Saturday Afternoon Chat and a Cup of Tea: Snow and letting God calm the storm in me

Come on in out of the cold and have a seat.

Excuse the mess. We’ve been busy this week doing crafts, homeschooling, and being outside in the cold.

What have you been busy doing this week?

This week I don’t have anything too exciting or new to drink, but I am glad to have some local honey to put in my organic peppermint tea. I ran out of honey early in the week and added sugar as a sweetener which was completely awful. I haven’t put plain sugar in anything in years, other than a cup of tea a few months ago when I was, again, out of honey.

I never realized how sickly sweet it was. It was so sweet that it actually made me feel sick to my stomach. I cut back on sugar over a decade ago and I won’t lie and say I never eat sugar, but I don’t put sugar in tea or on cereal any longer. It’s just too much to me. If I sweeten things it is with honey or maple syrup or molasses. I think I shared one week that I like to add maple syrup to my hot cocoa, which is only plain cocoa powder mixed in hot milk. I don’t use the cocoa mixes with sugar added because it’s simply too sweet for me.

Don’t worry — I’m not a sugarless snob. I still have candy bars and some cookies or cake, although very rarely on the cake and cookies. I simply don’t have the cravings for sweet food as much as I once did. I do, however, still crave chocolate, so I’m not sugar-free.

Winter remembered it was supposed to be – uh – wintering this past week and dumped a few inches of snow on us over a couple of days.

Little Miss and Zooma the Wonder Dog were super excited because they love the snow. I don’t really love the snow but I went out with them and took some photographs and shivered. After the first little snow, both Little Miss and Scout ended up a tree, but they were both short trees so both of them could climb out easily.

Eventually, we went back inside and I started a fire in our woodstove and The Boy made us homemade French fries while we finished our school lessons. It was really a nice, relaxing day

We had another storm on Wednesday and Little Miss and Zooma the Wonder Dog enjoyed their time in the snow again.

Since we are low on heating oil and have an outstanding bill from the insanely high oil prices, we are trying to run the woodstove more often and I’ve been surprised by how well it is heating the house. It did heat the house well before but we never let it run past our bedtime until this week. Now it heats the house all night as well, which means we can reduce our oil usage and turn down the electric heat.

I was very stressed when I realized how low we were on heating oil. It seems like we’ve been getting hit with a lot lately and this seemed like something else. It isn’t easy, especially if we really do run out of heating oil before we can afford another order, but we really are very lucky. We don’t have it as mad as many people. Our house, while old, is in very good shape, with a fairly new roof and siding. We were lucky the woodstove was in the house when we came here and that it keeps us warm on cold winter nights.

We are able to afford food and lately, people have been giving my parents food they can’t use from the food pantry and they’ve been passing that on to us.

We’ve truly been very blessed by God, even when I feel lost and worried about the future.

There are still some appointments coming up for my youngest that have me worried, but I’m doing my best to trust God each step of the way.

Last week Little Miss had some trouble sleeping. She wasn’t sure why, but she simply couldn’t sleep. I was very upset by this because I was tired and worried about her but also about how I’d function the next day. Eventually, after about three hours, she did fall asleep but by then I was wired and wide awake and my anxiety was high. I prayed and suddenly I felt a strange calm settle over me. I felt almost happy. I closed my eyes and prayed for a couple people, thought about some ideas for a future story and eventually drifted off and jerked awake fifteen minutes later. Then eventually I drifted off altogether and managed a few hours.

As I was drifting off I thought about how sometimes God doesn’t calm the storm raging around us, but, instead, he calms the storm within is.

I need that calm right now, certainly, with all that’s been going on. Only God can calm the storm within us and it’s something I need to remember as much as I can.

It was good to have that reminder pop into my head that night, or morning, and I don’t think it came from my own mind alone.

Have you had any reminders you needed lately?

And what are you drinking today to help get you through your day? I certainly hope it’s some nice tea or cocoa.

My books are on Kindle Unlimited and Shores of Mercy releases January 31

My blog is mainly for rambling (hence the title Boondock Ramblings) and not for promoting myself, but I decided to share today that all three books in the Spencer Valley Chronicles are on Kindle Unlimited or are available for purchase on Amazon (in ebook and paperback form).

Also, Shores of Mercy will be on sale on January 31, but you can pre-order it today, HERE for $1.99. Read below for descriptions of each book.

In addition, I am developing some paperback journals to sell and you can find links to them below:

Book Tracker and Book Reviews:

Sermon Notes:

Sketchnotes Sermon Notes:

Reading journal for tracking what you are reading:

Gratitude journal:

A simple journal to list what books you’ve read:

Upcoming will be a quote journal and a praise and prayer journal. I’m really having a lot of fun designing these.

If you have not read my fiction books or know what they are about, here are the descriptions of each of them and a link to them:

A Story to Tell

Can she find a new life of her own, without losing all that she already has?

Blanche Robbins is 17 in 1957 and feels like her life is going nowhere. It’s certainly nothing like the exciting lives of the characters in the books she reads.

When Hank Hakes begins paying attention to her and asks her to run away with him, she sees the offer as a ticket to a new, more exciting life away from her rural upbringing.

The decision sets into motion a life Blanche never expected or wanted.


A New Beginning

Can Blanche open her heart again after it failed her once before?

Five years later Blanche Robbins could still vividly remember the moment she broke Hank Hakes’ nose with her foot after he broke hers’ with his fist. She could still hear the sick crunch of bones under her heel and still clearly see in her mind his glazed eyes before they closed.

Blanche knew if she didn’t remember how Hank had beat her, she might let her walls down, leaving her son and her vulnerable again. She wasn’t about to let that happen.
That’s why she didn’t like the idea that her best friend might be trying to set her up with J.T. Wainwright.
Blanche wasn’t about to let anyone break down the walls she had built around her life and heart, walls to protect her — but more importantly – her son.


Where the Wildflowers Grow

Two books in one. The story of a young girl and her tumultuous journey into adulthood. A journey mixed with heartache, hard lessons, but also faith and joy.

A Story to Tell

Blanche Robbins is 17 in 1957 and feels like her life is going nowhere. It’s certainly nothing like the exciting lives of the characters in the books she reads.

When Hank Hakes begins paying attention to her and asks her to run away with him, she sees the offer as a ticket to a new, more exciting life away from her rural upbringing.

The decision sets into motion a life Blanche never expected or wanted.

A New Beginning

Blanche doesn’t know how to let down the walls she built up during the mistakes of her past. As she forges a new life and looks back on heartache, now with her son, she bristles when her best friend, Emmy, suggests Blanche meet Emmy’s cousin J.T. Wainwright.

She isn’t interested in a romantic relationship, not after her last experience. She built walls around her heart for a reason. To protect herself and, more importantly, her son.


The Farmer’s Daughter

Will the desire to change their lives bring two people together and will the Tanner family be able to save their family farm?

Molly Tanner thought she’d be further in life by now, but, no. At the age of 26, still living on her parent’s dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania, wondering if there is a life for her somewhere other than little Spencer Valley. While wondering, though, her family faces financial struggles, her best friend falls into a deep depression, and her brother’s best friend starts acting weird around her. Weird as in — is attractive Alex Stone flirting with her?

Alex has his own challenges to face, mainly facing past demons that make him feel like he’s not worthy of the love the Tanner family has already shown him, let alone the love of the woman he’s fallen for while working side-by-side with her in the barn each day.


Harvesting Hope

Can she forgive him for what he can’t forget?
The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.

With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.

In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.

Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out. As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.


Beauty From Ashes

Can two women figure out their chaotic, confusing lives together? And how will the men in their lives fit in their journey?

Liz Cranmer feels trapped in a prison of shame. Now a single mother at 27 she feels like the whole town, especially her church-going parents, view her as a trashy woman with no morals. That’s not how she used to think of herself but — could they be right? And if they think that, then what does God think of her?

Ginny Jefferies, 53, has hit a few snags of her own in life. Her husband, Stan, barely acknowledges her, her job as the town’s library director has become mundane and stagnant, and her youngest daughter is having some kind of identity crisis. Pile on the return of a former boyfriend and you have the makings of a potential midlife crisis.


Shores of Mercy

There was a time in Ben Oliver’s life when his career was more important than anything — including his girlfriend, Angie, who he walked away from when she told him she was pregnant. Even before that night, he’d been drinking too much, but after that night, the drinking got worse.

That was four years ago. Now he’s sober and opened a law office half an hour from where he grew up. He’s stayed away from Angie and the little girl he never met because he believes their life will be better without him, but when her family moves back to the area and her parents ask him to be involved in his little girl’s life, his past catches up with him.

Judi Lambert has battled her own demons and is now fighting for her sobriety. She wants to kick her party-girl lifestyle to the curb and she’s well on her way. Not far into the journey to get her life back on track, though, she’s forced to relive a traumatic experience with a man she’d once thought was simply her ticket to a good time.

When Judi and Ben’s worlds collide, can they work together to get their lives back on track? And can Judi work to help Ben get Angie and his daughter back again?


I also sell stock photography at Alamy and Lightstock. Links to my accounts on those sites, here:

Lightstock () and Alamy .

Sunday bookends: Relaxing books and shows and my reader confession

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I laid my Anne of Windy Poplars book down somewhere and have not been able to finish it, so I picked up Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. It is the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series.

I’m not usually a girly girl but for some reason this book is making me act like one, complete with giggling in delight at some of the scenes and lines. I’m really enjoying this one, maybe a bit more than Windy Poplars. I have been taking little moments of respite to read a chapter or two from it a day and it’s like having a mini-vacation in the midst of the mental chaos I’ve been dealing with.

On my Kindle, I am reading The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, which brings me to confession time.

I’ve never actually read a Jane Austen book. I’ve started them, read excerpts, and seen the movies, but I have never completed a Jane Austen book. If you have, recommend one for me in the comments and I’m going to try to read one in March.

Anyhow, The Jane Austen Society is about a group of people who get together to save Jane Austen’s cottage in England. So far, it’s okay. Nothing stunning but interesting at least and maybe that is because I’ve never read her books.

Toward the end of the month and February, I have the following books up to read:

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson

By March I hope to be reading:

Banderidge by indie author Anne Calvert

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Love and the Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray

This list could definitely change. It usually does.

Last week, Little Miss and I read Sarah, Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan. They are short and beautiful books. Little Miss wanted to go back to Paddington last night but I hope to continue the Sarah series with Caleb, which I bought recently in paperback and then More Perfect Than the Moon and Grandfather’s Dance.

Have you ever seen the Hallmark movies that are based on the books? They are as beautiful as the books and shot almost scene for scene from Sarah, Plain and Tall, Skylark and Grandfather’s Dance.

Even the dialogue is the same.

We first saw Sarah, Plain and Tall when I was in high school and still living at home. It must have been on regular TV. My mom and dad cried through almost the whole movie, and I kept teasing them about it. My mom even tried to hide behind a newspaper but the newspaper shook with her crying.

“You just wait!” she declared. “When you get my age, these type of movies will make you cry too!”

It didn’t even take me that long. I cry every time I watched the movie after that and still do.

The movies star Glen close and Christopher Walken.

The Husband is reading Racing the Light by Robert Crais.

The Boy got delayed in finishing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn this past week, but he will finish it this week. I finished it last night. I will need to plan for a new book for us to read for English by February.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled a bit about what’s been going on in a blog post I posted yesterday and you can catch up there. Spoiler alert: not much has been going on that’s worth blogging about. Ha!

What We watched/are Watching

This past week we watched a Brokenwood Mysteries and are almost done with the last season they have put out. That will make me sad because I love the characters of the show. I hope they are making a ninth season.

I watched a few episodes of Miss Scarlet and the Duke and I like the show but a lot of these period mystery shows are starting to feel the same. Not only that, but they continue to push modern ideas into historical shows and I find that annoying. People in 1890 did not embrace homosexuality, prostitution and cheating like it was run of the mill and it would be nice if a period drama actually showed that more instead of subtly preaching at viewers about how they think it “should have been.”

All that being said, there was only one episode of this show that I felt did that and it was not overly done and not overly preachy. I hope other shows do not do that, but even if they do I’ll probably still watch the show because it is well written and the male lead is quite good looking, as well as Scottish. *wink*

This week I also watched the two episodes of All Creatures Great and Small’s third season that are up on PBS Masterpiece via Amazon video. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

Last week we watched episode six of the third season of The Chosen. It was excellent, but episode five was still my favorite. The last two episodes of the season will be shown in theaters on February 2 and February 3 and then streamed on February 4th and 5th (I think those dates are correct). We considered going to the theater to see them but will probably just watch them at home.

My nerves have still been on edge lately, so I also watched quite a bit of The Andy Griffith Show this week.

What I’m Writing

I will be starting two books this week if all goes as planned. One is my Biblical fiction book and another is a book I am writing with a group of other authors. I’ll keep you posted.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To:

I am loving this new song by Matthew West:

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

An afternoon chat and a cup of tea: More Mary Berry, rainy weather, cuddly cats, and molasses milk

 I really need a cup of tea again this week, though it might have been a slightly better week than last week.

I loved the teas that everyone shared with me that they were drinking last week. What are you drinking this week?

I think I was drinking cocoa and maple syrup last week instead of tea, but today I’m sipping a cup of peppermint tea with local honey stirred in.

The cold weather seems to be here to stay and we might receive some snow tomorrow, but so far our winter has remained mild. I’ve enjoyed staying inside as much as possible, covered with a blanket this week while I read or tried to figure out how to design journals and sell them on Amazon.

The only days we got out of the house for very long were a visit to my parents on Sunday and a dentist appointment an hour away for Little Miss.

It was raining and messy the day we went to the dentist appointment so we didn’t enjoy the view of the drive through the local state park on our way there. I was glad when we returned home and I was able to pull a blanket up around me and watch some Andy Griffith. The cats have been inside more often recently due to the weather.

Scout has decided she needs to visit my chest to touch her nose to mine and curl up a few times each day, including in the middle of the night a couple of times, which made me almost scream. She doesn’t seem happy with simply curling up at the end of the bed. She wants to walk up my chest and stick her nose in my face first and then she’ll go curl up somewhere else. She was practically thrown across the room one night because she woke me up and I thought a monster from one of my weird dreams was attacking me.

She is one of the few cats I have had that have let me pick them up and cuddle them, at least for a few moments anyhow. I mentioned this to my husband and he said, “Smokey used to let you pick her up.”

Smokey was one of the cats he had when we were dating. I inherited her, along with Squeek and my husband, when we got married. The issue is that Smokey really didn’t like me. She was The Husband’s cat. She loved The Husband. He could pet her on her nose and put her to sleep while she lay on his chest.

She hated me. At first she hated me. Later she tolerated me. Either way, she did not let me cuddle her.

“She let you cuddle her,” I reminded The Husband this morning. “Not me. I replaced her in your life and she hated me for that.”

The only time Smokey did like me was when I was lactating. She would rub up against my chest during that time. She was a milk fiend and loved when I would pour a little of my lactose-free milk for her in a plate or bowl. When that tradition started, she decided I was okay and she could like me a little bit. She lived 17 years and she did let me pet her, especially when I needed to comfort her after she went partially deaf and would sit in the middle of the living room floor and cry after her longtime companion, Squeek, died. I do miss that cat. Even if she wouldn’t let me cuddle her.

This afternoon Little Miss had gymnastics. She’s getting ready for a small competition at her studio in February. It will be her first. We are hoping she will wear her leotard because she doesn’t like wearing it during her weekly practices. She prefers to wear her stretch pants and a T-shirt instead.

Today, The Boy has a friend over to visit. They’ll talk about video games and whatever 16 and 17-year-olds talk about (sometimes it is a little frightening so I don’t listen. Ha!).  The Husband, Little Miss and I usually hide upstairs when he has friends over and watch shows on our laptops or read books. This gives the boys time to be boys and laugh about body sounds and similar things.

Seriously, though, these boys have quite a few serious conversations about history, dictatorships, economies of foreign countries, former presidents, various battles in various wars, and other topics which sometimes go over my head. My brain can’t really comprehend anything too complicated these days.

Recently, I have been craving simple things. Simple shows, books, food, and days. I can’t always have the simple days, but I try to take a small amount of time out of the day to read a book and drink something warm like a cup of tea or, like I did earlier this week, a cup of molasses milk.

When my dad had his knee surgery several years ago, his doctor required all of his patients to drink molasses milk for a certain number of days to raise their iron levels. I’m drinking the molasses milk for the same reason, hoping it will help either raise my iron or keep it at a good level. I find I feel better when I take iron capsules or increase my iron intake. I, of course, am using black strap molasses.

Earlier this week, after a particularly difficult day, I warmed up a cup of molasses milk, sat at our kitchen table, and opened up Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. I forced myself to sit still for 15 minutes and read a couple of chapters and I found that I felt a lot more relaxed afterward. I love escaping into Anne’s world.

Listening to good music, such as worship music, or reading a devotional and saying a brief prayer, helps me in a similar way. I would like to do all of those things this weekend as I try to give my brain and body some much needed respite from recent stress.

How do you relax during a stressful time? Do you have to force yourself to relax like I do?

And what are you drinking today? Let me know in the comments.

Last week one reader was drinking a new cinnamon tea from The Republic of Tea, and another was drinking a loose-leaf flavored black tea called Florence by Harney and Sons.

Do you hear it?

Do you hear it?

The voice that whispers sickness to you.

The voice that sings despair.

The voice that tells you you have no future.

The voice that hisses death in your ear.

The voice that never stops speaking so you can’t hear life.

You can’t hear joy.

You can’t hear faith.

You can’t hear God.

But you can hear him really.


You have, living within you, a greater power and if you close your eyes and really listen between the scary little voices you will hear a still, small voice telling you to get up.

Demons have no power here.

Tell the demons to shut up, to be silent because the power that was in Christ lives in you through the Holy Spirit.

It’s there, not hidden or gone like you think it is.

You can order those voices to be gone.

He gave you the power to wage war against the powers of the dark world, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Put on the armor and get ready but if you’re too tired to fight, remember that he will do the fighting for you because the battle is ultimately his to fight and win.

 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Sunday Bookends: 2023 needs a restart, a mix of books, favorite blog posts, and Americans portraying the British and vice versa

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Winter came back with a vengeance yesterday and led to The Husband lighting the woodstove to keep the cold at bay. We stayed inside huddled under covers, reading books, correcting errors in a book (for me), and watching a lot of light and fluffy TV and movies. The animals sprawled themselves in front of the woodstove, looking slightly drugged.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the last two or three weeks have been pretty awful for us and this past week was one of the worst as I was falsely accused of something that now requires me to provide a lot of documentation. It has my nerves so raw I’ve started internal trembling again but nowhere near as intense as I had after I had Covid or in 2017 after my dog died and after I had a virus. Luckily my mom is doing very well after spending a week in the hospital with pancreatitis and having her gallbladder removed. The side effects from the virus I had during that time have finally started to subside as well.

Before everything sort of fell apart and the temperatures dropped, I went outside and took some photographs for my stock photography accounts and also just had fun goofing off with the pets who thought they needed to be in the photos as well.

I was actually looking forward to life becoming a little bit more normal. Well, that was short lived but hopefully this year will get back on track again soon.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I finished The Reckoning Trees by Alicia Gilliam last night. Wow. What a ride that was. I held on for dear life during most of it, holding my fingers over my eyes because I wasn’t sure what would happen. It was incredibly well written and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

I have a couple more chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain to finish up and I’m sure that will happen on Monday.

I lost my paperback copy of Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery somewhere. Either the house or the car, but I would love to find it this week and continue it.

On Kindle, I have a couple of choices of what books to start next. I have Love and The Silver Lining by Tammy L. Gray, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese.

The Husband is reading The Big Bundle by Max Allan Collins.

Little Miss and I finished Children of the Longhouse this past week and are looking for another historical fiction for children to start for school but haven’t picked one yet.

At night we are reading Paddington again. Sigh. I hope to start Sarah, Plain, and Tall with her at some point this week.

What We watched/Are Watching

I found this lady this past week and have a feeling I’ll be watching her a lot when I need to relax.

We watched See How They Run on HBO Max as a family this weekend. It was pretty good but I was irritated that they had an American actor playing a British cop when so often we have British people playing Americans anymore. I mean why couldn’t one of their British actors who comes over here to play a famous  American play the British cop? Doesn’t make sense.

Still, the movie was good – quirky and fun and what we needed.

Little Miss and I had ourselves a Mary Berry marathon of sorts on Friday and Saturday. Watching her is so relaxing. I still can’t believe she’s 87 and still cooking away. Well, the most recent show we watched, she is 85. And still getting around wonderfully – or at least she was two years ago.

We watched her on Saturday (today as I am writing this) while the fire roared in the woodstove. On Friday we watched her show Mary Berry Loves to Cook and on Saturday we watched Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets, Season 1.

I found the first season of Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on Youtube, by the way.

Little Miss and I agreed that watching her is very relaxing.

The Husband and I also watched an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries and I watched a couple episodes of a show from the 70s called the Manor Born.

What I’m Writing

I haven’t been writing a lot. I am currently making corrections on my manuscript for Shores of Mercy to prepare it to be released on January 31. You can preorder it here.

I did share two posts on the blog this week:

What I’m Listening to

I listened to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read/performed by Elijah Wood almost all week. Frodo did an amazing job on the book and brought out some of the crazy hypocrisy of the people of Missouri during the years of slave-owning in the way he pronounced and presented the book.

For music I listened to:

Danny Gokey – New Day

Needtobreathe, Multiplied

Needtobreathe, Happiness

Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Trust in You

Spirit Lead Me – Influence Music and Michael Ketterer

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I am behind on blog reading but this week I did enjoy the following posts:

Sunshine for a January Soul by Mama’s Empty Nest

Lessons from Damar Hamlin by Fuel for the Race

The Helper by Warmly Meg

Also, please say a prayer for blogger Jinjer from The Intrepid Arkansawyer. She lost her mom this week.

Now it’s your turn

What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

Saturday Afternoon Tea and Chat: Blah, blah, blah

This is a blog post with no purpose. Just a ramble. It’s when I invite you to have some tea, coffee, cocoa or some other hot beverage with me. It’s when I also remind you to drink responsibly! Usually, this is a joke because I don’t think my blog readers are heavy alcohol drinkers. *wink* You all seem more like the coffee and herbal tea type to me and that’s not a bad thing. Of course, I know one reader who sips a glass of wine from time to time, but they aren’t laying in a gutter somewhere drunk like an Edgar Allan Poe recreation, so I think that’s fine.

Anyhow, I have digressed.

This week I wanted to go back to the weeks before Christmas when I was in a little Christmas bubble, and everything seemed hopeful and happy.

I mean I literally have wanted to crawl into a cocoon and not come out for several weeks. It’s not an exaggeration.

I can’t write about part of what has been going on or who showed up at my front door this week, but I would ask that those who follow me and who pray would pray for us right now as we are the subject of false accusations that have kept me awake at night.

Being awake hasn’t been a good thing since I also lost sleep when I was sick and when my mom was in the hospital from December 30th to January 8.

All of what has been going on in my life feels like a clear supernatural attack from forces unseen as mentioned in Ephesians 6:12:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

It has been one thing after another. Not even our dog is safe since she has developed horrible itching and a rash and had to have something I can’t talk about on my blog done to her at the vet two weeks ago. Poor thing. Hopefully,
things will clear up for her soon. As of Friday afternoon, as I am writing this, she’s already getting better, luckily.

Between trying to send documentation to refute the false accusations, taking care of the dog, and trying to stop internal trembling I have been having, I felt like I didn’t have a lot of breaks this week until Friday when I just put as much as I could aside and decided to try to read, listen to books, and watch as much light stuff as I could.   

I’ll share more of what I watched tomorrow during Sunday Bookends but this was one thing I watched that helped calm me:

I am reading a variety of books, which I will ramble about tomorrow as well. What I really need to do to help my nerves is take a walk and I know that but I’m so stressed that the idea of leaving the house almost seems too much.  How awful is that? Plus it has been cold and blah out.

It’s so weird but when you are really down, you realize how much the little things mean. For example, I made myself a cup of hot cocoa with the perfect mix of cocoa and maple syrup yesterday and it was amazing. I literally just sat and sipped it and sighed and for a few minutes forgot about everything.

Talking to online friends (who are real friends) about anything other than the drama in my life has been nice too. Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I had a thrilling conversation about raisins yesterday. We discussed how evil it is when someone makes cookies and you think they are chocolate chip but they are actually raisins.

That is a huge pet peeve of The Boy who had a mini meltdown one day at his grandparents when they offered him a cookie that he thought was a chocolate chip cookie but turned out to be oatmeal raisin. It’s now a running joke. My dad even gave him raisins for Christmas. He did receive some homemade chocolate chip cookies for his birthday to make up for how many times his grandparents kept giving him oatmeal raisin cookies.

I also shared that the raisins The Boy was given for Christmas have the texture of mouse droppings, though I’ve never eaten mouse droppings. She then shared that her son enjoys flavored raisins, such as tropical raisins and I was blown away because I had no idea there was such a thing.

I then shared with her my favorite quote about raisins, which comes from the movie Benny & Joon when Joon tells Sam that raisins are just humiliated grapes and that the California Raisins scare her. Those raisins always terrified me as a child too. That’s just not natural.

So what do you think of raisins? Did you know they have flavored raisins? Or were you as clueless as me?

What hot beverage are you having today? Hot herbal tea, coffee, or, like me, hot cocoa?

And how has your week gone? Let me know in the comments.

Educationally speaking: Children of the Longhouse and The History of Lacrosse

Little Miss and I have been studying Native American history for the last month or more while reading Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac. I found a curriculum to use with the book that is very simple and includes science, health, and language arts along with history lessons. This allowed us to branch off into other subjects while reading.

The book focuses on Ohkwa’ri and Osti:stia, two Iroquois children, or, yes, children of the longhouse. The siblings are twins (check) and Ohkwarri is on the cusp of becoming a man. He’s also become the target of one of the boys in the village after he overheard the boy conspiring with his friend to attack a neighboring tribe and told the village council about it.

Here is a brief description of the book:

When Ohkwa’ri overhears a group of older boys planning a raid on a neighboring village, he immediately tells his Mohawk elders. He has done the right thing—but he has also made enemies. Grabber and his friends will do anything they can to hurt him, especially during the village-wide game of Tekwaarathon (lacrosse). Ohkwa’ri believes in the path of peace, but can peaceful ways work against Grabber’s wrath?

I agree with this review on The Home Librarian about the book: “If I had one complaint about the book, it’s a minor one. There is a glossary with pronunciation guide that was incredibly helpful. However, it’s tucked at the back of the book so I didn’t realize it was there until about half way through the book when I came across a word and wondered if there was a pronunciation guide. It would have been better to put it up front so the reader knows it’s there and so you first see how to pronounce the names Ohkwar’ri (Oh-gwah’-li) and Otsi:stia (Oh-dzee-dzyah).”

It is easy to see from the picture on the front of the book and from the description of the game that Tekwaarathon(pronounced Day-gwaah-la-ton) is actually lacrosse. I had no idea until I read this book that Lacrosse was passed down from Native Americans. Well, let’s say I had a very vague idea it was somehow connected to Native American culture, but I had forgotten it over the years. Like maybe I heard it somewhere one day when I was young, but I didn’t really remember much about it until we started this book.

At first, the book was slow and overly descriptive in some parts in my opinion. I suggested we skip past those parts but Little Miss said she liked even the slow parts so I plowed through them and then ended up liking them. I felt bad that I was impatient for the story to pick up and get to the game already and finally reminded myself that the book was as much about presenting Iroquois culture as it was about the action of the game. There are 13 long chapters in the book and it took us until chapter 12 to get to the actual game scenes. That chapter did not disappoint either. In fact, when we finished the book yesterday, Little Miss said, “Read it again!”

I have declined to read it again at this time but may do so later. I did enjoy the book, but the chapters were quite long and we need to move on to another history-based book for a new unit next week. I may read the book to her at night, however.

The curriculum we used provided us with various historical, scientific, and artistic videos and sites. One of the resources that fascinated me was a video about the history of lacrosse:

This prompted me to hop on the interwebs and read a bit more about the history of the game and its connection to the  Haudenosaunee or Iroquois people. First, I found out in the video that the French called the Haudenosaunee Iroquois. They weren’t always called Iroquois. I had no idea their name had been changed by the French.

Second, I had no idea the game was being played in 1100. Tekwaarathon, by the way, is pronounced nothing like it looks like so that was a lot of fun to try to pronounce while reading it to Little Miss.

According to, “The early versions of lacrosse matches played by Native American nations included 100 to 1,000 men or more using wooden sticks, sometimes with net baskets or pockets attached, and small, deer hide-wrapped balls. Deer sinew formed nets.  Borderless fields could span miles, and games could last days.”

In our book, the author talked about the bruises and cuts on the main character’s face as he competes in the game and the injuries that many of the men had while playing.

Women did occasionally play the game as well and definitely play it these days.

Some Native Americans believed the Creator gave the game to them as medicine and entertainment. They played for a variety of reasons, one being to lift the spirits of someone who was sick, which is why the game was played in The Children of The Longhouse.

If you watch the video, you will see that the name of the game was changed to lacrosse by French missionaries because they thought the stick resembled the cross carried by bishops during religious ceremonies.

Somewhere along the line the game became more of an exclusive game that was mainly played by the elite or the wealthy. In 1859, Canada adopted Lacrosse and it was made their national sport for a while but as we all know that was later replaced by hockey.

You can read more about the game’s fascinating history on

I’m so glad I veered off the strict curriculum I had been using and went a bit rogue by choosing a historical fiction book we could use as a jump-off point into history lessons. When I decided to do Little Miss’s history this way, I knew I wanted to focus on Native American history for at least a month and move on to other early history for another month but I wasn’t sure which book I would use.

I can’t remember how I stumbled on The Children of the Longhouse, but I’m glad it did. It not only allowed me to teach Little Miss about our nation’s first real settlers but also enlightened me to their culture and history. That’s one of the aspects of homeschooling I enjoy the most – being able to learn right along with the kids.

If you have a historical fiction book for children you think we should dive into next, let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Hospital stays, late-night reading, and Anne of Green Gables movies

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, and what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

I mentioned yesterday in my Saturday Afternoon Tea and Chat post (or whatever I am calling it because I change the name every time I post it) that we had a very rough week. You can read more about my sickness and my mom’s week-long hospital stay in that post.

Today I hope to mentally recover a bit from all the craziness with some reading and catching up on The Chosen before the new episode premieres tonight. I will also most likely visit my parents and help Mom with her recovery from gallbladder surgery.

What I/we’ve been Reading

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was sick this week and up all night one night and most of the night a couple more. During the all-nighter, I started A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton. It is a Hamish MacBeth Mysteries book and the first I’ve read of M.C. Beaton’s.

I will finish it today.

I’m also reading The Reckoning Trees by Alicia Gilliam and enjoying it. I decided I needed something lighter on the night I couldn’t fall asleep so I put it aside then but am back into it this week.

This upcoming week I will be plowing through the rest of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with The Boy.

At night Little Miss and I have been listening to Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman or reading Paddington Marches On.

The Husband is reading a collection of short stories inspired by Sherlock Holmes.

The Boy seems to be avoiding reading until we get back into school on Monday.

What We watched/are Watching

With everyone being sick or running around this week, we didn’t find much time to sit down and watch anything together.  I watched Anne of Green Gables The Sequel and also a few episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

What I’m Listening To

Right now I am listening to The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham on Audible.

I’m ashamed to say that I did not listen to music this week. I think if I had it would have made the week a bit less stressful.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.