Grandma’s Bookbag

So far in our Grandma’s Bookbag series, I shared preschool book reviews with you. But, of course, as my grandchildren get older, I move into reading more advanced books to them.

Three of the favorites for the younger readers are from the “An I Can Read Book” series.

The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coeer (the Amazon’s links are Titus2’s Amazon affiliate link; see our Privacy Policy ) is the top favorite. It tells the story of a little girl traveling with her family to California in a covered wagon in 1850. She takes her hen with her, which makes for many adventures on the trail.

Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner is about a daddy and his three boys who move to Kansas for free land in 1878. It shares the difficulties they experienced and how they managed through them. Because the setting is in Kansas, the state the Maxwells live in, it holds particular interest for us.

The Long Way Westward by Joan Sandin tells of a boy from Sweden arriving in New York on an immigrant ship with his family and then making the trip to Minnesota where they would settle.

All three books give a picture of a child’s life in various parts of America’s past. I read the books aloud to my grandchildren during our reading time, but I first purchased them years ago as readers for my younger homeschooled students.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a
good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Random Life, Starting out the New Year

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m overdue with Random Life (last one was end of November!), so I’m starting fresh: January 1st until now for Random Life.

The year started in full swing, with church, ministry, family times (including birthdays), and work.

In these changing times, we know our citizenship isn’t here on earth. May we use every opportunity to share Christ!


You just never know what crew we might have for Sunday lunches.
Love to see Anna Marie smiling!
Cozy reading time
Anna watched Nathan and Melanie’s kiddos so they could have time away.
Dad and Mom finished out the babysitting as Anna had some things she needed to do.
Candlelight and prayer as we remembered the Roe vs. Wade ruling
Burrito time
My birthday cheesecake!
Coffee and time out on my birthday
Birthday dinner with Gigi
Mom with Axton and Elliot for their Monday afternoon playtime. The boys love it!
Ellie (barely) tolerating Arnold sniffing her. I think he liked the smell of Ellie’s ear drops she gets at bathtimes.
Although we’ve had a lot of cold weather lately, we did have some sweatshirt-worthy weather in January.
Love this little girl!
Making an anniversary sign for their parents
Dad, Mom, and I went to Joseph and Elissa’s to celebrate Caleb turning 1.
Flag time with Gigi (she was in the garage due to the snow)
Axton turned 2!
Opening a wedding gift from a blog reader!
Axton felt pretty big to have a Bible like Grandpa
We had Christopher and Anna Marie’s kiddos over one night.
Ruthie’s birthday evening (well, not her real birthday but her gift of coming over to our house)
This foursome went on a Sunday afternoon walk in VERY cold temps.
Another birthday girl, Elizabeth!
New chicks!
Christopher with some of the kiddos
Nathan’s crew going out for ice cream on one of the coldest days of the year!
The newlyweds got coffee and went on a walk on probably the coldest day of the year. Sweet memories!
Like I said at the beginning, you never know what crew you’ll find on a Sunday. This was a sweet lady from our church.
Arnold overseeing (literally) the new microwave installation

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works,
lest any man should boast”
(Ephesians 2:8-9).

Scripture Memorization for Children

Recently I received a note from a mom who began using an audio Bible for her young children for their Bible time. She and I had communicated about that, and I told her about one of my grandsons pretty much memorizing the book of Jonah by listening to it daily when he was 6 years old. Here is what this mom tried and the results:

“I took your advice using an audio Bible to help kids memorize the Bible more. I started with them listening to the book of Jonah this summer. I put on Jonah just as we started lunch. Without even telling them to memorize it, after two months my 5.5 year old one day started reciting it quite perfectly. She was so surprised. So was I, although that was my plan all along. After three months, we switched out Jonah for Ephesians 5-6. Two months later she knows those chapters quite well.

“I am really glad because this is really something that does not demand anything from a busy mom of littles. Just decide on the Scripture and press play. 

“I am using our breakfast time also for continual Scripture listening. Since June we`ve listened to Psalms, the Gospels and now Acts. Because of the baby, I wasn’t sure about uninterrupted time that I could read to them in the morning, so I used the audio Bible to help me in this way also. 

“I am hoping to help my children have a quiet time after the new year. I am planning to give my 5 year old daughter a Bible reading plan and a worksheet to complete alone. And I am hoping my 3.5 year old will be able enough to read (he’s learning quite well), so that I can sit with him to read a verse and talk about it and pray together. I am so excited to be pouring God’s Word in our children day by day. There is nothing more important in their education, because all wisdom starts with God’s Word.” Anete

I was impressed, motivated, and excited by that testimony of using an audio Bible with children. I hope you feel the same and perhaps you will be inspired to work audio Bible time into your schedule by itself or alongside another activity.

Trusting in Jesus,

Reading to the grandkids. This crew does really well with Scripture memory!

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’d like to introduce you to a gem of a recipe we found years ago on the back of a Gold Medal flour bag. We modified the recipe, and you’ll see what we’ve turned it into below. It’s an easy-to-make double chocolate cookie with no-fuss ingredients.

I made these on Valentine’s Day and thought I’d document them to share with you all.

PS: Thank you for all the kind words. My improvement is slow, but I see progress. Praising the Lord for His mercy.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa (we also added an extra 2 TB.)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (You can also use less/1 cup is fine)

Preheat oven to 375º. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In a mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until creamy. Next, beat in eggs.

Slowly beat in flour mixture. When it’s combined, add chocolate chips and beat (yes, you read that right) for 30 seconds to a minute to even two.

Now your batter is ready to bake. Spoon dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or we love our baking mats). If you want small cookies, a teaspoonful is fine, or, for a regular size cookie, we use a cookie-dough scoop to form that size. Bake eight or so minutes or until set.


“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that
is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).

When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June. Anna, Mary, and I were exercising in our home gym. It’d been a long time since we’d enjoyed a work out together since most mornings, either Anna or Mary was at Christopher’s helping get the kids ready for the day. We were near the end of our workout, and I was on the back extension machine. I’ve done it many times before, but this time, with great exuberance I went forward too far, and I hit my head on the metal post. Really hard. I got a concussion.

Some accidents cost a little, some cost a lot. This happened in the midst of my Learning Lessons project, and I had deadlines I wanted to meet along with keeping up my normal work responsibilities.

What followed were headaches, dizziness, pressure in my head, and an overall awful feeling. My doctor thought perhaps a 3-6 month recovery. By January, I had mostly good days.

Enter last Saturday. I hit my head again, in a different way. This time, I stood up under the edge of a cabinet, hitting the top of my head—hard. My fast-paced life filled with work, ministry, and activities suddenly tail-spun into slow-pace.

God has been so gracious, and in the midst of this, I’m learning to accept challenges that haven’t been the norm in the past. I’m learning to rest when needed. I’m learning to rely on God’s strength and not my own. And I’m learning to accept limitations. This wasn’t in my plan. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

The doctor said what I’m doing now for self-care is good and helped me with headache management.

But I think in all of life, we have opportunities to accept challenges and accept them with thankfulness.

Perhaps cutting back on outside activities to heal may just allow the time needed to push forward on Hill Top Adventure’s Book Three outline. Who knows. Last time, being at home helped me write and edit Learning Lessons. Our God is always good–ALWAYS.


“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore
will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of
Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Large Family Friendly Dining Table

When we purchased our dining room table, there were some features we wanted because of our large family and the expectation that we would be seating even more in the future:

  1. Wide enough to seat two people at each end.
  2. Pedestal style so people could sit near each of the four corners. Previously our table’s legs were on the corners, making sitting close to them uncomfortable.
  3. Rectangular so we could put high chairs on each corner. (Right now we need five high chairs!)
  4. Expand with leaves to the largest size our dining room would accommodate.

We purchased the table from an Amish furniture store a couple of hours from our home. At this store, they had several table styles on the showroom floor. They were willing to customize the table width if we were willing to wait for it to be built.

The expanded table is 12 feet by 54 inches and comfortably seats 14 with the maximum seating being 18. It is 8 feet long without leaves and comfortably seats 8 with 12 being the maximum. We have four 12 inch leaves.

To handle the table’s weight with the length of the added leaves on a pedestal base, there are drop down legs on each end that we draw up when the leaves are not in use. Because of those drop down legs and the number of leaves, the leaves don’t store in the table itself so they need to be fetched from a closet each time we open up the table.

The meek shall eat and be satisfied:
they shall praise the LORD that seek him:
your heart shall live for ever.”

Psalms 22:26