In Between Adventures

     Today is a bit of a mad scramble. There's plants to be watered, summer classes to get caught up on, and bags to be packed. Tomorrow morning we're waking up early to drive to Wisconsin, with a quick stop in Illinois to drop off the dogs at Uncle David's, and also to pick up Grandma W.
       Our time in Missouri was quite lovely, but I entirely failed to take any pictures. (besides the one at the top of the post) I was too busy enjoying the moment =) I'm rather tired from late nights and the time I spent adventuring with Nonii and the boys, but it was totally worth it. I never regret staying up till three in the morning :) Well. I only momentarily regret it ;)
       So anyway. I had a grand time, walking up and down the riverbed, searching for bits of old pottery and glass with Nonii and the boys, swimming in the dark, antiquing, watching Psych and The Dick Van Dyke Show, having long conversations, and laughing my head off.
      Camp starts on Sunday! I will be back in about a week and a half. Until then, farewell to my blogging friends. Keep writing awesome stuff, and don't miss me too much because I'll be back with a vengeance.


Favorite Authors

Gloria Whelan
J.K. Rowling
Agatha Christie
Cornelia Funke
Elizabeth George Speare
Gerald Durrell
Chaim Potok
James Herriot
Eloise Jarvis McGraw
C.S. Lewis
L. M. Montgomery

These faces belong to just a few of the people I will always speak of fondly and admire greatly. My imagination, my serious questions, my sense of humor, and my love of a good book have always been a part of me. But these people and their books have built on those qualities, and their words and ideas resonate in my imagination.

Here's to good authors! I can't imagine what this world would be like without them. 

Comment below: who are your favorite authors?
See more of my favorite authors here and here.


The Adventure Has Begun

Hey all!
I just wanted to thank you for your belated birthday wishes. They totally made my day =)
We are currently in the Missouri Ozarks, which I more or less consider my real home. I am pretty happy to be in the hills again, and I intend to have a blast. Dad is helping out with aviation camp at CWW (Christian Wings for the World) and the rest of us are going to be visiting good friends and old haunts. I started my blog several months after we moved, so I might have to introduce you to several of them :)
As the picture and title state, the adventure has begun. Tonight we are staying with my great aunt and uncle, and tomorrow morning we'll be going to our old church. (Can't wait to see Noni!) I'm not exactly sure what the next few days have in store, but I do know that it will include lots of visiting with friends, and probably some hiking and antiquing. Next week Sam and I are headed to Bible camp in Wisconsin, and I am planning to visit my Aunt Carolyn in the beginning of July.
So yep! Adventure. It's just begun. :)


Happy Birthday to me!

1) Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast
2) Fauna & Family by Gerald Durrell
3) Birthday dress
4) Terrariums!
5) Enthusiastic decorating by Sam and Ben
6) Grilled shrimp, cheesy mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, and strawberry soda

I had a lovely birthday yesterday. I spent a good portion of my morning and afternoon reading, and we also went swimming and planted our terrariums (more on that later.) In the evening we had a very yummy supper and a chocolate cake that almost collapsed but tasted like heaven. I got lots of marvelous gifts, including several books and craft supplies. As far as other news goes, I think I will use my birthday money for books. Also, I am really afraid of four way stops. Some guy pulled right in front of me when I was in the middle of my turn (and it was not my fault!) *Sigh* I can't really say that I love being "of driving age." I suppose that eventually it will be no big deal. Let's hope :p
P.S. Guess who?



I'm so happy with my life.
It's beautiful.
I have two parents who are real, honest, and loving.
I have three brothers who are amazing individuals.
I have a beautiful space to be creative.
I have a home that is bursting with originality =)
And I feel like I am a strong person,
Because I am happy being me.
I feel like the hard things in my life have made me confident,
And they've shown me who I want to be.
I haven't arrived, because none of us fully "arrive"
But all the same, I think I am learning to be the person I was made to be. 

This isn't supposed to be gushy or sappy.
It's not like my life is perfect.
There's days when I feel like I'm a failure of a sister.
There's days when my face crumples because I'm lonely, and loneliness is awful. 
There's days when I feel empty and useless,
And days when I constantly complain.
It's stupid how I can complain about the smallest things in life.
But then I realize that all of the big things are going right.
My life is beautiful.
It's a real life, and it isn't very glamorous when I'm in the midst of it.
But I'm thankful for it.
I've got a good start.


Books that made me laugh . . .

      Last month I wrote a post called "Books that made me cry . . . " Today's post is sort of a sequel to that post, only much happier. I always prefer laughing to crying. Who doesn't? I told you guys that not many books make me cry real tears. Well that's sort of true when it comes to laughter. I don't do a lot of laughing out loud when I'm reading. But unlike the crying list, this list actually does have the potential to be a hundred books long. However, I've chosen to make the laughing list the same length as the crying list, so I was forced to chose the best of the best. (Only four!) The point is, there's many many more books that I've laughed my head off over, but these are the ones that I think everyone in the world should read =)

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Apparently I talk about this book a lot, because my aunt checked it out at the library just because I kept mentioning it on my blog. She said she laughed through the whole book, which is exactly what my Dad did and exactly what I did. If you don't think this book is hilarious, I have serious doubts about your sense of humor. I won't go into the details of the story, but you can read this basic summary from Goodreads and this short post from my blog archives if you're looking for more info.

Cheaper by the Dozen - Frank Gilbreth & Ernestine Carey
I've read this book over and over again, and it never fails to make me laugh. It's similar to My Family and Other Animals, in that it's a real life autobiography about an entire family. (And this is quite the family!) Can you guess how many kids they have?

All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot
Now this one doesn't strictly fit the description of a hilarious book, but every time I re-read it I laugh harder than the time before. It's a bit of a slow book, so you won't be hanging off the edge of your seat, but it's definitely a book that everyone should read. This book could fit into a lot of different lists, and it's appeared on my blog many times. It made the laughing list simply because I love the characters, and they always make me laugh and smile. The Farnon brothers are my favorites, and I can't help cracking up over their conversations and interaction.

Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery
I was having a hard time thinking of a fourth book that matched the quality of the other three, when I noticed the L.M. Montgomery books on my dresser. Um, duh! Anne! This one is self-explanatory, since I'm assuming most of you are acquainted with Anne. On a side-note, it's completely embarrassing when you're having a book conversation with someone and they tell you that they've never read Anne of Green Gables. There's not much you can say to that, except  "Wow, what was wrong with your childhood?" or " Oh, you poor illiterate thing!" or something equally insulting.

     So there you have it. The laughing list. If you haven't read all of these, I would strongly suggest that you do some catching up. Oh. And I just noticed that three of these are autobiographies, which is mildly embarrassing. I would never say that I love autobiographies, but apparently that's more true than I realized. I guess somehow those three authors managed to write about their life in a way that was honest, hilarious, and just plain wonderful. And that's what I aspire to do.

all images via goodreads.com


Summertime is Definitely Here

This is what I had for breakfast today. Yesterday I had raspberry sherbet. 
Sam and I are watching the neighbor's dogs.
My birthday is in five days. I'm going to have chocolate cake.
My hair is frizzy and my hands smell like chlorine. We've been swimming a lot lately.
 Today I made orange cream popsicles. They are taking a very long time to freeze.
We watched an hour and a half of Phineas & Ferb. Don't ask.
I'm grateful for internet classes, but I can't say that I love doing them in the summer.
I got two dresses for my birthday. One of them has big flowers and one of them is green.
My waffle looks funny because I woke up late, and there wasn't much batter left.
I think I'm going to get my hair cut.
Mom's garden is producing millions of cucumbers.
Mom is making millions of refrigerator pickles. And I'm eating them. 
I think I need to re-read Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon.
We went to the library yesterday. 
My bedroom desperately needs cleaned. I hate cleaning my room.
I should probably walk my dog. 
I'm feeling very uninspired. This is how I write my posts when I'm uninspired.
Short, unrelated sentences. Like this. 
Summertime is definitely here.


Crazy June

      Our last trip to Illinois was a little bit unexpected. To make a long story short, my dad and uncle bought an airplane in Maine. Strangely enough, that's something that seems quite normal to me, so it's almost hard to explain. But I'll try.
     My Dad is an airplane guy: he flies them, he fixes them, he buys them, and he teaches airplane mechanics. He also teaches people to fly, and he's been giving my Uncle David flight lessons since last summer. Now that they're starting to think about summer flight lessons again, they've been looking for a small, cheap airplane that they can do some quick maintenance on. Which brings me to my original sentence: my dad and uncle bought an airplane in Maine. Originally, Dad was planning to fly it back, but due to several factors, they decided to haul it back home instead. Sam and Ben went along, but Mom, Jason, and I stayed in Illinois at Grandma W's house. 
     Our stay was pretty relaxed. Jason and I spent a lot of time in the hammock. We also spent a lot of time chasing Piper and Pookie across the countryside. They had the time of their lives. In addition, we did a lot of shopping. We did a little thrifting, a little birthday shopping (for yours truly), and quite a lot of swimsuit shopping. Ugh. I cannot describe how much I loathe swimsuit shopping. 
     Jason was incredibly disappointed because he had to stay home with the girls, so we tried to make it as fun as we could. In the end, he was quite spoiled. He watched movies, went out for ice cream (twice!) and went on a paddle-boat ride. He couldn't stop smiling on the boat ride. It was so adorable.
      June is going to be continually crazy. Now that we're home, we'll have a little break, but it's only one week until my birthday, and after that we'll be spending several days in Missouri, and Sam and I will be going to Bible camp in Wisconsin. I'm not sure how blogging will fit into all of that. I will definitely be completely severed from internet while I'm at camp, so I might be planning some scheduled posts or guest posts. But until then, I shall do my best to be my normal blogging self =) See you around!


Movie Review: Courageous

    There’s been a lot of hype about the movie Courageous, especially in the home-schooling Christian community. I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews on Christian blogs and websites. However, I can’t really say that I share the same enthusiasm. For one thing, I have never seen a Christian movie that doesn’t make me cringe. I guess it’s just really hard to make a movie with Christian themes that isn’t extremely cheesy and cliche. It makes me sad that it’s that way, but the Christian life is rarely full of Hollywood moments, and I just don’t think that anyone has mixed the two successfully. To tell the truth though, that’s not the main problem I have with Courageous. I can see past the cheesiness, but what I can’t excuse are the pervading themes in Courageous that I find very wrong and disturbing.
    One thing I really noticed is that Courageous seems to only focus on what we do, and not what God does. One of the main parts of the plot involved the fathers signing a resolution to be godly men and fathers. Although the idea does seem courageous and glorious, I don’t think that’s how God wants us to honor him. For one thing, it’s an impossibility for people to be godly. That’s the whole point of the gospel. We can’t do it on our own. To sign a resolution stating that we will be godly is prideful and foolish. It doesn’t leave room for failure, and it doesn’t leave room for God to work in our lives. I am not saying that men shouldn’t aspire to be godly fathers. I’m not even saying that they shouldn’t resolve in their heart to be good fathers. But this whole “resolution signing” thing doesn’t really seem to include God. The last words of the movie were these: “I will! I will! I will!” Say what? God will. God will help you be a godly father, and God will give you the strength you need. In the end, I didn’t feel like Courageous had a message that was any different from the typical Disney moral.
    The scene I found most disturbing however, was the scene that took place between Jade and her father. Jade was fifteen, and she was very interested in dating. However, Jade’s parents took dating very seriously and wanted her to wait until she was old enough to get married. To communicate this idea to her, Jade’s father took her out to a fancy restaurant and asked her to give him her heart. He promised to protect her heart until the day she married, at which point he would give her heart to her husband. When Jade’s eyes filled with tears and she promised to let him take care of her heart, her father gave her a diamond ring to wear on her ring finger until the day it was replaced with her wedding ring.
    Now unfortunately, this bit about giving your heart to your father is an idea that many home-schoolers are familiar with, and it’s a doctrine that has become very prevalent among Christian home-schoolers. However, it is not something that we should see as normal, or something that we should be okay with. Girls, your heart does not belong to your father or your future husband. It belongs to you and Jesus. You don’t need to wear your daddy’s ring until your wedding. Frankly, the idea is creepy. Your dad should have a place in your heart, and I think that God does want us to care about the things our parents tell us. I also think that God wants our fathers to be there for us, and I think he wants them to be concerned about our hearts. But ultimately, it is our heart. Our father cannot make the decisions for us, and he cannot protect our heart. Our heart belongs to us, and we need to give it to God, not our earthly father. In conclusion, it’s borderline sacrilege for a father to ask his daughter for his heart. The idea is absolute garbage, and it leads to some very scary doctrines and practices.        
    Courageous was not all bad, and it is right about one thing: our country does not have many godly fathers, and that can cause huge problems. However, I disagree with the way the fathers of Courageous chose to deal with that problem. Signing a resolution does not make men godly fathers. Giving your heart to your father does not protect you from heartache. He can’t put your heart in the right place. Only God can do that.

P.S. If your parents don't like a guy, he's probably a gang member. Jk. But that part did work out nice for the parents ;)


Pushing Myself

    I don’t know why I’m writing about this now that it’s summer, but it’s in my head, so I’m going to type it out . . .
    Going to college has not inspired me to work hard. I go to a very small, rural community college. With the exception of my chemistry teacher and my piano teacher, all of the teachers have extremely low expectations and do their jobs very poorly. I get As with barely any effort, which does not motivate me to study hard. My brother and I both graduated from highschool early, so we are younger than the other students and we astound everybody (which is very uncomfortable, in case you were wondering.) We are exceptional students because we show up for every class and we hand in all of our assignments. Apparently that is quite unusual. The sad thing is, college is easier than home-schooling with my mom. There’s days when I feel like I am slowly spiraling down, down, and down. It sometimes seems like I’m watching all of my knowledge and all of my work ethic (all that exists of it) swirl down the drain.
    I’ve probably mentioned before that I am not a natural-born hard worker. Unlike my mother’s side of the family, I have zero tendencies towards working myself to death. (That statement would definitely make my family members laugh or groan, because it’s true.) I go with the flow, I do things at my own pace, I’m relaxed and easygoing.
    What I’m trying to say is this: I am terrified of being strict with myself. I have seen too many people hurt by legalism, and I have seen too many people squash their own personalities. I think it’s a good thing that I allow myself to be who I am, and I think it’s a good thing that I don’t beat myself up over silly mistakes. But you know what? I’m starting to realize that I don’t have a problem with beating myself up. I have a problem with having low expectations for myself.
    To some extent, I have the same problem with my church. I hear lots and lots about God accepting sinners, but I don’t hear much about obeying his commandments. Don’t get me wrong! I’m a huge fan of grace. I’ve been places where they never talked about grace, and that is an awful place to be. Obviously I’m still over-compensating for it. The thing is, there’s a balance. You can never, ever, ever make it without grace. On that point I am adamant. But you do need a little bit of  “Buck up, and follow God’s commands.” Does that make sense? I hope it does.
    I’m beginning to realize that I don’t have people in my life who push me. Besides my parents. (Hi, parents-who-are-probably-reading-this!) The hard thing is, I don’t like pushing myself. It practically kills me, and I’m not even good at it. Lol! But what I’m hoping for myself is that I will begin to work on that. I want to be a hard worker, and I want to do my share. I don’t want to be scared of reading my Bible every day, because you know . . that could turn into legalism, and I might beat myself up if I fail. ;)
    So anyway. As far as the school thing goes, I'm not trying to brag. I actually don't like talking about school very much. I don't like sounding like I'm super smart. Also, this isn't something that I struggle with every day, and it's not something that's a huge issue. This is just me being real and admitting that I need to work on it a little. It’s also me saying that life needs to be balanced. This doesn’t apply to you if you’re always tough on yourself. If you’re a workaholic or someone who beats yourself up, then loosen up for Pete’s sake! Give yourself a break. You’ll be a lot happier. =)

Guys, June is going to be a crazy and unpredictable month, so don't expect too much. We're headed to Illinois again, and we'll probably be gone for three to four days. More on that later . . .  


Strawberry Fields Forever

     Remember that I said we picked strawberries on Memorial Day? We did. Twenty-two pounds of strawberries. We had seven people picking, and it only took us twenty or thirty minutes. Uncle Bob and Aunt Heather took half of the strawberries to the Morris house, where I believe they were turned into strawberry shortcake. We (my immediate family) had to go home that same day, and we took the other half with us. Unfortunately, they didn't fare too well. If you stick two sealed containers of strawberries in a hot, messy mini van with three boys and a cross sister, they don't exactly come out in pristine condition. But you can't throw that many strawberries away, can you? I mean, come on. You need a rescue plan. (Preferably one that involves strawberry shakes.)
See now? They're a little smashed, but they are still STRAWBERRIES! ;)
    Can you guess who was put in charge of saving the strawberries? Me! The first step involved scouring Pinterest for any recipes that had to do with old/pureed strawberries. I went through a ton of recipes and pins, and I finally decided on these three:

Mini Strawberry Pop Tarts (Scientifically Sweet)
Strawberry Lemonade Bars (Cosmo Cookie)
Strawberry Pops (MarthaStewart.com)

      I made the strawberry pops first. They're super, super easy (the only ingredients are strawberries and powdered sugar) and they were very flavorful and rich. They tasted like some kind of gourmet popsicle that costs three bucks. ;) They were also very filling, and some of us could barely finish ours. Which is weird because . . . have you ever had a popsicle that was filling?
     Next I made these poptarts. They were very intense and time-consuming, but they were amazing! I found myself really, really wishing that I had doubled or tripled the recipe, because I only got six poptarts out of all that work. I definitely would not do it again for only six poptarts, but I might do it again for a couple dozen.
     I was rather disappointed in the strawberry lemonade bars. As you can see, they did not exactly turn out beautifully. I think that there was too much filling. It was too gooey and flavorful, and you never got to taste the crust. It did taste like strawberry lemonade, but I'm not a huge fan of the flavor. I much prefer regular lemon bars.   
     Overall, the strawberry recipes were very sucessful and tasty. (And I got some new popsicle molds out of the bargain.) I'd also like to mention that strawberry puree is amazing. Yumm. I was tempted to drink it straight.
     Today (and tomorrow) we are having a joint garage sale with our neighbors. I woke up at 7:40 this morning (ick) looked out the window and saw that the whole street was lined with cars! Business is brisk, and fortunately, it rained last night and the temperature is almost chilly. That's good news, because it was horribly hot yesterday.

P.S. I've practically been breathing strawberries for several days straight, and I have a Beatles song stuck in my head. I don't think it's really talking about strawberries, but I can't quit mentally singing "Strawberry Fields Foreverrrrr!"