My Non-fiction Reading in 2014 (July through December)

I set the goal at the beginning of 2014 to read 12 non-fiction books for this year.  You can check out my list from the first half of the year here.

non-fiction reading in 2014

Just like with read-alouds, I really did not get to as much non-fiction reading in the second half of the year as the first half.  I have a few books I am still in the middle of reading as well.

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom was a book I wanted to like.  I read a review of it and thought I would enjoy it.  It’s the story of a mom who didn’t originally want to be a mom and shares her journey.  It’s written in a flowing, non-complete sentences, artsy kind of way.  Sometimes, I would get lost in her wording.  Also, I just couldn’t get into her story because I am so different from her.  I did appreciate her sharing about the difficulties of motherhood and how she prayed over her children, but I really had to force myself to finish this book.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands is a really great book.  I appreciated her practical, biblical advice for decision making as well as being aware of the “best yes” opportunities each day.  I plan to re-read this book in January and hope to find someone who wants to read it and discuss it with me.

So, I read 9 books in the first half of the year and finished 2 books in the second half.  Here are books I am still in the process of reading.

What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith is a really excellent book by David Jeremiah about fears Christians face.  Each chapter is packed with biblical examples as well as stories from other Christians’ lives.  Instead of just saying, “you shouldn’t fear” something, he shows how God works even in the midst of whatever thing is scaring you.  Fear of Serious Illness?  He talks about his own story of facing cancer, how God used Paul’s infirmities, and how God often seems the closest even in the midst of facing a serious illness.  I could relate to this chapter since I faced thyroid cancer over four year ago.  There are chapters on disaster, disease, debt defeat, disconnection, disapproval, danger, depression, death, and deity (the fear of God).  I have only gotten through half of this book even though I started it in January.  I got the Kindle version for free but really wish I had the paper version since I would have underlined and referenced many parts of it.  I am keeping an eye out for a used copy of it, but in the meantime, I’m still slowly reading through it on my Kindle.

The Question: Teaching Your Child the Essentials of Classical Education is the second book by Leigh Bortins about Classical Education.  I loved The Core and just haven’t finished The Question yet.  It’s a great book, and I will finish it in the next few months.

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning is another book I am still working through.  I hope to finish it in the coming months and will share about it then.  The Kindle version is only $2.99 right now if you are interested.  The hard-cover book has glossy pages and isn’t easy to write notes in it so I think the Kindle or physical book would work about the same.

Even though I didn’t meet my goal of 12 books, I’m thankful that I made the goal for the year and have enjoyed reading so many great books.

I thought I would share my favorites of the year:

About Marriage: The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference which I shared about here.

About Priorities and Life:  Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life – I have mentioned this book in a number of places this year, but here’s my biggest review of it.

What are your favorite non-fiction books this year?  

This post contains affiliate links.  

Reading Aloud in 2014 (July through December)

My goal for 2014 was to read aloud at least 12 chapter books to my children.  My first half of the year reading, I shared here.

Reading Aloud is 2014 (July to December)

The second half of the year, I definitely had more challenges to completing reading.  From adding Essentials to our workload to Isaiah’s increased work to Gideon’s tonsilectomy, I didn’t get in as much as I wanted.

Here is what we got done in the second half of the year:

More Stories from Grandma’s Attic is actually one we had started maybe a year ago.  While we traveled on our road trip, I read the kids one story a night to get them to wind down in the hotels.  I was glad to have a book along for this purpose.

The Sign of the Beaver was a much-needed, fun read-aloud as a family.  We enjoyed reading it in just a few days.  During a tough week of homeschooling, I pulled this book off the shelf and loved the special time following Matt’s adventures out on his own.

Treasures of the Snow is a beautiful story of two children’s ongoing feud and overcoming bitterness through the Lord’s strength.  I mentioned it in my Christmas book post and am glad we got a chance to read Lucien and Annette’s story again this year.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was recommended to us by a reader (and friend).  What a delightful story!  The Heardmans helped us look at the Christmas story with fresh eyes and led to great discussions about reaching those who don’t know the gospel with the good news of Jesus.

Part of my problem with getting reading down this fall was that I didn’t always make the best pick for books.  We actually abandoned two books this year in the middle of reading.  (gasp!)  I wish I had been more decisive and abandoned them sooner.

Christopher Columbus: Across The Ocean Sea is a great book from the Heroes of History series.  We abandoned it though because Ruth and Elijah both had read more than 5 book about Columbus and just were not very interested.  I think if we were to read it again when we weren’t in the middle of so many other Columbus books we would have been into the story more.  Normally, my children are begging me for another chapter, but because we already knew what was going to happen, they kept forgetting about the book.

The American Twins of the Revolution was a book I really wanted to like.  It was about a general’s wife and children hiding gold from the British to pay to the American troops.  The setting is local to our area, and I thought we would enjoy the story.  I struggled to read the dialectic of the slaves in the story.  In fact, the kids kept laughing at my pronunciation and weren’t able to understand what I was saying.  This made for slow reading, but we kept plugging along.  We finally abandoned the book based on how the book portrayed the slaves.  First of all, most of the book calls them servants with only one reference to the fact they were slaves.  Then, the book portrayed the slaves as unintelligent, fearful, and totally dependent on the general’s wife for any and all direction.  It got bad enough that I just stopped reading and talked to the kids about what I didn’t like.  This book is part of a large “twin” series with many free for Kindle on Amazon.  I don’t know what the rest of the series is like, but I wanted to mention this in case you had read any of them.

I am thankful that I was able to get 14 books read aloud for this year.  We have such fun experiencing books together.  Setting this goal was definitely a great move for me.

Do you have any favorite read alouds from this year?  Have you ever abandoned a read aloud in your family?

My Non-fiction Reading in 2014 (Part 1)

This year (for the first time), I set goals for myself.  One of them was to make a conscious effort to read more non-fiction books.  Since it was my first year setting this goal, I wanted to make it reasonable.  I decided to set the goal of reading 12 non-fiction books in the year.  I’m well on my way to reaching this goal and thought I’d share my reading list for the first half of the year.  The picture doesn’t include Kindle books or library books so keep reading for the whole list.

my non-fiction reading 2014 part 1

By the way, if you are interested in reading a little bit about my first year’s goal-setting, you can find it here.

Before January 1, I made a stack of 12 books on my shelf that I wanted to read, but I decided (from the beginning) that I could swap out books if I wanted.  This way, I wouldn’t feel guilty about not getting to a certain book or could find new books that interested me.

So, here is what I have finished so far this year (in no particular order):

  • Eat That Frog! was the first I read this year and is about not procrastinating.  We still use the expression “eat that frog” in our house, but you can read more of my thoughts here if you are interested.
  • Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight is a book on planning your day, organizing, and also just remembering what season God has placed you in.  It’s another book about using your moments wisely.  I absolutely loved getting to hear Heidi St. John in person at CHAP this year, and she writes just like she speaks.  She’s very real, straight-forward, and encouraging.
  • The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages is a great marriage book with lots of little tips in it.  The book often talks about research from having surveyed people who said they had highly happy marriages.  Even if you don’t like statistics or reading about the research, there are lots of great ideas about little things that make a big difference.  I bought this book as a bridal shower present and think I’ll do that again.  I really enjoyed being reminded of things Seth and I do in our marriage and hearing other people’s ideas of what makes a happy marriage.  The idea of being intentional really comes up in lots of books, this one included.
  • The Love Dare was a free kindle book one day, and I’m glad I read it.  I didn’t find it earth-shattering, but enjoyed working through the book.  I worked through some of  The Love Dare for Parents, but it was so similar to The Love Dare that I didn’t make it all the way through.  I think I’ll come back to it again when The Love Dare isn’t so fresh in my mind.  I enjoyed the movie Fireproof where this book came from so I wanted to read it.
  • The Antelope in the Living Room is a laugh-out-loud-with-tears-rolling-down-my-face book about the real life of a married couple.  I couldn’t relate to everything this couple faced, but it sure made me laugh (and even laugh over some of the silly things Seth and I had conflicts over when we first got married).  A dear friend of mine (and my maid of honor) mailed this book to me out of the blue, and I’m so glad she did.  I have read parts of this out loud to Seth, re-read parts, and will read it again.  It’s good to put time and perspective on what it takes for “two people to share one life”.
  • The Core is a book about classical education (particularly in the young years) by the founder of Classical Conversations.  We love CC for our family, and this book is always an encouragement to read about implementing all of the learning at home.  This is my second time reading it.  Two concepts stood out this time through.  The first is her assumption that we will “read good books, have good discussions, and visit interesting places.”  Aside from anything else we do, this sentence struck me as exactly the lifestyle of learning that Seth and I try to have with our children.  The second big concept for me was her idea of reading at or below grade level when a child is reading to learn.  This actually is something I have done with the kids and know it helps them to learn, but I couldn’t have quantified what I was doing before noticing it mentioned in The Core.
  • Up from Slavery is an autobiography by Booker T. Washington.  I really did not know anything about him or his work in Tuskegee until I read this.  At first, I struggled through this because I felt like he was portraying a rosy view of the South during this time period, but I came to realize that there was a purpose to this.  Other “original sources” I have read (or read quotes of) are people’s private thoughts like letters and diaries.  Washington wrote this book in part to tell his story and in part to effect change.  I really appreciated a number of his thoughts on work ethic and basically blooming where you are planted.  His school (his life work) was about improving education.  I loved that the students at his school had to learn skills like brick making and construction as well as “higher’ concepts like Greek or Latin.  I think college kids should have to build their own buildings like his students did.  Maybe then, they’d be learning a good work ethic.  This book is a high school text for CC.  I wish I had read books like this when I was in high school.

What have you been reading lately?

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle of ebooks for Sale

I want to tell you about a great bundle of ebooks that you can purchase from ultimate bundles.  At the end of all of the description for this bundle, you can read my favorites so far and why I’m glad I bought this.  (This is an affiliate post so I need to share their information in its entirety, but then you can read what I love so far too.)

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My take on this amazing bundle of books:  

Let me tell you about the books available and which ones I’ve enjoyed so far (only having owned the bundle for less than a day):

  •  I have read a lot of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight (by Heidi St. John).  This book could fall under the homemaking, homeschooling, or motherhood categories, but they grouped it under Self-Care.
  • 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life is by Crystal Paine.  I always love her blog and her books so this one I’m sure will be no different.  I’m going to start the 21 day challenge probably tomorrow.
  • Equipped is a book about goal-setting.  In the first chapter, I liked what the author had to say about setting goals to line up with what God wants.  Also, she mentioned that your goals should be looked back on as how far God has taken you instead of looking at what you aren’t gotten done.
  •  The Cherished Home has a great first chapter and has caught my attention as far as being intentional at making memories with my children.  I’m wondering what fun memories we can make even today.
  • The Sewing School 101 book seems like a great reference especially because I’m such a novice sewer and my daughter wants to learn.
  • The Healthy Lunch Box:  Sandwich-Free Secrets to Packing a Read Food Lunch really caught my eye since our gluten-free lunches don’t include sandwiches but do include lots of stress on my part.  I hope to get some new lunch packing ideas from this book.  The first chapter had me laughing as she shared about her son’s lunches at summer camp becoming legendary.

I’ve also downloaded a few of the books about food, more of the motherhood books, and want to check out more of the printables today.  I thought the books on faithholidays and special events,financial stewardshipmarriage, and blogging looked really great too.  There’s even a section of books on pregnancy and infant care that you might be interested in.

Honestly, there is so much in this bundle, I’ll be reading for a long time!


From Survival Mode to Intentional Living

Survival mode (or maybe not-even-surviving mode) could very well describe a lot of my life in the last eight years.

After years of infertility, God blessed us with our oldest son through adoption and 3 more children that I gave birth to in just over 4 years.  Then less than a year later, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer leading to surgery and a brief radiation treatment.  All of this in the middle of a move.  If you add to that the number of illnesses (at least 11 bottles on antibiotics one winter), my husband taking night and weekend classes, and needing to go gluten-free (for my husband’s Celiac Disease), I have just struggled my way through.  I know that I had a lot of moments where I needed to be in “survival mode”, but I also think I just got stuck there.

Survival Mode to Intentional LivingI was ready for a change.  I know that God wanted me to be thriving and not just surviving, and yet, I couldn’t figure out how to change things.  I was in a mode of just wanting to finish off a day or a week without actually enjoying it.  I didn’t like hitting the weekend and stressing that I had too much to get done.  I wanted to be content, even joyful in this life God has blessed me with instead of just getting by.  

This fall, I had started this process of making small changes, but my progress was slow at best.  Then, along came the book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life at just the right time.  I saw a blog post about the book on Money Saving Mom and asked my mom to buy it for me as my Christmas present.  (I had a giveaway of this book a while back if you want to read some of my initial thoughts on the book.)

God has really used this book to bring about real change in my life.  Here are some of the things that resulted from this book:

  • I have written down my priorities and set goals for myself (year-long goals,weekly goals, daily goals so far).  Some goals have been met already, a few goals have been scrapped since I decided they are lower on my priority list, and new goals may even be added.  Making weekly and even daily goals has kept me from just stressing over too much to do or being so overwhelmed with all my tasks that I just want to throw in the towel.  Sometimes, I don’t reach a daily or weekly goal, but aiming for something is better than aiming for nothing.
  • My morning routine has been up and running for more than a month.  Even on tired or sick days, the morning routine has really helped my mornings and my days go better.  My whole day really could be describing as running on a routine.  I try to make a goal list for the day based on my life priorities and what I think God wants from me that day.
  • You might be able to describe me as “a reformed messy.”  While my house may not pass anyone’s white glove test, we have been able to keep the house clean for more than a month straight. This has to be a personal best for me.  By clean, I mean 15-20 minutes away from what I would like it to look like if someone came over at all times.  We still play, eat, learn, and just generally live here, but the messes get taken care of quickly.    This has been a team effort (with the children really being a great help in cleaning and cooking), but my attitude and amount of work in this area has really made a big difference.  As much as for some people this wouldn’t be an accomplishment, I don’t want to hide my past failures and meager successes or compare my weaknesses to other’s strengths.

Some days, I only accomplish what I did before.  This is not stressful for me though because it’s a choice I made for that day based on my priorities.  I’m okay with never being a good decorator, making gourmet food, growing a beautiful garden, or creating amazing crafts.  Those aren’t my talents or my priorities.  I much prefer to just be the woman that God made me to be.

Intentional or purposeful would probably the best way to describe how I look at my life now.  I’d like to share about being purposeful in various areas of my life over the next few weeks/months.  I’ll be blogging about “designing my day” with what God has been teaching me.  I hope a little of what God’s been teaching me might resonate with you too.  

The book has the tagline of “9 simple strategies to stress less, sleep more, and restore your passion for life.”  I can honestly say that I do stress less, sleep more, and maybe even have more passion for “running the race God has set before” me.

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