It is one most of us are familiar with, is it not?
A Psalm of David. The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You [are] with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever. [Psa 23:1-6 NKJV]
This set of verses is one that all of the girls memorized several years ago and it is one that brings much comfort when meditated upon. Miss J often is heard to be singing these verse and really enjoys it when we sing it in worship. I enjoy it as well.
As the holiday season comes to it’s peak, may the Lord be your shepherd and may you find the peace that he has prepared for us in His house forever.
Blessings, At Home.
The Lord’s My Shepherd
lyrics: Psalm 23 (arr. unknown; varies by publication) music: John Campbell
1 The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want; he makes me down to lie in pastures green; he leadeth me the quiet waters by.
2 My soul he doth restore again, and me to walk doth make within the paths of righteousness, e’en for his own name’s sake.
3 Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale, yet will I fear none ill, for thou art with me; and thy rod and staff me comfort still.
4 My table thou hast furnished in presence of my foes; my head thou dost with oil anoint, and my cup overflows.
5 Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me; and in God’s house forevermore my dwelling place shall be.
An interest of mine since I was a child is space and flight. I have enjoyed reading about it, visiting places related to it, and dreaming about. I enjoy learning about it. That is just one of the reasons we stopped in Dayton, OH, to learn more about the Wright Brothers. Thus, one of our first Smithsonian museums to visit in Washington, D.C. was the Air and Space Museum.
It is so much fun to see all of the historic airplanes and rockets. It is interesting to read about the people who have made an impact on flight and space exploration. The artifacts are unique and really bring history to life. I know – we read and say that a lot but it is true for me.
One of the rooms at the Air and Space Museum was a hands-on room. It was so much fun to see the girls run from place to place and learn something new. From how to control an airplane to the difference in weight from planet to planet to how to design a rocket path and see if it works or fails there were so many activities for the girls to work with. We spent quite a bit of time in that room.
We also visited a travelling exhibit on the Wright Brothers. That was really neat since we had already visited their National Park museum.
In addition to all of the “don’t touch” rockets and airplanes, there was a big airliner that we could walk through. It was neat to see the inside of an airplane since the girls have only flown once in their lives and that was years ago. I don’t remember the age of that aircraft but it was fun.
Of course, my favorite parts were the lunar landing modules and rockets. Have I mentioned that I have always been fascinated by space exploration and travel? Just one reason that we turned on the Mars landing a couple of weeks ago.
While the girls will always have to put up with my museum fascination, it is a great way to do school and learning and I think we tend to learn more this way. I absolutely enjoyed this experience, including the exhibit on Amelia Earhart. (Did I share with you the book on her that was fascinating? I don’t think so. It is titled The Sound of Wings and is written by Mary S. Lovell.) The girls enjoyed themselves in spite of not wanting to. 🙂 And they remembered having visited this museum six or so years ago. At least a few parts of it they remembered.
This is definitely a museum that I recommend if you can’t see all of the Smithsonian museums. And let’s face, if you don’t live in the area, who can? You always have to pick and choose. So we chose this one and I am thrilled that we did. I enjoyed it immensely.
Tonight, I had dinner in the oven in under 15 minutes. When the girls came in from violin, I got to hear those wonderful words “YUM! It smells good!” Then, when they found out that is was lasagna, a new round of pleasant words erupted. However, my favorite was when Miss J looked in the oven and exclaimed “Is it the lasagna with the spinach? That is my FAVORITE!”
This is a quick dinner partly because it does not include the pasta noodles and partly because I keep a trick up my sleeve. The “noodles” part of this lasagna is just spinach leaves. Nothing more, nothing less. Just put those fresh spinach leaves down and layer the rest. The other trick is that I keep cooked ground turkey in the freezer. That makes putting together the sauce for this super easy.
So, start the timer and here we go . . .
Preheat your oven to 350 degree.
Put a pot on the stove and put a tablespoon or so of olive oil in there. Don’t worry about the measure; just put some on to heat. Grab an onion and dice up half of it. Toss it in the heated olive oil. Using a garlic press, put about 3 or 4 cloves of garlic in there. Cook it for a few minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent. Add a can of diced tomatoes (I like the petite diced) and a can of tomato paste. Use the tomato paste can to add a couple cans of water to the pot. Put salt, pepper, basil, and oregano in the pot. Stir to mix and taste. Adjust those spices to what you like. I would have added more garlic if I had my garlic granules but we are currently out. So, just do it until you like the taste. Toss in the ground meat until it has as much as you want. I added about a cup and a half. Stir it up good.
Now, in your dish that can go in the oven, layer all that you want. Start with a layer of spinach leaves. Don’t go thin here because they do wilt with the heat of the sauce and the oven. Put a good layer of sauce over the spinach. Layer a crumble cheese, then a small grated cheese, and then a large grated cheese. I use crumbled goat cheese, pecorino romano, and then grate a goat mozzarella-style cheese on top. You could easily do cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella. We use the other due to food allergies.
Cover it with foil. Stick it in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees) until it is heated through and you are ready to eat. I left it in for about 20 minutes because that is when the rest of my family got home. It would have been good in about 10 minutes, I think, because the sauce was already hot when I put it on the layers.
I was able to do up some garlic bread to go with it and everyone was thrilled!
Stop that timer! This took me about 35 minutes, including the 20 minutes that it was in the oven waiting for the family to get home. While it was in the oven, I washed up the dishes and swept the floor. Guys – this was an easy one!
One of my favorite memories from my first two visits to D.C. were seeing the monuments. They are such imposing structures dedicated to important men, women, and times in our history. And they are just stunningly beautiful. For this reason, and many others, our first stop for our time in D.C. was the national monuments. We wanted to make sure the girls got to see them and the weather was a tad questionable for several of the days we were planning to be there. So, we went walking.
It is a nice long walk from the middle of the mall area down to the Lincoln memorial, which marks the farthest memorial on the mall. We visited the Washington Monument, which was fenced off for work, first. It is neat to see this tall building up close and to take a look at the change in color where work had to be halted for a while.
We then walked on down to the World War II Memorial, with a glimpse of the White House along the way. There was an Honor Flight from Michigan at the memorial when we arrived and it was breathtaking to see them all sitting there proudly, most in wheelchairs, visiting the memorial dedicated to them and all those comrads that were lost in the war. It was touching to see them gingerly touching the monument and taking pictures alongside the marker for their state. Knowing many of these men will not be alive much longer made this a special time and it was wonderful to be able to talk to the girls about the important role those men there that day played in our history.
Next we visited what is often called The Wall – the Vietnam Memorial. It was sobering to look at the seemingly-never-ending list of names on the wall. To know that each of those names represents a lost life for a conflict that our nation was involved in. We walked quietly along the wall, discussing with the girls what was going on with some of the folks who were doing rubbings of names or looking through the inches-thick directories trying to locate the name of someone important. We were able to talk about how so many of these were lost and the circumstances surrounding much of the conflict.
We walked past a few of the statues that represent different people from different populations in all of the wars and read what we could about each of them. The National Park Service provides brochures that come in handy for many of these.
We visited the Lincoln Memorial, climbing up the steps to stand at the base of his statue and imagine what an imposing man he was. We read the engraved speeches on the walls and just stood in awe of this great president. We talked about what a influence he was on America and how he truly tried to unite the states during the Civil War. His work is often underappreciated, I think, and it was great to be able to chat with the girls about President Lincoln.
Next we walked over to the Korean Memorial. This is a harder-to-explain war for me, since I am still trying to learn more about it. I have read some lately that helped me talk to the girls a bit about it. We talked about why it is represented the way it is and we looked at the different parts – with the soldiers in rain gear trudging through plants.
While there, one of the girls hit her breaking point and I was talking with her about why we were visiting these memorials – to remember the people who gave their lives so that we can live in freedom, that other people who were around us could very likely have been the family of the men that fought the war, etc. A veteran was listening and chimed in, saying something along the lines of “Young lady, you are very special and blessed to live here. I and many other fought for this and this place represents those who couldn’t come home. It is a special place.” That made an impression on me and I think it did her, as well, because she got quiet and we just sat in the shade for a bit. Then she was ready to move on.
We called it a day at that point, as it was really hot and getting late in the afternoon. We knew the walk was long to get over to the Jefferson Memorial and the others on that part of the tidepool. We opted to just chat with the girls about those. While I was disappointed, I knew it wasn’t wise to push that hard on our first full day in D.C. After all, we were going to be there for several more days and there was no way we could possibly see everything we wanted to. The monuments were important, though, and I am glad we chose that day to do them, hot as it was. The next few days were off and on rainy so that would have made it unpleasant to visit them.
Y’all, I was at the library yesterday (our weekly event, you know) and found this fantastic book for children while browsing their NEW section.
The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
Written by Louisa Borden and illustrated by Allan Drummond, this is the story of Margret and H.A. Rey. I knew a smidgeon about their background but not much so this title really caught my eye.
The Reys were both German Jews. You know where this is going right away don’t you? Partly. Their background actually has them travelling all over the world, it seems. They actually re-met and married in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They had evidently known each other from Hamburg, Germany, before they each left to pursue opportunities.
While in Brazil, they became citizens and then, after a while, they returned to Europe. While not planning to, they ended up settling in Paris. While there, Hitler continued to gain power. Eventually, war began. And, like many others throughout Europe, they worried about safety.
Eventually, they had to flee Paris. They had no idea when they began preparing to leave that they would just miss disaster multiple times but the slimmest of margins. Getting themselves bicycles, they literally pedaled out of Paris in the nick of time, heading south. They carried the barest of possession with them, some of which included the manuscripts for several children’s books they were working on.
They were able to get our of France, just barely and with almost no money left. They were able to get a bit more money and get on a boat out of Portugal after making their way through Spain. After arriving in Brazil, they were able to find passage on a ship to America. Safe arrival in America came four months after pedaling out of Paris. What a journey.
And through it all, they carried with them the manuscript for the children’s book we now know as Curious George.
This fantastic children’s biography is written with simple text that is easy to understand, though still interesting for someone like me. It is about 70 pages long and presented as a children’s picture book, though it is broken up into sections like a chapter book. Each set of pages is wonderfully illustrated. Some are original for this book but many are the Rey’s drawings for some of their children’s books. There are also quite a few pictures of the Rey’s at different times in their journeys and life. Another inclusion that is really interesting are images of many of the documents of the Rey’s lives – letters, journal pages, stamps, and more.
This is a well-written biography that children will be able to understand. It gives a solid understanding of some of the fear that people would have faced during the German invasions of WWII, as well as the advantage some folks had over others in cases where money made the difference.
If you are doing an author study, this would be a great addition. It is also a good addition to a WWII study. A neat find!
Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women is just that – a devotional book created just for those young ladies who are going through their pre-teen and teenage years, as they strive to grow into women of integrity, women of God. Published by the well-known company Zondervan, this is a lovely book that will visually appeal to just about any young lady.
Hardbacked with a foil-enhanced image of flowers on the front, this is a comfortable size. It is not a heavy book, even with the number of pages it contains to have one page per day of the year. The ribbon bookmark is secured in the binding and matches the lovely flowers just perfectly.
Each page has a motif that matches the cover, only without the foil enhancements. The day is a fancy font and it is a day (Day 1, Day 2, etc.) rather than a date (January 1, January 2, etc.) so that this devotional series can be picked up and begun at any time of the year. The Bible verse for the day is printed in pink (which is a tad hard to read for these old eyes) but complements the colors perfectly. The devotion thought is printed in black, making it stand out well. The end of the page has four lines for whatever the young lady would like to use it for: journaling, doodling, adding reference verses, etc. It is a visually beautiful book.
Let’s talk a bit about each devotion. As I mentioned there is a scripture followed by a few short paragraphs regarding something from the verse. These are fairly simple, without any challenging language or difficult sentence structures. Each devotion takes less than 10 minutes to read, think about, and discuss. My oldest would do each in about five minutes, which is a bit short for devotion times, in my opinion. Most of the devotions end with a real-life application of some sort, such a failing a test, dealing with someone who is unkind, or being afraid. Some of the devotions end with a challenge of some kind, such as the devotion regarding Naboth being killed by Jezebel that challenges the girls to not feel overwhelmed but to pick ONE thing and try to do it. (Day 264)
One thing I really like about this set of devotions is the number of women that are discussed. Your normal heroines are most decidedly included – Ruth, Esther, Mary, Naomi, Hannah and Sarah. However, there are some not so commonly thought about women included as well and that makes this an over-the-top good book, because even bad women can be good examples (of what not to be). Take Jezebel, Hagar, and the mother of Jephthah (the book uses her to reinforce that God can use any circumstance for His plan). While these women might not be ones that you would think of to say “be like her”, you definitely can use their lives to discuss what TO be and that is what this devotion does. Other women in this study include Zelophehad’s daughters, Manoah’s wife, Caleb’s daughter Aksah, and the woman Jesus healed from 12 years of bleeding. There are many, many role models here.
Our Use As A Family – We used this devotion book daily as part of our morning time. I would read the verse from the book and then the devotional thoughts. We would discuss the things that the girls caught in the reading and then address any thoughts or questions they would have. We would do 2 or 3 of these each day. An example of some of the discussion we had involved Noah and his family. The girls wondered about other family members that would not have been on the ark – any other children, any daughters, his wife’s family, his daughters-in-law’s families, any grandchildren. It sparked some interesting thoughts and ideas. We pulled out the Bible to read more of the account and discuss what it really entailed for Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law to be on that boat. Heartache must have been a part of it yet these women were there.
Another family discussion we had was in regards to Hagar and Sarai. We talked about trying to take control of something away from God and how difficult it can be to wait on the Lord’s time. We also talked about how in the process of taking control of the situation, something came between Hagar and Sarai. So we talked some more about friendships and how to mend hurts. Day 23 talks about Hagar being ugly to Sarai after Hagar became pregnant and how that affects both of them.
Our Use As A Mother-Daughter Time – Miss J and I were also reading this at our bed time readings. We had the book of Charlotte’s Web going so we just added a couple of these devotions to our time together each night. It was easy and only added a few minutes but it added a lot in terms of discussions and bonding. Miss J always had a comment to make about the reading (contrary to what it looks like with her quote below!). She often asked to read the passage from the Bible or to continue telling the story from the Bible. Some days, when she didn’t have much to say we might read three of the devotions. Other days, we would only get through one. This time allowed me to tailor the thoughts a bit more to her 9-almost-10-year-old-thinking. And it worked well.
A Heads-Up! Day 237 is a discussion of sex. No anatomy discussion or anything like that but it does talk a bit about the difference between martial relationships and extra-marital ones. The context is David and Bathsheba. For some this might be a deal breaker; for others, they just want the heads-up. So here it is. . . I have not read every single devotion so I cannot tell you for sure if there are other days that may have topics your young lady is not ready for.
The recommended age for this is 13-18. Middle school and high school girls could easily use this independently but I think it is appropriate for younger girls as well, just pre-read if you are concerned about content.
Thoughts from Miss E: I think this is a really good book but I would enjoy it more if the devotions were a little bit longer. It felt like there wasn’t enough space for there to be a fully-formed thought on some of them. It felt like it didn’t go deep enough to really be a devotional and I would enjoy it more like that. Also, I like the fact that they included lots of lessons on good role models. Ruth and Naomi had a number of lessons each. Even though Ruth only has 4 chapter in the Bible, the devotions captured different characteristics of each woman and had a single devotion for each of those characteristics. I really liked that. I would really like to have seen this include an index that grouped the devotions by topic such as getting married, choosing your career, handling disappointment, and others. That would make this useful in more ways.
Thoughts from Miss L: The ones we have done as a family have been good. I have enjoyed them. It doesn’t take a long time for each devo to get to the point so each one doesn’t take a long time.
Thoughts from Miss J: I liked it. The flowers were very pretty. It was nice to read together.
This will be the last book club of 2018. Hard to imagine things have gone so fast, isn’t it? With the types of weather that has been experienced by the country this year, this book choice just kind of fits in. Part of our Mega Field Trip was to New Bern, NC. If you will remember, it was hit hard by Hurricane Florence this year. And we skeedaddled out of the way of Hurricane Michael while we were on the homeward stretch of the trip. So, The Storm of the Century kind of fits.
Written by Al Roker (yes, the weather man), this book is subtitled “tragedy, heroism, survival and the epic true story of America’s deadliest natural disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900.” This book definitely lives up to its name. It is an engaging, thrilling, heart-wrenching book on everything related to that unparalleled disaster. From the stories of the people, to what causes these storms, to the influence of politics on the outcome of storms like this, it is an understatement to say I learned a lot.
While I really enjoy the human stories of triumph amid tragedy that are shared so detailed here, I find they are enriched by the backstories of the history and science that Mr. Roker so clearly and openly shares here. The stories of the people are interwoven throughout the book so that you are easily able to follow that thread and see how it connects to things like the creation of the Weather Service and the political situation in Cuba and to the formation of the rain clouds that eventually grew to a storm of montrous proportions.
Mr. Roker does a wonderful job of using language and expressions in a way that you can easily place yourself in the story that he is telling. When he is describing the horror that Isaac Cline felt when he realized that Galveston was, indeed, going to experience a disaster, you feel it yourself. When the little girl is picked off a floating piece of debris and brought to huddle with other survivors you feel relief and hope for her. When you read about Cassie heart-wrenchingly wishing she had died in the storm, you feel the great fear and despair she must have felt. The people are brought to life and you can’t help but feel a little bit of what they must have felt.
One unexpected thing you will experience in reading this particular book is a growth of knowledge. I had no idea that almost all Atlantic hurricanes begin in the same place over Africa and the many forces that must act on those rain clouds to become a major storm. I had no idea that the political tensions in Cuba would have had a devastating effect on the loss of life in Galveston (a ban on communications stopped men who felt they truly understood the storm from being able to communicate with anyone who would listen to them in America). Honestly, I had no idea that the Cuban monks had such extensive knowledge of weather and were considered some of the best in the world. Yet, since it was believed at the time that weather could not be predicted very well and especially not storms, they were not allowed to share their information and understanding. What a shame!
This is a fascinating book that I would highly recommend. I am thrilled to find that Mr. Roker is a talented writer that I enjoyed reading.
As I close, I just want to share that I am reimagining what is going to happen with the Book Club for 2019. I haven’t finalized that but be looking for something a bit different in January.