Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Grief, Levi

Levi Reading

Levi's birthday lands conveniently on the first day of the new year (6 minutes after midnight, to be exact).

In honor and celebration of my firstborn son, I thought I'd wrap up his reading list for 2009 and 7 years old.

As I was trying to find something to discomfort him with after an afternoon of less-than-desirable behavior the other day,
I settled on the torturous punishment of no reading.

He wailed, 'But I'm nothing without my books!'

Without further ado:

*Alexander, Lloyd. The Gawgon and the Boy
Time Cat
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The High King

*Armstrong, Alan.
Looking for Marco Polo

*Atwater, Richard and Florence.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins

The Barn

*Babbitt, Natalie. Kneeknock Rise

*Balliett, Blue. Chasing Vermeer

*Banks, Lynne Reid.
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Return of the Indian
The Mystery of the Cupboard
The Secret of the Indian

*Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan

*Barry, Dave & Pearson, Ridley.
Peter and the Starcatchers
Peter and the Shadow Thieves
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
Escape from the Carnivale
Cave of the Dark Wind

Baum, L. Frank. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

*Birdsall, Jeanne.
The Penderwicks

*Bishop, Claire Huchet and Pene du Bois, William. Twenty and Ten

*Blyton, Enid.
The Mystery of the Missing Necklace
The Famous Five On a Treasure Island
The Famous Five on Finniston Farm
Five on Kirrin Island Again
Five Are Together Again
Five Go to Demon’s Rocks
Five Get Into a Fix
Five Have a Wonderful Time
Five Go to Billycock Hill
Five Go to Smuggler’s Top

*Bond, Michael.
A Bear Called Paddington
Paddington Helps Out

*Brinley, Bertrand R.
The Mad Scientists Club

*Brooks, Walter R.
Freddy and the Baseball Team from Mars
Freddy and the Perilous Adventure
Freddy the Pilot

The Girl Who Helped Thunder & Other Native American Folktales

*Bulla, Robert Clyde.
Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims

*Carlson, Natalie Savage. The Family Under the Bridge

*Carroll, Lewis.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Through the Looking-Glass

*Cleary, Beverly.
Mitch and Amy
The Mouse & the Motorcycle
Ralph S. Mouse
Runaway Ralph

*Clements, Andrew. Frindle

*Cole, Joanna.
The Magic School Bus Chapter Book: Electric Storm
Amazing Magnetism
The Wild Whale Watch
The Giant Germ

The Truth About Bats
Voyage to the Volcano

*Cooney, Barbara. The Kellyhorns

*Cory, David.
The Magic Umbrella

*Cowles, Julia Darrow. The Robinson Crusoe Reader

*Dahl, Roald.
George’s Marvelous Medicine
The Witches

*Davies, Jaqueline. The Lemonade War

*de Angeli, Marguerite.
The Door in the Wall

*de Saint-Exupery, Antoine.
The Little Prince

*Dillon, Eilis. The Island of Horses

*Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Lost World

*Eager, Edward.
Half Magic
The Time Garden
Seven-Day Magic
Magic by the Lake
Knight’s Castle
Magic or Not?
The Well-Wishers

*Edwards, Julie Andrews.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles

*Ellsworth, Mary Ellen.
Gertrude Chandler Warner and the Boxcar Children

*Enright, Elizabeth.
The Four-Story Mistake
Then There Were Five
Spiderweb for Two
Thimble SummerGone-Away Lake

*Erickson, John R.
The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

*Estes, Eleanor.
Ginger Pye
The Moffat Museum
Rufus M.
The Moffats

*Funke, Cornelia. The Thief Lord

*Gannett, Ruth Stiles.
Elmer and the Dragon
The Dragons of Blueland

*Gardiner, John Reynolds. Stone Fox

*George, J. Craighead. The Cats of Roxville Station

*Gray, Elizabeth Janet.
Adam of the Road

*Harris, Joel Chandler. The Adventures of Brer Rabbit

*Haywood, Carolyn.
Betsy and the Boys
Betsy and the Circus
Summer Fun
Eddie and the Fire Engine

*Hope, Laura Lee. The Bobbsey Twins

The Bobbsey Twins Adventure in the Country

*Jenkins, Martin.
Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
Don Quixote

*Juster, Norman. The Phantom Tollbooth

*Kalnay, Francis. Chucaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa

*King-Smith, Dick.
The School Mouse
Harriet's Hare
Ace: The Very Important Pig
The Twin Giants
Clever Duck
The Mouse Family Robinson
Dinosaur Trouble
Lady Lollipop

*Kipling, Rudyard.
Just So Stories
The Jungle Books, Vol. 2

*Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

*Lawrence, Caroline. The Pirates of Pompeii

*Lawson, Robert.
Ben and Me
Rabbit Hill

*Lewis, C. S.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Last Battle

*Lindgren, Astrid.
Pippi Longstocking
Pippi Goes on Board
Pippi on the Run

*Lofting, Hugh. The Story of Doctor Dolittle

*MacDonald, Betty. The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury

*MacDonald, George.
The Light Princess
The Golden Key
The Princess and Curdie

*McAllister, Angela.
Digory the Dragon Slayer
Digory and the Lost King

*McCaughrean, Geraldine. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights

*McCloskey, Robert.
Homer Price
Centerburg Tales

*McMullan, Kate. Dragon Slayers’ Academy:
97 Ways to Train a Dragon
Knight for a Day

*Morey, Walt.
Runaway Stallion
The Lemon Meringue Dog

*Morris, Gerald.
Sir Givret the Short
The Quest of the Fair Unknown
The Lioness and Her Knight
The Ballad of Sir Dinadan
Parsifal's Page
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady
The Princess, the Crone, and the Dung-Cart Knight
The Squire's Tale

*Mowat, Farley.
Owls in the Family

*Myers, Walter Dean. Three Swords for Granada

*Nesbit, Edith.
The Book of Dragons
Five Children and It
The Magic City
The Enchanted Castle

*Norton, Mary. The Borrowers

*Osborne, Mary Pope.
Favorite Norse Myths
Magic Tree House

*Paterson, Katherine.
Bridge to Terabithia
Parzival: The Quest of the Grail Knight

*Pene du Bois, William. The Twenty-One Balloons

*Philip, Neil. Odin’s Family:
Myths of the Vikings

*Ransome, Arthur.
Swallows and Amazons
Winter Holiday

*Robertson, Keith.
Henry Reed, Inc.
Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service

*Robinson, Barbara.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Best Halloween Ever

*Rupp, Rebecca.
The Dragon of Lonely Island
The Return of the Dragon
The Waterstone

*Scieszka, Jon.
The Time-Warp Trio: Gladiator
Tut Tut
Knights of the Kitchen Table
Me Oh Maya
Sam Samurai
The Good the Bad the Goofy
It's All Greek to Me
Viking It and Liking It
The Not-So-Jolly Roger

*George Selden.
The Cricket in Times Square
Tucker’s Countryside
Harry Cat's Pet Puppy
The Old Meadow
Chester Cricket’s New Home

*Selznick, Brian.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

*Sobol, Donald.
Secret Agents Four
Encyclopedia BrownEncyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues
Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander

*Sorensen, Virginia.
Miracles on Maple Hill

*Smith, Alexander McCall.
Akimbo and the Crocodile Man
Akimbo and the Lions
Akimbo and the Elephants

*Sperry, Armstrong. Call It Courage

*St. John, Patricia M.
Star of Light
Treasures of the Snow

*Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society

*Travers, P. L.
Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins Comes Back

*Treffinger, Carolyn. Li Lun: Lad of Courage

*Warner, Gertrude Chandler. The Boxcar Children

(#1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, S#18, & Winter Special #1, ++?)

*Watson, Jean. The Family Pilgrim’s Progress

*York, Carol Beach. The Good Day Mice

Hmmm. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 200. Makes my 52 look positively puny.


It's a New Dawn

It's a New Day

Two years ago, I followed Ali Edwards' lead and came up with One Little Word to inspire me over the course of the year. From her blog:

Essentially the idea is to choose a word (or let it choose you) that has the potential to make an impact on your life.

Maybe you want to invite something or maybe you are hoping to subtract something. Maybe your word will be practical or hopeful or creative or fanciful. Maybe you need a big word, something in-your-face that will challenge you everyday. Maybe you need something smaller and quieter that will whisper gentle tidings as you make your way throughout the year.

Last year, the word chose me. LOVELY. It was a beautiful reminder to find and create lovely in my life, and I have to say that it made a huge impact. As a way to wrap up the year, I'd like to share (again) the video that was my original inspiration for lovely.

As December draws to an end, I would encourage you to think about your hopes and dreams for this next year.
Our first Living. Lovely. challenge for January will be to seek out a vision for your new year,
and find a word that will whisper itself in your ear, day in, day out, as inspiration for living out that vision.

If you are willing to share your word in the comment section of this post,
I will add it to the list I post next Thursday (January 7th).

A vision is not just a picture of what could be;

it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.
~Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading Round-Up 2009


Well, it is time to wrap up this year's book list.
I started with an ambitious 'want-to-read' list (in brown).
My final list looks much different! (what I actually read is in blue).
(Books also listed in previous categories are marked with *.)

Family Read-Alouds:

Man of the Family by Ralph Moody (didn't get to, on the list for 2010)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (listened to audio version)
The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon (nope)
The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater (nope)
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (Ah, finally, success!!)
Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome (Levi read on his own.)
The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (nope)
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (nope)

What we did read together:

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Kildee House by Montgomery
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
(and several historical fiction selections listed below)

More in a Series:

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (yep!)
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart (yep!)
The Messenger by Lois Lowry (wahoo!)
A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle (nope, on the list for 2010)
*Man of the Family by Ralph Moody (nada, on the list for 2010)
Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery (sigh, no)
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (ooh, another yes!)
*Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome (Levi read independently)
A Light in the Window by Jan Karon

ChocLit Guild (Book Club):

*The Messenger by Lois Lowry (yes!)
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (si!)
April 1865 by Jay Winik (yep!)
(and 6 more selections!)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
I Am David by Anne Holm
Nature's Serial Story by E. P. Roe
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
*Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
(See what intentional reading with accountablility does for me?! I read all 9 book club selections!)

Medieval/Renaissance Themed:

(Story of the World Vol. II (With Levi)) (not quite through, but getting there!)
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (with Levi) (yes! but not with Levi...)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green (with Levi) (chose a different retelling, Levi and I both read independently)
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (with Levi) (Levi read on his own.)
The Edge on the Sword by Rebecca Tingle (yes!)
Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney (read aloud a version translated by Ian Serraillier instead)
The Once and Future King by T. H. White (nope)
Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger (no)
A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (argh, no, again!)

But...... I did read the following historical fiction:

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (with Levi)
Augustine: The Farmer's Boy of Tagaste by P. de Zeeuw (with Levi)
The Children's Homer by Padraic Colum
Son of Charlemagne by Barbara Willard (with Levi)
Beorn the Proud by Madeleine Polland (with Levi)
The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M. Jewett (with Levi)
The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris
The Squire, His Knight, and His Lady by Gerald Morris
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean (with Levi)
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
(And that ain't bad. Grin.)


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (continue) (still didn't finish)
The History of Science by Joy Haikim (continue) (still didn't finish)
The Intellectual Devotional by Kidder & Oppenheim (continue) (still enjoying)
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle (yes, and loved!)
My Life in France by Julia Child (moved to 2010)
*Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (yes!)
*April 1865 by Jay Winik (yes!)
What is a Family by Edith Schaeffer (nope)
The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley (no, and I realllllly need to)
Teaching Montessori in the Home by Hainstock

Simple Mom Book Club (More Non-Fiction):

Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (didn't finish, but loved the part I read)
(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 (nope)
It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh (nope)
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey (nope)
(wow, I really failed there!!)


Year One of Two Year Bible Reading Plan (need to get better about keeping up with this, sigh)
*Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeline L'Engle (yes!)
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (moved to the book club list for 2010)
The Victor Journey through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers (continue)
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (nope)
Hard Questions, Real Answers by William Lane Craig (yes)
A Year with C. S. Lewis (selections) (here and there)


A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle (nope)
The Europeans by Henry James (nope)
Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico (yes!)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (began, but haven't finished ~ on the list for 2010)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (yes)
Middlemarch by George Eliot (no)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (no)
*A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (no, sigh)
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers (no)
Philippa by Anne Douglas Sedgwick (yes)
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (listened to parts and pieces on audio CD)
*A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (yes)


Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz
26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie DePaola
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl

Triangular Road: A Memoir by Paule Marshall
Chewing the Cud by Dick King-Smith

Various Fiction:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander


Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy
Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde
Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
Highland Fling by Katie Fforde
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

And that puts me at roughly 52 books in 2009 ~ a book a week.
I'm okay that my list changed (a lot) over the course of the last 12 months.
The point is, I deliberately made it a priority to read!

I'll be posting my 2010 To-Read List on Monday, January 4th. Want to join me?

Friday, December 25, 2009


Christmas @ Home

( Making up for my lack of photos lately...)

Above, my view from the couch while relaxing on Wednesday.

Below, Christmas Eve buffet with some of my favorite people... the in-laws. Thanks, Ron and Haley!

Christmas Eve Buffet

After dinner, we met my parents downtown at a gorgeous old church for a community carol sing.
It was freezing cold, so they passed out blankets....
(I wish I had photos of the exterior. Maybe I'll head down there and take photos some time soon.)

Carol Sing

Christmas morning: the boys opened stockings at home before we all headed down the road to my parents'.

Delicious breakfast: quiche, cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, hot cider.

The reading of the Christmas story by the grandkids.

Much gift unwrapping: Drake built a stomp rocket for the boys. Ilex sketched a beautiful bird and framed it.
Homemade cookie dough, jam, goodies, dried apples. Shannon and Ben purchased soccer balls for needy kids in the boys' names.
Grandpa and Grandma bought the grandkids a Wii (GASP!). Lots of thoughtfulness wrapped up so beautifully.

Christmas Morning 2

Togetherness: Drake and Casey playing their guitars.
Ivy and Luke playing with animals in a barn. Levi snuggling with his sick Ilex on the couch.

Christmas Day

Christmas Beauty

Dinner, glorious dinner: Smoked turkey, ham, bread dressing, garlic potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, homemade bread, candied yams, lime creme souffle, and sparkling cider.

Christmas Dinner

Tradition: A family walk just before sunset. Invigorating fresh air.

Family Walk

Christmas Walk

And games and dessert, of course. Good times.

Christmas Games

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of Our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world In sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd And the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks A new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts By His cradle we stand.
So led by light of A star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men From Orient land.
The King of Kings Lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials Born to be our friend.

He knows our need, To our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us To love one another;
His law is love And His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break For the slave is our brother;
And in His name All oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy In grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us Praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,

His power and glory Evermore proclaim.

His power and glory Evermore proclaim.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sharing a Laugh

Yes, I know, I promised posts and then slacked off again. I am seriously off my blogging game.
But I read something today that had me rolling on the floor laughing. Maybe it is just me, but I had to share, anyway.
(Now, I'm back to cleaning house...)

Friday, December 18, 2009


Um. Yes, I'm here. I wish I could say either that I've been on a fabulous holiday, or that I've accomplished a ton of stuff, but.... Rather, I've been a slug. Terrible, yes?

Last week my hubby was away the whole time on a business trip. That completely threw me for a loop! The weather was crazy (hovered around 10 degrees for a while), and my power went out Monday morning a few minutes before friends arrived to celebrate St. Nicholas Day at our home. We quickly switched gears and met at her house (thanks, Char!), but I didn't end up getting any photos (for shame!). I didn't get to walk in the mornings with Russ gone (and not sure I wanted to walk in those temps!) and wasn't feeling well for a few days, anyway.

Thursday of that week, we were invited on a trolley ride through town with friends. We looked at Christmas lights, sang Christmas carols, and ended with Christmas goodies and hot chocolate! Unfortunately, I'm not so hot at low-light photography and so did not get any magical pictures to share, though we had a positively fabulous time.

We did make it to A Walk Through Bethlehem on Saturday, which was amazing, but I again didn't do so well on the low-light photography. I did get a few decent photos, so I'll try to share about that in a day or two. I was very impressed with the event!!

We are in the middle of finding a new church, which is really tough at this time of year. Not to mention that I've never been in this position before. We attended our past church for almost 25 years!! Needless to say, this has thrown off our Sunday rhythm.

I'm back to walking/running with my sister this week. Very hard to wake up so early after a week off, but it has felt great to get out in the fresh air and MOVE! Shannon and her hubby were so kind as to watch the boys Wednesday night so that Russ and I could get out for a date. It has been waaaaay too long since the last time. Dinner downtown at a beautiful local Italian restaurant and then around the corner to the restored old theater to watch Invictus. Ahhhhhhh!

I've posted about Christmas books, activities, and events for a few years already. For some reason, I just haven't felt like re-posting about the same things over and over again this year. I need to get a post up with links to some Christmas stuff I've shared in the past for those of you who haven't been around long enough to read about our holiday season.

Also, I've been mulling over my focus word for 2010. This past year, my word was LOVELY, and I think that it was a perfect fit. What will this coming new year bring? More about that in the week after Christmas.

Sorry for the wordy post with no photos, but I know some of you were wondering if I had dropped off the face of the earth. {Grin.} Just wanted to let you know that I'm still here and kicking, and I'll soon have more posts up for your, uh.... amusement? edification? something.

Have a terrific weekend!!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Lori 3

Wahoo! Another portrait session.
This time, I had the privilege of photographing my best friend's sister, Lori.
(Oh, and my sister's good friend and Jameson's mom!)
Lori is also a gifted singer/musician. (You can listen to some of her music here.)
She is heading to China for a year, so we thought we'd get in a few new head shots before she left.
We'll miss you, Lori!!
(And you get to be my 1,000th post!!!)

Lori 2

Lori 6

Lori 4

Lori 5

Lori 7

Lori 1

Thursday, December 10, 2009

For the Locals

South Albany Community Church is presenting

Saturday December 12th: 5 pm - 8 pm
Sunday December 13th: 9 am - 12 noon

Bring your family and friends for a hands-on Christmas experience!
(Arrive and leave at your leisure.)
Enter the city of Bethlehem, explore the unforgettable marketplace,
sample fresh bread, make crafts, visit the stable,
chat with shepherds, soldiers, tax collectors, Mary and Joseph, and more!

Books. Lots of Them.

Trying to catch up on book reviews I've missed sharing...

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith :: (Okay, I'm actually not quite finished, but...) The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is so refreshing to read. Cultural insight, gems of wisdom, well-written yet simple, humorous, witty. For me, the books are perfect when I'm craving something light and entertaining but don't want to feel as if I'm wasting my time.

Light in the Window by Jan Karon :: Another series for light, entertaining reading without guilt. This is the second book in the Mitford series, and I was determined to just sit back and enjoy. No picking it apart or thinking too much. And that's exactly what I did. Lovely, except I was a little disappointed at the ending. After the author allowed us to partake in so many small details of the romance, why on earth did she leave out the proposal, engagement, and wedding?!!

The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly :: An interesting Newberry Medal winner, published in 1928. The Trumpeter of Krakow is set in 1460 Poland. I found the book worthwhile and well-written, but not necessarily a page-turner.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins :: Now this was a page-turner. In fact, I couldn't stop turning pages and finished it in one day. I told Russ that he would like it, but not to start it that evening. He came to bed at 4 am.

An astonishing thing I've learned about myself in the past few years: I enjoy futuristic novels. Even distopian novels as long as there is some hope woven into the story. I've loved The Giver trilogy, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and Ender's Game. (But LOATHED 1984.) The Hunger Games was recommended by both my friend, Trish, at What Came Down Today and Seth at Collateral Bloggage. I realize that this book will not be many of my readers' cup of tea. Teenage gladiators in a future, not-so-pleasant world. I'm waiting for the second book at the library, but I won't be picking it up until I have a day with no other obligations. (When is that, again?)

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card :: What was I saying about futuristic novels? Oh, yeah, I like them! I read Ender's Game a year or two ago. It was so far out of my box, that I felt like I'd been knocked senseless by a blow to the head. The problem (well, my problem) with reading about times and places so far from my experience is that I have to completely dive in, immersing myself in the experience. I have a difficult time getting started (what with either three million interruptions during the day or a foggy head at night). Then, once I'm in deep, I have a hard time coming up for air (or wiping noses and fixing grilled-cheese sandwiches...). Anyway, I loved Ender's Game, primarily for the way Ender's astonishing leadership skills developed and played out. (The same reason I fell in love with Watership Down, even though it is, shockingly, a book about rabbits.)

A few people have told me that, as much as they liked Ender's Game, the sequel, Speaker for the Dead, was their favorite. While I enjoyed the book, my favorite moments were the ones with Ender....and there just weren't quite enough of those.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde :: Strange, strange story. But I now feel slightly more culturally literate. So, there.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald :: I read this one aloud to Levi. It was fun to revisit an old favorite from my childhood, and really well-written children's books are even better when read as an adult. This is one of them. We're looking forward to reading The Princess and Curdie.

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy :: This was a really long book which I was determined was going to get better, or even get going. It didn't. Sigh.

Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde :: Meh. I enjoyed the author's Highland Fling much more, though neither were a great use of my time.

I think that catches us up to date. I have so many books on my stack. It is growing much faster than I am reading. Upon recent reflection, though, I think I read an average of 2-4 books a year in the early years of my marriage. I weep for that wasted time! Starting book club in 2004 was a huge jump-start to my new reading life. I read almost every book club selection, but only a couple additional books during the year.

It wasn't until I started this blog at the beginning of 2007 and joined a seasonal reading challenge that my reading turned into a life of its own. And this year, even with a lull in the middle, I will have read over 50 books! I'm not reading just to cross books of my list or bump up my numbers, but I'm really proud of what I have accomplished! I've read classics, non-fiction, children's fiction, YA books, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, romances, old books, new books, short books, long books. And it feels good.

My reading list for 2010 is taking shape. I urge you to think about being intentional with your reading. Make a list. Even if it is only 5 or 10 books long. My own list is intentionally ambitious. I know that I won't read every book (I certainly didn't this year), and that I will end up reading several books not listed, but that's okay!

I'll be posting my reading round-up for 2009 as well as my reading list for 2010 during the last week of December. Want to join me?

Why Read? Reading is a sage way to bump up against life. Reading may be an escape, but it is not escape from my own life and problems. It is escape from the narrow boundaries of being only me. Reading in some wonderful way helps me find out who I am. When she was a young girl Patricia MacLachlan's mother urged her to "read a book and find out who you are." And it is true that in some way reading defines me as it refines me. Reading enlarges my vision of the world; it helps me understand someone who is different from me. It makes me bigger on the inside. We tend to see the world from our own perspective; it is good to see it from the eyes of others. Good literature helps me understand who I am in relation to what others experience. Far from being an escape from reality, good literature is a window into reality. I read to feel life.

~Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Woman's Soul

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sure is quiet around here...

I know, I know, I haven't posted since Thursday!! What is THAT all about?
I must have bloggers block, which is obviously rare for me as I am approaching post #1,000. Good grief.

I'm tired of doing all the talking. How about y'all do the work for me?
(Excellent idea, Heidi!!)

1. Have you ever been on a jet ski, hang glider, snowmobile, or a camel?

2. If you could choose any career for a month, what would it be?

3. What is your favorite holiday food?

4. What is your reaction when you are really frustrated? Anger, silent retreat, vocal tirade, tears, violence, humor, or something else?

See you in the comments. Grin.

{Oh, and may I just say..... BRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!}
{Oh, and Babe, I miss you!!!!!!}

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Believe in the Impossible

“There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.
"When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.
Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

~Lewis Carroll,
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Well, did you

Believe in the Impossible

this past week?

Here is a video for you, if you would like a little inspiration:

I don't know about impossible,
but it is certainly hard for me to believe that my sister and I are finishing up WEEK EIGHT of walking early in the mornings!!
And not once have we stood each other up, cancelled just because we didn't feel like it, or chickened out because of the weather.
This morning was another STUNNING morning.
Full (impossibly huge) moon, slight fog, stars, gorgeous sunrise, and everywhere white with frost.
(Wish I had my camera along, but you are spared another 179 sunrise photos.)
It was a chilling 25 degrees this morning. I had some serious truck-defrosting to do.

Now, if only I could go that long without Dr. Pepper. THAT would be impossible.
Maybe I'll try to believe that month. Grin.


Speaking of next month, I am taking a posting break for Living. Lovely.

Our challenge for this month is to

Savor the Christmas Season.

We'll start new challenges when our new year rolls around.
Can you believe we are less than a month away from 2010?!

Cities Through Time

We have recently been enjoying these gorgeous, oversized picture books for our history and geography studies.
The books are written by Richard Platt, the author of Castle Diary (one of my favorites!!).

We recently covered the Mongol conquest of China in our history studies,
so the four two-page spreads of China during A.D. 1200s were of particular interest.
This also lead us into one of my most favorite read-alouds this year, The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean.
Russ and Levi were riveted.

The writing is exquisite. The setting is exotic. The plot is captivating. The pace and length of book perfect for reading aloud.
The story truly helped illuminate a culture and period in time with which I was wholly unfamiliar.

From the back cover:

"This is a novel about breathtaking sacrifices, about love, courage and friendship. It snatches you up from the first chapter, and, like Haoyou riding his kite, carries you up into a realm that is shocking, beautiful and compulsive. Read this novel, and be amazed." ~The Times of London

I really can't say it better than that.

ETA: I should mention that this book really is not suited for a sensitive child,
as it certainly doesn't gloss over many realities of life in China in the 1200s.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We are trying something different for Advent this year. (In the past I've used this little Advent reader and cabinet full of treasures.) Beginning tomorrow, we will be reading the 24 stories in Geraldine McCaughrean's The Jesse Tree. I am using the images linked here to print and have the boys color for our Jesse Tree. (I also like the free printable ornaments here.) We have never done this activity, so I'm really looking forward to it!

As a family, we have also started reading through The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader, which I already adore. Each day's reading begins with a passage from Handel's Messiah (with Biblical reference), then goes on to tell a story (we learn about shepherds, refining gold, the history of the Messiah, swaddling babies, O. Henry's 'The Gift of the Magi', the story of 'Silent Night,' and more). Each story includes a work of art (Rembrant, John Singer Sargent, Dazario, and others) or a photograph. The book holds a CD with corresponding portions of Handel's Messiah to listen to after the day's reading, beginning and ending with the 'Hallelujah Chorus.' A section at the end of the book also provides extra details and information, Bible passages to read, and additional activities such as reading or listening for those who would like an expanded Advent experience. I may incorporate those as the boys get older.

While we're on the subject of Handel, the boys are also listening to Hallelujah Handel.
And our favorite Christmas CD, A Classical Kids Christmas, is gracing our day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Senior Photo Session #3

Senior 2

One more senior photo session to share!
This has been such a crazy year for me as far as my photography goes.
I'm not really advertising or searching out clients,
and honestly I'm not really at a place where I feel comfortable doing so (for a bunch of reasons).
BUT, I'm elated (and terrified) when photo session opportunities fall into my lap.
This is the third senior session I was asked to do this fall when I had no expectations of doing any,
but I've much appreciated gaining a bit of experience on these brave people.
And, golly, it sure does help my photography look good when they are GORGEOUS to start with. Grin.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Glorious Green Friday

Green Friday

Did I mention that Thanksgiving day was wet and dreary (outside only, of course)?
Well, check out our weather for the second annual GREEN FRIDAY.
It doesn't get better than this, folks.
Two-hour nature hike and treasure gathering for Christmas decorating.
This time Shannon and Ben joined us.

Oh, and did I mention that I have the BEST family in the whole world?
Yeah, baby.
Rose hips, apples, snake, branches, frogs, moss, sunshine. Gorgeous, heart-warming sunshine.
(Then back to Holly's for cedar branches!)

Nature Hike

Rose Hips



Friday, November 27, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Heart of Gratitude

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

~George Herbert

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant,
to enact gratitude is generous and noble,
but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

~Johannes A. Gaertner

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.

~William Shakespeare

Did you

Have a Heart of Gratitude

this week?

Did you have a lovely Thanksgiving?


I am so full to the brim with gratitude this week.
My grandparents arrived on Tuesday (up from California).
Have I ever mentioned how much I adore my grandparents?
I cherish every minute we are able to spend together!!
They have spent Thanksgiving with us for years and years, now.
I hope we have years left to continue the tradition.

My mom is always a wonderful hostess.
Delicious food, beautiful table, lovely company.
(My Dad's mom passed away almost 3 years ago, and her dishes now grace our Thanksgiving table every year.)

Cheer and Welcome

The Fullness of Life
We often go walking in the late afternoon after Thanksgiving dinner,
but this year was so rainy and dark, we just snuggled up in the living room for quiet talking.
The boys colored, played with Legos, and occasionally snuggled for a minute or two.
Eventually, Ben hooked up the Wii, and hilarious entertainment ensued.

Our Treasures

Most of my favorite childhood memories include my grandparents.
I can't even describe to you how willing they were to jump in and participate in every childhood delight we desired!!
(Do you see them above playing the Wii? Cow racing. Couldn't. Stop. Laughing.)

My grandma brought a stack of old photos with her this trip.
Photos they took while visiting us years and years ago.
One of the pictures shows the three of us girls (I was probably 6 or 7) playing with Legos we had just received for Christmas.
The same Legos the boys are playing with in the collage above.

The photo below pretty much sums up my childhood.
The three sisters standing in front of our huge veggie garden.
Grandpa in his swimming trunks..... playing in the sprinkler with us.


Life is really, really good. And I'm full of gratitude for an abundance of blessings.


Next week's Living. Lovely. challenge:

Believe in the impossible.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Tis the Season

Tomorrow is our second annual Green Friday.
Wahoo for beautiful, meaningful traditions!!

To Grandfather's House We Go...

On the Thanksgiving Menu

We're off, braving the two mile trek through the country (grin) to spend the day with family.
This photo is from two years ago, but we are all about tradition around here.
I'm adding Swedish Limpa (bread) and Orange Cream Souffle (mousse-like jello salad) to the menu, as always.
Shannon and I spent yesterday evening together making bread dressing and watching a romantic comedy.
We walked/ran this morning in the rain so that we wouldn't have to feel quite so badly about the amount of food we will surely eat this afternoon....

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!!

(Living. Lovely. will go up late this evening or tomorrow.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I {heart} Netflix

Eight and a half glorious hours of Dickens.
Instant play. Oh, how I love Netflix.
Bleak House was fabulous.
I can't fathom watching it in several episodes over time (as it was shown on PBS).
I could barely stand to stretch it out over two evenings.

Just as with Little Dorrit, BBC is unparalleled at making Dickens come alive.

To Be a Boy

Back in August, Chewing the Cud by Dick King-Smith jump-started my reading after a slight drought. I truly loved his memoir. Lately, I've picked up a few more memoirs. Somehow, they've all been by male authors. Interesting. I'm wondering if I had a subconscious need to see childhood through a boy's eyes.

26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie DePaola is a very short child-friendly book, which is the beginning of a series I am now looking forward to reading. It charmed my socks off. Life as a five-year-old boy in 1939.

Before that, I read Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl. Hilarious escapades, not so hilarious school beatings, but always engaging. Life as a boy in Norway/Wales/England in the 20s and 30s. I have Dahl's sequel about his years as a WWII pilot, Going Solo, on my book stack.

I then read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson. Side-splitting, laugh-out-loud funny. Completely irreverent and, ahem, indecent at times, Bryson left out nothing about what it is like to be part of the male species. The memoir is filled not only with memories of a boy growing up in Iowa in the 50s, but with an astonishing amount of information about the era. I seriously feel as if I completed a crash course in American history, circa 1950.

The Thunderbolt Kid reminded me a bit of The Great Brain, simply because neither book glosses over boyhood experiences from a politically incorrect age. And they both have a shockingly matter-of-fact tone when describing things such as helping a friend commit suicide, polio and other childhood diseases, school-yard hierarchy, neighbors starving to death, ethnic people, planting alcohol in a teacher's room to get him fired....I think I turned pale several times when reading The Great Brain aloud to Levi a while back. I didn't remember a lot of things from when I read it as a child.

Speaking of The Great Brain, Papa Married a Mormon, also by John D. Fitzgerald, is near the top of my towering book stack.