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Books I Read in 2017 and Books to Read in 2018

I guess there is one advantage to catching the flu — ample couch time for writing quite the extended post. Luckily, I can’t pass germs through the computer so it is completely beneficial to you, dear reader.

This past year, I’ve done a monthly round up book post so I will not include another review, but I’ve provided the link at the end of each book so you can click through to read them.

It was funny to me to find that I, unintentionally, seemed to be reading along a theme each month {mostly}. I guess when I get in the mood for a topic, I like to do it justice.

My top 6 picks for the year I marked with asterisks. This didn’t include the read-alouds I did with the girls; those were all excellent reads!

 

What were some of your favorite reads this past year? 

 

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.} 

 

Novels

  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi {read in January} **

  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom {read in January}

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson {read in February} **

News of the World by Paulette Jiles {read in February}

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie {read in April} **

Silence by Shusaku Endo {read in June}

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams {read in June}

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner {read in July}

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer {read in November}

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher {read in December}

Mystery

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny {read in March}

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny {read in April}

History

  Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by Bill Lascher {read in January}

Parenting/Education

  Five Love Languages of Children by Gary C. Chapman {read in January}

Caught Up in a Story : Fostering a Storyformed Life & Imagination with Your Children of Great Books by Sally Clarkson {read in February}

The Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd {read in April}

Home Education by Charlotte Mason {read in May}

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay {read in May}

Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie {read in July}

Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason {read in July}

School Education by Charlotte Mason {read in August}

The Way of Beauty by David Clayton {read in September}

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross {read in September}

Self/Home/Family Improvement

The Lifegiving Home : Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson {read in February}

The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels {read in April}

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein {read in April} **

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel {read in July}

The Fringe Hours: Making More Time for You by Jessica Turner {read in August}

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore {read in August}

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner {read in August}

 Not of This World : A Catholic Guide to Minimalism by Sterling Jacquith {read in November}

The Creative Family Manifesto : Encouraging Imagination and Nurturing Family Connections by Amanda Soule {read in November}

Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey {read in December}

Memoirs

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider {read in March}

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines {read in April}

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz {read in September}

 

Poetry/Essays

Upstream by Mary Oliver {read in April}

New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver {read in September}

Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing About Knitting edited by Ann Hood {read in December}

Devotions by Mary Oliver {read in December} **

Spirituality/Religion

  Interior Freedom by Jacques Phillippe {read in January}

Rooted in Hope by Take Up and Read {read in December}

My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell {read in December}

Politics/Law/Public Policy

Evicted : Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond {read in March} **

 

 

Read Alouds with my Children

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White {read in January}

Some Writer! : The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet {read in January}

Stuart Little by E.B. White {read in February}

Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White {read in February}

When Green Becomes Tomatoes : Poems for All Seasons by {read in February}

Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo {read in March}

 James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot {read in April}

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson {read in April}

Little Bear Collection {audio format} by Else Minarik {read in May}

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo {read in July}

Paddington on Top by Michael Bond {read in July}

Paddington At Large by Michael Bond {read in September}

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame {read in September}

 

 

To Read in 2018: 

Novels

Where the Light Falls: A Novel of the French Revolution by Allison and Owen Pataki

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Address by Fiona Davis

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Within the Walled City by Virginia Evans

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles {re-read}

Mystery/Thriller

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

A Rule Against Murder : Inspector Gamache #4 by Louise Penny

History/Memoirs

L’Appart : The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home by David Lebovitz

Hourglass : Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro

Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love by Katherine and Jay Wolf

 

Parenting/Education

Consider This : Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass

The End of Education : Redefining the Value of School  by Neil Postman

Beauty in the Word : Rethinking the Foundations of Education by Stratford Caldecott

Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason {I’m on Volume IV here.}

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

Whole Brained Child by Daniel J. Siegel {re-read}

Self/Home/Family Improvement

Essentialism : The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown {re-read}

Steal Like an Artist : 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Make it Happen by Lara Casey

Quiet by Susan Cain {re-read}

Spirituality/Theology

When We Were Eve: Uncovering the Woman God Created You to Be by Colleen C. Mitchell

God or Nothing : A Conversation on Faith by Cardinal Robert Sarah

The Holy Spirit, Fire of Divine Love by Fr. Wilifred Stinissen

Strangers in a Strange Land : Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World by Charles J. Chaput

Knit One, Purl a Prayer : A Spirituality of Knitting by Peggy Rosenthal

To Light a Fire on the Earth : Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age by Bishop Robert Barron

Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Phillipe

33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Heaven in Stone and Glass : Experiencing the Spirituality of the Great Cathedrals by Bishop Robert Barron

Bridging the Great Divide : Musings of a Post-Liberal, Post-Conservative Evangelical Catholic by Bishop Robert Barron

Social Sciences

The Little Book of Hygge : Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

Out of the Ashes : Rebuilding American Culture by Anthony Esolen

The Power of Silence : Against the Dictatorship of Noise by Cardinal Robert Sarah

Deep Work : Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

Poetry/Essays

Knitting Yarns : Writers on Knitting edited by Ann Hood

A Paris All Your Own edited by Eleanor Brown

The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr

Read-Alouds with My Children 

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

{Books I Read in 2016}
{Books I Read in 2015}
{Books I Read in 2014}

12 in 2017 (x2)

I always love to take this look back on the previous year. And I never can pick just one photo. Two was hard enough. 😉 Thanks for hosting, Bobbi!

January

We started the year with a very full month — our annual trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium, Evey’s first time ice skating, many park days between rainstorms, and a Raffi concert. We also got a light dusting of snow at the beginning of the month and I finished it off painting our bedroom a beautiful sage green.

 

February

Stephen and I took a trip to San Francisco sans kids for our anniversary where we were able to enjoy a High Tea and nighttime drinks at a Speakeasy. Snow, so much snow which meant lots of skiing and snowmen building. We played tourists in our home town. And a second trip to SF at the end of the month with Grandma to choose a dress for Uncle Johnny’s wedding.

March

Work began in earnest in the garden. With plentiful rain this year, lots of green started popping up right away. We enjoyed the annual Bouquets to Art at the De Young Museum where we got to see beautiful arrangements in imitation of the art work. Steve and I enjoyed a date night out on St. Patrick’s Day, stopping in at the Fox & Goose for merriment and the cathedral for Adoration and Confession. Down south for Uncle Johnny and Aunt Krista’s wedding on the feast of the Annunciation.

April

Lots of planting in the garden this month, where I dedicated half to cut flowers. And snow in the mountains — did I mention snow? We headed up even higher to High Camp at Squaw Valley to truly freeze in the {still} winter weather. Celebrated Easter at Aunt Lindy and Uncle Eric’s new place. Ended the month going to the Celtic Festival in Woodland. {Highlights of April here!}

May

 

Running off to San Francisco again. This time to see a special exhibit of Monet’s early works. We stayed at a hostel in the Marin Headlands together which allowed for hiking and beach walking the next day. Took Grandma with Evey to Maple Rock Gardens for a little walk around there. Much gardening this month and already harvesting some of those quick veggies.

June

We had some fun with lavender this month. Picked a bushelful at Maple Rock Gardens and began making lavender wands and drying the rest for sachets later. Headed down south again — this time for Uncle Caleb’s graduation from CalPoly’s Engineering program. Visited with friends in Morro Bay where we had a picnic and much time running back and forth to the water on the beach. My flower harvest really began taking off! And Lucie celebrated her birthday walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

July

Half of July was spent at the cabin celebrating, fishing, and hiking. We stopped by the Truckee Air Show to see some cool planes on the ground and stunt planes in the sky. We heard Daniel Tiger was going to be at the Children’s Museum in Sausalito so we made a trip there with cousins. I went with my mom down to San Luis Obispo for a homeschool soiree at the end of the month to get inspired for teaching this year. We also stopped at the incredible Hearst Castle on the way home.

August

More cabin time. We brought my parents up for the first time and enjoyed a quiet weekend with them. Lucie kissed a frog in the forest. I painted a canvas of my flowers. We spotted the solar eclipse. And spent ample time in the backyard playing.

September

We were back to school the beginning of September — Evelyn in Kindergarten, Lucie in Preschool. I finished knitting my first sweater — the Sunday Sweater — for Evey, and started many more knitting projects. Took an autumn trip to Apple Hill and the girls rode on the ponys at High Hill for the first time. {There are pictures of me doing this as a child too.} Still flowers in the garden. Uncle Johnny and Aunt Krista visited to celebrate and reveal that they are having a BOY in the springtime, and to say farewell to Johnny who was leaving for a 9-month Navy tour.

A few extra:

October

Where do I begin?? I think we may have been home this month for a total of about 5 days. My 10 year college reunion, catching up with dear friends. A wonderful, much-anticipated trip to Paris {through Iceland, where we had to run in the rain to get to the terminal from the plane so technically we’ve been there?}. Uncle Gabe and Aunt Kathleen’s wedding in Mendocino where the girls were flower girls. And a fun Halloween with homemade costumes {don’t know how I fit that in!}.

November

San Francisco again{!} to the Color Factory and a luncheon at Neiman Marcus {the girls favorite place to dine}. A celebration of Evelyn turning 5 years old with a unicorn party. Advent preparations in full swing. And a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws.

December

A lovely first Sunday of Advent at the cathedral in Sacramento with Bishop Soto presiding. The Christkindlmarkt at the Turn Verein. Visiting Gram at her concert for the seniors at St. Teresa’s. Lots of cookie baking, praying, knitting, and cuddles. The Nutcracker. And Christmas, of course.

December 2017 Reads

Got back into a reading groove in December. We checked out a shelf-ful of books from the library, in addition to our own collection of Advent/Christmas reads, and took much time to just sit and enjoy the stories of the season. My own reading was very rich too. I’m thankful to close off this year with such a stack.

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.} 

Rooted in Hope by Take Up and Read — This was a beautiful study put together by Elizabeth Foss’ Take Up and Read team. Those days I really entered in and practiced lectio divina alongside the beautiful words written here, were very fruitful. Their books Consider the Lilies and Stories of Grace are also excellent devotional books for any time of year.

 Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey — I got my first set of Lara Casey’s Powersheets for an early Christmas gift this year. I read through this book alongside working through the brainstorming prompts in my Powersheets over the past few weeks in preparation for writing out my goals for the coming year. It is filled with inspiration and very helpful questions to get motivated for living more intentionally.

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher — An excellent wintertime read. It was wonderful to curl up with on a cold evening. It was light fare yet still a good study in human character.

My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell — Stephen gave me this for Christmas and I devoured it in a few days. The author takes you on a journey through the wonderful and deep ways specific saints have influenced her life. The relationships she described resonated with me as I, too, find the companionship of these heavenly friends both worthwhile and vital.

Knitting Pearls: Writers Writing About Knitting edited by Ann Hood — This collection of essays was not a complete hit, but the ones I connected with were worth wading through the others to get to. An excellent read for thinking knitters.

Devotions by Mary Oliver — Another Christmas gift {one I wanted but no one knew!}. Mary Oliver has made me fall in love with poetry, something I never imagined. This collection of her best poems from earlier works has been a wonderful comfort read in the evenings. However, she makes me want to get outside!

 

Books I Read with My Children

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry — This sweet tale of a single Christmas tree that becomes many highlights how one thing can be a blessing to many.

 How the Hibernators Came to Bethlehem by Norma Faber — Lucie will never forget where Christ was born after following these animals to “Bethlehem! Follow me to Bethlehem!” The animals are drawn from their wintery rest by the Star to make their way to see the newborn King.

 

{Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit this month!}

November 2017 Reads

October is missing from my monthly reading logs because we were traveling nearly the entire month, mostly jumping time zones, so between managing children on flights and my woozy brain from never knowing what time it was, I didn’t find much time for words in a book. {We did, however, visit this lovely bookshop across the Seine from Notre Dame in Paris. Brought home a haul in typical Muff family style for souvenirs.}

So here are November’s, with a return to some fiction and thoughts of family culture.

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer — A work of historical fiction set during WWII from the perspective of a Jewish Hungarian. It was an interesting read to see things through the eyes of a Jew who was with a country allied with the Axis during the war. There was a certain level of protection, but it certainly was anything near comfortable. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “a book recommended by someone with great taste”}

Not of This World: A Catholic Guide to Minimalism by Sterling Jaquith — I’ve ready many books on the subject of minimalism, which is perhaps what left me rather disenchanted with this read. There is a generally a good argument and practicalities of living as a Catholic minimalist, but it could have used more depth as to the why.
The Creative Family Manifesto : Encouraging Imagination and Nurturing Family Connections by Amanda Soule — I love the author’s magazine Taproot, which I’ve been subscribed to for a little over a year now, so I was interested to read her inspiration for living a creative life as a family. Much of this comes naturally for me, but I think it is a very inspiring read for those who wish to infuse more creativity in their family culture.

 

Books I Read with My Children

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting — Not what you’d expect to happen to the turkey on Thanksgiving — this book has a very funny ending!

 Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner — Such a fun and beautifully illustrated way to learn all about hibernators. We love other titles by the author too.

 

September 2017 Reads

A month of wonderful reads, for me all non-fiction and poetry. Sometimes I just get into that brain-building mode, you know? Perhaps it was the start of a new school year that did it to me.

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

The Way of Beauty by David Clayton — This one has been on my TBR list for a while, but I knew it would take some brain power to really be read well and relished. I finally felt like I was in good place for that, so I savored it slowly throughout the month. So many good thoughts on the importance and method of expressing beauty in this world in the book. I will certainly be revisiting it. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “a book about a topic or subject you already love”}

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross — Second time reading this gem. I chose to read it again as I’ve been trying to simplify things in our household, but needed some further inspiration and encouragement. I think this is an excellent read for all parents who are really trying to help their children savor their childhoods. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “a book you’ve already read”}

 New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver — After catching glimpses of Mary Oliver’s poems here and there, and being stunned by their beauty, I had to pick up a copy of my own of her poetry. I always experience this tension when reading her words — I want to rush through all of them because I am so overtaken by their beauty, but I also want to enjoy them slowly so I don’t miss a word. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “a book in the backlist of a new favorite author”}

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz — This was a re-read in anticipation of our travels in Paris. Gathering ideas of cafes to frequent, but also driving excitement for all the delicious French food we would eat!

Books Read with My Children 

Paddington at Large by Michael Bond — We can never get enough of our friend, Paddington. We’re nearly through the entire collection and I wouldn’t be surprised if we started back at the beginning once we are done.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame — We had a rolicking good time reading the adventures of Mole, Rat, Toad, and friends in this epic story. The language was rich and had me worried for a time that the girls might miss the meaning of the story, but they absorbed it well and were entrenched in the story throughout. {Probably increased their vocabulary too! I know it did mine.}

Our Advent / Christmas Reads

I’ve had a few ask for a list of our Advent and Christmas reads so I thought I would share them here today. These are all ones that we own, but, be assured, we check out a good pile from the library every year that is just as large! Each year, we like to add a couple new ones to our collection. It didn’t start out big, but with every passing year {and a few good library sales!}, we are able to grow it.

These are some of our most treasured books. They get brought out at the beginning of the Advent season and stored away at the end of the Christmas season to be discovered anew the following year. Sometimes we like to wrap them like presents to use as an Advent calendar of sorts, but this year we will simply be pulling them from their basket on the hearth during reading times.

Please share some of your favorite Christmas reads in the comments so we will have new ones to discover too!

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

Especially for Advent and Other Feast Days

 Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp — Short, lovely reflections written to share alongside your children as you follow from Adam the lineage of Jesus’ family tree.

Waiting for Noel by Ann Dixon — A perfect story to begin the Advent season. Baby Noel is due at Christmas and her family anticipates her birth, just as we anticipate the arrival of the Christ Child at Christmas. It is easy to identify with the joyful anticipation of waiting for the birth of a child!

Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde — To celebrate the feast of St. Lucy, we read this book that shares the story of her life as well as some traditions to celebrate her feast.

 

Quiet Time Together

A Christmas Garland compiled by Grace Hudson — A lovely collection of Christmas poems, perfect for Christmas afternoon tea times or anytime, really.

All for the Newborn Baby by Phyllis Root — A song by Mary for her new little one.

Prayers Around the Crib by Juliette Levivier — Perfect Christmas prayers for your little ones.

 

Especially Sweet for Toddlers

Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate — I promise this lyrical poem told from the perspective of the manger animals will get stuck in your head. A big hit with toddlers.

One Night in Bethlehem by Jill Roman Lord — A touch-and-feel that allows children to imagine what it would be like if they had been there the night Jesus was born.

B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner — Beautifully illustrated, each letter of the alphabet gives us a glimpse of the Christmas story.

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown — A toddler favorite told in lyrical form of all the important elements of the Christmas story.

Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell — No matter what, there is always room for one more in the stable.

Dream Snow by Eric Carle — As a blanket of snow quietly covers the entire farm, a surprise awaits at the end as the farmer completes one, last task.

 

Nativity Stories

This is the Star by Joyce Dunbar — Told through lyrical repetition, the story of that Christmas night.

Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean — Joseph’s heart is revealed in this sweet story reflection on his role in the nativity.

Saint Francis and the Nativity by Myrna A. Strasser — This story reveals the origins of keeping a Nativity scene.

 

Just For Fun

The Littlest Christmas Elf by Nancy Buss — There’s a special place for all of us, even the littlest of elves.

I Spy: A Candy Cane by Jean Marzollo — The classic I Spy book is given a Christmas twist in this addition.

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson — Bear is usually asleep during Christmas, but he friends won’t let him snooze this year. Or will they?

Olaf’s Night Before Christmas by Jessica Julius — A Frozen obsession drew us to this fun book. The Night Before Christmas, Olaf-style. Includes a CD read by the snowman himself.

Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise by Michael Bond — Per usual, something’s bound to happen when Paddington goes to visit Santa Claus!

A Gingerbread Christmas by Jan Brett — A jolly chase to find the perfect Christmas perfect tree! Gingerbread baby is always a delight. {We also love Gingerbread Friends!}

Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner? by Tomie dePaola — The chaos of the family Christmas gathering. Apparently, even Santa experiences it too.

Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans — A sweet tale in the classic Madeline tradition.

The Mitten by Jan Brett — Will all the animals fit into the discovered mitten? And what will it look like when it returns to the boy? {In the same vein is her book The Hat.}

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert — A Nordic tale of a little girl’s wish to become one of Santa’s elves.

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner — A rolicking tale of what those seemingly innocent and quiet snowmen actually do at night when we’re all sleeping.

 

Christmas Traditions

A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas  — A story of Christmas memories beautifully told through the eyes of a child. We picked up our copy at Shakespeare and Co. when we were in Paris in October, so it’s especially meaningful to us.

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg — You will never see a candy cane the same way again. A wonderful telling of the meaning behind the candy cane.

Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal — Adjectives to describe our feelings during the Christmas season, perfect for little ones to understand {and a recipe for cookies at the end!}.

An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola — Early American Christmas traditions are shared in this book by the famous author Tomie dePaola

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Nutcracker by — If you have a daughter who loves the ballet, this and the author’s others are perfect for her. Told through the eyes of a tiny ballerina, it gives the story of the ballet in a wonderful format.

 

Classics

 Comment le Grinch a volé Noël {How the Grinch Stole Christmas} by Dr. Seuss — We read {with translation} the French version of this famous story of the Grinch who wanted to make everyone’s life miserable on Christmas, until he found out the true meaning of Christmas.

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers — Our favorite telling and illustration of the delightful Nutcracker story.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg — The classic tale, with beautiful illustrations, that belongs on every child’s shelf.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham — With wonderful, large illustrations and big print, it is the perfect book to cuddle up with a telling of the famous Christmas story.

 

Books Sharing a Song

The Huron Carol illustrated by Fr. Jean de Brebeauf — A lovely Christmas carol by a Jesuit missionary to Canada, this is an illustrated version that shows how the Hurons took the story of Christmas as their own.

The Friendly Beasts: An Old Christmas Carol illustrations by Tomie dePaola — The song of the animals contribution on that Christmas night, wonderfully illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Good King Wenceslas read by Jane Seymour and illustrated by Omar Rayyan — The story of the benevolent king who went out on a cold Christmas night to bring Christmas joy to the people of his kingdom.

 

A Lesson Revealed

The Small One by Alex Walsh — Forced to sell his tiny, old donkey, a young boy won’t sell him to just anyone….

The Nutcracker Doll by Mary Newell DePalma — Big dreams start small as Kepley finds out in her first (yet tiny) role in the Nutcracker performance.

Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider — A beautiful lesson revealed that it is more important to sacrifice yourself for others than to maintain perfection.

The Miraculous Child by Alvin Alexsi Currier — A Russian tale on the importance of hospitality

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson — Mortimer the mouse doesn’t want to share his newfound house with stiff strangers…until he hears the story of the first Christmas.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo — The impact the smallest act of kindness can have on a person who is lonely.

 

The Shortest Advent

This year, Advent will be the shortest it could ever be. Christmas Eve falls on the same day as the Fourth Sunday of Advent, so we’ll be lighting that last purple candle in the evening…and heading to Mass to celebrate the birth of our Savior just a few hours later! It’s incentive to get my ducks in a row beforehand, so I’m making plans as it will be here in just two short weeks!

Advent may be my favorite time of the year. I like the preparations for Christmas, almost as much as the holiday itself. It’s not the hustle of the season that draws me, but the opposite that we are called to: the quiet, interior preparation for Jesus’ coming. I suppose it is a bit like nesting. A mother joyfully awaiting the arrival of her precious child. She cleans, she cooks, she prepares sweet “gifts” for her babe. She wants all the things to be just right when her little one comes.

I feel this way, too, waiting for Christmas. I want to prepare the hearth for my family celebrations, but I also want to prepare my heart for the coming of the Babe. There is goodness and peace found in the preparation as equally the celebration.

There are a few tools I shared in last year’s post on Advent that we will using once again, but a few different ones as well.

In the mornings before dawn, I will start the day with Laura‘s lovely words from Blessed is She’s In the Beginning 2017 Advent Journal. I will journey through the beginning of each Gospel, steeped in thoughts of how God is calling me to begin this new liturgical and calendar year.  It seems a fitting way to begin the day, no?

The beauty of beginnings is how they invite us to behold with fresh eyes. This is why newborns are a wonder. Why gardeners love spring. Why fans cheer at kickoff. Why falling in love makes your heart flutter. Why you can’t sleep the night before a new job. Why the start of each school year sparkles with promise

All that hope and energy buzzing in the air. Anything could happen.

~Laura Fanucci, In the Beginning 

Afternoons will be spent with my daughters reading through and reflecting on Take Up and Read‘s Rooted in Hope. During our tea time, we will follow along with their outstanding children’s guide. With its Lectio Divina style, it will be an excellent way to pray together. I will also gather with girl friends once a week for fellowship using their group guide, perhaps trying out a recipe or three from it to accompany our meetings.

I pray that it will be a fruitful Advent for our household, as well as yours!

“A voice cries out: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our Lord.”
Isaiah 40: 3-5

 

Oh, To Be Understood {If Just By Yourself!}

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

I’ve always been an information junkie — I like to take in as much information as I can about a particular subject so I can feel that a decision made is well-informed, a subject to be understood is well-researched. The same is true in regards to knowledge of myself and how I relate to other people. I like to learn more about what influences the way I, and others with differing personality types, think and behave. As Anne Bogel states in her new book, Reading People, “I don’t feel boxed in by my personality; instead, understanding myself has taught me how to open the box and step out of it.” It is often easier to navigate the circumstances and events of life when you know what will make you tick or where your strengths lie.

 

Just knowing that I’m an introvert, allows me to be aware that when I’m spending time with an extroverted friend, I might tire out sooner than that person, or that I might need to alert my friend that it might take me a bit more time to make a decision about something, when they are nearly immediately ready to get going on whatever jumps to their attention first. I’m less likely to butt heads with them when I’m aware of these fundamental differences in our personalities.

I live in a household of Highly Sensitive People {or HSPs} of varying degrees, and in different ways, of sensitivity.

“HSPs can be intense. They are passionate by nature, and can make others feel their passion too.”
~ Anne Bogel, Reading People

This, of course, can be a real treat when everyone is over-stimulated! However, knowing this about ourselves is extremely helpful, because when the tell-tale signs of reaching a breaking point begin to rear their ugly heads, we have developed methods of tiptoeing away from the sleeping bear so as not to awaken him. If we did not know this about each other, we would be more likely to fall into the negative attributes that we can tend towards when we become overwhelmed.

These are just a few of the ways that knowing a bit about personality types have been beneficial for me and those I relate to.

I had the privilege recently of reading an advance copy of Anne Bogel’s Reading People, set to release September 19th, which goes into these typing sets and many more. I’ve enjoyed reviewing some of which I’m already familiar with and getting to know about a few more. She gives an excellent overview of each one, recommendations on where to learn more and identify your own of each kind, as well as some great tools for when you get stuck attempting to figure out in which camp you fall within a certain framework. {After misidentifying myself as an INTJ for many years, I’m actually leaning towards INFP/J. Still trying to work this out, but Anne’s tips have me going in the right direction after feeling quite stuck.}

 

I’ve heard some say that these personality frameworks simply allow people to justify their negative behavior. I have known certain individuals to do this, but that is a misuse of them. When used properly as a tool to understand yourself and others better, they can, truly, help you become a better version of you and provide tools for improving your relationship with others, be that with friends, family members, or work colleagues. They are not meant to pigeonhole but rather be tools for formation and growth.

 

Reading People is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with personality typing, as well as for those who would like to dig deeper into them. I guarantee that, with an inquisitive mind, you’ll get to know a bit more about yourself {and maybe even those around you} as you make your way through this book. And it will likely have you thirsting for more!

Grab a pre-order before September 19th and there are some excellent bonuses which you can pick up through the Reading People website with your order number.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

August 2017 Reads

Hey! Look at that. I’m getting my book post up before the end of the first week of the month. We started school this week, so I’m beginning with some good juggling. We’ll see how it all pans out by the end of the month, though…. 😉

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

 

School Education by Charlotte Mason — The third of the six part series by Charlotte Mason, I’ve become increasingly inspired by her educational method as I read through each one. She goes into depth in this book regarding her motto: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” I really love her emphasis on instilling curiosity and wonder in your children, rather than aiming to teach to a test. Highly recommend this series. {MMD Reading for GROWTH Challenge, 3rd and final of “Three books by the same author”}

The Fringe Hours: Making More Time for You by Jessica Turner — While the message of this book was worthwhile and important {i.e. finding time within the fringes of your day to do the things you enjoy}, it left me more stressed out than inspired. I suppose it could be because I already utilize the “fringe hours” pretty well for accomplishing little tasks here and there, so I finished feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing enough within them {not what I needed}. I also think there is too much of a push to fill every compartment of one’s day with activity, instead of maybe spending five, free minutes letting your mind and body relax. That’s what I need more of.

Which leads to my next two books that are more about slowing down…..

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore — This was a good read, albeit, some of his points could have been more concise {so many examples}. It takes a thorough look at areas of our lives that could use some slowing down. Ones that in this fast-paced world has many suffering from anxiety due to the intense pace we all keep. One thing that really resonated with me: the life of speed keeps us from really connecting with the persons we encounter, especially those closest to us.

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner — Similar message to the last book, but told in a memoir style. The author relates tales from her life where busy-ness spiraled right out of control, even in the midst of many good things. The irony of her title is that sometimes slow is something you have to pursue with the same intensity as fast. But! Ultimately, one finds more satisfaction there. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able”}

 

Books I Read to my Children

Mix It Up! by Henri Tullet — My youngest is in love with these books by Henri Tullet. A teacher friend of my mother-in-law introduced her to these recently and she can’t get enough of them. Their interactive nature is right up her alley. If you have a kinesthetic child, these are top-notch for their need to touch.

Chester: the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet — A silly tale of a pig who was too big for his own britches…or is he? This certainly had us laughing at the surprise ending.

John Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco — A duck named after John Philip Sousa? He just might be born for entertaining too! My youngest was in love with this fun story of a young bell boy whose duck made the hotel where he worked world famous. Such great illustrations too.

What I Learned This Summer

Reflecting on what one has learned over the course of a season is a great way to see the growth in your life. Sometimes the dealings with the daily, blinds us to how much we are learning as the days pass by. I’ve always loved Emily Freeman‘s encouragement to pause a moment and do just that, so, today, I’m linking up with her and others as we look over what the summer has taught us. Join along!

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

 

1) This summer I learned how to knit a sweater, which involved learning how to swatch and also to hold stitches in order to add on sleeves once the body was done. There was a bit of a hurdle involving ensuring my stitch size on the sleeves was consistent with the body. Switching to double pointed, I was somehow making tighter stitches and it really showed. With a bit of intentional loosening, all was well in the end. I also jumped on the cabling bandwagon and knit my brother a hat just in time for his trip to Scotland and Ireland in June. {Only there would you need a wool hat in June! ;)} Knitting had always been a cooler weather hobby for me, but I’ve really taken to it lately. It seems it may become a year-round endeavor.

 

2) Like most of the nation, so much about solar eclipses! We made an eclipse viewer from a cereal box and punched a tiny hole in a piece of paper to cast shadows on the ground. The crescents made by the sun were so fun to see. I didn’t find out until later that the leaves of trees could create the same effect. It was only about 80% totality here, but it was strange how cool and quiet it became at the time of totality. We might just have to make an effort to go to a place of full totality in 2024.

 

3) Multiple trips to the cabin have afforded us many opportunities for wildflower gathering. I learned together with my girls how to press the flowers. {Now, we must figure out how to use them — likely, we will display them in frames.} After our adventure learning to identify last year, we did a bit of that again and were pleasantly surprised to find many new ones this year. The abundance of snow and rain ensured a myriad of blooms. {A great book for flower identification in our area is The Law’s Field Guide to the Sierra Nevadas — it breaks them down by color, then by petals, making it really easy to decipher.}

 

4) I can do a decent job at cutting my own hair. It needed to be done and I couldn’t find time to get to a salon. So chop, chop, I went, and it doesn’t look too bad. It’s about 2 feet shorter.

 

5) An appreciation for poetry. I was always disinterested in it because the few I knew didn’t connect well with me. I’ve been pushing myself outside my comfort zone, and dabbling in it here and there. One poet I’ve fallen in love with this summer is Mary Oliver. Nearly every time I run across a quote of hers, it cuts me right to the heart. I’m currently enjoying her New and Selected Poems. I think, like most forms of art, different poets strike a chord with us stronger than others. I just needed to explore further to find one that resonated with me.

 

6) The best sunflowers are the volunteers. Despite several attempts to plant new sunflower seeds along the fence as we do every year, the blue jays had the best of me and kept snatching them up. But, never fear! My sunflowers from last year didn’t let me down, because their dropped seeds turned into the most prolific, gorgeous blooms this year. We had sunflower plants that were a good 15 feet tall!

 

7) How to not be afraid of honey bees. A fear of bees always had me running the opposite direction whenever I spotted one. But, then, my eldest and I went out to a lavender field to harvest large bunches of lavender. This cannot be done without a very personal encounter with bees. The man who owned the farm told those of us cutting that if you don’t bother the bees (i.e. don’t cut or touch a flower they are busy upon), they are not going to bother you. I took a deep breath and got to cutting alongside them…and was pleasantly surprised to find that he was right. {The only person who got stung that day was someone who had one fly down her shirt. I guess I can’t blame the bee for that one.}

 

{from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Instagram}

8) That I’ve misidentified as an INTJ for years; I’m actually an INFP! After reading through an advance copy of Anne Bogel’s Reading People last month, I discovered a tool for determining just which one I was after tests over the past few years suddenly flipped to an INFP identification. I didn’t think it was possible to change, but it is possible to lean towards what you would like to be over which you are.  {More to come on Anne’s book soon!}

 

9) A LOT about Charlotte Mason’s method of education. After an initial exposure to the Charlotte Mason method {mostly through the Wild + Free community}, I gained an interest in learning more and making it a large influence in our homeschool education. I’ve read through three of the six volume set of Mason’s so far and I’m planning to finish the other three soon. One of my favorite quotes: “The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food.” {from Parents and Children}  Stay tuned: I’m hoping to share more about our homeschool plans for the coming year soon!

 

What did you learn this summer? Link up!

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