The Curse of Pride

Pride is something we may have heard mentioned time and time again. But not until a couple years ago did I realize what it truly was.

I wanted to make no mistakes. I wanted my children to make no mistakes. I wanted to have a very clean house and keep up with everything. I worked very hard at it.

But one day, realizing that the fact that I believed that I could make no mistakes, was in itself pride. I believed that I could be perfect. I believed that was what was demanded of me. By God, by fellow humans and well, just the whole of society.

Then it went on to my children. When my children had struggles in school, I blamed myself. I believed that it was me that caused their issues, or them. One of us was not working hard enough. I tended to blame myself more than them, but continued to look for a solution.

When my first son was diagnosed with learning disability, it felt like a relief, but I felt guilty that I was relieved. I felt like I had failed somehow. I had failed perhaps in my pregnancy, and that was why. Maybe I had done something wrong in their infant hood and they bonked their heads one too many times. But in the end, it was admitting that there was a lack of perfection in us. It came down to pride. It was hard to admit that there was an issue.

I have seen parents that get prickly when you call it a disability. “Why can’t we call it, “a unique learning style”? they ask.  Or they steadfastly persist, “There is nothing wrong with him/her. He/she is just a little unique, but they are work harder and be normal.”

I sometimes wonder if we are only this way with less obvious disabilities. If someone was born without a leg, would we force them to crawl on the floor because they should not depend on a crutch? Would we say that they should not have all the opportunities to help them to walk, because we are pretending they do not have a missing limb?

When someone has a special need, a disability, we need to teach our children to embrace it. Forgo pride in perfection.  Perfection is overrated anyhow! When we embrace our imperfections that is when pearls are formed. We can thrive and do more than when we are trying to be “normal”.

Let’s not ignore our children’s needs for our own pride. If we can embrace our imperfections, stop blaming ourselves for something that had nothing to do with us, we can thrive and be joyful.

Our joy can come from loving how we are, our mistakes and laugh or cry through them.

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A Slow Burn…

There are times in life when comments really can eat away at you.

I am a fairly even tempered person. I can get frustrated on occasion with the normal things in life, messes, children that argue, things that do not seem to go right. But I more often tend to have anxiety than frustration.  I will generally blame myself over someone else.

But recently a myriad of comments seem to build up and cause a slow burn deep within, that culminated in a form of sadness and then anger.

What did it teach me?

People don’t think before they speak.  Including myself at times, although I used to agonize over every word I spoke. The fact that now I can speak my own mind without over analyzing it, is actually healthier than when I did think it through. But I digress.  If other do actually think before they speak, they often speak in ignorance.

My mom is this incredibly positive person, and tries to find the silver lining in every rain cloud. However, sometimes I am realizing, it is okay to be hurt. It is okay to be disappointed. It is okay to not be positive about something.

It is okay to be hurt when people ignore your talents and praise someone else that does the same thing as you.

It is okay when someone tells you that your work is foolishness and in fact, might be sinful to ask others to enjoy it, to feel indignant. (In this case, writing fiction).

It is okay when people speak of your siblings and praise their looks, but have never once complimented you to feel pain.

The slow burn of hurt that culminates in anger from seeing someone you love and care about be abused and controlled by someone that claims to love them is painful to feel.

But it is okay. It is okay to be angry sometimes. It is okay to be hurt. It is what we do with it that can be wrong. If I turn around and scream at someone else because of the anger inside, that is not the healthiest way to cope. But if I journal, confront the behavior or even channel my energy into something healthy, it can help me to grow and be different.

There is not a silver lining in every cloud. Sometimes some people are just mean. Sometimes things are not going to turn out okay. Sometimes people you love die. Men abandon their families. People abuse one another. There is no silver lining there. Sometimes we do ourselves and others a disservice when we look for the positive.

I am not saying to wallow in it. But there is something about a real grieving period where allow ourselves to be hurt, sad and even angry for a time to be able to heal. If we are always looking for the good in it, it is not able to heal. We can’t pretend we are not cut. That doesn’t encourage healing. But when we embrace the pain, work with the pain, like in childbirth, we are able to give birth to a baby.

Don’t let anger turn to bitterness, but embrace the pain.

Today, my hurts, though they are private are many, but I choose to embrace it. I will not fight the pain, but I will fully live in it.

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Spring Fling Learning

Spring Fling Learning
By Martha Artyomenko
Spring brings its own challenges to learning, but learning to roll with it and take advantage can help keep the learning happening when everyone wants to be outside.
-Garden planning: Pull out those seed catalogs, botany books and science books and work on planning even a container garden if you live in town. Start plants in the windowsill, visit a nursery, and investigate what is starting to blossom outdoors.
-Go for a hike. Hiking can invigorate the mind, and you can find local herbs, plants, and even bones to identify.
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-Do math, reading, writing outside on the picnic table. Have snacks in the sunshine on a warmer day. Sometimes I would even take reading books to the park and we would read on the bench and then play for a bit.  Speak as to why fresh air invigorates the mind as you play outdoors. If when you get home, see if you can find a book that speaks to the benefits and writing a paragraph or journaling in a nature journal about their experience.
-Take a walk to the library. If you don’t live close enough, park a bit away and walk. Go and explore the educational set ups they have and learn what they offer. Get some new books on topics of spring, art or other interests. It can freshen up your learning.  Often libraries will offer classes on topics that can relate to your way of living as well.
-Go feed the ducks at the park. First research the diet that a duck or geese should eat and bring food accordingly. Talk about fungi and algae while observing (from a distance) the pond, and germs around there. It is a good place to see it in action.  Refer to nature or science books that you have read to get the full impact of merging science with reality.
-Tea party on the porch or in a sunny window while you read aloud. They can drink tea or even color while listening. Other times, we would build legos or work on handwriting.
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-Try some new ideas that are fresh for learning.  It might mean putting the books aside for a day and saying, “Let’s bake today. If we triple this recipe of Banana bread, how many loaves will we have?  How much butter will we need? Can we bake it all at once?”
Banana Bread (made with coconut sugar)
Yield: 2 loaves
3 c. flour (Whole wheat or white)
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 c. mashed ripe bananas
3/4 c. coconut sugar (or you can use regular white sugar)
1/2 c. cooking oil (I could have added more banana or applesauce for this, but I did not this time, if you wish to cut back and use fruit from your own garden, applesauce works well)
1 t. vanilla
Mash bananas well. Add dry ingredients and then rest of wet ingredients. Mix well. Divide between two baking loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes apx. at 350 degrees. Let cool before slicing. It was plenty sweet, and I would probably cut the coconut sugar back more if you do not mind it not as sweet.
Homemade Ice Cream can be another fun science in action treat to try. If you have an electric churn is is very simple, but a hand churned ice cream maker is even better. 
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-Audio history, science and fiction novels in the car. It keeps their brain churning even when not doing school.   
Here are a few of our favorites:
The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett (I especially liked this one when we were studying gardening as it brought the love for the earth, growing things and being outdoors to life).
These are just a few ideas for spring or summer learning for those that homeschool. It can add a fresh start to your homeschool day.

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Shine Like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

 

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event shattered their idyllic family life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart as she begins to wonder if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving —and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw  two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

My Review:

I throughly enjoyed this story set in a small historical town, with a little mystery twist to it. As are her other books, this one is well written and entraps your attention, making you unable or unwilling to set it aside until you are done. It is not that it is fast moving, but it has little twists and turns throughout that make your mind keep moving from character to character.

I loved how the trauma in the story is not minimized, yet, it is not graphic. You realize to what extent it harmed the main character without feeling traumatized ourselves as readers.

The love story does not take the forefront of this story, but is more in sweet undertones, as it would be in real life. You have to check this out.

You can purchase this book $8.31 paperback right now. “Shine Like the Dawn”

This book was provided for review by “Blogging for Books”. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah Ladd

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description:
Could losing everything be the best thing to happen to Annabelle Thorley?

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

My Review:

The lovely cover will make you pick up this book, but the story will not let you put it down. This book does not come out until May, so I generally try to read them closer to the time of publishing. However, this one was irresistible  Once I started it, I could not put it down. The story where the heroine found herself facing forced marriage because of money was very common in those times, and escape was not always something that was possible. The hero and heroine both, faced abuse, and yet persevered.

The spiritual elements in this book were quite open and keen, where this is not a book you might pick up and wonder if it was a Christian book. If you are not looking for one, don’t pick this one up. I found the message to be heart warming and encouraging.

I completely enjoyed this book!

“A Stranger at Fellsworth” is available for preorder through Amazon and through other book sources. The release date is May 16, 2017. Generally the price is better before it is released and I highly recommend you order this one.

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Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

 

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Description
Hayden McCarthy is on track to become the youngest partner in her prestigious D.C. law firm . . . if the case she’s just been handed doesn’t destroy her first.

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It’s why she became an attorney and why she’s so driven in her career. When she’s handed a wrongful death case against the government, she isn’t sure if it’s the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there. She keeps the case alive through sheer determination and more than a little creativity, but then she’s fired by a partner with a vendetta.

The longer she keeps the case active, the higher the stakes become. Unknown enemies seem determined to see either the case—or her—die. Should she fight alone for the dead young man by launching her own unfinanced firm, or abandon the case in order to save her own life?

My Review:

A well written legal thriller with a message relevant to our society today. I loved the inside view of immigration, especially illegal immigration and government politics laid out in this story. It is not often that I find myself saying, “Yes, yes!” to a fiction novel, but this one had me wanting people to read it that I know will never think about it with an open mind.

The author is a lawyer, which shows in her writing, but doesn’t take away from the story. The lively tale makes me want to read more of her books!  If you like suspense, a fight for justice and human interest, pick this one up. There is a slight romantic thread throughout, but it is not the focus of the story at all.

The publishing date on this book is April 4, 2017 and is available for preorder. “Beyond Justice” 

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An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Hunter

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

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About the book:

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with thepressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent’s relationship survive the pressures of London society?

My Review:

The lovely cover draws you into the character before you even pick up the story. Marriage in a rush, based on rumors begins this tale.

I found myself pulled in as it was not your typical “marriage of convenience” story. The familiar characters were manipulated by those in charge and I found I related to that. In this case, the couple decided to work to court and have a relationship before actually acting on being married. I found that refreshing, although not totally realistic.  Men are generally not that honorable. Trent is the ideal gentleman and will keep you reading until the end, while you laugh over his “pineapple” dreams as well. The snappy wit of the the lady, kept me chuckling to myself as well.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or wherever books are sold near you. $8.27 paperback on Amazon. “An Uncommon Courtship”

 

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The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

 

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter bearing his seal, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Disguised as a shepherd, Steffan hopes to gain entry to the castle and claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to his uncle’s evil plan.

My Review:

I try to never go into Melanie Dickerson’s books with expectations. For some reason, even though I know that the ones based on fairy tales will be familiar, she never ceases to surpass my expectations I do have.
This story, light, fun, but with hints of deeper meaning, spoke to my heart. It reminded me of a story that I had mapped out years ago, but never wrote. I loved the sweet retelling of this fairy tale, with the depth and heart that she has. It is one that young adults and adults will enjoy alike.

When you are looking for a good book, that will brighten your life, look to buy this one.

The publishing date is May 9th and is available for preorder for 8.42 for hardcover “The Noble Servant” 

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The Memory of You by Catherine West

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Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

My Review:

Do you ever read a book that leaves you a bit feeling “hung over” when you are done? You don’t really want to pick up another book, because this one was just so good?
That is how this book was for me. The main character, as we dug into her past, her heart and her struggles, we see the breakdown of PTSD for laymen. We can see what it did to her, how it harmed her life, even years after the incident.
I felt like this made this book unique. It was not the setting, but the people that made this book uniquely special. If you are not someone that has known someone in your everyday life that has PTSD, this may help you understand it, but also relate to the story of a normal, everyday person, not off a battle front, that struggles, but is gifted in many ways still.
I loved the setting in wine country, and learned a few things about wine making that I did not know before. Catherine West has given us another masterpiece of fiction. It is more than fiction, it is a tale of forgiveness, grace, and overcoming when everything is against us.

You can purchase this book here. I highly recommend you do so!

The Memory of You 

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A Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson

 

 

 

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My Review:

My heart overflowed with joy at a Christmas gift from the author of allowing me to read this book ahead of the time of publishing.
Christmas and Melanie Dickerson go together like cinnamon, Christmas trees and wrapped gifts do for other people. I made my own special tradition of reading her novels, preferably her latest novel on Christmas every year. So far, I have gotten to start a new one every year for last several years, curled in my Pj’s, by the light of my sister’s tree. I have loved her fairy tale rewrites so much, I wondered if I could like her regency reads just as well. I shouldn’t have worried.

The heroine of this tale is spunky, but not over the top in an irritating way. She is strong, and has definite thoughts of why she does what she does. I loved her! Her hero took a bit to grow on me, but like all “Mr. Darcy” like characters, we realized who he was under the prickles.

If you love a good regency, with hints of romance, without any graphic details, kisses or the like, this is perfect! It was just right. It hit the spot in a wonderful way.

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