Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lindsay’s Bridal Shower

Lindsay's Bridal Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

My “little sister” Lindsay is getting married! [Okay, she’s not really my little sister, but we’ve been close family friends since she was born and we grew up together.] Her bridal shower was a lovely garden affair.

Lindsay is on the right. Her sister-in-law, Domini, is on the left.

Domini and Lindsay @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesA Bridal Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The bridesmaids at the 1920’s photo booth. [Lindsay’s wedding is going to be a smashing 1920s theme. I cannot wait to have the chance to be one of the photographers!]

1920s Models @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Isn’t the setting beautiful?! [This is the garden of Lindsay’s mom, who is also my honorary second mother. She blogs at Sweet Bouquets.]

Bridal Shower in the Garden @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBridal Shower Dessert @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBridal Shower Gifts @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeverage Table @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesDebi's Garden @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBridal Shower Ladies @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesFruit Parfaits @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Which is sweeter? Dessert or Baby Sweden Elise?

Sweden @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And into the twilight, twinkle lights and quiet conversations.

Evening Bridal Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Food for Thought ~ The Super Duper Random Edition

Food for Thought @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Find more images, links, and videos on my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram.]

Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks him if he wants a drink. "I think not," Descartes says.

And then he disappears.


:: The Really Big One. An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when. @ The New Yorker

[This is a fascinating, detailed, terrifying article. We live two miles east of I-5. I’m guessing that’s not much of a buffer. The boys have been busy talking about survival gear and knowledge the past couple days. Maybe we should take a month of “school” for a disaster-preparedness unit. Ahem.]

"Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

:: Ask R.C.: What Are Some Concerns You Have With the Homeschooling Movement? @ R.C. Sproul Jr.

[If you are a homeschooler, read this one.]

:: Cultural Apologetics and the Evangelizing Power of Beauty @ The Imaginative Conservative

[This post synthesizes so well with everything I took away from the CiRCE PNW Regional Conference. Go read it. P.S. CiRCE now has my favorite talk, Gregory Wolfe: Beauty, The Cinderella of the Transcendentals, available in video on their free resource page!]

If the Good, the True and the Beautiful, as a reflection of the Trinity, are the end to which we strive they are also, through their manifestation in love, reason and creativity, the means by which the end is achieved. Love is the path to goodness; reason is the path to truth; and creativity is the path to beauty.

:: Finding Your Place by Ennobling the World @ The Imaginative Conservative

"[A]s you move ahead with your life, you should try wholeheartedly to embrace the spirit of the places where you find yourself. Do this for even the humblest places, and for even the most transient periods of your life. Be fully present to them, in body and spirit. Make yourself a part of them. Turn off your phones and computers, turn off your anxieties and vanities, set them aside, walk outside, open your eyes, and look around."

:: There is Always Hope: Wendell Berry on the Environment, the Economy, and the Imagination @ The Imaginative Conservative

'He countered such gloom with the admonition to “have as much fun as you can.” And there is always hope: “My faith is that it can’t ever get so bad that a person can’t do something to make things a little better.”

'That is a profoundly humane vision, and our terrible responsibility.’

:: Filmmaker Wants To Stop Fathers From Giving Up Their Daughters @ npr

"There is a theory that stories are based on ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances," says Khan. "I choose instead to make films about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances that make the extraordinary choice."

:: The Next Culture War by David Brooks @ The New York Times

"We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed. Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements. Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital. Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms. Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through."


"There is nothing people won’t tell you if you ask in a compassionate and legitimately interested way.” — Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York

:: Man Buys 10.000 Undeveloped Negatives At a Local Auction And Discovers One of the Most Important Street Photographers of the Mid 20th Century @ Upshout

Incredible. I’ve added the documentary to my to-watch list.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Awakening

Miss Prim Review @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’ve been in a total reading slump. I couldn’t get into a book. I didn’t even want to pick one up. Until yesterday.

A few weeks ago I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“It might surprise you to know that books I enjoy every single second of are hard to come by. I want action! I want romance! I want great writing! I want it to be easy! I want it to be profound! I want to learn something! I don't want to feel guilty! I don't want bad endings! But I don't want it all perfect and cheesy! [You catch my drift.] There is one series that fits all of these requirements: The Squire's Tales. Yes, it's labeled as middle grade/YA, but don't be fooled.”

Now I can share another book that fits those requirements (not much action, but it has a plot!):

The Awakening of Miss Prim

Classical education, literature (good books and Great Books from L.M. Alcott and Jane Austen to Virgil, John Donne, and Aeschylus), Latin and Greek, a charming French village, faith, and romance.

Delightful from the first chapter. Read in a day. Enjoyed every single second. No guilt. Good ending, but not tied up with a bow.


It is at the top of the enjoyment list so far this year, and I doubt it will be beat.

Let me put it another way. From my reading list so far this year, if you mixed together the cream of the following books into a delightful, easy-to-read 250 page book, you’d get Miss Prim.

Beauty Will Save the World (beauty, faith, art; and, coincidentally, a quote used in Miss Prim)

Norms and Nobility (Classical education and faith)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (a modern romance framed around literature (though a book store rather than a library))

Highland Fling (a fun modern romance between a gruff employer and his employee, small village (in Scotland))

The Little Village School (a woman moves to a charming European (English) village to be a school teacher (instead of a librarian), romance)

Pride and Prejudice (Let’s just say that there’s more than one reference to Mr. Darcy in Miss Prim.)


P.S. If you don’t love classical education, literature, idealistic French villages, and romance, don’t read this book and then tell me you hated it. [grin]


“I can’t believe he got you to recognize Virgil from a single line. How can you do that without studying or analyzing? Don’t you know parts of the Aeneid by heart? I seem to remember that’s what I heard the afternoon I arrived.”

“We know lots of parts of poems and stories by heart—it’s the first thing we do with all books,” said Teseris in her gentle voice. “He says it’s how you learn to love books; it’s got a lot to do with memory. He says that when men fall in love with women they learn their faces by heart so they can remember them later. They notice the color of their eyes, the color of their hair; whether they like music, prefer chocolate or biscuits…”

Miss Prim’s expression softened a little. There it was again, the strange, dark, concentrated delicacy, the infuriating male ego combined with unexpected streaks of grace.

“It’s the same thing with books,” continued Teseris. “In lessons we learn bits by heart and recite them. Then we read the books and discuss them and then we read them again.”

…“What about fairy tales? Don’t you like fairy tales?” she asked…

“We like them,” said Eksi shyly. “We like them a lot.”

“What’s your favorite?”

“The story of the Redemption,” replied her older sister simply.

Astounded, Miss Prim couldn’t think how to respond. The child’s strange statement showed that despite his efforts, despite his insistence and his arrogance, the Man in the Wing Chair hadn’t succeeded in instilling even the most basic rudiments of the faith that was so important to him. He hadn’t managed to explain the historical background of his religion. How could this be? All those morning walks to the abbey, all that reading of theology, all that ancient liturgy, all that playing at medieval jousting and what had he achieved? Four children convinced that the texts he so loved were just fairy tales.

“But Tes, it’s not exactly a fairy tale. Fairy tales are stories full of fantasy and adventure; they’re meant to entertain. They’re not set at any specific time and aren’t about real people or places.”

“Oh, we know that,” said the little girl. “We know it’s not a normal fairy tale; it’s a real fairy tale.”

Miss Prim, pensive, adjusted her position on the old iron bench.

“What you mean is it’s like a fairy tale, is that it?” she asked, intrigued.

“No, of course not. The Redemption is nothing like a fairy tale, Miss Prim. Fairy tales and ancient legends are like the Redemption. Haven’t you ever noticed? It’s like when you copy a tree from the garden on a piece of paper. The tree from the garden doesn’t look like the drawing, does it? It’s the drawing that’s a bit, just a little bit, like the real tree.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Concerts in the Park

The Coats @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We enjoyed our first of the summer concert series with family and friends. The weather was perfect, and The Coats are one of our favorite groups. The lineup this month is fantastic!

Concert in the Park @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesMondays at Monteith @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLola @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLeif with The Coats @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Boys’ Summer Reading ~ June

Boys' Summer Reading @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The boys are continuing to read through the summer, partly from their summer reading list challenge (books marked with *).


The Light Princess and The Golden Key by George MacDonald

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

(Re-read) Ranger’s Apprentice books 1-6

*Gentle Ben by Walt Morey

The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen [This and the following two books are hefty books!]

The Search for the Red Dragon

The Indigo King

Moby Dick (Campfire Classics graphic novel)

The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith (prequel to Green Ember)

The Green Ember by S. D. Smith



Fahrenheit 451 (last month)

*Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Robert E. Lee: Young Confederate (Childhood of Famous Americans)

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

*To Be a Slave by Julius Lester

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

(Re-read) The Indian in the Cupboard, The Return of the Indian, The Secret of the Indian, and The Mystery of the Indian

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen

*What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

*A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Moby Dick (Campfire Classics graphic novel)

The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith (prequel to Green Ember)

The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keattey Snyder



[Levi spent a lot of time this past month writing and drawing and less time reading. He may have read or reread other books or listened to audio books, as well.]

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Murder on the Orient Express (re-read)

*Little Women (re-read)

Invincible Louisa: The story of the author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs

Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman

Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen

The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith (prequel to Green Ember)

Moby Dick (Campfire Classics graphic novel)

Where the Red Fern Grows (Challenge B)

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Summer Life

Pool Part @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I love summer.

Even with our current heat wave.

I cannot ever remember a spring/early summer this dry and hot. We’ve had a long string of 90-100 degree days. The 15-day forecast says 80-90 degrees, which is better.

On one of the HOT days, we spent hours at my friend Lindsay’s pool with her daughter, Daphne. Actually, she’s more like my little sister since I’ve known her since she was born. Grin.

Shannon, Rilla, Sweden, and my mom were there as well (and Lindsay’s mom, my second mom), so it was a big party. Sweden slept and slept before donning a yellow polka dot bikini and getting in the water for the first time in her short life. I took a bunch of pictures with my mom’s camera, so maybe she’ll post some soon. [Ahem, Mom.]

Baby Toes @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

On Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my long-time online friend Crissy and her son, Hunter. It’s always nice to see friends in person!

Tonight kicks off the Monday evening summer concert series in the park.

We’ll see what the rest of this week holds.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reading Challenge Up-Date ~ June 2015

Read a Book @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Which are you?

This past month I had a difficult time even wanting a book to read! June should have been my biggest reading month. Instead it was a blah month. [I’d better get cracking this next month!]

I did manage to read a few books. My favorites were A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (a middle grade novel; it will probably be one of my favorites of the whole year) and The Conversation by Leigh Bortins (a great finale for her trilogy on classical education).

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. 4 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 [Charming story. Sort of like Mitford, but centered around a school in England. 3 1/2 stars]


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 [I knew I wouldn’t end up reading this one this year (or ever), so I grabbed an excellent graphic novel version. This month a friend shared with me an interesting essay titled Why You Should Read Moby Dick by R.C. Sproul. I still don’t know if I’ll read the unabridged version, but I appreciated having some deep ideas to think about as I read the graphic novel.]

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)

*A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park [This was an excellent read about a boy from war-torn Sudan. Highly recommended for adults as well as children (though it may be a little much for very young or sensitive children). This will be one of my favorite books this year. 4 1/2 stars.]

*In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord [This is a darling book about a little girl who moves from China to New York in the year 1947. It is a well-written simple chapter book. I would have given it four stars if it hadn’t been for two short events in the book that I did not care for. First (and this is a nit-picky complaint), a bully at school gives her two black eyes while swearing at her, and the words are bleeped out in asterisks. Shirley refuses to tell her parents what happened because she knows the bully would take it out on her. Her resolve not to tattle is rewarded by the bully becoming her friend the next day. Second, Shirley’s next friend tells her that she wants to show her something and swears Shirley to secrecy. The girls sneak into the friend’s dad’s office (he’s a psychiatrist) and the friend shows her a book (presumably a medical book) with pictures of naked people. Shirley pretends enthusiasm, but has no desire to look at the book. The story takes only a couple pages, but it begins with “Only one aspect of her friendship with Emily would have displeased her mother, but she was not likely to find it out, and so Shirley did not trouble herself too much over it.” It was this second event that just didn’t sit well with me, partly because the rest of the book is wonderful for 8-11 year olds. 3 stars.]

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 Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (ChocLit Guild) [in progress]

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)

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 Conversation: Challenging Your Student with a Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins (third in trilogy) [Excellent. 4 stars for the trilogy.]


*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