Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book Review: The Red Ribbon by Rachel B. Ledge

The Red RibbonThe Red Ribbon by Rachel B. Ledge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is amazing!! England pretty much any time in history is a favorite. Add in romance, intrigue, and a dash of ghosts and I'm in. I assumed I would like it. I didn't expect to fall passionately in love with this book. From early on, I HAD to know what was going to happen to these people. They just had to be okay because they were too amazing to be anything else. Julia, Roland, Clementine, and a few others whose names I won't mention for fear of giving something away are now dear friends. Charles King is a horrid awful person.

I sped through this book because I had to know that my new friends were okay. Now I'm ready to back an read through it slowly to catch all that I missed the first time. I will be ordering a physical copy of this book in the very near future. I have to have these people near me.


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Right now on Amazon Kindle, it is only $0.99! It is worth way more than that! I will say there were a few typos that might bother some. And there were some areas were the characterization was a bit thin and the plot may have been rushed in a few places. It does jump right into the middle of the whole thing and it dances around some other issues. So it isn't perfect, but I loved it too much to let those (in this book) minor issues detract from my deep and passionate love. However, for some of you and even for myself at the right time, these minor issues could be major ones. So you have been forewarned!

Personally, the fact that I want to read it again says a lot. I almost NEVER reread a book. The only one I have reread on purpose is Wuthering Heights. So that's pretty high praise from me. Amazing book!

Friday, December 18, 2015

What's going on?

Photo Credit: Ian Sane


I should probably be thinking of a blog to wrap up the year, to tell you about my One Word for the year, and be thinking of a new word. I'm not doing any of that. I'm just thinking about today and not even one day forward. I'm a bit stuck in one spot. I'm not exactly sure why. I'm devouring books which in some ways makes me happy, but it is bordering on obsessive which generally means that I'm trying to avoid some emotion. But I have no clue what emotion or how to figure it out.

The end of the year is coming and I should be preparing all kinds of end of the year wrap up posts and activities. I'm doing none of that. Maybe it is all the stuff going on in the lives of those around me. I'm trying not to take it all in. I'm trying to give it to God and go on. Maybe I'm not doing a good job of that. Maybe I'm just stressed with all of the requirements on me because I know I'm not performing up to my best in most of these areas. Too much stuff and not enough me. I'm sure you guys know what I mean because you've probably been there before yourself.

Not that it is all doom and gloom around here. Lots of things are going well. My kids have had great Christmas programs. We have gone to a couple awesome Christmas parties. I always love having the tree and it's light around. I'm looking forward the family time coming up. Life in general is going well, So maybe I'm just overthinking everything.

I can't quite pinpoint what it is that is nagging in the background somewhere, if it is anything. When I figure it out, I will let you know.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Book Review: Chronicles of a Clocksmith by M. Doerner-Miller

Chronicles of a ClocksmithChronicles of a Clocksmith by M. Doerner-Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got this book in exchange for an honest review from Story Cartel.

The distance between the narrator and characters turned me off. I assume it was an effort to make it seem more like an ancient tale. Therefore I think it could be good for young elementary kids. Lots of fantasy, unique characters, and very tiny amounts of violence.
However for me, it just made it hard to connect with the characters. And without that connection to character it really made it hard to slog through the book. However if you like the feel of an ancient tale, this is a great option.


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I hate to give bad reviews for a clever book. It really is a good story. The gnomes and other fantasy characters are neat. The author does a good job of bringing it back to the real world and what the parents are thinking and feeling. Violence is only mentioned in passing and in a distant way. The final "battle" isn't even a battle. It would make a great novel for you to read to your elementary aged child or for them to read for themselves. It doesn't translate well for adults, but kids would enjoy it immensely. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Action Packed or Human Driven: Two Good Books

A few months ago I wrote about two sci-fi novellas, Relics and The Lucid. They each have a part 2 now. I have read both of them and both of them have improved in totally different ways. The Lucid is an action packed thriller. Relics is a moving portrayal of humanity. They are both great in so many different ways. They are definitely worth your time and money.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First things first, I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I like episode 2 better than episode 1. Of course you have to read episode 1 to understand what is going on and Episode 1 has merit of its own.

Episode 2 moves quickly. There is lots of action and you see the process of character development. Some sad things happen, but they are not drawn out to the point of tragedy. I really appreciate this. We see the major players revealing who they are and their part in the plot.

This is the part of the story where you really find out who they are and what is going on. I can't wait for the next one!


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I wanted to not like it. I wanted to be over the Sci-fi AI genre. But I just couldn't do that! That darn Nick Thacker has done it once again. He has drawn me into this futuristic world where humanity is pitted against Artificial Intelligence. The System is a background character, which lets you focus so much more on the people in the story. Rand, Diane, Ravi, Meyers, Solomon, and now the town of Relics and the camp of Unders! There are so many people connected in so many ways that we are just beginning to discover. This is not just a sci-fi AI story. This is a story about people, people who have made mistakes, people who are trying to make things better, people who are trying to recover who they are. These people are trying to connect and create relationships in spite of the System that is deconstructing and isolating the people. There is so much here to love.

Book Review: I'd Rather Wear Pajamas by Chelsea Walker Flagg

I'd Rather Wear PajamasI'd Rather Wear Pajamas by Chelsea Walker Flagg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

I laughed until I cried. This is honest, hilarious, and real. I can't say that I agree with every observation, but the story is not told as if I should agree with it. She does talk about motherhood, but it is not the focus of the story. The focus is her going from young girl to confident adult woman. There are so many stories that all women can relate to. I am so glad I read this book! You will be glad to read it as well.


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I literally sat in bed last night laughing until I was crying. Both my husband and my son came to check on me to see what was happening. Her story is so very relatable.
My only complaint and it is a relatively minor one is her dependence on her horoscope sign to determine how to categorize herself. It was a little off putting. So I didn't rate it a 5 stars. However, that is a minor point that doesn't detract from the story anyway. If you are a woman and want to laugh, get this book. You will not regret it! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

In Defense of Teens

Photo Credit: Diverbo Idiomas


A common refrain throughout the ages is, "Kids these days." We are constantly concerned for the future because we doubt the ability of these kids. For those of you that feel this way, let me assure you that your fears are in vain. I work with teens professionally and personally, so I see a lot of them. These stories are what I have seen in the last two days.

Our church is packing a bunch of Operation Christmas Child boxes. Our teens were not only prepared to help sort and pack the hundreds of items collected this year into shoe boxes, they were also prepared to help teach the younger kids how to do it. My son came home telling me about the youth that he chose to help him. He told me a few more times about that youth as well. He was proud of himself and his 'friend' who helped him out. Ben and I were discussing it later and he mentioned that youth and a couple more who watch over him and make sure he knows how to do various things, that he knows where to be at what time, and that play with him. These youth watch out for the little ones and help them out. Watching out for the next generation and teaching them the right things to do sounds like a pretty good quality

We went to our local community college which is the home of our early college high school. The students were waiting on their bus as I was walking through the quad with my kids. A few of my former students called to me and we discussed their current school life and such. That was encouraging for me, but not the heart of the story. My son wasn't interested in the conversation. He wanted to find a wall, so he could play with his wrestling figures. He walked about 10 feet in front of me. There were several other teens gathered around the short wall that surrounded a tower in the center of the quad. He places himself between a few of them, introduced himself, and then narrated for them the match his figurines were performing. They asked him questions and feigned understanding of the match. They were interested in him and who he was even if they weren't interested in the topic of his conversation. They were conversing with him even though they had only met him a few moments before. Talking amiably with people of all ages about a range of topics sounds like a pretty good quality.  

After our visit to the local community college and a family dinner, we returned to my workplace for a womanless pageant. The money raised for this goes to a local battered women's shelter. There were a dozen young men who put on dresses, make-up, jewelry, and high heels. They strutted their stuff, shared their talent, and interviewed well in the name of protecting women. They donated their time, put aside their pride, and never doubted their masculinity. Those are generally things that can cause young men and old men some concern. There was no concern amongst these young men. They were putting themselves aside to do good for other people. Less self, more others sounds like a pretty good quality.

So there is no need to fear for the future. Our teens are good people. They might make some stupid decisions sometimes, but so do we. They might get lazy sometimes, but so do we. They might get an attitude from time to time, but so do we. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Teens are people and they are pretty good people. We will be okay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Jewish Grandma and a Coffeehouse

You think this the beginning of a joke. It is really the beginning of two book reviews.

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first, I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

I really wanted to give this book a 4.5! In good "snobby reader" conscious I can't give a cozy mystery 5 stars. But it probably is one of the best modern mystery novels I have read. I could guess part of the solution, but I certainly did not have it all together. So I loved the surprise at the end. I loved the characters and that surprises me. I'm not one that normally falls in love with mystery novel characters. I enjoyed the humor. I didn't laugh out loud, but as I said earlier I'm a book snob. I was also surprised that I liked the love triangle as much as I did. I am definitely Team Ryder! But I fear that we are supposed to be Team Pete. I never pick the winning guy. I can't wait for the next installment. I want to know what happens next with Juliet and Java Jive.
Well written, interesting characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a bit of humor, and some romance to top it all off. I really loved this one.


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A Pain in the Tuchis (A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery #2)A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

Having read and enjoyed Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, I thought I would pick this one up. I am SOOO glad I did. I enjoyed this one more than the first one. Reading about Mrs. Kaplan and Ida again was so much fun. It feels like I get to visit with my very own Jewish grandmother. I get to learn a new language and hear about their adventures. Mr. Reutlinger does a great job of making the language a natural part of the story and keep us in the loop. The solution to this mystery was not a complete surprise. I had suspicions about who was the culprit, but I can't say that I had it all figured out. I did enjoy the solution of the previous book more than this one. However, I enjoyed Mrs. K and Ida more in this one than in the previous one. So just go buy both of them and enjoy some time at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors!


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I really loved both of these and I look forward to reading the next installments of them. If you like mysteries without too much blood and guts and heartache, read these. They fit nicely into their genre, cozy mysteries.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This isn't failure.

November started 4 days ago and I started my NaNoWriMo journey all over again. Here on day 4, I find that I am already a day behind. I'm already dreading turning on my computer and trying to find words. I know writing is hard work. I know the sitting down to make yourself do it is so much of the battle. I know that is why there is a NaNoWriMo. But knowing all of this isn't helping me.

I already have so much going on, two kids, a husband, church work, a full time job that is extra busy this year, 2 in-laws fighting cancer. I have tried to add NaNoWriMo on top of that. I'm even somewhat excited about the story, but I just can't do it. For two days now, I've thought about quitting. I just don't think I can do it this year. More than can, I don't think I want to do it this year. It was kind of making me feel like a failure as a writer. How can I call myself a writer if I can't even sit down and write 1000 words a day? How can I call myself a writer when I can't develop characters or a plot?

Then I read this. NaNoReadMo! This I can do. This I want to do!

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn


Sometimes I trap myself into these little boxes of 'success'.  If I can't finish this self imposed deadline that fits into a self imposed box of success, then I must be a failure. We all get that way from time to time and we all know that it isn't really true, but good luck convincing our heart of that. So even though this is my first blog post in a month. And even though I'm quitting NaNoWriMo on day 4. This is not failure. I am still a writer. I am still a blogger. I may not be producing a lot of posts or even a lot of stories, but I am a writer and a blogger. I'm also a reader. And that is what I'm going to celebrate this month.

If you would like to celebrate with me, check out details here.

You can check in on my progress, here on Instagram or here on Twitter.

And the last thing I posted, said to allow yourself to fail. So even if my heart wants to term this a failure, I'm okay with that too.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: Things a Mother Discovers by Filipa Fonseca Silva

Things a Mother Discovers: (and no one talks about)Things a Mother Discovers: by Filipa Fonseca Silva
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first, I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

I think my favorite parts were the illustrations. Those were so gorgeous and I would buy this book for those alone. As to the actual writing, her honesty was refreshing. As a mother, I really enjoy hearing that I'm not alone in these things. The warning against those without a sense of humor is a good one. She doesn't hold back and I LOVED it. If you don't want that much brutal honesty, then I would pass on this one.

I didn't agree with all of her ideas and didn't connect with everything. There were some very European elements, which was enjoyable to read, but didn't connect with my mothering experience. There were some places where I disagreed with her thoughts, but that is bound to happen.

Overall, a fun read that let me know I'm not alone in this mothering job.


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Most of  my disagreements with her were based on several of my spiritual beliefs. Not so strongly as to anger me or even frustrate me. It did dampen my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but dislike two chapters isn't really a big deal in my book. And seriously the illustrations at the end of the chapters were beautiful and calming and just a really great addition. In this crazy sprint that is motherhood of young children, it is nice to have something to make you pause and take a deep breath.

If you are looking for a quick read to make you laugh and enjoy your kids a little more, this one is definitely worth $4.79.

If you are looking for good books and you are willing to review them, check out Story Cartel.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Allow Yourself to Fail

Photo Credit: Gareth Williams
Allow yourself to fail.

I have said those words multiple times in the last week. To myself and to others. It seems that there are several of us trying new things whether by force of circumstance or our own choice. New things are not easy. In fact the opposite is true. Doing a new thing is hard and there are so many times that you want to give up. But don't give up! 

Keep trying. Keep moving forward. And even if you fail, you will have started trying. No one ever gets it right the first time. The first time we do something we are breaking new ground. There will be many failures, but there will be done success too. Build on that success! Without that first time of trying you never would have found that success. So even though you will fail, be okay with that. Failure means you tried something new. And that is something to be proud of.

Not only that, but be proud of your failures. You found another way that it didn't work, but you had that idea to do it that way and you saw it through to the end. If you are trying something new, then you care about it. You care about the people you are serving with this new thing. You won't let them down because you hold yourself to a high standard. I know because you are doing a new thing even though it is hard. You are trying new things and thinking of new ideas all the time. You aren't just putting this in a box and hiding it waiting for some miracle to fix it. You have it out of the box working on it. You are growing it and tending it. You aren't waiting on a miracle. Your are the miracle! You are making it happen. Move forward with this new thing. Allow yourself to fail because at least then you are trying.

"You have brains in your head and shoes on your feet. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." So choose greatness even if there is a little failure along the way.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Pretty Focus

So it seems as if I write a post every two weeks. I would really like it to be more, but it seems difficult to do more. I have had many thoughts of what to write, but sitting down to write it seems very difficult. Today I find myself with a snippet of time and no real ideas. A couple weeks ago it was my birthday and I had all kinds of deep thoughts about turning 35. Now all of those thoughts are gone or at least the timely-ness of the thoughts has gone. That post now feels stale and pointless. So what can I share today?

I'm tired of pain. I'm tired of hurt. I'm tired of ugliness in the world. So I'm going to focus on happier things. I'm not going to deny the hurt, pain, and ugliness, but I don't have to wallow in it either. I don't have to take into my heart and let it take root. I can feel the pain, share the hurt, and accept that there is ugliness. But I'm going to try to find happy things. I'm going to try to see pretty things. I'm going to see the blessings that are all around me.

So happy, pretty, and blessings...

I am in the middle of reading The Night Circus. It is a gorgeous novel. The writing makes you see the circus, smell the scents, and feel the wonder. I'm enjoying every page of this fabulous book. I don't want to read it too fast because I'm not ready to leave the circus just yet. I'm also in the middle of reading two cozy mysteries, Pain in the Tuchis and Death Before Decaf. I'm enjoying spending some time with Mrs. Kaplan in the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors. Java Jive is new to me, but it seems cozy and Juliet Langley is interesting as well. Reading has always been a great escape for me and right now it is no different. The 10 or 20 minutes a day that I can lose myself in a book are magical.

I've also been enjoying the time that I have with my family. Walking down the street, doing homework, and playing in the yard have all taken on a new shine and a new luster. Those moments with my husband and my kids are special. We all know that time goes too fast and kids get big before we know it. So I'm taking the time to slow down and focus on the moment I am in. There are still days when they are both fussy and I wish away an hour or two. But more often than not I'm realizing how very special these times really are.

My brother in law cleaned out some old boxes and my little family got some awesome new books, including one of my all time favorites, The House on Hackman's Hill. I reread it a couple weeks ago and it scared me all over again. It is good to know that some things never change. We also got some new bedding and DVD's. Free stuff is good, but good free stuff is better.

A few weeks ago we also bought two new chairs, so our dining room table is in use every day! We eat dinner together as a family at the table instead of on the couch. We are also getting a new garage door and new carpet for the basement. We are making some great improvements to our house. We are taking more time for us and our family. We are saying no to some stuff in order to say yes to better things.

There might be tough things going on all over, but there are good things going on too.

 Riding a 4wheeler

 Eating apple in the tub

Playing baseball

Pizza charm (b-day present)

 Fairtrade ice cream (b-day present)

  Free frappe and the one I paid for. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I don't understand

I suppose the silence of a couple weeks should indicate that I have been busy. I am super busy at school, but it is a good busy. I'm getting things accomplished and mostly staying on top of it. I'm finding time to read and getting books off my TBR list. I'm getting to spend time playing and hanging out with my family.

But I can't really say that things are going well.

I see so many people around me suffering the loss of a loved one. A sister, a daughter, a father, a grandpa, a couple great-grandmas, a couple stepdads, and a son. I see so many suffering with cancer, a mother, a father, a sister, a grandma, a granddaughter, a dear friend.

Counse


I just don't understand this all. How do we keep going forward with our lives when so many are hurting? Some of these are people I see every day. I go to church with some of them. They are friends of mine and I see them hurting. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say.

So I sit here on my computer with my heart hurting for all of these people. I try to cry out to God, but words fail me. I get out a phrase. If I'm lucky almost a sentence and then I get lost. I don't know what to pray for. I don't know how to pray for those in so much pain and doubt.

God,
 
Why? Help.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Meanderings

I have been thinking of several different blog posts I could make. However, none of those got written down. So this is going to be an abbreviated version of some of these ideas.

I think fantasy novels are on the rise and over the next few years we will find several fantasy novels entering the canon of modern literature.

I was reminded this week why second, third, or fourth hand information isn't accurate and shouldn't be trusted.

I do not trust easily. I expect people to let me down, so I hold them at a distance. Consequently, I don't make friends easily. I'm not sure if I should do anything about that or not.

My to be read list just keeps getting bigger. I can't seem to find enough time to read. This is a regular problem for me, but recently it has become a dire problem. I might start skimming some books to finish them and move on. Oh! The struggles of a bookworm.

The church as whole seems to be doing an epically bad job of loving people. Not just the general population, but the people within their buildings. We know the church is made up of people and therefore it is flawed. I know that, but it really doesn't excuse the selfishness that comes out so often. We can't keep getting this wrong.

Social media can be used for good or for bad. With filters and unfollowing, we would be able to arrange our accounts to help us be encouraged and to encourage others.

I might be back with a more elaborate post next week. Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ten days later.. I can do this

Several days ago I wrote about my cholesterol news, so I thought I would write a follow up.



I did have an appointment with the doctor and he was so encouraging! This is why I love our doctor.  He is encouraging and wants the best health for the whole family both physically and emotionally. I shared some of my food ideas and he thought they were good ideas. He thought my age was in my favor. He days he thought that if I corrected one meal a day my numbers should be fixed by next year. And that is the time he wanted to give me to fix it. He didn't want to give me medicine right away. Those were all the things I wanted to hear!

When I have been at home, I have been more careful about what I eat. I have been reading labels. Eating better carbs and better fats. Eating less processed foods and less in general. Drinking more water and less calories. We did go visit my family in Illinois and eating on the road isn't easy. I also didn't worry about it. I have a year to fix this, so I'm not going to let one or two meals stress me out.

This morning I am back to my oatmeal, honey, and fresh fruit for breakfast and Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruit as a snack. Quinoa and black beans for lunch and an egg. I am glad to get back to eating this because they genuinely sound good to me.

So less fast food and more slow food. Less sitting on the couch and watching hours of Netflix. More walking around the neighborhood. Less wasting time and more enjoying time. I am still nervous about failing with food or Bible reading or any of the other things I have to do, but this is a good change. I can do this.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Two Sci-Fi Novellas

Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1 by Nick Thacker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a lot of tech speak in this novel. I understood most of it, but there were moments that didn't make any sense. But since it is Science Fiction, I assumed it was made up. Most of those things were specific details. The general idea of those conversations was clear.

I don't particularly like series of books because I have a hard time caring for the long periods of time in between novels. And I was prepared to not like this one as I couldn't see how there could be a satisfying ending. I was wrong. There was a satisfying ending. So much so that I am even willing to wait on the next book in the series.

After all that negative, you might be wondering why I gave it 3 stars. Thacker creates great characters and a compelling plot. I genuinely like the main characters and I'm desperately hoping for the best for them. The plot seems simple, but really has many layers. Just when I start to understand one part another part comes up with questions.

So the plot and characters are worth 3 stars even if the details are sketchy and it is a series. Fascinating read that will make you think. It is worth the money.


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The Lucid - Season One: The BeginningThe Lucid - Season One: The Beginning by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so glad they didn't use the word zombies. They used the word suppressed. I like that idea much better. It seems more realistic and less gruesome. It fits this novel very well.
I also like Adam's heart. His love for his family is developed throughout the novel. It isn't just a throw away thought to show his humanity. It is his driving force. This makes him the obvious good guy. And the obvious bad guy has no family and seems to have no feelings for anyone else. He doesn't have much humanity left in him.
I like the clear cut good guy and bad guy. I like that the problem of humanity is brought down to a personal and familial level. These things set this novella apart from other "end of humanity, machines are taking over" novels I have read. I look forward to others in this series.


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I preferred The Lucid to Relics. However for just a few bucks a piece, they are both a good investment. If don't like science fiction, you may not like these. Relics is very computer tech heavy. The Lucid is more about chemicals in the tech department, but not too much in the first novella anyway. They are both great to get you thinking about what if. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

What the Doctor Said

I got a phone call from the lab tech at the doctor's office yesterday. It terrified me. I could let you guess why, but you probably wouldn't guess the what he said.

Photo caption: Eva Blue

My cholesterol is too high.

A part of me says, "Yeah, whose isn't?" I mean this a common thing that people deal with, so why did it terrify me? I'm not too sure. There is a history of heart disease in my family, so it is always something on my radar. I know I need to watch myself. However, that wasn't the entire issue. The lab tech also said something about a low fat diet. Diet? I can't do a diet. The second someone says you can't eat this, it is the only thing I want to eat. I refuse to go through life hating what I have to eat. Food should be enjoyed and I want to enjoy food as it should be. I don't want artificially enhanced or in some other way changed, like low fat chocolate or something else ridiculous. And maybe there was a little bit of self reflection that I wasn't ready for. Maybe I'm the unusual one or maybe there are others out there like me, but my emotional state has a drastic effect on my eating even when I don't realize it.

So I did what any self respecting person who needs information does, I googled it. I read a few articles about food that is good for cholesterol and I was encouraged. There are some easy fixes, like oats. I can have oatmeal for breakfast. It would be filling, good for cholesterol and something I don't have to think much about. Avocados, albacore tuna, olive oil, spinach, garlic, and black beans. I like those things too. I was encouraged. I can incorporate a few new recipes and they could make a difference. My husband has been thinking on some new dinner recipes as well. So it isn't just me trying to do this, we can do it.

Those recipes could also help me lose the weight I've been wanting to use. Of course that is a difficult proposition having hypothyroidism. Mine has been relatively well controlled for the last 5 years or so. I would like to think my consistently taking the medicine as it should be taken is a part of that. Even through my pregnancy with my daughter, it was fairly well controlled. I took it before bed because I was throwing up in the morning and my dosage had to be upped, but my numbers still stayed good. However after she was born, it was a different story. Those bleary eyed mornings meant lots of times that I forgot to take my medicine first thing. Like I've forgotten to take it probably once a week for the last 16 months. That's not really great. So I've moved the medicine bottle to my bedside table. So far (2 days), so good. Hopefully taking my medicine regularly will make the changes in diet useful. There is a small part of me that is afraid of a certain number on the scale. I have hit that number twice and had two kids. So it's kind of like a magic baby number, but I'm pretty happy with two babies. There is a much larger part that dreams of a number on the scale that makes me smile instead of shrugging and saying not bad. And maybe just maybe that number on the scale could be paired with food I really love on a regular basis.

I'm sure it doesn't seem like such a hard prospect for several of you out there who have taken your health seriously. But for me, I'm just not sure where to fit this new food into my schedule. Being a teacher is not your regular 9 to 5 job. Not to mention being a mother and wife. Making sure the homework gets done, and making sure each kid gets some mommy time after work, getting the dishes and laundry done, and making sure we get time with the larger family. Those are time consuming. Then you throw in church service, choir, youth leadership,etc. Blogging and reading are just for fun, but also terribly important for my own well being. My time is spoken for in many areas. The thought of adding in prep time for this new 'healthy' diet is overwhelming. I know there will be busy weeks and on those weeks, I wonder if I can find the time to make this new food. I doubt my ability to follow through and then there will be guilt to follow. To follow? I'm already feeling guilty about failing this new diet and I've hardly started. This isn't something I can fail at.

Of course I feel that everything I do is something that I can't fail at. Which leads me to the emotional issues tied to my eating and that will be another post.

Yesterday, I made a quinoa and black bean salad. It took me much longer than I expected because I used dried beans. However, I did and I learned a few things. I know how I can do it better next time. At the very least, I know I can have oatmeal,some black bean recipes, and salad. I am confident that I can get two of those things accomplished on a daily basis. Next week I have another appointment with the doctor. I'm assuming he will talk to me more about the specifics. I hope I'm prepared for that meeting. I will let you know next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker: Book Review

The Day The Angels FellThe Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be an easy review to write, but I am wrong. I normally don't think twice about the number of stars to give. I have changed my mind several times so far. This book seems to be evading my summation.

Sam and Abra are rather adorable. Shawn's writing is fabulous as usual. There is a note of magical realism about the book. The religious references are sufficient without being heavy handed.

The story is straightforward and yet I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.
Often when I see the main character going through a significant amount of pain and suffering, I have to take a break from the book. I was worried that this one would be that way, so I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. However that didn't happen. Maybe that is why I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.

I will say the very end was a bit of a surprise and I'm glad it went in that direction.

I have heard someone refer to it as a coming of age story. I can see that and they aren't my favorite type to read. However, the magic within it kept me reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn't what I was expecting. I'm looking forward to the sequel.


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This one was so hard to write a review for. A few weeks after finishing it and I still can't really put my thoughts into sufficient words. There were a few things that I was hoping to have more explaination for, but they might be answered in the sequel or I might have missed something or it wasn't that big of a deal to begin with. The story is memorable. The characters are lovely. The pain isn't overwhelming.  And the magic is superb.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Gray Picture of Dorian by Nick Thacker: Book Review

The Gray Picture of Dorian: An Artificial Intelligence Techno Thriller Sci-Fi Short Story by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short piece of fiction is disturbing in all the ways that science fiction should be.  I could see what was coming before Dorian could and I wanted to warn him. Then there was another part of me that thought he deserves it.

The title immediately reminded me of Oscar Wilde's classic and as I read this modern Dorian reminded me of the classic as well. He is vain and concieted and totally fine with using the people around him. I don't want to give away the ending, but this modern Dorian find himself shut out of his own life. As much as I didn't like him, I didn't want that ending for him either. However he made his bed, so now he must lie in it.

This is definitely worth the $2.99 because of its entertainment value and its re-readability. I only take away half a star because it is a smidge depressing.

I recieved an advance copy for an honest review. The above is my honest review of the work of a fabulous author.


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I would really give it 4.5 stars.

I am normally skeptical of a modern take on a classic novel. This one is well done and there is no need for my hesitation. This one left me wondering about humanity and technology. It left me with a sadness for Dorian as well as a feeling that I just read a very well put together story.

You can get it here, which is an affiliate link.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What Are Christians Supposed To Do? (Part 2)

Last week I talked about my response to all of these 'issues' 'attacking' the Christian faith. And I have a few more ideas.

Primarily, I have had a revelation about relationships with Jesus. We claim that we want people to have a personal relationship with Jesus. However I think that is a misnomer. We don't want people to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We want them to have our relationship with Jesus. We want their faith to look like ours. We don't want them to have a personal relationship because their personal relationship doesn't include us. That makes us uncomfortable. We are so terribly worried that someone else might make a mistake that we attempt to insert ourselves into their faith. But that doesn't work. It really is a personal relationship. It is how they relate to Jesus and how He relates to them. It is a life long faith process that they walk through with Jesus beside them. I can't tell then how to be out how not to be. That is what Jesus does. I can't expect my experiences, opinions, and life to bring me to the same places that they are and vice versa. I have to let them live out their relationship with Jesus.

A related idea is that I often look at the temporal. I look at what is here and now. I look at what is right in front of me. However the God I serve is not temporal. He doesn't just look at what is right in front of me. He is eternal.  He is outside of time. He was, he is, and he will be. So I need look at the eternal as well. I need to understand there is a big picture. It doesn't all have to be fixed right now. God has a plan and the plan is longer than my attention span.

Trust his plan and his timing and his relationship with those other people. And focus on my relationship with Him, my reaction to His timing, and my involvement in His plan. Less me, more Jesus.

The Precious Jewels Trilogy by Kerstin Geir: A Book Review

It has been many years since I have fallen so in love with characters, since I felt their loss so keenly when the book was done. The one that comes to mind is Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery. I remember being heartbroken for days after I finished that book. This one didn't cause me so much heartache, but I did miss Gwenyth and Gideon for days after I finished the books. I considered starting them again!

For all of my love, I am not without compliant. I am not happy with the resolution. It was clever, but somehow unfulfilling. I could go on, but I don't want to give away the ending. I think one reason I was so unhappy with the ending is that it seemed unrealistic. Yes even in the setting of time traveling genes, it was unrealistic. One of the things I loved so much about this series was how realistic the characters actions are. The way they act, react, and think definitely seem characteristic of teens that have some anomoly about them and need to plan ahead. The ending seems less planned and had a longer lasting impact. I worry that they will regret their decision later. And I think that tells you just how obsessed I became with them.

Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness! I loved this book. There are several classic themes, girl who doesn't know how great she is discovering hidden powers and falling in love with someone she feels is far above her, secret societies keeping secrets. But there are some new ones, time travel and family members from the past trying to influence the future. Gwen is fabulous. Lesley is amazing. Gideon is wonderful. They are all as you would expect them to be based on their roles in the story, but their voices are so authentic and believable. I will be going to the library tomororw to get book #2; Can't wait!!


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Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone Trilogy, #2)Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in 6 hours! I literally couldn't put it down. I normally don't like series books. I think generally there is too much introduction and not enough of the bad guy to want to keep reading.

This is not that book!

Ruby Red gives us an introduction to the characters and the problem with some meat on it. It isn't all introduction. Sapphire Blue gives us a few answers and a few more questions. There were multiple parts that made me react out loud to what was going on. There are funny parts. There are inspiring parts. And there are heart breaking parts. The count seems even more dangerous at the end of book 2 than he did at the end of book 1. I can't wait to see how this ends.


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Emerald Green (Precious Stone Trilogy, #3)Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few points at the end were too convenient. I love that she didn't spell out each piece piece of the ending for us. She left us thinking at the end and putting some things together ourselves. The point of view, 1st person, stayed true throughout the whole series. I love that! It really adds another dimension to the story.
Fabulous series. I read the whole thing in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 I read in one sitting. Loved it!!


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The box set is available for less than $30 through Amazon, when they come back in stock. But I read the whole series through the library. I love it so much that I do plan on buying the trilogy.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Girl and Her Body

Photo Credit: RafalZych

With summer upon us, swim wear distress has begun. As Ben gets older, he has more friends, we are invited to more summer events, including swim events. This brings my old nemesis back to the forefront, swim wear. Can I get an amen?

Growing up, we went on vacation where swimming was available. So swim wear was a necessity. Every year I struggled to find something to fit me right. I had bikinis, tankinis, and one pieces over the years. I didn't like any of them. I picked the one that made me feel the least crappy about myself. Feeling good about myself in swim wear wasn't even going to happen. Bikinis showed my stomach which wasn't flat enough. One pieces showed my thighs which were too big. Tankinis could be paired with shorts and cover all the ugly flabby parts. However, the patterns weren't very pretty which left me feeling like a big geek who couldn't possibly fit in with any group. In all these struggles, I was so very blessed that no adult in my life put any pressure on me about the swim wear decisions I had to make.

I wish I could say that some piece of sage advice along the way eased every fear and negative thing I would tell myself. But I never even asked for advice because I didn't want confirmation of how wrongly shaped my body was. I didn't want to have to say my flaws out loud. I have said many of these things to my husband over the years as I have become frustrated with shorts, swim wear and any other number of clothing items.  He has assured me of my beauty and sympathized with me about the mean old clothing manufactures. And yet it was a comment only a couple weeks ago from a few parents at church that helped me more than anything else ever has. We were discussing the difficulties of finding swim wear for a tall daughter and another daughter that wanted shorts. Another woman even mentioned a place that was selling long torso swim suits. It is the swim suit that doesn't fit me. It isn't me that doesn't fit the suit! It isn't that my proportions are all wrong. It is the suit that isn't long enough and pulls down in the wrong places and up in wrong places.

No matter swim wear I choose it does not define the correctness of my body.

My body has been fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. I no longer need to feel ashamed by the shape of this or the size of that. I don't need to fear if I look acceptable to others. I don't need to fear if they notice this flaw or that flaw. We all have flaws, but we also all have our beauty as well.

And more important than our physical attributes, we are all interesting and lovely people on the inside. And the more lovely we are on the inside, three more lovely we are on the outside.

I will no longer allow myself to be defined by the way I look in a swim suit or the size of that swim suit or the shape of that suit. I will no longer allow myself to be shamed by the media, stupid people (smart people don't shame anyone), or my own negative self talk. I will not only accept my body, but I will love it. I am going to celebrate who I am inside and out.

I don't think this post would be complete without discussing me as a mother. What will I do to help Lily not deal with this for 35 years? I am not going to talk to her about her body. I will talk to her about what her body can do. I will talk to her about how the clothes fit her or compliment her. The subject will be her ability or the clothes. The subject will not be her body. I will also do encourage her to ask questions and talk about her feelings. And I will pray a lot.

These human bodies that we have been stuck with are difficult and the world we live in is broken. Lord help us love more.

Monday, June 29, 2015

What Are Christians Supposed To Do? (Part 1)

Photo Credit: Damien du Toit

The events of the last week have brought much passionate discussion and intense debate. Both the rainbow flag and the Rebel flag have been critiqued. I have remained relatively quiet on both topics. I have explained what I understand about various sides of the issues to those who were asking and open to discussion. So relatively quiet. I have had no Facebook statuses or pictures to declare my opinion. However, I do not live under a rock. I have read what many have had to say. A few of those people have had thought provoking posts. One of those posts got me to thinking.

What if I have misunderstood my mission as a Christian for years?

I have felt as a Christian it is my mission to tell people the right way to live in an effort to proclaim the Gospel, lead people to Jesus, and bring glory to God. I try to do it with genuine love and gentleness, but none the less I felt that is what I was to do in my personal relationships with others. What if that isn't the way I should be proclaiming the Gospel, leading people to Jesus, and bringing glory to God? I know Micah 6:8, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. I know John 15:12, love each other as God has loved me. I know Matthew 22:37-39, love God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength. and love my neighbor as I love myself. Those seem pretty clear about the mission of a Christian. Love.

What if I am supposed to love everyone and let Jesus deal with their sins? What if the way I bring glory to God and lead people to Jesus and proclaim the Gospel is to love people like Jesus loved?

I'm not saying to give people a pass on their sins. Jesus didn't do that. He told the woman at the well about her sins and proclaimed himself as the Messiah. He told the woman who was caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He didn't tell either of them that it was okay to keep doing what they had always done. He did confront them with their sin, but he did it in such a way that encouraged them to change. He only spoke the woman at the well about her sins AFTER they had begun talking about spiritual issues. In the case of the adulteress, he sent the condemning crowd away from her and spoke to her one on one about her issues. So maybe I've been doing it wrong. Maybe I'm supposed to love and let Jesus work on the heart. Then if someone comes to me and asks about living like Jesus, then I discuss in gentleness and love their sins and the way to be free of them. Maybe I need to stop thinking "Look what this world is coming to" and instead think like the early church "Look what has come into the world." Expect the world to sin and be messed up and love them anyway because Jesus has come to take care of the messy sinful heart issues. I'm just here to love and only after seeking more, then am I to tell people the right way to live.

As the pastor said this morning, lost people are going to act like lost people, so there is no reason to be angry or judgmental about it. Christ is sufficient to cover those issues with those people in His time. I must try to live like Jesus, not endorsing, supporting, or condoning the sin, but not being angry or judgmental about it either. Love them and let Jesus deal with the sin.

In answer to my question in the title, Christians are supposed to love first.

NOTE: If you feel the need to discuss my personal opinions on either of the two major issues mentioned at the outset of this post, feel free to message me privately and we can discuss it. My personal opinions do not need to be aired publicly. Thank you.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: Journal 97 The Case Notes of E.R. Satz :The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk

Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right SideJournal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

The book reads like a myth or fairy tale. Third person point of view. Straight forward action. No hints of deeper motivations. The characters, Vladoff and Yuri, are likable and simple. There are hints dropped throughout the story of the ending, but somehow I still found it to be a surprise.

The narrator is E.R. Satz, a theoretical historian. And the book are notes from one of his journals. It is a clever frame story to present the heart of the story, how Vladoff and Yuri found a place to settle down.

There is much humor in the book. The town that runs on brussel sprouts, the smell they leave, and the knee water that plagues them. You laugh, but even as you laugh you are caring for the characters.

The only negative I have to mention was resolved by the end of the book. It seemed to be getting long and going nowhere in particular. When I got to the end and reread that it was a book of theoretical history, it all fell into place and I laughed at myself for not remembering that as I read.

It is not a deep novel, but it is humorous. It is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Not something I would normally gravitate toward, but I'm glad I did.


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Seeing the price of $2.99 on Amazon makes me like the book even more!!


Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 3870 KB
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Kelley Lee McDonald; 1 edition (January 29, 2015)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Friday, June 12, 2015

To My Former Students

Last night was graduation. I haven't been a participant of graduation in several years. I had forgotten how emotional it can be, especially when some your favorites are graduating. (Yes teachers have favorites. The list is just longer than most expect.) As I drove home I started reflecting back on my 12 years teaching.

Photo Credit: Deapeajay

I realized that some of the first students I taught are approaching their 3rd decade. I can't believe it has been that long. Even though many years have passed I still think about my "kids". So for the graduates of 2003 and for the graduates of 2015 and all of those in between, I wanted to send you a message.


You are important. You aren't forgotten.

It may have only been 10 days since I've had you in class and it may have been 10 years. I still remember you. I still think about you sometimes. Once you have been one of my "kids", you will always be one of my "kids". I still worry about you. Not because I don't think you are capable, but because life is harsh. I worry that life will be harsh with you. I don't want you to have to suffer. But if you do, let it make you a stronger and better person.

You are successful!

I see the amazing people you are growing into and I am proud. So many of you have made amazing decisions. You have decided to love people even when it is hard. You have family that you are putting first and defending against the slings and arrows of life. I know some of you are stuck in jobs and wondering where your career is. I don't have any answers. Just know that I see your struggles and I believe in you to make a good decision. Some of you are stuck without a relationship and wondering where your other half is. Don't find another half. Be a whole you and wait for the right whole person to show up that makes your life better. Some of you are in college. Keep working hard and I know it is HARD. But the hard work pays off and the results are worth it. To all of you, don't be afraid to take risks, but count the cost before you take the risk. Make sure it is worth it.

I thank you for the joy have brought to my life. I also thank you for helping me grow into a better teacher and a better person.

Mostly, I still love you all. 

And I know some of my former students aren't here to read this. I still think about them too. I miss them. And I love them too.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What I want

A new phone
New flooring in my house
A pretty front porch
My preferred teaching schedule
Some new Jamberrys
A couple new Scentsy warmers
A new pair of flats
A new pair of boots
A new skirt
A new dress

I'm sure there is more. And of all those things on that list, I need exactly none of them. But I'm having a very serious case of the "I wannas".

My husband's phone bit the dust last night, so he is getting an upgrade. And I'm jealous!

There is a house near mine for sale. Of course I found it online and looked at pictures. It has great flooring and a super cute front porch. And I want it!

The end of the school year brings thoughts of the coming year. I have big plans for a paperless classroom with lots of Project Based Learning. And that seems within my reach. However the schedule it seems I will get is not the best for me in my mind. And I'm freaking out.

Jamberry, Scentsy, shoes, skirts, and dresses are just more things that I think will make my life better. And I want them.

Have you noticed a theme? What I want. What is best for me. Me, myself, and I.

Lord, help me keep my selfish heart in check. Remind me of all that you have given me. Help me look to the best of others before I look to what is best for me. Amen.

Photo Credit: Proverbs 31 ministries

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Finding the Source of Nourishment, Again.















Photo Credit: David Sanabria


In the last few weeks, I have had a bit of a revelation. I have been stuck in a negative rut lately. Carl had some thoughts on negativity too. He's noticing something I have noticed recently too. Some people work at being negative. They can't or won't see the positive. I have seen that multiple times this week. I then started to wonder how many times have I not seen it? How many times have I been so entrenched in my own negative thinking that I didn't notice the negativity of others?

Oooh. That was a scary thought.

The other thing I have noticed recently is a group of people that really blessed me in the last few weeks, the parents of my son's soccer team. This year was the first time that Ben played a team sport. It was a fabulous experience! He had an awesome coach that really worked the boys to improve their soccer skills and celebrated what they learned. One coach doing a great job may not have been something so incredible, but the parents all joined in. We cheered for the boys and girls on both teams who made plays. We cheered for the boys on our team that learned to get in there an challenge for the ball. We cheered for the boys that learned how to tackle and how to save a goal. We cheered. We laughed. We just enjoyed each other's company and each other's children. We fed off of each other's positivism.

That was a wonderful feeling.

These two experiences so close together have made an impression on me. I need to be careful who I surround myself with. In some cases, I don't necessarily have a choice. However, I do have a choice about the amount of time I spend with them and the amount of their words to which I am listening. I need to protect my half full cup!

There is negativity that lives in minds of us all, but we don't have to feed it. I need to be more careful about who I am allowing to feed my mind. I can't let excuses of being tired, being busy, being a mom, being a wife, being involved at church, etc. overwhelm the person God is calling me to be. I need to be focusing on God and letting him be my primary source of nourishment. I have been depending on others for far too long. It's time I start looking The Source instead.

And feel free to call our if I'm doing anything different!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism

The Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical AbolitionismThe Tie That Bound Us: The Women of John Brown's Family and the Legacy of Radical Abolitionism by Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweeping and widely encompassing account of how John Brown's actions and beliefs affected the women closest to him. There is so much information about ore Civil War and post Civil War abolitionism. I feel like I have a handle on societal issues surrounding abolitionism. I also feel like I have seen into the daily lives and struggles of these some that influenced them into becoming complicated people with the heavy weight of their collective past.

I must say that this was a hefty book to get through. I'm glad I kept at it and finished, but it took me awhile.


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And a thank you to NetGalley for the free copy. I really am reviewing it!

One thing I want to make very clear is that this is an intellectual book. It is written by a professor and reads like a book for students. That is one reason it took me over a year to read it. I am not that great at academic reading. However, this one is so full of great details and insights that I couldn't give up on it either. I really did enjoy it. If you decide to pick it up, there is so much you will learn! Just be prepared to take your time.

I just found out that the author is a professor at EIU, my alma mater! Go Panthers! By the writing in this book, I can tell she is a great academic and probably an awesome professor.


Buy new  $28.15


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801451612

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti

Shadow RitualShadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the free review copy.

The good guys are right and the bad guys are evil personified. They are chasing an ancient secret that had been lost to humanity. We all know the good guys win. In typical good guy fashion saved at the last minute by a minor character that proves to be a valued friend. The bad guys were brutal and the good guys were philosophical. I didn't really buy their philosophy, but that didn't detract from the overall book. The overt effort to make Freemasons into knowledge gathering heroes was a bit odd. However if you look at it like a superhero story, then it fits the pattern. Not a favorite, but not a regret in reading it either.


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My first impression as you can see was 3 stars. However this is another book that I wish I could give half stars too. This is really a 3 1/2 star book. I enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed the characters passion for history. It was brutal at times and I didn't really like that. It didn't make me stop reading as some have though.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading a well crafted book in which I knew the good guy was going to win. Sometimes you want to be assure that the ending is worth the reading. This one definitely was.


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 $13.56

Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Le French Book (March 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939474302

Friday, May 15, 2015

What My Ancestors Can Teach Me

Recently, I've been rather addicted to the show Who Do You Think You Are?. There are episodes from the UK and South Africa. When I run out of US episodes, I watch some from the UK and South Africa. I'm certain there is quite a bit of staging involved. These people didn't just randomly happen upon this one relative who has an amazing story. However, the stories themselves are real stories of real people. So a few weeks ago I got a trial account from Ancestry.com and looked to see what I could find. As it turns out I could find a LOT of stuff!

Photo Credit: Scott Ableman


A few quick facts: I am lots of English and lots of German. I am a bit French, Dutch, Irish, and Native American. And more than those discoveries, I found that out most of the branches of my family extend back before the Revolutionary War. I am very American and have been for a very long time. I also found out that I have a pirate in my lineage. He barely escaped a slave revolt in the Caribbean which took the lives of his wife and two children. That should probably make me sad, but he was a pirate, so I don't know what else he expected to happen. He came back to America and found a new wife which lead to a new family. There were various DAR records, which leads me to believe that a few fought in the Revolutionary War. I found the name of the Cherokee, Wood Trailkiller Pack, who had been rumored to be in the family tree. I also uncovered another ancestor that might be a Native American. I found large numbers of ancestors that were from Virginia and North Carolina. A few that were from New York and New Jersey, but those found their way down south as well. I found a woman that became a Quaker after her first husband, my relative, died. That made me proud. From what I understand, she was charged with a crime because she didn't get married the 'proper' way. I think she got married the Quaker way which wasn't acceptable. I am so proud that she stood for her faith. She believed in equality of the sexes and of the races. I cling to the hope that more relatives are like her and less like her son. I found that he was a slave owner. I think it was only two. I really just want to go back in time and rage at him. They were human beings! Didn't he know that? He could have made another choice. He could have made a better choice. I haven't the courage to look at who may have fought where in the Civil War.

The most exciting person I found was Thomas Farmer. Thomas Farmer came to Jamestown in 1616. He was considered an Ancient Planter. He came over as an indentured servant and was eventually given land by the Governor of the colony. I am amazed that my ancestors have been in America for nearly 400 years. I am simply amazed at how 'American' I am. I suppose that explains why I am so interested in US History and passionate about how we are presenting ourselves at Americans. I am amazed at how this man could have left everything he knew to come to the whole other side of the world knowing he probably wouldn't ever be 'home' again. That must have taken a great amount of courage and stamina. And not only did him come halfway across the world, he came knowing he would have to work for someone else. He wouldn't even have his own land, but he came anyway. And now here we are 400 years later a rather successful happy American family. I can't say that I know what Thomas' goals were in coming to the New World, but I think it is something like what we enjoy today.

In the minimum amount of investigation I did, I found people I was proud of as well as people who I was ashamed of. I guess that is what family is really like. I found rumors that turned out to be real. I also uncovered people that we had no idea were a part of our family.

It seems crazy to think that something that happened so long ago could actually have an influence in my life today. But part of me understands why the land of North Carolina feels so familiar. I understand why I am so passionate about who America is. I understand why I love bratwurst and why I think the Union Jack is pretty amazing. Maybe that's over stating it a little. However learning this history of my family has impacted how I understand who I am.

Now I wonder what other stories these names and dates hold. I guess I have a lifetime to find that out.