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

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…. 😉

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

April 2017 Reads

I found myself with my nose stuck in a book more often than not during quiet time in the afternoon this month. {Not so much knitting.} So many good hauls from the library and so many great picks added to our house library {that is going to need a new bookcase soon}.

We inadvertently added in a healthy dose of poetry during this #nationalpoetrymonth. All of us gained a greater appreciation and interest in the flowing verse. We’ll be diving into more this summer.

 

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines — {MMD Reading for Fun Challenge, “A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read”} I picked up this delightful book without having seen an episode of Fixer Upper. The faith, determination, grit, etc. of this couple is incredibly inspiring. Their belief in the providence of God, an even sweeter cherry on top. Many friends of mine rave about this star couple and I can definitely see their appeal. {And, yes, I remedied that lack of Fixer Upper — made my husband sit through an episode a few weeks ago, and I’m definitely hankering to go back for more!}

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray — {MMD Reading for Growth Challenge, “A book that is more than 600 pages”} I am a huge fan of historical fiction. I read a ton of it. But this one maybe my top pick in the genre for the year. It’s certainly in my favorites of the era, maybe second to this one. I never knew much about Patsy Jefferson, but she is one female whose story should be included in school history books. Such a feminist for her time.

The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels — I’ve been wanting to do some more serious decorating in our home over these past few months so I picked up this book to gain some inspiration. It hasn’t disappointed. Many practical tips for simple fixes that can really liven up a room, as well as balance it.

Upstream by Mary Oliver — After encountering and loving many quotes by this prolific poet in others’ writings, I thought it was high time to pick up one of her own. This book was actually short essays, but made me fall in love with her writing. I will certainly be looking up more of her work in the future. In addition to a few essays on the works of some well-known poets that we quite interesting, what this book mostly contained was thoughts and memories of the author’s forays in nature. It is an excellent pick for reading in a cabin in the woods.

Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein — I’m diving in deep to begin my first patch of cut flowers this year. This book is an amazing inspiration {even if you just desire it for the eye candy of gorgeous blooms sprinkled throughout}. Behind all the beauty though, the author gets down to the nitty gritty of the details of growing each of the varieties she’s experimented with on her own farm for years. I purchased a handful of seed packets from Erin’s farm in Washington as well, and I’m hoping to share glorious results within the next few months!

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny — Third in the Inspector Gamache series, this one was the most predictable, but that didn’t make it uninteresting. The underlying premise concerning the great inspector that runs through all of the books, came to a deep twist in this episode. {I didn’t purposely time it this way, but it was perfect for the month of April as that is when it takes place, right during Easter.}

Magic of Motherhood by Ashlee Gadd — I’ve been following along with the Coffee + Crumbs blog since its inception, and this lovely collection of essays by the team of main writers was no less touching. I found myself emotionally moved by the feelings shared of mirrored experiences of motherhood. So good.

 

Books Read with My Children

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children by James Herriot — My girls have fallen head over heels for Herriot’s delightful stories of farm animals that he encountered over the years. The personalities of animals can be so funny! I remember reading through many of these as a child myself, and even pulled out an old copy of mine that contains his Cat Stories. Simple and sweet, this is an excellent pick for transitioning into reading chapter books as it is well sprinkled with pictures but longer prose.

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson — We’ve forayed into the land of poetry as my eldest is developing an interest in rhyming words {even making up her own words just so they rhyme with others she’s said!}. This collection has quick ones that capture the attention of children as they speak of imagination, rhythms of the child’s life, and play.

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston — The artistry of this book is reason alone to own it. From the tiniest ladybug egg to a whopping ostrich shell, this book wonderfully illustrates the incredible beauty and amazing functionality of eggs in many colors and sizes. I learned so much myself! {We also love A Butterfly is Patient, A Seed is Sleepy, and A Nest is Noisy.}

 Easter Parade by Irving Berlin — Based on the text of a song by Irving Berlin, this delightful book was a favorite of my eldest due to the fun, elegant hat made by the young bunny for the Easter parade. 🙂 There are few things better at Eastertide than a lovely Easter bonnet!

 

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The Beauty of Being At Home in the World

Sitting in the square shadowed by the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, I raised my head from jotting down some notes in my journal to watch a young girl, probably around three years old, spinning in her dress, her shoes clacking along the cobblestones as she spun. With wobbly legs, she fell into the arms of her father, laughing, enjoying this moment together. Her joyous words in fragmented Italian sentences, much like the ones that would issue from my mouth, echoed across the plaza. The timelessness of the moment striking me as I watched this family interact in such a grand space that could have been any place in the world.

********

Standing in the cavernous space, lifting my head up to see the vast walls rising above my head, I felt all at once the grandiosity that the cathedral sought to evoke of such a limitless God, but also my own, specific place in the Church of millions upon billions of persons through the overarching years. It was a place for my unique person; it was a place for the grand choir of saints in chorus.

********

 

These snippets from my travels are memories that I carry, brought back to life again after reading Tsh Oxendreider’s latest work, At Home in the WorldThe wanderlust that is never sated; the homebodiness that aches as one wanders about. This seeming dichotomy which may, in fact, be simply hewn from the same stone.

“Sometimes, even when I’m standing on a remarkable slice of terra firma, I’m besotted with wanderlust, my heart thumping for the next unknown place and my mind wondering what’s next. But right now, in this rain forest, floating crystal waters after a walk on ancient, sacred soil with my flesh and blood, I want to be nowhere else. Nowhere. This, right now, is home. I can hear God through the rustling of the prehistoric fan-shaped leaves, the scurry of alien insects on the bark, the familiar laughter of my children slipping on stones in the water. Everything here is unfamiliar, but it’s familiar. We are transient, vagabonds, and yet we’re tethered.”

I know this of which she speaks. With the birth of my children, it seems even more acute. I sense these moments where time nearly stands still, while, at the same time, it rushes past.

The connectedness of it all. The same two feet can bypass the crosswalk of a busy, Parisian intersection while cars whiz past or walk across the ice-kissed grass in the Blue Ridge Mountains on a frosty morning. Both instances I walk to class, I study French. The same, yet different.

“The earth’s surface is over 70 percent covered in water, and sometimes I wonder about a drop of water resting on my shoulder, whether it’s been to Antarctica or the South China Sea, or perhaps, miraculously, even out of my childhood kitchen sink.”

Living in Rome for a semester, we consume pasta like our grades depend upon it. I would never complain about the copious amounts of ravioli and penne that we eat as it is and will always be one of my favorite foods. But there are days here and there I long for the comforts of American food. It isn’t necessarily the food itself I miss, but the comfort of home it evokes. On several occasions, my friends and I steal away to the local Hard Rock Cafe to enjoy a burger and fries. Burgers are rarely the food I search for when faced with an extensive menu, but that juicy, red meat holds a place of home for me that nothing else there provides, and I could choose no other.

We want to explore Fez, but we want to see old friends more, and so, today we do what old friends do: we drink coffee, we drink gin and tonics, we order pizza, we watch questionably downloaded American television, we bake cookies, and we talk.”

A delicious ice cream bar–a dark chocolate Magnum, to be precise–held out like an unspoken language when the words fail to connect us. My friend’s grandmother gives it as a peace offering to two kids, fumbling around in a sea of foreign words and culture. We understand chocolate and cold ice cream. We accept with gracious smiles. When there is no other way to associate, there is always chocolate ice cream bars.

‘We toast to friendship that spans miles, languages, and our different lots in life. We are mothers; we belong to each other. This coffee brings us together.’

In my tiniest of apartments, after climbing eight flights of stairs to my floor and enjoying a view of the sparkling Eiffel Tower on every landing, I flop down on my bed exhausted by the day’s exertion. I reach for the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a familiar author, a familiar pastime, to delight in at the end of a hard day. Funnily, I am taken back to many of those places I have seen throughout the day, I revisit them over a century ago, just as I did hours ago. When done, I reach for my journal and pen, in an attempt to unpack all the thoughts swirling from these intersecting pieces of my day.

‘I feel at home in the world, and I feel like Alice falling down a rabbit hole.’

My body and soul long to return to many of the places I have visited over the years. Their streets, their landmarks, somehow familiar although never quite “home”. I ache to take my husband, my children, to see with their own eyes these sites that are “my own” to make them theirs too.

“[T]he aftermath and beauty of dividing your heart and leaving it in infinite places.” 

This is the beauty of being #athomeintheworld. 

I challenge you to take a peek into Tsh Oxenreider’s At Home in the World and not find yourself transported to another place while you find yourself tucked into the warm blankets on your bed, sprawled out on the warm grass in the sunshine, or speeding along on the musty metro to your job. It will incite wanderlust, either sparking movement to research flight information to that next city on your bucket list, or take you within the realm of your imagination, compelling you to revisit some of those seemingly far off places you’ve travelled once before that, in truth, aren’t all that far off. It’s an adventure to read. And its a compelling inspiration to find adventure of your own, personally or with your favorite travel companions.

 

{All quotes taken from Tsh’s book, At Home in the World. Also! For a further sneak peek into her book, Tsh offers a chapter from the audio version of her book on her podcast. Links within this post are affiliate links. By clicking through, I get a tiny portion of the proceeds–thank you!}

 

March 2017 Reads

Reading was a little light this past month as we had much going on. I spent a good deal of my reading time knitting a shawl, which I can’t wait to share about later. But it was all good reads this month, so at least there was that!

What did you enjoy in March?

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond — This was a fascinating look at the situation regarding housing for those who live below the poverty line in America and what is exacerbating the problem from both sides: tenants and landlords. The author suggests a possible solution in the epilogue: a universal housing voucher system. There is a lot of food for thought here. This would make for an excellent discussion with a book club. {I read this book for the MMD Challenge for Reading for Growth in the category of “A book of any genre that addresses current events”.}

A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny — Murder mysteries have never been my cup of tea, but that all changed with this series that I’ve finally had time to dive back into after reading the first several years ago. Besides the excellent twists throughout the main story itself, there is an underlying “search for meaning” happening in the heart of the protagonist that runs through the plot of each book in the series. {I read this book for the MMD Challenge for Reading for Fun in the category of “A book in a genre you usually avoid”.}

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider — Tsh’s writing has long been an inspiration to me both on her blog and through her published works, so it came as no surprise that this would resonate with my deeply too. After selling their house and paring their belongings down to only the essentials, Tsh, her husband, and their three children embark on a 9-month journey around the world. They choose to do this for enrichment — to experience new cultures, see the wonders of the world with their own eyes, taste the cuisine of exotic foods, all in the hopes of discovering their true place in this world. The answer might surprise you…or you may find a strong sense of connection with her findings. Warning: Reading this book may spark a serious case of wanderlust.
{I read an advanced copy of this as part of the #athomelaunch team. The book will be officially released, Tuesday, April 18th.}

 

Books Read with My Children

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert — An excellent choice as we move into the Spring season. My daughters love identifying the colors and learning the names of many of the flowers that are popping up from the ground these days. We’re even dreaming of planting our own “rainbow”!

What Does Bunny See by Linda Sue Park — Along the same lines as Planting a Rainbow, children are taught colors and flower names, but this time in rhyming verse. We couldn’t wait to flip to the next page to see if our guess was right!

A Small Thing…But Big by Tony Johnston — Discovered this beautiful story on our library’s ‘New Books’ shelf. It tells of a little girl who encounters an old man and his little dog at the park. They are both nervous about the other but learn that even a small leap of faith can bring about a big result.

The Crayons’ Book of Colors by Drew Daywalt — Another great book for color identification. Written by the author of The Day the Crayons Quit, this is more suitable for the 2-5 year old crowd. The author utilizes a touch of humor making the color choices in the drawings unforgettable.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — A young girl dreams of what she would grow {or not!} if the garden was completely under her control. Yes, just yes, to the jelly bean bush!

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo — We listened to the six Mercy Watson stories on audiobook during our long car ride back and forth to Southern California a few weeks ago. Even mama, couldn’t help laughing along to the antics of this porcine wonder and her affinity for hot buttered toast.

 

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February 2017 Reads

Can’t believe February has flown by and it’s time for another reading round-up. I had a good stack of reads this month, as did the girls. I even found a book of poetry that I can’t live without!

 

The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson — A wonderfully inspiring read that’s been on my TBR list for over a year now. Broken down by months, it gives theoretical ideas and practical tips for inculcating a home that brings life and love to it’s inhabitants. It’s less about material things, more about culture. I will be returning to it again and, perhaps, make my way through this companion.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson — Another that has been on my shelf for some time. This was a gift from my brother, Ethan, for my birthday last year, but one that had been on my radar before as many friends had recommended it. I knew it dealt with a heavy topic {facing death} so I was waiting for a suitable time to read. It is written in the style of a personal journal. It is a series of letters to the narrator’s son in which he reflects as he lives out his last months on earth. The issue of forgiveness was prominent in the second half of the book. I’m still mulling over the actions of the parties involved and what I would have done in a similar situation. {MMD Challenge book for growth in the category: “A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner”}

News of the World by Paulette Jiles — This reminded me a bit of True Grit by Charles Portis, probably because of the Western setting. But what it is more is a story of relationship between an old man and a young girl, neither of which understand each other {verbally or otherwise} at the end, but grow to be the best of friends by the end. It shows the importance of listening and understanding another without allowing yourself to be clouded by your own ideas first.

Caught Up in a Story by Sarah Clarkson — The author here does an excellent job of explaining the importance of story in the lives of children {and adults, for that matter!}. I notice much of what she points to in my own children at already a young age: liveliness of imagination, expansive vocabulary, a desire for exploration. It was a great encouragement in the direction we are leaning with our home schooling. {MMD Challenge fun book in the category: “A book about books or reading”}

 

Books Read with My Children

Stuart Little by E. B. White — The adventures of Stuart are small, yet big, for such a tiny creature. It’s hard to wrap your mind around a mouse living in a world of persons, but he does it with flair.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White — The last of our E. B. White reads. It was hard to get into during the first quarter or so, and I don’t think it held their attention as well as Charlotte’s Web {although, it is hard to surpass that masterpiece}. Ultimately, we did find ourselves enjoying the antics of Louis with his trumpet, his interactions with the boy, Sam Beaver, and laughing at Louis’ father’s monologues.

Queen of Hearts by Mary Engelbreit  — This has been Evelyn’s favorite Valentine’s Day book since she was only a year old. We read it multiple times every year. The young protagonist has such a zealous heart for all things Valentine, but her eagerness to do well in one arena, leads to neglect in another. We love the way she improvises to save the day. {Also, don’t miss Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose We are so drawn to Engelbreit’s vivid, bold pictures. This is our favorite of all the collections of the nursery rhymes.}

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning — This was Lucie’s favorite during the season of love. It tells the story of a young boy who mails his grandmother a giant hug and the route it must take to reach her. For those with affectionate hearts.

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood — This one was pulled out of book storage and memorized in a day by both girls after repeated readings. It was a favorite for both Steve and I growing up, so no surprise that our girls like it too. Perfect as we move into strawberry season soon.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano — I often find poetry hard to appreciate but this little book of seasonal poems, from Spring to Winter, is perfection. It is for children, but I want a book for our shelf to peruse from time to time.

 

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January 2017 Reads

Reading is a huge part of our family culture. As I type, the girls are sitting with stacks in the other room, flipping through books and either just looking at the pictures or attempting to recount the words read to them from the pages. {It’s really the cutest thing to listen to them!} I want to share more of our favorite pastime here on the blog to inspire you too!

In the past, I’ve shared snippets of books here and there throughout the year, and, then, done a compilation of everything read at the end of the year, but we’re going to change things up a bit. Starting with this post, I’m going to do a month recap {a little late here on January — I’ll try to be better about February}.

I’ll share what I’ve read, books I’ve read aloud with the girls, and some of our favorite picture books that month.

{I’m also participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge for the 3rd year in a row. This year, she has two lists — one for fun and one for growth — I’m attempting to do both. I’ll mention the category I’m reading it for if the book is for one of them.}

So without further adieu, here’s January’s reads!

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi — Moving through generations, this story follows the family lines of two girls descended from an African slave woman on the Gold Coast as it was being colonized by the British. It is fascinating to see the direction of each girl’s family tree and their subsequent progenies outlook on life as they are affected by cultural influences and circumstances.  To be honest, this is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but when researching for a book to read from the growth category of “A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author” for the MMD Challenge, this one stood out to me. I highly recommend.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom — A page-turner that had me neglecting my household duties one morning, this follows the story of an young immigrant orphan who ends up on a plantation in the South during the Civil War era. She’s neither slave, nor entirely free, so her relationship with the household folks and the slaves, whom she mostly lives with, is an interesting one that forces her to question her loyalty to and love for each. A huge hit for this historical fiction fan.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by Bill Lascher — This was my pick for “A juicy memoir” in the MMD Challenge book for fun. Memoirs and WWII history are always a happy combination for me. What I found fascinating about this book, however, was its American perspective of Asia during WWII. So much is written and said about the European conflict, but relatively hushed about Asia. {Although I can’t tell you how many WWII Navy seamen I know of who fought in the South Pacific, including my own grandfathers!} The story of these journalists sheds some light on the hidden history.

Five Love Languages for Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell — I’ve read the original Five Love Languages numerous times. This one is geared toward your children, but I didn’t glean too much more, other than a few practical examples, that I didn’t already know from reading the original.

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe — One of the best works of spiritual reading I’ve read in a long time. It forced me to sit with a journal to copy out passages and read only a few pages at a time to digest the wonderful meat in this gem of a book. I only wish I had picked it up sooner, per my husband’s recommendation.

 

Books Read with My Children

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White — This classic never grows old. White’s writing is poetic, seamless, and grand. I enjoyed this even more than when I read it as a child. And, of course, my girls latched onto all the favorite characters and talk about them often when they come to mind throughout the day.

Some Writer! : The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet — This was a beautifully done, work of art by the incredible illustrator Melissa Sweet {we also enjoyed her Balloons Over Broadway about a puppeteer in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade}. She lives in the town where White had his farm house and his granddaughter still lives, so she had direct access to many of the things he loved and which influenced his writing. She does an amazing job sharing the story of the man. {I even came to find out an interesting tidbit: He’s THE White of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style!} There’s an excellent interview with the author at the Read Aloud Revival podcast here if you want to learn more about her.

The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson — Lucie is obsessed with this adorable picture book that has a beautiful rhyme which the girls love to repeat. It was an excellent read during our month of talking about hibernation and migration.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner — This fun story looks at which animals stay awake and which ones sleep during the long winter months. Beautifully illustrated. I was happy flipping through it myself.

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel — The repetition could drive the reader batty, but the children love it. 😉 For those who live where it snows, they will understand well this peeling on and off of layers in order to go in and out of the snow.

 

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By clicking through, you help support the blog! Thank you!}

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

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