Saturday, June 17, 2017

Love on the Mend, by Karen Witemeyer {Book Review}


"After serving as a doctor during the War Between the States, Jacob Sadler wants nothing more than to establish a quiet country practice in rural Texas. But he knows he'll never find peace until he buries the pain of his past. To that end, he accepts a job in Cold Spring, Texas--the town he's avoided for seventeen years--and discovers his past is definitely still alive and kicking.

When a new doctor arrives in town and saves her brother's leg, Mollie Tate quickly puts him on a hero's pedestal. But then the new doc insults her "Uncle" Curtis. Years ago, Curtis Sadler rescued Mollie when no one else cared. How could he possibly be the villain the new doctor believes him to be?
            
Jacob doesn't know what to make of the young woman who assists him like a seasoned nurse one minute only to take a strip out of his hide the next. Yet the sparks that fly between them make him feel more alive than he has in a long time. As respect for his young nurse turns into something deeper, can he set aside the pain from his past to embrace this new love, or are some sins too big to be forgiven?"

My Thoughts: Love on the Mend is the sequel to Karen Witemeyer's Full Steam AheadThis sweet novella picks up about 20 years later and follows the story of Jacob Sadler, the young boy we were introduced to in the first book. Jacob is now in his mid-20s, having graduated from medical school, served as a doctor in the war between the states, returned to live with the Thornton's in Galveston for two years, and has now returned to his former home in rural Texas. We learned in the first book that Jacob ran away from his uncle's home after his little sister, Emma, was killed. Jacob and his sister had been orphaned the previous year and taken in by their alcoholic uncle.

Mollie Tate is also an orphan, taken in by none other that Jacob Sadler's reformed alcoholic uncle, Curtis Sadler. Jacob has not forgiven Curtis for what happened, and Mollie cannot seem to understand why or how someone could be so unforgiving to Uncle Curtis, who had shown nothing but love and kindness for her and other children he had taken in over the years.

In spite of Curtis Sadler being her guardian, Mollie takes on a position of nurse and works closely with Jacob. Affection grows between the two, as it often does in these types of stories, and forgiveness is the key obstacle that needs to be overcome before they can admit their feelings to one another.

I really liked this novella because while it was short and sweet, there was also no "bad guy". I also liked how the author reminded us of Jacob's knife throwing talent that he learned from his guardian/mother Nicole (Renard) Thornton. I had forgotten all about that part in the first book until I read the part where Jacob is throwing his knife into the side of the old church.

The story focused mainly on the characters of Jacob, Mollie, and Uncle Curtis and on the healing powers of forgiveness. I finished the story feeling satisfied and with a mild craving for blackberry cobbler.

My Rating: 4 stars

Check out the entire Full Steam Ahead series:


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For the Record, by Regina Jennings {Book Review}

For the Record is the third and final book in the Ozark Mountain Romance series by Regina Jennings.

Betsy Huckabee first appeared in A Most Inconvenient Marriage as a child, with her older brother Josiah Huckabee. Through the coarse of the series, spanning 20 years, she's grown up and Betsy Huckabee is now a young lady, living with her uncle, aunt, and cousins in Pine Gap, Missouri. She helps around the household and helps her uncle, Fred Murphy, with his small-town newspaper. Betsy has dreams of becoming a journalist, is very independent, and has no desire to get married. That changes when deputy from Texas moves to Pine Gap.

Deputy Joel Puckett is escaping an unfortunate circumstance in Texas where he served as a deputy and was maliciously set up by a woman who wanted him to be her husband. Not willing to throw his life away and marry someone he did not love (and that he had done nothing with), he left when the opportunity arose for a deputy position in Missouri.

Post-war vigilantes, the Bald Knobbers
The small town of Pine Gap is nestled in the Ozarks and has its fair share of crime, including horse stealing and even murders. Sheriff Taney of Pine Gap is not able to keep the people safe, so the state of Missouri has brought in reinforcements in the form of Deputy Puckett. Upon his arrival, he is introduced to a gang of townsfolk that have taken the law into their own hands, riding on horseback with strange bags with horns over their heads, and calling themselves the Bald Knobbers. I thought the Bald Knobbers were a figment of the authors imagination until I looked it up! They are not what I had pictured. But they were real and they did what they could to keep their farms and towns safe.

Throughout the story, Betsy is keeping a secret from everyone that she is writing a romance column for a distant newspaper. The subject of her column is inspired by Deputy Puckett, who is not always so gentlemanly, so Betsy has to make things up as she goes along. Little does she realize, her column is a huge hit and has been picked up by newspapers around the country, including the town that Deputy Puckett had left behind. Eventually, her stories are discovered and becomes a source of embarrassment for Joel.          

Betsy's independence and stubbornness add so much to the story and makes her a fun character to follow. Regina Jennings has done an excellent job throughout the series in drawing the reader in to the story. Every story has a new mystery, and the characters can be rather colorful. I loved revisiting the same townsfolk with each book. Regina Jennings has a gift in creating witty characters and keeping the romance to an appropriate level. Betsy has been a favorite character from the beginning of the series and I was happy to see her happily-ever-after unfold.


Check out the entire Ozark Mountain Romance series:


   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tap/Jazz 2017: "Monopoly"

This year's Act II was incredible. It was titled "Monopoly". We had no idea how it was going to work when we first heard the theme, but I can honestly say that it was the most phenomenal and entertaining tap/jazz/modern performance they've ever done. My husband and I sat through it twice, and loved it both times.



Here is Bridget before her performances. Her persona changes when she puts on her tap/jazz costume and she becomes a sassy little thing.


Monopoly began with  rolling the dice, and landing on the "Electric Company". Jazz I performed to "Electric Avenue" and Jazz II (Bridget's class) performed to "I Got Bills". My husband recorded her performance and you can view it below.


 




Bridget's Tap II performance was after landing on the Short Line Railroad. They danced to "Locomotion". Bridget had the most fun with this one. She's been singing the song around the house for weeks.

 


There were also so many great performances. I wanted to record every one of them, but only got a few. My motive for doing this was to be able to show Bridget all the neat steps she'll be learning in the next couple of years.

After the next roll, they landed on "Community Chest". Two songs were performed for this one; the first is "Help" and the second is "Thrift Shop". You'll have to excuse my video making skills. I was using my phone and hit the pause button rather than stop, so it did some weird things.




Next was landing on "Oriental Blvd." The choreography on this one was amazing. The danced to "Pop, Drop; Roll". The applause at the end proves it was definitely an audience favorite. The young man that played the part of Mr. Monopoly/Banker was incredible. He added fun and humor to the entire production but proved in this performance (and others to follow) that he's an extremely talented dancer.



Next they landed on "Park Avenue" and danced to "Bell Hop Boogie", "Puttin' on the Ritz", and "Rich Girl". Unfortunately, I didn't record that last one, but they were really good too. 





Next was Pass Go and Collected $200. The dancers performed "Money", "We're in the Money", and "Money Makes the World Go Round". I think I was enjoying the performance too much that I forgot to record anything except for "We're in the Money". 



Next, it was time to Go To Jail. They danced to "Break Out" and "Jailhouse Rock". I thought the costumes were really good, and the performances as well. Mr. Monopoly shows off his dancing skills again in "Jail House Rock". 





Next they landed on Boardwalk". I'll give you one guess as to what song they danced to (loved the costumes in this one too). 



Next they landed on Carolina Avenue. This time I remembered to take a picture of the lovely young lady holding the property cards. She played a major role in the performance by letting the audience know where we were.

There is only one song that comes to mind for North Carolina. This performance was so wonderful and choreographed by one of Bridget's favorite teachers.



Next up was Tennessee Avenue. Loved their rendition of "Cotton Eyed Joe".



I didn't record the beginning of the production, but the finale did just as well to tie it all together. I had no idea that there was a Monopoly song. As you can see, the Banker stole the show yet again.


We were so happy to see our girl again after her performance. She made a lot of faces for us and tried really hard not to smile for me. Again, we thought she did a great job. The entire production was amazing.


 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ballet 2017: "The Twelve Dancing Princesses"

You will have to excuse the dance posts for the next couple of days. I am trying to be diligent in documenting Bridget's dance performances in a timely manner.

Bridget completed Beginner's Ballet II this year. She has now been dancing for four years. This year, the ballet was based on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses".

Here she is in her costume before leaving the house. She needed to get in a few last minute twirls.



We've arrived! Every year, I take a picture of Bridget in front of the auditorium at about the same spot. It's so neat to see how much she's grown. 



Bridget's class was in Scene III, "Never a Dull Moment". Bridget has always been a happy and smiling child, but even after four years of dancing, she cannot bring herself to smile on stage. She said she's too scared to smile. We hope she will soon grow out of this.





During the performance, I took pictures while my husband made a video on his phone.



After the performance, they did something a little different by having even the youngest dancers come back to the stage for a final bow. The older dancers of course took their bow first, then made room for the little dancers.



We thought she did a great job this year. While she's growing up so fast, she proved that she was never too old to be carried back to the van in Daddy's arms. This may be the last year he gets to do that!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Homemaker's Journal: Monday, May 22, 2017

Dance season is officially over!!!! No more lessons or rehearsals until the fall. We love dance, but the rehearsal and performance schedule at the end of each season wears me out. My dancer slept 'til almost 8 o'clock this morning. I think she's happy to be able to relax again.

T-ball season is still in full swing and we have another game this week. I'm happy that we're not still juggling dance and t-ball together. Having only a game once or twice a week is a nice and welcome change.


THE WEATHER THIS WEEK...


Thunderstorms are in the forecast for this week, finally clearing up on Friday. Temperatures will be in the upper 70's and lower 80's, a welcome change from last weeks scorching upper 90's temperatures.



AROUND THE HOME...

All of the children slept in today and the household seems to be quite lazy. The kitchen needs tidying up (as it always does).



AGENDA FOR TODAY...


During some of our downtime last week, I managed to do quite a bit more de-cluttering in our school room. I love throwing things away, but not the process of having to go through every little thing. My husband has suggested the idea of taking the boxes and plopping them into the trash bin, but I'm not too keen on throwing out all of my children's keepsakes and memories.


A PEEK INTO MY WEEKEND...



The dancer on her Saturday performance of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses".



A FAVORITE QUOTE FOR TODAY...


"Fatigue is the common enemy of us all--so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill."
—Jeffrey R. Holland


ON THE MENU...


Leftovers, hot dogs and hamburgers, french fries, and whatever else is in the pantry and freezer. I will resume with menu planning in June. For now, I'm going to rest.


I AM READING...


     

        

PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK...


Rest, catch up on school work, and set up second graders first annual standardized test. If the weather clears, we'll work in the garden and finish our backyard landscape border.


LINKING UP WITH...


  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Week in Review {Week #35}

Another week done!

OUR SCHOOL WEEK...


Bridget completed her second grade handwriting book in which she learned to write in cursive. Now to keep her practicing over the summer...

She also completed a spelling lesson, in which she spelled a particular word correctly on the pre-test, spelled it correctly in her workbook and oral quizzes (which I do immediately before the final test to make sure she's ready), but when it came time to do her written test, she spelled the word incorrectly. It was more aggravating for me than for her because I knew she could spell it correctly, but I had to mark it wrong for the sake of honest and fair grading.


AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES...


Bridget had her dress rehearsals on stage this week and her performances will be this weekend. She is so excited and nervous. On Wednesday, she told me she was sad to have had her last in-studio practice because it meant that the dance year was over and she wouldn't see her teachers or classmates until the new season begins in the fall.

George had two t-ball games, one on Saturday morning in which my parents joined us, and another on Thursday evening. His life right now revolves around t-ball. He constantly talks about it and he probably dreams about it.



And finally, this cute napper has been a real trooper as we've shuffled his big brother and sister to their activities. After we dropped Bridget off at her dress rehearsal on Thursday, we drove 15 minutes to Daddy's office so that I could hand off the boys and George would make it to his t-ball game on time that evening. When I parked the van and we were waiting for Daddy, I turned around and caught him snoozing. Liam has taken a nap for 3 days in a row now. I love how he can just fall asleep anywhere. I think the heat we've been experiencing lately (a whopping 98 degrees on Wednesday!) has made his extra sleepy. 


LINKING UP WITH...




Friday, May 12, 2017

Week in Review {Week #34}

I am making a slight change in my end-of-week posts. Instead of counting the 52 weeks from January, I'm going to use the week we're on for school. Much easier to keep track this way. So if you're wondering why I jumped from Week #2 (the last time I posted about our week) to Week #34, this is why.

We are finishing up Week #34 of our school year! Or at least that's what my schedule says. We are supposed to be done with grammar, handwriting, and math but we're not. We're also supposed to be finishing up with science, writing, and spelling. We're not. We're not even close. It looks like we'll be schooling through summer. My advice? Don't move during the school year, and especially don't do it twice.


OUR SCHOOL WEEK...


This week, Bridget covered two math lessons, two spelling lessons, and quite a few grammar lessons. She is also almost done with her handwriting book. She learned cursive this year and is doing well. Her cursive writing is not perfect, and sometimes barely legible, but she's trying her best and I see it improving the more she practices. We still have not started back up with history and science, so I don't have any "fun" pictures to post from our school week.


AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES...


It was a busy week for after school activities. Bridget's dance season is winding down and their performance is next weekend. She had practice three days this week. 

George is playing t-ball this year and had his very first game on Tuesday. Before his game, the team had team pictures done as well. I don't know when we'll get those back, but I couldn't resist taking a few of my own. 


This is the first activity George has done by himself. He's always had to share the spotlight with his sister, but now it's all on him. Score isn't kept in t-ball, everyone gets to run the bases, and both teams "win", but it was still fun to watch all of the little four and five year olds run after the ball. He had a great time! He has another game on Saturday and I'm sure it will be just as fun and entertaining.


LINKING UP WITH...



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What We're Reading {May 2017}

I love seeing what people are reading and I wanted to start sharing what we're reading, and hopefully it will help us get back into a better routine.


FAMILY READ-ALOUD...


It feels like it's been ages since we did a read-aloud. The children love them, especially, Bridget (7). While I am not ready to start back this month, I intend to pick a read-aloud for June.


WHAT I'M READING...


In February, I thought it's be a great idea to read clean Christian romance books. Honestly, they were more funny than romantic, which I appreciate. I'm not into the sappy romance stuff, but enjoy a romantic comedy. While this was great for February, it actually continued through April. I'd read one, only to realize it was part of a series, and then of course I had to read the next books.

This month, I'm finally at a point that I have added back more of a variety in my reading.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

A story about a young midwife intent on becoming a surgeon during a time when the profession was exclusive only to men. Takes place during the American Civil War. So far, I am enjoying it. The story is told through the perspectives of Mary Sutter, two other male surgeons, Dorothea Dix, President Lincoln, and various other characters, both historical and fiction. While I enjoy various perspectives, I wish the book would focus more on Mary and her journey to becoming a female surgeon. I'm over 3/4 of the way done and while the story has taken may twists and turns, I have yet to see where the story is headed. 


Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

I started this book in March but couldn't get into it. It's a good story, but didn't mesh well with other books I was reading. I fully intend on picking it back up this month and finishing it. It's a biblical fiction story, taking the character of the woman who stole a touch of Christ's garment in order to be healed.


Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I like to have an easy reading "feel good" book that I can turn to when other books get a little intense or long-winded. I chose this one, a book about a woman in the 1950s, returning to West Virginia's Appalachian mountains with her young daughter, hoping for a fresh start.

Silence by Shūsaku Endō

A couple of months ago, a trailer popped up for a movie based on this book. It looked extremely violent and bloody, but I was intrigued by the history of it. While I may never see the movie, I wanted to give the book a chance. This book may be the reason I turn to my "feel good" happy books. It is the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests in 1600s Japan, a country showing great hostility toward their religion. 

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I have been working on getting through the other library books so that I can finally start on this series by Philippa Gregory. It is the first of 15 books in the Plantagenet and Tudor series. This is only my favorite period of English history. The series starts with the story of Jacquetta, the Duchess of Bedford, wife of Richard Woodville, and future mother of Elizabeth Woodville who married Edward IV, King of England.



WHAT BRIDGET (AGE 7) IS READING...


Bridget is looking forward to being baptized later this year, and so has taken it upon herself to read the scriptures. This is a daunting task for a 7 year old who is still learning to read. She was off to a very good start when I could sit down with her and help her with the hard words (which there are many), but lately she has slowed down, as I haven't been able to spend as much time helping her. However, she's still trying and I am proud of her for doing so.

Bridget also falls asleep reading ballerina picture books or the Berenstain Bears (which she will also read to her brothers as a bed time story.)


WHAT GEORGE (AGE 5) AND LIAM (AGE 2) ARE READING...


This is a little misleading, because neither George nor Liam can read yet. Right now, they have to have Berenstain Bear books in their beds at night. They love the pictures and know the stories by heart. Sometimes George will "read" them to Liam. It has been awhile since I have taken them to the children's library to pick up some new fun books. This is on the to-do list.


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