herbivores and carnivores eat.

T- Yeah, cows don’t eat meat because they ARE meat!!

__

M- Timothy who did we talk about in Bible yesterday?

T- Zebra! Zebra?

M- Close. Her name is Deborah.

T- That’s a weird name.

He must not know any Debbies yet. 🙂

He texted me this: I think he made it himself:

I didn’t make any cards this month, but I’ve gotten lots of housework done and figured out the new WordPress editor (at least the features I use. It does a whole lot more than I know what to do with at this point). Here’s what else I’ve been doing.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I enjoyed an old Cary Grant movie, The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss. Grant plays an idle rich guy suffering from malaise who goes to the doctor, who challenges him to work for his living for the next year. After that I started the Lark Rise to Candleford series. Like anything else based on books, there are similarities and differences from the original. But I am enjoying it. It will keep me occupied for a long while.

Jim and I also watched The Current War about the rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse. It was pretty interesting (warning: it includes a couple of instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain).

Reading

This month I finished:

  • A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White (actually finished last month but had not reviewed in time for my monthly posts). LOVED this book and immediately sought out the sequels. A group of street kids formed themselves into a family in London just before WWI, and one is approached by a mysterious man seeking her help.
  • A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White, sequel to A Name Unknown. Love this, too!
  • An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White, the third and last in this Shadows Over England series.
  • Termination Zone by Adam Blumer. A man with a brain implant eludes those trying to control. him. Very edge-of-your-seat reading!
  • Be Obedient (Genesis 12-25): Learning the Secret of Living by Faith by Warren Wiersbe.
  • True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal—and How Nearly Dying Saved my Life, by Kevin Sorbo. The actor shares a bit of his background and how he came to star in Hercules, then suffered an aneurysm and three mini-strokes that changed his life.
  • The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White, first in the Codebreakers series, but a few characters from the previous series appear, too. Just finished last night but have not reviewed yet.

I’m currently reading:

  • In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion by Annette Whipple
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau
  • 1984 by George Orwell (audiobook)
  • Discovering Jesus and His Love by Scott Leone
  • Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque, recommended in a writing webinar by Steve Laube and Thomas Umstattd, Jr.

I started Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers, but just couldn’t get into it and laid it aside. I’d wanted to read something by her since seeing her mentioned in one of C. S. Lewis’s books, but will have to try another one. This book is in the middle of a bunch featuring detective Peter Wimsey.

Blogging

In addition to weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve posted:

What Do You Look for When You Read the Bible? The Bible doesn’t just provide momentary fixes for the current need: it’s the means by which we get to know God better.

What Grace Does. Titus 2:11-13 about what grace teaches sparked a study of other activities of grace.

Alone with God. Community is an essential gift, “But some of the most poignant moments of life occur between the individual and God alone.”

A Christian Philosophy of Things. Finding the balance between being too careless or too possessive of our stuff.

Writing

I’ve had a few little sessions but need to dig in more.

And that pretty much wraps up October for us. Though we still have a few days, I wanted to post this before the weekend, as not many people come around then. I am looking forward to an extra hour of sleep this weekend when we turn our clocks back! And the rest of autumn, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas season!

How was your October?

(Sharing with Let’s Have Coffee, Grace and Truth)

End-of-September Reflections

SeptemberSo ends another month in this crazy year. In addition to COVID and everything else going on in the world, a black bear and a tiger were roaming loose in our city this month! I never heard if someone caught them—I think they just moved on. Bears aren’t uncommon, but they’re usually in woodsy areas. But no one knew where the tiger came from.

We’re very much enjoying the cooler temperatures and crisp air. Leaves are starting to change, but full-blown color is still a couple of weeks away.

Family news

My youngest son is seriously looking at apartments now, aiming to move out before the end of the year. I’m excited for him, but I’ll miss the everyday interaction. I’m thankful he’ll still be in town.

We grilled burgers and enjoyed a long weekend for Labor Day, and my son’s family made us feel special for Grandparent’s Day. Besides my youngest son’s birthday and my brief hospital stay for afib, I can’t recall that we did anything else unusual as a family this month. We always enjoy visiting back and forth every week, but I don’t think we had any excursions. But that’s fine. August was busy, so a fairly quiet September was nice.

Timothisms

When I showed Timothy the Bundt cake I had made for Jesse’s birthday, he said it looked like a donut cake. Makes sense to me!

One evening Timothy was playing with Little People and had two of them going on a date. Part of their conversation was, “So what do you think about having babies? What kind of house do you want to live in?” Seems to be moving a little fast—but it’s important to talk about those things. 😀

Creating

This card was or a former pastor who turned 91.

The horizontal pieces are stickers. I made the scalloped circles with punches.

This was for Jesse’s birthday. Video games are his main thing, and I looked for some kind of video game clip art. When I found this controller, I decided just to make the card on the computer rather than printing and cutting out the pieces.

I had found a shirt for him that said, “I paused my game to be here.” So I tied the card in with that theme.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I worked through:

The Adventures of Ociee Nash, a cute family film about a tomboyish little girl growing up with brothers and a father, sent to stay with an aunt to learn “lady ways,” meeting famous people along the way.

God’s Not Dead. A college freshman tangles with an atheistic professor. Somehow I missed this when it was going around a few years ago There are two sequels to it out now that I have not seen. I thought the story was pretty good except they overdid the villainy of the two bad guys. Plus there were a couple of theological oddities. A pastor told one girl struggling with self image and wrong relationships, “Jesus would willingly be crucified again just for you if that’s what it took.” Um, no: His once-for-all death was sufficient.

Enchantment was an old film with David Niven as an elderly retired soldier who just wants to live out his days in the family home. But a niece in the Army pops in while in town. The old soldier sees she and the young man interested in her are about to make a mistake and miss their chance, and his sad story of lost love compels him to encourage them toward each other.

The Bishop’s Wife, another old one with David Niven as a distracted bishop and Cary Grant as an angel. Somehow I had never seen this. I didn’t realize it was set at Christmas or I might have saved it for then. It was “off” in the angelology department, but otherwise pretty sweet.

Before All Others was a Christian-ish film (once you watch an old film or a Christian film on Amazon Prime, they start adding more into the “suggested” list). I just finished it yesterday and am still processing it. In it, a young woman develops a serious illness. Her only living relative is an estranged grandmother, so she stays with her. They get to know each other while working through some difficulties. The grandmother hires a man from church to build a wheelchair ramp, and he and the granddaughter are attracted. But he’s working through some issues of his own. The grandmother is a believer but the two young people are not. The grandmother tends to go to the shed to talk to her dead husband…and when he tells her it’s almost her time to go, she says, “You’ll just have to tell—whoever—that I’m not ready to go.” The last few scenes were disjointed with the viewer having to fill in a lot of gaps. It was ok: it could have been really good, but just fell short.

One evening Jim and I watched Same Kind of Different As Me. I had read the book years ago and wanted to see the film, but just never got to it before. For some reason, it was on my heart. We both enjoyed the true story of a couple with a troubled marriage working in a soup kitchen and befriending one of the homeless men.

Reading

I finished some good books this month:

  • Be Victorious (Revelation): In Christ You Are an Overcomer by Warren Wiersbe, Christian nonfiction.
  • Be Basic (Genesis 1-11): Believing the Simple Truth of God’s Word. by Warren Wiersbe, Christian nonfiction.
  • Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker, Christian fiction. A teenage girl in 1960s Georgia helps take care of her grandfather with dementia and her brother with a processing disorder. The brother wants to build a rocket to go to Jupiter, so his sister and her friend help him raise money for materials. Then a series of family tragedies shakes the sister’s faith. Beautiful, touching story.
  • Sandhill Dreams by Cara Putnam, Christian fiction. A woman’s illness scraps her dreams of being a military nurse during WWII, and she tries to find some way to help the war effort. A young man who fears dogs after being bitten as a child finds himself in charge of the canine unit.
  • The Color of Hope by Kim Cash Tate, Christian fiction. Two churches try to bridge ethnic diversity and meet together sometimes, but some in the town disapprove.
  • Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt, Christian fiction. Middle-aged sisters try to work out their differences. Both poignant and funny in places.
  • The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke, Christian historical fiction (audiobook). A Jewish woman in Warsaw must give up her child in order to save her during WWII. Excellent book.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, nonfiction.A young black women’s cells were taken for experimentation without her knowledge when she was treated for cancer, and they became what’s known as an “immortal” cell line, still growing. They’ve been an immense help to science, but ethical, racial, and financial issues are discussed as well as the effect on the family.
  • I don’t review children’s books here often (besides classics), but I wanted to share these Three Children’s Books About Race.
  • A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White. Just finished this and loved it. I plan to review it tomorrow. Loved this!

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Obedient (Genesis 12-25): Learning the Secret of Living by Faith by Warren W. Wiersbe
  • In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion by Annette Whipple
  • A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White (audiobook), sequel to A Name Unknown
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau

In all honesty, I haven’t picked up the last two in a number of weeks and need to get back at them. I’m also starting an advanced reader copy of a book coming out in November.

Blogging

In addition to weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages and book reviews, I’ve posted:

  • Shining Light in a Dark and Drowsy World. Light can irritate when we’re sleepy. So the world resents the light that we shine to wake them up. But God still wants us to let our light shine, and He uses it to draw others to Himself.
  • Remembering the Relationship. We tell unbelievers that Christianity is a relationship, not (just) a religion. But as Christians, sometimes we forget the relational aspect and fall into routines and formulas.
  • Is Truth or Love More Important? We err when we have either without the other.
  • God Remembered. I’ve sometimes puzzled over why the Bible says God “remembered” someone, when God doesn’t forget in the first place. The resulting study was a blessing.
  • The Struggle Is Real. Just as a butterfly needs the struggle involved in breaking out of its cocoon in order to be healthy, so we need the struggles God allows in our lives to grow in our faith.

Writing

I was pleased and Thankful that a devotion I wrote for the Christian Devotions site was accepted and published last Saturday. It’s titled “Unsteady.”

I’ve gotten a little work done on the book. I am looking and praying for longer stretches of time to work on it. I can add in little tidbits in smaller swaths of time. But I need to overhaul at least a couple of chapters, and that requires a longer time period to really dig in and concentrate.

And that wraps up September! I’m looking forward to more color and coolness in October.

How was your September?

(Sharing with Worth Beyond Rubies, Grace and Truth, Hearth and Soul,
Senior Salon, InstaEncouragement, Shannan’s What I’m Into.
Linking does not imply 100% endorsement)

End-of-August Reflections

August ReflectionsAugust was a full month for us, physically and emotionally.

Train travel—A First!

A first for any of us, anyway.

My oldest son was able to come for his annual August visit. He usually comes in April and December, too. He’d had to cancel his April visit due to COVID, and we were hoping he wouldn’t have to cancel this one. None of us was comfortable with flying or hotels yet, though. But one of my husband’s colleagues mentioned going somewhere in a sleeper car on a train. A toilet was in the “roomette,” and he hardly saw anyone else the whole trip. The chairs converted to beds, and he was able to stretch out for the night. So we checked into prices and stations and asked my son, Jeremy, what he thought. He decided to try it.

He reported that he liked everything about train travel better than air travel—except the length. The train trip was about 20 hours including a short layover, whereas the plane trip can vary from 6-9 hours or more, depending on whether there is one layover or two and how long they are.

He was in business class the first leg, but there was only one other person in his car. But he had plenty of leg room. The roomette was tight quarters: much smaller than a hotel room, but of course more room than business class. There were two chairs facing each other that made into a bed when folded out. And there was an upper berth, so technically two people could fit into the roomette. But I think it might be uncomfortable for two adults. It might work well for a parent and child.

This gives you an idea how tight it is. The toilet is right next to the chair (the backpack is on the lid) and the square above opens up a sink.

So it’s convenient to have a toilet right there—but it is right there!

Amtrak does have some bigger sleeper rooms, but I am sure they are more expensive.

I don’t think the price was any less than airfare, especially with airlines lowering process to attract travelers right now. But it is private. Someone came to the sleeper car duly masked to see what Jeremy wanted for dinner and then to deliver it, but that’s the only person he interacted with. He did have a short layover in Penn Station, but they had masks and social distancing rules in place.

Birthday Season and Staycation

Four of us have birthdays between mid-July and mid-September, so we’ve always called this time of year Birthday Season. Jeremy’s birthday and mine are six days apart, and often when he comes for his, the dates work out that he’s here for mine as well. That happened this year.

We celebrated his with homemade lasagna and Boston cream pie.

My husband took the week off as well. We couldn’t really go anywhere, with COVID restrictions in place. But Jason and Mittu and Timothy came over almost every day, and of course Jesse was here (still working at home). We played lots of games, talked, ate lots of good food, showed each other favorite videos. We had dinner in a park one evening and lunch in another park on Saturday.

When we (or rather, they) had camped out in the back yard a few weeks ago, they wanted to do that again when Jeremy was here. So everyone except Jesse and me did that Thursday night.

Friday was my birthday, and Jason and Jesse had taken the day off. Mittu made biscuits and gravy and Jim made bacon, sausage, and eggs on the grill for my birthday breakfast. Then everyone scattered for showers, rest, and birthday preparations. In the evening, Jim grilled his awesome teriyaki chicken and Mittu made two kinds of potatoes, salad, and my favorite Texas Sheet Cake for my birthday cake.

We got some family photos in, too. This was one of my favorites.

We had such a great time with all the family here. Both weekends were pretty busy, but we had some days in the middle of just hanging out. It’s always sad to say good-bye. But my heart was full.

Creating

This card was for a young man at church who was leaving for college. Inside I put Psalm 16:11, my favorite verse for graduations.

This card was for Jason and Mittu’s anniversary, cut out with the Cricut (as was the road in the card above):

This was for Jeremy’s birthday. He likes foxes, and this fox was a 3-D, multi-layer sticker. I did the balloons on the Cricut and used a sticky pad so they were as raised as the fox.

Timothyisms

Timothy asked his mom one day, “Why don’t we call forks mouth rakes and spoons food shovels?” 🙂

Watching

I worked through some good movies this month while riding my exercise bike, which distracts me and keeps me there for the designated time. All of these were amazingly clean. I watched them via Amazon Prime, but they may be available in other venues.

The Railway Children was based on a book by E. Nesbit (whom I have never read and was hardly even aware of) and a remake of a few earlier movies. This one came out in 2000. It involves a family in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century whose father is wrongly imprisoned. The mother and children have to move to a small cottage, and the mother tries to support them by writing stories. The children roam around and make friends with the railway workers, help a Russian immigrant and an injured boy. Sweet story! I’ll have to look up the book some day.

The Lady Vanishes has been filmed several times, once by Hitchcock. This version came out in 2013. A spoiled young woman is helped by an older lady on a train leaving the Balkans. But when the younger woman awakes after a nap, the older woman is gone and everyone says they haven’t seen the older woman. The girl tries to figure out what happened, with a couple of Americans trying to help and everyone is suspect.

The Secret Handshake is a little quirky. A middle-aged man’s daughter is being harassed by a boy with a crush. First, the yard is TP’d, then antics escalate. The man steps in to intervene, learns the boy’s father has died, and decides to take him on a camping trip to teach him about becoming a man. But nothing goes as planned. The description called it a “rollicking comedy.” I wouldn’t call it rollicking. But it was a nice film and ended up in a good place.

It’s only coincidence that two of the films had to do with trains in the same month that my son was taking a train trip. 🙂

Reading

I finished some good books this month (titles link back to my reviews):

I’m currently reading:

  • Be Victorious (Revelation): In Christ You Are an Overcomer by Warren Wiersbe
  • In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (audiobook)
  • Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau

I’ve got some new birthday books to dip into after those!

Blogging

Some of the posts this month, in addition to weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages and book reviews:

  • God’s Word: Our Sure Guide. Just as a zoning board has to make decisions by their book of codes and regulations rather than emotions or sentiment, so do we need to go “back to the book.”
  • Mason Is In Heaven. A young grandson of a former pastor lost his battle with cancer; some thoughts on when a little one dies.
  • Blind Spots. What causes them, ways we can combat them.
  • Dwelling Richly. What does it mean to let God’s Word “dwell richly” with us?
  • God’s Efficiency. What might seem inefficient to us is working out His perfect will.

Writing

Not much this month, with everything else going on. But I got a little work done at the beginning of the month and am looking forward to digging back in.

Forgive me for this post being longer than usual—but, as I said at the beginning, it was a very full month!

How was your August?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Hearth and Home,
Senior Salon, InstaEncouragement)

End-of-July Reflections

JulyWow, July has gone by fast, hasn’t it?

We’ve had a fairly quiet month. Our local COVID-19 cases and deaths are still rising rapidly, so we’ve pretty much been staying at home as much as possible. We do get together with my son and daughter-in-law and grandson since they’re mostly sheltering at home as well.

The heat and humidity would be keeping us inside even if the virus wasn’t.

We had a fairly traditional 4th of July with grilled burgers. All the major fireworks displays were canceled, but we saw several around the neighborhood.

Jason’s family and my husband camped out in their yard and then in ours to get Timothy used to it before camping away from home. He enjoyed it!

Timothyisms

Once again I have none! There have been a few times he’s said something cute, and I’ve thought, “I need to write that down.” But then I forget.

He’s in the tooth-losing stage of life and currently has three out in front. So cute!

Creating

Jason’s birthday was this month. Since he had asked for some camping equipment, I went with that theme for his card:

The Cricut has some designs that can be printed out, and this was one. It came out darker than it looked on the computer. The things in the corners are some button-like stickers.

I don’t usually show the insides of the cards I make, but they can be the hardest part. I don’t want to say the same thing every time. With this one, all sorts of camping terms flooded my mind, so I wrote them down to see what I could come up with.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I’ve worked my way through a few movies. Watching something keeps me there for the allotted time more than listening to something, even an engaging audiobook.

To Catch a Thief was an old Hitchcock film with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. A burglar known as “The Cat,” played by Grant, had served his time and changed his ways. But now someone else has committed a string of burglaries using his MO, and he sets out to catch his imitator.

Funny Face was another old one with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. He’s a photographer for a high-profile women’s magazine who “discovers” her in a book shop and thinks she’s the face for the magazine’s new campaign. The only reason she agrees is to be able to go to Paris. It started out a little weird, but ended up being sweet and cute.

Beyond the Mask is a Christian film set during the Revolutionary War. The main mercenary for the East India Company wants to quit and is betrayed. He ends up working against the EIC . . . and falling in love with his rescuer and meeting Benjamin Franklin. I don’t think I have ever seen a Christian film with such extensive costuming and setting. I enjoyed it. And the two main characters are married in real life.

Waiting for Anya was just released this year. A young shepherd boy in France who is not very responsible at first ends up helping a stranger smuggle Jewish children into Spain during WWII. It was pretty good! I’d like to look up the book it’s based on.

I think I watched all these on Amazon Prime, but they may be available elsewhere as well.

Reading

This month I finished (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Monday’s Child by Linda Chaikin. I had finished but not reviewed this last month. Set after WWII, a model serves as a courier for Interpol but soon learns not everyone is what they appear to be. Excellent!
  • Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler. A Southern young woman was born in Japan, where her mother died. She has determined never to fly and never to go back to Japan—until she’s attracted to a man online who lives there. Loved this one, too.
  • If We Make It Home: A Novel of Faith and Survival in the Oregon Wilderness by Christina Suzann Nelson. Former roommates meet up for a 25th anniversary and go on a wilderness camping trip, which doesn’t go as planned. Very good.
  • Hurricane Season by Laura K. Denton. One sister leaves her two children with the other sister for two weeks, but ends up staying away much longer, which strains relationships. Very good.
  • Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin. A Dutch immigrant looks back on her experiences coming to and trying to make it in America through much hardship. She finds an unusual connection with a young woman at a crossroads in her life. Very good.
  • Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott, sequel to Eight Cousins (audiobook). Rose, the orphaned and only female cousin in the Campbell family, grows up. Sweet, old-fashioned story.
  • Billy Budd by Herman Melville (audiobook). Melville’s last novel, about a winsome young sailor who accidentally kills a superior officer.
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (audiobook). A mysterious “opera ghost” manipulates the opera house managers and his young protege.
  • Be Concerned (Minor Prophets): Making a Difference in Your Lifetime by Warren Wiersbe covers Amos, Obadiah, Micah, and Zephaniah.
  • The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson (just finished, not reviewed yet)

I plowed through a lot of Christian fiction on the Kindle app in the evenings.

I’m currently reading:

  • Candleford Green by Flora Thompson, the last of the Lark Rise trilogy
  • Write Better by Andrew Le Peau
  • None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (audiobook)
  • Be Heroic (Minor Prophets): Demonstrating Bravery by Your Walk by Warren Wiersbe
  • 7 Steps to Get Off Sugar and Carbohydrates: Healthy Eating for Healthy Living with a Low-Carbohydrate, Anti-Inflammatory Diet (Healthy Living Series Book 1) by Susan Neal

Blogging:

Some of my posts this month, besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages:

Writing

I got some good sessions in on my book-in-progress. I was especially thankful for a long work session where I got the basic information down for what I think is my most difficult chapter to put together.

And that wraps up July! We have some things to look forward to in August while we hope and pray for deliverance from the coronavirus.

I hope you’re keeping cool and well this summer! How was your July?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Hearth and Home, Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragement, Let’s Have Coffee)

End-of-June Reflections

End of June ReflectionsJune has been another challenging month for our country. I continue to pray that God will use all that’s happening to draw people to Himself.

Personally, we’re doing much the same as we have been the last couple of months. COVID-19 cases in our area have been rising steadily, so we’re still sheltering in place. We did have one excursion to a state park. Not many people were there, and they stayed pretty much with their own groups.

My husband has been doing the grocery shopping since all this with the virus started, but I took a couple of turns doing it this month for various reasons. I had my first experience wearing a mask, and found it hot and stuffy. I was self-conscious about trying to speak with it on, but overall people seemed to understand each other. I kept forgetting about the 6-foot distancing—odd, because I’ve been extremely conscious of it elsewhere. I got too close to a guy and his mom a couple of times, and he was really jumpy. But he didn’t have a mask on.

We’re still finding what we need, if not the brands or sizes we want.

I also had a doctor’s appointment. I appreciated the doctor’s office taking extra precautions to try to keep anyone with anything that might be contagious separate.

Creating

I made three cards for Father’s Day. The first was for my step-father, who is a fan of a certain sci-fi show’s original series. 🙂

I adapted the idea from something I saw at Pinterest.

This one was done on the Cricut for my husband, Jim.

The challenge with this kind of design is gluing all the little pieces down without glue showing somewhere.

This was for my son, Jason, also done on the Cricut:

I loved this design because Timothy loves to explore. This looks just like him saying, “Look at that!” or “Let’s go over there!”

I also learned a new skill with Jason’s card. The figure and the words were from two different designs. I wanted to cut them out of the lighter shade and then lay that over the darker shade. But the Cricut automatically defaults to cutting a design out of the far left corner in order to save paper. After searching around, I discovered how to do what it calls attaching, so it would cut out the designs right where I placed them.

Watching

Summer TV is kind of a wasteland, with nothing much on besides a lot of celebrity game shows. I don’t even know who many of the celebrities are any more. We watch America’s Funniest Home Videos every week—even if they are reruns, we’ve forgotten enough of them that they are still funny to us. We also enjoy for the most part America’s Got Talent, though occasionally they’ll have an act we have to mute or fast forward through.

While riding my exercise bike, I watched a movie called Wish You Well via Amazon Prime about a family who goes to live with a great-grandmother the children never knew in the 1940s. The father just died in an accident and the mother is in a catatonic state. The daughter is navigating getting used to a new situation, grieving her father, blaming her mother, and getting to know a great-grandmother. The daughter’s father was a writer, and she likes to write as well. I think it had a “damn” or two in it, but otherwise it was a sweet, clean story.

Another I watched while stationary bike-riding was Under the Greenwood Tree. It’s based on a book by Thomas Hardy. I’ve never read Hardy, but evidently this is one of his few novels that isn’t tragic. A new schoolteacher comes to a village and is wooed by the the richest farmer in the area, a serious-minded vicar, and a poor but handsome young man. There are class and education differences, so the teacher has to decide whether to make “a good match” or follow her heart. There’s a subplot with what’s called a choir (but different from what we think of as a choir today) which the vicar wants to replace with a harmonium. According to Wikipedia, Hardy originally wanted to focus on the motley choir (or quire), but then decided to play up the romance instead. This was enjoyable and clean as well. It was also on Amazon prime.

My husband and I watched The Aeronauts on Amazon Prime. I had thought it was about the first people in a gas balloon, but it wasn’t: it was about the first people to break the height record for such a balloon and the man who thought they could be used for weather prediction. It’s based on true events, but some parts were too fantastical to be real. But it was an enjoyable, clean film.

We also finally watched last year’s movie version of Little Women., rented from iTunes. They changed a few things up from the book, but overall it was well-done. The cinematography was gorgeous. They went back and forth in the timeline instead of following a linear pattern like the books does. If I hadn’t been so familiar with the story, I would have found that confusing. But overall I enjoyed it very much.

Reading

Since last time, I finished (titles link back to my reviews):

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Some of my posts this month, besides the weekly Friday’s Fave Fives and occasional Laudable Linkages:

Writing

I had a guest post accepted this month for Almost an Author titled Publishing Dreams Can Come True. I share a bit about the immense obstacles one author overcame to write what’s now considered a beloved classic. I want to encourage authors (and others!) to pursue their dreams and overcome their own obstacles with God’s help.

I also had a devotion accepted for Christian Devotions, but that won’t be published until September. I’d like to write for them more, because they allow for a smaller word count and require that you use just one verse. When I write on a topic, I tend to feel I need to study all the verses to make sure I’m balanced and accurate, and then I feel I need to somehow include all of that study into one blog post. That can make for a lengthy and maybe overly full post. The requirements of this site will help me simplify, hone in on one main thought, and cut out wordiness.

I was grateful and encouraged that these two sites accepted my submissions. I also did get some editing and revising done on my book. Yay!

I just realized I didn’t have any Timothyisms this month! I’ll have to do better at writing them down for next time.

The Bible says we never know what a day may bring forth, but that seems to be even more the case this year. Whatever is ahead, God knows and will give us grace to deal with it. We can go forth in confident expectation.

(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies, Grace and Truth,
Faith on Fire, Global Blogging, Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon)

End-of May Reflections

May ReflectionsAs I am sure has been true for many of you, May was a rather quiet month. Mother’s Day was the only big event on the calendar. We enjoyed roasting hot dogs and making s’mores for Memorial Day. Most days just held everyday activities.

We had several socially-distanced visits outside with my son’s family at our house and theirs. Thankfully the weather has been pretty comfortable this month for outdoor gatherings. Since our state began opening up a little, and since the COVID cases in our area are low compared to others, we did start visiting inside (just in time to come into the air conditioning from hot weather). But otherwise we’re holding back from jumping full-fledged back into the fray.

Our church discussed meeting together again, and most wanted to wait for a bit. So we’ll still Zoom for now.

I’ve been distressed by the judgmentalism and name-calling in social media over simple things like wearing face masks, even among Christians, even among friends. I’ve had some ideas brewing for a post about it all, but probably should abstain. There are multiple facets to the COVID-19 crisis and multiple opinions even among experts, so it seems like we should give each other plenty of grace and room to differ.

But…on to more pleasant topics.

Family

Besides what I mentioned above, some of us were watching or listening to the SpaceX launch preparations, which had to be scrapped due to weather. Jason texted this picture of Timothy.

I asked Jim why the astronauts were being strapped in so early, then answered my own question by saying they probably had a lot of pre-checks and such to go through. Then I said, “If it were me, I’d have to say ‘You can strap me in now, but you’re going to have to let me up to use the bathroom before we leave.'”

Jim said, “That’s why you’re not an astronaut.”

Not the only reason, but, yes. 🙂

Timothyisms

I mentioned on a Friday’s Fave Five that my son’s Ring camera caught a guy peeking into their window for several minutes. My son spoke through the camera and the guy ran off, but the police were called and investigated the area. My son had recently had a run-in with poison ivy in their back yard, even though he had been wearing gloves. When Timothy learned that the “peeper” had run towards the back, he said in a singsongy voice, “There’s lots of poison ivy back there.” 🙂

Timothy just turned six in April. This month he was telling me about something that happened “a long time ago when I was five.”

I’ve mentioned before that Timothy loves to mow, especially when his Granddad brings over the riding lawn mower. Timothy has his own toy riding and push lawn mower and garden tools. His dad recently texted this comment from Timothy: “If you have a big yard, a push mower will make you very tired. I did that one time, and I wanted to stop, and I changed my mind to not give up.”

His mom and dad will sometimes take a bite from his plate and call it a “dad tax” or a “mom tax.” Monday, when we were eating outside for Memorial Day, Timothy had finished and gotten down to play. Then he came back, grabbed a couple of french fries from the bowl, and said, “Tim tax.”

Creating

It was sad to realize that all of the older women I had looked up to as moms, in addition to my own mom, are gone now.

The only Mother’s Day card I made this year was for my daughter-in-law, who likes purple and lavender. It didn’t turn out quite like I was picturing it in my mind, but I think she liked it. 🙂

I also finally finished making masks for the family. I had done them for everyone except Jesse and me, since we haven’t gone anywhere (and Jeremy in RI, because he already had some). But I wanted to get them done just so we’d have them when we needed them. Plus, we’re talking about using them even after our church meets in person. I’m not a good enough seamstress to do this for others, and none of them is perfect, but at least we’re covered—literally and figuratively. 🙂 And it was good to finally cross them off my to-do list.

Watching

Laura and Hope had both recommended This Beautiful Fantastic, and I loved it. It’s on Amazon prime, but I think it’s also on YouTube. It’s about a very OCD girl who learns that letting other people into her life can be messy but beneficial. It’s also about writing and gardening and grumpy neighbors. It’s quirky and had me smiley and teary at the end. Objectionable elements: I think there are a couple of “damns” or similar bad words, and an old man in a Speedo near the beginning (but that’s more gross than sexy).

I also very much enjoyed The English Game, a six-episode mini-series. I care very little about football (soccer), but I could appreciate the struggles of changing it from a “gentleman’s” game to make it more accessible to working men, and the controversy over whether to allow paid (professional) players. Differences got violent a couple of times, but I loved how the two main characters strove to come to an understanding of each other and wanted what was best for the good of the game. I read later that though the people and some of the plot basics were real, some of the points weren’t historically accurate. But I still enjoyed it. There are a few bad words, and sadly, a couple of instances of taking Jesus’ name in vain.

I also enjoyed some of John Krasinski’s “Some Good News” YouTube videos.

Reading

This month I completed (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney, a cozy, somewhat comedic mystery about a young woman filling in for her uncle’s private investigation firm while looking for a new job. On her first minor case, she finds a dead body. I liked it okay, but this is not my favorite genre. If it’s yours, you might enjoy it more.
  • Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron, a story spanning three timelines around a castle in Scotland. Excellent.
  • A Season to Dance by Patrica Beal, about a ballerina seeking love and stardom. Interestingly, the author became a Christian during the course of writing this book.
  • Over to Candleford by Flora Thompson, the second in the Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy (audiobook).
  • Amberwell by D. E. Stevenson (audiobook). My first book of hers, but definitely not my last.

I’m currently reading:

Up next, I have these to choose from, plus scores on my Kindle app. I need a reading vacation! 🙂

Blogging

Here are some of the posts from this month:

  • Come, Let Us  Return to the Lord. “Wiersbe says, ‘One of the greatest judgments God can inflict on any people is to let them have their own way.’ Fortunately, God doesn’t give people up easily.”
  • How Do You Know if God Is Displeased with You? A Twitter thread on this question listed a vague uneasiness, a sinking feeling, life not working out right. None mentioned asking Him or going to His Word.
  • Real Life Devotions. We set ourselves up for failure if we wait for the perfect plan, time, or setting.
  • Why Doesn’t God Explain? Maybe because we couldn’t understand if He did. But because we know Him, we can trust Him.
  • Real Life Prayer. “Prayer isn’t a ritual or a performance. It’s a conversation with God.”

Writing

I still haven’t gotten to my WIP (work in progress). But I did submit a devotional and a guest post and am waiting to hear if they are accepted.

I also listened to several webinars and podcasts on writing. I appreciated that the webinars were offered for free to make up for some of the writing conferences that had been canceled. I got a few nuggets from each one. But I am thinking that, for the time spent, reading books might be better for me. With the webinars and podcasts, there’s always a bit of banter and often a rabbit trail or two. The q-and-a webinars were great to submit questions to, but they also covered a little bit of ground on a great many aspects of writing. But a book would present whole topics from start to finish, and I think my particular learning style would benefit from them more. I have several books on writing on my shelf and in my Kindle.

But beyond reading about writing—I need to just write!

Even though summer doesn’t officially start for a few weeks now, June 1 always signals the first of summer to me. Since our children are no longer in school, our schedule doesn’t change much any more between spring and summer. We don’t have any major plans until August, when we hope our oldest will be able to come for his and my birthdays. We’ll see what happens! This is a season of holding plans loosely, for we truly don’t know what  day will bring forth.

How was your May? What are you looking forward to in June?

(Sharing with Let’s Have Coffee, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Global Blogging,
Senior Salon, Hearth and Home, Inspire Me Monday, Tell His Story,
InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies)

End-of-April Reflections

what happened in AprilWell, April has been quite the month, hasn’t it? I’m sure it’s been different for all of us than any other time in our lifetimes.

We were sad to have to cancel our oldest son’s visit here and our usual get-togethers. But we were thankful to see videos of our grandson’s Easter egg hunting and Easter basket unpacking, and then we did a three-way FaceTime with all the family for his birthday. We’ve had a few socially distanced visits with everyone but our oldest, so we’re not as deprived as some. It’s all still not the same as normal, but it could be worse.

Like many of you, I’m caught between knowing we need to reopen businesses and fearing another wave of outbreaks when we do. Our state just released a three-phase plan starting tomorrow. I hope it goes well. My husband and I will probably keep doing what we’re doing and hang back for a bit since we’re in at-risk groups.

So many people have talked about having extra time. I don’t know where mine has gone, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve had any extra on my hands! I have listened to some free writing-related webinars, but other than that and making face masks for the family, I haven’t gotten much extra done.

One of the nicest things about April has been seeing nature come back to life with the lawns greening and flowers and trees blooming.

Family

This birthday for my grandson was supposed to involve a big camp-out. That didn’t happen, but my husband set up his tent in the back yard for a few days. My son and grandson came over and got to explore it. It’s big enough that they were more than six feet from each other inside. We sat in lawn chairs while Timothy “mowed” the grass for us with his toy lawn mower. 🙂

Timothyisms

He learned a knock-knock joke this month:

T- Knock knock
Who’s there?
T- Europe
Europe, who?
T- I’m not a poo!

🙂 He tried to voice-text it to me, but I didn’t get it til his mom wrote it out in a text.

Creating

The only card I made this month was for Timothy’s birthday. I started to incorporate camping since that was the theme for the rest of his birthday. But I had seen variations on this mowing idea on Pinterest and wanted to use it. One of Timothy’s favorite things is when Granddad comes over to mow, and Timothy has turned so many items into imaginary push and riding lawn mowers. So when I saw this idea, I knew I would do it for him some time.

Watching

My husband and I watched an interesting PBS production called The Windemere Children, about Jewish children and young people who were rescued from Nazi prison camps after WWII and taken to an estate in England. Most were orphans, though they had to wait a bit to learn their family members’ fates. Some had only known life in the camps and a “survive any way you can” mentality. The first time baskets of bread were served, they grabbed handfuls and hid them in their rooms. The director said, “Let them. Let them see that here is plenty.” They were taught the English languages and customs and just given time to acclimate before either being adopted or starting to work. That was such a wise thing to do. The program was moving, as was this article about one of the men who was a teen then. The article also contains a photo of the actors with the men they portrayed.

And though it wasn’t planned, we happened to watch a different movie with a variation on the same theme titled Resistance. It’s the story of famous mime Marcel Marceau and his work with the French Resistance, especially in getting Jewish children out of France during the war. It was very good. Unfortunately, there was one brief bedroom scene. For those who like to fast-forward through such, as we do, it comes right after a girl steps out of a shower (she’s not the problem; she’s covered). (Updated to add: the scene is not explicit, no nudity is shown. But I still wish it had not been there. And, of course, this being wartime film, there are a few violent scenes.)

I was trying to find season six and seven of When Calls the Heart to watch while using my exercise bike, but it only seems to be available to rent. So I’ll have to wait on that. Then I saw there was a spinoff called When Hope Calls that was free, but when I looked it up on Amazon Prime, it said it could only be viewed with a Hallmark subscription. I hate when Amazon lists things that you can only get by subscribing elsewhere.

Do you have any recommendations of good clean movies or series on Netflix or Amazon Prime?

Reading

This month I’ve completed (links go back to my reviews):

I’ve collected most of Wiersbe’s “Be” commentaries as they have gone on sale for a dollar or two for the Kindle. But I kept forgetting about them. Finally I remembered to pull them out in conjunction with our church’s Bible reading plan.

I’m currently reading:

  • Over to Candleford by Flora Thompson, the second in the Lark Rise trilogy (audiobook)
  • Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron
  • Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney
  • Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston

Blogging

Besides the Friday’s Fave Fives, book reviews, and occasional Saturday Laudable Linkages, my Monday posts have been applicable not just to the current pandemic, but to living with trials in general:

I also shared some of my favorite songs about Jesus’ death for us and songs to celebrate the resurrection.

Writing

Not much this month except for a devotional and guest post I’m going to send to sites that accept such. I’ve been listening to podcasts and webinars about writing, as I mentioned. Now I just need to get to it.

With April, it seems we’ve turned a corner into full-fledged spring. I love the weather in April and May before the heat of summer starts. I know this May will be a let-down for many with graduations and the usual end-of-school activities canceled. Perhaps our Mother’s Day will have to be as subdued as our Easter was. But we can count our blessings that we’re alive and well. This year will be one we’ll remember just because it was different.

How was your April?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging,
Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story,
InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies, Let’s Have Coffee)

End-of-March Reflections

March daffodilsThis has certainly been a month like no other in my lifetime.

We began by celebrating my husband’s birthday, my son’s first cat, and Pi Day. I enjoyed a long lunch with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a few months.

Then news began to spread about the coronavirus. I’ve run the gamut of emotions since I first heard of it. I think I am pretty settled now … most of the time. When bad news or new concerns arise, I try to remind myself of God’s truth. So far we are doing well. My husband and three sons still have a job and work from home. I breathe a little sigh of relief every time my husband comes home from the store, knowing we’re supplied for the next few days. I pray often that God will accomplish His will through all of this and it won’t last any longer than necessary. I’m an introverted homebody, so being isolated hasn’t bothered me. I hope it’s not harder than usual to get back in the swing of things when the time comes, but we’ll deal with that then.

Family encounters

Humor always helps. We have not felt comfortable getting food out, even with drive-through or delivery services. Some of you who have read here for a while know I love getting dinner out fairly regularly as that’s the only time I feel officially “off.” Instead, now I try to balance easy meals with the more labor-intensive ones. One night after we had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, I told my husband and youngest son, “I’m glad you guys are happy with whatever I make, whether it’s simple or fancy.”

Jesse said, “It’s made with love. That’s all that matters.”

My husband said, “That’s not all that matters….”

Timothyisms

My grandson wanted to do something that required an adult presence, but my daughter-in-law was making dinner. She said something like, “Not right now, honey. You need supervision to do that.”

Timothy said, “But Mommy, I already have that behind my eyes.”

She was confused until she realized he thought she meant super vision.

Another time, I’d had a negative encounter with someone in the store, right at the beginning of the corona virus scare when stores were first emptied of paper products. I inadvertently got in someone’s way, and he told his companion, while looking at me, “I hope she gets the corona virus. I hope she dies from it.” He didn’t seem angry: he said it with a smirk. I was pretty stunned. When my son and daughter-in-law were talking about the situation at home, Timothy asked what they were discussing. They said someone had some something unkind to me and hurt my feelings. So he texted me that he loved me, and then said,” Mommy, you know why I hug Grandma so much? Because I like her. She’s so sweet.”

Another quip: “I want a pet bee so it can be an automatic honey machine.”

And the last one: we had a severe thunderstorm one night. Timothy told us later that it woke him up and he was scared and “lost his dream.” Then he climbed under the covers and felt better.

Creating

The only card I made this month was for my husband’s birthday. He’s received a lot of camping gear as gifts, so I decided to use a camping theme. The Cricut can do so much more than I use it for: I need to just play with it some time and figure some of these things out. I usually just have it cut isolated images. But I was pleased that I finally understood this time how to layer three different ones. This is one of my favorite cards yet.

I also sewed for the first time in a long time. My husband wanted me to make a face mask for him out of camouflage fabric, and thankfully I had a good-sized scrap in my stash.

Writing

Since the calendar has been cleared, and my husband has been doing the grocery shopping, you’d think I’d have all kinds of time on my hands. I’d hoped to have extra time to work on my book, but I seem to have less. I hope to carve some time out this week. I did write a rough draft of a devotional and guest blog post: I hope to polish those off and submit them soon.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I started watching the 2017-2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s really quirky, but interesting. As a family we enjoyed A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It’s not a biopic of Mr. Rogers so much as an account of his relationship with one troubled man. But it’s very good.

We enjoyed watching Spies in Disguise except for a segment showing a man’s bare backside. It was just a cartoon character, but still: the scene should not have been there and should not have dragged on as much as it did, We fast-forwarded through it.

My kids played with Legos even after other toys were laid aside. I’ve enjoyed watching Lego Masters, but no one else in the family has been interested.

I mentioned last month watching Dickensian, but I had to stop when they showed a man’s bare backside as well. I hadn’t thought to check out objectionable elements in this series because it was based on Dickens’ work. I’m mad that this seems to be becoming more commonplace.

Reading

I’ve completed this month:

I’m currently reading:

  • The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  • Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston
  • Lark Rise by Flora Thompson (audiobook)
  • Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron
  • A Portrait of Marguerite by Kate Lloyd

Blogging

Here are some of the posts from this month:

That pretty much wraps up our March. I’ve been delighted to see signs of spring: more daylight, warmer days, budding plants and trees. What a sign of hope for better days to come.

I saw a thought-provoking tweet recently, but I haven’t been able to retrace it because it was from someone I don’t know. But it said something like, “Maybe being huddled in our homes wondering what’s going to happen next is the most Eastery thing we could do this year.” There’s nothing wrong with our modern ways of celebrating Easter, but who knows how the pandemic will affect those plans. This might be an Easter to remember just because it will be different. Maybe a quieter celebration will give us pause to remember the disciples’ agony those three days after their hope was crucified, and their confusion, and then joy, to realize Jesus had been raised from the dead. I hope we’ll realize the impact anew.

How was your March? What are your hopes for Easter?

(Sharing with Shannan, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth, Inspire Me Monday,
Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Tell His Story,
Purposeful Faith, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement,
Worth Beyond Rubies, Let’s Have Coffee)

February Reflections

FebruaryThank you so much for your encouragement and kind comments on last month’s post when I wondered if I should continue my end-of-month wrap-ups. I enjoy doing them, and I am happy to hear you enjoy reading them.

February was a nice mixture of quietness and busyness. We always enjoy Valentine’s Day around here. It has become a tradition to make what we call Meat Hearts for that day’s dinner: Li’l Cheddar Meat Loaves (minus the mustard and with much less sugar) made in heart shapes rather than ovals. And I also make heart-shaped cupcakes from a gluten-free mix. We’ve always made the day about the whole family. Then we enjoyed celebrating my daughter-in-law’s birthday with dinner and cake here one night and then an outing to the Downton Abbey Exhibit at the Biltmore estate last Saturday. Fun!

The weather has been up and down as well: some bitterly cold days, some warmer than usual, many in the 40s. Even though this has not been a severe winter, I’m read for it to be over. Spring is coming!

Timothyisms

I know my grandson’s funny observations are the favorite part of these posts for some of you. But I don’t have anything new this month besides what I already mentioned at the Biltmore visit. I did want to share this funny-to-me picture, though. There’s been much talk of going camping in the spring. So when we watched Timothy a couple of weeks ago during his parents’ date, he wanted to go “pretend camping” with Granddad while I made dinner. They put drinks in a cooler, turned off the living room lights, turned on lanterns, made a pretend fire, had Alexa play forest noises first, then a babbling brook. I mentioned earlier that Timothy was impressed when Granddad got out his real camping pans to cook their toy fish. Timothy had rediscovered a little tent stuffed in a closet that he had played in a lot when he was two or three. He got that out and set it up. He was too big to fit, of course, but otherwise he seemed pretty cozy.

When he got tired of that, he turned it into a port-a-pottie. 🙂

Creating

With Valentine’s Day this month, I spent much of one week in the craft room. I let the Cricut do a lot of the heavy lifting this time for the main images.

This was my husband, Jim’s:

The Cricut even did the writing and the drawing for the lace. I would’ve used more masculine colors, but I was afraid the writing wouldn’t show up on maroon or red cardstock. The background is scrapbooking paper.

This is Jeremy’s:

The fox is a multi-layered sticker. The hearts came from a piece of scrapbooking paper that had several hearts in colors other than pink and red.

This is Jason’s:

I had seen a similar idea on Pinterest and used the Cricut for the musical note. I rummaged through my heart shapes, hoping I had one already the right size, and I was delighted to find this puffy one.

This is Mittu’s, who likes purple:

The “love” and corner decorations are stickers.

This is my grandson, Timothy’s:

And this is Jesse’s:

A similar design on Pinterest caught my eye because he has a black truck. Some of the hearts were stickers, other were cut with punches.

And this was for Mittu’s birthday, as she loves tea:

I ended up getting the cup a bit bigger than I wanted, but by that point I didn’t want to start all over.

Watching

While riding my exercise bike, I finished the Amazon prime series called Home Fires, about the British Women’s Institute during WWII. It ended up being a little soap-operaish, which I didn’t care for. There were a few incidents of people sleeping with people they weren’t supposed to, but nothing explicit was shown. Other than that, it was a good series. I was surprised it ended with a cliffhanger without being renewed. It’s based on a book called Jambusters, which I have not read but which I understand is more like a documentary.

I just started a series called Dickensian. It has Dickens characters all living in the same town and interacting. Marley is still alive and working with Scrooge. Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) has not yet been jilted but has suffered an estrangement from her brother over their father’s will. Fagin and Bill Sikes lurk in the shadows. Little Nell lies sick in The Old Curiosity Shop. Inspector Bucket (Bleak House) investigates a murder. It’s intriguing, though dark: I haven’t seen any of Dickens’ humor yet. (Update: Unfortunately, some nudity was displayed in episode three. I didn’t think to check on that kind of thing because this is Dickens, after all. Argh! So I stopped watching and can’t recommend this after all.)

We haven’t watched any movies together as a family yet, but I want to see It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I will probably have to keep a supply of tissues nearby. Mr. Rogers was about the only TV show we let our kids watch for a long time.

Reading

This month I finished (titles link to my reviews):

I’m currently reading:

  • The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan about the Biltmore House.
  • Be Reverent (Ezekiel): Bowing Before Our Awesome God by Warren Wiersbe
  • Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (audiobook)
  • The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
  • The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs

Blogging

You may have noticed a different url than usual. I just transitioned from the free version of WordPress to the paid, which comes with a free domain name. Unfortunately, just my first and last name plus .com was already taken by a realtor in Charleston. I’ve been thinking about taking this step for some time, both to increase storage space and to get rid of ads. When I couldn’t upload pictures earlier this week because I didn’t have any storage left, I figured it was time. Thankfully links under the old domain name still seem to work.

I’ve thought, off and on, ever since starting this blog of changing the name. Since “Stray Thoughts” isn’t in the domain name, I could easily change it. That’s the only name I could think of when I first started the blog. I keep think I should come up with something more creative. But after 13+ years, maybe it’s better to leave it the same.

At any rate, besides the Friday’s Fave Fives, book reviews, and occasional Saturday Laudable Linkages, February has seen these blog posts here:

Writing

I’ve gotten several good session in with my work-in-progress. I’m about ready to tackle my hardest chapter—hard because I have a lot of information to try to cover in as concise and interesting a way as possible. I’d appreciate your prayers.

And that about wraps up February here. How was yours?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Create, Bake, Grow, and Gather, Global Blogging,
Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Shannan, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement,
Worth Beyond Rubies)

January Reflections

For many years, I thought January was a gloomy month. After the excitement of Christmas, it was sad to take down the lights and decorations and deal with the rest of the cold, dark winter.

Though I still don’t like the cold, darkness, and bare landscape, I do like the respite that January brings. For our family, there are no major events in January after everyone goes back to work. Much as I love all that’s connected with the holidays, I love having January to reset for the new year.

After a bit of resting, I’ve felt almost driven to get a number of tasks done this month. Some were organizational, some involved cleaning and mending. In my early married years, Sandra Felton’s Messies Manual and newsletters helped me reign in a lot of clutter and bad habits. One of her mottoes was “Scratch where it itches”—take care of whatever is bugging you now. That’s how I felt when I saw my bathroom curtains, shower curtains, and bedroom window all desperately needed attention. Why put that off for spring cleaning? It felt good to take care of those things, both in getting them done and having the time to do so (now the rest of the windows will have to wait. 🙂 ).

An added bonus to getting so much done early in the month is that I didn’t have anything I had to do this week beyond the usual laundry, meals, grocery shopping, etc. There’s always stuff that could be done, but I had nothing that had to be done. So I have been able to delve back into my writing. I hadn’t touched the book I am working on since probably early December. I got a few good revising sessions with it this week plus wrote the rough drafts for two potential articles.

I revised my “About Me” section of the blog (I thought I had done that once or twice since 2006, but it didn’t look like it!). I added a Writing page and tab at the top. I’ve also been removing some older, silly posts, like a “What kind of cookie are you?” quiz. I’m working on the latter partly to free up more space: I’m about to max out on the allowable space for a free blog with WordPress. It’s only taken me thirteen years to do so. I am probably going to switch to the paid version soon, both to access more storage and to eliminate the ads that WP puts on free blogs. I don’t think the ads show up as much on a computer, but they are pretty heavy on devices. And one is at the bottom of the email version of the blog posts.

Family

We did have one major event at the beginning of January: my husband and I belatedly celebrated our 40th anniversary with a quick, fun, refreshing get-away to Gatlinburg. We stayed in a cozy lodge and visited the Titanic museum.

We haven’t had many other family doings this month besides eating together once or twice a week, playing games, and chatting. We had a fun FaceTime tour of my oldest son’s new condo after he got settled in and decorated it. My youngest son started a new job in early December and is enjoying it.

Timothyisms

I know for some of you, my little grandson’s sayings are your favorite part of my monthly musings. Unfortunately, I don’t have any written down. I mentioned before that he likes texting, usually gifs and emojis. But now he’s picked up that the iPhone will offer up word prompts. That has led to texts like this:

Thanks 🙏 I the way we are we can yeah hey there are we doing a little shopping 🛒 is

And

Ghffjf us is to much to do so she has the same problem ho I ghosted and my phone 📱

He has also taken to writing us “notes.”

He’s doing well with home school. For one project, they had to make a timeline with key events from his short life illustrated with his drawings. For his birth, he drew a baby in a box. I don’t know if he thought babies arrived, like everything else, in Amazon packages, or if he remembers pictures of himself in the NICU incubator.

Watching

I finished When Calls the Heart while riding my exercise bike, at least all they had. I don’t know when to expect the latest season of it on Netflix. I’ve enjoyed it, even knowing it is different from Janette Oke’s books. I know the faith element isn’t brought out as much in the series as it was in the books, though they do sometimes quote the Bible or spiritual principles or pray. But they’ve also had some “off” sayings: “Follow your heart,” God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” “the man upstairs,” “We’re born under a star. Maybe ours was lucky.”

We all enjoyed the second season of Lost in Space. So good, but so intense! Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to wait a year for new episodes since this season just came out.

I found a delightful four-episode series on Amazon Prime videos called Doctor Thorne, based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Trollope (whom I have never read). It doesn’t have a ground-breaking plot: a young man from an aristocratic family in the 1800s falls in love with a poor girl of questionable birth. The young man is urged by his mother and aunt to “marry money” to save the estate from its debts. It was quite enjoyable and satisfying, even though the ending was predictable. The script was written by Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame, and he introduces and closes each episode. I’m not sure why it was rated TV-14: there’s nothing really objectionable in it, except two characters are alcoholics. One dies after an accident, and there’s blood, but it’s not that traumatic a scene.

I’ve discovered another Amazon prime series called Home Fires, about the British Women’s Institute during WWII. I’m only on the second episode, but it’s good so far.

We enjoyed watching the old animated 101 Dalmatians with all the family.

Reading

So far this year I have completed (titles link to my reviews):

One I finished in December but didn’t get to review til this month was Seasons of the Heart: A Year of Devotions From One Generation to Another compiled by Donna Kelderman. She draws from writings of ladies like Susannah Spurgeon and Frances Ridley Havergal and transforms them into one-page devotionals for the book.

I’m currently reading:

  • Good Tidings of Great Joy: A Collection of Christmas Sermons by Charles Spurgeon
  • Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam
  • The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan about the Biltmore House.
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens (audiobook)

February marks the last Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge . I’ll have the first post for it up on Saturday. (Update: The sign-up post is here.)

Blogging

Besides the updating and book reviews I mentioned earlier and weekly Friday’s Fave Fives, I’ve posted:

I’m a bit conflicted abut whether to continue the end-of-month musings. I enjoy them. But I wonder if they are too much repetition, too much sharing things you’ve already seen. I do include some things not posted before, but a lot of it is recap. I’d love it if you would let me know honestly whether you enjoy these monthly wrap-ups or pass them by.

How has your January been? Let me know in the comments.

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Shannan, InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies)