Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge: Akrotiri

Here is the second book in the Travel the World in Books reading challenge. Technically, Akrotiri is not a country, but when I first decided that I was doing the Travel the World in Books reading challenge I decided that I would do all the countries on the list of the CIA World Factbook and Akrotiri is what’s listed after Afghanistan. Akrotiri is a UK sovereign base area.

On compiling research for this post, I am now not 100 percent certain that the Akrotiri I read about is the same as Akrotiri today. The one today seems to be on Cyprus, but the one I read about was on Thera/Santorini. Either way, it opened me up to a whole new thing that I had never read about so I was grateful to read about it. After all, typing in Akrotiri in the card catalog didn’t yield me very many results.

The book I read was Thera: Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean: Excavations at Akrotiri 1967-79 by Christos G. Doumas. This was, in some ways, a perfect book for me because when I was a kid I went through somewhat of a phase learning about Pompeii, so it was pretty interesting to learn about a similar event, one I had never even heard of before. Despite the fact that the city is older than Pompeii was, it wasn’t discovered until very recently (1960s) so I think that’s probably why it isn’t as well-known as Pompeii. And unlike Pompeii, the people of Akrotiri evacuated in time, though they aren’t really sure how people knew to leave.

"Map Akrotiri 1600 BC-en" by Maximilian Dörrbecker. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Map Akrotiri 1600 BC-en” by Maximilian Dörrbecker. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

As you can see from the map, it was quite a big place. While I have to admit that at times the book was a bit dry and boring, I do still feel that I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know before. An archeologist who worked on the dig though wrote it though, so that was kind of a cool aspect. Also, there were a lot of pictures and some of them were simply stunning, when you think about how old the artwork was that survived and how detailed it was and there’s just something beautiful in it.  It’s also interesting to me to hear them speculating on what life was like then.

I would say this book is worth reading, but I’m not going to make an across the board recommendation. I think you definitely have to have an interest in history/buried cities/etc. since it does get pretty technical at times. But I think it was a pretty decent read. And I’ve learned so much that I did not know. It’s definitely expanding my horizons.

Of course after reading a book about a city buried by a volcano, I definitely had to watch the Doctor Who episode about Pompeii.

100 Must-Eat American Foods Challenge: Open Faced Turkey Sandwich



Skipping around the list a bit, looking for ones that would be easy for me to do, I came across the open-faced turkey sandwich. Now this is kind of one thing that I have never tried that shocked me, because it seems like it would be a natural one for me to try. I really like turkey, I love bread, and add gravy, and it’s a happy combination right? Of course! I loved it. This is definitely a do again and I can see eating this at future Thanksgivings – or any time of year. It’s February, so I obviously didn’t eat this at Thanksgiving, but I do really appreciate a good turkey.

Now, this was probably not 100 percent traditional, as I made it on wheat bread instead of white (the loaf of wheat was already open and I hate having two open bread loaves at a time if I can help it) and the turkey was actually a Jennie-O Turkey Loaf. I just remembered eating them as a kid and loving them, plus it was like half the price of the fresh turkey breasts and I could easily just pop that part in the oven with minimal prep and minimal effort. I did, however, chop up some onions and saute them before adding gravy to them to make a nice sauce to pour over the turkey and bread and of course, I made stuffing to go along with it. I love stuffing and look for any excuse to eat it!

I would definitely eat this again. That is the best part of this whole challenge, is finding new things that I would eat again. Life can get boring eating the same things over and over, but sometimes you don’t know what new stuff to try and old standbys are comforting because at least you know they are good. But having a challenge attached to something really pushes me to get out there and try something new.

James Bond Movie Challenge: Skyfall

So I’m watching my way through all the James Bond movies listed here. Just to stretch myself and get out of my regular watching habits and to try something different. So yesterday I watched Skyfall. My thoughts ahead – warning SPOILERS sweetie, so don’t keep reading if you don’t want to know.

In the beginning, I thought I wasn’t going to like it very much. It started very action heavy, which I don’t always mind, but I felt thrown into it with little/no context. There was fighting and there was talk of a list but I couldn’t figure out what the list was or even where on the planet they were. Once that started getting explained, I felt much better about the movie.

I don’t feel like the characters do a ton of developing in James Bond movies, a little bit, but not much, to be honest they seem to stay very the same, but despite that there were some very touching moments where you could see their humanity shine through.

Adele’s song was great! Not that I thought it wouldn’t be, but still, she deserves a shout out. Favorite character: Q.

There were a few plot holes. For one, they never explained how he survives being shot and then going into the water. Everyone thinks he’s dead. I thought he was dead, but they never explained how he lives. Also, I thought all the Bonds were just like a code name (that explains how they’ve been played by so many people over 50 years?) but yet the tombstone says his parents’ last names were Bond, so is it really his given name? Confused. Feel like if I had watched the Bond movies in order I would have a better sense? But maybe not.

The villain was smart and creepy all at the same time, which I appreciate in a movie villain. His story line of how he became a villain was pretty interesting too. I like complex villains, not just I am 100 percent evil villains. I like it when they have a background of what made them so evil. I also liked the more tech savvy elements to his attempted takedown of M.

I also liked in this movie the throwbacks to classic James Bond. With the music and the classic car. I also enjoyed the location of the final stand, Skyfall. It was a neat house and I learned some things about history I didn’t know.

All in all I didn’t love it, but I’d watch it again if someone I was with wanted to watch it.

The Importance of Strong Characters


I find this so so true. I love to read and I love to write and the thing I love most about reading and writing is the characters. A good character can move you to laughter and tears. The books I’ve loved the most, I’ve loved because of the characters – Harry Potter, and the place in my heart those characters hold, for example. And the books that I found just meh or disliked were because of the characters. The Maze Runner books for example. That had a plot that was SO intriguing, that normally I would have loved. But Thomas and Theresa, it just wasn’t love. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about them, which made the books just fall flat. Character is crucial and often the hardest part of the story, but it can make such a difference.

Explore Milwaukee: Urban Ecology Center – Washington Park Branch

I know I have said it before, but I’ll say it again. I absolutely love my city and all the great things that we have here. You can always find something to do! I like to be able to take the boys to explore new places and to do new things. It’s so exciting watching their reactions.

Today I took the boys to the Urban Ecology Center’s Washington Park branch. This was a new experience for us as we had previously only been to the Riverwest branch. I plan to explore all three branches, but picked the Washington Park branch to start with.

What exactly is an Urban Ecology Center? You can read their mission statement here but I’d summarize it as making land and the outdoors and science accessible to people who live in the city, especially young people. They do a lot of work in the community and with schools as well.

I realize I am at a slight disadvantage going in the winter, because we couldn’t take advantage of all the great summer activities they have to offer – like kayaking – but one of the things that I do like to do is show that while the experience you may have at some places that you think of as “summer places” is different, it can still be enjoyable and worthwhile for sure. And they do offer winter activities – like snowshoeing – for example.

The Washington Park location is smaller than their Riverwest one, but they do have classroom space and the staff is very friendly! They greeted us right away and showed where things were and told about the place and I appreciated that a lot.

We spent the majority of our time in the Native Wisconsin Animal Room, though they also have classroom space and general space too. But of course, Dominic loves animals. He really enjoyed looking at them and talking about them with me. Most adorable moment: “We’re looking at the animals, Allen!” I really appreciate that there are plenty of stools in the animal room, which made it easy for Dominic to get up high enough to see.


My favorite, the turtles.

My favorite, the turtles.


The Urban Ecology Center plays host to tons of events and regularly occurring programs throughout the year, like their  Young Scientists Club, which provides science and nature related activities throughout the year for kids – something I’d love to get the boys involved in when they’re older, I’m sure they would really like it. They also offer camps and classes. You can drop by anytime they are open and they told me when I was there, that if you drop by at 1 on Saturdays you can see them feed the animals (Washington Park location – the others might be different). I encourage you to check out the Urban Ecology Center and all the other great places we’ve explored!

Intelligence Can Grow


I used to think that smarts and intelligence were super black and white. You either were smart or you weren’t – no in between.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn that intelligence isn’t like that. That it’s multi-faceted and complex. I’ve read and listened to and learned that intelligence is not stagnant – that there’s not a certain amount of intelligence you are born with and that’s it, but that your intelligence can grow and change over time. It’s dynamic.

I think that has interesting implications for how we live our life and how we are able to teach our kids. If we know that your intelligence can grow and change, it gives you more reasons to keep working harder. If, however, you think that there’s nothing about it that can be different, then it’s easier to just say “Why bother?” or “I’m not smart enough.” They’ve actually done studies on this that I heard about on NPR that I find completely fascinating.

There is also something to said for persistence and trying something again when you don’t succeed the first time. The world would be sorely lacking if everyone who failed the first time just gave up. I know, for one, we wouldn’t have Harry Potter if J. K. Rowling had just given up when she was rejected. Dr. Seuss faced rejection a lot too for that matter. Famous inventors had to struggle and tweak things that didn’t quite work. Those people all persisted and helped to create a better world.

I think it’s a wonderful feeling to know that we can always keep growing and learning and knowing new things.


Routine – Love It or Hate It?

I have a question for you all, how do you feel about routines? Are you one of those people like me who thrives on routine or do you absolutely hate routines? 

Me personally, I thrive on routine. Especially, I think, since I’m home now, it kind of helps to add a rhythm to my day otherwise it can seem long and the same. It kind of help keeps the day moving along and kind of fills the “What do I do now?” that comes from being completely in control of your day. Most of the time we don’t have anywhere to go and when we do, it’s because I set the schedule.

So, if you have a routine what is it like? This is a bit what our routine is like now.

Normally I use an app called Motivated Moms (great app, I highly recommend it – it’s one of the few apps I’ve paid for and it is worth every penny because it helps me so much), but now I’m doing something a little different because I’m trying to get some special projects done that I want to get done, so I’m placing more emphasis on those now. But this is basically what our routine looks like now.

Wake up, get any boys who are awake (sometimes if I’m lucky they will both still be sleeping, but usually at least one of them is up), turn on the news, usually then I dress and nurse Allen if he is awake, otherwise I do that whenever he does wake up. Then we eat breakfast. After breakfast, I take a shower while Dominic watches a tv show of his choosing and usually Allen is down for his morning nap in the swing by the time all this is said and done. After I’m out of the shower and Dominic’s TV show is done, I get him dressed and then we usually do a learning or fun activity together. We both look forward to this time a lot. We didn’t do it yet this morning, but we will later this evening, as I was waiting for a book that I had on hold to come in and it’s here now, so I’m picking it up after Nick gets done with work. We plan on reading a kids’ book about Claude Monet and then painting. It will be a lot of fun, Dominic really enjoys art.

After that, I usually get started on the housework. Usually this is where the app I talked about above would come in, but I’m doing a paired down/lesser version of housework now, focusing on just the necessities and not the everything, like cleaning out the fridge and whatnot. After I finish with those lately, I’ve been pumping milk to save for my friend’s wedding and then working on my blog. I really love working on my blog, so I think in the future I’ll have to find that to make it a part of my time every day and not just some days. Mentally and emotionally, I’m better when I have this outlet. Then I start work on my special projects. Right now that special project is fixing our damaged books (the situation got out of control) and then putting the majority of them away so that we will only have about 40 out at a time. I plan on rotating them on a regular basis, so they all sort of have their time to shine, and I will also be trying to pair some of the books with what we are learning about that week. This week we are spending some time with the story of Adam and Eve and creation and so many of the books are about gardens, for the Garden of Eden.

That’s basically our day. Whenever noon comes about, I make lunch and after that Dominic goes down for his nap. We have dinner later, I usually start cooking around 5 when it’s going to take me awhile or closer to when Nick is going to come home if it’s not. It’s really nice with his new job he is home for supper every night. We start getting Dominic ready for bed around 8. And of course, I am nursing Allen on demand throughout the day when he’s hungry.

It’s not a fancy or complicated day, but it keeps things going and moving forward. I often listen to all sorts of podcasts while I’m working – I have whole hosts of them and Dominic can name most of them. Some are Bible readings or Christian programs, others are more learning based, and some are just for fun, like Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. It keeps my brain active and thinking and learning while my hands are busy doing the same things that they have to do over and over every day (like hang the laundry, fold the laundry, run the dishwasher, etc).

So I realize that may be kind of boring, but I always wonder what other people’s days are like. I am definitely a routine person and it is comforting to expect roughly the same thing every day. Are you a routine person or do you just like to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it and don’t give it much forethought? 


Today in History: The Four Chaplains

This post is dedicated to my sister, my dad, my grandfather, and all those who serve or have served or will serve our country. They are braver men and women than I. 

When I came across this story, it surprised me. I had never heard of it before, but something about the sacrifice of these men touched me and I knew it was what I wanted to write about today. I found out too late that the Milwaukee VA Medical Center held a memorial service on Sunday for these four chaplains. I hope next year I can go and take the boys as well.

I’m going to try a bit of a different format for this than the ones I’ve used in the past, so bear with me as I work out the kinks. I hope this shortens the post length and makes it a bit more user-friendly/readable. I plan on summarize the events and then listing 10 things you should know about this event, with further resources for learning more at the bottom of the page.

On this day (February 3rd) in 1943, the USAT Dorchester sank when it was attacked by the Germans during WWII. As the boat was sinking, these four chaplains aided in the effort to save as many of the soldiers as possible, helping get soldiers onto lifeboats and even giving up their own life jackets when they ran out. All four died, going down with the ship.

Without further ado, here are 10 things you should know about the Four Chaplains and the sinking of the USAT Dorchester.

1. The chaplains represented different faiths/denominations and were all traveling on the Dorchester to report to their different assignments in Europe. George L. Fox was a Methodist minister, Alexander D. Goode was a Reform-Rabbi, John P. Washington was a Catholic priest, and Clark V. Poling was a (Dutch) Reformed Church in America minister.

2. George L. Fox was the oldest of the four. He also served in the ambulance corps in WWI, lying about his age to join the army. He was married and had a daughter and a son, who enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII. 

3. Alexander D. Goode was the youngest of the four. He first attempted to become a Navy chaplain, but they rejected him. He tried again after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was then accepted as an Army chaplain. His youngest daughter was born a few months after his death. 

Dorchester survivors credit the chaplains with the saving of many lives by their success in persuading confused men to overcome their fear and not plunge overboard – New York Times, 1944

4. Clark V. Poling was a second generation Army chaplain. His father had been an Army chaplain during WWI. Before leaving, he asked his father to pray for him: “Not for my safe return, that wouldn’t be fair. Just pray that I shall do my duty…never be a coward…and have the strength, courage and understanding of men. Just pray that I shall be adequate.”

From the US Army Website

5. John P. Washington knew he wanted to be a priest from a young age. He worked hard as a child, helping his family with extra money since there were nine mouths to feed.

From York Heritage Trust

From York Heritage Trust

6. The Dorchester was originally a civilian cruise ship. After WWII broke out, it was converted to an army ship, primarily for troop transport. As a civilian ship, it was able to carry about 400 people, passengers and crew combined. After the conversion it was able to carry 900 people.

In Public Domain

7. The ship was on its way to Greenland. The previous attacks by German U-boats had the ship on high alert even before there was any sign of trouble. Orders were passed down to sleep in their clothes and life jackets, though some disregarded this order.

"Escanaba-Dorchester rescue" by unattributed United States Coast Guard image - United States Coast Guard Historian's Office at Licensed under Public Domain

“Escanaba-Dorchester rescue” by unattributed United States Coast Guard image – United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office at Licensed under Public Domain

8. Those men were extremely brave. This one seems obvious, but their role was huge. They were able to remain calm in the face of such danger, gave up their life jackets when there weren’t enough (Rabbi Goode even gave up his gloves), and survivors of that horrible event said that as the ship was sinking into the depths, the survivors saw the chaplains with their arms linked, praying for the safety of the rest of the men.

It was the finest thing I have seen, or hope to see, this side of heaven. – Survivor John Ladd, on the chaplains’ selfless act of giving up their own life jackets

9. Only 230 of the 902 men survived ultimately and unfortunately, but it was not for lack of effort on the chaplains part. Most of the men died of hypothermia, as the waters were extremely cold and so was the air outside. The rescuers found many of them dead, their life jackets holding their bodies afloat.  The attack had instantly killed about 100 men and knocked out power and radio communication as well. Many lifeboats suffered damage or became inaccessible during the attack.

“Chaplainmedal”. Licensed under Public Domain

10. The US Government awarded them several honors. They were all posthumously awarded Purple Hearts as well as the Distinguished Service Cross. Congress attempted to award them the Medal of Honor, but they didn’t meet the strict criteria, so instead they created their own award, The Four Chaplains’ Medal. This medal is also known sometimes as the Chaplains’ Medal of Honor, as it is meant to have the same weight and significance. Additionally, February 3rd was established by Congress to be Four Chaplains Day, a day of remembrance. They were also honored with a commemorative postage stamp in 1948 and in 1951 President Truman dedicated The Chapel of the Four Chaplains. Three crosses and one Star of David honor these four brave men at Arlington National Cemetery.

Explore This Topic Further

  • You can seek out the documentary The Four Chaplains: Sacrifice at Sea. Several books were also written which you can find listed in the Wikipedia link below.


Day 8 Photo Challenge: A Bad Habit

If you remember, I’m slowly working my way through this 30 day photo challenge here, doing them spread out over time but eventually I’ll have done it for 30 full days. Today’s picture is day 8, and it said a bad habit. It was hard to take a picture of this, but here goes.


Facebook. It’s probably my worst habit. Not that I think Facebook is bad in and of itself (though it can be a lot of drama), but I have a hard time not spending way too much time on Facebook. In college, I once gave it up for some period of time (I can’t remember if it was two weeks or three weeks) and that was an interesting eye opening experience for me, but I don’t know if I could do the same now. I’m in a different stage of my life. There, I was still very much connected to a lot of other people in my day to day life. I was on campus five days a week, sometimes worked on Saturdays there too, and at church on Sundays. It’s a very big difference to now being a stay at home mom. I love being a stay at home mom – it’s absolutely amazing, watching these little guys grow up. But it does limit my interactions with other adults. I try to get out at least once a week not including church, but we also only have one car so sometimes that’s limited too. Yesterday we were invited to a super bowl party, but the weather was bad so we opted to stay home. (They didn’t plow our street until sometime well after dark, we were eating dinner when the plows came through). But many times when I do get out, the places we go are kid-centric and I’m also awkward at striking up conversations with adults I don’t know, but at least it does good to get out. I don’t mean to go out, but I was going to say this ties back into the Facebook thing because it is a place where I can talk to other grown-ups, other moms especially, and that’s probably why I spend so much time there. So Facebook, it’s a love-hate relationship for me, what about you? Is Facebook a bad habit for you too, or is your bad habit something else?

Parenting Book Challenge Update: Help for Frazzled Moms

So okay, technically the 2014 challenge ended and the 2015 challenge started, but I just want to get through the goal I set of reading 6 to 8 parenting books, since I only read one (that I recorded) for 2014. So after today, I’ll have 4 more to go. The main reason that I do these challenges is not necessarily to finish them in time, but more to push myself to do things out of my comfort zone or to try new things. Now, with the parenting book challenge, that isn’t necessarily something new – I often read parenting books. But it is a good way for me to share books I read that I think others might like (or that they should avoid – but that isn’t the case yet!)

Tonight’s book is one that I picked up for free from Amazon. I am forever downloading books when they are free to my Kindle, ensuring that I am pretty much never without reading material. This book I downloaded back in September, but I just got around to reading it tonight. It’s Help for Frazzled Moms by Nancy Goodell. It’s 99 cents at the time I’m writing this and is available through KindleUnlimited. 

At an estimated length of 39 pages, it was a quick read. But it was one I thoroughly enjoyed and think will be helpful. It wasn’t exactly what I expected based on the title, but that was okay, because I actually liked what it was better.

In short, this little book is about how to help your frazzled, melting down children in ways that will help them learn and grow how to handle their emotions and without leaving you, the parent, frazzled and melting down as well. This is an area I struggle with because it’s hard not for me to take everything so personally. There was a moment earlier this week where Dominic was upset and I told him I loved him and he told me, “I don’t love you.” I know he didn’t really mean it, he was just upset at me, but it still hurt a little. Sometimes when he’s melting down it’s hard not for me to meltdown too, especially when it’s meltdown after meltdown, which does happen some days.

What I liked about this book the best, is that after every chapter there was a summary. These summaries combined with the book’s length will make it very easy for me to refer back to when I need a refresher/reminder. I’d definitely recommend it, especially since it is such a quick read.

4 more to go!

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