Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Secret of Pembrooke Park - a book review

I have now read every single one of Julie Klassen's books. On her About Page on Goodreads is this description - "Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen." Yes! I can tell! So when I received an email from Bethany House that Klassen's latest book is available for review, I snatched it up and was not disappointed.


I started reading this book and could barely put it down. It's longer than most Christian historical fiction, coming in at 456 pages. Even being a longer book, I felt there wasn't much filler. The story was great, about a "spinster" whose family loses their fortune so they must move into the country. They move into an abandoned house, one filled with the servants' whispers of tragic events that happened years ago. The rumor is that there is a treasure hidden somewhere in the house. Is the rumor true? Is Abigail going to be a spinster or will she marry?

Parts of the book were cheesy, mainly Abigail's romantic interludes. But the treasure hunting aspect of the story and how Abigail seeks to uncover her home's past, were delightful. While I can't label this a classic that I'll be returning to, Klassen wrote another fantastic weekend read. I just discovered that she has another book scheduled to come out next summer and I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December's Goals - Week Two

I made progress last week on both of my December goals. First up was lots of cleaning and decluttering.

Here's the wet bar, though we don't use it for that. We actually turned the water off to this faucet. I'm so confused about why this was installed right next to the fireplace, but what do I know? I think the neighbors have a book case in this location, which I would love to have!

Before

After

I forgot to take a picture of our entertainment center before I started cleaning it. The top was covered with several stacks of paper, remotes, and five pumpkins! This picture gives an idea of how cluttered it was:

Before

During

After

And, for fun, we put the Advent calendar there for the remainder of the holiday season, along with Cin-Ru's framed photo.


Here is my next project, to be tackled tomorrow.

Books, books, and more books

I also made some solid progress toward my Chinese goal (12 lessons completed before the end of the month). Last week I finished 2.5 lessons, which put me at 5.5/12 complete (I finished up the .5 lesson today). I studied 5.75 hours last week, which isn't too shabby. I just hope I can stay on top of everything when my Mother-in-law arrives on Sunday!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Touchdown in Taiwan!

Our photo album made it to Taiwan last Friday. As of this afternoon, they haven't met with Cin-Ru yet but plan to soon. I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for the report of what she thinks of our family.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fun with a new Advent calendar

We found out that the social worker is meeting with Cin-Ru next week! Our coordinator has requested a report as soon as possible, as she's going on vacation at the end of next week. We're hoping to find out what Cin-Ru thinks about our family and about us adopting her. Hopefully it is good news!


We bought a Hello Kitty advent calendar to count down to Christmas. It's so cute! We'll share photos of it with Cin-Ru in one of our later care packages. I sure hope she likes Hello Kitty. They make such fun clothes!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December's goals - week one

I have two goals this month - to clean my house from top to bottom and to make significant progress in my Chinese class.

Cleaning - I'm not doing too bad but I need to pick up the pace. There have been several days of adoption excitement and that took precedence over my cleaning. I did declutter several areas last week but there is lots more to do. Tomorrow I'll be tackling my upstairs bathroom.

Chinese - This is where all of my progress lies. Last week I completed just under six solid hours of studying, plus about two hours of listening practice by watching Taiwanese television shows. I finished three lessons from YoyoChinese, which meets my goal requirements. I've already studied an hour today and might squeeze in a bit more before bed. With the adoption process moving forward, I need to keep studying. I don't want to be in Taiwan wishing that I had learned more!


In adoption news, our photo album was mailed off today. We sent a photo album, a stuffed animal, and a small interlocking hearts necklace. Hopefully she likes everything! I can't wait to hear back the report from the social worker's visit with her later this month.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pre-approval!!

We received our pre-approval today!! I'm so excited!!

I printed the photos at Walgreens and picked them up today. This weekend I have to finish assembling the photo album and we'll be mailing out the care package on Monday morning. It will be forwarded to Taiwan immediately because the social worker will be visiting with her the third week of December to show her our photos!

Over the next few weeks, I will be praying that her heart is prepared for a family. The social worker reports that she wants a family; hopefully she will want OUR family to be her family!

Baby steps

Decluttering.

Simplification.

Minimalism.

Whatever you want to call it, I'm very slowly plugging away at it. I've been convicted lately that if I can't keep my home clean, it's because I have too much stuff. It's crazy how stuff keeps trickling in, even if I don't realize it. We don't shop a lot, but we do shop some, especially for our adoption. We want our kiddo to see photos of our home and our life and see that we are eager to have her join us, that she will have fun here.

But there is still a lot of excess. We live in a 1,200 sqft home with a terrible layout and not much storage. We hope to adopt two girls while living here, so four people will be living in a house with a small dining room, a small living room, and two bedrooms. My husband works from home. I'll be curious to see how this plays out, since he has no office!

I digress. I've been working here and there this week, whatever strikes my fancy. I figure it all needs to be done so it doesn't really matter what order I tackle it.

Some before and after photos of my progress thus far:

My junk drawer

No more junk!

Tiny mountain of papers

A clean table

I'm also tackling a Huge Mountain of Papers but am not quite finished with it. There are a few things I just don't know what to do with. I have a feeling I will need to clean out my overflowing file folder so that I can find space to file the things I need to keep. A lot of it is adoption paperwork.

I look forward to a cleaner house, one step at a time.