Thursday, January 19, 2017

Food for Thought ~ The Thoughts We Think

The Thoughts We Think @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

:: How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity by Dr. Travis Bradberry @ The Huffington Post [There is important information in this post for all of us. After a hilarious conversation on Facebook (and on a less serious note), I’ve started having my kids sing their complaints and arguments to me with jazz hands.]

Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Complaining becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you.

And here’s the kicker: complaining damages other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus—an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought.


When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol.

:: Here's How Marcus Aurelius Got Himself Out Of Bed Every Morning @ Business Insider [This absolutely tickled my funny bone, but it is so profound. Getting myself out of bed in the morning is a struggle, and I think I need to try some his self-talk. Go read the whole thing.]

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: 'I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I'm going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?'

— But it's nicer in here ...

So you were born to feel 'nice'? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you're not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren't you running to do what your nature demands?

:: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Luke and I are working on his persuasive essay for this book, two years after Levi and I discussed it. Chapter 27, In the Garden, is my favorite, and the first few pages concern the power of negative and positive thoughts, for Mary, Colin, and Archibald Craven.]

"In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done--then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts--just mere thoughts--are as powerful as electric batteries--as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live."

“…While the secret garden was coming alive and two children were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about certain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiords and the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he was a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them; he had lain on maintain-sides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming all about him and flower breaths filling all the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rifht of light to pierce through. He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties.”

The Secret Garden

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lindsay’s Literary Baby Shower

Lindsay's Literary Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Do you remember this exquisite wedding (and more wedding pictures and this fun bridal shower)?

Well, my “little sister” Lindsay and her husband, Bob, are expecting a baby in just a few short weeks!

[I took Lindsay’s family pictures back in November, and I’ll post them as soon as my hard drive is recovered!]

My sister Shannon (with friends Jessye, Tinsa, and Domini) knocked it out of the park again with the baby shower decor. It helped to have such a fabulous location.

Lindsay and Friends @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The literary theme was carried throughout the room. Each guest table was topped with a stack of gorgeous old books.

Book Love @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lindsay with her daughter, sister-in-law Domini, and mom:

Lindsay's Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Chalkboards with literary quotes were sprinkled throughout the room. This was my favorite:

Chapter 1 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lovely brunch food:

Brunch @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBaby Shower Brunch @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The guest book was a darling picture book version of Anne of Green Gables. Guests signed the inside cover.

Guest Table @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This adorable illustration of Anne of Green Gables was custom created by a friend. Lindsay received the original piece of art, and the image was the cover of the invitations.

Anne of Green Gables @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesOld Books @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesChildren's Book Banner @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeautiful Books @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLiterary Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesOpening Gifts @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLiterary Love @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesAll Things Little @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

What happens when Heidi is given the task of planning the baby shower game? The guests are given a literature quiz!

I gave them each a paper with 20 children’s book quotes and 20 children’s book titles, and they had to match them.

Want to give it a try?


1. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver…”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”__________

2. Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk.________

3. In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines… ________

4. Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown. ________

5. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” _________

6. Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. _________

7. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.” __________

8. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!  _________

9. It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” ________

10. The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.  _________

11. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. _________

12. For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.  __________

13. So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.  ___________

14. “You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.” __________

15. “Please, sir. I want some more.” _________

16. “No, Miss Minchin, you are not kind. And this is not a home.” _________

17. “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”  ___________

18. And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.  ___________

19. A person’s a person, no matter how small. ___________

20. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. _________



A. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

B. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

C. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

D. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

E. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

F. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

G. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

H. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

J. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

K. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

L. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

M. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury

N. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

O. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

P. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Q. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

R. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

S. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

T. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Levi at 15

Levi @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[My new year blog posting goals were foiled by a failed hard drive on the evening of January 1st. All my photos and half-written blog posts were lost and they are gone until we get good news from the recovery company. I’ve been regularly active on my Facebook page, so you can always find me there.]

Levi, my eldest, turned 15 on January 1st.

He was 5 when I started writing here at Mt. Hope Chronicles. [You can find links to pictures and descriptions of him at various ages here.] I always think he’s pretty indescribable until I re-read the description of an ENFP, which is in all honesty an exact description. If I had to sum him up in one word, it would probably be drama. [grin]

What’s Levi up to now?

He is still homeschooling (I use that term loosely) for his first year of high school. He attends our local Classical Conversations Challenge I program, studying algebra, Latin, physical science, American literature and persuasive writing, American documents, economics, policy debate, Shakespeare, and music theory with a group of 11 other students and a fantastic tutor. (Shakespeare and Latin are his favorites; math is his nemesis.) They meet one day each week for presentation, discussion, and science labs. He spends much of the rest of the week studying at his friend McKinnon’s house (with McKinnon’s mom, my best friend Char, teaching and supervising). We’ve found this works better than having him stay at home and butt heads with his mother and younger siblings. It gives him some much-needed space and extroverted time outside the house. He will also be taking an online literature class (Tolkien) with James Nance at Roman Roads (he loves Tokien) this semester as well as attending a 4-day Teen Pact leadership camp over spring break (which he is not at all thrilled about).

Winter Drama @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Levi’s greatest love—other than writing, drawing, and online role playing—is swimming. This is his first year swimming with the local high school team. It has been time and energy-consuming, but he loves being on the team and swimming for coaches other than his dad (though he’ll return to the YMCA club team that his dad coaches in the high school off-season). He was particularly thrilled to ride a school bus for the first time in his life (to and from swim meets).

Levi’s greatest aspiration at this point in his life is to become a lifeguard. To that end, he will be completing his lifeguard training in two weeks and then will be eligible to apply for a lifeguarding position at the Y. A job will have to wait until his school year is over in May, however, because he has no time left in his schedule! [Right now his plan for his future life is to work as a lifeguard and to live in his car.]

Orthodontics are now in the past (as of yesterday) and a driver’s permit is in his near future. He is eligible and has the study manual; he just needs to study it and pass the test (he is surprisingly reluctant to begin driving). Driver’s Ed will also have to wait until this summer. He attended his first formal in December with a friend.

He can still argue with a fence post and dazzle people with his verbosity. His eyes are still vivid blue, but he has lost his baby face. His hair is shaggy. He looks down on me from his towering six-foot height. His shoulders are broad and his waist narrow. His voice is now low and sonorous. He is constantly drawing on himself with his plethora of Sharpie pens and often looks like he is sporting a full sleeve of tattoos.

His favorite song is “I See Fire” from The Hobbit (which is my favorite song to hear him singing in his low voice). His favorite current movie is Assassin’s Creed. 


And that’s my Levi.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Shakespeare Project

The Shakespeare Project @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I am a glutton for punishment. Or I love setting myself up for failure. But, look at it this way: a year of Shakespeare that fizzles out after three weeks is still three weeks of Shakespeare, right?

I’ve been sucked into two different groups of Facebook friends inspired by A Daily Plan for Reading Shakespeare at First Things. Reading all (yes, all) of Shakespeare in a year, how hard could it be? Added to my Tolkien Project and my Chesterton Project (about which I haven’t yet posted), I really think I’m set. [wry grin]

As of today, I’ve read three more Shakespeare sonnets than I would have without this project. See, successful already!

I found a Complete Works of Shakespeare on my shelf (not the one in the link, but another out of print tome), and I’ll be using it for the sonnets and other poetry and any plays I decide not to buy in a Folger Shakespeare Library edition. I’ve already purchased Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew, so I’m set for a couple weeks. I may eventually break down and purchase the Folger edition of Sonnets and Poems.

Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage will be my biography choice because it is already on my shelf. I’ve read it, but it has been years and I’m due for a re-read.

The Leon Garfield Shakepeare Stories are my top choice for retellings, and I’m still working through both volumes with my boys.

It won’t be all reading. I’d like to watch as many movie versions as possible, as well as attend local productions and even make it down to Ashland for a performance or two.

The sonnets are a challenge for me. This year is mainly an introduction, but I could use a little help. The following Crash Course video was helpful today. I may also use this online site for helpful explanations and commentary.

Shakespeare's Sonnets: Crash Course Literature 304

It may help to read the sonnets with my ears as well as eyes.

A plain English version is always helpful:


I’ll definitely be listening to Venus and Adonis while following along in my book.

Would you like to join me this year? Or this month? Or even a week or a day?

Dip your toes in; the water’s fine.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Family Christmas

Christmas Gifts @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We had our fair share of bad attitudes and mishaps and too much sugar, but these are three of my favorite ambiance photographs from our day of celebration. I can’t claim the presentation above; those are family gifts from my sister Holly and her family. I can’t claim the home below (my mom and dad’s) or the table-scape (created by my sister Shannon) or the food (I only contributed store-bought rolls and our family-favorite jello mousse) or the road (my parents’ country road). But I’ll claim the pictures.

Christmas Dinner @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesChristmas Walk @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas ~ 2016 in Review

Merry Christmas @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Merry Christmas from the Scovel family!

Whether you are friend or family, long-time blog friends (coming up on a decade!), or new blog readers, welcome! Here is a quick 2016 in review. If you want to skip the year in review and read the current family update, scroll to the bottom of the post!


We continued with our family homeschooling project. We began when Levi was four, and his 14th New Year’s birthday kicked off our year, so it has been a decade of learning and growing together. We were in the middle of our 6th year with Classical Conversations, a homeschooling group that meets once a week. Sometimes it is fun; sometimes we just survive. [Levi was taking a break for the year and usually spent Mondays with Russ and a to-do list.] I tutored the Monday afternoon grammar, writing, and math games class. I continued my own education, reading Flannery O’Connor with my ScholĂ© Sisters and contemplating Parallelism and Rhetoric

Russ continued working for Symantec full time (often at home, sometimes driving to Springfield, and occasionally traveling out of state) as well as working on many computer projects for various people and coaching the Lebanon club swim team every afternoon (and swimming as often as possible). All three boys attended swim practice almost every afternoon.


February was full of more homeschooling and self-education, an ambitious reading list for the year, and a vacation to Great Wolf Lodge (I think this will become our February tradition).


In March, I had conversations with the teenager and we spent spring break at the coast (pictures here, here, here, and here).


We finished up our formal homeschooling (with a school year in review here) and commenced spring/summer break, which we kicked off with a hike at McDowell Creek Falls and a trip to the Oregon beach. I was a guest on Pam Barnhill’s Homeschool Snapshots podcast.


We met up with online friends at the Oregon Coast and hiked with a big group of friends at Silver Creek Falls. My niece turned one, and my family gathered for Mother’s Day. Luke turned 12.


We visited the secret garden at Belknap Hot Springs and hiked with friends at Tamolitch Blue Pool and Triangulation Peak. We hiked at Drift Creek Falls and played on the beach for Father’s Day. I attended a weekend homeschooling retreat in Seattle. And we helped Ilex and Drake celebrate their college and high school graduations. I attended a CC Practicum in Portland for tutor training.


We spent time at the river and hiking and swimming at McDowell Creek Falls. We communed with skunks and snails. I spoke for three full days at our local Classical Conversations Practicum. We ended the month with a glorious camping trip with friends and family.


I spoke for a day-long Truth, Goodness, and Beauty seminar in Seattle and attended a workshop another weekend (also in Seattle). We visited a local flour mill and a monastery. We traveled to the southern Oregon coast for a weekend swim meet and spent some time in Winchester Bay, where Russ and I lived when we were first married. Russ competed at the Masters Swimming Summer National Championship. Levi broke his foot. Leif turned 10.


We began a full and challenging school year, and our 7th year with Classical Conversations, Luke’s first year in the Challenge program, and Levi’s first year of high school. We particularly enjoyed our morning time together. We attended the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire. Russ began coaching and swimming at the local YMCA with the boys. Lola started a tumbling class at the Y. Leif and Luke began piano lessons.


Lola turned 6 on the first day of October and the rest of the month was a blur. We tried to keep our momentum in schooling, but the freshness had worn off and it was just work. Homeschooling and swimming. That’s about it.


Levi joined the swim team at the local high school. He was thrilled to ride a school bus for the first time in his life (to and from swim meets). I was tired. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family and enjoyed our traditional Green Friday.


Levi attended a winter formal with a friend. He continued to swim on the high school team (until the end of February). Luke and Leif performed at their first piano recital. We are currently on a much-needed long winter break (from almost everything, including blogging and even reading), and we’ve been exceedingly lazy, though we did enjoy ice skating with our friends at The Oregon Garden and the boys swim daily (Levi has had early morning practices every day through the school’s winter break). We had a wonderful Christmas dinner with Russ’s parents last night and we will spend Christmas Day (tomorrow) with my family.


And that sums up our year!



Russ continues to work full time for Symantec in Springfield, though he usually works from home. Work trips, computer projects, and year-round daily coaching and swimming keep him hopping!

Parenting, homeschooling, and tutoring consumes most of my time. I hope to get back to blogging at the beginning of the new year.

Levi turns 15 in a week. He has an exciting and FULL second semester of 9th grade ahead of him. He’ll continue in the Challenge program with Classical Conversations—studying debate, economics, American literature and composition, music theory, math, science, and Latin. In addition, he will be taking a weekly online literature class (on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings) and attending a 4 day leadership camp in March. His homeschool year ends with a formal protocol event (which I have photographed before, but he is just now old enough to attend). He will finish out the swim season at the high school and then return to swim daily with the team at the Y. He gets his braces off in a couple weeks and will be studying for his driver’s permit (ack!!). He is also finally old enough to take lifeguard training next month and will probably work as a lifeguard this summer (he has been impatiently waiting for his dream job).

Luke and Leif will continue homeschooling, swimming, and taking piano lessons.

Lola will continue to homeschool and learn to swim.

[Obviously, Levi is the one in our family with an exciting life. Ha!]


We hope you all have a lovely Christmas Day and a happy New Year!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Reading

Advent Reading @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Every year I add to our Christmas book collection. After all these years, it’s rather extensive. I’ve gathered links to some of my favorites here.

This year, our new Christmas books correspond with my current literary projects. Just this month I revealed my Tolkien project, and Tolkien’s magical Letters from Father Christmas, with reproductions of his delightful illustrations and handwritten letters, is just perfect for me to read aloud to the kids!

I haven’t yet posted about my second ongoing literary project, but you might guess it from the second title. Yes, I am also immersing myself in G.K. Chesterton. This simple Advent and Christmas reader will be perfect for my own studies, and I am deliberating whether to read it aloud to the family. It contains 28 Advent readings and 12 readings for the days of Christmas. Each reading includes a short selection written by Chesterton (a poem or quote from an essay or book), a short bible passage, a prayer, and an “Advent Action.”

Have you added any books to your Christmas collection this season? Share in the comments!