Thursday, January 19, 2017

Food for Thought ~ The Thoughts We Think

The Thoughts We Think @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

:: How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity by Dr. Travis Bradberry @ The Huffington Post [There is important information in this post for all of us. After a hilarious conversation on Facebook (and on a less serious note), I’ve started having my kids sing their complaints and arguments to me with jazz hands.]

Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Complaining becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you.

And here’s the kicker: complaining damages other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus—an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought.


When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol.

:: Here's How Marcus Aurelius Got Himself Out Of Bed Every Morning @ Business Insider [This absolutely tickled my funny bone, but it is so profound. Getting myself out of bed in the morning is a struggle, and I think I need to try some his self-talk. Go read the whole thing.]

At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: 'I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I'm going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?'

— But it's nicer in here ...

So you were born to feel 'nice'? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you're not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren't you running to do what your nature demands?

:: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Luke and I are working on his persuasive essay for this book, two years after Levi and I discussed it. Chapter 27, In the Garden, is my favorite, and the first few pages concern the power of negative and positive thoughts, for Mary, Colin, and Archibald Craven.]

"In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done--then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts--just mere thoughts--are as powerful as electric batteries--as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live."

“…While the secret garden was coming alive and two children were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about certain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiords and the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he was a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them; he had lain on maintain-sides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming all about him and flower breaths filling all the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rifht of light to pierce through. He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties.”

The Secret Garden

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lindsay’s Literary Baby Shower

Lindsay's Literary Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Do you remember this exquisite wedding (and more wedding pictures and this fun bridal shower)?

Well, my “little sister” Lindsay and her husband, Bob, are expecting a baby in just a few short weeks!

[I took Lindsay’s family pictures back in November, and I’ll post them as soon as my hard drive is recovered!]

My sister Shannon (with friends Jessye, Tinsa, and Domini) knocked it out of the park again with the baby shower decor. It helped to have such a fabulous location.

Lindsay and Friends @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The literary theme was carried throughout the room. Each guest table was topped with a stack of gorgeous old books.

Book Love @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lindsay with her daughter, sister-in-law Domini, and mom:

Lindsay's Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Chalkboards with literary quotes were sprinkled throughout the room. This was my favorite:

Chapter 1 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lovely brunch food:

Brunch @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBaby Shower Brunch @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The guest book was a darling picture book version of Anne of Green Gables. Guests signed the inside cover.

Guest Table @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

This adorable illustration of Anne of Green Gables was custom created by a friend. Lindsay received the original piece of art, and the image was the cover of the invitations.

Anne of Green Gables @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesOld Books @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesChildren's Book Banner @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesBeautiful Books @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLiterary Baby Shower @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesOpening Gifts @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLiterary Love @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesAll Things Little @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

What happens when Heidi is given the task of planning the baby shower game? The guests are given a literature quiz!

I gave them each a paper with 20 children’s book quotes and 20 children’s book titles, and they had to match them.

Want to give it a try?


1. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver…”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”__________

2. Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk.________

3. In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines… ________

4. Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown. ________

5. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” _________

6. Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. _________

7. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.” __________

8. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!  _________

9. It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” ________

10. The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.  _________

11. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. _________

12. For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.  __________

13. So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books.  ___________

14. “You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to everyone.” __________

15. “Please, sir. I want some more.” _________

16. “No, Miss Minchin, you are not kind. And this is not a home.” _________

17. “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”  ___________

18. And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.  ___________

19. A person’s a person, no matter how small. ___________

20. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. _________



A. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

B. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

C. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

D. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

E. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

F. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

G. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

H. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

J. Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

K. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

L. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

M. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury

N. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

O. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

P. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Q. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

R. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

S. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

T. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Levi at 15

Levi @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[My new year blog posting goals were foiled by a failed hard drive on the evening of January 1st. All my photos and half-written blog posts were lost and they are gone until we get good news from the recovery company. I’ve been regularly active on my Facebook page, so you can always find me there.]

Levi, my eldest, turned 15 on January 1st.

He was 5 when I started writing here at Mt. Hope Chronicles. [You can find links to pictures and descriptions of him at various ages here.] I always think he’s pretty indescribable until I re-read the description of an ENFP, which is in all honesty an exact description. If I had to sum him up in one word, it would probably be drama. [grin]

What’s Levi up to now?

He is still homeschooling (I use that term loosely) for his first year of high school. He attends our local Classical Conversations Challenge I program, studying algebra, Latin, physical science, American literature and persuasive writing, American documents, economics, policy debate, Shakespeare, and music theory with a group of 11 other students and a fantastic tutor. (Shakespeare and Latin are his favorites; math is his nemesis.) They meet one day each week for presentation, discussion, and science labs. He spends much of the rest of the week studying at his friend McKinnon’s house (with McKinnon’s mom, my best friend Char, teaching and supervising). We’ve found this works better than having him stay at home and butt heads with his mother and younger siblings. It gives him some much-needed space and extroverted time outside the house. He will also be taking an online literature class (Tolkien) with James Nance at Roman Roads (he loves Tokien) this semester as well as attending a 4-day Teen Pact leadership camp over spring break (which he is not at all thrilled about).

Winter Drama @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Levi’s greatest love—other than writing, drawing, and online role playing—is swimming. This is his first year swimming with the local high school team. It has been time and energy-consuming, but he loves being on the team and swimming for coaches other than his dad (though he’ll return to the YMCA club team that his dad coaches in the high school off-season). He was particularly thrilled to ride a school bus for the first time in his life (to and from swim meets).

Levi’s greatest aspiration at this point in his life is to become a lifeguard. To that end, he will be completing his lifeguard training in two weeks and then will be eligible to apply for a lifeguarding position at the Y. A job will have to wait until his school year is over in May, however, because he has no time left in his schedule! [Right now his plan for his future life is to work as a lifeguard and to live in his car.]

Orthodontics are now in the past (as of yesterday) and a driver’s permit is in his near future. He is eligible and has the study manual; he just needs to study it and pass the test (he is surprisingly reluctant to begin driving). Driver’s Ed will also have to wait until this summer. He attended his first formal in December with a friend.

He can still argue with a fence post and dazzle people with his verbosity. His eyes are still vivid blue, but he has lost his baby face. His hair is shaggy. He looks down on me from his towering six-foot height. His shoulders are broad and his waist narrow. His voice is now low and sonorous. He is constantly drawing on himself with his plethora of Sharpie pens and often looks like he is sporting a full sleeve of tattoos.

His favorite song is “I See Fire” from The Hobbit (which is my favorite song to hear him singing in his low voice). His favorite current movie is Assassin’s Creed. 


And that’s my Levi.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Shakespeare Project

The Shakespeare Project @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I am a glutton for punishment. Or I love setting myself up for failure. But, look at it this way: a year of Shakespeare that fizzles out after three weeks is still three weeks of Shakespeare, right?

I’ve been sucked into two different groups of Facebook friends inspired by A Daily Plan for Reading Shakespeare at First Things. Reading all (yes, all) of Shakespeare in a year, how hard could it be? Added to my Tolkien Project and my Chesterton Project (about which I haven’t yet posted), I really think I’m set. [wry grin]

As of today, I’ve read three more Shakespeare sonnets than I would have without this project. See, successful already!

I found a Complete Works of Shakespeare on my shelf (not the one in the link, but another out of print tome), and I’ll be using it for the sonnets and other poetry and any plays I decide not to buy in a Folger Shakespeare Library edition. I’ve already purchased Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew, so I’m set for a couple weeks. I may eventually break down and purchase the Folger edition of Sonnets and Poems.

Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage will be my biography choice because it is already on my shelf. I’ve read it, but it has been years and I’m due for a re-read.

The Leon Garfield Shakepeare Stories are my top choice for retellings, and I’m still working through both volumes with my boys.

It won’t be all reading. I’d like to watch as many movie versions as possible, as well as attend local productions and even make it down to Ashland for a performance or two.

The sonnets are a challenge for me. This year is mainly an introduction, but I could use a little help. The following Crash Course video was helpful today. I may also use this online site for helpful explanations and commentary.

Shakespeare's Sonnets: Crash Course Literature 304

It may help to read the sonnets with my ears as well as eyes.

A plain English version is always helpful:


I’ll definitely be listening to Venus and Adonis while following along in my book.

Would you like to join me this year? Or this month? Or even a week or a day?

Dip your toes in; the water’s fine.