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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!

A Golden Birthday for a Three Year Old

When your soon-to-be three year old says that all she wants to do for her birthday is walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, what do you do? Well, you walk that bridge!

She began requesting it in earnest as her birthday “party” after this trip, and only increased her pleadings with gusto, so we loaded up the car on her birthday weekend and made the drive down to the Bay area.

We stayed overnight in San Rafael on Sunday evening {so much more affordable than SF!} and drove down towards the City after the commuter traffic had subsided. It was a smart move driving in right as the parking lots opened at 10 as they quickly filled up within minutes of our arrival. It was also a wise decision to circumvent the weekend traffic — causes a lot less congestion headache!

Lucie jumped from the car, eager to begin the trek! {That pose is all her own.}

Her interest in bridges {and lighthouses} piqued by this book, after being introduced to it over a year ago, has not abated. She still squeals with delight each time she spies one as we pass by. This one is no different and now holds an even more special place in her heart as she walked across it!

We love making these memories with our girls.

And we couldn’t finish off the day without a sweet birthday treat. That banana split was a huge hit! What a goof.

July 2017 Reads

Still in school prep mode as you will see from my list of reads this month {although I did get to one fun novel!}. Back into reading chapter books with the girls too as that fell off a bit the past few months.

{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.}

 

Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie — I’ve had this on my shelf for a while and was thinking to keep it there for when I hit a time of turbulence in our homeschooling journey. But I’m glad I made the decision to give it a read-through BEFORE we begin. {It’s always better to have a few coping skills in your tool box before you get to a emergency situation and, even better, possibly prevent burn-out from happening altogether.} I love the author’s relatable thoughts on how to plan and schedule your days in the way that is best for YOUR family, but also some thoughts on resting in what you’ve accomplished and not fretting about what could not be done. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet}

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner — This was an excellent modern novel that ties together the story of two women in the most unexpected way — one living in the modern day, the other in early 20th century, New York City. The consideration of one’s reaction to a catastrophic event is examined in both the characters and leads you to do a little soul-searching of your own.

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel — I read this as part of the launch team for the book which will be released on September 19th. Anne gives a wonderful introduction into many of the personality tests and how they can be useful in your life. I’m a bit of a personality junkie myself, and have read and tested through a lot of different ones, but I found this helpful too in helping pinpoint ones I was on the fence about and how I could use the knowledge of them more in my life. {If you grab the book on pre-order, there are some amazing freebies up for grabs, including an audio recording by Anne of the book!}

Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason — Second in the six-part series, this one focuses on the role of parents in the education of a child. I think it is worthwhile read even if one sends their children to traditional school. I love how Mason encourages awakening wonder in a child to be the basis of their learning instead of just learning for an examination. This will instill in a child the life-long love of learning and exploring that I truly hope to pass onto mine. {MMD Reading for GROWTH Challenge, 2nd of “Three books by the same author”}

 

Books Read to My Children 

A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer — Wordless, yet highly entertaining. I read this over and over with my youngest who would relate in each picture the story as it progressed. It’s an excellent way to encourage narration in a young child.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo — This is a beautiful tale of hope and perseverance told through a juxtaposition of the light and darkness of a castle. It is simple and relatable for young children. It’s a wonderful tale to open up conversation about going through a difficult time but not giving up.

Paddington on Top by Michael Bond — We just can’t get enough of this beloved bear. I think this is about number five or six for us in the series. {We were reading in order but now I just go with what I can get my hands on readily as the stories don’t really have a progression.} This one is a great vacation read as there are some high-flying tales of Paddington on a vacation of his own.

 

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

June 2017 Reads

I nearly forgot about last month’s reading list until I ran across Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit this morning. These past few months have nearly been a blur with all the happenings at home {and why it is so quiet around here}, I’ve hardly had time to read. But I did steal a few moments when we were vacationing pre-4th of July weekend! I checked off two of my books for my MMD Reading Challenge, so at least I made some progress there. Both of my reads were good…but vastly different books.

{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.}

 

Silence by Shusaku Endo — I was hesitant to read this as the subject matter promised to be violent to some degree. But when a few other readers said it was palatable {unlike the film which I don’t think I will be watching}, I decided to give it a try. The story revolves around a missionary priest in Japan who wrestles with another’s apostasy…and the prospect of his own. It is a very good analysis of a crisis of faith in the midst of extraordinary persecution. It certainly makes you think about the strength of your own faith. {MMD Reading for GROWTH Challenge, “A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending” — I think this book covers both of those!}

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams — This is an excellent “beach read” that sweeps you along, making you want to stay up way past ‘lights out’. With a commingling of two women’s lives in the 1960’s, it revolves around a notorious, old car with quite the history. The story flips the reader back to pre-war Europe as the main protagonist navigates a coming-of-age all too quickly. It is one of several in a loose series of stories surrounding the Schulyer family. I read this over several days, and will certainly be looking for another in the series when I need another “beach read”. {MMD Reading for FUN Challenge, “A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit” (that would be Antibes — yes, please!)}

 

Books Read with My Children

Turtle Splash!: Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell — This is a fun, short read that my youngest enjoyed as we learned how to count backwards as the turtles jumped into the pond one-by-one.

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey — As we began reading this, I thought my girls would lose interest with the heavy text on some pages, but the author magnificently describes the scenes he wants to place his readers in in such a way that they were easily captivated by each page. The illustrations are breathtaking as well.

 Animal Alphabet by Alex A. Lluch — This book is at the girls’ grandparents’ house but is one they pull out every time we are over. Lucie, especially, loves to go through the letters and attempt to name all the animals behind each window before sliding it open. It’s a great way to both learn the alphabet and the names of many animals.

 

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May 2017 Reads

May was a busy month so my reading time was less than I would have liked it to be, but I got plenty of time in with the girls cuddled up with a good book or two…or dozen. They also followed suit.

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Home Education by Charlotte Mason — I will be working through the series of Mason’s six books over the next few months. This is the first in the series {which has just been reprinted!}. It was hugely helpful and confirming that our educational philosophy will lean heavily on this over the next few years, at least. I enjoyed her style, but those who haven’t spent much time in philosophical works might find it more tedious to get through. {MMD Reading for GROWTH Challenge, 1st of “Three books by the same author”}

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay — You will notice a common theme here in both {and only} books I read this month: prepping for next year’s schooling. I sat down and read this in a day. Again, looking at the Charlotte Mason manner of teaching. It is highly accessible and much less intellectual, more practical. I will be returning to this often for inspiration and buoyancy when I’m feeling like I’m floundering.

 

Books Read with My Children

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney — This inspiring read has a wonderful moral my eldest has really taken to heart and is trying to implement with her own sowing of flowers throughout our yard.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork — This was a favorite of mine growing up. I attribute it to my lifelong long of Impressionism, and especially Monet’s works. It is also leading my girls to the same, I think. 😉 It’s a lovely tale of a little girl who travels to France with her friend to see Monet’s works and the actual garden in Giverny that inspired many of his paintings. {This little film based on the book is great too.}

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey — Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk! You can’t help but be captivated by little Sal and his hunt for blueberries — and the surprise that he encounters along the way. Warning: it will make you want to go out to a patch and pick a bunch of your own.

Little Bear Collection by Else Minarik — A much-loved story book character already, Little Bear, was a huge hit to listen along to as we did a couple long road trips this month. Highly recommend for other little ones who love this sweet bear.

Marin Headlands Adventure

After a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, we landed in the Marin Headlands. We had booked a night at the Hi Marin Hostel in one of their private rooms. It was a great fit for our family, with two bunks, one of which had a double on the bottom. The sheets and towels were provided so no extra packing {or laundry}! The annexed house had a communal kitchen, several bathrooms, a dining area, and sitting room, all of which made it feel like a home away from home. Sure, it wasn’t as luxurious as a hotel in the City, but it did the trick wonderfully for us.

We packed in our own meals {which was necessary given the nearest places to grab a bite were in Sausalito, about a 15-20 minute drive away}. I brought along leftovers from the previous night so preparation was super simple. It was very convenient to warm up our meal and eat right away after a long day of travel.

The girls were enamored with the beautiful sunset from our bedroom window as we wound down to go to bed that night. We had a positive experience with the other house guests honoring the quiet hours, and all was settled by 10pm.

Next morning, found us up early and eager to explore after a quick breakfast of yogurt and granola. Rodeo Beach on the Headlands was walkable from the hostel, but we chose to drive over so short legs could save up energy for other exploring that day.

It was a beautiful, peaceful morning with very few others out so early. We discovered a couple mussel shells washed up on the beach and attempted to hear the ocean by placing them to our ears.

Mid-morning found our stomachs grumbling for more grub, so we packed up our things and headed over to Sausalito. A little chocolate shop served coffee and buttery croissants, which was a perfect match for us. We sipped and munched on those, then enjoyed making daisy crowns and slingshots, and running around in the sun.

Lucie was being her usual, goofy self, making all sorts of her signature faces.

sisters in the flowers

We meandered a bit more around town to find a few additions to our lunch spread, including making a stop by the water to look out at the City across the Bay. Evelyn was practicing her photography skills every chance she got. A seagull, surprisingly, posed for her to take some shots.

Our final stop of the day was the Point Bonita Lighthouse. We picked up a Lighthouse Passport back in January when we went to the lighthouse in Pacific Grove. {The girls developed a great interest and love for lighthouses after reading this book.} This one proved a little trickier to grab a stamp for, and it was more harrowing to get to as well. The hours for this particular one are short–just a few, three days a week. We had to stand in line for about 20 minutes for a chance to walk across the narrow suspension bridge and explore. Certainly worth it!

Bye, bye, San Francisco Bay! Until next time!

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