Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Miss Me?

Sunday at Lake Oswego @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Boy howdy, I’ve turned into a blog slacker!

We’ve been a little busy with general summer life since my family softball post.

Last week the kids had two, yes TWO, VBSs to attend. Lola, Leif, and Luke attended our favorite VBS in the mornings (Levi is too old and Lola was finally old enough this year!) and Leif attended our own church’s “Kids’ Kamp” in the evenings. Luke and Levi “helped” with games, and Lola is still too young to attend. It was a rather crazy week driving back and forth (neither VBS is close, and one is smack-dab in the middle of crazy road construction).

Levi attended a rousing birthday party with 3 good friends at a nearby trampoline park.

I attended a book club meeting where we hilariously donned Jane Austen tattoos (my sister’s tattoos were my favorites) and had an impromptu movie night with Pride and Prejudice and popcorn.

Russ headed over to Bend with Luke early Saturday morning to coach one of his swimmers at a swim meet there. After the meet, they spent a short while at the outdoor splash pool, several hours at a climbing gym, and some time at a bowling alley before crashing haphazardly in a tent.

Levi attended a late evening “glow” event with the church youth group where they played capture the flag and I don’t know what else.

Russ and Luke drove home Sunday afternoon and met up with the rest of us so we could attend our friend Bob’s annual summer party at his house on Lake Oswego (view above). The company is diverse and it’s enjoyable to catch up with everyone over big plates of ribs. (If the boys are trying to describe which Bob they are talking about, this Bob is always “ribs Bob.”) The kids all swam (while I talked).

All four of the kids spent a few hours at another friends’ house playing on Monday afternoon.

We have a pool date at yet another friend’s house later this week, and concerts in the park start up next Monday!

So, all this fun?

I now have whiny children who cannot do simple tasks (much less with a respectful attitude) and they think they are abused and have no friends and do nothing fun and their lives are tragic and boring and it’s always someone else’s fault.

And my house, well, it looks as if there has been a struggle at best. A crime scene, maybe.

I guess we’ll start summer boot camp tomorrow.

Should be fun in this 100+ degree heat wave we’re having. [Seriously, this can’t be Oregon, people.]

How is your summer going?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father’s Day and Family Softball

Family Softball @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We spent Father’s Day afternoon in the garden with my family. It was our first family softball of the season, and Olive’s first time ever! She hit the ball on the very first try and ended up being a natural.

Mom up to Bat @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Rilla up to Bat @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Rilla on the Run @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Russ up to Bat @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Drake up to Bat @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Dad and his girls.

Dad and Daughters @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Russ brought his new toy to share, and everyone had a turn.

Rilla on the Go Cart @ Mt. Hope Chronicles Holly in the Go Cart @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesMom in the Go Cart @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDad in the Go Cart @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I am so thankful for the two most important men in my life. Dad and Russ, you are the best dads I could ask for. I love you both.

Russ and Luke @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Food for Thought ~ A Little Bit of Everything

Green @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


If you want to keep up with me between blog posts, I’m now on Instagram as mthopeheidi. As always, you can also follow me on Facebook, where I share links and more in “real time.” (I am also on Pinterest, but not as often.)


Parenting, Money, and Good Habits

:: 15 Poverty Habits Parents Teach Their Children @ Rich Habits. This post could generate some interesting conversation. His statistics are fascinating. I think we have to remember that correlation does not imply causation, though, and I think that some of the statistics may be effect rather than cause. It’s important to note that this post does not address systemic concerns surrounding poverty nor should we consider monetary wealth as the single indicator of a rich life. His “success habits,” however, aren’t all directly related to money and could help lead a person to a rich life, regardless of income. Most of them involve taking care of what you do have: physical health, time, relationships, character, and mind.

“Wealthy people do certain things every single day that sets them apart from everyone else in life. Wealthy people have good daily success habits that they learned from their parents.”

Parenting and Nature

:: Let Kids Run Wild in the Woods @ Slate

“Taking home small souvenirs of the woods is just the beginning of things kids can’t do in nature. In many parks and other public lands, kids are told by rangers, parents, or teachers not to leave the trail, not to climb rocks or trees, not to whack trees with sticks, not to build forts or lean-tos, not to dig holes, not to move rocks from one place to another within the park, not to yell or even talk too loudly. Are we having fun yet?”



:: It's All In Your Head: Director Pete Docter Gets Emotional In 'Inside Out' @ npr. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie!

On trying to recruit Mindy Kaling, who wound up voicing Disgust:

"I turned around, because I was pitching kind of some visuals on the computer, and she's crying ... she really responded emotionally, and she said, 'Sorry, I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it.' We were like, 'Quick! Write that down.' Because that was really what we were trying to say."


Around the World and Close to Home

:: #BringBackOurGirls: Meet Some of the Survivors From the Boko Haram Chibok Kidnapping @ Cosmopolitan [I can’t believe I’m linking to a Cosmo article.] These girls are finishing their high school education at the Christian boarding school in a little town in Oregon that my great grandfather founded. My grandmother taught there for years and years. My Dad (and siblings) attended the school. A couple uncles have taught there, and my Aunt Judi and Uncle Phil are there now. You can see my grandmother’s house behind the girls in the last picture. I spent some beautiful days of my childhood wandering the town and the grounds of the school. I am so happy for these girls that they are able to be there.


The Internet

The Bad

:: The Comedian vs. The Smart Phone @ The Imaginative Conservative

“Kids are by nature mean. Smart phones make them meaner. Why? They can’t see the faces and experience the reactions of those they diss. Their “humor” is more cruelly fun than it might otherwise be, because it’s unchastened by empathy. Smart phones work against the emotion that evolutionary psychologists say we need to moderate our selfish struggle for status.

“…And an insightful comedian today reminds us that nobody with eyes to see really believes that kids or the rest of us are getting less mean. These might be the toughest times ever not to be smart and pretty.”

:: Internet Outrage, Public Shaming and Modern-Day Pharisees @ Relevant Magazine

“There are many forms of online shaming: The angry blog, the critical tweet, the vicious comment on Facebook. Whatever the method—people try to hurt people. Sometimes the shaming escalates into a mob, a faux-community that latches on to the negative verdict and piles on. Under the pretense of righteous indignation, the mob licks its chops as it goes about demonizing, diminishing and destroying its target.”

:: The Shaming of Izzy Laxamana @ Slate

"The Internet has enabled the schoolyard bully to crash a family dinner, the parental tyrant to stalk his child through the school halls, and the school administrator to punish a girl for the things she does when she leaves the campus... Digital villagers are no longer relegated to the sidelines; online, everybody gets a gavel."

The Good

:: Washington Valedictorian's Secret Instagram Reveals Tear-Jerking Thoughts on Classmates @ Yahoo News


A friend asked if I ever just wanted to quit the internet.

I feel like quitting the internet as often as I feel like quitting everything else involving humanity, including parenting. [wink] But I've come to the conclusion that I need to be the best human I can be wherever I am, and that includes the internet. I've seen so much encouragement, intelligence, and kindness on the internet (FB in particular) as well, and I want to contribute to that if I can (even though I am far from perfect).

You have the power to make the world a better, kinder place, friends. Wherever you are--work, school, community, internet--be the best human you can be.

Like the kid in the article above.

And like this guy:

:: Australian blood donor's 'golden arm' has saved lives of 2 million babies @ KPTV



:: 12 Useful Math Hacks That They Didn’t Teach You In School @ Today Christian. There are some interesting ones here!


Literature and Stories

[You didn’t think I’d skip this topic, did you?]

:: What Etgar Keret Learned From His Father About Storytelling And Survival @ npr. I love, LOVE this article. Go read it all!

"My father was very charismatic and a very good storyteller but he couldn't invent anything so he would tell me stories about things that had just happened. And these stories would be amazing and there was sometimes violence in them, many extreme things, but at the same time, they were full of love for mankind and even the people who would do those extreme things, you would still understand them and like them. The protagonist in those stories, they would always be prostitutes and mafia guys and drunk people.

“…Those stories, for me, were always the model for the function of stories and storytelling in our lives — the idea is that you kind of look reality straight in the face, it doesn't matter how ugly it is, and you try to find humanity in it, you try to find beauty in it, you try to find hope in it. So you can't beautify it, but at the same time, you should find these tiny things that you know that would make sometimes very violent and unhappy occasions still human and emotional.”

:: A Decadent Hell Hole: The Dystopia of “A Handmaid’s Tale” @ The Imaginative Conservative. I read this book a year or two ago. It was fascinating and chilling!

:: Preparing Students to Think about Modern Literature @ Center for Lit

“Joyce’s novel offers a great opportunity to talk about the purpose and nature of literature, as well as the project of the early 20th century modernists. At CenterForLit we believe that all great literature is worth reading, even when we disagree with the worldview of the author. It is through reading opposing viewpoints that we come to have compassion for other worldviews, while being strengthened in our own. And there is always the slightest chance that the author we don’t agree with has noticed something true about the world, which can then be magnified and deepened with real Truth.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Back to Ancient History (and Classical Conversations, Cycle 1)

Ancient History Resources @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

We are finishing up Modern history this summer and preparing to hop in the “Way Back Machine” in the fall. We get to return to Ancient history! [This marks the beginning of my 3rd tour through history!]

After much consideration and a few years of experience, I’ve chosen option #5 from this post exploring ways to integrate Classical Conversations history sentence memorization and The Story of the World. This means that we study world history chronologically by reading all four volumes of The Story of the World over a period of three years, roughly corresponding to the CC history sentences memory work in Foundations and more closely corresponding to the themed writing in Essentials. The beauty of this schedule is that my kids will go through world history twice during 1st – 6th grades (once as a light introduction with some picture books and a second time as an in-depth study with integrated writing) before beginning the Challenge program in 7th grade.

CC Foundations cycle 1 history sentences cover a broad range of civilizations and geographical regions from ancient to modern, only roughly chronologically due to the various lengths of time each civilization was flourishing (and a few of the sentences really jump around on the timeline because they are grouped by geographical region rather than chronologically). We’ll be focusing on the ancient civilizations for our in-depth studies, but we’ll be placing each one of the history sentences along with the facts from the history timeline (which students memorize in full from ancients to modern every year) in our new timeline book.

I am tutoring an Essentials class this year, and both Luke and Leif will be joining me. So we will using the Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons from IEW and writing papers using literature selections from and non-fiction sources about Sumer, Egypt, Israel, Babylon, Greece, and Rome.

Our last time through the Ancients, I posted an extensive list of literature selections, so I’ll focus on mostly non-fiction books and resources for Ancient history and geography in this post. I’ll share our resources for cycle 1 math, science, Latin, English grammar, and fine arts in an upcoming post.

If you wish to read Our Big-Picture Educational Scope and Sequence Integrated with Classical Conversations, check out this link. It covers our progression in all subjects from Pre-K through 6th grade.

Honestly, our children are so blessed to have so many excellent books and resources available to them in this day and age. This list could have been much longer, and I know there are many other beautiful, informative, fascinating, or hilarious books out there that we don’t have (yet, ha!)! This is a wide range of books from simple picture books to longer chapter books. Some are serious. Some are meant to be funny and entertaining. I prefer a wide variety!

[I do not formally schedule or read aloud most of these books. I set them out when we are covering that civilization or time period and the boys grab them and read independently whenever they have time or I tell them it’s time to read. I’ve had these books out in stacks this past week while sorting and planning, and I could not keep the boys out of them!]

Ancient History

(Click here for more literature and historical fiction selections.)


The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History

The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

Classical Acts and Facts History Cards from Classical Conversations

The Story of the World: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor

Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons [IEW]

Famous Figures of Ancient Times: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble

Sun-Day, Moon-Day: How the Week Was Made (includes Babylonian, Greek, and Roman stories)

100 Things You Should Know About World Wonders (Short paragraphs of information not just about the 7 wonders of the ancient world, but also wonders in the Americas, Africa, the East, Easter Island, Stonehenge, natural wonders, and a few modern wonders)

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (A fun fiction chapter book. Jason and Gareth travel to Egypt and Rome/Britain as well as more modern time periods.)

Pages of History (volume 1; up to Martin Luther) (A time-traveling history book from Veritas Press)

YouTube series:

Horrible Histories, History Teachers, Crash Course History [All hilarious. Parental guidance suggested.]

PBS – Pyramid – David Macaulay (Hour-long show, much of it animated)

PBS – Roman City – David Macaulay (Another of Macaulay’s Early Civilizations shows)


Educational Trivia Card Game - Professor Noggin's Ancient Civilizations

Educational Trivia Card Game – Professor Noggin’s Countries of the World

Educational Trivia Card Game – Professor Noggin’s Wonders of the World

The Classic Historian Ancient History Go Fish

BrainBox Horrible Histories Awful Ancients



Archaeologists Dig for Clues (Simple, fun presentation, but very informative!)

Discovery in the Cave (Step Into Reading 4) (Lascaux cave paintings in France)

First Dog by Jan Brett (A simple, sweet picture book about a cave boy)



Mesopotamia (DK Eyewitness Books)

Science in Ancient Mesopotamia (and Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, Early Islamic Cultures, and India in series)



Discovering Ancient Egypt (interactive website with activities—the hieroglyphic typewriter is fantastic)

Ancient Egypt TOOB by Safari (I love the Safari TOOBS with miniature figures, and this one is great fun for ancient history studies!)

Uncovering History: Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt (This is one of my favorite general books on Egypt.)

Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola (A cute picture book for younger kids)

Story of the Nile: A Journey Through Time Along the World’s Longest River (This is a beautiful picture book.)

Ralph Maseillo’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford

Hieroglyphs (The included stencil makes this book extra fun.)

Tutankhamen’s Gift by Robert Sabuda

Tut’s Mummy: Lost… and Found (Step Into Reading 4)

Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht (This series of books by Richard Platt is quite entertaining.)

Temple Cat by Andrew Clements

Egyptian Gods and Goddesses by Henry Barker (A great easy reader for independent reading!)

Secrets of the Mummies (Eyewitness Readers Level 4)

Chester Crab Comix: Ancient Africa (Egypt, Mali)



I Wonder Why Greeks Built Temples and Other Questions About Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald (Also Egypt and Rome in series)

You Wouldn't Want to Be a Slave in Ancient Greece! (And others in series for Sumer, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mayan and more)

History News: The Greek News (Get your history, newspaper-style! Check out Egypt and Rome in the same series.)

Good Times Travel Agency: Adventures in Ancient Greece (And more in series)

TOOLS OF THE ANCIENT GREEKS: A Kid's Guide to the History & Science of Life in Ancient Greece (Also Rome in series)

Chester Crab Comix: Greeks, Romans, Countrymen!

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky (One of my favorites!)

What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? (Math)

Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick (A short, illustrated chapter book about the first historian)

Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick (Another winner from this author about the ancient mathematician)

Basher History: Mythology: Oh My! Gods and Goddesses

Greek Myths by Deborah Lock (DK Readers Level 3)



Rome in Spectacular Cross-Section (This is a beautiful oversized book with detailed illustrations by Stephen Biesty. Check out Egypt and Greece in this series, as well.)

Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster (An excellent longer narrative)

Chester Crab Comix: Greeks, Romans, Countrymen!

Pompeii… Buried Alive! (Step Into Reading 4)

Pompeii: Lost and Found by Mary Pope Osborne

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #14: Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to MTH #13

Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona, A Young Slave (Another book in the entertaining series by Richard Platt!)

Galen and the Gateway to Medicine by Jeanne Bendick (A wonderful short, illustrated chapter book about the greatest doctor of the Roman empire)

Asterix and the Laurel Wreath (And a bunch of other ancient-history themed Asterix books—classic comic books!)

Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda (Neat mosaic illustrations)



Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #31: China: Land of the Emperor's Great Wall: A Nonfiction Companion to MTH #14

The Great Wall of China

If I Were a Kid in Ancient China (Children of the Ancient World series) (This series has Egypt, Greece, and Rome versions, as well.)

Good Times Travel Agency: Adventures in Ancient China (And others in series)

Confucius Speaks: Words to Live By (Confucius in comic strip form)

Confucius: The Golden Rule



Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha

I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told


Ancient American Civilizations

Chester Crab Comix: The First Americans (includes Anasazi and Moundbuilders)

DK Eyewitness: Aztec, Inca, and Maya

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Celebrating Life with Friends

the good life @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We spent five hours today (after church) with our best friends at the water, celebrating McKinnon’s and Monet’s birthdays.

The weather was perfect. The food was delicious. The company was lovely. The entertainment was spectacular.

The boys learned to kayak. They were all great at it, but I was really impressed with Leif’s skills. (Lola told me she wanted to go out by herself because she knew how to do it! “It’s just left, right, Mom,” she said as she made the rowing motion. I let her go out by herself, but I held the long rope attached to her boat. Indeed, she was pretty good at rowing!)

Leif kayaking @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

There was a bunch of swimming and jumping off the dock. And boat rides for everyone. Russ and the kids all had a chance to be pulled on the tube behind the boat.

Boating at Foster Lake @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Yes, summer is here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Lola @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

She asked for her name in pink.

We practiced saying her name with different punctuation.

Lola. Lola? Lola!

She was emphatic about the exclamation choice. And really? It fits her.

Because this girl lives out loud. With expression.

She makes life rainbows and sunshine and sprinklers.

Oh, be still my beating heart.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Boys’ “Summer” Reading ~ April and May

Boys' Summer Reading @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


You should see the book disaster around my house. I guess if I have to have a disaster, I’d chose a book disaster. I’ve been terrible about keeping up with recording the boys independent reading the past two months since I posted the boys’ summer reading challenge list.

I know a large number of random books have slipped through. Re-reads. Twaddle (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid). Books way below reading level (like Magic Tree House or a gazillion picture books, fiction and non-fiction). And I’m sure I even missed more important books. I think most of these were read in April, May, and the first week of June, but a couple of them may have been read just before. And maybe a couple didn’t get read by the child I thought read them. I’m going with good enough.

*Books are from the challenge list linked above.



*The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

*The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

*Rascal by Sterling North

*The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit

*Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

*Rip Van Winkle (and other stories) by Washington Irving

Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson

Henry Reed’s Journey

Henry Reed’s Babysitting Service

The Penderwicks

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Man Who Was Poe by AVI

City of Orphans by AVI

Books 1-6 of Ranger’s Apprentice (a few times) by John Flanagan

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

*Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

The Lemon Meringue Dog by Walt Morey

The Secret School by AVI


All six of the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree & Wishing-Chair Collection

[Probably all of Roald Dahl books and Life of Fred books!]



*Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

*The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

*The Happy Prince (and other stories) by Oscar Wilde

*Rip Van Winkle (and other stories) by Washington Irving

The Man Who Was Poe by AVI

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

City of Orphans by AVI

*A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

*Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

A Big Day for Cepters by Stephen Krensky

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI

Crispin: At the Edge of the World by AVI

Crispin: The End of Time by AVI

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

*Gentle Ben by Walt Morey

*Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

*Rascal by Sterling North

*Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

The Lemon Meringue Dog by Walt Morey

The Secret School by AVI



Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel

Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel



Tales of a Dead King

Midnight Blue

Song for a Dark Queen by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Stone Book Quartet by Alan Garner

*Lyddie by Katherine Paterson

The Man Who Was Poe by AVI

City of Orphans by AVI

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

A String in the Harp

Crispin: At the Edge of the World by AVI

Crispin: The End of Time by AVI

*Gentle Ben by Walt Morey

*Adam of the Road Elizabeth Janet Gray

*Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

*Rascal by Sterling North

The Lemon Meringue Dog by Walt Morey

Skellig by David Almond

*Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene


Audio Books

Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Father Gilbert Mysteries (The Play’s the Thing, A Soul in Torment)

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

*Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Peter Pan

Monday, June 8, 2015

Food for Thought ~ As Summer Begins

Food for Thought [June] @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Art is how we decorate space; music is how we decorate time. [HT: Squilt Music]


:: On Reading Fairy Tales @ Theopolis Institute [Go read it.]

C.S. Lewis “raises . . . the problem of imaginative impoverishment. The educational system has misread the need of the moment: fearing that young people will be swept away by emotional propaganda, educators have decided the best thing they can do for children is to fortify their minds against imagination and emotion by teaching them to dissect all things by rigorous intellectual analysis.”

:: Why Broken Stories Matter @ CiRCE

"The broken stories of human existence matter because they can lead us to the whole story of the Gospel, and as a teacher I am called to help my students understand the road from broken story to whole story. What a privilege it is."

:: How Fiction Makes Our Brains Better



:: Teach Like a Five Star Chef @ CiRCE

On the one hand we have the perhaps pretentious but certainly conscientious approach of an artist who cares deeply about the nature of his ingredients, their relationships, and what they taste like in and of themselves. On the other hand we have the consumerist approach, driven more by the eater than the nature of the food.

:: Out of the Classroom and into the Woods @ npr

Every Monday morning, the kids suit up for a day outdoors. Rain or shine — even in the bitter cold — they go out. They head to the woods next to their school where they've built a home site with forts and a fire pit.

First thing, the kids go to their "sit spots." These are designated places — under a tree, on a log — where each kid sits quietly, alone, for 10 minutes. Their task is to notice what's changed in nature since last week.


:: An open letter to the village @ Sharp Paynes

[I]f ever there was a village that could help raise a child, this would be the one I’d choose.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Patio Project

Patio Herb Garden @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

It doesn’t look like much, but this is Luke’s and my potted herb garden! (Leif also helped with much of the planting.) It needs to do an awful lot of growing and we should add more herbs. So far we have basil, thyme, parsley, chocolate mint, lemon balm, strawberries, several different kinds of lavender, and honeysuckle (along with some mosses and creepers).

I’m serious when I say I don’t garden (all you avid gardeners and patio people are laughing). And I’m praying that the deer stay away from our plants. But I sure love the way this looks compared to how disastrous it was a few days ago! This summer I hope to reclaim one abandoned spot at a time. Maybe the outside of our house will look half decent by September.

[This spot is the half of the back porch that extends to the right of the house and is visible from the front. I’ll share more pictures as we finish projects around the house.]

Saturday, June 6, 2015

ChocLit Guild @ Sweet Bouquets

ChocLit Guild @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

ChocLit Guild met this past week at my second mom, Debi’s, house. [She has a beautiful blog called Sweet Bouquets.] I wish I had taken a few pictures of her garden which was looking spectacular! Her house is always so lovely. And she even made a delicious dessert for us (with chocolate, of course).

ChocLit Guild Ladies @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[My third mom, Judy, is on the right. I must be a handful to need so many moms!]

Aunt Holly worked hard to get Sweden to sleep.

Sweden and Aunt Holly @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Sweet Sweden @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Book Club Discussion @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The rest of us relaxed and talked. We were missing a few of our regulars (missed you, Jessye, Cheris, and Tinsa!!), and one of our long-distance members (we always miss you, Danielle!).

Our book line-up since the last ChocLit Guild post:


ChocLit Guild 2015

Any book by Gene Stratton-Porter

The Greater Journey by David Mccullough

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Catch-up month (possibly A Year in Provence or another book by Peter Mayle)

Any book by Wilkie Collins

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


I think that should keep us busy for a while.


I’ll leave you with another sleeping baby picture, because…well, who needs an excuse for another sleeping baby picture?!

Sleeping Sweden @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hi, Friends!

Lola Colette @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Has your summer begun? We’re heading into more than a week of 85-90+ degree weather! That’s hot for early June in our neck of the woods!

The boys finished the last of their testing for the charter school this week and then had their end-of-the-year park celebration.

I’ve been so lazy lately. Against all odds, I found some motivation today and did a huge gardening/outside project! If you know me, you know that’s news-worthy. [grin] I’ll take some pictures after Russ does a few extra things to the area this weekend.

Luke and I also made our first batch of lavender soap. All things considered, melt-and-pour soap is a fun, easy, clean, quick, and satisfying project to do with kids! [That combination is hard to come by!] We purchased a block of Shea Butter Glycerin Melt and Pour Soap Base, cut it into chunks, melted it in the microwave, added some lavender buds and lavender essential oil, and poured into a mini bar mold. It set up quickly. Luke’s ready to experiment with different colors and oils.

The little bars make great gifts.

Luke's Lavender Soap @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


In other news, some of you have been asking if I am on Instagram. You can now find me there as mthopeheidi. Come say hello!

And remember, you can always find me on Facebook, as well.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reading Round-Up ~ May 2015

BOOKS! @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I hereby declare June’s blog theme: BOOKS!

I have a gazillion reviews and lists of various sorts to share.

I’ll admit it, though, I’ve been spending more time watching movies and tv shows than reading books in the past few weeks. Not quality stuff. On one end of the spectrum, I reverted to my teenage years and began watching When Calls the Heart (it turns out my middle son is a romantic at heart and won’t let me watch it without him; he now plans to be a Canadian Mountie when he grows up). This is the first time I have ever paid to watch a series on Amazon streaming (the first season is free on Netflix). On the other end of the spectrum, I’m slightly addicted to Beauty and the Beast (in the middle of season 2 on Netflix). Please don’t judge. I try to balance out these vices with quality flicks like Pride and Prejudice.

But let’s get back to books.

I stumbled upon an article today, and it said something to me, right where I am. The Essential Sadness of Art @ Goins, Writer challenged me once again to see art (including books) as something other than entertainment and escapism. This is not easy for me. Not. at. all.

From the article:
I hope you embrace the fact that you are a wonderful work in progress but still fragmented at the core. And I hope this compels you to make things the world has never seen. Things that are wonderful and true and, yes, even a little sad. Maybe in doing so, you’ll lead us into a deeper story.
I like easy. I like happy. I like neat and tidy. I don’t enjoy messy and heartbreaking. I want to enjoy. I want to escape reality—both of the world and of myself.

I’ve read several books this year that are messy and heartbreaking and even unpleasant. Discerning the art is difficult for me. Discerning value is difficult for me. But I will continue reading and thinking and feeling and growing. And I will continue to read a variety of books for a variety of purposes (one of which will still be for enjoyment and escape).

Here’s where I am in my reading so far. I’ve added a few short reviews and ratings, but I hope to add longer reviews and quotes this month. Also, these books are in no particular order and often the lines are blurred between novels, classics, and junk food.

The 2015 Book List Challenge

[*Added to original list]


Lila: A Novel [I had a more difficult time getting into this novel than Robinson’s previous two novels in the series, but the story was greatly rewarding in the end. What a beautiful picture of grace the author masterfully paints. Marilynne Robinson is at the top of my list. 4 1/2 stars]

Hood [Hood is the first Stephen Lawhead book I’ve read. It is a retelling of the Robin Hood myth. It was well-told and entertaining, but not excellent. I’d like to try another series by Lawhead. 3 1/2 stars]

The Sunday Philosophy Club [This is from the author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which I very much enjoyed. Interesting in places, charming in places, and boring in quiet a few places. 3 stars.]

A Girl of The Limberlost (ChocLit Guild) [Sweet, safe, turn of the century romance novel by Gene Stratton-Porter, full of natural history. 3 1/2 stars]

The Brothers K

The Road

Dune [I tried to start it and just couldn’t get going. Maybe I’ll try again later this year.]

The Once and Future King

The Chosen [A fascinating look at Jewish culture in 1940s Brooklyn, New York, written by Chaim Potok. I was captivated. 4 1/2 stars]

Beloved [Toni Morrison has given us a tragic and graphic but exquisitely-written narrative that seeps the reader in the culture of slavery. Haunting. 4 1/2 stars]

The Book Thief

*Whose Body? [Lord Peter Wimsey debuts in this detective novel by Dorothy Sayers. Slightly reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse, but not nearly so silly, Whose Body? is the first of the series. I mostly read this one so that I could work my way up to Clouds of Witness. 3 1/2 stars]

Clouds of Witness

Catch-22 [This was a tough read for me, and I wished it had been about half as long. I cannot read 400+ pages of satirical nonsense before my head explodes. It gave me more to think about, however, as I was reading Unbroken since both books are about bombardiers during WWII. It is an important modern classic, but not at all enjoyable to read. 3 stars]

Lord of the Flies [Lord of the Flies was not cheerful, by any means, but not quite as grim or at least not as explicit as I was expecting. Important modern classic, not particularly enjoyable. 3 1/2 stars.]

The Great Gatsby [Quintessential Jazz Age and a cultural imperative. 4 1/2 stars.]

Invisible Man

The Return of the Native

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel

The Grapes of Wrath


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The Signature of All Things [This is a brilliantly-told narrative, even if it took quite some time for the story to get going. (The beginning is interesting, but the first 13 chapters all seem to have the same pacing.) I have very strong feelings about this one, but it is a bit of a pendulum swing when I consider it. It disturbed me. I think I hated it. But maybe, if I read it again, I’d love it. Oddly, it reminded me in some ways of Till We Have Faces, which I didn’t hate. I don’t even know how to rate this one. 4 1/2 stars for the excellent writing. 2 stars for enjoyment.]

*Godric: A Novel [My feelings about Godric were similar to my feelings about The Signature of All Things, though I was more frustrated than disturbed and Godric wasn’t as long. I think I hated it, but maybe I’d love it if I re-read it so that I could understand it better, see more deeply. I suppose good writing is writing that makes you feel and think, in which case both books are excellent. I don’t know. But I hate hating books. It makes me feel shallow and imperceptive. Am I not intellectual enough to love books that aren’t enjoyable? I think I have to be prepared ahead of time for a tragic or graphic or dark story like I was for Beloved or Till We Have Faces. I also find it fascinating that stories can speak so differently to people. Again, it is true: no two people read the same book. 4 stars for the writing, 2 1/2 for the enjoyment.]

Merry Hall [I loved Down the Garden path by Beverly Nichols, and Merry Hall did not disappoint. It’s like P.G. Wodehouse in the garden. Quite hilarious. The little vignettes are somewhat unconnected, though, and there is no driving narrative, so I didn’t find myself needing to continue reading. 3 1/2 stars]

*Go Set a Watchman: A Novel

*Gone with the Wind (ChocLit Guild)

*The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel [This is a charming and delightful modern novel. I needed something light after a run of several difficult novels. I liked this one in a way similar to The Rosie Project. Quirky. Modern. Not depressing. Not cheesy. Not squeaky clean, but not gritty. 3 1/2 stars]

*The Little Village School [in progress]


Pride and Prejudice (ChocLit Guild) [For years I have adored both the BBC movie version with Colin Firth as well as the newer movie version with Matthew Macfadyen, but I had never read the book! Now I can say that I’ve read it. But, honestly? It was delightful in the same way that the movies are delightful. (grin) Both movies retain so much of the story (particularly the longer BBC movie version) and the original dialogue, that I simply replayed the movies in my mind throughout my reading of the whole book. And then I wanted to watch the movies again. I’m not sure how to separate my love for them, so I’ll rate them together: 5 stars.]

Gulliver's Travels (An abridged re-telling) [I love this retelling and the illustrations are fantastic. A must for cultural literacy. 4 stars]

Moby Dick

Paradise Lost (ChocLit Guild)

The Brothers Karamazov

The Lord of the Rings

Frankenstein [in progress]

No Name (Or something else by Wilkie Collins. ChocLit Guild)

Hamlet (CC Moms Book Club) [deep reading in progress]


The Iliad

The Odyssey

Children’s and YA Novels

The Door in the Wall (CC Challenge A) [A wonderful coming of age story set in Medieval times. 4 stars]

A Gathering of Days (CC Challenge A) [This was my least favorite of all the Challenge A literature selections. Somewhat boring and forced. I didn’t care for the journal-style writing. 2 1/2 stars]

Crispin: The Cross of Lead (CC Challenge A) [This was my favorite of the Challenge A literature selections. I ended up purchasing the other two books in the trilogy as well as several others by the author. Another great coming of age story set in Medieval times. 4 stars]

Where the Red Fern Grows (CC Challenge B)

Junk Food

*Highland Fling [So fun. So easy to read. So not edifying in any way. (grin) 3 stars]

*Paradise Fields [I enjoy this author, but this was probably my least favorite book of hers. 2 stars]

*Undetected  [Tom Clancy meets Grace Livingston Hill. Well-researched and interesting details about sonar. Squeaky-clean and positive Christian romance. Not painfully written. Probably just a tad (ha!) unrealistic and idealistic. If I were willing to be totally honest, I would tell you that this genre is smack-dab in the middle of my comfort zone and the easiest, most enjoyable thing for me to read. But I don’t want to admit that. (wry grin) 3 stars]

*Attachments [Chick lit set in 1999. 3 stars]



Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (ChocLit Guild)

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (ChocLit Guild)

The Hiding Place (CC Challenge B)

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Faith, Culture, and Education

The Pursuit of God (ChocLit Guild) [in progress]

Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age (CiRCE Conference)

Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education (CiRCE Conference) [in progress]

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

The Soul of Science (CC Parent Practicum)

Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art (CC Parent Practicum) [in progress]

Honey for a Teen's Heart [Detailed review here. 4 1/2 stars]

Invitation to the Classics: A Guide to Books You've Always Wanted to Read

*Just Walk Across the Room (ChocLit Guild)


*The Bronze Bow (CC Challenge A)

*The Question (CC Moms Book Club) [deep reading in progress]

*A Tale of Two Cities (reading aloud) [in progress]

*The Catcher in the Rye [in progress]

*Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll [audio book/read aloud in progress]

*Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (read aloud)

*Heidi by Johanna Spyri