Friday, March 30, 2012

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live and Learn Studio ~ March 2012

Food for Thought:

:: The Greatest of All Things by Andrew Kern at CiRCE Institute:

”Who cares if Jane runs? I sure don’t. But everybody wants to know whether the ants should have fed the grasshopper, whether Caesar should have crossed the Rubicon, and whether Odysseus should have slaughtered the suitors. These things matter because they arouse the right questions. They help students clarify their thoughts about what is just and fair, what is wise and prudent, and what is noble and honorable.”

:: The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction @ The New York Times:

It is an exercise that hones our real-life social skills, another body of research suggests. Dr. Oatley and Dr. Mar, in collaboration with several other scientists, reported in two studies, published in 2006 and 2009, that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels. A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television.

:: The Goal of Education by Matt Bianco @ Classical Conversations:

“Of course, the other question is how well can I model the Imago Dei in the world around me when I am half a person; when I am only left-brained or only right-brained? Face it; we will be hard-pressed to argue that God is only left-brained. So how can we properly image a whole-brained God (speaking anthropomorphically, of course) when we are only a half-brained image?”

:: Dear Eighth Grader: So You Want to Apply to Harvard? Some Words of Advice… by Andrew S. Doctoroff @ Huffington Post:

Given that so many candidates have outstanding credentials, you may think that it will be impossible for you to stand out. Not true. The special kid announces herself boldly, unmistakably; she can't be missed -- like a flare streaking across a starless nighttime sky.

What do I look for? Qualities that are hard to spot on admissions applications, but ones that scream out during probing conversation: passion, intellect, curiosity and mettle.

:: Hours and hours of listening. 2011 Conference Recordings at the Society for Classical Learning.

:: On the Assumption That I Am a Perfect Teacher by David Kern @ CiRCE Institute:

‘But what those kids do have is a soul. And a heart that beats and lungs that help them breath and emotions that can be raw and uncompromising at times. Even in their worst moments, even when it doesn’t seem possible, they are human. As my dad has said on occassion, kids are “individual souls with a lot going on in them”.’


:: I have a not so secret obsession with sentence diagramming. So, of course, I adored the article, A Picture of Language, by Kitty Burns Florey at The New York Times. Makes me want to read her book again. In fact, I’m taking it down off the shelf right now.

:: Catechisms With Flesh On by Marvin Olasky @ World Magazine (interview with Nate Wilson)

‘But we look at Frodo and we can say, "You idiot. It's a good story. The evil is here to be beaten. It's here to be overcome. It's here to be broken—break it. Go throw the ring in the volcano. Don't sit there and look at it and say, "There is no Tolkien, because if there was, how could such an evil exist?"’

:: And, last but not least, the fabulously funny SeussSpeare at Millman’s Shakesblog.


Classical Conversations (Cycle 3) Weeks 20-22 (One morning each week; includes social time and public speaking.)


CC Memorizing John 1:1-7 (in Latin and English)
The Children’s Illustrated Bible (reading together)
Telling God's Story
(Luke: weekly hymns on piano)

Teaching Textbooks
The Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks
Khan Academy videos and practice
Math-Whizz (online math)
MathTacular 3 (DVD)
Perimeter, Area, and Volume: A Monster Book of Dimensions by David A. Adler
Just a Second: A Different Way To Look At Time by Steve Jenkins 
A Fraction’s Goal—Parts of a Whole by Brian P. Cleary
CC weekly memory work (skip counting/formulas/laws)

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (Read lessons 13-19 with oral review)  
Fun science experiments with Alka-seltzer and egg/vinegar
CC weekly science memory work (science theories)
CC weekly science projects and experiments (probability lab)
A bunch of Bill Nye DVDs and other science shows (Myth Busters, etc.)

Swim Team practices and meet (Levi), Swim Lessons (Luke and Leif)

Fine Arts:
CC weekly famous composers and instruments of the orchestra
Monthly Fine Arts Study (Rene Magritte, Carl Sandburg, and George Gershwin)
Dinner at Magritte’s by Michael Garland
Imagine That! Activities and Adventures in Surrealism by Joyce Raimondo
Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg: Adventures of a Poet
by Penelope Niven
Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg (176 pp, Levi and Luke-IR)
More Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg (158 pp, Levi and Luke-IR)
The Huckabuck Family and How They Raised Popcorn in Nebraska… by Carl Sandburg
Never Kick a Slipper at the Moon by Carl Sandburg
Piano practice and lessons (Luke)
Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue by Anna Harwell Celenza
(One of my all-time favorite videos:)

Language Arts:
IEW Writing (Levi: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons)
MCT Caesar’s English (vocabulary)
MCT Practice Town (4 level sentence analysis + diagramming)
Writing With Ease (Luke and Levi)
CC grammar memory work
All About Spelling Level 3 (steps 1-4) (Leif: Level 1, steps 1-7)
Handwriting Without Tears workbook (cursive-Levi)

Latina Christiana I (lesson 1…just getting started)

CC U.S. geography (states, capitals, mountains, rivers, lakes, features, and more)
Geography games (capitals, states, landscapes)
Place the State online game
Map drawing and 'blobbing' continents (CC)

History/Literature/Historical Fiction:
The Story of the World: Early Modern Times (chapters 38-42, FINISHED!!)
The Story of the World: The Modern Age (chapters 1- 3)
CC weekly history memory work (American history)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (select pages, Luke)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (select pages, Levi)
DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History (select pages)
Industrial Revolution (Living History)
The Gate in the Wall by Ellen Howard (historical fiction, industrial revolution, England, 146 pp, Levi-IR)
John Jacob Astor and the Fur Trade (American Tycoons) by Lewis K. Parker
The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal by Cheryl Harness 
The Story of the Erie Canal by R. Conrad Stein
The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
The Journal of Jesse Smoke, A Cherokee Boy  by Joseph Bruchac (historical fiction, The Trail of Tears-1838, 195 pp, Levi-IR)
Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (historical fiction, Crow Indians, 247 pp, Levi-IR)
Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen (historical fiction, 110 pp, Levi-IR)
Spring Pearl: The Last Flower by Laurence Yep (historical fiction, Canton, China-1857, 205 pp, Levi-IR)
Susanna of the Alamo: A True Story by John Jakes
Inside the Alamo by Jim Murphy (non-fiction, 110 pp)
Welcome to Josefina’s World * 1824: Growing Up on America’s Southwest Frontier (excellent non-fiction picture book!!!)
Tucket’s Travels: Francis Tucket’s Adventures in the West, 1847-1849 by Gary Paulsen (5 books, historical fiction, Levi-IR)
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold by Tomie dePaola (Mexico)
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush retold by Tomie dePaola (Texas)
The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola (New Mexico)
Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi (Capistrano, California)
The California Missions (Events That Shaped America)
And it is Still That Way: Legends told by Arizona Indian Children collected by Byrd Baylor
A Boy Named Beckoning: The True Story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, Native American Hero by Gina Capaldi
The Ancient Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde by Caroline Arnold
In the Days of the Vaqueros: America’s First True Cowboys by Russell Freedman
The Mask of Zorro (DVD, Surely this counts as historical fiction, no? {grin})

The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung, A Chinese Miner: California, 1852 by Laurence Yep (Levi-IR)
Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr (Gold Rush, Chinese immigrants)
Striking it Rich: The Story of the California Gold Rush by Stephen Krensky
The California Gold Rush: Would You Go for the Gold? by Elaine Landau
The California Gold Rush: An Interactive History Adventure by Elizabeth Raum
Gold Miners of the Wild West by Jeff Savage
Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California by Jerry Stanley
Gold! Gold From the American River: The Day the Gold Rush Began by Don Brown
The Great American Gold Rush by Rhonda Blumberg
Hot to Get Rich in the California Gold Rush by Tod Olson
Seeds of Hope: The Gold Rush Diary of Susanna Fairchild, California Territory~1849 by Kristiana Gregory
The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch by Anne Isaacs
Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea by Tony Johnston
Was There Really a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral? and Other Questions about the Wild West by Ann Kerns
How to Get Rich on a Texas Cattle Drive by Tod Olson
Ghost Towns of the American West by Raymond Bial
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr
They’re Off: The Story of the Pony Express by Cheryl Harness
Pioneer Girl: Growing Up on the Prairie by Andrea Warren (Levi)
The Tragic Tale of Narcissa Whitman and a Faithful History of the Oregon Trail by Cheryl Harness (Levi)
Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West by Lita Judge
Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer by Deborah Kogan Ray
You Wouldn’t Want to be an American Pioneer! by Jacqueline Morley
Samuel Morse and the Telegraph by David Seidman
Hidden Music: The Life of Fanny Mendelssohn by Gloria Kamen (Levi)
The Swoose by Dick King-Smith (historical fiction, Queen Victoria)
Victoria, May Blossom of Britannia: England, 1829 (The Royal Diaries, historical fiction, 218 pp, Levi-IR)
Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind by Margaret Davidson
Born in the Year of Courage by Emily Crofford (historical fiction, 1880s Japan, 160 pp, Levi and LUKE!-IR)
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg (1850s Japan, 119 pp,
Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy by Rhoda Blumberg
Heart and Soul: The Story of Florence Nightingale by Gena K. Gorrell (I loved this one!)
Florence Nightingale by Dorothy Turner


Meet Marie-Grace, 1853 (The American Girls)
Marie-Grace Makes a Difference
Marie-Grace and the Orphans
Welcome to Kirsten’s World, 1854: Growing Up in Pioneer America
Meet Kirsten
(The American Girls)
Around the World: Three Remarkable Journeys by Matt Phelan (late 1880s)

Literature Study:

Book Detectives (literary analysis book club)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (Levi-IR)

Levi’s Free Reading:
The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron
Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld
The Sword, the Ring, and the Parchment (Terrestria Chronicles) by Ed Dunlop
The Dead of Night (Cahills vs. Vespers, Book 3) by Peter Larangis

Luke’s Free Reading:
Secret Agents Four by Donald J. Sobol
Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick: 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales
Freddy Goes to Florida
by Walter R. Brooks
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Leif’s Free Reading:
George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
More Magic Tree House books and others…

Miscellaneous lovely picture books the boys have enjoyed this month:
Annie Jump Cannon, Astronomer by Carole Gerber
The Man Who Made Parks: The Story of Parkbuilder Frederick Law Olmsted by Frieda Wishinsky
Dark Fiddler: The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini by Aaron Frisch & Gary Kelley
Francis Woke Up Early by Josephine Nobisso (St. Francis of Assisi)
Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be by John Harris
Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman
The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss (St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC, September 11, 2001)
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman (September 11, 2001) 
The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith
Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime by Gloria Spielman
Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J.H. Shapiro
To Go Singing Through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda by Deborah Kogan Ray (gorgeous book!)
Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies
Goran’s Great Escape by Astrid Lindgren (Sweden)
The Birds of Killingworth by Robert San Souci (based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Chirchir is Singing by Kelly Cunnane (Kenya)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quality Books for Beginning Readers

It isn’t easy to find good books for beginning readers. We start with the Nora Gaydos incremental phonics books until the boys get the hang of reading, but then we need a great selection of books in that transition time between basic phonics and chapter books. There are certainly excellent picture books to enjoy, but many of them (especially the great ones!) have an advanced vocabulary that can be daunting for new readers. I find leveled readers to be extremely accessible and easily handled by young readers, but so many of the leveled readers fail in the content or charm department.

Over the years, I’ve searched and sifted, and have amassed quite a collection that the boys have read and read and re-read. I particularly like non-fiction or rich and lovely fiction stories. I like the fact that they stand up to quite a bit of use, fit nicely and uniformly on book shelves, are easy to grab and go, and also can be plugged into our history studies.

I know I’ve posted a very similar list before, but I thought it might be helpful to post it again. I’ve indicated the reader series with abbreviations at the end of titles. (Also, if you look up any of these books on Amazon, you can find other similar titles in the collections.)

SIR = Step Into Reading
DK = Dorling Kindersley Readers, Eyewitness Readers
ICR = An I Can Read Book
RTR = Ready-to-Read
Puff = Puffin Easy-to-Read
AAR = All Aboard Reading

Level 1:

Mister Bones: Dinosaur Hunter by Jane Kurtz (RTR)
Harry the Dirty Dog (series) by Gene Zion (ICR)
Wonders of America (series) (RTR)
Nature/science series (Clouds, Wind, Rain, and Snow) (RTR)
There Is a Carrot in My Ear and Other Noodle Tales retold by Alvin Schwartz (ICR)
Johnny Appleseed by Patricia Demuth (AAR)

Level 2:

Little Runner of the Longhouse by Betty Baker (ICR)
All stories by Arnold Lobel! (Mouse Soup, Frog and Toad, Mouse Tales, Grasshopper on the Road…) (ICR)
Little Bear (series) by Else Holmelund Minarik (ICR)
Amelia Bedelia (series) by Peggy Parish (ICR)
Big Max (series) by Kin Platt (ICR)
Mouse and Mole (series) by Wong Herbert Yee
Journey of a Pioneer by Patricia J. Murphy (DK)
Red, White, and Blue: The Story of the American Flag by John Herman (AAR)
Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by Henry Barker (AAR)
Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner (SIR)
The Statue of Liberty by Lucille Recht Penner (SIR)
Get Well, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas (Puff)
Tales of Oliver and Amanda Pig (series) by Jean Van Leeuwen (Puff)
Henry and Mudge (series) by Cynthia Rylant (RTR)
Annie and Snowball (series) by Cynthia Rylant (RTR)
Dodsworth (series) by Tom Egan
Childhood of Famous Americans series:
Paul Revere and the Bell Ringers by Jonah Winter (RTR)
Helen Keller and the Big Storm by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Ben Franklin and His First Kite by Stephen Krensky (RTR)
Thomas Edison to the Rescue! by Howard Goldsmith (RTR)
Sacagawea and the Bravest Deed by Stephen Krenskey (RTR)

Level 3:

Listen Up! Alexander Graham Bell’s Talking Machine by Monica Kulling (SIR)
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford (SIR)
The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Recht Penner (SIR)
Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky (SIR)
Little Sure Shot: The STory of Annie Oakley by Stephanie Spinner (SIR)
Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President by Shirley Raye Redmond (SIR)
Eat My Dust! Henry Ford’s First Race by Monica Kulling (SIR)
The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward (SIR)
Goerge Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Johnny Appleseed: My Story by David L. Harrison (SIR)
The Dog That Dug for Dinosaurs: A True Story by Shirley Raye Redmond (RTR)
Leaving Vietnam: The True Story of Tuan Ngo by Sarah S. Kilborne (RTR)
Daniel’s Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla (ICR)
The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley (ICR)
Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Greg’s Microscope by Millicent E. Selsam (ICR) (and excellent science reader!)
Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley (ICR)
Seasons: A Book of Poems by Charlotte Zolotow (ICR)
Clara and the Bookwagon by Nancy Smiler Levinson (ICR)
Snowshoe Thompson by Nancy Smiler Levinson (ICR)
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
Dust for Dinner by Ann Turner (ICR)
The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F.N. Monjo (ICR)
The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr (ICR)
The Long Way to a New Land by Joan Sandin (IRC)
The Long Way Westward by Joan Sandin (ICR)
Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner (ICR)
From Slave to Soldier by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Billy and the Rebel by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend by Justine and Ron Fontes (DK)
Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon by Philip Wilkinson (DK)
The Story of Chocolate by C.J. Polin (DK)
Aladdin and Other Tales From the Arabian Nights by Rosalind Kerven (DK)
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz (AAR)
Amistad: The Story of a Slave Ship by Patricia C. McKissack (AAR)
Stories of Famous Americans series:
John Adams Speaks for Freedom by Deborah Hopkinson (RTR)
Albert Einstein: Genius of the Twentieth Century by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Clara Barton: Spirit of the Red Cross by Patricia Lakin (RTR)
Teddy Roosevelt: The People’s President by Sharon Gayle (RTR)
Davy Crockett: A Life on the Frontier by Stephen Krensky (RTR)

Level 4:

Space Station: Accident on Mir by Angela Royston (DK)
D-Day Landings: The Story of the Allied Invasion by Richard Platt (DK)
Trojan Horse by David Clement-Davies (DK)
Secrets of the Mummies by Harriet Griffey (DK)
Horse Heroes: True Stories of Amazing Horses by Kate Petty (DK)
Flying Ace: The Story of Amelia Earhart by Angela Bull (DK)
Ice Mummy: The Discovery of a 5,000-Year-Old Man by Mark Dubowski (DK)
Thomas Edison: The Great Inventor by Caryn Jenner (DK)
Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares: A Math Reader by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Thomas Jefferson’s Feast by Frank Murphy (SIR)
Pompeii..Buried Alive! by Edith Kunhardt (SIR)
Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard by Lynn Hall (SIR)
Discovery in the Cave by Mark Dubowski (SIR)
Tut’s Mummy Lost…and Found by Judy Donnelly (SIR)
Escape North: The STory of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kulling (SIR)
First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea (ICR)
Dinosaur Hunter by Elaine Marie Alphin (ICR)
Prairie School by Avi (ICR)

Not Leveled and Beginning Chapter Books:

Flicka, Ricka, Dicka (series) and Snipp, Snapp, Snurr (series) Maj Lindman
Billy and Blaze (series) C. W. Anderson
The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac (SIR-5)
Commander Toad series by Jane Yolen
Flat Stanley (series) by Jeff Brown
The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron (Guatemala)
The Magic School Bus Chapter Books
Akimbo (series) by Alexander McCall Smith
Nate the Great (series) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
26 Fairmount Avenue (series) by Tomie DePaola
The King’s Equal by Katherine Paterson
Tippy Lemmey by Patricia C. McKissack
McBroom’s Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

In a ridiculous turn of Oregon weather, we had two days of snow…at the end of March! It was white when we woke up yesterday morning, and it snowed all. day. long. Much of it melted as it hovered just above 32 degrees during the day, but the snowfall increased overnight when the temperature dipped, so we woke up to a winter wonderland for the second morning in a row. And this time, we had a full six inches covering our world!

The boys were in seventh heaven, as you might imagine. Russ worked from home both days. Today it was sun and blue skies. A perfect day for sledding.

Spring Snow 2 Spring Snow 4 Spring Snow 3 Spring Snow 6 Spring Snow 5

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Detectives ~ The Real Thief

Book Detectives, Take SIX!


You may be familiar with some of William Steig’s picture book titles, Doctor De Soto, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Amos and Boris, or Brave Irene, but have you read his chapter books for children? Sheer entertainment and deeply thoughtful brilliance, I tell you. The nuances in The Real Thief, a very short chapter book, took the adults by surprise this past month. Everyone really entered into the discussion with terrific contributions!


I shared a few facts about William Steig that I discovered on Wikipedia. The most interesting thing, in my opinion, is that he was a cartoonist and sculptor, and he didn’t begin writing stories for children until he was in his sixties. He continued to write into his nineties! It is as if we can soak up the wisdom of a grandfather when reading his books!

We also talked briefly about other books written by William Steig, and I recommended both Abel’s Island and Dominic for those who had enjoyed The Real Thief.


The story takes place in a kingdom in an imaginary world where animals talk and do human things.
The story begins on a sunny day and takes place over a period of time, probably not more than a single season (summer?)
Gawain: goose, honorable, loyal, trustworthy, Chief Guard of the Royal Treasury (but would rather be an architect)
King Basil: bear, loved, fatherly, rich
Derek: mouse, average citizen
Adrian: cat, jealous, Prime Minister
Friends and citizens
What is happening?
Treasure goes missing from the Royal Treasury!


No one can figure out who is stealing the treasure. Gawain is arrested and put on trial. Friendships and relationships are broken. Gawain is found guilty and then escapes. Derek is miserable. Instead of confessing, he steals more treasure to prove Gawain’s innocence. That doesn’t make him feel better so he returns everything to the treasury. But everyone in the kingdom is miserable because Gawain is still gone.

What does Derek need? (Our go-to conflict identifier.)
He needs to tell the truth!


When is the first moment we know that the conflict is going to be resolved?
Derek finds Gawain. Derek confesses and asks for forgiveness. Gawain doesn’t want to forgive, but he gives in when Derek touches him (demonstrating the power of “human” touch and our craving for relationship with others). Gawain forgives Derek and their friendship is restored.


What happens next?
Gawain returns to the kingdom. King Basil and Gawain’s friends ask for forgiveness. Gawain forgives them. Relationships are restored (with increased maturity).


The bulldogs become the new treasury guards. The king appoints Gawain to the office of Royal Architect. Derek becomes Gawain’s assistant and fills the hole in the Royal Treasury as an act of tangible closure.


Man (Mouse) vs. Self
Will Derek be able to overcome his pride, fear, and embarrassment and confess that he is the real thief?

It is a little tricky to identify the protagonist in this story. In the beginning it seems like a story about Gawain, but it is Derek who must push the action forward. Though it is Gawain whose picture appears on the cover, the title reveals the truth.


Forgiveness Restores Relationships


The adults found it interesting that Steig wrote a book about a thief, but the focus wasn’t on stealing. The story was ultimately about the fact that we’re all human and make mistakes. The greatest punishment for our sins is the broken relationships that result. Derek didn’t intend to steal. He wasn’t a malicious thief. The treasures he had stolen lost all of their luster when he knew that he had hurt Gawain. The problem wasn’t solved when he returned the treasures. He had to ask forgiveness in order to restore his relationship with Gawain.

Gawain struggled to forgive, but his unwillingness to forgive would have left him isolated from others. Derek was willing to confess to the king and all of the people. Gawain, the innocent ‘person’ who had taken Derek’s punishment, considered Derek’s debt paid without that public confession because he had already suffered enough. Gawain forgave his friends, but he loved them with a new maturity, knowing that his friends were ‘human’ and not perfect.

The Danger of a Single Story

Monday, March 12, 2012


Maybe I’ll just post one photo at a time. Then I can post daily for the next month…

life. renewed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Out Shopping

I just returned from an ultimately relaxing weekend away with my sisters and mom. I’m settling in and getting ready to start a new week. Can’t wait to share more pictures when I have a few more minutes!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life and Lola

Lola 17 months

I feel as if I haven’t said “hi” to y’all recently. I’ve posted a few things here and there, but no real update on life in my world. There hasn’t been much time for blogging lately, or picture taking and editing, for that matter. But I’m going to cram in a long, exceedingly random chat about life along with 300 million pictures of Lola in one ginormous post to make up for it. What do you think about that?

Lola 16

Every once in a while, I think about life two years ago. I was all ready to move on to a new phase of life. One in which I had everything together and under control (HA!). A life focused on my boys and on education. A life in which everyone worked together, did tasks independently, and I had some breathing room. A nice and tidy life. (Ha! Again.) Then I found out we were expecting a baby.

Lola 1

I didn’t know how I could do it. I was already stretched thin. Whisper thin. Parenting these boys is no Sunday walk in the park. But to add early pregnancy exhaustion and nausea? And then lose physical energy and agility (what little I had, and which is a crazy big deal when raising young boys)? To make it to all those prenatal Dr. appointments? To feel claustrophobic and want to live in a silent cave without anyone touching me (which is how I feel when pregnant)? Then go through labor, birth, and recovery? To go through the no-sleep, breastfeeding-around-the-clock early days of newbornhood? While parenting said boys?! And to haul diaper bags and baby carriers. Extra well-baby (and sick baby) Dr. visits. To constantly trip over the exersaucer thingy in the middle of our one little living space. More sleepless nights, teething, highchair, baby food, learning to crawl, getting into everything….

Lola 10

Then {POOF} we’re here. (Okay, it wasn’t exactly {poof}, but can you believe she is almost a year and a half?!!!)

Lola 5

We’ve been through a lot, including my husband losing his job just weeks after Lola was born. But God has been here every step of the way. Even Russ’s job (or absence of one) has been a blessing. We LOVED having him around when he was home. I NEEDED him home. And now his new job makes it possible for him to get off early enough to take the boys to the pool for swim practice and lessons three days a week. He is also able to work from home one or two days a week.

Lola 2

And Lola, oh, Lola. Lala, Loli-bug, Lolli, Lovey, Doll Baby. She gives us all endless joy. Every day. The boys live to adore her. Her daddy is her favorite person in the universe. And me—I can’t even describe what she is to me. She is just plain FUN.

Lola 3

She is 17 months now. She is a go-getter. She is opinionated, silly, and FAST. She sits still for nothing. She LOVES attention, but don’t get in her space. She won’t look at the camera. She rides down the stairs in a sleeping bag with her brothers. She climbs on things, gets into drawers and cupboards, turns every knob and pushes every button, goes through every open door. She doesn’t really play with toys, but she just discovered clothes. She LOVES writing (on paper, her hand, walls….) Her shoes never stay on. She still removes all hats and headbands.

Lola 4

Lola’s down to one nap a day. {sigh} And it’s usually only an hour and a half. {double sigh} She sleeps 10-11 hours at night…often straight through. Cutting four molars while having back to back colds wasn’t very fun, though. We’re glad to be past that.

Lola and Leif

She doesn’t say much, but we’re working more on a few signs. She has please and thank you down. I’m telling you right now, it is almost impossible to resist an angelic little face while she is signing please for something. We sing ‘her’ song all the time (“Whatever Lola wants….”), because it is so true. At some point we’re going to have to stop spoiling her, I suppose.

Lola 6

I know it’s hard to believe, but I do have three other children! The boys are their crazy, loveable selves. Levi is really enjoying swim team, and Luke and Leif have been doing swim lessons twice a week, as well. Russ takes them (Levi practices three times a week), deals with all the parent meetings and volunteer duties, and even gets in the pool himself a couple times a week! I think swimming is a valuable activity, but the time and effort commitment is most definitely extensive. I’m so thankful Russ is available to participate and spend that father-son time.

Lola 7

Swim practice and lessons have made our schedule rather full. I am also involved in three separate book clubs that meet monthly. One is our parent-child book club which I host and co-lead every month. Russ has had some projects that have taken extra hours and out-of-town travel. Luke is still taking piano lessons weekly.

Lola 8

While Lola is so. much. fun, she certainly adds to the chaos at home. The boys are easily distracted. I am TERRIBLE at multi-tasking. If I’m keeping the house clean, that is ALL that is happening (and sometimes I spend the day cleaning the house only to have not made any progress at all). If we have a productive day of lessons, we eat Little Caesars pizza for dinner.

Lola 11

I’ve started staying up very late at night because I CRAVE the silence. That, and whatever I get done STAYS done…at least until the kids wake up in the morning. And then I’m tired in the morning and can’t get out of bed. I love saving up the laundry and ironing and whatever else can be done in the living room so that I can watch television at the same time. I just finished the first season of Downton Abbey, and I LOVE it. I had just watched North and South, and my beloved Nicholas Higgins is Bates in Downton Abbey. I adored him from the first second I saw him, and he only gets better. {grin} He reminds me so much of Russell Crowe.

Lola 12

Russ and I just celebrated our SIXTEENTH! wedding anniversary last month. I posted our love story a couple years ago. I am amazed at the life we’ve lived together and I am looking forward to our future together!

Lola 13

Speaking of anniversaries, February also marked FIVE years of Mt. Hope Chronicles! How many of you have been around for five years? Four years? Three? Can you believe Leif was only 6 months old when I started blogging?! I really should do a cool give-away or party or something. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that one.

Lola 14

January and February (and often March, too) are so dreary around here. It is dark. And wet. And cold. And sloppy. I never feel like taking pictures during these months, especially inside where it’s extra dark. On the plus side, the fields are such a lush green and the sheep are out grazing. I enjoy the scenery even if I don’t feel like taking pictures.

Lola 15

I’m spending a few days with my sisters and mom this coming weekend. We are going out of town for a girls’ weekend. I am so looking forward to time away. We enjoy each others’ company so much. I haven’t had a night away since Lola was born! All three of us girls share the birthday month of March, so we have an excuse to party!

Lola 17

Speaking of nights away, I have a fantabulous trip coming up. I can’t wait to share all the details with you. Soon, I hope! I don’t know when I’ve been so excited about something!!

Lola 18

Hmmm. What else? We only have five weeks of Classical Conversations left for this year. We continue to love the experience, and feel doubly blessed by the incredible families with whom we have the opportunity to be in community. I think I am going to take advantage of the opportunity for parents to become Memory Masters this year! It is a bit of a daunting task, but I enjoy a challenge and hope to rise to the occasion. As much as I enjoy CC, I admit to looking forward to May when we aren’t out of the house one day each week with time spent on Sundays gathering all our stuff, finishing up tasks, and getting the boys’ presentations ready.

I guess that about wraps it up. My house is a disaster, I need to go grocery shopping, and I have a huge pile of laundry with my name on it. So many days this life feels like a ‘five steps forward, four steps backward’ sort of process. But we’re making progress, and forgiving, and learning, and loving and embracing grace in the midst of it.