Teish Knits

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Thoughts for Tuesday, July 14th

Outside my windows… it’s beautifully warm and sunny today, and there’s a lovely breeze.

Inside my house… the kiddos have been doing the laundry for me, vacuuming the carpet, and handling other chores while I’m recovering. It’s fun watching the system they have set up for switching laundry from the washer to the dryer!

Counting 1000 gifts… cool breezes, laughing kiddos, and afternoon naps.

Prayers of the heart… I have a number of friends who are going through tough times right now. My heart is heavy for them, but I’m thankful that we can pray for each other.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Their latest Green Kid Crafts box arrived in the mail today, so they’ve been busy with projects related to robots. I was not exactly impressed with other kids subscription boxes that I’ve tried in the past, but I’m very happy with this one!

From my playlist… Royal Philharmonic Orchestra! I stumbled across their renditions of classic rock songs, and I’ve been listening to them over and over for the past couple of days. I adore good orchestral music!

From my reading list… Of course I have a few books in progress, but I’m looking for a really great book to dive into. Debating between biography, sci fi, or a good mystery…

From my needlework basket… knitting socks from a Star Trek themed yarn because I really am that much of a geek!

In the learning room… The Green Kid Crafts boxes have been a fun addition to summer school. Since we’ve gotten through our math and language arts for the year, we’re focusing on fun, yet educational stuff like this.

Random ramblings… I’ll turn 35 in a couple of weeks. It’s taken me that many years to even start to feel comfortable in my own skin. I wonder if that’s uncommon, or if it happens more often than we might think…

Profound ponderings… “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” – James 3:18 HSCB

Caught on film…

Our Green Kids Craft box came today! Robots! #heduaphoto #greenkidscrafts #summerhomeschooling

A photo posted by Teish (@teishknits) on

Book Review: The Wonder of You

I picked up Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren earlier this year, and when Roark made his brief appearance at the very end of the book, I knew that I’d be reading The Wonder of You!

I’ll admit to being a bit of a romantic, and there is something inherently romantic about crossing an ocean for someone. That’s exactly what Roark St. John does for Amelia Christiansen! They met when Amelia was studying photography abroad, but Roark is keeping secrets about his past. The resulting misunderstanding sends Amelia back across the Atlantic and home to Deep Haven. She certainly didn’t expect him to show up on her doorstep… Roark takes a job at the local coffee shop and is determined to win her back. But he’s got competition in the form of Amelia’s high school sweetheart Seth, who’s doing his best to convince Amelia that she should settle down in Deep Haven with him.

I particularly enjoyed the characterizations in The Wonder of You. Roark has an intense back story, and struggles terribly with guilt because of it. Amelia struggles through the story to sort out her own heart and discover where God is leading her. I enjoyed watching the growth of both characters develop through the book. I was also glad to see other members of the Christiansen family make appearances through the story, particularly the side plot involving Grace and Max from When I Fall in Love. (Those two are keeping a secret of their own through part of the book!) I just loved the end of the book, and the chance to see the amazing things that God had in store for the characters. I always find reading stories like that to be encouraging, and a great reminder that God is at work in my life too!

I do wish the character of Seth had been a bit more likeable, but that’s the only thing I would change about The Wonder of You.

The Wonder of You is the fifth book in the Christiansen Family series. You could certainly read it as a standalone novel, but I’d still recommend reading the rest of the series first. It’s reminiscent of the Karen Kingsbury books that follow the Baxter family. Fans of those books won’t want to miss out on this one by Susan May Warren. The next book in the Christiansen Family series will certainly be on my reading list!

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Thoughts for Tuesday, July 7th

Outside my windows… it’s sunny and rather hot today. Looks like summer has arrived!

Inside my house… the open windows let in such a nice breeze today.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for progress, no matter how small!

Prayers of the heart… A week ago, I was at the hospital having a hysterectomy. Recovery is taking me longer than I’d like, so I’m praying for patience.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… The older kids are playing outside, and Little Guy is sitting next to me with a book.

From my playlist… Mama Mia because Mom loved that song and I’ve been missing her lately.

From my reading list… The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren.

From my needlework basket… I’ve started work on a pair of new socks for myself. It’s the Jaywalker sock pattern by Grumperina. I’ve wanted to knit a pair for a long time, but just didn’t get to it until now!

In the learning room… We completed math for the year before my surgery. Now we take a break for a couple of weeks before jumping into some of the fun “summer school” things we have to do.

Random ramblings… So very much has happened over the last few weeks. It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure. Perhaps having to slow down and take the time to recover from surgery is something of a blessing. Thankfully, my IT staff and the kiddos have done an admirable job of jumping in and taking care of me!

Profound ponderings… “You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury

 

Redeeming Love

“You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.” – Lamentations 3:58 NIV

I am broken inside. All of us are, truthfully, no matter how put-together we appear on the outside. We work hard to impress people, whether it’s our employer, our friends, or our family. We desperately seek validation from people, only to discover that we do not measure up.

I was pondering this the other day while listening to the hymn by William Cowper “There is a Fountain”. The very beginning of the song struck a chord…

“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

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Wow. Lose all their guilty stains? When I stand before God, because of the blood of Jesus, He does not see the imperfections. All of those ugly stains on my heart have been washed away. Because of what Jesus did, I stand before God, and I am accepted. I am loved. This means that we are freed from the old way of doing things! Our value is not dependent on or measured by the approval or praise of earthly men. Our value is found in the price that was paid for us. God has seen such value, such potential in us that he was willing to sacrifice His own Son in order to purchase redemption for those who seek it.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

This brings me to another line from the hymn…

“E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply; Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”

Redeeming love. That’s what love does, it redeems what was broken and tossed aside. It is God’s redeeming love alone that can make me (and you!) whole again.

Thoughts for Tuesday, June 16th

Outside my windows… it’s rainy today. We’ve had some beautiful weather too though. What a mixed bag the forecast is this time of year!

Inside my house… Little Guy has moved to a toddler bed, and for the first time in a lot of years, the crib has been disassembled and put away. It’s a very odd feeling.

Counting 1000 gifts… Cookout Season!

Prayers of the heart… the next month has a lot of stuff going on. Some of it seems really big and overwhelming. Praying for strength and peace.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… it’s pretty evenly split between LEGO building and coloring/drawing right now.

From my playlist… Cat’s in the Cradle. This song is always a bit of a reality check for me. It’s too easy to get caught up in work and let relationships slide.

From my reading list… A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer. I’m not typically a reader of “Westerns” when it comes to historical fiction, but Karen’s books are a must-read for me!

From my needlework basket… I’m finishing up a summer sweater for myself. Just because it’s warm, it doesn’t mean that you can’t wear something knitted.

In the learning room… We do school year round, but the summer months are a bit more laid back than the rest of the year. Of course, there is always plenty of nature study that goes on this time of year. Now’s when our field guides get a good workout!

Random ramblings… Is it possible to make Nutella from scratch? I’m trying to change some of our eating habits for the better, and that seems to include more cooking from scratch with real food ingredients. But I love Nutella! (You have no idea how good hot chocolate can be until you try Nutella hot chocolate…)

Profound ponderings… “And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.” – Harry Chapin

Caught on film… my IT staff and me enjoying some ice cream!

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Book Review: Snuggle Time Devotions

What little one doesn’t love to snuggle on Mommy or Daddy’s lap and listen to a story? All of my children have! I knew when I saw Snuggle Time Devotions by Stephen Elkins that it was perfect for reading to Little Guy!

Snuggle Time Devotions is ideal for toddlers and preschoolers. Each story begins with a Bible verse, and then contains a short paragraph called My Snuggle Up Story that tells the Bible story in rhyme. (The scripture reference where the story can be found in the Bible is included at the beginning of the story.) The My Snuggle Time Takeaway answers the question, “What can we learn from this story?” I think this is a great addition because it shows kids that we can apply what we read in the Bible to our own lives! The section My Bible Time Activity is fabulous for the hands-on kids because the section contains some sort of pretend play, art, or other activity that relates to the Bible story. One of the Noah’s Ark stories directed us to draw a rainbow with the ark underneath it. Each story ends with a hug! For example, the book might say, “Give the one God has promised to love a great big hug!” There are 52 stories that span both the Old and New Testaments.

So many devotionals are targeted towards elementary age children. It’s lovely to find one that’s intended for the younger kids like Snuggle Time Devotions. My favorite thing about it is the Bible stories written in rhyming patterns. I enjoy reading rhymes, and it seems to keep the attention of my youngest better too. I really appreciated that the illustrations aren’t particularly cartoonish, but rather sweet and nicely drawn. Little Guy’s favorite part was definitely the hugs! He also enjoyed the activities quite a bit, so I’m glad that they were included for each story.

Both Little Guy and I love reading Snuggle Time Devotions! When we finish reading one, he always asks me to read another. It’s one of those rare books that I honestly can’t think of anything that I would change about it.

 

Snuggle Time Devotions is the perfect gift for a young child, and it would also make a nice baby shower gift. (It’s definitely the kind of book that my mom would have picked up for her grandbabies!) I think it would be a wonderful addition to any church nursery or daycare as well.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Knowing Is Half the Battle

“I’ll be honest with you. This family history is very ugly.”

It was something of a wake-up call when the doctor said that to me. I knew there was a lot of cancer on both sides of my family. Some of them were diagnosed as young as in their 30s. But until that day, it had never hit me how unusual that was. In the back of my mind I knew that I was probably at a little higher risk for certain cancers, but it had not occurred to me how serious that risk potentially was.

The doctor strongly recommended genetic screening for gene mutations related to hereditary cancers, including the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that have been recently receiving media attention due to their link to breast and ovarian cancer. I knew that a couple of my relatives had tested positive for some of these mutations. My husband and I agreed that the test was a prudent thing to have done, despite the cost.

Less than a week later, I met with the genetic counselor to go over my family history of cancer. She too expressed surprise by just how prevalent cancer was in my family tree and remarked that she’d never seen a list quite that long before. I was sent downstairs to the lab to have my blood drawn and then returned the sample to the doctor’s office to be sent off to Myriad labs in Utah for testing.

And then I waited. I can’t tell you how nerve-wracking the wait was! We were most concerned about the BRCA mutations since there is so much breast and ovarian cancer in my family history. I’ve seen people I love struggle through surgery and treatments for both of those cancers. It scared me just how dramatically those tiny gene mutations could increase my own risk of facing those diseases. Admittedly, a positive result does not guarantee that you’ll end up with cancer, just as a negative result doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never be diagnosed with cancer. It does tip the statistics quite a bit though.

IMG_2369[1]When my results finally came in, I was surprised and relieved that I tested negative for all of the gene mutations that they checked for. The genetic counselor was just as surprised! I still have a slightly increased risk based on my family medical history, but it’s much lower than it could have been.

Do I regret having the testing done now that it came back negative? Not at all! The genetic screening for cancer-related gene mutations is not a test that everyone needs by any means, but I more than fit the screening guidelines for someone at risk of these mutations. I have information now that I didn’t have before. That will help me and my doctor decide what screenings I should have and when I should have them.

If you’re wondering whether you should consider the genetic screening for the mutations linked to hereditary cancer, please talk to your doctor. It’s like the line from those old G.I. Joe PSAs from the Saturday morning cartoons, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 19th

Outside my windows… it’s raining today, and things are really looking green around here.

Inside my house… I now have three out of four of my children sharing my tea-drinking habit, especially on days like this that are a bit chilly.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for good test results that came back this week!

Prayers of the heart… I’ve had a decision to make that I really wrestled with. Now that I’ve made it, I’m just praying that things turn out OK.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… creating stories, building with LEGOs, and cobbling together lightsabers out of paper towel rolls and tin foil!

From my playlist… Waiting for Superman by Daughtry.

From my reading list… Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers. If you love space opera, then you must read Kathy’s Firebird series. It tops my list of favorite books!

From my needlework basket… a cotton sweater for summer. Of course, it may be finished just in time for the first snowfall…

In the learning room… I’ve been browsing field guides for the kiddos. They are always finding plants, birds, and other things that we try to identify, so it’s time to invest in a good, comprehensive field guide. Any suggestions?

Random ramblings… I was pondering last night why superhero stories appeal to me. I decided it’s because growing up, I wanted to save the world. I knew that no matter what I did with my life, I wanted to make a difference and help people. You know, my life has not exactly turned out the way that I dreamed all of those years ago! Along the way, I discovered that we don’t have to do something spectacular to make a difference in people’s lives. Little things can make a difference too! I’ll never find the cure for cancer, explore Mars, or argue a case before the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean that God can’t use the small things that I can do.

Profound ponderings… “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – Gandalf in Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Caught on film…

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Book Review: The World Needs More Love Letters

I was a prolific letter-writer while I was growing up. I even had an overseas penpal who I wrote to for many years. Though I don’t do quite as much letter writing as I used to because of the advent of e-mail, I still enjoy sending cards and letters to family and friends. That’s why I was so interested in reviewing The World Needs More Love Letters by Hannah Brencher!

The World Needs More Love Letters is a pad containing 40 tear-out sheets of patterned stationery. Write your letter on the ruled side of the page and then follow the instructions on the back of the book to fold and seal your letter. Just address and stamp it, and you’re ready to drop it in the mail! If you’re having a hard time finding inspiration for your letter writing, then take a look at the list of 40 suggestions on the inside cover.

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What I loved:

  • The stationery is more graphic than girly in design, so it works well for both men and women.
  • The fun of writing and then folding up the self-mailer reminded me of the old Aerograms that I used to send to my overseas penpal!
  • It’s a fabulous way to encourage kids to write letters. My daughter immediately snagged a page to write a letter to her grandparents!

What I didn’t:

  • The white circle stickers provided to close up the sides of the letter were rather disappointing. I would have much preferred either a print that coordinated with the stationery, or just plain clear stickers that allowed the pretty stationery to show.

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Overall, I do really like the concept of The World Needs More Love Letters, and I’d definitely purchase similar products again. I hope that the publisher and author decide to offer additional designs in the future! Whether you are a prolific letter writer, or simply want to cultivate the habit of sending “real mail”, then this is a fun addition to your stationery desk.

bfb-125x125-2Note: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

The Messy Side of Creativity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

My kids are creative. I love that about them! I can’t say that I’m overly fond of the chaos that tends to go hand in hand with creativity though…

In a fit of frustration I asked, “How do you encourage creativity without the house getting trashed?” I do realize that I’ll have to put up with some amount of chaos. My husband and I homeschool four kids, have a very large dog, and both work from home. Life (and our home) are bound to get a bit crazy.

I’ve found a few strategies that help reduce the crazy factor though!

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Art boxes for everyone!

Each kid has their own plastic art box. This is where they can keep their art projects that they are still working on, and finished ones that they would like to keep. We store their art boxes in a cabinet in the dining room so that they are easy to get to, but out of sight when put away. Art projects still have a tendency to pile up here and there, but now I can tell the kids that they need to put them in their art boxes. What happens when the boxes are full? That’s when the kids go through the contents and decide what they want to keep, and what they don’t.

What do I do with all of these LEGOs?

I found the cutest LEGO organizer. It held six plastic boxes that would snap closed, keeping the LEGO sets separate and organized. Turns out my kids are much less OCD than I am. They prefer the LEGO kits to be mixed together into a giant mish-mash of creative possibilities! What’s worked the best for us is a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and a couple of plastic bins with lids. Yes, I still have to remind the kids that picking up the LEGOs means that all of them are in the drawers or boxes, but keeping them stored in closed containers seems to cut down on the number of LEGOs that find my bare feet!

Markers, and crayons, and glue sticks! Oh my!

Art supplies will take over my dining room without a plan for corralling them. Magazine holders and plastic shoeboxes are the key for doing that. The magazine holders are perfect for containing all kinds of paper from construction paper to graph paper. They fit on my bookshelves neatly and keep the paper from getting wrinkled. The plastic shoeboxes from the dollar store stack well, and again, they fit on my bookshelves! Markers go in one box, crayons in another, and so on. (This is also a great organizing solution for your hands-on manipulatives.) I get the clear boxes so that the kids can easily see which box has the items that they’re looking for. The lidded boxes work so much better than open bins because they are stackable and things tend to stay better contained when there’s a lid involved.

That is not coming in my house…

Creativity doesn’t stop when the kids go outside! My kids would happily bring every interesting rock, leaf, stick, feather, piece of bark, and frog that they find in our backyard. I have to have limits on what is allowed in the house, and what isn’t. They each have a small tin that they are allowed to keep rocks and shells in. Like their art boxes, when their tin is full, it’s time to pare down their collection. When it comes to living creatures, the only one allowed to come inside is our German Shepherd. A mom has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Creativity will never be mess-free, but having a place for everything is a great starting point. Yes, I still have to remind the kids more often than I’d like that they have to pick up their projects when they are done working on them, but at least they know where to put things! That makes picking up so much easier and faster for everyone.