Thursday, May 31, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - Writing a Book

Question  of the week: If you could write a book, what would it be about, and why?

I've been working on a fiction series set during the Second World War since I was a teenager. I work on it a bit, set it aside, then come back to it and work on it some more. I'm always doing research. (Basically all those books in my monthly booklists that make people ask "Why on Earth did she read that?)

I've even - this makes me feel so professional - been to our Big Library and scrolled through  microfilm newspapers.

So, my fledgling book is way better now than it was back when I was a teenager. But...it's no where near finished. I haven't even let Philip read any of it.

And yes, part of it is set in Britain, and yes, I try to tell my husband that we must go back for research's sake. (We've already been once for fun. This would be work.)

If you're wondering what my writing process looks like, it goes something like this:
  • inspiration strikes (often late at night)
  • furiously scribble story down in spiral bound notebook until exhausted
  • later (a day, a week, a...longer than that) type story into computer word processing program
  • become convinced story is a) dreck, b) hopeless, c) pretty good but will never be finished
  • go for a while without writing
  • repeat
Philip and I have also written a children's book which is now in the re-write, refining stage. (Stay tuned!) And one of these days I'm going to get around to that self-help I've been meaning to write. (I have the title already: It's All About You and Other Lies You've Been Told. Subtitle: Stop Doing Stupid, Irritating, Selfish Stuff.)

What about you? Ever wanted to write a book?
This post is linked to Booking Through Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Words for Wednesday

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness 
has never danced in the rain. 
- unknown but quoted by Jennifer Ward in this book.



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekend Links May 26, 2012

To start: I wish the happiest of birthdays to my sister The {original} Princess.

1. Ever wanted to explore the Human Microbiome? Now you can. Guaranteed to make you feel like taking a shower.

2. Here's a Photoshop tutorial for Creating Your Own Text Paths.

3. Some of these predictions of the Next Hundred Years (from 1900) are hilarious and some are amazingly spot on. I really wish that "store purchases by pneumatic tubes" thing would have worked out.

4. If you want to read through the Bible but you didn't start in January (or you got hopelessly "behind"), my mom has a plan (and encouragement) for you.

5. I believe that I've mentioned a time or two (or three or a thousand...) that I love England, Queen Elizabeth II and I've also done a lot of research on the Second World War. This story, in honor of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, combines all three. (Do beware of the right sidebar on that page. Not all the stories are family friendly.)

6. And this story talks about how The Queen fell in love with her husband (according to the Queen's former nanny, who also wrote the above story).

7. You know I like to talk about teens (and adults!) doing hard things. Here's a great story of one young adult who made a difference: Teen Creates Pancreatic Cancer Diagnostic.

8. Did you know that there are Vast Salt Mines Beneath Detroit?

9. I'm a sucker pictures like these: Beautiful Abandoned Train Stations.

10. I'd like to add a hearty Amen to this post: You Are Qualified to Homeschool.

Pins of the Week:
I think Miss Lili would love something like this:

Maybe on one of our many visits to Loews and Home Depot (selling a house means the employees at these stores recognize us now), I'll pick up the things to make one.

And this transformation is amazing:

I'm not sure my novice sewing skills are up to it but I think I'd like to try.

So, what did you stumble on this week? Do share!
This post is linked to:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Words for Wednesday


The greatest works of literature demand to be reread every five years or so,
not because they alter, but because you do.
- Daniel Burt

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Non-Book Blogs

Today's theme at The Broke and the Bookish is completely non literary or book related:
Top 10 Favorite Blogs That Are Not About Books.

These are not necessarily my favorite blogs, but they are blogs that I check every day:

Homeschool Blogs:
1. Mental Multivitamin (although, really, this one is where I get a lot of "books I must read" suggestions so that's kind of cheating right there)
2. Mt. Hope Chronicles

Fashion Blogs:
3. Casey's Elegant Musings
4. Vixen Vintage
5. Bramblewood Fashion 

Decorating Blogs:
6. Modern Country Style
7. Beautiful Clutter

Craft / DIY Blogs:
8. Grosgrain
9. Refashion Co-Op 
10. Two Butterflies

You can also see which blogs I link to in my left sidebar.

What about you? What are some of your favorite blogs?

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Which We Talk Manipulatives

...Math manipulatives, that is. Not manipulative people. Although goodness knows I have some opinions on that front.

Manipulatives are things that help demonstrate math concepts. Almost anything can be used (buttons, dried beans, pieces of string cut to specific lengths) but these are some of my favorite products that you can buy. Side note: this stuff is not just for homeschoolers. Any child would benefit from having a few of these in his or her toy stash.

1.Wood Cuisenaire Rods Set. One big benefit of being second generation homeschoolers: our set up these was passed down to us by Gram. Yes, I used these wooden rods back when I was in school. You can do so many things with these (adding, subtracting, building, and lots of different games)

2. Plastic Base Ten Number Concepts Set. This is a must when you start talking about bigger numbers. These help you visualize how many tens in a hundred or how many hundreds in a thousand. My one complaint is that the Thousand Cube is hollow. It ought to feel heavy to demonstrate just how many ones make up a thousand.

3.Plastic Pattern Blocks (Set of 250) This is the exact set we have and my girls get these out almost every day. Sometimes I think about adding this wooden set to our stash:

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards but we haven't yet. This set also comes with pattern cards for the kids to fill in but that's not really necessary.

4.Learning Resources Attribute Blocks Set in Tray . These get almost as much play as our pattern blocks. With my oldest I made our own attribute blocks out of construction paper but this set adds another level because you can also sort by thickness (each shape comes in two different sizes, three different colors, and two different thicknesses).

5.Learning Wrap Ups Math Intro Kit. We only have the multiplication wrap-up but my oldest loves to review her "times" facts with this. (So much more fun than flashcards)

6.Learning Resources Big Time 12-Hour Student Clock. You can make your own paper clocks, but this one is nice because the hour hand and the minute hand are different colors. There are several great options out there. I particularly like the ones that have the minutes (counting by fives) under the hour.

7.Learning Resources Geoboard 11 X 11. You can add numbers with stickers to make a coordinate plane or you can just make shapes. My little girls enjoy just putting rubber bands on in different designs, which is fine motor skill practice.

8.Melissa & Doug Play Money Set. Our girls love this set. ("Playing store" is a favorite game around here)

9.8-Piece Deluxe Stainless Steel Measuring Cup and Measuring Spoon Set . Measuring cups and spoons are easily found at a thrift store (and, depending on the brand, are not really that expensive at Wal-Mart or Target). Fun for measuring water, rice, sand, or whatever. I prefer my girls to have their own so they're not constantly "borrowing" mine but whatever. Cooking together is some of the best "fraction" talk ever. You might consider getting each child a measuring tape too. I'm not sure why, but kids love to measure things. (I draw the line at measuring mom, though. Not.gonna.happen.)

10.Learning Resources Fraction Tower Activity Set, 51 Cubes. Speaking of "fraction" talk - these linking cubes are excellent for helping a child visualize fractional equivalents. We don't actually own this set but my mom does (there's that 2nd Generation Homeschool thing again) and the girls enjoy playing with it at her house.

So, did I miss one of your (or your child's) favorites? Do tell in the comments!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Links and The Winner Is...

Drumroll, please. The winner of the Thirty-One Gifts organizing utility tote is:
Which means that MacKenzie is the winner!

(Side note: That's amazing. I don't think I've ever seen #1 come up on these things.)

Congratulations! Please send an email to candiddiversions @ yahoo . com or you could message me on FB to confirm your address. I'll get it in the mail ASAP.

(For everyone else: remember that you can still score a great deal on the Thirty-One gifts products of your choice. You have until Monday, May 20th to make those orders. Thanks again to everyone who participated in this giveaway. I wish I had a tote bag for each and every one of you!)

And now, on to the links:

1. I enjoyed this review of A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz, a book I finished a few months ago. I think this review is better than my own.

2. Assuming we ever move (things have been kind of discouraging on that front lately), I'll probably need to keep this post in mind: 7 Tips to Stay Motivated for House Projects.

3. Top 10 Military Schools in America. I had no idea there are more than ten. (Plus, due to my research into the Second World War, anything about Annapolis catches my eye.)

4. Why Poor Grammar and Spelling are Bad for Your Blog. And bad for my health, ahem. I'm convinced that seeing "your" when the author means "you're" shaves years off my life.

5. Know much about Ketchup? Now you do: Ketchup's Unsavory Secret History.

6. Encouraging thoughts for women: My Beauty-Full Post.

7. We have a Mulberry Tree in our yard. The berries are ripening now and the girls picked a bunch the other day. Then I spent an hour cutting off the little tiny stems that Philip insisted must be cut off. If only I had read this first: Collecting, Preserving, Using, Planting, and Growing Mulberries. (P.S. We made Mulberry cobbler with ours. Yum!)

8. I'm pretty sure some of you are going to want to watch this: PBS Plans Follow-Up to Downton Abbey. I've already seen the first four episodes and I can tell you it's a great show and, though it pains me to say so, in some ways it is quite a bit better than DA.

9. This year is Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. Which means you probably want to read about her amazing life. Need a book recommendation? Try this Top 10 Royal Books List.

10. This one will make your heart grow three sizes: The Value of a Life.

Bonus: Don't miss this post by my dad: Top 10 Myths About Bullies. (Side note: the formatting on my dad's blog is a little wonky so that post is easier to read in the Reader of your choice. Hint, hint.)

Pin of the week:
I loved this girls' room:

Several of the houses we've looked at had finished or finish-able attics.This type of room would be perfect for that type of space.

That's it for this week. Thanks again to Ginelle for making the giveaway possible and to all of you who entered, followed, & shared. It was so exciting to see Candid Diversions grow a little bit.

This post is linked to the following party:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fine Art Friday - Clowns

Overwhelmed with all the plans out there for introducing your children to classical music? (This is one reason I'm not a Charlotte Mason homeschool mom. We don't "do" music or art the way she prescribed. I tend to be rebellious like that.)

Or are you simply looking for a fun classical* piece to share with your kids? How about this one?
"Clowns" (Op. 39 No. 20) by Dmitri Kabalevsky


I play this** for my girls all the time. They run around and act, well, clown like. I increase the tempo, they run around even faster.

Fun for all.

*Note: my piano teacher taught me that there are four eras for what we call Classical music.
Baroque (1600 -1750)
Classical (1750 - 1820)
Romantic (1820 - 1900)
Modern (1900+)

The most disagreement seems to come as to when "Classical" became "Romantic" and you will likely find lots of different dates and lots of heated arguments (ah, the wonder of the Internet) about this but the dates I gave will serve as a rough guideline.
"Clowns" would fall under the Modern heading.

**By which I mean I actually play it on the piano, not I play them the YouTube Video. This is one of those pieces I've had memorized for a long time.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

High Costs & Higher Things

Did you see the recent news story on the cost of raising children? (See here: The Inflation of Life, if it somehow slipped by your radar.) Here's a quote:
The government's most recent annual report reveals a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend roughly $227,000 for food, shelter and other expenses necessary to raise that child - $287,000 when you factor in projected inflation.

And, no, the bill does not include the cost of college or anything related to the pregnancy and delivery.

"If you sat down to tally up the total cost of having children, you'd never have them," says Timothy Knotts, a father of four and a certified financial planner with The Hogan-Knotts Financial Group in Red Bank N.J. "It's a very expensive adventure."

Talk about a life-changing event. That's a lot of vacations, clothing, and restaurant dinners you may no longer enjoy.

Warning: in the next few paragraphs I go on a very candid rant.(Click the "read more" button if you want to read.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Words for Wednesday

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
 - Vincent van Gogh

In my commonplace book the above quote is copied down very near this one:

If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention,
than to any other talent.
- Isaac Newton.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Freebie Week

The topic at The Broke and the Bookish this week was about casting authors on a reality show but since so many people thought that would be too hard today was turned into a "freebie" week instead. I couldn't have done the other topic - I do not watch any reality shows - but that meant I had to think up my own list.

As Pooh Bear might say, "Think. Think. Think."

Nothing really came to mind so instead I am sharing with you the first 10 books I recorded in my commonplace book. I started keeping a commonplace book back in April of 2005 and these are the first entries in my list of "Books I Have Read":

1. The English: A Portrait of a People. Non-fiction by Jeremy Paxman. I don't remember much about this (c'mon, that was seven years ago!) but you can take this as evidence that I was already an Anglophile.

2. The Titled Americans: Three American Sisters and the Aristocratic British World Into Which They Married. Non-fiction by Elizabeth Kehoe. Yes, I love those long subtitles! This one was fascinating, not least because the title characters are Winston Churchill's mother and aunts. (This is another entry in the "Karen's Raging Anglophilia, evidence of" category.)

3. Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie. Non-fiction by Barbara Goldsmith. Can't say I remember a lot about this one specifically but it goes to show my dependence on biographies as favorite reading material.

4. The Mommy Fund. Fiction by Madeline Jacob. I'm guessing this is one of those books that I would never read again.

5. Secrets. Fiction by Robin Jones Gunn. Yes, I used to read a lot of Christian fiction.