Friday, February 29, 2008

Today is What?


Happy Leap Day, everyone!
(I think that little frog is so cute, I just had to post him!)

February School in Review


Let me preface this by saying that I hate grade levels. To me they are arbitrary and almost meaningless. I much prefer the classical method of three broad levels of learning (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric). By that scale Polly is in the Grammar stage. By ordinary grade levels we say she is in K-1 because she's still working on Phonics but she's doing "First Grade work" in areas.

So here's what we've been doing for school this month:

Scripture memorization: 1 Corinthians 13:4-13. I choose a passage of scripture every month. November was Psalm 100, December Luke 2:1-7, and so on. Tigger has learned these along with Polly.

Phonics: Lessons 150-170 out of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading



Grammar: Lessons 39-52 out of First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. This book includes poems for memorizing. Polly learned two new poems this month and reviewed four others.

Copywork: Completed a list of Pronouns and started a list of Active Verbs. Also wrote a letter to an Uncle who is currently overseas.

Independent Reading: 7 easy reader books from the library

Math: Lessons 62-84 from Saxon 1. I like Saxon because it is thorough. Polly only does one side of the worksheets. I never buy the entire kit because most of it you can make yourself. If Polly understands a concept we skip a lesson. Curriculum is supposed to work for you, not the other way 'round.
In addition (See what I did there?) Polly and Tigger both enjoy our math manipulatives (pattern blogs, tangrams, counting cubes, geo-boards, etc) and I let them play with them whenever they ask. It isn't work if you like it.

History: Chapter 10 (Ancient China) from The Story of the World Volume 1.
With supplemental reading from the library and activities from the activity book. I like this curriculum but I don't love it. It is reasonably priced, unlike some options, but the author's timeline doesn't really fit my timeline of ancient history. Still, it's a starting point. Polly narrates what we have read. We're not rushing through it.

Science: After studying animals from August-December, we started on the human body in January. We are mostly doing this with books from the library, activity pages printed from the Internet and whatever else I come up with. We're not rushing this either.

Shakespeare: We have "Fine Art Fridays" here at our homeschool. We read a Shakespeare story, study a great work of art, Polly reads to me from an easy reader, we occasionally study something from History, and we do a Math lesson only if we need to. This month we did The Tempest (3 weeks) and Twelfth Night (2 weeks). The first week I read the story from Lamb's Shakespeare for Children, the second week from Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, and the third week we read a picture book version (if the library has one).

Art: We study a different work of art each week. We sometimes read a biography of an artist or something non-fiction about art. This month Polly studied (and narrated about) Terrace of the Cafe du Forum, Bedroom at Arles, and Starry Night, all by Vincent Van Gogh. She also did Dance in the Country by Renoir and Victorian Chair by Childe Hassam. Polly narrates what she remembers about the work and then she either draws her own version or colors a copy.

Quiet Time: Each day after lunch we have "quiet time" which is occasionally, but not always, nap time for Sweet Pea & Tigger. We put on a story on tape or C.D. in their room (all 3 share a room). Some folks fall asleep (Sweet Pea) some don't (Polly) and some go either way depending on how tired they are (Tigger, Me). This month they listened to Little House on the Prairie, The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and they've started Ginger Pye, although they haven't finished it yet.

So there you have it: a month's worth of "learning" and I didn't even list all the "teachable moments" we had or the discussions, or the questions, or the...but you get the idea.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'll Work on that Later

Remember the other day when I confessed my lack of patience? I had ordered a set of movies from Australia and expected them to come immediately...ringing any bells?

Well, they're here. I went out to get the mail today and had a package from Australia. Seeing as I'm only expecting one item from Australia (despite having a few distant cousins that live there) I immediately let out a squeal. No, it was not one of my more lady-like moments. I don't care. I'll just work on that whole patience thing another time.

My sisters and I have been known, in our younger (crazier) days to watch one of these movies multiple times a day. I'm not proud of that, I'm just stating a fact. Our parents limited our TV (read: none) for much of my childhood so we compensated with movies. And this was one of my most favorites.

So I am now able to watch, in crystal clear picture quality with the original (more romantic!)Australian endings:
Prince Charming is not sure why I like these movies so much. He concludes it must be the horses. I put one of the movies on this afternoon, just to be sure they worked (region free and all that), you understand, and my two oldest were immediately riveted.

"Look at the horses, mom!" (This from Polly)
"Oh, this is my favorite movie!" (This from Tigger who has never seen either one)

I can only conclude from this that I watched these movies so often as a youngster that they are now in my children's genetic make-up. Let that be a cautionary tale for you, if you like. I'm actually enjoying the prospect of watching with my girls, when they're old enough. Prince Charming may even join us.

(Disclaimer: The Authoress is not endorsing these movies for all people. There is occasional rough language. For what it's worth they are rated PG here in the U.S and were made back in the '80's. I'll probably let Polly, who is 6, watch them with me pretty soon but not Tigger. Naturally, you should use your own judgment.)

A Hill of Beans

For those of you who are parents (or want to be parents...someday) let me save you thousands of dollars in toys right now. Here is some math for you:

1 Bag of white beans
+
Mom's measuring cups and bowls
+
2 girls
=
Fun for over an hour

So just walk away from the Toys 'R Us and don't look back.

(My camera is being a bit...temperamental, shall we say, or I'd have pictures for you.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Long Can It Possibly Take?

Just in case you've been laboring under the assumption that I am a patient person, what with the homeschooling, staying home with three daughters (so far), etc., let me enlighten you. I'm not a patient person, generally speaking.

Need proof? Here it is and it isn't pretty:

Prince Charming just decided to purchase a new, fancier (read: more expensive) DVD player. We don't watch much television but he does like to watch movies and hey, so do I. So far, so good. Nothing about patience there. It came two days after he ordered it.

It got more interesting when we realized that this DVD player can be region free. Freedom from someone telling us which movies from which part of the world we can watch! We're region free, folks! We can watch movies from anywhere in the world! I can watch the recent Jane Austen movies as they were meant to be seen (as in not chopped all to pieces!). Region Free.

I immediately ordered a set of movies from Australia.

And they're not here yet. I realize I only ordered them last week. I realize that Australia is Down Under and all that. I realize that there's a little thing we like to call the Pacific Ocean between them and me. Not to mention most of the continental U.S.

Yes, I realize all of this and yet...I want my movies and I want them yesterday. I've really got to work on this patience thing.

So there you go. You can be a Christian, adoring wife, SAHM, homeschooling mom, etc. and not have patience. Who knew?

(Bonus points if you can guess which movies I ordered.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

A True Masterpiece

For the past three weeks PBS has shown Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In my humble opinion (ha!) this is the definitive Austen adaptation. Here's why:

- The luxury of time. This series is over 5 hours long. Characters and story lines are given time to develop.

- The actors disappear into their roles - which is a good thing. Barbara Leigh-Hunt is Lady Catherine. Susannah Harker is a serene and lovely Jane. Alison Steadman is completely screechy and annoying, as mortifying to the audience as she must have been to Elizabeth and Jane.

- There are no "artistic" reinterpretations of characters. This is one of my main problems with the recent Keira Knightley adaptation. In this movie you can see why Darcy is impressed with Lizzie's Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in the 2005 movie they were as annoying and crude as the rest of Lizzie's relations.

- No striding across moors in early morning mist. Sure Mr. Darcy is given a few more flourishes than the book suggests (the infamous swimming scene which I don't like, the fencing which I do) but neither of those grates on my nerves as much as Matthew MacFadyen strolling across a foggy moor to Keira Knightley. How very Bronte! And therefore, how very un-Austen.

- Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are both enjoyable to watch and believable in their roles. Neither is my perfect image of Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy but I doubt my "perfect" images are actually living on this earth, much less acting in movies.

- My own Prince Charming actually enjoys this adaptation and has been known to watch it with me. He walked out of the room on the Keira Knightley version. That's enough proof for me at my favorite being the better adaptation.

Don't just take my word for it. See it for yourself!

Picture credit: I can't remember where I found this collage. If you know be sure to tell me so I can give proper recognition. It may have been from The Costumer's Guide.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Personality Quiz

You Are An ISTJ



The Duty Fulfiller

You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking - you get the job done.

You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knittings.

Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.

Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.

In love, you are loyal and honest. If you commit yourself to someone, then you're fully committed.

For you, love is something that happens naturally. And you don't need romantic gestures to feel loved.

At work, you remember details well and are happy to take on any responsibility.

You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.

How you see yourself: Decisive, stable, and dependable

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, conservative, and egotistical


Let's see...boring, conservative...yep, sounds about right!

This day not so long ago...

Sweet Pea
8 lbs. 3 oz. 21 inches

Polly holds an unhappy Sweet Pea.

Tigger holds a bemused Sweet Pea when we're all home together.

Despite the above picture with Polly, Sweet Pea is nearly always good natured and happy. It seems like she was a baby for about 2 weeks before she was trying to catch up with her sisters. She never realized she was supposed to be little! I can't believe she's already 1 but it doesn't really matter: she'll always be my little Sweet Pea, no matter what.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Frugal Fridays - Free Homeschool Resources

I've posted about some great homeschool resources here. Here are some more:

Homeschool Share This site has many great ideas, based on the Five in a Row Curriculum. Lots of great ideas for lapbooks, with all kinds of templates and printables as well.

Paula's Archives There is so much here! This site is wonderful if you follow a Classical school approach, with great ideas for History, Latin, Greek, and much more. Great ideas for things to do with preschoolers as well.

Exuberant Games This is Polly's new favorite math game site. Lots of online games.

Zoom School Enchanted Learning Coloring pages of all types, printables, maps, and more.

I honestly don't know how my parents managed to homeschool my sisters and me without the internet. I still remember when we got our first personal computer. Oh happy day! Remember DOS? And primitive windows?

I never could have imagined as a child how much computers would change the way we live. Then, if we wanted to have worksheets or activities for a subject my mom had to buy curriculum that included that subject or design her own.

Now, if we want a coloring sheet about Ancient Egypt, or Van Gogh's painting Bedroom at Arles, or practice writing Aa's all I have to do is click and print. Whatever we may spend in ink and printer wear is still less than buying a full curriculum we don't like.

Check out many more great frugal ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Overheard

Whilst Polly and Tigger played with their school boxes (pencils, crayons, rulers, etc). Don't ask me why they were playing with these articles. I don't know. For some reason the 56 million other toys didn't suit this morning. Anyhow, this is the conversation I heard from the other room:

Polly: This one is named John the Baptist. (No doubt holding up a very noble pencil)
Tigger: John the Baptist? (You have to imagine an incredulous three year old voice here)
Polly: Yeah, it's in the Bible.
Tigger: Oh, o.k. This one is Rush Limbaugh. (Tigger's favorite name. Don't ask.)
Polly: O.k, that's good.
Tigger: What about this one?
Polly: Oh, that one's Skywalker.
Tigger: O.k.
Polly: And this one can be the mom. We'll call her Sarah.
Tigger: Great!

What a family. (The pencil family, I mean. Good luck, Mother Sarah, with your three notorious sons.)


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Amy has tagged me for the middle name meme going around.

Here are the rules: Post the rules on your blog, and then give your answers. List one fact about yourself for each letter in your middle name. Each fact must begin with a letter from your middle name. If you do not have a middle name, use your maiden name(or create a middle name).Once you are tagged, update your blog with your middle name and your answers. At the end of your post, tag one person for each letter of your middle name. Leave them a comment on their blog telling them that they have been tagged, and that they need to come read your blog for details.

This is easy..or it should be...because my parents were gracious and gave me a short middle name. None of that Elizabeth or Alexandra nonsense around here. Not that those aren't beautiful names of course, but I don't know that many people I could tag!

L - Learning. I love to learn new things, read new to me books or old favorites, and I'm really enjoying sharing this love with my daughters. I have a pretty good memory too, so combined with my love of reading I'm a good person to have on your team in a trivia game. Not as good as my dad, but I may catch up one of these days...o.k., that's not likely but a girl can dream.

E- Eldest. I'm the oldest child in our family. I take this responsiblity very seriously. LuLu, if you're reading this: sit up straight! Email me! Have fun with mom while she visits! See? I'm that dedicated, nevermind that two of my siblings are grown (semi-grown?) and that the youngest probably wouldn't listen to me now anyway.

E- Entertainment. My idea of good entertainment is a Jane Austen movie and a cup of hot chocolate. Or a piece of cake. Also, watching my girls play together is a riot, when they're getting along. I do not enjoy going to movies (too loud, too violent, too risque, just too too), big crowds, or overpriced "community" events.

I tag:

Morgan
Kim
Donna

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What Must Be

What still needs to be done today:
- phonics lesson
- math lesson
- language lesson
- science lesson
- make a grocery list (including things we need for the upcoming Birthday Celebration Extravaganza)
- grocery shop (buy everything we need for $40, find great deals, compare prices, generally do battle against the entire Food Establishment)
- have supper on the table by 4:00 p.m because Prince Charming has class tonight
- Entertain girls after Daddy leaves for 4 hours until Bedtime (or just generally do battle against the strongest willed 3 year old on the planet, or at least that's the role she seems to have assumed today)

Some of you are looking at this and laughing at how little it is. Think kindly of me friends. For your comparison here is what I want to be doing today:

- sleep
- sleep
- sleep more
- take Tylenol
- curl up on the couch with a book and a blanket and maybe, just maybe, a hot cocoa
- sleep
- sleep
- sleep

So you can see the dilemma.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Frugal Fridays - Homeschool Art Book

Part of each child's education, whether homeschooled or not, should be exposure to the best artists and the best works of art. Art books are usually quite expensive, although they can sometimes be found on sale, but even then you are possibly bringing into your home art that you do not aprove of or consider appropriate for your children. Here's my frugal solution:
This is a 12x12 postbound scrapbook album. They can often be found on sale at craft stores, at yard sales, or thrift stores. I paid around $4 for this one at "the big scrapbook store" as Polly calls the store with the initials H.L.

Next you need calendars. Lots of calendars. We bought each of the above for $1 each at a local bookstore. Watch closely around the end of January because they get drastically marked down. You may even be able to find some on Freecycle or by asking relatives. I always save our calendars so we had plenty of options.

Pull the pictures out of their binding (they are usually only secured by 2 staples). Write the desired information on the back, if you wish (artist, time period, title, etc) or make an index and list each work of art in your book. Insert the art page into the page protector. I use the 12x12 post bound because the page protectors open at the top, making insertion quick and easy. The above album holds 20 pictures. You can also buy extra pages for this type of album.

Here's one spread inside our album:
The pages lie flat, they are protected against sticky fingers, and my girls can look to their hearts' content, while I know that they won't accidentally see anything they shouldn't.

Each calendar has at least 12 works of art -of course! - and many often have 1-2 extra. So, if you pay $1 for a calendar each sheet is $ .08 or less. We're already starting another album and adding refills to our first. We hope to eventually have books dedicated to our favorite artists and books for specific periods. We do buy good art books when we find them but our homemade one is our favorite so far.

Check out Biblical Womanhood for lots of great frugal hints, tips, and ideas.

Marshmallow Fun

My dear friend Jodi is curious about our homemade marshmallows. So here's one recipe:

Marshmallows Recipe
Ingredients
3 envelopes of Knox gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dredging


Instructions
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and incorporate into mixture. Scrape into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with oiled plastic wrap and spread evenly. (Note: Lightly oil hands and spatula or bowl scraper). After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan. Let mixture sit for a few hours. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners' sugar and cut into 12 equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar.

Credits
Recipe from: French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller.
Please note that we cut ours out with a snowflake cookie cutter instead of scissors. No square marshmallows for us, no sir.

There are several more recipes here.

Or you can do what we did...

Have a church member give you a kit as a Christmas present.

(I said homemade, not from scratch!)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Good Time Was Had By All

What we listened to:



<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000008LXV/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000008LXV&linkCode=as2&tag=candiddi-20">Valentine's Day: Love Is Here To Stay</a><img src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=candiddi-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000008LXV" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
What we ate:
- Crab legs
- London Broil
- Mashed Turnips
- Brussels Sprouts
- Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
- Crescent Rolls
What we drank:
- Sparkling Red Grape Juice

What we indulged in:
Chocolate souffles
What we watched:


What we ate while we watched:
- Popcorn
- Hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows

Life doesn't get much better than that.

Happy Valentine's Day!


As of today Prince Charming and I have been "an item" for 11 years. He proposed exactly 10 years ago today. We were feverishly planning a wedding/graduation/starting grown up life 9 years ago.

This year we're making a special dinner for us and our girls, popping some popcorn, and watching a family movie. It's much more exciting than all that stuff I described above. Seriously.

Your or You're: Not that Hard

I love reading blogs, I really do. I spend way too much of my day following bloggy rabbit trails. I love carnivals, memes, and good links to follow. So forgive me for getting this off my chest:

Your = possessive
You're = abbreviation for "you are"

Usage:

Have you posted on your blog today?
Are you sure you're checking grammar before you post?

Thank you, very much.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WFMW - I'm Bored Jar


My daughters own roughly 56,000 toys, give or take a Polly Pocket or two. Most things are artistically and miraculously organized in their room which is, sadly, the size of a large closet.

Somehow, despite the evidence of more things to do than could possibly be done in a week, the cries of "We're bored" were echoing around Chez Us. You can imagine how well such a statement went over with me.

So I made up a jar. I sacrificed a piece of my scrapbooking paper to decorate a small canister. I made small cards (something like tickets) to fill the jar. Each card has something to do. Each toy is individually listed on its own card.

I also included small chores, some exercises (jumping jacks, TKD stretches, etc), art projects (coloring books, Color Wonder, draw a specific thing, watercolors), some special things (Mom reads a story, 15 minutes computer time, play with measuring cups & beans, and so on).

This is really working for us. The girls take turns drawing things out of the jar. The rule is they have to at least attempt to play or do what that card says.

The side benefit of this is that they are reminded of things they haven't played with for awhile. And another rule is that each thing must be properly put away before they draw out something else, which helps keep the mess under control. When they've finished a card we pin it up on our memo board (not back in the jar) to be sure that they've done everything before we start over.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Philosophical Moment

Fair warning here: this post is long and rambling as Karen is attempting to describe and figure out the unsearchable ways of God. I know, I know...

There is a situation my husband (Prince Charming) and I have been dealing with for awhile now. We haven't talked about it to others so my details here will have to be sketchy. (I feel some of you sighing with relief!) Suffice it to say that Prince Charming has a dream for our family that I didn't share. It would completely change life as we know it. I'm not even exaggerating. Being as I'm more of a "Let's not even talk about change unless it concerns changing Sweet Pea's britches" you can imagine that we weren't really seeing eye to eye. If I had a "submissive wife of the year" award it would totally be taken away.

Prince Charming being the wise and wonderful husband that he is decided that it would be prudent not to bring this up in my hearing again. Wise, wise man. But my conscience bothered me so I prayed about it. A Lot. Lest you think me some spiritual giant, let me confess that my prayers were something along this line:

"Dear God, please make Prince Charming forget all about this. Make him not want to do it. Help him see how terrible it would be for us. And if you can't do that, pleasemakemewillingtofollowhim, Amen."

Yeah, not going to win any "Most Spiritual" awards with that little doozy.

But a strange thing happened. My heart began softening. Through my prayers and my Bible study I heard the same message. I couldn't avoid the lessons I was learning. After many more prayers and more than a few tears (And I almost never cry. I'm just not that type of gal) I told Prince Charming that I was on board. After I picked him up off the floor He was pleased and began to pursue this goal, as he had been praying for me and telling God that he wouldn't do anything if I wasn't willing. Now we were excited. This was good.

And then, just about a week ago, it all fell through. We both feel like a balloon burst inside of us. The excitment, the assurance that we were doing what God wanted - just gone. We actually still feel like we were doing what God wanted, but it is not to be. And don't worry, it wasn't my delay that caused the problem. We can't help but take what happened a bit personally, as a rejection is never fun whether personal or not, but it isn't really something that can be blamed on any one person.

So, without getting into a big discussion about God's perfect will and God's permissive will, we are left wondering, "what happens now?" Why would God work such a huge change in my heart and mind if everything is going to stay the way it is? How do we get over feeling at loose ends?

So if you've read this far - and if you have you're a true friend! - what are your thoughts? Despite my cryptic description has anyone else gone through something like this? And maybe I'd feel better if I could stop thinking about Marilla Cuthbert and Rachel Lynde in the Anne of Avonlea miniseries.

Marilla (longsuffering tone): "What is to be, will be."
Rachel (know-it-all tone): "And what isn't to be sometimes happens!"
I hope this isn't blasphemous, but I think what "isn't to be" maybe just happened to us. And we're honestly o.k. with that. We've never been big on sitting around and wondering "What is God's will for us?" We believe that if you're doing what God wants every day in the "small" things, it will become evident what "big" things you are supposed to do.

Still, it does make us wonder what our Heavenly Father has in store for us now. And you know what? Whatever it is will be wonderful if it is HIS plan for us.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Frugal Fridays - 7 Valentine's Day Ideas

Valentine's Day is coming. Seems like it rolls around earlier every year...except for the fact that it is always on February 14th. So, what are you and your Valentine going to be doing? Here are some frugal ideas:

- If you want to go out together trade with another couple for babysitting. Valentine's Day is on a Thursday so one couple can go out then and the other on Friday or some arrangement like that.

- If you go out use a gift card (saved for the purpose!) or coupon or go out for lunch instead of supper.

- Write a hearfelt letter instead of buying an overpriced card. Or make a card. Or scrapbook. Or something! (Any ideas for me?) Prince Charming and I usually buy each other cards but we don't buy gifts, we just never have.

- Buy roses the day after Valentine's. Yep, if you forgo your flowers on The Day then you can find some great deals. It stretches out the celebration and you still have beautiful flowers to look at.

- Watch the sales when Valentine's is over. Pick up some inexpensive dishes, tablecloths, napkins, decor, etc. Set them back for next year. Make a nice at home meal next year for the whole family.

- Make some type of food that you don't have all the time. Last year we bought heart shaped pasta. Yes, it cost a tiny bit more, but our girls loved it and still talk about it. Don't set the bar too high, I say.

- This goes without saying, I suppose, but I'll say it anyway: get all thoughts of diamond rings ("Just because"), diamond earrings ("You deserve them"), a new car, etc. out of your head. Does anyone actually think that's the way Valentine's should be celebrated?!

Any other ideas? And be sure to check out the great frugal ideas at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Books of 2008 - January

As you may remember from last year I do not list:
books read aloud to the girls
books read for Bible study or church
magazines or newspapers
anything started but not finished

So here's my list for January:
1. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catstrophe by Robert Gellately. Non-fiction. A little light reading to start the year - hardly! This book is excellent and well written so don't be dismayed by its hefty size.

2. The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and J. Mitchinson. Non-fiction. Very condescending attitude to scripture and believers. Nothing to recommend it other than a little wittiness on occasion.

3. One Red Paperclip by Kyle MacDonald. Non-fiction. The book about one young man's "bigger and better" quest to trade a paperclip for a house in Canada. Light, amusing reading.

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen. Fiction. Read because I watched the Masterpiece movie and wanted to cleanse it from my mind. This book deserves much more acclaim than it receives. Possibly my favorite Austen...
5. Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Non-fiction. Inspirational how-to. Highly recommended.
6. Books that Build Character by Kilpatric and Wolfe. Non-fiction. A rather dry list of books. Read Honey for a Child's Heart instead.
7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Fiction. Read because I enjoyed the Masterpiece movie. This book is delightful and witty Jane Austen at her best. (Although when wasn't she?) I defy you to read this without laughing out loud.

8. The Death of the Grown-Up by Diana West. Non-fiction. Everyone must read this book. It is sobering but necessary. Plus it echoes what I've been saying for years. The only thing that kept me from writing this book myself is...ability. That and serious research skills.

Monday, February 4, 2008

How Many Countries Quiz

74


This is challenging because not only do you have to name them you have to spell them correctly. I'm going to do it again tomorrow to see if I can spell better in the A.M hours. (Unlikely)


O.K., so having done this again I brought my score up to 91. Not too shabby. Of course it is cheating now that I've seen some of the names that I forgot. Although that doesn't make spelling any easier. (Azerbaijan, anyone?)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Masterpiece's Miss Austen Regrets

Having just seen Miss Austen Regrets I must ask: Where have these people been?! This movie was night and day better than the adaptations we've been subjected to (with the possible exception of Northanger Abbey).

The costumes: lovely and, more importantly, appropriate.

The actions: no completely ridiculous marathons (a la Persuasion); no awkward and entirely unromantic kiss at the end. (There was a bit of dancing that seemed out of place but I'll let that go.)

The acting: excellent. (Small point here, maybe I'm just immature - highly likely - but I laughed a bit at the actress who played Fanny. Her real name is Imogen Poots. O.k., Lulu is probably the only one who will understand why that tickled me so much but still, what a last name to have to live with!) Olivia Williams is to be commended for her sensitive portrayal of such an iconic person.

The plot/storyline: well crafted. I'm not an expert on Jane Austen's real life (is anyone really?!) but this movie didn't imply that she pined her life away grieving over any specific man. I refuse to believe that anyone as obviously intelligent as Miss Austen could not make up her own mind.

The low point: I sincerely hope that Jane Austen's mother was not as awful as this movie implied. If so, that woman would be the reason matricide was invented. Don't watch this movie on Mother's Day, is all I'm saying.

So, anyone else watch? And yes, I'm aware that this was on at the same time as some football game...the Super Bowl I think they called it. I've told you that I'm married to a Prince among men. He graciously allowed me to watch this "Austen thing" (as he called it) instead of watching that sporting event. It's like having my own Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Tilney, and Captain Wentworth all rolled up into one wonderful man.

If you'd like to see it: