Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Incomplete but Nonetheless Thorough

List of things (in no particular order) that I am thankful for this year:

A - America's Armed Forces, art, air conditioning, aunts, alone time, good advice
B - Bible, brother, books, babies, blogs, baking, bubbles, bridges
C - Children, cookies, chocolate, cousins, cake, creativity, choir, cocoa, cosmetics
D - Dad, daughters, dreams, dairy products, delight, easy decisions, doctors
E - Energy, education, electricity, England, elephants (just because)
F - Faith, family, friends, fun times, fluffy clouds, flying, the future, fruit
G - Grace, grandparents, gentleness, generosity, growing, gifts
H - Harmony, Home, honesty, houses, humor, hot water, holidays, hugs, history, hot showers
I - Intelligence, ice cream, the Internet, irony
J - Journeys, joy, juice, jewelry, jets, juice glasses, inside jokes
K - Knowledge, kissing, knights in shining armor, enchanted kingdoms
L - Love, life, liberty, long talks at night, laughing, listening, learning, lunch, love letters
M - Mom, music, money, modern medicine, midnight, the moon, movies, memories
N - Nephew, nothing to do, novels, nurses, new books, notebooks
O - Optimism, Oreo cookies, objectivity, originality, open doors
P - Philip (Prince Charming), pianos, poetry, paper, pens, puppies, parties, pools, pen-pals
Q - Quips, quilts, questions with answers, quizzes, quiet time
R - My Redeemer, reading, roses, being right, relatives, rainbows, refrigeration, reminiscing
S - Salvation, sisters, stories, singing, sleep, Sundays, stars, sunshine, sunscreen, soap
T - Trust, trying again, triumph, trivia, toothpaste, colorful tights, travel
U - United States, umbrellas, unity, the universe, an understanding ear, uncles
V - Voting, virtue, victory, vim and vigor, visiting
W - Writing, worship, wisdom, witticism, walking hand in hand, wishes, whispering, weddings
X - X-rays (they come in handy), eXcellence,
Y - You, yarn (although I don't know why), yodeling (because it's funny), yawning
Z - Zeal, zero things on my schedule, zippers, zingers, zebras (black & white = cool)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just In Case You Thought My Life Idyllic

Here's a partial reckoning of what my youngest (alias "Sweet Pea") has gotten up to today:

1. Did not take a nap at nap-time.

2. Instead, broke a piece off one of Polly's collectible birthday girls.

3. And then dumped her piggy bank out.

4. In her bed.

5. And then carried her change around in a baby food jar.

6. Thereby leaving coins all over the house.

7. Closeted herself in the bathroom. Quietly. (Should've been my clue to start searching)

8. Coated herself and the counter, toilet, floor, etc. with my new "for sensitive skin" face lotion.

9. And unrolled half a roll of toilet paper. Apparently in an attempt to clean up the lotion, 'cause every square was also lotion coated.

10. Did I mention she had an accomplice in the above escapade? It was Tigger. Who has lotion coated hair now.

So. Could I interest you in two slightly sticky little girls? They probably have enough change stuffed in their pockets for bus fare.

From the Commonplace Book

Seize the day, yes, but do not live as if every day is your last. Live as you wish you had lived yesterday. - Jennifer Michael Hecht
I love this concept. Trying to imagine each day is my last would be enough to depress me and therefore, any good intentions I might have.

However, thinking about each day as compared to the one before - now that I can do!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Children Are Exceptional

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman tell us in their book NurtureShock:
Observational studies have determined that siblings between the ages of three and seven clash 3.5 times per hour, on average. Some of those are brief clashes, others longer, but it adds up to ten minutes of every hour spent arguing.
Trust my children to be exceptional, even in this respect.

(Picture of sword fight taken this summer. Seemed to fit the post somehow...)

Did You Ever Hear The One

where Little Bo Peep, Anne Shirley, Madeline and Winnie the Pooh spent the evening together?I have no idea what the punchline is. I just thought I'd set up the joke.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Candidly Incomplete Guide to Raising a Reader

1. Be a Reader yourself. Your kids need to see you reading. A lot. And yes, there is a difference between being able to read and being A Reader.

2. Read aloud to them from the time they're born (or even before). Babies can tell the difference in how your voice sounds when you read from when you speak. Read board books, make up stories from magazine pictures.

3. Have lots of books around. I know, duh, but it's that important. And magazines, and things printed off the computer, and...but you get the idea.

4. Use audio books. We use these at our daily "quiet time". My girls have listened to many different books this way (starting with "easier" things like Winnie the Pooh and moving on up to Don Quixote recently). This allows you to introduce your child to wonderful, unabridged literature long before she could read it herself. Long road trip coming up? Skip the portable DVD player and choose a book on c.d. that everyone can listen to (our entire family really enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel this way).

5. Limit television. Really, really limit it. Be selective with what shows and videos you allow. Better yet, just get rid of it altogether.

6. If you do have a TV around ( and we do), be vigilant and don't let your child watch a movie adaptation until they've read the book themselves (or you've read it to them). Don't cheat their imaginations by showing them another person's vision first. This means no Narnia movie (old BBC or newer) until they've enjoyed the entire written series. And for goodness sake, no "Little House on the Prairie" TV show until you've read the incomparable books. Trust me.

7. Show them how to use reference material and let them see you use it frequently. Sure, Google is easy. But it isn't really that hard to pick up a dictionary or encyclopedia. Actually, my husband and I have had races for this very thing and I can find something in our multi-volume encyclopedia set just as quickly as he can type something into Google and find the link he needs. Makes for cheap entertainment at the very least!

8. Don't be afraid of series literature. Sometimes it seems we're supposed to look down on these types of books, but as long as you're careful which series are being read, these books go a long way to raising a Lifetime Reader. Series (or "formula fiction") encourage early readers: the characters are well loved, the style is already familiar and the child can just lose themselves in the latest adventure. Around our place we've enjoyed all the American Girl books, The Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, the Ramona Quimby Books, the Henry Huggins books (OK, pretty much anything by Beverly Cleary), Trixie Belden mysteries and Nancy Drew mysteries, among others.

9. Encourage discussion about books. Sure, you could have a special subject in school for this (we call it narration) but it's even more important that as you talk about what you've been reading (you do talk about it, don't you?) you encourage your children to talk about what they've been reading. This means not being annoyed when your seven year old wants to talk about Ramona Quimby's crazy antics when you and your husband are discussing your own latest reads. (Yes, this has happened at our house.)

10. Keep trying. Read aloud to them until they grow up and leave your home. There's a book (or two or a million) about any subject and any interest. Don't worry so much about grade levels and prestige - finding the genre that makes your child ask, "Are there more books about this?" should be its own reward.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Books of 2009 - October

October was a good reading month. It wasn't good in many other respects, so at least I can say I got a lot of reading done!

1. Oliver Twist. Fiction by Charles Dickens. This is actually my first Dickens re-read since I read this one many years ago. The story is, of course, familiar because of all the movie adaptations and allusions in popular culture. I can't say I really love it (query: is Oliver that stupid? Or just that naive?), but it was a quicker read than Pickwick.

2. Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage. Nonfiction by Edith B. Gelles. I love John and Abigail Adams. He's one of my favorite founding fathers and you can't begin to understand him without first studying Abigail. This book is well written and accessible to anyone who'd like to know more about the Adams.

3. Cincinnati Goes to War. Nonfiction, released by the Cincinnati Historical Society. Read as research, especially enjoyed the pictures.

4. Free Land. Fiction by Rose Wilder Lane. Rose is the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've only read one other book by Lane and I thought I should give this one a try (mostly because I heard the main character is based on her father).

5. Music of the World War II Era. Nonfiction by William & Nancy Young. Read as research. Thorough, if a bit dry. In a book like this it would be nice if a cd were included.

6. Nutureshock: New Thinking About Children. Nonfiction by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman. Prince Charming reviewed this book here. Thought provoking and interesting. I recommend this as an antidote to most parenting magazines.

7. Nicholas Nickleby. Fiction by Charles Dickens. The first book in my "Dickens in chronological order" quest that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think a better title would have been "Newman Noggs" because, lets face it, he's the real hero of the piece.

8. Britain Under Fire: The Bombing of Britain's Cities 1939-1945. Nonfiction by Charles Whiting. Read as, you guessed it, research.

9. Austerity in Britain: Rationing, Controls, & Consumption 1939-1955. Nonfiction by Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska. There is no reason why anyone would read this book, unless as in my case, for research.

10. Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women. Nonfiction by Judy Barrett Litoff & David Smith. As opposed to the above title, I think anyone would appreciate this book. Occasionally sad but always hopeful.

11. Stardust. Fiction by Neil Gaiman. I like the movie and I enjoyed the book but I think the two are quite different (no surprise there). I have to say that I prefer the movie ending to the book, which just goes to show you, there's a first time for everything.

12. Allies in War: Britain & America Against the Axis Powers 1940-1945. Nonfiction by Mark Stoler. I'm no fan of FDR and I'm a huge fan of Churchill, but I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm a self-described Anglophile, so I have trouble understanding how the US could have treated the UK so shabbily at times. This book reinforced my perception of Eisenhower being one of the main reasons the Allies won the war. Very few men could have balanced all the dueling personalities, agendas and so on that he did.

13. The Lost Art of Gratitude. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. The latest in the Isabel Dalhousie series. I don't like this series as much as the books about Precious Ramotswe or 44 Scotland Street, but it's still a fun little read.

14. The Man in the Brown Suit. Fiction by Agatha Christie. I read this one all in one night after I took some medicine and couldn't sleep. Engaging characters and exotic location (South Africa) what more could you need for escape?

15. Rekindled. Fiction by Tamera Alexander. I've almost completely given up on Christian fiction but I picked this up at the library sale and hadn't read it yet, so I read it during my illness. It's better than most, I thought, but that may be the proverbial faint praise condemnation.

16. Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in WW2. Nonfiction by Jan K. Herman. Read as research.

17. They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of WW2. Nonfiction by Kathi Jackson. Research, again.

18. Just Doing My Job. Nonfiction by Jonna Doolittle Hoppes. A collection of personal second world war stories. Not really useful as a research read, but interesting in " the greatest generation a la Tom Brokaw" sort of way.

Fiction: 7

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Beginning

Now join hands, and with your hands your hearts. - William Shakespeare
My little brother is getting married today.

OK, he's not exactly my little brother - he's really Prince Charming's little brother.

But still. I've known him since he was 18 months old. We've grown up together. All that "in-law" business is just foolishness when you have a family as nice as ours.

And now God has brought a lovely, sweet young lady into his life and that means I'm getting a new sister. It means some other stuff too, of course, but right now, I'm just enjoying seeing how good God is to our family.

We love you, Stephen & Natalie and we pray God will bless your new home together!