Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Reading Child

Reading Child

Heidi's Elementary Book List

This list is not the be-all, end-all list of books for the elementary ages. (Not even close.) It is simply books we have enjoyed in our family (or in my own childhood) and books I have on our shelf waiting to be enjoyed. I am sure I have forgotten some, and I am positive I will have many more to add to the list in the coming years. Hopefully, I will keep the list updated every few months.

Disclaimer: I have not read all of these books. Levi has read many books which I have not had a chance to pre-read. Please use parental discretion.

Some of my favorites are marked with *.

Learning to Read

Levels 1 & 2

Levels 3 & 4

First Chapter Books

Simple Chapter Books

Chapter Books ~ Grades 2-7:

Ancient History/Themed Literature:

Tales From the Odyssey (series) (Mary Pope Osborne)
The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare)
Archimedes and the Door of Science (Jeanne Bendick)

Medieval History/Themed Literature:

The Door in the Wall (Marguerite de Angeli)
Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Avi)
Adam of the Road (Elizabeth Janet Gray)
The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (Allen French)
Beorn the Proud (Madeleine Polland)
The Squires’ Tales (series) (Gerald Morris)
Beowulf the Warrior (retold by Ian Serraillier)
Augustine: The Farmer’s Boy of Tagaste (P. De Zeeuw, J.Gzn)
The Shakespeare Stealer (series) (Gary Blackwood)
Viking Adventure (Clyde Robert Bulla)

Late Renaissance and Early Modern History/Themed Literature:

Ben and Me and Mr. Revere and Me (Robert Lawson)
The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare)
(I’ll be adding more to this category at a later date!)

Modern History/Themed Literature:

*House of Sixty Fathers (Meindert DeJong)
*I Am David (Anne Holm)
(I’ll be adding more to this category at a later date!)

Pioneer/Rural America:

*Little Britches (series) (Ralph Moody)


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (and others by author) (Joan Aiken)
Peppermints in the Parlor (Barbara Brooks Wallace)
The Westing Game (Ellen Raskin)
The Mysterious Bennedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart)
Chasing Vermeer (Blue Balliet)


*The Chronicles of Narnia (series) (C.S. Lewis)
At the Back of the North Wind, The Princess and the Goblin, and The Princess and Curdie (George MacDonald)
Peter and the Starcatchers (series) (Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Knight’s Castle and The Time Garden (Edward Eager)
The Dragon of Lonely Island and The Return of the Dragon (Rebecca Rupp)
Five Children and It (and other books by author) (E. Nesbit)
The Thief Lord (Cornelia Funke)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ian Flemming)


All-of-a Kind Family (series)
The Moffats (and other books by author) (Eleanor Estes)
*The Saturdays (series) (Elizabeth Enright)
*Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)
Here’s a Penny (series) (and other books by author) (Carolyn Haywood)
The Penderwicks (Jeanne Birdsall)
Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers)
The Famous Five (series) (Enid Blyton)


*Eight Cousins (and other books by author) (Louisa May Alcott)
Winnie-the-Pooh (A. A. Milne)
The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)
The Peterkin Papers (Lucretia P. Hale)
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Heidi (Johanna Spyri)
The Jungle Book and Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Kate Douglas Wiggin)

Heidi’s Favorite Literature (all *):

The Railway Children (and other books by author) (E. Nesbit)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E. L. Konigsburg)
Swallows and Amazons (series) (Arthur Ransome)
Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell)
The Wheel on the School (and other books by author) (Meindert DeJong)
Anne of Green Gables (series) (L.M. Montgomery)
Star of Light (and other books by author) (Patricia M. St. John)
Treasures of the Snow (" St. John)

Humor/Tall Tale:

(Roald Dahl) (various books)
The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer)
The Willoughby’s (Lois Lowry)
Holes (Louis Sacher)
Hank the Cowdog (series) (John R. Erickson)
The Twenty-One Balloons (William Pene du Bois)


Smoky (Will James)
Charlotte’s Web (and other books by author) (E. B. White)
Runaway Stallion (and other books by author) (Walt Morey)
Freddy the Pig (series) (Walter Brooks)
Rascal (Sterling North)
Owls in the Family (Farley Mowat)
Kildee House (Rutherford Montgomery)
Rabbit Hill (Robert Lawson)
Misty of Chincoteague (Marguerite Henry)

Great Books for Boys:

*The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden)
Henry Reed, Inc (Keith Robertson)
The Great Brain (John D. Fitzgerald)
The Mad Scientists’ Club (Bertrand R. Brinley)
*My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George)
*Homer Price and Centerburg Tales (Robert McCloskey)
Encyclopedia Brown (series) (Sobol)

What am I missing? Big Grin.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Treasure-load of Books!

$ .99 each at Goodwill. I love that place.

And then I loaded a huge bag full of books and science/geography DVDs at the library.

I'm feeling book-rich. Isn't that the best?!

(I'm working on the final portion of my elementary book list. Will get it posted ASAP.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Country Life

A Country Life

You might be a country bumpkin if you:

1. Are occasionally seen wearing overalls. (Gasp!)
2. Take photos of the weeds in your yard.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Elementary Book List ~ Simple Chapter Books

Simple Chapter Books

*The Boxcar Children (series) (Gertrude Chandler Warner)

The Happy Hollisters (series) (Jerry West)

The Bobbsey Twins (series) (Laura Lee Hope)

The Hardy Boys (series) (Franklin W. Dixon)

Trixie Belden (series) (Julie Campbell)

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (series) (Betty MacDonald)

Encyclopedia Brown (series) (Donald Sobol)
Secret Agents Four

Twenty and Ten (Claire Huchet Bishop)

*Homer Price (Robert McCloskey)
Centerburg Tales

Knee-Knock Rise (Natalie Babbitt)

(Astrid Lindgren)
Pippi Longstocking
Pippi Goes on Board
Pippi in the South Seas
The Children of Noisy Village

The Family Under the Bidge (Natalie Savage Carlson)

The Door in the Wall (Marguerite de Angeli)

(Beverly Cleary)
*Emily’s Runaway Imagination
The Mouse and the Motorcycle (series)
Henry Huggins (series)

*(William Steig) (short and illustrated, but advanced vocabulary!)
Abel’s Island
The Real Thief

Owls in the Family (Farley Mowat)

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Richard and Florence Atwater)

The Toothpaste Millionaire (Jean Merrill)

Little Pear (Eleanor Frances Lattimore)

Hank the Cowdog (series) (John R. Erickson)

Ben and Me (Robert Lawson)

(Clyde Robert Bulla) (range from very easy to more difficult…)
The Sword in the Tree
The Chalk Box Kid
The Paint Brush Kid
The Secret Valley
A Lion to Guard Us
Viking Adventure
Riding the Pony Express
Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims

The Best Toys are Free


We were visiting my sister's home for Ilex's birthday party. Drake had set up an obstacle for his bike out in the field. It became the centerpiece of childplay.

A long, heavy board. A stump. That's it.

Do you know the variety of ways a board and a stump can be used? Find out by setting children loose on them. A teeter-totter. A balance beam. A bike ramp. A hands-on science experiment of simple machines: levers. What does it take to balance the board? Can one boy stradle the stump and make the board level?

Look at these poor, little, unsocialized homeschoolers standing in a line, waiting their turn. It makes my heart swell. Did you know that it is best to stand a short distance from the board when another child is walking on it? Otherwise it comes up suddenly and whacks you in the chin (if you're short...). I think that is what the Montessori Method calls 'Control of Error.'

Balance Board #1

Not a bad trick for a 4-year-old (okay, he'll be 5 next month...):

Balance Board #2

What free 'toys' have your children enjoyed?

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Elementary Book List ~ First Chapter Books

(Levels 1 & 2 Here)

(Levels 3 & 4 Here)

First Chapter Books

*The Knights’ Tales (series) (Gerald Morris)

Tales from the Odyssey (series) Mary Pope Osborne

The Minstrel in the Tower (Gloria Skurzynski)

*Jenny and the Cat Club (series) (Esther Averill)

(Sid Fleischman)
The Whipping Boy
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm

(Clyde Robert Bulla) (range from very easy to more difficult…)
The Sword in the Tree
The Chalk Box Kid
The Paint Brush Kid
The Secret Valley
A Lion to Guard Us
Viking Adventure
Riding the Pony Express
Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Alice Dalgliesh)

The Hundred Dresses (Eleanor Estes)

The Midwife’s Apprentice (Karen Cushman)

Dragon Slayers’ Academy (series) (Kate McMullan)

The Light at Tern Rock (Julia Sauer)

*(Dick King-Smith)
The School Mouse
Babe: The Gallant Pig
A Mouse Called Wolf

*(Ruth Stiles Gannett)
My Father’s Dragon
Elmer and the Dragon
The Dragons of Blueland

*The Last Little Cat (Meindert DeJong)

Magic Tree House (series) (Mary Pope Osborne)

The Magic School Bus (chapter book series)

Flat Stanley (series) (Jeff Brown)

The Littles (series) (John Peterson)

The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams)

Fix-It Friday ~ Cooing Baby

Cooing Baby Fix-It

I am participating again in i heart face's fix-it friday. The photo below, 'Cooing Baby,' is the original photo contributed for this week's fix. The above photo is my edited version.

Processing: Began in photoshop CS2. Ran PW's Sharpen This and Bring on the Eyes (on the eyes), TRA's Boutwell's Magic Glasses at 50%, flattened, Smooth-O-Matic, flattened, Bitchin B&W, Boring Sepia at 50%, flattened, and Dirty Diana (painted over face so that texture was only on edges). Then I uploaded the photo to picnik where I rotated it, cropped, did a little Blemish Fix (also used the clone tool to fix a couple spots), added a frame, resized, and sharpened. Ta-da!

The Elementary Book List ~ Levels 3 & 4

(Levels 1 & 2 Here)

Level 3 (Roughly):

(favorites are marked with *)

Nate the Great (series) (Marjorie Weinman Sharmat)

**An I Can Read Book

Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express
Chang’s Paper Pony
Dust for Dinner
**Greg’s Microscope
Hill of Fire
The Big Balloon Race
George the Drummer Boy
Sam the Minuteman
Small Wolf
Wagon Wheels
The Golly Sisters (series)
The Josefina Story Quilt
Clara and the Book Wagon
Snowshoe Thompson
The Drinking Gourd
The Long Way to a New Land
The Long Way Westward
Seasons: A Book of Poems
Step into Reading:

Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell’s Talking Machine
Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race
Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President
Thomas Jefferson’s Feast
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto
Christopher Columbus

All Aboard Reading

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln
A Horse Named Seabiscuit
Lightning: It’s Electrifying

Ready-to-Read: Stories of Famous Americans (series)

Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier
John Adams Speaks for Freedom
Teddy Roosevelt: The People’s President

DK Readers

The Story of Chocolate
Aladdin and Other Tales from the Arabian Nights
Terror on the Amazon: The Quest for El Dorado

Level 4 (roughly):

Step Into Reading

Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman
*Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares
The Titanic: Lost…and Found
Pompeii… Buried Alive!
Ice Mummy: The Discovery of a 5, 000-Year-Old Man
Tut’s Mummy: Lost…and Found

DK Readers

Horse Heroes: True Stories of Amazing Horses
Space Station: Accident on Mir
Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart
D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion
Trojan Horse: The World’s Greatest Adventure
Joan of Arc
Days of the Knights: A Tale of Castles and Battles
Secrets of the Mummies
Volcanoes and Other Natural Disasters

An I Can Read Book

First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers
Prairie School
Dinosaur Hunter

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka (series) and Snipp, Snapp, Snurr (series) (Maj Lindman)

*Billy and Blaze (series) (C. W. Anderson)

*Commander Toad (series) (Jane Yolen)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Globally Aware Child (and Adult)

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
~Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Your world is as big as you make it.
~Georgia Douglas Johnson

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
~Lillian Smith

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
~James Michener

Today we reach our final topic in our Living Lovely with Family series:

Raising a Child with a Global Perspective

What does this mean to you? Is it on your list of priorities? What things can we as parents do at home to promote a healthy view of the world and its people for our children? Do you plan on traveling to another country or continent with your children? What might this travel look like? Have you already traveled with your children? Where and how?

Everyone is welcome to participate. Simply voice your thoughts on your blog and add the link to your post in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to join in at anytime in the next week. You may grab the image above (or the smaller button on my side bar) to add to your post. If you do not have a blog post to share, I would love to hear your voice in the comments. (Scroll down for my contribution to the discussion!)

Here are links to our previous Living Lovely with Family topics and discussions:

1. What is something you do (or plan to do) daily (or several times each week) to connect with your family, either with individual family members or your family as a unit? Do you have any memories of daily family rituals from your childhood? (Photos, list...)

2. Weekly activities (or even once or twice a month).

3. Special treats. Random surprises. Seasonal activities.

4. Yearly traditions.

5. Vacations (out-of-the-box, shoe-string budget, meaningful adventures).

6. Milestones with children (accomplishments, birthdays, graduation...).


To me, a globally aware child is conscious of the fact that he is not the center of the universe. He has a simple grasp of geography, is interested in new places and cultures, has respect and compassion for others (no matter what they look or sound like or where they live), and knows that God loves every person in this world.

I think the things we do at home to foster this attitude are even more important than taking our children on a trip to Europe. A child who is given this awareness will be likely to carry his interest into adulthood (when he may have more opportunities to travel), but I believe that a child who is (often inadvertently) taught that he is the center of the universe will have a harder time gaining the interest as an adult. (Clear as mud?)

Now the fun part: how. Set an example as a parent. Treat others with respect. Be curious about our world. Be aware of opportunities to serve others, at home and in other countries.

Fill your home with maps and books about other places and cultures. (You knew I would say books, right? Right?!) (I have many of my favorites available in my bookshop.)

I remember visiting my Grandpa's home as a child. He had a wonderful globe which I could sit and look at for hours. I think every home should have a globe available for children to use. You could have an inexpensive beach ball globe, or something of higher quality (or both!). A child's world atlas, wall maps, puzzles, and even geography games are wonderful to have around the home, as well. The World Geography Songs CD and workbook is a fun, painless way to learn the names of the countries.

What we do:

During our geography studies, I've printed off photographs of famous places and landmarks to create 'around the world' cards. I paste the photo to large index cards and write a few details on the back. The boys have enjoyed learning about the Easter Island Moai statues, the Sidney Opera House, Stonehenge, Big Ben, the Space Needle, the Taj Mahal, and Mt. Everest, as well as finding their locations on a map.

We read books about other places and peoples. Some are non-fiction, some are beautiful picture books, some are myths and folklore.

We watch travel videos about other countries. I love the Countries Around the World series from Schlessinger Media. We've borrowed a large number of these from our library. If those aren't available to you, try watching Rick Steves' travel shows (and others) on the public broadcasting channel or renting travel videos from Netflix.

Second on my list, after books, is always food. Any excuse to eat, I say. I think a parent does a great service to their children by introducing them to a wide range of foods and flavors. You can use a children's cookbook with international recipes for starters. I love the Little Round the World Cookbook. It is indeed little, but packed with gorgeous photography and recipes. It portrays one region at a time, and is interspersed with beautiful two-page spreads of breads around the world, vegetables around the world, fish, cheeses, and other food groups. And don't forget the valuable internet links!

People is an incredible, fascinating, detailed picture book celebrating the diversity of people all over the world. It is one of my favorite picture books of all time.

It is helpful for children (and adults!!) to have a basic grasp of world religions, if for no other reason that religion plays a huge part in shaping cultures.

Children should learn about the things other nations have, and don't have. Material World (and others in the series) is on my wish list.
Get involved.

Once children learn that we are abundantly blessed, and that many children in other nations are in deep need, there are endless opportunities for giving and being involved. Looking through the World Vision Gift Catalog, and choosing between a yak, baby chicks, fish ponds, or musical instruments is one of my favorite holiday activities. Consider sponsoring a child from another country. Children may write letters and draw pictures to send to your sponsored child.

Read stories about missionaries in other countries. Pray for missionaries from your church and learn about the country in which they are ministering.

I think it is also important that we as adults continue to broaden our horizons and never stop learning. I recently read Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time. It gave me so much to think about!

In addition to geography studies, teaching world history, beginning in the elementary years, helps children gain a valuable world perspective. History is our favorite subject around here, thanks to The Story of the World!

(ETA: I can't believe I forgot to add learning foreign languages to my list! Can't forget that one!)

(ETA, again!: I can't believe I forgot to mention our 'around the world' celebrations at Christmas! St. Lucia Day, Las Posadas, etc. What fun!)

All this way, and I haven't even touched on traveling yet! Traveling is an incredible experience that everyone should try!

I have a great desire to go on a Europe tour, Rick Steves style. While we plan on budgeting for this adventure, it may be that is just isn't feasible financially. If that is the case, the boys will be working a summer to earn their own airfare, and I will send off my four men to hike across Europe.

All of our boys will be encouraged to go on a missions/humanitarian trip. If the boys show interest, we will look into work/service/educational opportunities for them in other countries during their late high school/college years.

If traveling isn't an option, consider getting to know people from other countries. Invite a missionary family over for dinner and learn about their experiences. Host an exchange student. Befriend the Japanese family living two doors down. Set up play dates with the Russian kids in your child's class. Check with the local college and find out if any international students need an adopted family.

I'm sure I've forgotten something, but I'm spent! I'm looking forward to reading what you all have to share!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Our last Living Lovely with Family linky goes up tomorrow morning. Our topic is 'Raising a child with a global perspective.'

I'm throwing this one in the mix even though it is a little different than the topics we've visited previously.

During one of our time-share presentations, the salesperson mentioned that she hoped we would travel with our children so that they could have a broader view of the world. (Maybe I'll try to describe the undercurrent of that statement in my entry tomorrow.) I would love to travel around the world with my children, but I know that we'll have to think outside the box in order to accomplish something in that realm. I'm guessing that she and I have very different ideas of what sort of travel would truly give a child a wider view of the world in which we live.

Everyone is welcome to participate, either linking to a blog post or sharing in the comments tomorrow.

Little Ivy Girl


Ahh. Have to get my pink fix somehow. Nieces are perfect.

The Elementary Book List ~ Levels 1 & 2

I was asked a while back to share my book list for elementary students. Most of my books are chosen with boys in mind (hmm, wonder why that is?), so I apologize for the sparseness of 'girl' titles. Rather than include all of my favorite picture books, I've focused mainly on readers and chapter books. I've broken the list of books we've used by levels for ease of use. The following are my book selections for children who are starting to read 'real' books (as opposed to 'the cat sat' books.) (If you are interested in my beginning reading recommendations, read here.) I've starred my favorites. I'll be updating this list every so often and reposting.

Level 1 and 2 Readers

The Early Reader’s Bible (V. Gilbert Beers)

*Little Bear (series) (Else Holmelund Minarik)

Amelia Bedelia (series) (Peggy Parish)

*(Arnold Lobel)

Frog and Toad (series)
Owl at Home
Mouse Soup
Mouse Tales
Uncle Elephant
Grasshopper on the Road

*The Fire Cat (Esther Averill)

*Henry and Mudge (series) (Cynthia Rylant)

*Harry the Dirty Dog (series)

Big Max (series) (Kin Platt)

Good Knight (series) (Shelley Moore Thomas)

The Sword in the Stone (Grace Maccarone)

Ready-to-Read (Level 1): Wonders of America (series)

Mount Rushmore
Niagara Falls
The Statue of Liberty
The Rocky
The Mighty Mississippi
And others…

Ready-to-Read (Level 1): (Marion Dane Bauer)


Ready-to-Read: Childhood of Famous Americans (series)

Thomas Edison To the Rescue!
Ben Franklin and His First Kite
Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed
Helen Keller and the Big Storm
Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers
Step into Reading
*Abe Lincoln’s Hat
George Washington and the General’s Dog
The Statue of Liberty

All Aboard Reading
Red, White, and Blue: The Story of the American Flag
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Little Runner of the Longhouse (Betty Baker)

There is a Carrot in My Ear and Other Noodle Tales (Alvin Schwartz)

*Dodsworth in New York (Paris, London) (series) (Tim Egan)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Self Portrait

It takes courage to grow up

and become who you really are.

~e.e. cummings

It is self-portrait week at i heart faces.

The Rule: We must be holding the camera for the photo.

I am particularly looking forward to viewing all the entries this week.

Ride Upon the Breeze


I often sit and wish that I

Could be a kite up in the sky.

And ride upon the breeze and go

Which ever way I chance to blow!


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Fortress


I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
~Psalm 18:1-2

But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to you;
you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
~Psalm 59:16,17

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
and for his children it will be a refuge.
~Proverbs 14:26

Friday, April 17, 2009



I am seriously on the run today, so this was a fast edit just for fun. The original photo, below, was offered as today's fix-it-friday project at i heart faces. I started in photoshop (CS2) and performed the following actions: TRA's Bullet Tooth, PW's Sharpen This and Bring on the Eyes (on the eyes) and Boost at 70%. TRA's Punch Out 40%, Warm it Up 70%, Green With Envy (to bring out the green in the background a little), and Dirty Diana (texture to rough it up a little). Then I went to Picnik and cropped slightly, added a vignette, played around in Curves, and sharpened. Whew!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous!

Holly Polaroid

If anyone has wondered where Ilex gets her beauty, look no further. Meet Holly, my 'big' sister. (She just happens to be half my size...) Holly needed a new profile picture for her facebook page. I don't need to be asked twice. I took about seventy pictures, deleted only about 3, and had an impossible time deciding between the remaining 67. I had to share a few, of course.


Holly is super-mom to three great kids. She lives in a beautiful old family farm house in the country. She cooks. She gardens. She homeschools. She does day-care in her home. She makes her home lovely. I don't think she sleeps much.

Holly 37

I almost didn't know what to do with an adult who stood or sat where I told her, managed to remain still and look in a specific direction, and could smile or look serious when asked.

I'm loving this photographer gig! Anyone (in my geographical vicinity) need a profile photo or portrait?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Living Lovely with Family ~ Milestones

Direction is more important than speed.

We are so busy looking at our speedometers

that we forget the milestone.


Achievements, graduations, birthdays... how do you mark milestones with your children?

That is the question for this week's Living Lovely with Family.

Everyone is invited to participate. Share your thoughts and ideas on your blog and return here to enter the link to your post. Feel free to use the above image (or the smaller one on my sidebar) on your post or blog. Leave a comment if you have something to share, but don't have a blog link.

I don't have much to share this week, simply because my boys are so young that we have yet to meet many such milestones along our journey. A few thoughts that came to mind are memories from my own childhood, some of which my mom may share on her own blog.

The quote I posted above spoke to me. Life goes so quickly these days. Are we just trying to keep up, trying to get somewhere fast, or are we truly taking the time to evaluate our direction? Can we use milestones in our life to keep our journey on track?

I am suddenly reminded of a book I read a few years ago, Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood. I must get this book off the shelf and spend some time re-reading. Here is the product description for you:

What does it mean to be a man? Moreover, how does a father instill these qualities in his son? Using as an example the process by which a boy moved through the medieval stages of knighthood, author Robert Lewis identifies parallel stages for today's fathers to create ceremonies to commemorate significant milestones in a young man's journey toward becoming a modern-day knight. Beginning with a biblical perspective of manhood, author-pastor Robert Lewis shares a unique approach to shaping a boy into a man by equipping him with three essential elements: a vision, a code of conduct, and a cause (Christianity) in which to invest his life. Complete with ceremony ideas to celebrate accomplishments and ingrain them in his mind, this softcover is as insightful as it is practical in raising a boy to be a chivalrous, godly man.
Sound promising? While the book is obviously directed toward the father and his role in his son's life, I think it is a powerful read for mothers as well. We are studying the medieval period and knights this year making it a convenient time to begin using this process with Levi, as the images of knights and honor will be fresh in his mind and imagination. I will post another, more detailed, book review once I have re-read it and keep you posted on how we incorporate the ideas in our home with three boys.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pony Rides to Boot

Pony Rides

(We're already fishing for a return invitation. You're having an Easter party every year, aren't you, Christina?)

On the Farm

On the Farm

Coloring Eggs

A friend invited us to her farm for an Easter party. The boys were so excited! Christina is amazing. She had a dozen eggs for each kid to dye and had stations ready to go for each one. Six gathering baskets/pails sat waiting and eggs were hidden all over the yard, with a special area for Leif (he was the youngest). The weather was perfect and the lambs were pleased with the attention. Does it get any better than that?! Actually, it does. A few more pictures tomorrow... (Thank you, thank you, Christina!!)

Easter Eggs & Lambs

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter 2009

Spending Easter afternoon at my parents' home after a beautiful morning service.

Spring Faces

Leif & Lamb

With Easter chocolates on his face and his arms around a lamb, Leif melts my heart.

We had a fabulous Easter celebration at a friend's farm. More pictures to come, but for now I'm entering Leif and Lamb in this week's i heart faces competition. Check it out for more Easter and Spring themed photos.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Worthy is the Lamb


Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,
numbering thousands upon thousands,
and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne
and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!

Then I heard every creature
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and on the sea,
and all that is in them, singing:

To Him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb
be praise and honor
and glory and power,
for ever and ever!

~Revelation 5:11-13

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Vacation Time!

Laughter is an instant vacation.
~Milton Berle

Our theme for this week's Living Lovely with Family is Vacations! Let's share our ideas (whether or not we've yet used them!) for out-of-the-box or shoe-string budget adventures.

While taking the big-budget vacation to a sunny resort can be wonderful, I'm particularly interested in creative ways we can be adventurous with our children without breaking the bank. Honestly, we don't even have to roam far from home to create an atmosphere of excitement or relaxation. We can involve the kids in the planning or catch them by surprise... I can't wait to gather ideas for our future family vacations!

Everyone is welcome to participate. Share your ideas on your blog and enter the link below. Feel free to use the image above or the smaller one on my side bar. Ideas are most welcome in the comments if you don't have a blog post to share. (Scroll past Mr. Linky for my contribution.)

In choosing where to live or vacation,
we may be setting the stage for the play of ourselves,
treating nature as a prop.
~Deborah Tall
We began taking official 'family vacations' two years ago. I don't know what we were thinking, other than that we needed to get out of town and do something big. After years of doing the baby thing and little day trips, we were ready to try something on a larger scale. Why we chose a road trip with three little boys (1, 3, and 5), I'll never know, but I'm so glad we decided to go for it.
We loaded up the camp trailer (we co-own with my parents to share the cost) and headed south. 8 days in the truck, 3 sick kids, sleeping in a small camper. What an adventure!

We enjoyed beautiful views along the way. Pacific Coast. Redwoods.
Having a kitchen (and bathroom) along with us was very convenient and cost-saving. We would just stop at a grocery store every day or two and stock up. We found campgrounds along the way.

We made it all the way to San Francisco, and enjoyed the sunshine and sights.

The return trip went more quickly, but we enjoyed a few unexpected delights along the way: playing in a grove of olive trees at a rest area and basking under blue skies at Mt. Shasta. I think our theme for that vacation was, 'Go for It.'

Having such a successful (though not perfect) road trip the first year, we stuck with it for a second year. This time, we left the camp trailer at home and headed straight for my Grandma and Grandpa's house! This can be a terrific cost-saving way to vacation (if you have family willing to take you in...), as well as a way to make a vacation more meaningful. Our time spent with my grandparents and aunt, uncle, and cousins was priceless! We visited their local attractions such as the beach and a zoo.
Russ happened to have a business trip scheduled in Southern California, so we coordinated his trip and his company paid some of our travel expenses. Wahoo! We continued driving south. Hello, Disneyland!
We were able to meet up with new friends on a beautiful beach. Again, priceless.
Russ's co-worker insisted on treating us to an evening at Medieval Times. (Twist our arms...)
The thought of taking care of 3 little boys at Disneyland without an even adult:child ratio was a little intimidating to me (especially since I hadn't be feeling well). Need an inexpensive nanny? Bring along an auntie!!
Spending time with our families is important, but it is also important to spend some quality husband/wife time if at all possible. Russ and I took a budget trip to Europe (is that possible?) 6 years ago. (We got a great deal on airline tickets and shared a motorhome with two other couples.) We were overdue for another vacation together.

When I shared pictures of our Vegas trip, I mentioned that how we got there was a story for another day, and I guess today is as good as any. Smile. A relentless phone salesman from a travel company called our house numerous times. I ignored the ringing phone. Russ didn't. We signed up for a time-share presentation in return for very inexpensive rates for a gorgeous suite at a beautiful non-gaming hotel. Russ had a credit with an airline from a canceled business trip. His airline ticket to Vegas was free. Shan and Ben agreed to watch the boys. (Thank you, thank you, guys!!)
The afternoon of our arrival, Russ and I were walking/sightseeing when we were, uh, invited to another time-share presentation (a different company) in exchange for show tickets. We jumped through the hoops, politely declined to purchase, and saw Blue Man Group. $250 worth of tickets for $30. And it was an awesome show.

The next day we went to our originally scheduled presentation, politely declined to purchase, and received a voucher for dinner and $40 dollars worth of gaming chips, which we promptly exchanged for cash. Hello, gondola ride.

We walked and walked. We avoided the gaming floors. We saw free shows. We read books. We bought breakfast food and snacks at a local grocery store. We had the time of our lives.

Have you made it this far? These are my ideas on the to-do list:

1. Visit 'local' sights on road trips. (Day trips or camping.) Crater Lake, Mt. St. Helens, Oregon Caves, Bend/Redmond area, and more.

2. Plan a week of day excursions, using our own home for lodging. Smile. Eat breakfast at home and pack picnic lunches. Water park, beach/aquarium (use season pass), Portland Zoo and OMSI (science museum, season pass), Salem carousel and children's museum (season pass), McDowell Creek Falls (hiking/swimming), Enchanted Forest (small local theme park), and more.

3. Backyard camping. Luckily we live in a rural area and have a terrific fire pit for hot dogs and s'mores...

4. A bicycling trip to the San Juan Islands. Take Shannon and Ben along as guides. Hop the ferry from island to island, staying at campgrounds.

5. Eventually, I would like to take a road trip across the United States, just as my parents took my sisters and me. Just so you know, I'm making my map of blog friends.... Do you mind if we park our camp trailer in front of your house? (Evil laugh...)

If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks' vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.
~Dorothy Canfield Fisher (author of Understood Betsy)