Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Trip Downtown

We made another pilgrimage Downtown today. Yes, we were back at Children's Theatre. This time we didn't lose Prince Charming (see the December archives if you missed that story) and we got to go in that four story bookstore that calls my name every time we're Downtown.

Plus we tried out our new camera. It was windy but not very cold. And it didn't rain on us, this time, though it threatened to. And even with a new camera, the girls' penchant for silly faces remained.

Miss Polly is very proud of her city. She said today that it is, "The busiest and best place to go."

We took over one hundred pictures and I'll show more another day.

Play = good
Eating Downtown = good
Bookstore Downtown = amazing
Not losing anyone = priceless

Monday, March 30, 2009

In Which I Make Library Related Observations

My friend Kelly blogged about her library experience today. In a completely unrelated event, my family also went to our library today. Here are my observations:

1. Librarians are a lot more fun than when I was a kid. Evidence: two librarians, preparing to remove some lists of holds, had Polly tell them, "Ready, set, go" so they could race each other. And no, these were not student aides. These were actual grown-up women librarians. And they weren't being obnoxious or noisy. They were just talking with a little girl and making finding books look like tons of fun. Back when I was a girl (do you hear me, Pastor Dad? I can't believe I'm saying it!) I was actually afraid of the librarians. Especially the children's librarian. Severe doesn't even come close to describing her.

2. Libraries are much noisier now. See point #1 for further evidence. Here's where the libraries lost the battle: cell phones. Everyone has their cell phone on. So I heard at least 5 different, equally annoying ring tones, whilst choosing my books today. And I heard one very animated, very LOUD conversation between some hapless guy and his lawyer over alimony, child visitation rights, and the like. He was sitting at one of the computers, surfing the 'net, and making full use of the wonder that is modern communication technology. Do you want to know the icky details of his divorce and his "ex"? Well, neither did I, but I know 'em now.

3. Libraries have much better movies now. Evidence: shelves and shelves of DVDs. New stuff, T.V. series, children's, documentaries...When I was young they had a few really old movies and some foreign stuff. Which, yes, I watched because it was there. Now we get a lot more choices. Which can be good or bad, but I'm putting it in the "mostly good" category.

4. Libraries are more fun. Yes, I know this is a repeat of #1. But hear me out: our library has toys. Real toys: puzzles, blocks, stuffed animals. You can't check them out but the kids do enjoy them while we're there.

5. The Library computers can't compete with our own. This one is personal, I know, but our library computers seem soooo slow compared to ours. Plus none of the mouses (mice? Computer Mouses? What is the plural of computer mouse?!) have that little wheel in the middle for easy scrolling. I hate having to click on stuff and use down arrows. That's just how lazy I am, I suppose. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. A little bit of Candid Honesty for you.

Today Prince Charming and the girls walked out before me. (I was still checking out my things.) This allowed us all a little moment of levity when I ran out and said, "Hey! Are you trying to leave me here?" We all laughed and then I had to admit I wouldn't exactly be sad if that happened. The girls got a kick out of the idea of their mom hiding in the library so I could just live there.

Don't tempt me, folks. Don't tempt me.

This is My Life

It's too true to be funny. And it perfectly describes my week last week.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Spiritual Songs - In Christ Alone

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townsend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

*There are many versions of this song on You Tube. None are as touching as the sound of a congregation of ordinary people, sinners saved by grace, singing it with all their heart. If your church is seeking new hymns, there are none better than the songs the Gettys and Stuart Townsend are writing. *

Thursday, March 26, 2009

From The Commonplace Book

Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent. - Dionysius the Elder.
Ouch. What a convicting thing for a blogger / writer / talker (me) to meditate on!

Throw in this verse:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
And you've got yourself a full sermon. In case you were wondering: yes, in my commonplace book both of these things are written on the same page. Think I need this reminder much? Only every day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's A Toile Party

Have I ever mentioned that my favorite pattern is toile? Well, it is. In a thrift store it's the first thing that catches my eye. Any skirt, any bag, any piece of fabric...it's all good.

My main indulgence (in my fabric obsession) is this headboard:
Prince Charming and I did that ourselves. My talented mother-in-law sewed the fabric together in panels for us and then we upholstered our old wooden headboard. Ourselves. I just can't say that enough. Ourselves. We who are not usually so handy at such things. We handled batting, fabric, staple gun...I just feel like patting us on the back every time I think about it.

Then my mother-in-law (did I tell you she's really talented?) made panels for window valances. So our room has three matching valances.

I'd willingly cover our couch in toile pattern but Prince Charming isn't sure about that. For now, I've settled on carrying Sweet Pea's little diaper bag (it's purse size): pink and black toile. I can't tell you how much Prince Charming loves carrying that bag. I can't tell you, because it wouldn't be true.

But I love it. And I'd take a picture to show you except I can't find it. I suspect we left it at church Sunday night. Sweet Pea doesn't really even need a bag any more, so we lose track of it sometimes. I just can't leave it at home, though. It's too cute to be left at home.

If you love toile, you'll want to check out the Toile Party going on at Pretty Organized Palace. After checking out some of the other posts, I may have to make some toile pillows or something - I don't think you can ever have enough of this pattern.

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

The "rules" about this award:
The Premio Dardos award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
So, I'm not actually thanking "the academy". I'm thanking Vicky for passing this award along to me. I'm not sure I'm truly transmitting cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day, but hey, it gives me something to work toward!

I'll be passing this along at a later date. Thanks again, Vicky!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Always Bring a Book

My time is short this morning (Monday mornings always have that effect, I've noticed. Hmm...) so I'll just regale you with a Tigger anecdote and get back to my to-do list.

The other day we were loading up our van for a trip across town. Polly brought a book to read in the car and I noticed Tigger had one too. Actually, it was very similar to Polly's book: a chapter book with few pictures. (For the purposes of this story, please do remember that Tigger is only 4 and has not yet learned to read)

Me: "Are you going to read that book, Tigger?"
Tigger: "Yes."
Me: "Can you sound out any of the words in that book?" (Trying to keep the incredulity out of my voice.
Tigger: "No, I read silently." (And her tone here was full of that unspoken "Duh!" all parents know so well.)

And I have to say: Who can know with Tigger? Maybe she really is reading silently.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More About Commonplace Books

I got a few questions about my commonplace book. I've saved the Wikipedia link in my Delicious finds (you can find those over on my right sidebar) but, knowing the skepticism some have for the wondrous Wiki (cough Kelly cough), I've also found a few other links that explain the concept and have pictures of famous books.

Notes About Commonplace Books


The Lyceum

As for my book: it is very low tech. No tabs, no dividers. I didn't actually know about other commonplace books when I started mine. I just started it and then later I found out about the rich history and thought, "Oh, so that's what my book is!"

At the front I started keeping a list of all the books I finished (that's an important distinction for me: whether I finished it or not) and at the back I started a list of quotes that caught my eye. So eventually (soon!) those categories will meet in the middle and then this particular book will be finished.

There are also a few other things scattered around. Like a list of my favorite songs, some prayer requests, a few lists of things I'm thankful for, and basically anything I want to be reminded of later. And yes, I have torn out at least one page when I looked back through the book and thought, "There is no way I want to read that ever again." That doesn't happen often, though.

You could make a book like this on a grand scale or you could use a tiny little steno pad. You get to decide. Just like you get to decide what quotes make the cut. I've got political, spiritual, artistic, literary, humorous, inspirational...well, you get the idea.

It's kind of like a blog, now that I think about it. Only now I have the high tech blog (here, which you all so kindly read) and the low tech (my notebook, which not even Prince Charming dares open). It's also like a scrapbook, but I spend more time on those and include pictures. This has (gasp!) no pictures at all. Only scraps of words that I found meaningful.

Maybe next I'll show you my Favorite Things Book. It's similar to a commonplace book but it's actually completely different. And yes, I do have notebooks for my notebooks around here. It's an obsession. And I fully admit to having little scraps of paper everywhere too. I'll finish this post with another quote from the book:

I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die. -Isaac Asimov
Yes! That's it exactly. See how useful the book is?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

Do you have a commonplace book? Do you know what a commonplace book is?

Here's mine (I included a ruler in the picture for comparison's sake):

I think I bought it at a thrift store or some discount store. Anyway, I think it's pretty, even if it didn't cost me much to buy it.

What's in my commonplace book?
- Lists of the books I've read, starting in 2005
- Lists of my favorite songs
- random bits of randomness I've written down
- quotes that have caught my eye while reading

Traditionally, these type of books have been used for quotations, written in one's best handwriting, of course. Now, as my book is almost full (*Sob* I'm looking for another one exactly the same size), I'm going to share some of my favorite quotes with you on Thursdays.

The quote from my book for today:
Our aim in education is to give children vital interests in as many directions as possible. [...]Because the crying evil of the day is intellectual inanition. - Charlotte Mason
Hm, sounds like, despite my recent discussions of being expert / non expert, I turned out just fine, according to less of an authority than Miss Mason.

I have to say: that makes me feel a lot better. I hadn't thought about these quotes in awhile but the other night, in preparation for this post, I read through my book again. I laughed, I nodded my head (wisely, naturally), and I felt sobered up.

That's a commonplace book.

This Makes Me Feel Young Again

Train Horns

Created by Train Horns

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Question

Why is that any time I plan to get a lot done, things that must be done, things that ought to be done, things that would be lovely to actually, you know, finish, things that I would just like to do...

Why is it that any time I plan a week where I will do all of the above, I get sick?

But this time it is not just any sick. This is staying in bed, no voice, yucky sinus-y drainage, your head is going to pound so hard you see stars sick.

I feel slightly better today. I'm judging this by the fact that I am out of bed and sitting at the computer. And that I don't have a pile of tissues right by my elbow. OK, I know, TMI.

Maybe I better head back to bed. But the sun is shining, I've already got dinner in the crock pot, we finished all necessary school work, I'd almost rather not go back to bed now. Most of the important stuff I've managed to do on half strength, so what else can I do on the other half - I guess we'll find out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Important Day

I almost let a very important day slip by without acknowledgement (the fact that I have been all over a three state region in 24 hours may have something to do with that). No, I'm not talking about "Pi Day". I don't celebrate made up Math related holidays. No, 3.14 is important for another reason:

It's Grandpa's Birthday!

I've been crazy about this guy for longer than I can remember. (Probably about the time that I ran away from my Mom into his arms saying, "Gum-paw no spank." And yes, I was correct: he wouldn't have spanked me, and yes, I got the necessary spanking from my mom anyway. Too smart for my own good, that's always been my problem...)

Now one of my favorite things about him is how he patiently tries to rescue my yard from my double-black thumbs every year. How he tries to tell me - AGAIN - how to keep my poor plants alive. His hope springs eternal (as yet unfulfilled, I'm afraid. I'm not the sister who got the gardening gene). And I love how he would still be climbing up on my roof to clean out my gutters if I didn't threaten encourage Prince Charming to do that before Grandpa can get over here.

Grandpa, is, quite simply, one of my favorite people in the world to be around. He has always seemed younger than he is. (It must run in the family, if I do say so myself.)So I'm posting this picture of him:
Don't you just love the "Dennis the Menace" gleam in his eye? Yeah, he still has that.

It Is An Ever Fixed Mark...

Your result for The Ultimate Shakespearean Romance Test...

Passionate (67%) and Low Infatuation

"Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said thy edge should blunter be than appetite."

Your romance quotient is 67% Romance and you have a low propensity for infatuation. You enjoy romance considerably, and it still can control your outlook. This is something you need in your life. Since you don't tend to become overly infatuated, you make sensible choices and can be an ideal partner for someone who enjoys a romantic relationship.

Take The Ultimate Shakespearean Romance Test
at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And Furthermore

Back to my theme from a few days ago: I am not an expert. I know that. You know that.

But I think, just maybe, I want to be. I think I want to be one of those people the History Detectives from PBS call. You know the type, right?

"This woman has the largest collection of Presidential Silhouettes in the world."
"This man knows everything there is to know about postage stamps from the 18oo's."
"This woman is the world's foremost expert on plastic Easter Eggs."
"This man is the most respected authority on the socio-economic implications of the crash of the Hindenburg."

OK, I may have made those up. But you get the idea.

I've heard it said that one benefit of homeschooling is children can pursue their interests and often do choose to specialize in one area. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you're looking at it) I am interested in nearly everything. My homeschooling experience didn't narrow my focus, it paved a four lane super highway (with overpasses and underpasses and switchbacks) of interests instead.

Which means: Instead of knowing a lot about one thing, I know a little about a lot of things.

So I've diagnosed another part of the problem but I'm not going to change the behavior. (I would be a really horrible psychotherapist) I like knowing a little about a lot of things. I can wish I knew more about fewer subjects, but I wouldn't, ultimately, find much joy in living that way.

So I'm going to keep reading and learning about anything and everything that strikes my fancy. I'm going to keep my eyes open for things that interest me. I'm going to share those interests with my girls. I'm going to talk and maybe even argue (shocker!) about them. I'll probably follow a rabbit trail or two or twenty.

And I guess the History Detectives are never going to call.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Never a Dull Moment With Tigger

Tigger to her daddy: "Dad, can we have a fire in the backyard?"
Her dad: ?!?

Just in case you need clarification: we live in the metropolitan city limits. We can just barely have a grill in the backyard, much less a bonfire. But, as I pointed out to Prince Charming, at least she asked first.

Tigger to me: "Do you like kissing?"
Me: ?!? Dithering, stammering, wondering where that came from.
Me (after above stalling): "Well, yes, I guess I do."
Tigger: "Is kissing love?"

Never a dull minute, folks. Never.

What Chocolate Are You?

Dark Chocolate Lover
The dark chocolate lover may be as complex as her tastes. A connoisseur of all things fine, you care deeply about quality, including quality of life. You take the time to become educated about the things you care about and the world around you, and you value your ability to make choices. You are health conscious and environmentally conscious, choosing dark chocolate for its rich, satisfying flavor and its heart-healthy content.
To take the quiz, go here.

Thanks for the link, Morgan!

As for its accuracy: I love dark chocolate, I do care deeply about quality of life, and of course I value my ability to make choices. But I am neither health nor environment conscious, as such. If I were health conscious would I eat as much chocolate as I do? I don't think so. (Although they do say dark chocolate is good for you, right?)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In My Non-Expert Opinion

I, an armchair psychologist from way back, have diagnosed my blog troubles. Are you ready for this groundbreaking revelation? Well, how 'bout you read it anyway?

Here's the trouble: I am not an expert in anything.

I know, it shocked me too. But, if you think about it, anything I am an expert in does not really qualify me to tell the rest of you what to do. (Not that I've ever let that stop me before...)

I love God. I love His Word. I love His church. I love the journey to know Him better and following Him. I love all the wonderful books written to help me along the way. I love the mysteries, the conundrums and the things I can't even begin to explain.

But it doesn't make me an expert on Christian Living or Theology.

I am an expert on Prince Charming. No one knows him better than I do. No one can read his face like I do. No one can annoy him like I do (on purpose). No one listens to him better than I do. No one prays for him as earnestly or specifically as I do.

But that doesn't make me an expert on marriage.

I am an expert in Polly, Tigger and Sweet Pea. No one knows them like I do. No one has known them longer than I have. No one has loved them harder or longer. No one remembers all the quirks (oh, the many quirks!) each child has: what they like to eat, listen to, read, play, talk about, do, dream, think.

But that doesn't make me an expert on parenting.

I read a lot. I know, if I do say so myself, a lot. But none of it is widely applicable. However, if I'm ever around and someone suggests we play Trivial Pursuit, you might want to insist that I be on your team. I'm just sayin'.

Maybe I should have been more specialized when I started this blog: a blog about homeschooling, a blog about parenting, a blog about books, a blog about organizing, a blog about seeking God's will, a blog about politics (oh, wait, Prince Charming did rope me into that).

Instead you'll be getting a hodgepodge of all of the above. Lots of minutia. Probably some "majoring on the minors". And I will, most likely, be offering my unsolicited advice on any number of topics, even though I am not An Expert with a capital E. Amy of Untangling Tales calls this "Advice from the Unqualified".

(Note to mothers on a little topic that's bugging me: Stop feeding your child whatever they want, whenever they want. Make a meal, offer it, put it away. No short order cooking. No catering to the whims of a doggone TWO YEAR OLD. Be the Mom. BE the Mom.)

Well, that felt good. What can I diagnose next?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nothing to Say so How 'Bout I Distract You?

Another glorious day! Not quite as warm, but the sun is shining. (Makes me want to say "hooray" but then my blog post would be rhyming and I don't want to keep it up.)

I seem to be experiencing blog block: a struggle to get out words that go together in an interesting way. (And please don't tell me you think I've always had trouble with that.) So, unless I come up with something later, I will tell you that I'm working on my very first giveaway.

That's right. I will be having my first blog related giveaway soon. There are two possibilities for when this is going to happen:

1. When I hit 500 posts. Which makes me hope I come up with something to say soon, 'cause I'm only at 451 right now.

2. When I have my "Blogger" anniversary. I started blogging on another site before I blogged here but I'm counting my first Blogger post as my anniversary.

Now, before you get all excited, I have to say that I will not be giving away an IPOD, a flat screen TV, or anything remotely valuable. (Did I just stick a pin in your "giveaway hopes" balloon?) It's all stuff that I would like. So, if no one enters, I can just keep it for myself.

Just kidding. I wouldn't actually do that. I'm not that selfish.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Playing Around

Lest I be accused of favoritism (surely not) here are a couple more pictures of the girls playing outside the other day: Sweet Pea trying to work the bubble wand. That big bubble glistening over her head was made by Polly.
Try, try again. Or spill all the bubble solution. Either way, it's all good on a warm, Spring-y, day.
Today the girls are all back outside. It's a gorgeous warm and sunny day.

I've given up lamenting that they don't have a swing set - they make their own play. (OK, Polly was pretending yesterday to be Joan of Arc leading troops to the dauphin. That's a little odd. But now you know what we studied in History this week!)

They'll probably dig in the dirt again. They may find another worm (Actual shout from Tigger: "It's our treasure, Mom! This little worm is our treasure." Um, sure, if you say so!) They may even try to wash the dirt off with toothbrushes again. That's a small price to pay to see all the girls back in the sunshine after what has felt like a very long winter.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in
it. - Psalm 118:24 KJV

I know we should rejoice in every new day but it seems a little bit easier when the sun is shining and you don't have to wear a coat, doesn't it? My girls seem to think so.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Time To Get Organized

I didn't know it until tonight, but one of my blog posts has been entered in a "getting organized" blog carnival over at Heart of the Matter Online. If I had known, I would have dressed up for the occasion. Or something like that. I would have at least put on my good blogging clothes.

I know what I'm going to be doing the next few days: checking out all the great ideas. Organizing is one of my favorite things to do. There are lots of great posts over there so go check them out!

And (imagine me saying, "But wait! There's more!" in my best sales pitch voice) you still have time to compose your thoughts, blog and enter - there are new topics every week.

An Announcement from Tigger

Spring is here! OK, not really, not officially. But the weather is mild and breezy and that counts.

So throw on your favorite stripey sweater, roll up those pant legs and

Go outside! Don't forget to roll on the ground. It isn't really Spring until you've gotten dirt on your nose.
Oh and, when wearing your favorite sweater, don't worry if you happen to have too many button holes. Who cares about button holes when you can Go Outside!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Education of Sweet Pea

Recently the Man of the House (a.k.a. Prince Charming) and the Lady of the House (that'd be me) had a heart to heart over the status of the bundle of insanity joy known around here as Sweet Pea (or Buster, depending on the circumstances).

The issue at hand: Sweet Pea is now the ripe old age of 2. And as such, she is no longer of the Baby Class of Child but has, in fact, moved on to the Toddler or even Preschooler Class of Child.

Now, here's the rub: Sweet Pea is my baby. And it seems likely that she will remain my baby for at least the next few years. In other words, there are no little Charming children on the immediate horizon. Now it is a matter of public record that Prince Charming and I are both first- borns. After Polly came we were a family of first-borns. That is, obviously, no longer the case. But we told ourselves we would not have the usual labels for our children. Polly would not obviously be the oldest. Tigger wouldn't be the (oft over looked) middle child. And, above all else, Sweet Pea would not be the Baby.

Except that is exactly what has happened. Tigger is one of the middlest middles that I've ever seen (and I've known a few in my time. I'm even related to a few, not to name names.) And Sweet Pea is the rip roaringest Baby (small shudder) to come along since her Aunt Princess. (Never mind that the easiest way to make Sweet Pea not the baby, would thereby turn her into a middle. It boggles the mind.)

All that is interesting to think about (you more experienced parents are laughing at us now, I know) but it's not the problem we were addressing in our conversation. The real issue: Sweet Pea's lack of verbal acuity. We are, to put it mildly, a family of talkers. And Sweet Pea is more of a pointer-shouter, which is really frustrating to those of us who talk. (Sample Conversation: "What do you want? That? You want that? Not this? Ok, what is she pointing to? That? That? Karen!!" As you can see, this is a sample of Prince Charming's half of a "conversation" with Sweet Pea.)

So, in the midst of this discussion, Prince Charming and I, have decided on a course of action with regards to Sweet Pea's Linguistic Advancement (hey, we are first-borns. We like lists!):

1. No more pacifier (known in our family as "Boppy" for some reason known only to Baby Tigger) except when actually in bed. As Sweet Pea is still in a baby bed, this has cut boppy dependency down significantly, because in order to get the boppy she has to be in bed and Sweet Pea does not often wish to be in bed.

2. No more baby talk or babying by big sisters. See, one of the problems with being the baby is everyone babies you. She isn't just my baby, she's also Prince Charming's Baby, Polly's baby, and Tigger's baby (Sometimes. Tigger and Sweet Pea have a often adversarial relationship).

3. At least one simple book read aloud every day to just Sweet Pea. In theory, this is one on one time. In practice, the older girls come running to hear even the simplest board book read aloud (but I hold Sweet Pea on my lap and let her turn the pages, so it's all good). The first day we put this plan into action I chose "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". Which was a good choice (I really like that book myself) considering I have had to read it every day since. I offer Sweet Pea two choices and she always chooses "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". I did convince her to give "Pat the Bunny" a try yesterday, but only after we'd read about the adventures of that voracious caterpillar.

Sweet Pea is already talking more. (It's amazing what will happen once you remove the plastic plug!) We don't necessarily understand what she's saying, but all in good time, we tell ourselves.
Meanwhile, Sweet Pea is no doubt planning for a future career in the law or some such. She's got us all right where she wants us, I have no doubt of that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One Reason I Love Children's Ministry

This discussion took place between two of our regular Wednesday night program attendees:

Boy #1: Is she going to play the piano?
Girl #1: Mrs. [Charming] is really good at the piano
Boy #1: Really?

*Random bits of piano playing by me*

Girl #1: See? She should be like, on American Idol or something. But, like, for the piano!
Boy #1: Yeah!

It just warmed my heart, I tell you. I suspect it may be the highest musical complement this child can give.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Books of 2009 - February

Quite a diverse reading month around here:

1. Treasure Island. Fiction by Robert Louis Stevenson. One of those classics that I can't believe I haven't read before now. Exciting and way better than any of the movie versions I've seen. (Big surprise)

2. Men to Boys. Non-fiction by Gary Cross. Not quite what I was expecting or looking to read. This book is part sociological study / part memoir. Mr. Cross's attempts to let Baby Boomers off the hook while fully admitting their failures as a generation almost gave me whiplash.

3. Tears of the Giraffe. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. I cannot get enough of this series. It's enough to make me want to go to Botswana and I'm pretty sure I've never wanted to visit any part of Africa before. (Egypt excepted, of course)

4. Better Late Than Early. Non-fiction by Raymond & Dorothy Moore. I borrowed this from my mom. She and I have already briefly discussed my opinion of this book but suffice it to say: I think the first part is a lot stronger than the second.

5. The Day I Became an Autodidact. Non-fiction by Kendall Hailey. Fun and thought provoking. As I read I thought, "Oh, so that's what I am! Good to know." Maybe I can change the name of my blog to Candid Diversions of an Autodidact. Or maybe not.

6. The Miracle of Dunkirk. Non-fiction by Walter Lord. Borrowed this one from my dad. (Guess I did a lot of book borrowing in February!) Read as semi-research for the ever percolating novel but also just because it is interesting and engaging. Probably not the definitive study but worth a read nonetheless.

7. The Critical Journey. Non-fiction by Janet O. Hagberg & Robert Guelich. Disappointing and I did not agree with the authors' constructs.

8. A Woman of Independent Means. Fiction by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey. I read this because Kendall Hailey talked about it in her book (see #5 above. The author is her mother.) This is written in the form of letters sent by the main character, Bess Gardner. Considering it is based on a true story (the author's own grandmother) I do not wish to be hateful but I very much disliked the "heroine". She is manipulative, spoiled, greedy, whiny, and sometimes, heart-breakingly likable. I finished this with a sense of relief.

9. The Well Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling. Non-fiction by Rachel Gathercole. I wish I could buy copies of this book to hand out whenever people ask me about homeschooling. Instead I will just recommend it, here on this blog, for anyone who is considering homeschooling or for anyone who has ever asked, "But what about socialization?!"

10. Beyond Bedtime Stories. Non-fiction by Susan Bennett-Armisted, Nell Duke, & Annie Moses. This is a book for parents of preschoolers with lots of reading suggestions and activities. The authors are not supporters of homeschooling, which kind of made me laugh. On one page they are telling you that no one knows your child and what that child needs better than you the parent (you are your child's best teacher) and the next they are telling you that only "professionals" could possibly teach your child how to read. Right. But that little leap of logic aside, it was an interesting book.

11. Morality for Beautiful Girls. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. Next book in the Ladies #1 Detective Agency series after #3 above. Like I said, I can't get enough. Love, love, love these characters!

12. Entertaining Disasters. Fiction by Nancy Spiller. Not the light hearted book I thought it would be based on the cover. (Rhetorical question: Will I ever stop judging books by their covers?)

13. Kirstin Lavransdatter. Fiction by Sigrid Undset. I'm counting this as one but really it is made up of three novels: The Bridal Wreath, The Mistress of Husaby, and The Cross. I read the old 1928 translation by Charles Archer & J.S. Scott, which uses lots of older type English. If you're familiar with the KJV or Shakespeare, this will not be difficult, but it does take some getting used to. I've heard there is a newer translation which the translator claims is closer to Undset's original vision and I'll probably read that someday. This set of books will take you to another time and place, specifically Norway in the 14th century. Quite a journey. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about this book but nothing I can articulate just yet.

Fiction: 6
Non-fiction: 7

So from fantasy, to Africa, to 1300's Norway, to France 1940, to homeschooling, to spirtuality, well, you get the idea. What a month! Be sure to leave me a comment if you post about what you read in February - I'm always looking for suggestions!