Thursday, January 14, 2021

Felt ornaments

These are a few felt ornaments that I sewed for one of my sisters for Christmas. 

Thursday, January 07, 2021


Speaking of Williamsburg... the boys all have hats that were given to them, but on one of them the trim was falling apart.  So I picked it all off and sewed on a new blue and gold ribbon.  I am also trying my hand at the rossettes that are sometimes seen decorating them.  I have made a blue and green one so far. 

I need to get a picture of the vests and capes that I have made this year.  They were inspired by reading the Hobbit and studying the vikings. 

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Books of 2020

I started keeping a list of the books that I read 5 or 6 years ago challenged by the Tim Challies reading challenge.  I decided that I could probably read 26 books (which is one every two weeks) even with two small kids in the house. That year I read 30-some books. The following year I challenged myself to 35 books and made it into the 40s. 60 in 2018. 57 in 2019. And thinking that I had topped out about one book a week while I have 4 young kids, I set my goal for 52 this year.  Instead, I read 75 books.  

2018 List

2019 List

2020 List

A few notes on this year's list:

a) The number of books that I have listened to on audio book has increased this year. We have used the library to download a bunch of books and listen to them as we drove around. Jared also read books out loud to us and I have counted these 3 books in audio books.

b) I read more fiction then ever this year (24 books), but of those books 92% were read to the boys (22 books). Some were for school and some were for fun. 

c) C.S. Lewis tops the year again for most read author. However, I also read Cal Newport and Maxwell Gladwell often. 

d) I only abandoned three books that I can remember. By abandoned, I mean that I read a few chapters and didn't want to continue. Usually I pick up a book from the library and can tell pretty quickly if it is good or not. One was Hannah Anderson's Humble Roots. She started off and ended every chapter with a fluffy story and the book could have been half as long, but still made the same points. I disliked it from the first chapter where she describes being awake in the middle of the night and staring at her husband (I have included the google preview of chapter one in case you also want to read the start of the chapter). Do I care that there are chocolate smudges on her pillow? Or the type of quilt that they own?  

e) I used the library for 45% (up from 37% last year) of my books. Note: The library in my town did not have a lot of these books, but inter-library loan did - if first you don't succeed try try again.

f) I tried (really I did) not to buy as many books this year. I really should unsubscribe from WTSbooks emails. 15% were bought (down from 19% last year). 

g) The two books that I borrowed had been lent to my 3 years ago and I just finished them. I am usually much better at reading and returning books... Serious fail on my part this year. 

h) I have enjoyed several commentaries this year and will write about those in a separate post. 

i) I include my Bible reading in here only if I finished the Old Testament (which I only read parts of this year - so I did not include it in the page count) or Psalms (which I did three times) or the New Testament (which I did 4 times). I read and reread Hosea, James, and Isaiah this year, but I haven't included them. If you take those away from my book count, I only read 68 books.  

2020 Best of (Favorite Books)

If I had to pick my absolute top books of the year I would have to go with these (in no apparent order):

1. Safe and Sound: Standing Firm on Spiritual Battles - David Powilson

2. Digital Minimalism - Cal Newport

3. Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman

4. Robert Murray M'Cheyne - Andrew Bonar

5. God's Light on Dark Clouds  

But these are all really close to the top. I could argue for almost all of them to have a spot in the top 5, but I can also argue a reason why they didn't make the top 5:
6. Deep Work - Cal Newport
7. Watchfulness - Rediscovering a Lost Spiritual Discipline
8. Untangling Emotions
9. Gentle and Lowly - Ortland
10. The Heart of Christ - Thomas Goodwin
11. Protecting Your Child From Predators
12. The Lord's Supper - Thomas Watson
13. Till We Have Faces - C.S. Lewis
14. The Magician's Nephew - C. S. Lewis
15. Love Divine and Unfailing - Commentary on Hosea
16. Wayward But Loved - Commentary on Hosea
17. The Hobbit - Tolkien
18. The Christmas Carol - Dickens
19. Family Discipleship - Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin

And these books I liked, but not quite enough to make it on the favorites of the year, but they all excellent books, if you choose to read them:

20.Stepping Heavenward
21. Teaching From Rest
22. A Grief Observed
23. Blink (The Power of Thinking Without Thinking)
24. Outliers
25. Instructing a Child's Heart
26. Knowledge of the Holy
27. The Day the World Came to Town - 9/11 in Gander Newfoundland
28. The Death of Experience: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters
29. The Best Christmas Pagent Ever
30. The Mysterious Benedict Society


I wrote down how many books that I read my kids in January and February.  It averaged out to 3-4 a day. I also do a bunch of pre-reading/skimming of books for the boys to read and for history. The library is only doing book pick-up this year, which while convenient for picking UP the books, it is not convenient for picking OUT the books. I have spent entirely too long on the library's web page looking for interesting children's books. I miss browsing the library shelves and picking books for their artwork.  

Extrapolated out this equals about 1000 - 1500 children's books.   

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Boys' workbench

The boys all get their own set of tools when they are 4. These tool sets and the projects that they have inspired have taken over much of my fireplace/den room. So for Christmas we bought the material and the boys helped to put together an area that, hopefully, will contain their creative mess. Jared designed it to be movable because we hope to one day carve out a spot in the garage for them when we build the mudroom. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Sunset on the James River

Between Jared's one-week break from his two classes this Fall we spend two nights in a cabin on the James River. The sunsets over the soybean and peanut fields were stunning. We took the kids to Jamestown and Williamsburg as part of our history lessons for the year. Fewer than half the trades were open in Williamsburg, but we still enjoyed watching the ones that were around. The boys' definite favorites were the blacksmith, cabinet maker, printer, and wheelwright.  

Since our trip our house has been turned into a print shop (which produced all the boys' Christmas cards and some of our tags for presents) and a wood working shop.  They also found scrap metal pieces in the garage and banged away with their hammers until they had several trays created (which ended up being my Christmas present). 

Thursday, November 26, 2020


This Christmas Aldi was selling these adorable little Gnomes. They didn't look too hard to reproduce so I bought two (the last two they had in the store) and brought them home to study them. The first one I made took about 2 hours, but I got it down to almost an hour by making several at a time. These are the first four that I made and I failed to take pictures of any of the other ones. 

We decided to name them after the dwarves from the Hobbit. 

Thorin Oakenshield and Dane Ironfoot - We are keeping these two per the boys' request

Balin, Dwalin, - To my sister

Fíli, Kíli, - To my sister-in-law

Dori, Nori, Ori - To my sister

Óin, Glóin, - To two different friends

Bifur, Bofur, - Not made yet

Bombur - To my mother-in-law

And here is a little tree that I made for a friend. It was a fun project, but it took entirely too long to make more of them. The fabrics are all from projects that I have made for her in the past (an apron and quilt). 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Apron for a niece

I sewed this little apron in a few hours the morning of a birthday party.  The boys had picked out a cooking set for their cousin and while we were wrapping it I realized that an apron would be perfect to go with it.  I love the ruffles on the bottom! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Evenings at the beach

I am just now getting around to emptying photos off my phone.  This summer we spent a lot of time at the beach.  It is a lot of work to pack up four kids and all their stuff, but they love being outside and exploring.  And we saw some amazing sunsets that reminded us of the glory and faithfulness of God.