Monday, October 27, 2008

Wide-Eyed With Wonder

We made it safely to Anaheim today, where my boys got their first taste of the happiest place on earth. We're headed back for a full day tomorrow.
I'd post more photos, but I don't have my editing software, and it's killing me!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Thanks for the prayers! Our truck was fixed by Tuesday evening. We had a smooth day of packing and getting ready yesterday. I had more energy than I have had in weeks, and my back held out nicely. We got off on time, had an uneventful 13 1/2 hours of driving all night long (the boys were excellent!), and have arrived at our destination to be greeted by bright sunshine. The three of us adults managed naps while my cousin watched the boys (we only slept about and hour or two each), and vacation has officially begun!

I'll post more at the beginning of next week. Have a terrific weekend!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Off We Go!

If all goes according to plan (when does it?) we'll be adding to our childhood essentials list with a Disneyland vacation (stopping first at my grandparents' home) in the next couple days. Posting will be sporadic, but I'm sure that pictures will be burning a hole in my proverbial pocket and won't wait until we get home to share with you.

Maybe a few of you would be willing to pray for us. I'm feeling much better, but not 100%. I'll post more about that when we get home. My sister, Shannon, is traveling with us to help with the boys, and I am extremely thankful for her willingness to come along for the ride. We are driving at night. A 13 (or more) hour car ride with 3 little boys isn't going to be a cake walk, but I'm sure we'll survive.

Oh, maybe I should mention that our truck broke down yesterday and was towed to the shop this morning. Would you mind praying that it will be simple (and inexpensive, ha!) to fix and ready for us to head out tomorrow evening? It died on me twice while I was driving home from an appointment yesterday. I'm grateful that it started back up both times so that I could make it home. (It didn't start that evening when we were going to drive it to the shop.) I'm grateful that it didn't die on us in the middle of the night, hours and hours away from our destination, at the beginning of our vacation.

Have a terrific week, friends!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Pumpkin Patch

(Photo above by Bambi)

(Photos above and below by Bambi)

(Poor Daddy has been burning the candle at both ends for work this week. Luckily we have a vacation coming up!! Thank you, Bambi and Poppy, for making our seasonal trip to the pumpkin patch a wonderful one!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Homeschool Blog Awards

2008 Homeschool Blog Awards!
Be sure to put in a good word (and nomination!) for your favorite homeschool blogs! Each blog must receive 3 separate nominations to make it to the voting stage. Nominations will be accepted through October 24th. Voting beings November 10th. The catagories this year are:

1. Best Homeschool Mom Blog

2. Best Homeschool Dad Blog

3. Best Blog Design

4. Best Artistic Content Blog

5. Best Crafts, Plans & Projects Blog

6. Best Family or Group Blog

7. Best Encourager

8. ‘Live-What-You-Believe’ Homeschool Blog

9. Best Unschooling or Eclectic Homeschooling Blog

10. Best Geographical Blog

11. Best Current Events, Opinions or Politics Blog

12. Best Homemaking or Recipes Blog

13, 14, 15. Best Teen Girl Blog, Teen Guy Blog, Teen Group Blog

16. Funniest Homeschool Blog

17. Best Cyber-Buddy Blogger

18. Best Curriculum or Business Blog

19. Best Variety

20. Best Thrifty Homeschooler


22. Best Nitty-Gritty Homeschool Blog

23. Best NEW Homeschool Blog

24. *new!* Best Homeschooling Methods Blog

Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading

Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading has been added to my essentials list. For any adult who desires to read and discuss books with children (their own or others), this book is a valuable resource.

The authors use their experience in leading parent/child book clubs to encourage parents and children to read a book like a puzzle, to discover hidden ideas rather than reading passively. Using basic literary elements~theme, setting, character, point of view, climax, and conflict~they show an adult how to develop meaningful conversations centered around a shared reading experience.

I enjoyed the detailed conversations of specific books in each chapter. Many of the books I have read, which certainly helped me understand where the conversations were leading. Although, I must admit, I originally spent little (or no) time dissecting the elements of each book.

I tend to simply experience each book I read and see it through my own little lens. Did I like it/dislike it? How do I feel about it? What spoke to me? Did I learn anything? Did it change my view of life in any way? Surely I learned about protagonists and antagonist in school, but I never internalized the lesson when it came to my own reading.

I am looking forward to using the lessons learned in Deconstructing Penguins to discuss literature with my boys. It would be tedious to have similar discussions on every book we read, but I think that engaging in thoughtful conversation after certain book selections will open our eyes and minds when reading other literature.

Deconstructing Penguins is directed specifically to second-fifth graders (with book lists included), but the ideas can easily be adapted to other grades, or even for adult reading. Obviously the conversational style is meant for discussions, either parent/child or for book clubs, but I felt that the information was relevant for getting the most out of independent reading, as well.

I found the book selections to be interesting. I never would have chosen Animal Farm for third graders (although I liked where the authors went with the discussion), and it seems as if The Giver would be more appropriate for late middle-school (again, rather than third grade). I did appreciate the chapter on introducing children to poetry. The authors remind the reader that their book lists are merely suggestions.

pg 189

What children read is important. The theory, still in vogue, that says that it doesn't matter what your child reads as long as he or she reads something is just plain wrong. If anyone tries to convince you otherwise, don't believe it. This notion springs from the assumption that kids need success--any success--to bolster their self-esteem, and if they have to struggle a little it might leave them feeling bad about themselves. Nothing could be more wrong-headed or insulting to children. Kids' self-esteem comes from the same source as adults' self-esteem: taking on something that seems hard at first and then doing better at it than you ever thought possible. Kids are hip; they know when they're being dumbed down, and no child develops genuine self-esteem from being praised for something he or she didn't work at.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Times and Seasons

Praise be to the name of God
for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with Him.
Daniel 2:20-22

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Fresh, witty, engaging, clean and simple, endearing, and culturally enlightening. Very few modern novels match my literary ideals or interests, but I am truly putting some effort into expanding my reading lists in order to expand my world. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency hit a spot that needed filled in my literary life. It was easy to read, illuminated a culture I am unfamiliar with, made me laugh, made me think and feel. In short, a perfect escape.

My reading list lately has been on the heavier side, emotionally or mentally, and I desperately needed something light but not fluffy. I picked up the second in the series, Tears of the Giraffe. I may have liked it even more than the first, and have purchased the third in the series to accompany me on my upcoming vacation. This is the first time in a great while that I have read more than one book in a series.

While the books do contain some mystery, they don't feel like traditional mystery novels. I most appreciated becoming acquainted with someone I would never have known otherwise, in a setting I should never experience otherwise. Precious Ramotswe, a traditional Botswana woman, is a delight to meet. After surviving a tragic marriage and the death of her beloved father, she pours all of her small inheritance into her own detective agency. The book touches on social issues, relationships, and life in a thoughtful and positive manner.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

Does it seem as if each and every book review you read here at Mt. Hope includes the words 'highly recommended'? My reading time is extremely precious to me. I don't care to waste it reading a book that is less than what my time is worth. When I add a book to the to-read list, I'm usually sure that it will inform me, stretch me, help me see the world in a new way, entertain me, or be a beautiful work of art. I value the recommendations of certain people or book lists. The few times I read a book that fails to capture me, I am unmotivated to spend the additional time reviewing.

In trying to expand my reading repertoire, however, I am bound to come across books that aren't favorites. I knew going into The Thirteenth Tale that it might not be my cup of tea. It has been compared to certain classic Gothic novels, some of which I loved, some of which I disliked (Wuthering Heights, Rebecca). I usually stay away from dark novels, and in retrospect I probably should not have chosen this book at this very particular time in my life.

How does one review or recommend a book when enamored with half of it and repulsed by the other half? I don't know.

The writing alone brings to mind the words lush and delicious. The words tumble off the pages like a rushing waterfall. The story itself is dank and eerie.

The Thirteenth Tale is a celebration of words and books and literature. It captures the essence of classic Gothic novels. Jane Eyre, The Woman in White.... It also contains incest, rape, sadism and masochism, and grotesque death. These are all central to the story, but don't necessarily consume it.

The ending may disappoint the readers who are suspicious of a neatly wrapped-up story. I, for one, like my packages (and stories) wrapped up with a bow. I was thankful, especially in this raw novel, to have plenty of emotional closure when all was said and done.
pg 17

People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead.

pg 32

I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled. And during this time, these days when I read all day and half the night, when I slept under a counterpane strewn with books, when my sleep was black and dreamless and passed in a flash and I woke to read again--the lost joys of reading returned to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Poppy!

We celebrated my Dad's birthday in style yesterday! He has been a World War II fanatic for years, and has been amassing quite a collection of memorabilia. Just this past year, he had a small building constructed for his own private museum of WWII and military treasures.

We had an open house for close friends and family to view his collection on the day of his birthday. There is nothing he enjoys more than sharing his acquisitions.

After snacking at my parent's house, a group of family enjoyed dinner at a new local Italian restaurant. I absolutely have to take my camera with me the next time we dine there. It is beautiful!! (and the food isn't bad, either...)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

At the Farm

Our neighbor raises livestock. He has promised us beef and pork. I am thrilled to get local (less than a mile!), natural meat. Sometimes I wish the boys could grow up on a farm, and then reality sets in and I am very glad we haven't taken on that kind of responsibility and commitment at this stage of our lives.

This weekend Russ was asked by the neighbor to feed the animals while he is gone for a few days. Perfect! The boys tagged along this evening and visited the goats, cows, turkeys, chickens, pigs, and horse. Luke got an egg out of the chicken coop. Leif followed the turkeys around. Levi's favorite activity was climbing on the hay. It sure brought back memories of my own childhood. I remember making hay forts and playing on the bales for hours!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Your Turn

Alrighty, friends. Who feels up for entertaining me?
I've got more conversation questions for you:

1.} Have you ever been to Wisconsin?

2.} What is your favorite ride at Disney Land?

3.} What is one good habit you wish you had but can't seem to learn?

4.} What would your day look like if you could plan the best day-off ever (no limits!)?

5.} Who wants to friend me on Facebook?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

About Time

I am so late on this tag. (Sorry, Kambria!) I was trying to do the Week in the Life thing last week and dropped off by Saturday. Thanks everyone for the kind words and comments. I'm still not feeling well, but am praying that the chiropractor visit yesterday will help. Right now, it is just making me sore. Anyway, on to the seven random things about myself...

1.} I don't do background music. Never have. For some reason, it sends me into deep dark depression. I have no idea why. When I was younger, I famously once played my radio, the record player, and a cassette tape all at once so that I would have background noise without being able to focus on a specific song. Now, around the house and in the car we often have children's CDs playing, but I would choose silence above the radio or a CD for myself. When I need company (like when the kids are gone), I much prefer a funny movie playing in the background.

2.} I have a constant, never-ending internal conversation running in my head which I am unable to turn off. This is terrific when I'm planning something or imagining something fun, and not so terrific when I'm stressing over something.

3.} I hate the feeling of wooden spoons. They give me the shivers. Do you know those little individual servings of icecream that come with the wooden spoons? Those are the worst! And I never taste-test cooking from a wooden spoon!!

4.} I think Wuthering Heights is one of the most awful books I've ever read.

5.} I get embarassed very, very easily. I like to be a wall-flower.

6.} I never went to a high school dance or prom.

7.} I had a boyfriend in high school (for a few months, anyway) that was probably the loudest, most obnoxious, least inhibited, craziest guy in the school. I'm pretty sure the only person he had *ever* been intimidated by was my dad.

I am tagging Mrs. Q at Five in the Potter's Hand, Aja at The Shoup Story, Sandy Toes at Shell in Your Pocket, Beth at Pages of Our Life, Lora at My Blessed Life, Kiley at Always Come Home, and Em at Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit... (Feel free to skip the tag if you aren't interested!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunset, Night 2

"He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea.... By his breath the skies become fair.... And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! How then can we understand the thunder of his power?" (Job 26:7-9, 11-14)
"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours." (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Friday, October 3, 2008


6:45 ::Wake up. Try to go back to sleep.

7:00 ::Not going back to sleep. Get up. Make bed. Take Ibuprofen. Check email.

7:15 ::Shower.

7:45 ::The boys are still asleep. They must have really gotten worn out yesterday! I read my Bible for a little while.

8:00 ::Turn on lights. Open up curtains. It is dark and wet outside.

8:16 ::Leif and Levi wake up. I send Levi to empty the dishwasher. (He moans and complains and falls over and starts coughing and tells me he is sick. I tell him he can go back to his bed and stay there or empty the dishwasher. If he complains he can empty the dishwasher and then go to bed.) Leif is wet, and I put him in the bathtub. I decide that my dry erase calander board needs to be changed to October. I make breakfast.

9:00 ::Pancakes are ready. Luke is still asleep (what?!) and Levi is still emptying the dishwasher. Leif and I eat pancakes and OJ.

9:10 ::Luke comes sleepily out of the bedroom. Levi is finally done with his chore. They sit down and have pancakes. I decide to read some poems while they eat. I get one line read and Leif's finger (the smashed one) is bleeding and he must have a bandaid. I get that taken care of and one more line of poetry read. Levi and Luke both ask for more pancakes. I get them served up and finish a couple poems over Leif's racket.

9:30 ::The boys get dressed. Levi heads to the couch with a book, Leif and Luke upstairs to play (after Luke begs to do school, and I tell him we can if he plays first. Grin.) I clean up the kitchen and finish getting makeup on my face.

10:00 ::The boys are playing nicely, so I make a couple phone calls and pay a few bills. I make an appointment with the chiropractor for Monday.

11:00 :: Corral the boys on the couch and read about Sparta, Athens, and Persia. Set Levi at the kitchen table to do his history copywork. He has to go to the bathroom. He always has to go to the bathroom when there are chores, handwriting, and math to do.
12:00 ::Feed Leif leftover taco meat, cherry tomatoes, yogurt, and cranberries. Pour myself a Dr. Pepper (it actually sounds good today!) and eat leftover pizza. Give the other two boys a big chunk of cheese and a pile of baby spinach leaves. Make chocolate chip cookies! (Someone please tell me you have lunches like this occasionally, at least!!)
12:45 ::The kitchen is a mess. Again. But the cookies sure are delicious. I made them with half whole wheat, organic sugar, wheat germ, and cranberries so that I could pretend they were healthy... A load of laundry in the washer. (Levi finally finishes his copywork when I tell him he doesn't get a cookie until it is done.)

1:00 :: I chat with my best friend on the phone while the boys play.

1:30 ::I'm ready for a nap. Lie down on couch for a few minutes. Get up and waste time. Try to pick up a book to read. Make it through a paragraph or two. Wander aimlessly.

2:30 ::Laundry. Change stinky diaper. Cringe at the mess in the schoolroom and bathroom. Try to ignore it. Avoid going upstairs to see the mess they've made in the playroom. Various body parts are hurting. Sit down with Levi at the piano for practice time. Put Levi at the kitchen table with a math worksheet. Levi draws pictures on his addition worksheet and Luke and Leif fight while I throw the dishes in the dishwasher.

3:00 ::I stand over Levi so that he will finish his math paper. Luke is on the couch reading an art book. I put on a Little Einsteins show for Leif and get out a drawing project with Levi in the kitchen. Poppy arrives with Ilex. He watches a couple minutes of Einsteins with Leif while Ilex takes over the drawing project with Levi.

Ilex draws with Levi, reads to the boys, oversees the mayhem, and then heads upstairs to help the boys pick up the toys in the playroom. I have no idea what I do.

5:30 ::Start on spaghetti for dinner. I am suddenly really, really tired. Really tired.

6:00 ::Feed all the kids. (Sneak some spaghetti for myself.) Poppy comes to pick up Ilex. Russ comes home and eats.
6:45 ::I am sooo tired. Look at the kitchen sink and wonder if I should just leave it. Decide that it will only take me a minute if I get right to it. Yep. Only takes a couple minutes.

7:00 ::I put away laundry, sneak in a grammar lesson with Levi, and get the boys in their jammies while Russ gets suckered in by a phone salesman.
8:00 ::Boys snuggle with daddy, then head to bed, which is where I'm going as soon as I post this....
I'm so glad tomorrow is Saturday.