Saturday, October 31, 2015

Virginia Vacation Days 1 & 2

We had the wonderful opportunity to spend a week in Williamsburg, Virginia over fall break! We stayed at the beautiful Powhatan Resort just on the outskirts of the town. In the center of the resort (which were just regular condos) was this delightful 18th century mansion.

Our first day of touring was spent at Colonial Williamsburg, getting a feel of how much there was to see and how we would tackle it.

Here is the capital building. Jamestown was the original capital of Virginia but then, in 1699, it was decided to move the capital to Williamsburg (eventually it moved again to Richmond).

We had a glimpse inside the silversmith's. It's interesting how many trades were important back then that don't seem to be around as much anymore. Of course, maybe we just have other names for them (like gift stores, jewelry stores, etc.)

In the apothecary:

 There were a number of people dressed up in period clothing:

We found the Presbyterian meeting house behind the capital building. Definitely very plain!

Had to get a picture of the preacher in the pulpit!

Michael liked the name of this place -- Edinburgh Castle

I loved the architecture. It reminded me so much of my early years in New England and the east coast.

Here's another lovely house:

We took a tour of the jail.

And looked around in the cells.

Then we stopped to watch a marching band:

It was fascinating to learn the steps of firing a canon. War was so primitive 234 years ago.

Then there was some training of the new recruits.

Every now and then a wagon or carriage would drive by.

Rachel and I were tempted to buy Laura an outfit and dress her up!!! (They did have outfits for rent since a good number of visitors like to visit in costume!)

The boys liked the tri-cornered hats!

Laura liked them too!

Even Rachel!!!

A few more patriots in the streets:

On our way home for the day we passed some sheep!

As well as a few more performers:

We don't tend to eat out on vacation but I was kind to myself and shopped at the nearby Trader Joe's where they had all kinds of yummy things in the frozen section (like potatoes, grilled veg, etc.).

Another view of the Duke of Gloucester street in Williamsburg:

Sunday dinner: lemon chicken with roasted butternut squash:

Sunday we headed to church at Grace Covenant PCA which was nearly around the corner!! Then, we had a dear family friend come for lunch!!!! It was so fun to catch up and be in our friend's "neck of the woods" for once!

We were blessed with beautiful weather all week even though it started out on the chilly side.

After lunch on Sunday we took a nice walk around the resort.

The Powhatan mansion is left open for people to walk around any time so we poked our heads inside.

It would make a wonderful family home I think!

Perhaps the heating bill might be a little high.

In the evening we spent some time coloring together. Have you seen how popular the adult coloring books are these days? I couldn't resist one at the book store before we left and it was a big hit! We all loved it!

It is time consuming though!! This took 2 hours!

And that was it for the first two days. More to follow!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend with fear of bankruptcy."

-- Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Words and Wool

I have lots of books to tell you about but only a little knitting. I'm planning to work on a pumpkin tea cozy over fall break with this pattern and that yarn (which I'm going to double to get the right weight). Also hope to get some more rows done on my Jared Flood shawl

Before I jump into the books, I have to show you what I saw today: spring blossoms on the crabapple tree in a nearby park. What?! It's mid-October! What a strange and delightful sight!

And now for the books:

The Fairy Tale Girl by Susan Branch is a book I have been waiting for for months and months! I love Susan Branch, and her book "A Fine Romance" about her travels to England and the Lake District was just exactly the type of travel book I love. This book was a bit different but I came to love it over time as I realized what she was doing. In this book she tells the story of her life, beginning with her romantic and yet ill-fated first marriage, intertwining in the book the story of her childhood as well. I wasn't sure I really wanted to know all the sad parts, but I see how they fit together to make her into who she is now. I especially enjoyed learning about how Susan came to love cooking and home-making as well as how she got into art and writing. I find it fascinating to see how people's lives are pieced together.

Peace by Piece And speaking of pieces, this book is written by a friend of mine from when Michael and I were at seminary. In the book, Maria shares about her childhood experiences in remote northern Canada, and how her mother nurtured her through the transition of saying goodbye to the life they knew in northern Canada and prepared for moving to Kansas. Maria kept my attention throughout and I felt as if I was seeing the scenes and circumstances through a child's mind.

Longing for Paris: One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure-Right Where She Is by Sarah Mae explores how important it is to dream life dreams, to have a sense of adventure and to have longings, all the while entrusting them to our Heavenly Father to either give to us or not. She encourages women to open their eyes to see the beauty of life where they are -- eat croissants in the middle of Pennsylvania if you can't travel to Paris. Make your present life an adventure.

Thankful You can read the book review I wrote yesterday for this book here.

At the Water's Edge: A Novel by Sara Gruen is set in Drumnadrochit, Scotland during World War II and includes monster (Nessie) seekers, anxiety disorders, a difficult marriage, and what life was like during World War II in Scotland. I love Drumnadrochit, and Scotland, and World War II, so I enjoyed this book. I was disappointed in the language clustered together here and there and in one or two scenes that could have been left out.

  The Pastor's Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love by Gloria Furman is an excellent book and is now on my to-buy list. Short and sweet, Gloria offers encouragement and wisdom to women whose husbands are in the ministry. However, just about everything she says is applicable to any woman in the church as well.

Nurture by Nature: Understand Your Child's Personality Type - And Become a Better Parent was a book I tackled in order to better understand my children. It wasn't easy to read, especially because I have not been familiar with the Meyer-Briggs personality types so first I had to learn all about those. Once I figured out my personality type, and those of my older children (still working on the younger ones - it is not as easy as the book says to figure them out) I was able to gain some very helpful perspectives and suddenly a number of things about my children made a whole lot of sense. I still need to put more time into going through the material again to get a better grasp of it.

  In the Camp of the Delawares by James A. Braden was a great read aloud choice for our pre-French and Indiana War history studies of America and Indiana. It did a good job of helping the children to understand what life was like for the frontiersmen who were on the front lines of interacting with the Indians, both friendly and hostile. The story started out a bit slow but soon kept us all on the edge of our seats. It takes place in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio just before the French and Indian War.

A Life's Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk was an interesting memoir about motherhood. It was a bit "stream of consciousness" and really quite depressing at times because of her hard truth reality of what mothering an infant can be like. She didn't have many redeeming words in the book. However, it seems her work is well-known. Is this because there are so few memoirs about early motherhood out there that purport to say it like it is?

  Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring by Andi Ashworth was a wonderful book. Andi explores caring for others -- which happens in many ways: as a mother, friend, nurser of the sick, offer-er of hospitality, instigator of celebrations, etc. She seeks to bring honor and dignity to this role that is often down-played or forgotten. She definitely had echoes of Edith Schaeffers "Hidden Art of Homemaking" and "What is a Family" in the book, but updated for the modern reader.

Chicken Every Sunday, My Life With Mother's Boarders by Rosemary Taylor is such a fun read! I heard of it in the book I read about the books that were chosen and distributed to American servicemen during World War II. Apparently this was a popular one! No wonder!! With its rollicking descriptions of everyday life with Mother and the mouth-watering details of her dinners, I can see how this provided excellent entertainment. The writing style and time period reminded me of "Cheaper by the Dozen."

Paint and Canvas: A Life of T.C. Steele by Rachel Perry was a manageably-sized book for me to read with the children in order to introduce them to a great American painter who also happens to be from Indiana! I found the story of T. C. Steele fascinating and I am eager to visit his "House of the Singing Winds".

The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck was another read for our Indiana studies. This is a very funny tale set around the turn of the last century in a rural Indiana town and narrated by a young adolescent boy whose teacher has just died. Of course he hopes that means the end of school forever. Sadly, for him, that is not the case!

  The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood by Kathryn Aalto is a wonderful book! It talks all about the properties and land that inspired A. A. Milne in his writing of Winnie the Pooh. There are lots and lots of pictures and endearing stories and memories of how the books were written and what influenced Milne's life. I loved it! If you are a Winnie-the-Pooh fan, you should check this out!

And that's all for now!!

You can check out more wool ideas and book suggestions at Ginny's Yarn Along.

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