Sunday Bookends: I Finally Finished Fellowship of the Ring, and other unimportant things

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

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I did it! I finally finished The Fellowship of the Ring! It only took me four months (or was it five?), but I did it.

Now, did I like it?

Yes and no.

I really loved the characters and fell in love with them. I didn’t love the descriptions of trees and where they were walking as much, but I also didn’t hate them.

In some ways, I felt like entire sections of descriptions could be cut but this was a book written at a time when television and the internet were not even around or weren’t as popular. Long descriptions that may seem a bit overdone to us now were entertaining to readers back then. They are still entertaining to many readers now. I really did like the book but sometimes my eyes started to cross when he was describing what the trees on the left looked like and the trees on the right looked like and the trees in front and the trees behind and  . . .

Well, you get my drift.

He wrote a lot about trees.

Imagine my sadness too when I realized that this book was not the actual ending.

I thought this book was when Frodo threw the ring to the fire, but, alas, no. There are two more books after this one! And both are just about as long.

Not only that but when J.R.R. Tolkien originally wrote the books, they were meant to be released as one huge volume. I mean – really?? It would have been like a 1500-page book or something. Yikes! You could kill a person if you hit them with that.

I guess it is better that the books are broken into “bite-sized” chunks but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for readers in the 1950s to get that first book and think they were going to get some resolution – that all that reading about trees was going to pay off with Frodo completing his mission – only to get to the end and realize that that book was only the beginning.

Tolkien was like the George R.R. Martin of his time. Of course, I’m kidding. Tolkien was the father of Modern Fantasy so Martin is really just following in his footsteps. The only difference is that Martin will probably never finish his opus. Ha.

Now that I’ve finished Fellowship of the Ring, I need some lighter reads, so I am reading the second book in the Magic Garden Mysteries by Amanda Flower – Death and Daisies. I borrowed it through Libby, and it is due this week so I need to get reading. Her books are very fast reads so I should be able to do it if I just put down my phone and focus! Easier said than done these days.

I’ve also just borrowed a book by Andrew Klavan called When Christmas Comes because I’ve heard a lot about his writing and want to try one of his books and it was only one of two of his available to borrow on Libby. I guess Stephen King endorsed the book, which is funny because they two of them have vastly different political views.

Little Miss and I are still reading The Cabin Faced West during the day and Little House in the Big Woods at night.

The Husband is reading Jack Reacher: Better Off Dead by Lee and Andrew Child.

The Boy is losing his mind trying to finish The Fellowship of the Ring.

What’s Been Occurring

Earlier today Little Miss and I went to a Memorial Day service with The Husband. He had to take photos of it for the paper. The service was a man playing the bagpipes and he did a very nice job. I think there was supposed to be more to the service, but the Civil War reenactors didn’t show up. Not sure why. It was still a nice tribute to our fallen soldiers and held in a cemetery that has recently been revitalized.

Afterwards, we stopped at a playground near the cemetery and explored a creek behind the playground. Little Miss had more fun at the creek, partially because the playground is out in the blazing sun and partially because she just loves exploring nature.

Tomorrow we will visit my parents for Memorial Day and plan to have a cookout there.

We don’t have much on tap the rest of the week. I may visit my mom and help clean her kitchen floor but that’s not very exciting. I’m sure I won’t feel the need to blog about that. *wink*

What We Watched/are Watching

This past week The Husband I watched a Poirot and a Brokenwood Mysteries. Yes, I know. It’s the same every week lately, but hey, we are creatures of habit.

I also watched Suspicion with Cary Grant and blogged about that.

Then I watched Forgotten Way Farms and Darling Desi on YouTube.

What I’m Writing

I am working on book two of the Gladwynn Grant Mysteries and a book I am going to release in 2024. When I run out of ideas for one, I switch to the other.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I have not been listening to music and I hope to remedy that this week and listen to more.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

Now it’s your turn

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 Chat: Still cold in our neck of the woods, digging holes, weird grocery shopping trips and homeschool wrapping up this week

I am writing this post while – yet again – sitting under a blanket with a dog cuddled against me.

Yes, it is still a bit chilly in Pennsylvania but that is set to change next week when temperatures will finally rise into the mid-80s.

I have mentioned before that I like chilly weather and being able to curl up under a blanket with a good book and have an excuse to not go anywhere and instead just stay at home and read a book. Still, 50 and 60 degree days this close to summer is a bit odd.

I remember one summer when Little Miss was a baby, and The Boy was also young, that it was very cold almost the entire summer. It was either cold and raining and it ruined many summer plans, especially swimming at a public pool near us – which is no longer public, sadly. The Boy was severely depressed he couldn’t do most of his summer activities. Now he no longer swims or does too many summer activities – like digging holes in the backyard. I miss that.

One summer he started digging a hole in the backyard. Why? I don’t know. Even he didn’t know. He just wanted to see how far he could get and what the hole would become. He was around 11 and I think it was around the time his closest friend stopped talking to him because I had chosen to pull him from the private Christian school he was attending at the time. Long story short, my son was having difficulties with a teacher and having panic attacks.

Regardless of all the other details, my son found new fun in his life and digging that hole was part of his fun.

He’d grab his shovel and head out into the backyard and play some music and dig a hole. Sometimes his sister would join in.

Anyhow, I have digressed a lot in this post. Back to my week recap.

This past week was very uneventful, other than an issue with the inside of my mouth and a broken tooth I’m having. Right now, I can’t get the tooth fixed because I don’t have insurance or money for the dentist (like up to $300 just to come in and see what needs to be done. No thanks.) I am thankful I am not in excruciating pain but talking has been interesting since I ripped my cheek muscle trying to get a look at the broken tooth. Fun times and stupid move by me. Hopefully it will all heal soon or I will find the money to get the one tooth pulled.

Thursday Little Miss and I drove the van up to be fixed by an exhaust specialist because the van’s exhaust system has a big hole in it.

The Husband met us there from work and brought us home. While trying to turn around because I drove past the place, some very angry man cursed at me out his truck window. I think it was at me. I’m not sure. All I know is that he sounded very angry, used extremely bad words, and then flipped off someone as I pulled out. No idea if it was at me or not because I was already going the other direction by the time he got his hand out the window.

Before we took the van, we stopped at the library to sign Little Miss up for the summer reading program and for her to pick out a few books.

Yesterday we had to pick the van back up and grab some groceries. That was a whole drama as it often is when I get groceries. Something weird happens almost every time I go. One time I locked myself out of our van and our spare keys don’t work to unlock it and the key fob lock button doesn’t work on it. It was a whole thing. Another time the youngest was just about starving and I had to get her food before we could go. This time the key fob fell off the keychain and disappeared into the void of Aldi or the parking lot or my van or I don’t even know. It was just gone. This meant I was once again stranded at Aldi with no way to get home until The Husband (who’d already had a super, super long day) could come and get me. He’d already headed home to rest because he had to take photos for the paper at a Twitty & Lynn concert. If you don’t know who they are, they are the grandchildren of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn. Having them perform in our area was a little weird since there is nothing out here but trees and bears, but, alas there they were.

Speaking of bears, The Boy was up very late one night last week and looked out his upstairs window to see the outline of a bear in the dark sniffing our grill on the back porch. He said it was too dark to see it very well but that he could hear the bear breathing.

He left a note letting his dad know about the incident and then The Husband read in the local paper (not the one he works with) that a bear has been seen wandering our street and the streets around us.

I have been trying to see a bear for three years but only from the safety of my house. However, after hearing one is actually roaming our backyard, I’ve decided I don’t want to see one. I was even too afraid to take Little Miss to the neighbor’s trampoline this week in case the bear came out of the small woods behind it. I have no idea what I would do if a bear came out while we were up there.

It’s fairly rare for a bear to come out during the day, but a young bear was in the yard of a friend of ours down the street last summer and it had no interest in leaving, even with her daughter’s dog barked at it. Zooma the Wonder Dog likes to go with us when we go up to the trampoline and I know she’d try to defend us. This week I am going to look up what we should do because it is supposed to be very nice out, and it will be nice weather to jump on the trampoline. Or it will be too hot to jump on the trampoline. Not sure which yet. We never can tell with Pennsylvania weather.

Today we had gymnastics for Little Miss and then we will have a week off from gymnastics.

School is winding down for us and we are mainly tackling last minute tasks such as finishing book reports and a research paper for The Boy, since I am required to have writing samples for him now that he is in high school.

Our last official day of school is June 2 and then we meet with the evaluator the next week. The evaluator will go over what work we did for the year and then write up a report that says we did what we needed to do under the requirements of our state’s homeschool law. We then hand that in to the school district and the year is officially done when the superintendent sends us a letter saying we have done what we needed to do – again – under state law.

I mentioned above that I signed Little Miss up for the local Summer Reading Program. That starts June 20th and is every Tuesday and Wednesday. It runs for about a month and should keep us busy and at the library at least a couple of times a week.

The Boy is still working at a local restaurant, at least for the summer. His schedule will get busier in the fall because he is going to be attending a trade school near us a couple of times a week in addition to homeschool, so he plans to quit his job.

I have not been drinking as much tea lately because I am out of honey. I planned to get some yesterday but after all the drama, I just wanted to head home. In place of honey, I used sugar. Yuck. I don’t know how I ever drank anything in it with sugar. It’s just too sweet and doesn’t taste right.

Since it will be warm this upcoming week I’ll probably stick to cool water or cool water with a bit of grape juice mixed in.

How about you? What have you been drinking and what will you be drinking this upcoming week? Herbal tea? Iced tea? Lemonade? Let me know in the comments and let me know how your week was.

Sunday Bookends: Good but unrealistic books, what are these flowers? And super cold weather in May.

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

What I/we’ve Been Reading

Last week I finished Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower. I liked the book for the most part but did find how the case happened and was solved all within a matter of a few days (and the police inspector started to fall for the main character) farfetched but so is a garden that comes to life when the main character walks into it. So, I suppose, you need to suspend some belief when reading Flower’s books, but that’s okay. They are a nice escape.

I have the second book in the series in my Kindle now. I’ll see if it is as ridiculous in its timeline as the first. Again, though, I still enjoyed the book, even if the timeline was a bit silly to me. My books are silly too so…I’m not going to get too up in arms about it all.

I am determined to finish Fellowship of The Ring this week even though I feel like I will never finish the book. Every time I think I’m almost done, I look, and I have several more chapters left. I have four chapters left but considering Tolkien’s chapters are like 100 pages each, I have like four more novellas left. Sigh.

I’m enjoying the book, even though it is very long. I have also paused during the reading of it to finish the cozy mystery I am writing and read other books, so that is another reason it is taking so long to read.

I started reading Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, which I hope is better than Anne’s House of Dreams, which was extremely depressing. Reading about the innocent, wide-eyed Anne growing up is a bit depressing honestly. Within the first two chapters of this book Anne is lamenting growing old and talking with her best friend Diana about how she’d love to be young again. All of that conversation hit a wee bit close to home for me. I think I might prefer reading about the young Anne since that is more of an escape for me. Reading about her older with five kids is a bit too much reality for me, I think. We will see.

What’s Been Occurring

I didn’t get a Saturday Afternoon Chat post written because we were gone all day yesterday for gymnastics, a family picnic and then a movie with The Husband, The Boy, and Little Miss.

I know I should just write their real names on here, but I can’t seem to stop writing the nicknames, so I’ll keep doing that.

Earlier this week I was writing blog posts under a blanket with a warm cup of tea.

Under a blanket in May?

Yep. I was,

This week’s weather was cold. Yes. Cold. In May. It was so cold that on Wednesday night into Thursday we had a freeze warning. Not a frost warning. A freeze warning. It dropped to 32 degrees and it killed part of my lilacs. Not cool, Pennsylvania. Not cool at all. The death was a bit slow too. They looked pretty good the next day but by this morning they have shriveled. It makes me want to cry. I’ve really been looking forwards to the flowers blooming in our yard and having them ripped away just as they started to bloom feels very cruel.

I’ve heard that we are going to have a mild summer and if May is an indication, those predictions are accurate.

Little Miss and I did get outside at least one day for a jump on the trampoline. She jumped. I read from the historical fiction book we are using for history.

Both of us are more than ready for school to be over this year and it will be on June 2.

Dragging through our schoolwork has not been easy at all.

As I’ve mentioned before, though, we are focusing mainly on art and music for the month of May and that has been easier than pushing through Math every single day. We still have some math I would like to finish before the school year is all the way done, though, so the kid will have to suck it up a bit this week and next.

Abrupt topic shift warning: At the park yesterday before the movie, I saw this tree. Does anyone know what it is? Because I had no idea. From a distance, I thought it was a lilac tree but it is not.

What We watched/are Watching

I mentioned above that we went to the movies yesterday.

The Husband and I split with the kids. Originally, we were all going to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 3 but shifted gears late in the week when we heard that the movie was pretty intense in language, etc. We thought it might be a bit much for Little Miss who is not a fan of violence or swearing.

She wanted to see Super Mario Brothers anyhow, so we lucked out that they were both playing at the small theater near us, which has four theaters. That’s a lot for our little theaters around here.

The only issue was that Super Mario Brothers didn’t start until 45 minutes after their movie started so Little Miss and I wasted some time with a piece of red velvet cake and a juice pack for her and a cup of tea for me.

We also looked at all the artwork at the theater.

While we were in the movie it hit me that this was a Chris Pratt weekend since he plays Star Lord in the Guardians movies, and he voices Mario.

Earlier in the week The Husband and I watched an episode of Poirot and an episode of Brokenwood Mysteries.

Little Miss and I watched Mary Berry episodes and she rewatched Bluey again.

What I’m Writing

I have been working a little bit on book two in the Gladwynn Grant Mysteries and a little on blog posts and a little on..well, I’ve just been working on a little of a lot of stuff.

What I’m Listening To

Elevation Worship has a new album out this week so I will probably be listening to that a lot this week.

Now it’s your turn

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.

Sunday Bookends: Greenhouses, same books/same story, favorite blog posts, and happy Mother’s Day!

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

First, happy Mother’s Day to all you mother’s out there!

What I/we’ve been Reading

Still reading slow.



I’m reading slow.

So I am still on Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower

I am also still reading Fellowship of the Ring.

I hope to have both done in the next week because now that I am done with the revisions of Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing I’ll have a little more time for reading.

I am enjoying both books.

Little Miss is reading to me at night now until her eyes start to cross, and I love it because now she knows how I feel when I’m just too tired to read to her.

This week she read to me from Charlie the Ranch Dog, the children’s books about Ree Drummond’s dog, and from Little House in the Big Woods. I love how she starts to yawn as she reads. She is so much like me these days. We are too tired from playing during the day to be able to stay awake at night to read.

I wanted to record her reading on my phone but she refused to let me. Oh well. Not a big deal. I just wanted to record how well she’s doing at reading.

She’s been reading well for a couple of years now, but I’m just impressed with how much she’s progressed in that time.

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote about what’s been going on in our lives during my post yesterday. After I posted, Little Miss and I visited a local greenhouse that has been operated by the same family for 50 years with a friend of hers, then the little girl came to our house and she and Little Miss played together for the rest of the afternoon.

They played in the stream by the greenhouse and back here they searched for snakes, found dead animals in the yard that our evil kitten had killed, jumped on the trampoline, and played on the Slip N’ Slide. They never seemed to stop moving. We had an earlier night at bedtime than some nights, though, so that was nice.

I went over to my parents at the end of the day to help straighten up some before my brother comes to visit today for Mother’s Day.

The upcoming week doesn’t look as busy as this past week.

We have gymnastics on Monday and nothing else for the rest of the week other than possibly going to my parents to help clean and The Boy has work. Next Saturday we plan to go have a picnic and see a movie in a town about 45 minutes from us.

What We Watched/are Watching

This past week I enjoyed videos from Forgotten Way Farms (on YouTube) and also watched a Midsomer Murders with The Husband.

I watched half of Operation Petticoat, which I will finish this week for our Spring of Cary post Thursday.

We watched a ton of Bluey, which seems to always be on in the background because Little Miss absolutely loves that show.

I watched a couple of Mary Berry episodes and a really depressing art documentary on Vincent VanGogh with Little Miss as well.

We didn’t have as much time to watch things this week, but we did watch some Newhart (streaming on Amazon now), which is always nice and relaxing.

What I’m Writing

As I mentioned above, I have finished the first revisions on Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing and sent the book out to a couple beta readers and on to the editor. This week I am finishing my newsletter for Substack and then I hope to write a couple blog posts that I have ideas for. I have already started book two in Gladwynn’s series as well.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

This week I listened to Tami Neilson, a country-rock musician from New Zealand.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

Through the Lens with Spring Happenings by For His Purpose:

I Should Have Known by Various Ramblings of a Nostalgic Italian:

Fit For A King by Fuel For the Race Blog:

Now it’s your turn

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 Chat: Trampolines, craving quiet, lilacs are blooming

Note: I usually only share this post on my blog (Boondock Ramblings) but thought I’d share it with my subscribers here on Substack too this week.

I am back this week for Saturday Afternoon Chat and I am sipping peppermint tea but later I’m sure I’ll be drinking cool water as our temperatures are supposed to be higher today than they were yesterday and Thursday.

As I am writing this, The Husband and Little Miss are at gymnastics and I am taking a little bit of what I guess I would call self-care time.

This is the first time in – um – a long time that I have had any time alone to write or think or just decompress. I seriously do not even remember the last time I had a break when it was daylight out without people and animals all around me, coming in and out of the house, looking for attention or needing something.

This past week was very busy but not busy with going places. It was busy with being outside or washing dishes or trying to clean things out or, quite frankly, it was busy in my mind. My mind has been racing 1,000 miles a minute, sometimes a second, these days.

It’s racing over my parent’s health issues, my kids growing up, homeschooling, me trying to help the family financially while also trying to have fun with some side activities like writing, photography, and designing, knowing I need to spend time with my husband, my kids, my parents and feeling like there isn’t enough of me to go around.

I’m finding it hard to simply sit and listen to my own thoughts and try to find some balance in the midst of all the chaos. I’m struggling to find moments of peace in the chaos, something I plan to write about later this week.

Right now the house is silent. The dog is asleep on the ottoman and outside my window there is one lone bird not exactly chirping, but sort of calling. There isn’t even a truck grinding its brakes down the hill like it so often is during other quiet times I’ve been able to grab in the past.


My soul has been craving it.

Not long stretches of quiet because then I feel off-centered and lost and melancholy as I long for the presence of my family – even if they are loud at times and need a lot of attention. I want to give that attention. The majority of the time I want them around me because if they aren’t then I feel like life is incomplete.

Sometimes, though, I need even a half hour of quiet so I can think and remember how much I need the everyday noise and hustle and bustle because without it that would mean that those who are most precious to me are no longer part of my life. If they were no longer here then I would no longer be here because they are what give me a purpose to create and live.

I need a quiet moment to close my eyes and breathe in the peace of God and remind myself that I am not alone in all my fears, worries, and apprehensions, I am not alone with my racing thoughts. God is here even in the chaos, even in the fear, even in the anxiety that tries to take me over.

So today I will take a moment of quiet while everyone is gone and just soak in all the goodness that is my life, repelling thoughts of all the bad that I think my life produces or is filled with.

When I forget how great my life is in the overall, grand scheme of things, song lyrics from a song by Wes King from the 1990s comes to mind.

“Life is precious. Life is sweet. Like the earth beneath my feet. And his truth makes it complete. Knowing Jesus died for me, life is precious, life is sweet.”

Earlier this week Little Miss and I spent hours of our afternoons on the neighbor’s trampoline. I can’t lie. I didn’t enjoy it as I should have. I was resentful. I wanted to finish revising the book I’m writing. I wanted to read. I wanted to have “me time.” And I felt selfish about that.

I felt like I should be enjoying every moment with my daughter because before I know it she will be grown up and moved out and I will have all the free time I want but I won’t want it. All I will want is time with my children back again.

So, I felt my resentment for a little bit, pouted some, and even flounced a little.

But then I worked on just enjoying that time with her, watching her jump and do flips, and seeing how much she’s grown physically and skill-wise in the last year.

Yes, I worked on it. I chose joy when I didn’t feel it because sometimes, we have to do that and, you know what? I did soon feel joy and I felt a slow rhythm return to my soul that I needed. I had been rushing and trying to do too much at once and I feel like God knew I needed that slowed-down time to just be in one moment and not ten at once.   

Yesterday the local homeschool group met at an alpaca farm about an eight-minute drive from our house and then stopped for some ice cream at the restaurant where my son is now washing dishes a few times a week.

Little Miss loved the alpacas and kept feeding them the carrots that the owners had cut up for the kid’s visit. She fed them so many I thought they might start spitting them back at her, but they seemed as thrilled with her feeding them as she was to feed them. She stayed with them long after the other kids had gotten bored and wandered off to the little shop the farm has and the woods around it.

After the farm visit and ice cream, there was a Mother’s Day craft at the library. Then it was time to go home and cook dinner and wash some dishes.

Speaking of dinner, lately Little Miss has wanted to make special sauces for dinner, and one might last week she made an amazing cheese sauce to go with our dinner of chicken and rice. Another night she made a similar cheese sauce for our dinner of sausages and egg noodles (though I had rice with mine). The sauce was so good and I saved some to have with my lunch yesterday. I told her it is now her job to make cheese, or another sauce, for family dinners. She’s very excited about this prospect. My only issue will have to be making sure that she doesn’t get so excited she tries to do too much by herself and accidentally burns or cuts herself. She is sometimes impatient waiting for Mom to help so she jumps ahead and does it herself. This can be a good and a bad thing.

I was worried one day when she was making the sauce because I said it was cutting into our homeschool time.

“Is this sort of homeschool? Teaching me about cooking?”

As usual she’s quicker on the uptake than I am.

So, yes, we treated it as a time to learn and it removed the guilt from this homeschool mom.

Today Little Miss has a friend who is going to come to play, which will probably mean more time on the trampoline.

I don’t mind. This hour break has helped me have a little “me time.” Even the short break is so rejuvenating for my spirit. (Doesn’t that just sound so dramatic? “It’s so rejuvenating for my spirit!” *snort* I sound like I’m in one of those YouTube videos with the guitar music and some girl in an old-fashioned dress skipping through a field of tulips.)

In all this rambling, I forgot to mention that our tulips and our lilacs are blooming. The lilacs smell so amazing! Last night I had to go search for our youngest cat who has been staying out past curfew lately and when I opened the back door the amazing sweet smell of the lilacs hit me.

We used to have a very small bush by our garage and a larger bush that is growing in the middle of a tree on the top of the hill behind the house. This year the smaller bush by the garage is much larger than t had been, and an even smaller bush is growing next to the fence next to the house. I don’t remember that bush last year but It is very welcome to stay there and bloom. I should probably cut some of the bushes back but I love to see plants grow naturally. That’s one reason why I have never cut back our wild rose bush. Well, that and the fact our neighbor, who told me the bush is over a hundred years old, said that when her landscapers trimmed her wild rose bush (which was grown from a section of our bush), it stopped blooming as well.

I look forward to those wild roses blooming every year. When they first start to appear, pure joy settles in my chest and then spills outward through giddy giggles. I’ll see them through the kitchen window and go grab the camera to take a hundred photographs of them. A hundred photographs I used to have no idea what I had the use for other than to look at during the winter months when everything is so drab. This past week, though, I decided I can use some of those photographs for journals I am developing.

Speaking of photographs (yes, “speaking of” are the words for the day, apparently), I failed a bit on my Photo a Day in May challenge. I literally forgot about the challenge for nine days, but when I remembered I picked up my camera and took several photos of the lilac bushes and Little Miss jumping. I am not trying to remember to take my camera with me everywhere I go so I can pause a moment in the craziness and photograph something that catches my eye.

As I’ve said before, photography helps to slow me and my mind down, which is one reason I wanted to do this challenge.

Since I missed several days of the challenge, I am going to try to stretch it into June as well.

To end my post (since I think I hear my husband and daughter coming in now) here are a few photos I’ve taken for the challenge so far in May. I’m sure I’ll share a separate post later in the week with one for each day.

How about you? How was your week last week? Have you found any new teas to drink? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Bookends: A spring outing, reading mysteries, and new glasses for the youngest

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, what the rest of the family and I 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 did not share a Saturday After Chat post yesterday because I was out of the house both Friday and Saturday and did not have time to write one.

On Tuesday last week, we traveled to a town near us to pick glasses up for Little Miss and The Boy. Yes, Little Miss is now like the rest of us in the family and has glasses. I don’t really like that she’s had to get them at such a young age, but if she can see better, that’s great.

I wanted to blame too much device usage on her need at such a young age, but then I remembered that I was only a couple of years older when I got glasses, and I didn’t have devices back then. I did a lot of close work with sketching and reading but I did not have a phone or Kindle or anything else that might cause me to be near-sighted. I suppose it is simply bad genetics once again.

Luckily, she looks absolutely adorable in glasses.

The Boy looks absolutely adorable in glasses too, but he doesn’t pose for photos anymore.

The Husband would probably pose but his glasses are old so I didn’t take a photo of them.

After we picked up the glasses we went to the local library for a gathering with the local homeschool group. It was a lot of fun and nice to finally meet other homeschooling parents. I had met a few of them at the end of February but several of the children were sick that week. We missed the next couple of meet-ups because of Little Miss’s dental procedure, weather, and Little Miss getting sick one week.

During this meetup, they had a birthday theme and exchanged gifts between the children to help encourage them to get to know each other. This didn’t really work as much with the teenagers who simply looked at the floor while they handled each other gifts, but it was a good idea.

One of the members brought their pet pig and then there were birthday party type games (Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, and a pinata). Little Miss had a blast but by the end she told me she was all socialized out and wanted to go home and not talk to people for the next five months.

Yes, she is very similar to me.

After interacting with other people I need a downtime of not talking to anyone or going anywhere for at least a day, if not more.

On Friday, Little Miss and I grocery shopped, which I hate doing but it went well, even though I had to have our van looked at by an exhaust specialist before we went because we have a hole in our exhaust and then grocery shop. I actually very much dread going to the grocery store. My weird health issues seem to kick in during those visits. My legs get weak, my head feels odd, and my lower back hurts by the time I get halfway around the store.

I prayed all the way to the store, though, calling on Jesus’ many names – Elohim, Adonai, and Jehovah Jireh, my provider. I rebuked anything coming against me and by the time I left the mechanic to head to Aldi, I felt so much better. I was able to get all of our shopping done and when I went home I even carried in all of the groceries, something I’m usually too tired to do.

In full disclosure, I did take a l’theanine before I left. It is a natural supplement to help with relaxation but there is no way it had time to kick in and not only that, it does not give me energy or take away the vertigo I experience in stores or in fluorescent lights. Only God can do that. Don’t be afraid to ask him for help in even the smallest situations in your life.

Yesterday we visited a comic shop as a family for Free Comic Book Day.

We traveled about an hour to get to the comic shop, visiting a town near us that we had not visited before. It was full of old houses that dated back to the early to mid 1800s. I honestly felt like I was in an old neighborhood in Philadelphia or something.

The kids and The Husband went into the comic book store and I wandered down the street, admiring the old buildings and beautiful churches.

There was a Little Free Library at one of the churches in the town with the comic book store and I found what I think is a cozy mystery. I replaced it with a book that was in the van.

After our visit there we stopped at a GameStop store for The Boy and visited a park/playground  afterward.

It was a nice day, especially since we finally had a sunny, warm day for the first time all week and also because the views were so nice.

I am trying to talk my dad and son in building me a little library that I can install across the street from our house. I think it would be fun for people who are walking or driving by to see and know that they can find good books in.

What I/we’ve been Reading

While I was not a huge fan of M.C. Beaton’s writing style, I couldn’t help reading through Death of a Poisoned Pen, which is a Hamish Macbeth Mystery. I gave up at one point and said I couldn’t put up with her choppy writing any longer, but I needed to know what happened so I went back to the book and finished it Friday night. This was a later book in the series so maybe it wasn’t even written by M.C. Beaton by then. Maybe ghost writers wrote it like they do James Patterson’s books.

Now that I have finished that book I am free to focus on Fellowship of the Ring, which I have a goal to finish before the end of May but will probably finish earlier. I need The Boy to finish it before the end of May as well because I would like him to write a review of it and Huckleberry Finn before our meeting with our homeschool evaluator.

I am also reading a cozy mystery by Amanda Flower, a new-to-me author. The book is called Flowers and Foul Play. It is a Magic Garden Mystery so there is a bit of magic mixed in.

Little Miss has been reading a collection of Charlie books to me. Charlie was Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman’s) dog and there was a series of I Can Read books written about him. I found the collection at a library sale, and she’s been reading a chapter or two of the books to me before bed. Then I read from The Miss Piggle-Wiggle Treasury to her but I am telling you, I am ready for that book to be over. The stories really do drag a bit and I find the solutions this woman has to common childhood quirks a little irritating. It was written in the 1950s when children weren’t supposed to be imaginative, I suppose because the latest story had a mother trying to figure out how to get her son to stop daydreaming and dragging his feet and instead hurry up and do what he is told.

Little Miss likes the stories though, so I push through for her sake. I can’t wait until we can move on to something else, though. The book is due back this week, but, sadly, I can renew it again.

On our trip yesterday, Little Miss read an entire Imagination Station book by herself – they are about 80-100 pages long and around 12 chapters. They are books produced by Focus on the Family through the Adventures in Odyssey series.

The Husband is reading Peril at End House by Agatha Christie.

What We watched/are Watching

We watched a lot of Newhart this past week and I watched Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, which I loved.

Little Miss and I watched some Mary Berry.

I actually did not watch a lot this past week because I was either revising my book or reading a book.

What I’m Writing

I am in the revision process for Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing so I worked on that a lot this week.

On the blog I shared:

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

Rose Fairbanks: Living In the Overflow

Mama’s Empty Nest: Words for Wednesday, Just Like Mom

Now it’s your turn

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.

Sunday Bookends: Who is M.C. Beaton? Crazy days with young children and old movies are what I’m watching

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

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I didn’t read a ton last week because I was working on finishing Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing. I hope to have it done in a couple of days and then I can return back to some of the books I’ve been reading.

I took a break from Fellowship of the Ring but am anxious to get back into it this week.

I have been reading Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton. It’s a Hamish MacBeth Mystery.

Now, in some ways, I’m not sure what I think about the book because there is a lot of head hopping between characters – like how old books were written (you know, where the author tells you what everyone in the room is thinking all in the same scene) and I don’t know that I love Beaton’s writing but I’m caught up in the mystery and I can’t put the book down when I start reading. I need to know who killed the postmistress and the school’s head teacher!

I have a feeling Beaton’s writing will grow on me and I’ll read more by her. I won’t read the most recent Agatha Raisin books that they put out with her name on them, though. I picked one up and it was awful. I don’t think she wrote it at all since I think she was in her 80s when it came out and put out right before she died, actually.

She is the author of two very popular mystery series in the U.K., including Hamish Macbeth (my friend Erin says the show on BBC is nothing like the books, just a warning) and Agatha Raisin, but under her real name Marion Chesney she also wrote a ton of historical romance novels. She has also written under the names Ann Fairfax, Helen Crampton, Jennie Tremaine, and Sarah Chester.

There are 34 books in the Macbeth series and 30 in the Agatha Raisin series. There are also books related to the series and a couple were written with the help of someone named R.W. Green after she died.

Yes, I have been reading Wikipedia. Why do you ask?

The Husband is reading Victory City by Salman Rushdie.

Little Miss and I are reading The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury before bed. She loves it and I don’t really but I’m reading it for her sake. They are cute little stories about parents trying to get their children to do the right thing with Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s help, but they are a bit bizarre and silly too.

The Boy is reading his history textbook, and his science textbook and listening to Fellowship of the Ring.

What’s Been Occurring

Last week was a pretty relaxed week but I rambled a bit about what has been going on in my post yesterday.

Today we are recovering from a visit with Little Miss’ friends. I say recovering because they played full force yesterday – spending most of their time on the trampoline – not because it was a bad visit.

We probably won’t visit my parents because my dad is having hip pain after being adjusted by his chiropractor. He’ll have to call the chiropractor tomorrow and tell him that something was not adjusted right at all.

What We watched/are Watching

This past week I watched An Affair to Remember for the Spring of Cary challenge Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I are doing.

The Husband and I also watched a Poirot and a couple of Brokenwood Mysteries and a few Newhart episodes.

This week Erin and I are watching Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

What I’m Writing

I am writing the last chapter of Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing either today or tomorrow and then I will begin self-editing the book and rewriting, etc.

This past week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

The Husband turned me on to Nate Smith this week and then I also listened to Warren Zeiders. Both are country artists but not the garbage we hear on the radio today, thankfully.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

I hope to be back next week with blog posts I enjoyed this week. I didn’t take note of the ones I read this week and I am also behind on my blog reading because of homeschool and working on the book. I hope to get back on track this week. We will see how it goes.

Now it’s your turn

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.

Sunday Bookends: My husband is a speed reader, finally enjoying Fellowship of the Ring, a DNF for Anne, and working on Gladwynn’s book

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

What I/we’ve been Reading

It took until around Chapter 9, but I finally got into Fellowship of the Ring. Or it finally picked up, whichever. I mean, I guess I liked it before then but a character I remember from the movies showed up around Chapter 9 and that’s when things started to really pick up. Now I’m moving through it much faster and would love to be able to finish it by the end of the week, but I’m not sure I will. I have enjoyed listening to it some of the time on Audible and reading it part of the time. Friday night I sat on the back porch and read a couple of chapters of it, which took quite a while since the chapters are so long.

I also started reading Death of a Poison Pen by M.C. Beaton. It’s a Hamish Macbeth Mystery and takes place in Scotland. It’s a much lighter read than Fellowship of the Ring so I’m using it to break up the old style of Tolkien’s writing but I will probably focus on FOTR this week because I do want to know what happens. Yes, I did watch the movie but I sort of glazed over after hour two and got a bit lost. I’d rather read it.

I finally gave up on Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. It was terribly depressing and I once heard a reader say life was too short to read a book you don’t enjoy so I finally put it back on the shelf. I’ll try some of the other books in the series at another time.

Little Miss and I are reading On The Other Side of the Hill by Roger Lea MacBride. Some nights we are reading The Miss Piggle Wiggle Treasury.

The Boy is reading Fellowship of the Ring.

The Husband was on vacation this week and even with taking kids to appointments, washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and helping to take care of a sick dog he managed to read six books and start a seventh.

The books he read:

The Infernals by John Connelly

Out of Range by CJ Box

The Scared Stiff by Donald Westlake

Bye-Bye, Baby by Ace Atkins

Number One is Walking by Steve Martin

Standing by the Wall by Mick Herron

The one he is reading now: Don’t Ask by Donald Westlake

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote yesterday about our drama last week with Zooma the Wonder Dog. You can read about it in this post.

You can also see some of our photos from the week there but I will share a few here too.

What We watched/are Watching

Little Miss and I found two other Mary Berry series on Tubi on the Roku this week so we watched those episodes throughout the week.

I watched My Favorite Wife for my Spring of Cary feature with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and decided it was not my favorite Cary movie.

An Affair to Remember is up for this week.

The Husband and I watched Oceans 11 this week. The original with the Rat Pack etc. That was some ending. Whew.

We also watched a super creepy episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Dick York from Bewitched. Yikes. He was a very good actor and very underrated.

We also started Carefree with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but both had to head to bed for some sleep so we will finish it later.

I also watched a few art videos and a couple of YouTubers this week but had to take a break from the YouTubers as some of them grate on me because after a bit they all start to sound the same. They talk about the same books and wear the same clothes and skip in the same fields and it is starting to get a bit weird. I’m sure I’ll still watch a few of them, including Forgotten Way Farms, which is different from all the other “Young Woman Reading Cottage Core Style Books and Filming Herself Wearing Old Clothes and Skipping through A Field of Flowers.”

What I’m Writing

I worked on finishing Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing every day this last week and hope to have it finished this upcoming week. You can pre-order it here:

It is coming out July 18th now instead of June 20th.

On the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I am listening to an audiobook of Fellowship of the Ring and other times I am reading the book.

Blog Posts I Enjoyed This Past Week

Big Sky Buckeye, God’s quiet place:

Breath of Hallelujah: Pascha At Holy Trinity Cathedral Chicago

Now it’s your turn

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.

Sunday Bookends: Slogging through a couple of books, warmer weather, and old TV shows

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

What I/we’ve Been Reading

I’m reading a book called Expired Hope for a book tour. In my head, I call it Expired Drama. There is a lot of drama. Like too much drama. It’s a romantic suspense book listed in the Christian Fiction genre. I am probably not going to read another one by this author (Lisa Phillips) even though she is a good writer. The crisis scenarios that keep happening in every chapter are simply too much for me. It’s a bit overdone for my taste, but I’m sure others enjoy that type of escapism. I think I need it to make a little more sense for me to enjoy it.

I am also still reading Fellowship of the Ring. I feel bad I keep saying that I’m still reading it. It’s a good book. I just keep getting interrupted by either the children or phone calls or life in general when I try to read it. Then I get distracted with other books or writing because fantasy, or at least older fantasy, is not always my thing. I do, however, really enjoy Tolkien’s style of writing and when I sit down and focus on it, I do find myself getting carried away into the world of the Hobbits. I do sometimes wish that Tolkien would get to the point. I didn’t think anyone could write that many times about their characters being lost in the forest and drag that fact out for ten pages of talking about rows and rows of trees, but somehow he managed it.

I will be finishing Anne’s House of Dreams by the end of April. That is my goal. I stopped that one because it was a bit more depressing than the previous books I have read in the series.

I started a Walt Longmire Mystery and oh wow – after reading mainly light and fluffy books for the last few months, it was simply too dark and gritty for me. I had to put it aside for now, even though I love Craig Johnson’s writing.

I’m reading a chapter or two of The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot before bed.

Little Miss and I are reading On the Other Side of the Hill by Roger Lea MacBride. It is part of the fiction series based on the childhood of Rose Wilder, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In the evenings we are also reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle: A Treasury, which is the story of an eccentric woman who helps teach children to have fun when they have to do work around the home or other things they don’t want to do. It was written in the 50s so there are, at times, some old-fashioned ideas – like 8-year-olds having to do all the housework instead of the parents. Of course, the book also exaggerates some of the situations for the sake of the silliness of the stories.

We also signed out a pile of picture books from the library last week that we will be reading this week and I’ll be sharing about them in a Little Miss’ Reading Corner post.

What’s Been Occurring

I wrote about what’s been occurring in my post yesterday if you want to check it out.

My only update is that the temperatures did drop after our rain yesterday and I was glad to have it cooler so I can cover myself with a blanket while I write this and later while I read.

Also, after the rain, the blooms on the tree next to our house opened even more, so that was pretty cool.

I think the forsythia bush bloomed even more too.

Later today we will head to my parents for some lunch.

Tomorrow, we have gymnastics for Little Miss and a guitar lesson for The Boy and Tuesday it is an eye doctor appointment for them both. After that, the week isn’t too busy for us other than The Boy working at his part-time job.

It isn’t too busy for me at least. Ha.

What We Watched/are Watching

Last night we watched the first episode of season nine of Brokenwood Mysteries. We had missed watching the show and had finished up season eight a couple of months ago, so we are glad it is back for a new season.

Little Miss and I watched a lot of Mary Berry this week. Most of the episodes we had already seen a couple of times before but we still really enjoyed them.

Earlier in the week I watched The Awful Truth with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and this week I am watching My Favorite Wife with the same actors. This is part of The Spring of Cary that I am doing with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.

We also watched some Newhart last week (all of the seasons are now on Amazon), Hogans Heroes, and I watched a couple episodes of Madame Leblanc Mysteries until it started toward preachy themes about the lifestyles of people.

We also finished an episode of McDonald and Dodds and watched a couple episodes of a British sitcom called My Family.

What I’m Writing

I am working hard on Gladwynn’s first book and hope to have it done by the end of the month, if not before, and out to beta readers. This reminds me: I’m taking applications for both beta readers and launch team members.

If you want to sign up to beta read the book and give me your feedback on the characters and the story, etc., then you can do so here:

If you want to be on the launch team that is just where you get an ebook copy of the book and then help me promote it by letting people on your social media, blog, etc. know about the book, you can sign-up here:

On the blog last week I shared:

What I’m Listening To

I did not listen to a ton of music this past week, but I did listen to Fellowship of the Ring on Audible.

Now it’s your turn

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.