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February Book Club

I joined a book club! I have a tendency to check out 30 books from the library, flip through 20 of them, begin 10 of them, and finish 2 of them. And then I forget I have them and pay late fees on all of them. It's an illness. It doesn't help that our library lets us check out 50 books per card. It feels like a challenge.

Joining Bookish Bloggers sounded like a good way to motivate myself to finish books and be more purposeful with my reading. Something I didn't think through too terribly well is that each  member chooses a book and I don't know these people! What if I hate their taste? I'm sure it will be good to stretch myself a bit.

This first book was a stretch for me, but it turned out well. The book discussion is hosted at Evil Stepmother this month. The book she chose is Big Little Lies. Here is my brief review:

I enjoyed Big Little Lies. It is very different from what I usually read, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. It is hilarious, but through all the comedy, you know it is ultimately leading to a murder mystery thanks to the snippets of interview questions between each chapter. And then suddenly, at the end, you realize there's a whole lot bigger message than just entertainment going on. It's summed up well in this quote:
"It occurred to her that there were so many levels of evil in the world. Small evils like her own malicious words. Like not inviting a child to a party. Bigger evils like walking out on your wife and newborn baby or sleeping with your child's nanny. And then there was the sort of evil of which Madeline had no experience: cruelty in hotel rooms and violence in suburban homes and little girls being sold like merchandise, shattering innocent hearts." 
The book really gave a glimpse into all of these different facets of humanity. Some are very familiar, some completely foreign. The author did a great job of helping the reader understand how complicated life really complicated abuse situations can be. I was impressed with her honesty. The truth is, we all have our bits of evil. Not a one of us is above it. We all are in need of mercy; this book made me appreciate God's grace all the more. 

The writing wasn't that of a classic and the author really likes the F-word, which was really hard for me to get past. If I hadn't committed through a book club, I would have put it down. But then I would have missed out on some great stuff. I don't know that I would recommend it, particularly to anyone under 30 years old, but I did enjoy it. 

Hearts for Home Blog Home

Last week's most-clicked post was a tie between Hoggat Homeschool and A Nest in the Rocks.


Featured winners can grab this code to display on their blog so other readers can know where to join in the fun:
Hearts for Home Blog Hop
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 And here are my personal favorites from last week:
  • Discovering the Secret Place by F. Dean Hackett, which features my favorite verse. 
  • More Than Fasting; A Deeper Look at Lent by Kids in the Word makes Lent with the family look very doable. It also helped highlight the need for replacing rather than just sacificing. 
  • It's Better to Walk Alone by This Sweet Life shares a very important point. It is nearly impossible for a teenager see that the loneliness that can result from making that hard decision is very temporary and well worth it. In high school, it feels like you'll be alone and "strange" for the rest of your life. But it is so, so worth it. 
  • Middle School Civil War Resources by This Sweet Life shares some great stuff that we'll be adding to our list this month as we study this era. And, apparently I need to be reading This Sweet Life more since I really enjoyed two of her pieces in the same week.
I intended to limit that to three top favorites, but that's really really hard sometimes.

And now it's time for this week's Blog Hop. If you're a blogger, link on up! If you are a reader, enjoy! The list will grow throughout the week, so be sure to check back.

An InLinkz Link-up

St. Patrick's Day Freebie!

St. Patrick's Day is coming up and the man behind the day fascinates me. As a mom to two teen boys, I wonder what it would be like if they were in his shoes. Kidnapped and enslaved, far from everything familiar. But not far from God. Patrick's faith grew and he lived a life of prayer and obedience.

I've created a copywork book full of quotes from St. Patrick, to enhance our March studies and to share with you. The copywork book contains three difficulty levels, plus dictation so that all ages can enjoy it. To receive your copy, simply subscribe to Simblissity Cottage. 

If you're a subscriber you've already received this in your inbox. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Here's a fun version of the St. Patrick story for you, via Veggie Tales:

Winter Photos

 We got snow! Our measuring method isn't the most scientifically accurate, but I'd say we got a lot. It's wonderful! 
Snow is pretty everywhere, but there is just something magical about snow on a hill, blanketing trees, and sparkling on fence lines. There is also something to be said about it completely hiding manure. 

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Simblissity Cottage is co-hosting the Hearts for Home Blog Hop.You'll find a variety of tips, tools, and recipes that encourage and help families. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy what is shared. Feel free to link up your own post! Next Thursday, I'll share the top-viewed post and I'll feature my top three personal favorites.

By linking up, you agree that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

An InLinkz Link-up

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Whine and Cheeze

The Whine

Of course, after sharing Grandma's tips about the importance of washing our dishes, it was completely expected that I would lose hot water again. We all saw that coming right?

Our hot water heater froze and busted a leak, sending water everywhere. The girls are enjoying the adventure. Boiling water to wash dishes in the sink feels like pioneer living to them and it's romantic. It feels like pioneer living to me, too, but I'm not feeling the romance. I just feel grimy. Sponge bathing isn't really my thing.

The Cheeze

We're recently returned from a trip to Texas and I want to show off our pictures!

Clean home habits

As a young mom, I remember struggling with keeping my house clean and begging my Grandma for advice. Her house was always tidy as a pin. She always had time to work a full day at the office and then sit and watch t.v., play cards, or read to grandkids. She was relaxed and her house was clean. HOW??

Well, she was sleeping at night. That helped. She also wasn't chasing toddlers from daybreak to day-end. Most importantly though, she had made the basics such a habit that she never thought twice about them. It was just part of what she did.

The first lesson to take from this is an awareness that there is such a thing as a season. Expectations for a clean house are pretty low when you are chasing young children. If you have friends with higher need new friends. A body only has so much energy and your top priority is not your house during this season; it's your home.

The second is an awareness of the basics. But you'll think they're dumb.

Actually, if you are one of my neat and tidy friends, you won't think the basics are dumb, you'll think it's dumb that anyone could have an epiphany over them. Don't judge. Some of us have different gifts and some of us learn our lessons a little slower than others. Housekeeping comes naturally to some. I have a feeling it will always be a "sacrifice of praise" for me, but I'm getting there.

After begging Grandma for advice, she insisted it was easy: Make your bed when you wake up and wash your dishes before bed. That's it. Technically, that's not IT, but when you focus on those basics, the rest supposedly falls together.

I'm sure I gave her a less than enthusiastic smile and maybe even a hand-pat. I had no idea she was being patient with me, rather than vice-versa.

And now? Yeah. It matters.

Make your bed. Just do it. It takes two minutes. Somehow, it makes a huge difference. It really does.

And the dishes? Grandma did more than wash dishes before bed, she took an hour to clean up the kitchen after every meal and I never understood. I went in to help but didn't see anything left to DO! What was she doing in there??

I'm not spending the hour every night that she did, but I do make it a priority to have the dishes washed and put away. Flylady and I didn't gel very well, but she was right about a shiny sink being a foundational habit.

I'm my head, my kitchen looks like this:

In reality, it currently looks like this:

Actually, that's the clean morning shot. For half of the day, it actually looks like this:

My sink is currently so unattractive, you wouldn't think cleaning it could matter much. I don't even have a real wall in there! No, my kitchen doesn't scream, "I'm clean!" when I polish it, but it does scream, "I'm dirty" when I don't. It matters.

How do you win with a mid-renovation house? How can you feel good about an avocado green sink? I try and remember that this old sink has helped to feed many a farm hand. It has filled many kettles and heard much gossip. It is what I have and I am thankful. It's ugly; there's no getting around that. But there are many people in the world who would be thrilled to have running water in their home. When I put it into perspective, it's suddenly beautiful.

I challenge you to try it. Implement these two habits every day for the next week and tell me you don't see a difference.