Thursday, October 31, 2013

And death shall be no more

::  Death, Be Not Proud by Cindy Rollins @ CiRCE

“A world without death is a world without redemption. I am no longer afraid of Halloween or funerals. They are a part of the liturgy of life. They are the dark days that make the light ever so much brighter.”


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


John Donne

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Soldier, A Sailor… (And a TARDIS?!)


I’m terrible at planning Halloween costumes. I don’t know why. Thanks to Amazon Prime, Levi got a white tie to turn his dress clothes into the closest we could come to gangster. Luke and Leif raided Poppy’s “museum” and sported authentic WWII uniforms, if a bit mismatched. (Would you believe Luke could barely get those pants buttoned? What kind of tiny kid was fighting in WWII?! You should see that boy strut around in that uniform. The navy top (I don’t know what it’s called) was long in the sleeves for Leif, but he could hardly get his arms and shoulders through the torso of that thing.)

But this year I did manage to buy one costume, one darling costume, way ahead of time. I even killed two birds with one stone by giving it as a birthday gift—for the dress-up bin, you know. And then, and then…I lost it. How does one lose a mermaid costume?! I have no idea, but I managed to accomplish it.

So…impromptu cowgirl it was. At least she made a really cute one.


This, THIS, is the Lola I wish you all could get to know.

She is sunshine. And rainbows. And a dance party. And crème brulee. And a bear hug. And giggles. And sparklers. And…

She’s so cute I could cry.


So we headed off to “Trick My Trunk” at church this morning. And, lo and behold, the Doctor was there.

It had to be Levi’s favorite moment of the year. Russ and the boys are thinking they should build one for Levi’s birthday.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lola’s (Belated) Birthday


Life was a little hectic right around Lola’s birthday (for example, my dad had his hip replaced the day before), so we ended up celebrating the Sunday after her birthday with a trip to the pumpkin patch with a few friends and family. The day was gorgeous—perfect for a hay ride. (And I’m just now getting to the pictures, so these are belated, belated…)


We had the requisite baby’s first trip to the pumpkin patch photos.


This is Rilla’s little friend, Tytus. I photographed Larissa’s and West’s wedding the summer I was pregnant with Lola.


And my new “adopted sister” Olive and “nephew” Ben.


Then we drove back down the road to my parents’ house for hot cider, chocolate pumpkin cake, and other fall goodies.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christmas Shopping?


But Christmas is, like, 14 months away, isn’t it?!

That’s what I told a friend of mine who wondered if I had my Christmas shopping list posted yet. She used a few of my ideas from my confessions-of-a-terrible-Christmas-shopper post last year (which you will notice was posted on December 13th—oh, how I love Amazon Prime), and she was hoping to snitch a few this year.

It got me thinking—handy for daily-task-avoidance. Why, certainly, Christmas gifts are an important thing to plan, right? That’s why there is no dinner on the table this evening. Ha!

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not a “master Christmas shopper, make all my kids’ dreams come true” kind of mom. I’m a “your room is trashed, you don’t play with toys, why should I buy something that will be broken and discarded in two minutes just because it’s a holiday” kind of mom. True story.

Seriously, the boys don’t play with stuff. They use sticks. And duct tape. And Costco-size boxes of tin foil. And copier paper and markers.

I asked Levi for his wish list. He wants hang-out time with a friend and Dr. Who Monopoly (we already have two versions).

I asked Luke for his wish list. He wants Electronic Monopoly.

I asked Leif for his wish list. He said, “I know I added something to my list. I’m thinking………………………… Come back to me later.”

I do like the idea of getting big ticket items or activities. The older boys may be getting bows for archery 4-H, but they’ll need them before Christmas. In December, the boys and I (and close friends) are attending a fun over-nighter at our phenomenal local-ish aviation and space museum, complete with an IMAX movie and a day at the water park.

The rest of our gifts will be small. And bookish. That’s just the way it is around here.

Here are my general ideas for the ages on my Christmas list.

(Most of the following links are Amazon affiliate links. I receive a small commission on anything you purchase after arriving at Amazon through one of my links, even diapers or tires or flour. You have no idea how much I’ve appreciated the purchases y’all have made over the past year to support Mt. Hope Chronicles!!)

Ages 0-2 (Rilla Grey)


The Cosy Classics board books are so lovely! The felt images are simply gorgeous. I can’t wait to snatch up Jane Eyre as soon as it is available.  Oliver Twist would be a fun baby gift to pair with Focus on the Family’s phenomenal radio theatre production of Oliver Twist for older children (our own family Christmas gift last year).


The Giraffe That Walked to Paris looks darling. I’m thinking a Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether, Giraffe Blankie, or a Schleich giraffe figure would be a fun addition.


Or, a Beatrix Potter Dish Set and The Beatrix Potter DVD Collection or Tales of Beatrix Potter Ballet (DVD) (two of Lola’s favorite DVDs) (both Rilla and Lola already have the complete book sets).


Boys 2-4 (Little Ben)

My family has adopted a friend and her darling two-year-old boy, so I’m back to buying little boy gifts this Christmas! Curious George Goes Camping or Fred and Ted Go Camping will go well with Fisher-Price Kid Tough Explorers Binoculars and/or Pacific Play Tents Super Duper 4 Kids Tent.

Girls 3-6 (Lola Colette)

(The Matryoshkas and book I got her last year have been a huge hit!)


Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat is, well, a feast. The illustrations and prose are beautiful and charming; I adore it! I can’t wait to give this one to Lola. With a stuffed kitty (named Minette, of course). And maybe a basket of pastries, wooden fruits or veggies, and darling red wooden pots and pans. Or an apron? Or splurge and go for a play kitchen? We shall see.  (P.S. I’ve been to Les Deux Magots restaurant in Paris shown in the illustration above! How fun is that?!)


Different Like Coco would go well with the sweet little black dress I purchased for Lola at Old Navy. I think she needs a string of pearls, don’t you? {grin} Which segues perfectly into…

Just Being Audrey—another book with darling illustrations—paired with Audrey Hepburn's Enchanted Tales (Audio CD) or an opportunity to sponsor a child. Wrapped up with a red and white striped scarf? Yes, please!


Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian is a beautiful picture book full of rich colors for the nature-lover. A Butterfly Garden, Fanciful Butterflies Stained Glass Coloring Book, Butterfly Cookie Cutter, or Melissa & Doug Butterfly Friends Bead Set round out the theme.

(As you can see, I’m on a biography picture book kick…)

Ages 6-12 (Leif, Ivy, Luke, and Levi)


Have you ever tried Perplexus Twist? The boys had a different Perplexus model a while back, and it saw more action than just about any other toy they’ve received. And I loved it because there were no parts and pieces to be scattered, and it can be played independently! I think they are going to love the Perplexus Twist.

I’m big on DVDs as gifts, second only to books. My boys have (and love) all the Buck Denver Asks: What's in the Bible? DVD series (entertaining, but packed with a high level of information!) as well as the What's In The Bible? Buck Denver Asks...Why Do We Call it Christmas? DVD, so I’m getting them Buck Denver & Friends present Clive & Ian's Wonderblimp of Knowledge: 6 Big Questions About God and Clive & Ian's Wonderblimp of Knowledge 2: 7 Big Questions About God. They’ll be perfect for stockings.

My niece will be getting Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series ($5.99 for all 40 episodes—are you kidding me?!!!), and Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete Series (again, all 40 episodes for $5.99!!) will find its way to boy stocking #3.


I recently purchased the first six books of the The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, and Levi is raving. So I’m adding the seventh book, The First Dragon, to his list. Luckily it will be released in November. He has also been begging for Ralph Masiello's Dragon Drawing Book, which a friend of his told him about, and I’ll add Watercolor Pencils and a Watercolor Postcards Pad.


Luke, my mischievous son, will be getting a couple more Nicholas books, but I’m really running out of ideas for him and Leif. Any suggestions?

Levi’s birthday is just a week after Christmas. Luckily he is a Dr. Who addict. Doctor Who: Who-ology + The Eleventh Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver + Dr Who Tardis Union Jack T-shirt = one happy boy.


Stocking Stuffers

D-Ring Carabiners

Mini Flashlights


Finger Flashlights (my boys LOVE these)

Travel games or playing cards
Spin Toothbrush
Character Bandaids
Tape (duct, scotch, masking, painters… it doesn’t really matter for the tape-addicted kid)


Alrighty, that’s the list so far. Don’t ask me what I’m getting the adults, because I have no. idea.

Have you started your Christmas lists or shopping yet? I’m certain I have super-on-top-of-it-all readers who already have their shopping finished. Could you rub some of that off on me?

(I’ll have some new favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas book lists up soon, but if you’re interested in getting a head start I shared some last year here, here, and here.)