Reading Log: March

We are still chugging along toward our foster care licensure!  Somedays I feel like it is coming too fast; other times I feel like the process is creeping.  I am trying to trust the Lord and His timing.  Hopefully we will have some specific information next week!

Amanda’s Book List

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome                                                                                   I had somehow never heard about this book until recently when it was recommended on a bunch of different podcasts.  The book is considered a classic by many and was published in 1930.  This was one of my favorite books, maybe one of my favorites ever!  I loved every second of it and can’t wait to share it with my kids!  If you and your family love stories about independent children, wise moms, sailboats, and pirates, then Swallows and Amazons is the book for you!

The Borrowers by Mary Norton                                                                                                     The Borrowers is a children’s novel about tiny people who live under the floorboards and survive by “borrowing” things from the humans who live above them.  This book was a fun, light read.  I don’t think it was anything super special, but I enjoyed it and would be happy to pass it on to my kids.

Airborn by Kenneth Opel                                                                                                     Generally I like middle-grade or adult novels.  Young adult novels have never really been my thing.  But I gave this book a try, and I am glad I did.  Set in a world where airplanes were never invented, and airships rule the skies; Airborn was an interesting and fun read.

Jeremy’s Book List

Through My Eyes:  A Quarterback’s Journey by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker                  Jeremy’s take:  This book was encouraging.  It was great to see how God uses college athletes, such as Tim, to share the Good News with the nations.  It was also great to read passages aloud to my boys.

The Kids:  More Diary of the Wimpy Kid books.                                                                            Jonathan has been re-reading some of the Flat Stanley books by Jeff Brown, and Samuel is enjoying them for the first time.                                                                                         Frindle by Andrew Clements.                                                                                                Jonathan read Frindle this month.  I had to talk him into trying something new, but he really liked it and asked to read other books from the series.  The story is about a mischievous boy who is always doing something mischievous at school; this time he stirs things up by inventing a new word:  frindle!  Jonathan thought the book was funny.

Family Read Alouds:  

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis                                                                              We are still reading this book which is the third in the Chronicles of Narnia series.  So far the kids seem to really be enjoying it.  I will let you know for sure when we finish!

Couple Read Aloud:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle    Jeremy and I just started this book as a read aloud.  I read this book myself last month; but since Jeremy had never read it, we decided to try it together.  The original plan was to read the book before the movie came out, but clearly that didn’t happen.  Since Jeremy didn’t like the movie, I had to push him a little to try the book.  I will let you know what he thinks when we finish it!


Needles, Fingerprints, and Fencing

Weekly update time!  My mom’s health is much better.  She is improving slowly but steadily.  She is extremely weak and needs to rest a lot, but she is getting a little stronger each day.

My dad is going back to work today!  Unfortunately his new job is in Kentucky.  He will be living up there for the next few months, but hopefully he will be back to visit every two weeks.  He agreed to take this job before my mom got sick, and I think he is a bit nervous to leave her.  But we will take very good care of her.

I mentioned in my last post that the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home wanted to expedite our foster care license.  That means a crazy amount of stuff to do!  Since I wrote last week, every person in my home had a physical, including a TB test.  My poor children had to have a lot of vaccines on top of the TB test.  They were troopers, but it was NOT fun.  All of the grown ups had criminal background checks, which will be back between this Friday and two weeks after that.  We also filled out a ton of paperwork and read a very long and dry (but important) foster care manual.

We now have to wait for our background checks to come back and for my mom’s new TB test results.  You have to read a TB test within exactly 48-72 hours, and we accidentally missed our window on her test.  We got six out of seven times right, so I guess we didn’t do too bad!  Now the doctor is making her wait a few days before she can have another test.

We also have to put up a line of fencing between the back of our house and our pool.  The pool is surrounded by a high wall, but our actual house is the fourth wall around the pool.  DHR doesn’t consider that safe, so we have to add the line of pool fencing.

We still have a ton of little things to do from our safety list, like installing more outlet covers and writing an emergency evacuation plan.  And of course we have things to do from our regular life, like church, soccer, baseball, cooking dinner, and laundry.  Sometimes getting the regular life stuff done is harder!  I have so much laundry to fold right now….

Here is our goal, hope and prayer:  to get everything done by the time our background checks return.  Then we will be ready to open our home to a child that needs one.  Our understanding from the Children’s Home is that a child or children may come to our home very, very quickly.  That means that within the month I may be the mother of four or more kids!

I am terrified!  And I can’t wait!


Moving Fast!

No time for a real blog post this week.  I just wanted to let you know that our foster care plans have suddenly gone from a crawl to a sprint.  Things are moving very quickly, and the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home may expedite our licensure.  Please pray for the Lord’s will.  We trust in Him, His goodness, and His plans.  Jesus is risen!  He is risen, indeed!


Reading Log: February

My mom is home from the hospital and doing very well!  Of course recovery from pneumonia takes some time, but she is making quick improvements.  Praise the Lord!

We are still trying to catch up on our reading logs.  Here’s what we read in February.

Amanda’s Book List

Sharing God’s Big Love with Little Lives:  a Can-Do Guide for Parents and Caregivers by     Jean Thompson                                                                                                                                      Many of you may better recognize Jean Thompson by her ministry name:  Ms. Pattycake!  Thompson’s book is as precious as she is and as full of great advice.  I highly recommend this book, if you have a little one in your life.  Also the book has so many adorable anecdotes!

Flora and Ulysses by Kate diCamillo                                                                                           This mid-grade novel is so much fun.  Both heart-warming and hilarious, Flora and Ulysses  tells the story of a cynical girl from a home of divorce and a squirrel who unexpectedly received superpowers.  My middle son is in the process of reading this book too.  The reading level is a couple of years above what he normally reads, due to some very hefty vocabulary words; but the book is so great that he has really persevered and will hardly put it down!  A quote from this book–“Holy unexpected occurences!”–may become one of our family catch phrases!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen                                                                                                    I have read this book numerous times, but I reread it so that I could join in an online book club.  Pride and Prejudice is such a classic!  If your only experience with this story is one of the movies, pick up a copy of the book.  The writing is so wonderful!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle                                                                                              I read this book years ago but I could only remember vague impressions and the feelings I had while reading it.  Since the movie was coming out, I wanted to reread the story.  So creative and interesting, A Wrinkle in Time isn’t really like anything else.  The book is so unique and has many Christian allusions and references that were left out of the new movie.

Jeremy’s Book List

Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels                                                                                         Jeremy’s take:  I am currently reading this book to cultivate my prayer life.  It is making a qualitative difference in my relationship with God.  One of the books great take-aways:  “When we work, we work, but when we pray, God works.”

The Kids:  Both older boys have still been reading lots of The Diary of the Wimpy Kid books.  As I mentioned above S is currently taking a break from the series to read Flora and Ulysses.

Family Read Alouds:  

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis                                                                                                                The second book in The Chronicles of Narnia series was so much fun to read to the boys!  After we finished the book, we watched the movie (which while awesome, seriously deviates from the original story).  The boys kept saying:  “That’s not the way that happened.”  After the movie, they both agreed that the book was so much better.  I was so excited since my kids love TV and movies!  We are excited to move onto the next book in the series!


Family Update

Our family has had a crazy couple of weeks! The crazy started when my dad had a hip replacement almost two weeks ago.  This surgery is remarkable.  He went from a terrible limp and extreme pain to feeling spectacular! Yesterday he didn’t need to use a cane or walker at all, which is amazing when you think that they took out his hip bone!

2 days after my dad’s surgery, my mom bumped his walker (he wasn’t using it at the time).  The walker flipped over onto her foot and broke it!  Thankfully the break is minor, and her foot will be fine in a few weeks.

On Sunday my mom experienced terrible chest pains and had to go to the ER.  Praise the Lord that her heart is fine!  She has pleurisy (inflammation of the lining of the lungs) and “mild” pneumonia.  This seems so strange because she hasn’t had a cough at all.  She is on IV antibiotics, and we are hoping that she will be discharged from the hospital soon.

My dad, however, has had a cough.  He went to the doctor about it on Monday.  And he has…. pneumonia too!  Interestingly, he seems to feel fine other than the coughing.

Did I mention that our church’s Passion Play is coming up, and Jeremy is playing Jesus?  He has been quite busy with practices.  J just started his new soccer season.  And S just started his Little League baseball season.

Needless to say, we are quite busy the last few weeks.  The grown ups are doing a lot of shuffling between work, hospital, and childcare.  Praise God for so many of His people who have stepped up to help us!  People have helped by taking the kids to practice, bringing dinner, and most importantly through prayer!

Lord willing, life will be calmer soon!  Foster care/adoption prep is going well (though it is postponed for a week or so).


Home Visit and Interviews

We are making steady progress toward becoming licensed as a foster family!  Our two social workers from the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home came to take a tour of our house.  They are amazing.  (By the way our house is fully clean and organized, maybe for the first time ever!  With a lot of prayer and hard work, I hope it will stay that way!)  But the Department of Human Resources (DHR) is looking more for their certain safety requirements, rather than organization.  Overall everything is fine with the house; since we have three kids, our home is already quite safe.  We do have a few little things to take care of — some weird, some very logical, and some surprising.  Logical:  our social worker has to check in with the state DHR to make certain that our pool meets the safety standards.  Surprising:  all of our medicines have to be in lock boxes–even children’s Tylenol.  Weird:  I had to put decals onto our full-length bathroom mirror at a child’s eye level!  You know, in case a child turns a corner and walks into the mirror hanging on our wall.  We are happy to do whatever need to do though!  🙂

Jeremy and I each had individual interviews with our social workers.  We talked about our childhoods, past and current relationships with our families, and our relationships with our children and each other.  We also discussed how many foster children we want and what kinds of issues we feel that we can or cannot handle.  These questions are asked to us individually.  We are to talk about our answers with each other later and give the social worker our for certain answers at our marriage interview.

We turned in copies of our birth and marriage certificates, and our next step is…  More Paperwork!  I keep reminding myself that this is one step at a time, and that our homestudy could take a really long time.  But I have to be honest:  my hopes are up that we will move very quickly!  We will keep you posted.


Reading Log: January

Clearly January is long over, but here is January’s Book List!  I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to read more yourself and with your family.

Amanda’s Book List

Becoming Jane:  The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen edited by Anne Newgarden                   I absolutely adored this book!  Becoming Jane is a book of short biographical information and Austen quotes.  Many of the quotes are from her books, but a lot of  them are from her personal letters.  As a big Jane Austen fan, I loved seeing a glimpse into her real personality–dedicated to family, witty, and a little bit cheeky!  My new favorite Austen quote is from a letter she wrote to her sister, Cassandra:  “What dreadful Hot weather we have!–It keeps one in a continual state of Inelegance.”  I can’t help thinking what she would say about our weather in Alabama!

Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay                                                                           This was a novel within a novel:  the story of a divorced author who begins to date again, and a fictionalized account of the relationship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.  The two stories intertwined very interestingly.  That Brahms and Clara Schumann had an unusual and complicated relationship is historical fact, clearly seen in their letters and in the writings of those who knew them.  But what really happened between them, what their relationship truly was, we do not know.  In Good Things I Wish You the life experiences of the fictional characters cause their perception of the life and relationships of the historical characters to vary.  I found myself fascinated by the idea that what we learn of history is clearly colored by the perception of the author as well as our own beliefs and experiences.  I will say that this was not a feel-good book.  I believe that the author’s purpose was to make the reader feel as unsatisfied as the characters in her book.  This book also contained a smattering a bad language which I did not appreciate.

Tenderheaded:  A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories edited by Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson                                                                                                                                     I truly love stories, but non-fiction can be difficult for me.  This book was a struggle for me to finish, but I am glad I persevered.  Throughout our foster classes we regularly heard comments about how important hair is to people and families.  In fact we were told that if a child wants to make a large change to their hair, the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home tries to ask the birth parents for permission first.  Hair matters, and somehow it can separate or bring people together.  Tenderheaded dealt with the history of African-American hairstyles, hair care products, and the views that some people hold about various hairstyles.  Before reading this book, I had no idea that in the past the Afro was considered a political statement!  What I took away from this book is that hair is extremely personal, and respect and care for a person’s hair is a great way to show acceptance and love.  Sections of this book contained quite a bit of foul language.

Heroes for My Son by Brad Meltzer                                                                                                This book brought me so much joy!  I passed it on to Jeremy as soon as I finished it, and I couldn’t wait to share stories from it with my dad.  An easy read, the book has 2-page blurbs about 65 admirable men and women.  Some of these people are well-known–I shared the section about Martin Luther King, Jr. with my kids on MLK day.  Others you will never have heard of but are still amazing heroes.  Reading Heroes for My Son inspired me to think about my heroes, both the famous and the personal, and challenged me to share these heroic stories with my kids.

Persuasion by Jane Austen                                                                                                      Reading about Jane Austen earlier in the month led me to thinking that I was not as familiar with some of her works as I would like to be.  I have read them all at least once long ago, and I have read Pride and Prejudice more times that I can remember.  (I am an obsessive re-reader!)  But I realized that I could not remember the details of Persuasion whatsoever.  After picking it up, I am so glad I re-read it.  Persuasion has become my favorite Jane Austen book!


Jeremy’s Book List

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer                                                                                          Jeremy’s take:  Distasteful language and not a Spirit-filled book.  Yet a call for men to stand and die for what they believe in.  Sadly I’m not sure this dear soldier died believing in the salvation of Jesus.

The Kids:  Both older boys have been obsessively reading The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series.  I won’t take the time to tell you the titles, just know that if the book is by Jeff Kinney they have read it or are hoping to read it very soon.   

For Christmas we gave J a copy of The Calvin and Hobbes Treasury by Bill Watterson.  He really seemed to like it.  I read along with him a little, and I was surprised at the complexity of some of the comedy.  In my mind Calvin and Hobbes was for young kids, but I think older kids really might enjoy it more.

For Christmas S received the first three books in the A to Z Mysteries series by Ron Roy.  There are 26 books in the original series, and each book begins with the next letter in the alphabet.  S found these to be easy and enjoyable reads, and he has already requested the rest of the series!

Family Read Alouds:  Along with picture books the kids and I are always reading through at least one chapter book.  Sometimes we read one book during homeschool and another at bedtime.  If a homeschool book is very well loved, sometimes that book will take both reading time slots!  Here are our read alouds for the month of January.

The Mysterious Howling from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood                                                                                                                                   This was one of my personal, favorite books from last year, and I couldn’t wait to share it with the kids.  Unfortunately I was disappointed because they couldn’t seem to get into it!  As time went on they seemed to enjoy the story more, and the mystery intrigued them enough that they asked to move onto the next book in the series.  But after some thought I decided to put the series aside.  The book is so awesome and witty, but much of the wit and irony seemed to go over their heads.  I am planning to pick this book series up again in a few years when the kids can truly appreciate it!

The Blackstar of Kingston by S.D. Smith                                                                                          A prequel to The Green Ember series, my children loved this book as much as all of S.D. Smith’s others.  Filled with excitement, honor, and (of course) rabbits with swords, this book did not disappoint.  To those of you who don’t read children’s books, this may sound weird; but if you haven’t read The Green Ember you are missing out.  I recommend The Green Ember to everyone I know:  boys, girls, men, women.  You will love it!  Read it!  And then read the rest of the series!  Seriously.  You will be glad you did.

And that is all!  I apologize for the length of this blog, but I can promise you that we read a lot less in February!  🙂