Friday, August 28, 2015

Reading Report :: August 2015

Cozy reading this evening.This afternoon i listened to the @amlovelythings + Adam Andrews webinar on how to get your homeschool back on track when it inevitably derails. What is the one thing you can do to regroup and refocus. It was excellent and I'm already wishing I had been ta

Happy August! This month started out as a great month of reading and then ... school started. : ) My reading time (and any extra energy) has evaporated, and the number of books I've been getting through has significantly dwindled! I can't complain though - I really did get to read a lot this summer!

What I read in August:

(I also posted my review of  Simply Tuesday this month, even though I finished the book in July. It's one I had to sit on for bit before writing).

Starting a new read aloud today. #weekinthelife #readaloudrevivalHappy mail. Cannot wait to dive into @amlovelythings new (revised) book this weekend! Congrats Sarah!!

Right now, I'm working my way through:
  • Teaching from a State of Rest by Sarah Mackenzie (review soon!)
  • Dinner: A Love Story (because I haven't read a good kitchen memoir in a while and I need some kitchen inspiration)
  • reading aloud Tirzah by Lucille Travis with the kids as our first history tie-in for our Ancient Civilization studies.
I'm EAGERLY (I can't type it big or bold enough) the next Mitford book from Jan Karon which comes out at the end of September. I should probably just go ahead and block out the time that I'm unavailable so that I can hide away with that book. : ) Otherwise, I'm not sure what I'll pick up next. I'm sure school and soccer and life will keep me sufficiently busy enough that I'll blink and the end of September will be here before I know it!

Happy reading. : )

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Quoted :: Pages of History

We are LOVING this book from Veritas Press that compliments our Ancient Civilizations studies this year. From Pages of History, Volume 1: Secrets of the Ancients by Veritas Press “The way man comes to God for salvation has also always been the same – by g

We are LOVING this book as a compliment to our studies of Ancient Civilizations this year.
From Pages of History, Volume 1: Secrets of the Ancients by Veritas Press: 

“The way man comes to God for salvation has also always been the same – by grace through faith. Old Testament saints looked forward to the promise of Christ and believed it. We look backward to the accomplished work of the cross and we believe,” explained the dove, but Lance still didn’t comprehend. James decided a modern day example would be the best way to get it across to him.

“It’s like an adult who has to take twenty children to the movies. He puts ten of them in the front of the line and when they get to the ticket window they say that the adult is going to pay. The adult then pays for all twenty children. When asked for their money the ten children at the end of the line say, ‘He’s already paid for us.’ You see, esus paid for all twenty no matter where they are in line. Old Testament saints looked ahead and said, ‘He is going too pay.’ All those who come after the finished work of Christ on the cross look back and say, ‘He’s already paid for us.’ So, Old Testament saints and New Testament saints are saved in the same way – by grace through faith. God never changed the plan.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Becoming Small :: A Review of Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Pausing before a day of window cleaning and grilled cheese making and music lessoning. #itssimplytuesday

In the last year my life has gotten very small.

In the fall of 2014, we were set up to begin fostering a 14 year old with the intent to adopt her. We had had a whirlwind spring and summer completing paperwork, taking classes, and knocking out our homestudy. At the same time we were preparing to begin another year of homeschooling. I was tutoring in our co-op, working several hours a week for our church, supporting my husband as a music coordinator at church, soccer mom, etc., and etc.

Life was full. I had places to be! Things to do! People to touch base with!

Eight weeks after our foster arrived, she was pulled from our home. She didn't want to stay . While she had many issues, we were, to put it bluntly, rejected. I felt small.

About a month later we took a second placement. Two sisters, strictly foster with the intent to return to family. They kept us on our toes, along with our own four.

In January I stepped down from my church job. I was stretched too thin across six kids plus homeschooling plus getting two others from public school and helping them with school work. Later in the spring, we decided I ought to take a year off tutoring from the co-op. There was still just a lot on my plate. Our foster girls returned to family and it was back to our four. When the calls started coming in to take a third placement, it was a hard decision, but for now, I had to admit that I could not do a good job with foster care and be the primary teacher for our children's education. We closed our home. I felt small. Ineffective. Inadequate.

I rolled into a summer of emptiness. There were empty beds in our home now that we had thought would have a couple warm bodies in them. My calendar was blank - no commitments now that school was done, my job had wrapped up, and no social obligations. (That had kind of fallen by the wayside as I was unable to leave the house for much more than a grocery run.) Smallness. Unnoticed. Unneeded.

Emily P. Freeman's new book Simply Tuesday has come during a time when I am working hard to heal (for lack of a better word) from the last year. I had a full calendar, full email, and full to-do list this time last year, but it was not a good pace for me to try and keep up with. I had opened up the limits of what I thought I could accomplish in my own power and now I'm in the midst of God's reeling me back in to a smaller more manageable place.

Emily's words in the book were spot on for me:

My limits - those things that I wish were different about myself are perhaps not holding me back but are pointing me forward to pay attention to my small, eight foot assignment.

It seems when I finally recognize my inability is when Christ shows up able within me. But he doesn't equip me to do every job possible, he equips me to do the job meant for me.

It has been hard to see this limiting as a good thing. It's been a struggle and one that I am still processing and working through. Keeping my eyes focused on the four walls of my home and the work I do inside them; tending to the laundry and lives of the five others that live here; sitting on the bench in my backyard and soaking in sunshine and a good book; and looking at where God wants meet me in my smallness.

There is a daily-ness to my work, a small-moment perspective that whispers for me to connect with the work in my right-now hands, not because it's going to become something Big and Important, but because Someone who is Big and Important is here, with me, in me, today.

Smallness is not a punishment but a gift ... my smallness can be a celebration.

It's been a while since I've signed up to do a book review but I am seriously excited to be on this one. #SimplyTuesday

This smallness that I am now choosing to embrace is just one of the things that I have pondered from Emily's new book, Simply Tuesday, which releases today. Where I am today, whatever the circumstances, however small I feel in them, is where I am supposed to be and there is beauty in the small, the broken, and the slow. It's a reminder I needed and I encourage you to pick up a copy of Simply Tuesday if you think this is a message you need to hear as well. There is also an Instagram community that shares the moments that make our Tuesday's special amidst the ordinary using the hashtag #itssimplytuesday.

The book was provided for me as a review copy but all opinions are my own.

Friday, August 14, 2015

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

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In my typical fashion, I stumbled upon a very fun junior fiction book and can't for the life of me remember when I spotted the recommendation. (But whoever you were, thank you!) All Four Stars is the story of Gladys Gatsby, a young girl who has been introduced to the the exotic world of flavors and spices in her food through her aunt who lives in Paris. However, her home life is less desirable for her palate. Her parents, who admittedly are not good cooks, pick up dinner from local fast food restaurants every night of the week. Gladys develops a secret passion for cooking that she keeps hidden from her parents for some time, they unfortunately being afraid and/or mystified by most culinary things. Her secret is discovered when she sets fire to the kitchen curtains with a blowtorch while trying to brown the top of her creme brule. Gladys is grounded from all kitchen activities for some time and her parents hope that she will become interested in normal kid activities (ie., computer games, playing with friends, etc.) Gladys can't get food off her mind and even writes an essay for a contest for a major newspaper on it ... which is noticed by their food editor. Culinary highjinks ensue. : )

I found this book very original and refreshing and it's one that I hope my kids pick up one of this days. Gladys begins the book a little embarrassed about her hobby but by the end of the book she is bolder about admitting what makes her different is also a very good thing. If we all had the same hobbies, the world would be a very boring place, I think!

A couple of delicious quotes to whet your appetite for this book (puns intended!):
Although she couldn't quite finish even half of it, the dinner Gladys was served at the Singhs' went down as one of the greatest meals of her life. She wrote all about it in her journal the moment she got home.
When I first saw how much food Mrs. Singh had put on my plate, I couldn't believe my eyes. It smelled amazing, but how was I supposed to eat a mountain of rice with an avalanche of potatoes sliding down it? Not to mention a forest of cauliflower, endless fields of spinach, and a boulder pile of chickpeas? I decided that the best way to climb the peak would be to go in circles: start by using the roti like a shovel to pick up some chickpeas, then dig into the rice mountain with a fork(lift).
Gladys went on to describe how the samosa shell did a good job of soaking up the extra chickpea gravy, and how the minty yogurt cooled her mouth down when the spices tickling her tongue threatened to turn into a tornado. Before she knew it, she had written three whole pages, wrapping the review up with an exuberant: 4 1/2 stars (setting the standard for all dinners to come!)
And this one, which I sometimes totally relate to:
Having to talk to that many people everyday was starting to make her feel like an empty coffee mug, with nothing but dregs left at the bottom.
There is already a sequel out to this book and I'm eager to read it and see what comes next for Gladys and her culinary adventures.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The Re-read List of Read-Alouds

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This year we are heading into our school year with an 11 (almost 12) year old, 9 1/2 year old, 8 year old and an almost five year old boy. (Roughly translating into 6th, 4th, 3rd and K4 for this year for those that like to keep up with grade equivalents).

As we were all sitting in our school room today, I asked the girls what read-alouds have we done that we HAVE to make sure that we read with the boy so that he doesn't miss any of our favorites. It was so interesting to hear their choices of what was memorable for them! According to my girls, these are the must hits that he needs to hear, in no particular order:
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey. This might have been our first official chapter book once upon a time. N1 still remembers it fondly!
  • Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (I've actually already read through the first book with the boy at bedtime last year, so we might move on to one of the other Pooh books in the series).
  • The Little House series, especially Little House on the Prairie and Farmer Boy. The girls would have me read the whole series over again, but we shall see. Not that I don't love a good reread of Laura and Mary, but I've managed to stall on reading The First Four Years for over a year now - I just don't know that I can read that one aloud (so sad!) and it would mean the end of the series (denial).
  • Tumtum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn. Of course our favorite mice made the list! 
  • Narnia, naturally. 
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. This will probably be the first one we hit for a reread. Our local children's theater is having production of this later this fall, and I think we'll need a reread before the play.
  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. This was a total surprise that it made the list. My oldest commented how much she LOVED these stories, but I just remembered struggling through them thinking they would never end.
  • The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame. 
  • Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson. One of my favorite series from when I was a kid; I'm so glad my kids love Henry and Midge as well. 
There were small minority votes for Peter Pan (definitely could be a contender) and the Betsy-Tacy series, but I think I'll let the boy decide if he wants to read Betsy-Tacy on his own... ; )

Bloggy links to some of the books above: