Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's a Rough Neighborhood

Check out the tough gang that came a visitin' in our neck of the woods! Fierce.

We've had many deer (8 or more) hanging out in the yard on a regular basis, but 17 turkeys?! I think I ruffled a few feathers.

The three musketeers branched out on their own. They were much too good for the rest of the gang. Even turkeys have cliques. Clucks? Gobbles? Waddles?

One even tried to intimidate us from the roof top. How many of you can boast of a turkey on your roof?
Something new every day. I can barely handle all the excitement.


I know that I've shared a few snow pictures lately, mentioned the dusting of snow we received Christmas morning, and showed you the lovely sunshine/sunset on our walk Christmas evening, but I felt like I should be honest about our reality.

Yes, Russ did take the boys to play in the snow on the 26th. They went sledding and had a marvelous time. Yes, we went back to the snow (what was left of it) on the 28th and went sledding (in the rain), but the point I need to make is that we went to the snow.

The reality at our house looks mostly like this:

Wet, gray, muddy, and very messy. The boys don't mind, though. Luke made the 'bridge' above. Levi could spend hours in his 'dam' below.
Even I don't mind tromping though the wet on occasion.
(Levi informed me that this bog (below) is 'his old friend.' They met when we first moved in two years ago, and it is where he first found his tadpoles.)
The problem is that fresh air 'recess' includes mom supervision (since Leif refuses to nap), 3 baths, and an extra load of laundry.

Anyone want to come off-roading? Grin.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Booklist 2009

There is not a chance that I will read every book on this list in 2009, but it is a handy way to keep track of the books I would like to read. Certainly I will add a few along the way as well. Whew! I need more hours in a day!

Family Read-Alouds:
Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon
The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome
The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
Heidi by Johanna Spyri

More in a Series:
Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Messenger by Lois Lowry
A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle
*Man of the Family by Ralph Moody
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
*Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome

ChocLit Guild (Book Club):
*The Messenger by Lois Lowry
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
April 1865 by Jay Winik
Middlemarch by George Eliot
(and 8 more selections!)

Medieval/Renaissance Themed:
(Story of the World Vol. II (With Levi))
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (with Levi)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (with Levi)
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (with Levi)
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (continue)
The History of Science by Joy Haikim (continue)
The Intellectual Devotional by Kidder & Oppenheim (continue)
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle
My Life in France by Julia Child
*Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
*April 1865 by Jay Winik
What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer
The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley

Simple Mom Book Club (More Non-Fiction):
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
(Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver~ review)
(Last Child In the Woods ~review)
For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn
It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey

Year One of Two Year Bible Reading Plan
*Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey
The Victor Journey through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers (continue)
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Hard Questions, Real Answers by William Lane Craig
A Year with C. S. Lewis (selections)

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle
The Europeans by Henry James
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
*Middlemarch by George Eliot
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
*A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers
Philippa by Anne Douglas Sedgwick
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie

(books with * are also listed in a previous category)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reading Round-Up 2008

Well, it is that time of year... time to review the book list I made back in January. Did I read the books I thought I would read? (Many, not all.) Did I add new books to the list? (More than I thought I would!) What did I think of them? (I tried to link to my reviews when possible.) Should I make another list for 2009? (Absolutely! I'm a list addict!)

It looks like the winning catagories were Children's Fiction With Levi (we read every book and added many more) and Book Club (I read all 11 selections). I was reading through my list trying to pick favorites, but the competition is stiff. Watership Down, Little Britches, Swallows and Amazons, What's So Amazing About Grace, Deconstructing Penguins, Ruth.... Lots of great stories, ideas, information I added to my little world this past year.

How was your reading in 2008? Any favorites?

Literature Set in Ancient History:
Ben Hur (decided to read only Quo Vadis this year)
Quo Vadis (in progress)
(With Levi:)
In Search of a Homeland (The Aeneid)
Black Ships Before Troy (The Iliad)
The Wanderings of Odysseus (The Odyssey)
We read parts of the above three books. Levi read or listened to many Iliad/Odyssey story retellings on his own. I decided to read The Children's Homer by Padraic Colum on my own and am part way through.
The Bronze Bow (in progress)
Detectives in Togas (Levi ended up reading on his own)
The Cat of Bubastes (unabridged audio CD) (Levi listened to on his own)
We also read:
The Story of the World: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer
Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick
The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence
and many, many picture books, short stories, and non-fiction books about ancient times
Levi is currently listening to The Young Carthaginian by Henty on audio CD

Children’s Fiction with Levi:
Swallows and Amazons (finished)
Little Britches (finished)
Owls in the Family (finished)
The Great Brain (finished)
Understood Betsy (in progress)
Emily’s Runaway Imagination (finished)
All-of-a-Kind Family (finished)
Little Pear (finished)
We also read:
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
The Real Thief by William Steig
Dominic by William Steig
Abel's Island by William Steig

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
(I didn't even begin to keep a list of the books Levi read or listened to on his own, or the picture books either of us read.)

The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens (decided against)
*Ben Hur (decided to read only Quo Vadis this year)
*Quo Vadis (in progress)
Victor Journey Through the Bible (read selections, will continue in 2009)
From Jest to Earnest (E. P. Roe) (finished)
Hard Questions, Real Answers (William Lane Craig) (moved to the 2009 list)
The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis) (moved to the 2009 list)
The Problem of Pain (C. S. Lewis) (sigh, didn't get around to)
also read:
Mimosa by Amy Carmichael
What's So Amazing About Grace by Yancey

The Intellectual Devotional (read selections, will continue in 2009)
The Closing of the American Mind (get around to finishing) (still didn't read, another sigh)
(I reviewed the next 4 books as needed during the year:)
Family Matters (re-read)
Protecting the Gift (re-read)
Bringing Up Boys (re-read)
The Well-Trained Mind (re-read)
The Essential 55 (Ron Clark) (never got a copy)
For the Children’s Sake (Susan Schaeffer Macaulay) (finished)
also read:
The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule
Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading by Goldstone
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson and Nick Kelsh
More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
The Family at Home by Anita Kaushal

Book Club:
Watership Down (finished)
Me: Stories of My Life (Katharine Hepburn) (finished)
*From Jest to Earnest (E. P. Roe) (finished)
The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Agatha Christie) (finished)
Life With Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse) (finished)
(7 more books to be decided at a later meeting)
also read (additional 4 selections were read and listed in other categories):
The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter (finished)
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (finished)

*The Closing of the American Mind (still didn't read)
Crunchy Cons (never got a copy)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver) (finished)
The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey) (finished)
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (Lynne Truss) (skimmed)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson) (in progress)
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences (Kitty Burns Florey) (finished)
* Protecting the Gift (reviewed)
also read:
The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D

Just For Fun:
*The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Agatha Christie) (finished)
*Life With Jeeves (P. G. Wodehouse) (finished)
Tears of the Giraffe (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Book #2) (finished)
The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks) (didn't get to)
A Tom Clancey Novel (not sure which one…) (didn't get to)
Hotel Pastis (Peter Mayle) (didn't get to)
The Thirteenth Tale (finished)
*A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson) (in progress)
also read:
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

*Ben Hur (how many times did I list this?!)
*Quo Vadis (ditto)
A Wrinkle in Time (finished)
Animal Farm (finished)
Brave New World (finished)
Messenger (Lois Lowry) (reading for book club in 2009)
Taming of the Shrew (didn't read)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (ditto)

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Family Walk at Sunset

Our house is at the base of the hill on the right (below). Soon the boys will have to find a route across the fields to Bambi and Poppy's house!

Shannon and Ilex detoured across the ditch to find treasures:

Enjoying the Day

After gifts (which take a while, we open one gift at a time), dinner preparation began in earnest. Casey provided us with live music.
The living room was cleared of torn paper and empty boxes, and the guys set up the tables and chairs. Drake set the tables while Ilex supervised craft activities with Luke and Levi. Leif miraculously took a nap. Icing on the cake, I tell ya!
While Mom was reading books to Ivy, the three sisters (and Ben) got dinner together.

The menu: spiral ham, cheese potatoes, bread dressing, brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil, candied yams, lime cream souffle, and cardamom bread with sweetened orange cardamom butter (oh, and sparkling cider, of course!).
Ilex read the Christmas story, and then the boys played with their new knights and horses, while the adults lingered over their last bites.
The guys were the clean-up crew...
...While Ilex serenaded us with Carol of the Bells.
We took the requisite family walk at sunset (pictures coming) so that we could find room for dessert (Shannon made apple dumplings with cream~our grandma's recipe). We cozied up in the living room listening to Casey play his guitar, singing along when we knew the words, then played a rousing game of Scattergories. Eventually gifts, empty dishes, coats, and tired children were loaded up to head home. Who would change a thing? Not I.

True Gifts

My family has never had large Christmas gift budgets, but gift giving and receiving is always a highlight of our day. Much love goes into the wrapping alone!
A few years ago, we went with a book theme and only purchased books for each other (with a few games, CDs, and DVDs thrown in). Shannon and Mom found very simple canvas book bags which they personalized with various vintage-style images and each child's name (using iron-on transfers). Each child also received matching book plates.

This year, Shannon handmade for me two gorgeous pairs of earrings. Holly gave my family a gift box lined with greens and full of handmade items. Drake and Ivy made zucchini bread and cookie dough. Holly added a jar of dried apple slices, jars of dried herbs from her garden, and strawberry jam. Ilex made all of their gift tags, and added a babysitting coupon in our gift box.

A couple gifts from World Vision and Samaritan's Purse were also purchased in our family's name!

Both Russ and Levi have already finished reading the books I gave them, and we had a delightful family movie night watching Prince Caspian after Russ spent the afternoon in the snow with the boys (they had to drive a ways... only rain and mud here).

I realize that Christ is the ultimate gift, but I love watching the thoughtfulness of others displayed through meaningful gifts. What was your favorite gift this Christmas?

The View Upon Arriving

After spending an unhurried morning at home (a slight dusting of snow, opening stockings and a couple gifts, eating scrambled eggs, banana bread, and OJ for breakfast, and getting purty Christmas clothes on...) we drove down the road to my parents' home to spend our day there.

My mom decorated her house and finished her shopping and wrapping before her back surgery two weeks ago.
It just wouldn't be Christmas anywhere else.

(The highchair that serviced all three of us girls and 6 grandchildren:)