In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

Goals Met and Set

Filed under: Me,Reading,Writing — Rachel at 4:45 pm on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hey, guys! Long time, no blog. I’ve been blogging, just not here. I post regularly on my writing blog, but have sorely neglected Nothing Gold. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but this particular post is going to be about my New Year’s Resolutions . . . or,  as I prefer to call them, goals . . . from last year and for this upcoming year.

My goals for 2015 were mostly writing related. You can read my post about them here.

They were:

  1. Get Published
  2. Write every day.
  3. Read 100 books in 2015.
  4. Blog frequently.
  5. Network.
  6. Establish a daily writing routine.

 

I had varying degrees of success in completing my 2015 goals. My biggest goal for last year was to get published, and I’m really happy to say I completed that one. I had poems published in five different literary journals, and my serial, Little River, was picked up by two different local papers. You can read more about that at my writing blog.

Goals 2 and 6 weren’t completed, but I did do a lot of writing. I finished my first novel, as well as writing the first volume of my serial and starting on the second volume.

Goal 2 wasn’t completed either, but I’m satisfied with what I did do. I wanted to read 100 books, because that would be a cool accomplishment. I ended up reading 70 books, which I’m quite happy with. I read a lot of really great books, and that amount of reading did a lot to improve my writing.

Goal 4 was an overwhelming failure at Nothing Gold, but I blogged either once or twice a week at my writing blog from it’s inception.

Goal 5 was a success. I did a lot of networking in 2015. I’ve amassed a decent Twitter following, and a less impressive Facebook following (on my FB author page). I made connections with fellow authors through a Twitter pitch contest for writers, and I met several people in real life who have connections in the writing world.

So, all in all, I am pretty pleased with myself for 2015.

 

But . . . now it’s 2016, and time to set my sights on bigger and better things!

My goals for 2016 are:

  1. Sign with a literary agent.
  2. Network.
  3. Complete my second novel.
  4. Continue to promote and grow my serial.
  5. Establish a daily writing routine.
  6. Read 75 books this year.
  7. Establish a daily workout regimen and go to the gym at least four times a week.
  8. Grow in my faith.

Most of them are still writing related as I continue to pursue a career in writing, however the last two are just as important to me. I hope to be able to say at the end of 2016 that I completed most of my goals.

Feel free to share your own goals for 2016 in the comments section!

Lit Babies

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 1:02 pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Anyone that knows me knows I love to read. I love books–all sorts of books. Since having children, I’ve wanted to pass down my bookish nature, and, so far, it’s been an overwhelming success. My three older children enjoy reading, and do it for fun on their own. They are all good readers. Owen, in particular, has tested in the 99th percentile for reading at school, and that gives me great pleasure. The three youngest kids aren’t yet reading fluently enough to comfortably read a chapter book on their own, but they are getting there.

 

I’m a big believer in reading aloud to kids above their reading level, and, since Matt and I got married, that’s become our nightly tradition. I also don’t believe in censoring books (with few exceptions), and will allow the kids to read most anything they want after a certain age. My intent in reading to them is to give them a taste of good writing and good literature and a love of a well-told story, so when they are choosing their own books they will have a more discriminating literary palate.

Chronicles of Narnia

 

Before bedtime, we gather in the girls’ bedroom, and I read to Matt and the four littlest ones. We started out reading the Pippi Longstocking books, then Robinson Crusoe, and now The Chronicles of Narnia. We have read all of the Chronicles except for The Magician’s Nephew, which we are reading now. Since Owen and Abby are with their dad every other week, when we have just Hailey and Logan at home, we read something different to them. We are currently reading The Series of Unfortunate Events. We are on Book the 2nd, The Reptile Room, right now.

If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

Books, Books, Books

Filed under: 100 Books,Me,Reading — Rachel at 2:38 pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I have been reading tons of books lately, and I thought I would share what I’ve read. I like keeping track of what I’ve read, and this blog is a great place to do that. I set the goal to read 100 books this year, and, right now, my goal is 14% complete.

I have read:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Gold by Chris Cleave

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

Glimmer Train Stories #90

I’ll Take  You There by Joyce Carol Oates

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

Tin House: Tribes

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Several people have said to me that they don’t know how I read so many books. First of all, I love to read. Love, love, love it. Secondly, I’m a very fast reader. Having a Kindle app on my phone, though, is probably the real reason I read so many books. I always have my phone on me, so I can tap up my book anytime I have a few minutes to read. Whether I’m sitting in the car line, waiting at a kid’s ball practice, or just have free time, it’s easy to spend the time reading instead of doing nothing. I don’t watch a lot of t.v., so I read instead. I also tend to read on my phone in bed at night after Matt goes to sleep.  When I’m doing chores or straightening my hair, I listen to an audio version of a book on my phone. This takes about five times as long to get through a book than if I was reading it myself, but it makes chores a lot more enjoyable. When people say they don’t have time to read, I just don’t believe them.

The book that I enjoyed most of the fourteen I’ve read so far this year is “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved everything about this book, and I was genuinely sad when it ended. It was a long book, but not nearly long enough. I wanted to know so much more. Since then, I read “The Bean Trees”, also by Kingsolver, and I am currently reading “Pigs in Heaven”, also written by her. I’m on a Barbara Kingsolver binge, and I will happily read everything she has ever written if they are all as enjoyable as what I’ve read so far. I have a copy of “The Poisonwood Bible”, but I’ve been waiting for it to be available in Kindle edition from my library because it’s so much easier for me to read a Kindle book lately, because of the aforementioned reasons.

I also really enjoyed “Gold” by Chris Cleave (author of “Little Bee”) and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman.

One of the things I love about reading fiction is the way I can absorb new information about subjects I never would have thought to be interested in before. The discussion of ecology and predators and insects in “Prodigal Summer” was captivating, and I learned so much about the history of the Dominican Republic in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz. I’m most likely not going to read a book dedicated to any of those topics (well, maybe I would read a book about ecology), but, if you wrap it up in fiction, I will swallow it whole.

What is the best book you have read recently?

 

What I’ve Been Reading

Filed under: Reading — Rachel at 3:58 pm on Sunday, December 14, 2014

This post is imply a list of books I’ve read recently, because I like to look back sometimes and remember what I read.

1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

8. The Giver

9. Gathering Blue

10. Messenger

11. Son

12. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

13. 1984

 

What’s New?

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading,School — Rachel at 11:20 am on Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things are going well and we are very busy around our house. We’ve got so much going on all the time. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was still in school. I know we could have made it work and got everything done that needed done, but I can only assume that Matthew and I would be running ourselves ragged.

The kids’ activities keep us very busy. I’m really glad that they are able to participate in things that make them happy, and I’m thankful that I have more time now to be involved as well.

Kyra is running for Homecoming Queen at her middle school, so we’ve been busy trying to raise money for that. We’ve sold donuts, and Kyra, Brianne (her stepmom), and Mammy (my mom) have made hairbows in the school colors to sell. The three little kids got in on helping sell the hairbows at Elijah’s football games. We were all getting cracked up at Logan last Saturday. He was carrying a ribbon full of hairbows around, selling them with sheer cuteness. I think he sold seven bows. The three of them even managed to sell a bow to Papaw John! Kyra is also still taking piano lessons, and is working on a classical piece for her recital that’s coming up. After her first report card, she had all A’s except for one B. I’m really proud of her grades. Every time she gets an A in Math, I do a little victory dance in my head!

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Elijah is playing football, and he has practice three times a week and games on Saturday. This boy loves nothing more in life than to play football. He’s doing so very well this year, despite being one of the smallest boys on the team. He plays hard every game, and really puts his heart into it. During his last game, he got a fumble recovery, some tackles, and he almost sacked the quarterback…he hit him right as he was throwing the ball, forcing an interception. It was so funny watching him come off the field after that. Elijah doesn’t get excited over much of anything, and was still all business coming off the field. His coach picked him up and bear hugged him. After the game, Elijah was trying to keep his game face on and not smile, but, when I told him  I bet he had just won himself the defensive player of the week medal, he grinned really big. I tried to snap a picture of him smiling, but he ran away. I gave my phone to my mom to take a picture, and I grabbed him and tried to hold him still. He was trying to get away, but you can see his happy spilling out anyway.

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Monday at practice, I went to pick him up, and I was so excited, watching from the van, when I saw the coach give Elijah the medal he had been working hard to earn since the beginning of the season. I admit, when his team started clapping for him and one of his teammates slapped him on the back, I teared up. I was just so happy for him.

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Along with football, Elijah is also doing two after school classes, one of which is Dodge Ball. Spending an hour playing Dodge Ball after school on one of the days he doesn’t have football practice is good for him. Otherwise, he has entirely too much energy! Elijah is also an honor student, and got all A’s and B’s on his first report card. Of the two B’s he got, he was one point away from an A for both of them. I’m really proud of him!

Owen doesn’t stay as busy as his big brother, because he’s not really into sports. He played football one year, but wasn’t a fan. He is taking an after school class, though. Like Elijah, Owen is doing Dodge Ball every Wednesday. Yesterday was their first day doing it, and he really enjoyed it. A few weeks ago, the elementary school had Open House, and I was so pleased after speaking with Owen’s teacher. She just gushed about him. He looked a little embarrassed while we talked, standing there with his hands shoved in his pockets, not saying a word. His teacher said he was an excellent student, he was very quiet and obedient in class, and she said he was very sweet. I was actually kind of surprised. I would have expected to hear that he goofs off and talks when he isn’t supposed to, because Owen is our resident comedian. He is always being silly and making everyone laugh. I guess he knows when to be silly and when to be serious. So good on him! I was over the moon, though, when she showed me his TCAP scores for reading. My boy is in the 99th percentile for reading. In case you don’t know what that means, let me brag on my boy. That score means that Owen reads better than 99% of kids his age in the whole country! I was so proud of him!

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Hailey hasn’t been involved in extracurricular activities since she finished her baseball season this past spring, but she’s gearing up to be a little busier now. She is also taking an after school class. Yesterday was her first day of ballet class. Mammy told her the other day that we were going to get to see just how graceful Hailey Grace is. I was cracking up yesterday when Hailey was showing me in the kitchen what she had learned in ballet. Hailey is on a waiting list with Kyra’s piano teacher for a spot to take piano lessons from her. I’m really hoping that will open up soon. Hailey loves sitting down and playing around on the piano, so I would really like to see her get to start lessons soon. She’s also thinking about playing basketball this year, so, if she does, that will be starting up soon. The thing I am most proud of her for right now is all of her progress in reading since the school year started. Hailey has more homework than the rest of the kids combined. Apparently, first grade is serious business. At the beginning of the year, she was really struggling to read, but she’s doing so great right now. I work with her every day after school. She has developed a really good work ethic when it comes to homework, and she comes home every day, sits down with me, and we get it done. She reads each one of her stories to me twice, and she’s really doing the work to get better at it. At Open House, her teacher had lots of good things to say about her, and Hailey obviously loves her teacher and her class.  She’s got several friends at school, and is really doing great at her new school this year.

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Me and Hailey reading before bed.

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Our silly girl with her homework.

Abby is loving school! She was so excited for it to start, and she’s learning so much. Unlike Logan, Abby didn’t go to pre-school, so she’s learning everything for the first time in Kindergarten. I’ve struggled with feeling really bad that I didn’t have the time to work with her more. Especially since I homeschooled the first three and was so involved in teaching them the basics. So, even though it’s just Kindergarten, I feel like we’re already playing catch up. Besides homework, we’re doing a lot of other work with sight words, letters, numbers, and flash cards. Abby is super smart, so I know she will catch up to Logan soon. Socially, she’s doing great, too. She’s got some little friends at school, and also has decided she has crushes on two different little boys. She cracks me up talking about them! She also, apparently, goes by Abigail at school. The school doesn’t offer any after school classes for Kindergarteners this year, so Abby doesn’t have any extracurricular activities. She spends most of her free time playing with her siblings.

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Abby on her first day of Kindergarten.

Logan is doing fantastic in school. His teacher gushed about him at Open House. She even mentioned that she thinks he might be gifted. He definitely went to a fantastic preschool, thanks to Matt, so he is ahead of the curve when it comes to Kindergarten. He has one especially good buddy at school, and we got to meet the little boy’s parents at Open House. Apparently, he talks about Logan as much as Logan talks about him. Like Abby, Logan doesn’t have any after school classes available to him this year, so he’s pretty much just chillin’ at home after school. He keeps himself busy drawing, coloring and playing with his brothers and sisters. They’re all a bit obsessed with Club Penguin lately. It’s kind of funny to me when the younger kids bring back the things that the older kids were really into a few years ago.

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He had just said, “Rachel! Look at me! I’m a ninja robot!”

As far as Matthew and I go, we are mostly busy being parents. We do make a conscious effort to spend time alone together, though. Matt has been working from home on Fridays, which I absolutely love. It’s so nice to be home with him, just me and him. We’ve also had several date nights recently. We’ve done everything from a simple dinner out to a pre-season NFL game. We’ve went and looked at several properties, as we are wanting to find some land to build our dream house on. We’ve also spent a lot of time lately cuddled up on the couch watching football. (I must admit, though, that I have a propensity to cuddle up with the intention of watching football and falling asleep on him instead.)

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At a Cincinatti game!

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A quick ice cream date!

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On our way to drop the kids off in Matt’s sexy truck! 🙂

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At my nephew’s birthday party.

So, that’s all the latest for our crew. We are busy all the time, just enjoying being a family.I have a feeling that it’s only going to get better, too.

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More Summer Reading

Filed under: Reading — Rachel at 5:30 am on Friday, September 12, 2014

I wrote an earlier post about my Summer Reading, and I thought I would write another post and share what books I’ve read in the two months since then.

I mentioned Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Every Day Life in my last post, but I wasn’t finished reading it. I did finish it, and enjoyed it a lot.

After that, I read Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back by Frank Schaeffer. I really, really loved this memoir. It was so interesting to me. This guy helped create the religious culture that I was raised in. Like me, as he grew up and learned and changed, he left fundamentalism behind. Of course, he did it a couple decades before I did, and he had a lot more to lose than I did. I found the book fascinating and inspiring. I recommend it, for sure. Especially if you have ever had anything to do with super conservative fundamentalism or evangelicalism.

As soon as I had read Crazy for God, I had to read Schaeffer’s most recent book, Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty, and Find Peace. I was not disappointed. I follow Schaeffer on Twitter, and had seen a lot of publicity about this book, but I hadn’t had a real strong desire to read it until after I read Crazy for God. I think I expected it to be one thing, but it turned out to be so much more. I found it unbelievably moving and inspiring.After finishing the book, I tweeted, “I’m filled with an ache and a longing tonight that I am pretty sure is not of this world. I struggle to want to seek; yet Longing finds me.” If a book can make me feel like that, I definitely think it’s worth your time.

I didn’t read much for a couple week with our vacation and school starting, but then I got into an intriguing fictional series of books. While I absolutely love reading fiction, I don’t normally read this genre of books, but I loved the Long Beach Homicide series by Tyler Dilts. I burned through the three books, and I really hope there are more coming in the series. The second and third were better than the first, in my opinion, but they were all good. I actually got book three for free, not realizing it was the third in the series, and so I read it first and then the preceding two books. Even reading them out of order, they were great. 4 stars!

 

 

I’ve really enjoyed all the time I’ve had to read this summer. I feel more like myself when I have the time to get lost in a good book!

My Summer Reading

Filed under: Reading — Rachel at 10:46 pm on Sunday, July 13, 2014

One of the best parts of this summer for me has been all the free time I’ve had to read. I’m so thankful that Matt works so hard to provide for us and I have got to spend the summer not working. I worked so much the last two summers that I really didn’t get to do a lot of things that I wanted to do. This summer has definitely been different.

I thought I would share what I’ve read so far. You can click on any of the pictures to read a description of the books. I have to say, I’ve enjoyed all of them.

These three books in the Divergent trilogy were recommended to me by my daughter. I actually bought her the first book for Christmas, after seeing the trailer for the movie. She became quite obsessed with them, and insisted that I read them. They were very good, and it was very nice to read fiction after the rigor of nursing school.

Misery has been sitting on my shelf, waiting for school to be over so I had time to read it. It has been on my list of books to read since I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir last summer. He wrote about writing the book, and I couldn’t wait to read it. It did not disappoint. I had seen the movie when I was a teenager, but had forgot all but the highlights. I really enjoyed reading this one.

I have read Kelle Hampton’s blog, Enjoying the Small , for years, since right after her daughter was born and she blogged about her birth story. Bloom was about her journey from having a baby unexpectedly born with Down Syndrome to reaching a place of acceptance and appreciation of her daughter and all that made her wonderful. Very good book!

The book that has had the most impact on me so far, though, is The Happiness Project. It has made me totally reevaluate my thoughts and attitudes toward my own happiness. Being raised in a fundamentalist church, I heard over and over that I don’t deserve to be happy, and that happiness shouldn’t be our main concern. I’m starting to think that I have had a very warped understanding of the importance of my own happiness, and this book has inspired me to focus more on understanding what makes me happy and why. I highly recommend this book to everyone. The author, Gretchen Rubin, also has a blog that is a very interesting read. Check it out.

I am currently reading her second book about happiness, titled, Happier at Home. So far, I’m enjoying it as well. She’s a very intelligent writer, and I appreciate all of the scientific tidbits and historical quotes that she inserts into her narrative.

 

 

After a trip to the used bookstore yesterday, I have several other books that I am hoping to be able to read before I start back to school. I’m really excited about them.

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I know I’m a total book nerd, but I absolutely love reading.

What are you guys reading? Let me know in the comments!

I’m Still Alive!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 10:36 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last blogged. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. I’ve thought several times that I would like to blog, but I just never made the time to do it. Tonight’s the night, though.

Everyone loves an update post with bullet points, right? Right. Here goes…

  • Me: Life has been going very, very well for me. Almost seven months ago, I met a wonderful man. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was awfully darn close. Matthew has been the most wonderful gift to me.MattRach He is my best friend, my confidant, my cheering section, and…in less than two months…he will be my husband.       I cannot express how thankful I am for his presence in my life. He has two beautiful children, Hailey and Logan, and I am very happy to add them to my little brood. We are looking forward to blending our families and finding out what God has in store for the whole lot of us.
    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    The kids all get along very well, and are happy to be step-siblings soon. Something that I think is really super cool: Abby and Logan were born on the same day. I always wanted twins. In fact, I prayed for them every time I was pregnant. So I think it’s really neat that I have pseudo-twins now! We call them step-twins.

    Ring

    The gorgeous ring Matthew gave me!

  • My relationship with Matthew has definitely been the highlight of my life recently, but I have also been doing nursing school. I’ve done really well so far this semester. All A’s and B’s. However, I have a Med/Surg test on Monday that has me shaking in my boots. I’m really nervous about it, but I’m studying like crazy. Hopefully, it will go ok. The high point of this semester was on my first day of my OB clinical rotation. I got to assist in the delivery of a baby. We were only supposed to observe, but this baby was born super fast, so I got to help. The doctor didn’t even make it until after the baby was born. It was really very cool. I was riding high for the rest of the day. I think, if I work in a hospital, I would enjoy Labor and Delivery.
  • Kyra: My eldest has had a great year so far. She’s 11 and in sixth grade, and has excelled in middle school. She is really coming into her own in a lot of ways. She makes all A’s and B’s at school, she played junior varsity basketball this school year, and she was asked to be the sixth grade representative for the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Committee (or something like that) by the principal. She has also discovered a hobby that she excels at. She is an Instagram addict. She is a little bit Disney obsessed, but she has turned her love of all things Disney into an Instagram account with over 2000 followers. She creates edits with Disney themes that there is apparently a niche fan base for who hang on her every post. If you (or more likely your kids) want to look her up, she is @epicdisneylover on Instagram. I am actually quite proud of her. We’ve talked about her someday using her talents in graphic design or something similar. Her teachers have taken note of her talent, as well. Her Social Studies teacher commissioned her to create posters that went along with the units he was teaching, and her principal asked her to design a tee shirt for the school’s annual Turkey Trot. It was really cool to see all of the middle schoolers wearing a t-shirt that my daughter designed. I’m very proud of my girl! She’s also a big time reader, and has really enjoyed the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, recently. Kyra
  • Elijah: My first March baby just had a birthday. He is ten now, and has grown so much. He, too, does very well in school. He is in the fourth grade, and he gets all A’s and B’s. He seems so much older to me over the last few months. He’s went from playing with toys and make believe to shooting a bow, building things, spending endless hours playing minecraft, and reading books that make this bibliophile mama very happy (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc.). He’s not quite all grown up yet, though. He is still a very silly and very hyper little boy that drives me batty sometimes. I have to admit, I kind of miss football season when they ran all his energy out of him three days a week at practice. I’ve really enjoyed watching him interact with Matt’s children over the last few months. Especially with Logan. I’ve witnessed some really sweet moments between the two of them. I think he’s going to like having a little brother who’s quite a bit (five years) younger than him. He’s a good boy, and I’m awfully proud of him. ElijahFootball

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

  • Owen: Owen is seven, in second grade, and has very few teeth left in his little, blond head. He is such a sweetheart. He’s still young enough that he comes to snuggle with me, insists on being tucked in every night with extra hugs and kisses, and wants to be loved on when he gets hurt. He’s also very, very rotten! He is my little comedian. Everything is a joke to Owen, and he is getting funnier and funnier all the time. The more sophisticated his vocabulary becomes, the more amusing he gets. I’ve laughed at his one-liners so much lately. He’s a gift. Like his older siblings, he does very well in school. He especially excels at reading. He’s pretty advanced in his reading ability, and he has burned through The Magic Treehouse books this year. His teacher has had nothing but praise for him in the reading category. Owen is loving having Logan around. I think the idea of having a little brother has made him pretty happy. It helps that Logan thinks Owen is all that. Owen
  • Abby Jo: Abby is still my little ray of sunshine. She is so obviously my baby. She just turned five, and she is a joy. She is incredibly intelligent, extremely precocious, and she keeps us on our toes. She has decided she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, but just until she is “a big enough age to be the president”. She told that to my aunt the other day, and then followed it by asking “will you vote for me?” and then “and will you ask all your friends to vote for me?” She’s a mess!  I’ve loved encouraging her to explore and create. She’s really enjoyed some toys called Goldieblox, which are engineering toys for girls. She builds little machines with them. She’s been kind of accident prone lately. She may or may not have gotten that trait from her mother.
    Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

        Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    She has been quite taken with Matt’s dad. I’ve tried to convince her to call him “Papaw John”, but she insists on calling him “Santa Claus”, because he was wearing a Santa hat when she first met him at Christmas. She adores him.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    She’s looking forward to starting school next Fall. Part of me is sad that it seems like she’s growing up so quickly, but the other part of me is just thrilled with how awesome she is. And it just gets better the older she gets!

In other news, Amy and her kids recently moved out and got their own place in Knoxville. So, now I’m in the process of getting the house ready for Matt and his kids to move in with us after we get married. This involves a lot of sorting and purging. That will be followed by painting and remodeling and moving children around. And, of course, moving all of his stuff. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am just thrilled at the prospect. Matt and his dad have been building a swingset for the kids in the backyard. He and I have been dreaming of lots of projects that we want to do. I’m excited!

Brothers playing at the park.

Brothers playing at the park.

My four monkeys!

My four monkeys!

Wedding plans have kept me busy, and, the closer we get to the big day…May 24…the more excited I get. I’m just so happy. I can’t wait for the semester to be over so I can concentrate on the little details of our wedding day. And after that comes…summer! I honestly haven’t looked forward to anything like I’m looking forward to this summer in a very long time. I am not going to work this summer, so I get to stay home with all the kids. I’ve been having a good time thinking of all the stuff we can do. I can’t wait to be Matthew’s wife and have all eight of us under the same roof!

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Matt and the Step-Twins. :)

Matt and the Step-Twins. 🙂

So, we’re still alive and well. Just plugging along through our school year. I don’t know if it will be another four months before I blog again, but I’ll eventually be back with another update, at least. Because, even when I don’t blog often, I like to at least update with the highlights. It’s nice to have this record to be able to go back and see what we were doing at a certain point in time. That is, after all, the reason I started this blog. Until next time!

In Celebration of Books: A Giveaway

Filed under: 100 Books,General,Great Reads,Reading — Rachel at 3:27 pm on Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last year was a breathtaking voyage of words for me. I read 72 books just for the pleasure of reading them, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I have read 29 novels, 14 memoirs, 13 theology books, 3 biographies, and the remaining 13 were various topical, non-fiction books.

My favorite novels? “The Help”, “Little Bee”, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”, “Lolita”, “Stern Men”, and “The Gravedigger’s Daughter”

My favorite memoirs? “Eat, Pray, Love” “Higher Ground” and “Committed”

My favorite theology? “Adopted for Life”, “The Canon of Scripture” and “A Feminist Introduction to Paul”

I thought about trying again in 2012 to read 100 books, but I decided against it. I want to focus on writing words instead of reading massive amounts of them. Oh, I’ll still read lots. I always have and I always will. Just not at such a breakneck rate. If it weren’t for taking five classes during the spring semester, I think I might have actually read 100 books. I guess I’ll never know.

To celebrate 72 books read and an infinite selection of wonderful books ahead of me, I’m having a giveaway. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me the title of your favorite book, and I’ll put your name in the hat. Additionally, if you read any of the books I reviewed after I reviewed it, tell me the title (titles if you read more than one) and I will put your name in again.

What’s the prize? A book, of course! What else? If you win, you can choose between any of the books that I reviewed that I actually own a hard copy of. Obviously, I can’t give away Kindle books or library books. Here is a picture of some of the books that are up for grabs. If you want to read one that isn’t here (these were just the books I had handy), let me know and it’s yours if I have it. Also, if you are the winner and you read a book that I reviewed, I will send you two books of your choice.

Ok? Ok.

Even if you aren’t particularly thrilled with this giveaway, please leave a comment. I’d really love to know who’s reading. It’s extra motivation for a year of more frequent blogging.

That is the end of the part of the post about the giveaway. Feel free to stop reading now. For those who are interested, though, I’m posting a numerical list of the titles of all the books I read this year.

~~

1. Radical by David Platt

2. The Darkest Child: A Novel by Delores Phillips

3. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

4. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

5. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

6. Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell D. Moore

7. Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

8. The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives by Ravi Zacharias

9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

11. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

12. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

13. Spiritual Parenting: An Awakening for Today’s Families by Michelle Anthony.

14. Gray Matter by David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick

15. A Taste of Heaven by R.C. Sproul

16. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

17. Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus by D.A. Carson

18. Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall & Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent

19. Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness and Mythconceptions Throughout The Ages by Leland Gregory

20. I Quit: Stop Thinking Everything is Fine and Change Your Life by Geri Scazzero

21. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary

22. Naomi and Her Daughters by Walter Wangerin Jr.

23. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

26. The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

27. What Is The Gospel? By Greg Gilbert

28. Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola & George Barna

29. The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom S. Rainer & Jess Rainer

30. A Feminist Introduction to Paul by Sandra Hack Polaski

31. The Canon of Scripture by F. F. Bruce

32. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper

33. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

34. Affirming the Apostles Creed by J. I. Packer

35. Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner

36. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

37. Souvenirs of Solitude: Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace by Brendan Manning

38. Ya-Ya’s in Bloom by Rebecca Wells

39. Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison

40. One Small Boat: The Story of a Little Girl, Lost Then Found by Kathy Harrison

41. Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell Moore

42. Lucky: A Memoir by Alice Sebold

43. Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

44. The Little Known by Janice Daugharty

45. Hope for the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed by Gary Chapman

47. Unplanned by Abby Johnson

49. Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates

51. Higher Ground: A Memoir of Salvation Found Then Lost by Carolyn S. Briggs

52. Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert

53. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

54. St. Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton

55. Living Close to God: When You’re Not Good At It by Gene Edwards

56. In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair Ferguson

57. A Fair Maiden by Joyce Carol Oates

58. The Land of Elyon #1: The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

59. Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates

60. A Mended and Broken Heart: The Life and Love of St. Francis of Assisi by Wendy Murray

61. Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates

62. The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi by Brother Ugolino

63. The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion

64. The Land of Elyon Book #2: Beyond the Valley of Thorns by Patrick Carman

65. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert

66. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

67. Zombie: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates

68. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather

69. First Love by Joyce Carol Oates

70. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

71. The View From a Monastery by Brother Benet Tvedten

72. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Kids and Books

Filed under: Kids,Quotes,Reading — Rachel at 4:36 am on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I want to have a bit of a discussion here if anyone is game. My nine year old daughter is a voracious reader, and I want to do everything I can to encourage that. So far, we’ve not had very many issues with her or Elijah wanting to read books that I don’t want them to read.
The only instances of that have been “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books and “Big Nate”. I told them I don’t want them to read them. Not because they’re “bad” books, but because I don’t like the name-calling in them. Kids my kids’ ages are already prone to name-calling and making fun of each other, and I don’t want to reinforce that by reading books that seem to put an emphasis on calling people “morons” etc. I just don’t like rude kids. At all. So, that’s just a small thing, and I think I’m probably in the minority with it. I don’t like the “gross out” books that appeal to boys, but I wouldn’t tell Elijah he couldn’t read one if gross was the only issue. I can handle gross a lot better than rude. I would rather him read something with a little more substance, but I don’t want to put so many rules on reading that it takes the excitement out of it.
Another thing that hasn’t come up yet but that I have already made my mind up about is “Harry Potter”, “Twilight”, and other books about witchcraft, vampires, etc. I’m not into that. I don’t like it. I don’t want my kids to have a positive opinion of such things. I believe witchcraft is both real and wrong. I don’t want it glamorized for my kids. There will probably be a time when I lift that restriction and let my (older) children make their own choices about that genre of books, but it won’t be anytime soon.
So, besides rude and witchcraft, I’ve pretty much let them read whatever appeals to them. I’ve felt like those few restraints were pretty reasonable for nine and seven year olds. However, the other day, I came upon this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“I am a product […of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.”

This quote has really got me thinking. If a man like C.S. Lewis is the product of unrestricted access to any book he cared to read…well, I wouldn’t mind one of my children being the next C.S. Lewis. At the same time, I don’t think C.S. Lewis was wading through piles of asinine children’s books in his father’s library. Also, it was his father’s library and not the public library that he mentions, so I guess that implies a sort of screening of the books. Only the books his parents were okay with made it into the home, right?

So what do you guys think? I know that my readers come from lots of different places and viewpoints. What is important to you in regards to what your children read? Is it carefully pre-screened at your house or anything goes? Are there any topics that are taboo? Is there an age you have in your mind where you will give the kids the reins in the book selection process? Please share. I really want to get lots of comments and lots of points of view.

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