Friday, February 27, 2015

Book Review: Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love

Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love by Dietrich von Hildebrand

This book is slim -- only an introduction by the author's wife and two chapters. Written by a philosopher, it examines the richness of marriage, a richness sometimes forgotten in the ordinariness of married life.
...above all, they must beware of an indolent indifference and of simply floating down the stream of everyday habits. They must recall anew every hour the unspeakably precious gift which God gave in the form of the soul of the beloved. Never must they lose the sense of the wonderful mystery that the other person whom they love loves them too, that the other lives for them, that they own something far above all other earthly possessions.
Beautiful! (Though I can't help wondering how often he did the laundry or changed a diaper.)

Sometimes the language was a little stilted. The lofty ideals of the quote above remained prominent through much of the book. It's much more of a treatise on the idea of marriage and the overall goals than a help in developing and maintaining a relationship. If, however, you have ever questioned the importance or relevance of marriage, this book may be a good place to start.
We must never forget that we do not live in paradise, but that as a consequence of the fall of man, we live in a world which is permeated by a deeply tragic element, where happiness is necessarily wrapped up with tribulation. The redemption of the world by Our Lord has not suspended disharmony and banished suffering, though He gave a new meaning to suffering by making it a means of penance and sacrifice.

The Amazon links above are affiliate links. I borrowed a copy through inter-library loan. This review is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: Bleak House

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

I read Great Expectations in high school and thought I hated it. Upon further reflection, I think I did not understand it. I then mistakenly avoided reading anything else by Dickens for decades. In 2008, I read A Tale of Two Cities and absolutely loved it. Shortly thereafter, I read A Christmas Carol and was delighted. Then for some reason, I neglected to read anything by Dickens for years. What a shame!

Kansas Dad doesn't care to read Dickens, something about the detriment of reading a book by someone who was paid by the word, but I love the language of Bleak House.
She stands looking at him as he writes on, all unconscious and only her fluttering hands give utterance to her emotions. But they are very eloquent; very, very eloquent. Mrs Bagnet understands them. They speak of gratitude, of joy, of grief, of hope; of inextinguishable affection, cherished with no return since this stalwart man was a stripling...
The novel attacks treatment of the poor, ridiculous enthrallment with charity work for the benefit of the servant rather than the poor, and most of all Chancery, where court cases drag on for years, draining people of estates and hope. It's interesting how often these same issues remain prominent a hundred and fifty years later. How little society learns!

Education is not a major theme of the book, mentioned only peripherally, but of course those are mentions I notice particularly.
He had been eight years at a public school, and had learnt, I understood, to make Latin Verses of several sorts, in the most admirable manner. But I never heard that it had been anybody's business to find out what his natural bent was, or where his failings lay, or to adapt any kind of knowledge to him. He had been adapted to the Verses, and had learnt the art of making them to such perfection, that if he had remained at school until he was of age, I suppose he could only have gone on making them over and over again, unless he had enlarged his education by forgetting how to do it. Still, although I had no doubt that they were very beautiful, and very improving, and very sufficient for a great many purposes of life, and always remembered all through life, I did doubt whether Richard would not have profited by some one studying him a little, instead of his studying them quite so much.
A ready-made introduction to a discussion of Charlotte Mason's first principle of education!

I borrowed this book from the library and loved the Penguin Classics hardcover edition. It is beautifully bound.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: In Her Kitchen

In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti

The author of this book, a photographer, traveled all over the world, sleeping on couches. Starting with the idea of his grandmother and her signature dish, Gabriele Galimberti asked his hosts to introduce him to grandmothers who then prepared their special meals for him. These are the meals they made for celebrations or leisurely dinners with their families.

Each dish is presented in a two page spread, first with a photograph of the chef and her ingredients and then in the final presentation, both artfully arranged. The kitchens are all over the world, including modern kitchens in developed countries as well as some in developing countries. One beautiful woman, for example, was photographed outside with "caterpillars" arranged neatly on a coarse wooden table. The followed two pages include a brief introduction of the woman and a recipe. Sometimes I wish the introductions were a little less sparse. He says, "Cooking with Regina [the woman from Malawi who prepared Caterpillars in Tomato Sauce] was one of the most emotional experiences of my life and changed me forever," but didn't tell us much more than that about his experiences. I can imagine how I might have felt, but that doesn't help me to know Regina or her homeland better.

It would take ingenuity and a lot of internet orders to make every recipe in the book. Iguana and shark are difficult to find in Kansas. The beauty of this book, though, is not in recreating the recipes; it's in glimpsing the universal desire to create something nourishing for those we love, for transforming whatever ingredients are at hand into a meal.

For someone interested in cooking, this book is the kind of living book that could serve as a geography book. While making all of the recipes might be onerous, choosing a select few to delight your own family would be perfect. First on our list: Grace Estibero's Chicken Vindaloo.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are my own.

Friday, February 13, 2015

New Readers and How We Love Them

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

Second Daughter is learning to read. She's just at the brink of leaping off into that wide world of books with enough knowledge to sound out most simple words and an inkling of what other words should be. Earlier this week, she brought this book to me from our library stash. She said she wanted to read it to me but that she would need help with a few words. So she did.

I had already read this book and thought it was sweet but it didn't thrill me. I love how her attraction to the book inspired her to seek me out and share it with me. I enjoyed the book so much more when she read it to me than when I had skimmed it myself.

As Second Daughter is learning to read, she's revealing her tastes more clearly than ever before. It reminds me of that amazing time when each of my children first learned to talk. All along you knew there was a little thinking person running around (often terrorizing everyone in the house) and suddenly she begins to communicate with you in words.

I have learned so much this year about Second Daughter and how words and illustrations intrigue her and draw her in. Or not.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: The Little Oratory

The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Leila Marie Lawler

This book is a rich resource for every Catholic. It is not just a list of prayers to say and things to buy. The authors, both converts to the Catholic faith, speak of their own experiences in developing a life of prayer:
This book focuses on uniting the two [love of God and love of neighbor] by extending the Eucharistic worship into the heart of the home in the "little oratory," which becomes the visible sign of everything else. The little oratory--prayer table, icon corner, or even dining room table--isn't only a physical place; it's a way of thinking that simplifies everything...If we get this right, it orders the rest and brings peace.
The oratory can be quite simple, but it must always be beautiful.
Because the family is where the child is first formed in what constitutes the beautiful which in turn relates to the good and the true, it is no exaggeration to say that the images we choose for our prayer in the home can have a profound effect on the culture and, ultimately, on the good of others.
The authors proceed to share some ways we can educate ourselves to beauty. The chapter on the items for the little oratory is full of details, the smallest of which can contribute to creating Beauty in our homes (even if, in the beginning, it is only the little corner set aside for prayer that is beautiful). The authors include eight color plates of sacred art ready to be cut out and framed for your oratory. Find a bit of table or wall and you are ready to go.

Our family has had a little prayer table for a few years now. Reading this book helped me think a bit about what is working for us and what might need some changing. More than anything, I was swept away by the discussion on the Liturgy of the Hours.
In essence, the Liturgy of the Hours is the marking of certain times of day by the singing of the psalms and canticles, hymns and Scripture readings, and readings from the works of the Church Fathers. It can be thought of as an extension of the Eucharistic celebration throughout the day, and its purpose is to sanctify the whole range of human activity--and make it graceful.
We have had some exposure to the Divine Office over the years, but the thought of introducing it even in part for my own prayer life or that of our family has always overwhelmed me. Reading about it in The Little Oratory, though, has made me think incorporating some of these daily prayers is not only possible, but potentially the most important change I could make in my own prayer life (even if I start with just one).
If your experience is like ours, when you start praying with your Breviary, you'll feel a change. Each day seems to get better. Things seem to go more smoothly; or if they go wrong, there's a sense of what to do about it. Even if there is something you can't change about your life, you can accept it more peacefully.
It's easy to think this book, which might very well contain all that is essential in a Catholic prayer life, would be overwhelming. In the introduction, the authors talk about how learning of more prayers or novenas or ways to pray the Rosary led mainly to "an increasing sense of guilt, as the list of prayers we were failing to say lengthened." In The Little Oratory, therefore, there are many reminders that we must tailor our prayer to our current lives, that prayer is a source of peace and truth and goodness and should not cause anxiety. Though there is much in the book we do not do as a family, I felt a refreshing lightening while reading the book.
You needn't continually seek novel ways of praying as an indication of progress. Once you reach a balance that is right for you--that is, the one that God intends for you--just keep on doing it. Be happy in knowing that, by God's grace, you're going forward on the pilgrimage to heaven. The power to move forward comes from your willingness to cooperate with God's grace to be transformed supernaturally.
If you'd like to read a little before investing in the book, you can find David Clayton online here and Leila Marie Lawler online here. (I find Like Mother, Like Daughter particularly inspiring in creating a life of beauty and rest and common sense in homes overflowing with young energy.) I recently listened to Leila as a guest on a Fountains of Carrots podcast. If you have any qualms about feeling overwhelmed by the book, listen to the podcast. I believe she will set your mind at ease.

If you are seeking a first book on Catholic prayer, read this book. If you have read many books on prayer but are still feeling befuddled or inadequate, read this book. The first few steps are there for the beginner, but there is also a richness and depth that serves a life-long faithful Catholic. I have read a few books over the past few years on prayer as I struggle to sense it's purpose in my life. In many ways, this book has answered my unformed questions better than any other. There are few books that would make better gifts for adults entering the church.

The Amazon links above are affiliate links, but I purchased my copy from Sacred Heart Books and Gifts (for whom I am not an affiliate), a wonderful resource for all Catholics, though the inventory includes a wide variety of wonderful homeschooling books as well. This review is my objective opinion.

Friday, February 6, 2015

An Update on our Memory Books

It's been a few years since I posted about our memory book. Last fall I revised our system a little and have been pleased with the results so I thought I would share.

Now that I have three students working in memorization, I found it easier to make a separate binder for each one. The binders do not have to be very large, but the sturdier the better. These binders get a lot of daily use.

I bought a bunch of sets of these Avery Translucent Durable Write-On Plastic Dividers. In each binder, I have eleven dividers:
  • Daily
  • Odd
  • Even
  • Review Days 1-8
Four days a week, I work with each of the three older children individually. I know a lot of families do memory work together, but I find separate work is easier for us. I let the kids choose what they want to work on and this method gives us more flexibility for the individual students.

We read the page in the daily tab together or I let the child try to recite it. Then we do either the Odd tab or the Even tab, depending on whether the day of the month is odd or even. Then we do one of the review tabs. I just cycle through these. See the yellow post-in note in the picture? Each day, I just move it one tab back and that's the work we'll review the next day. Because we do memory work four days a week, each of the review tabs gets covered about once every two weeks.

Once First Daughter could read, I tried letting her and First Son do their memory work together. It was not clear they memorized quite as quickly as they could with me, but more importantly, they were a little mean to each other in the process. I decided it was worth my time to work with each of them myself. It takes about five minutes with Second Daughter (kindergarten, and first year doing memory work), maybe ten minutes with First Daughter (second grade), and fifteen or twenty minutes with First Son (fifth grade). He wanted a real challenge this year, so in December started memorizing Paul Revere's Ride by Longfellow.

This year, I started writing the date they've memorized something at the top right of the page. It's kind of fun to see it right there in the book and helps me remember what was learned most recently as I'm moving pages around in the binders.

When one of the children memorizes something and chooses a new poem, I put the new poem in the Daily tab. The just memorized poem goes behind Odd or Even and the one there (preferably the one they've been practicing longer) goes to one of the Review tabs. I cycle through them so I don't add another one to the first review tab until all the review tabs have four sheets of paper (for example; only First Son has memorized so much).
  
Here is our new Memory Binder Master. In this, I have sections for early elementary poems, late elementary poems, psalms and parables, prayers, and historical memory work (like the Preamble to the Constitution). I have copies of anything and everything I think the kids might like to memorize in here. (Kindergarten memory work includes items like our address, phone number, when and where the student was born, and important cell phone numbers. I mix these in with poems and prayers during the year but don't keep these in the master book.) When they successfully recite their current memory work, we pull this out and together select something new for them to work on. I don't take anything out of the master binder. I print a new copy of what they chose (everything is on my laptop; they're in different files, but I print the file name at the bottom of every page so it's easy to find). I pencil their name on the sheet in the master binder when they choose something. It's fun to flip through it and see which poems they all choose.

If you are wondering, the saint on the cover is Blessed John Dominic. I searched online for a patron saint of memorization. There isn't really a particular saint, though many are good choices. It is said he had a good memory, so I added him to our covers to make them a little more interesting.

Our memory verses are similar, but I find it's easier to have all the students in the same box. I have coded the index cards for the different children. First Daughter has smile stickers on her cards. Second Daughter, who just started this year, has yellow highlighting on the top. First Son just has a number at the top right.

I've added my own verses recently, which the children like. I let them take turns looking at my card and telling me when I've made a mistake. First Daughter particularly enjoys it.

Amazon links are affiliate links.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Second Grade Science with First Daughter: The Importance of Washing Your Hands

In second grade, First Daughter is spending a year thinking about nature, biology, and the human body. We started our year talking about bacteria and reading Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes. (Germs Make Me Sick! was in the book basket.)

Then, we grew bacteria on plates and learned an important lesson about ubiquitous bacteria and washing your hands.


First Daughter, showing her smile along with her bacteria. What fun! The colonies started growing noticeably within a few hours. After a few days, these were the plates we talked about the most:


For the plate above, we dipped q-tip in a bit of water and then wiped it across her a palm a few times. Her hands were not obviously dirty at this point, but it was late in the afternoon.


Then, she washed her hands (with regular soap and water, none of that antibacterial stuff around here) and we repeated the damp q-tip swipe for the "clean hand" plate.

Notice the difference? It was even more impressive early in the experiment, when the clean hand plate was actually still remarkably clean. All those bacteria growing and growing and growing...

I love this kind of activity. I used to pour plates and grow bacteria on a regular basis in college, so I was very excited. Even if you do not have a science background, though, this is an easy activity. You can buy a kit, or you can put together your own.

I bought Nutrient Agar Bottle - 200 Ml. and some plates. The directions are on the agar bottle; all you need is a microwave. I poured nine plates with this bottle.
  1. Make the agar following the instructions on the bottle.
  2. Use a oven mitt to hold the bottle so you can pour the plates while it's still hot. (This step should be done by an adult or responsible teen.)
  3. Be sure you place the top on the petri dishes as they cool and solidify. We let ours sit for a few hours and returned in the afternoon to add our bacteria.
  4. Leave one plate empty as a control (so only any bacteria that fell from the air as you were pouring would be present).
  5. Use a q-tip to present bacteria to each of the other plates. (Use a new q-tip every time.)
    1. Dampen the q-tip with water.
    2. Rub the q-tip back and forth a few times on the test surface.
    3. Gently rub the q-tip across the surface of the solid agar. If you want to get really fancy, you can see the "scientific" way to add bacteria to your plates here.
  6. Tape up the edges so the plate doesn't accidentally spill open. (I used masking tape.)
  7. Label the plates as you go. We used numbers (written on the masking tape on the side) and then wrote the master list in First Daughter's science notebook.
  8. Check your plates every few hours on the first day. (Hold them up to a light to see more clearly.) I asked First Daughter to sketch them.
  9. Do NOT open your plates. When you have observed them for a few days, throw them away. When those bacteria multiply in colonies, they can easily build up the kind of numbers that can make someone ill.
If you want more information, there are lots of science sites online that describe this kind of activity. This one seems pretty good, though I didn't take the time to watch the video.

We didn't have a large number of plates and First Daughter is only in second grade, so mostly we were just seeing what happened. Here's the list she created:
  1. control
  2. unwashed hand
  3. unwashed hand with a spot of antibiotic cream*
  4. washed hand
  5. yogurt
  6. dustpan
  7. inside cheek
  8. top of the compost lid
  9. bathroom sink
 If you have more plates, you can do all kinds of fun comparisons with swabs from the same surface:
  • temperature - store the plates at different temperatures (good for winter or summer but be wary of storing these in your refrigerator or freezer with food; you'd probably want some freezer quality plastic bags to keep them separate);
  • light - constant light, constant darkness, alternating;
  • kitchen counters or other surfaces after cleaning with different products;
  • and all sorts of other interesting questions.
I planned all the science activities for First Son (the human body) and First Daughter over the summer, then ordered all the supplies during a sale from Home Science Tools. The agar is used up, but many of the supplies will last through multiple students.

* If you want to use an antiobiotic cream, I recommend smearing some straight across the plate or on one whole side of the plate (using a new q-tip). We just dropped some in and the white glop of cream didn't really mix with the bacteria well enough to make any conclusions.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you click on one, add something to your cart, and purchase it (in that order), I receive a small commission. (Thanks!) The link to Home Science Tools is not an affiliate link.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Lenten Cross for the Range

Last year, I was a little disappointed in our Lenten readings and wanted something different. Inspired by the success of our Jesse Tree, I decided to make a Lenten cross as found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons by Catherine and Peter Fournier. Like for the Jesse Tree, the Fourniers selected Scripture passages for the forty days of Lent (not counting Sundays). They give lots of options for making a Lenten cross including pictures for each of the days. Personally, I find some of the Jesse Tree images a little difficult to connect to the readings. I also wanted something more unified and pretty (maybe even beautiful?) in Lent as well as Easter.

I spent a long time considering and pondering and wondering about this cross: what materials to use and how to attach them. I really wanted to be able to flip from one side to another as the season progressed but struggled to decide what would be on each side. I especially wanted something beautiful for the Easter season. I finally mentioned it to Kansas Dad. At first, he listened and claimed he had no advice to give me, but before too long he suggested Easter lilies. That man is a genius in addition to being so good-looking.

Then I spent hours (it's a little embarrassing how much time I put into this little project) browsing online to find copyright free images I could print and place just perfectly to form the cross. I had purchased a foam board during the back-to-school sales and was determined to use it, so the dimensions were a constraint.
In the end, I'm really pleased with it. The first picture shows how it will look during the Easter season (for as long as I leave it up). The second picture shows how it will look during the season of Lent. On each card, I've put a small cross, the day number, the Scripture reference, and the title or theme of the reading. (All of these can be found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons. Please note, if you have an old version of this book like I do, Day 13 should be Jericho not Moses again. You can find the correct information on the author's website or, presumably, in the newer edition of the book.) 

If you want to make your own Lenten cross and choose to make it the same size as mine, you can use the PDF I made of these images and shared on Google Docs. (It would be so kind of you to link back here if you post pictures on your blog or Facebook or Pinterest or other such places.)

It took me about two hours to complete the cross once I had all the materials in front of me, including writing the Scripture references, laminating the cards, cutting them out, placing them on the foam board (which involved some problem-solving when my tacky was defunct). Hopefully with my suggestions, you could get the time to just over an hour. Here's what you need:
  • foam board or background (mine was 20"x30")
  • purple construction paper (Hobby Lobby sells nice packages of single colors.)
  • a cross punch (I bought this one at Hobby Lobby for about $6 on sale and intend to use it for First Communion as well...somehow.)
  • a fine tip Sharpie marker (I used black.)
  • printer paper for the Scripture side of the card (I used cardstock, but recommend paper. A light purple might be nice.)
  • your images (or print mine on white cardstock)
  • a paper cutter or scissors
  • glue or double-stick tape (to hold the materials together until you laminate them)
  • a laminator (I have this one.)
  • laminating sheets (I usually purchase these at a superstore.) 
  • Tacky or sticky tabs to attach the cards to the foam board so they can be flipped and reattached
1. First I cut the cards for the Scripture side. If your foam board is the same as mine, the cards can be 2" square. I did not take into account the extra space for the laminated edge, so my cards go a little off the top and sides. I used white cardstock for the Scripture side in addition to the image side, but two layers of cardstock was a little much for the laminator. I used plain printer paper for a few at the end and those worked better. (Another option would be to write directly on the back of your images, but I was worried the marker would bleed through. Also, I messed up a few times and it was very easy to grab another plain 2" square rather than reprinting the image.)

2. I punched a large pile of crosses out of the construction paper, then used a tiny bit of glue to put them in the upper left hand corner of the cards. I just needed them to stay in place long enough to be laminated.

3. Using the fine tip Sharpie, I wrote the day number at the top. (I highly recommend having the number so they're easy to line up properly every year.) The Scripture reference is key as well, so you don't have to look it up every day. I wrote a title for it as well. As I mentioned above, these are all found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons but make sure you have Jericho for Day 13. (You may be able to see in the picture that I realized the error later.)

4. Line up all the Scripture cards on the cross in the order you want to flip them. For 2" square cards, you'll need 8 squares for the top and sides (each) and 16 squares for the bottom. When we read our Scripture, we'll read the four on the top of the left side beam and then read the four on the bottom of the same side before moving to the right side beam.

5. Use the paper cutter to cut the first image. Again, you'll want 2" square (or whatever will exactly match your Scripture cards). No matter how carefully I thought I had cut my squares, they didn't match completely when I paired them up. Life goes on.

6. After you cut the image, carefully flip the Scripture cards for the appropriate rectangle, then set your image cards down so they match up to form the image. (So the top left of your flower image is on the back of day 1, etc.) You want the image to make sense when you flip the cards day by day.

7. Repeat the process for each of the other five images.

8. Use a dot of glue or a bit of double-stick tape to keep your image and Scripture cards lined up as nicely as possible. Place each one in your laminating sheet. I put nine on each sheet.

9. Run the cards through the laminator (using all the usual precautions here).

10. Cut the cards. As I mentioned earlier, mine were too thick so sometimes I had to cut where I could see they hadn't sealed completely. I used some clear tape to seal them.

11. Attach the cards to your foam board. Here's where I ran into problems. I had some poster tacky stuff in my stash but found it all dried up. Instead, I used a sample of reusable poster stickers like these. I think something similar might work, but I had so few in my sample package I had to cut them quite small and they won't work as they are for all of Lent and Easter. I'm thinking of trying something like this. Even if it only lasted one year, the cost would not be excessive to place new tabs each year.

Your Lenten cross does not have to look like this one. My friend, Monica, shared a picture of hers a few years ago.

You can read more about some of our other Lenten plans in my post from 2013. We'll definitely have our flower prayer garden and bean jars again. The flower garden in particular is one of my favorite Lenten practices. (The kids' favorite tradition is ice cream sundaes for dinner on Fat Tuesday.)

Ash Wednesday is February 18th so you have a little time yet to think about what you'd like to do with your family. Any favorite traditions to share? Does anyone else have a Lenten cross?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015 Book Report

It's a little worrisome to see how long the list of books I am currently reading looks compared to the list of books I managed to finish in January (especially since the finished list includes one middle grade fiction, two young adult fiction, one middle grade biography, and a book of comedy of the six I read). A good bit of my reading time has been consumed by Bleak House which is time well spent. I just haven't finished it yet.

No Other Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup, the third in the Whole Nother Story series was a pre-read for First Son. It's silly and ridiculous and I think he'll love it. First Daughter could probably read it, too. It'll be on their lists for next summer (after fifth grade and after second grade). (library copy)

The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 2 by Jasper Fforde is the second book in his young adult series. I enjoy everything I read by Fforde and this was no exception. (library copy)

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis (a review for Blogging for Books, found here)

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousins is a book First Son started this month in our American history studies. It's one of the Landmark books and an engaging biography of Ben Franklin. Even First Son admitted it was more enjoyable than he expected. It's such a shame our modern times have trained us to be distrustful of people who love children. There was one whole chapter that had me squirming in my seat as it described how Ben Franklin would invite children to his house and play with them. Rightfully or not, it all seems so inappropriate now. First Son, however, will read that chapter as it was meant, as an encouragement and inspiration. (purchased copy)

The Giver by Lois Lowry, a book I read and reviewed last year and back in 2011. I was asked to review it for another site and meant to just write a brief review on what I remembered, but I couldn't resist reading the whole book again. If you have not read this book, please do. (library copy)

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan - review found here. Kansas Dad and I bought this book for my dad for Christmas and I think he'll love it. (library copy)


Books in Progress (and date started)
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Seven Quick Takes Vol 10: Invest in Kleenex


-- 1 --

The picture above is of the sock monkeys my sister bought for all the grandkids at Christmas. These were made by a woman who went to high school with my sister who now has an Etsy shop. I've forgotten the name, but I'm sure I can find it for you if you're interested. The kids adore these monkeys. The three four-year-old boys were a little rough on them and you may notice a few sock monkey injuries in the picture, but they had fun! Second Son's is now one of his steady bedtime companions.


-- 2 --

This is what happens when I give my niece permission to photo bomb the sock monkey picture.

-- 3 --

We have been juggling sickness since coming home from our holiday trip to Illinois, but the most recent round began two Mondays ago with First Daughter. Everyone took turns, the next getting sick as the previous one started on the upswing. Second Son fell particularly ill with a fever that lasted over five days. He still has a cough, but seems to finally be recovering. (I was pretty worried about him; he's so skinny and he ate so little! Thankfully, he doesn't seem to have lost too much weight.)

-- 4 --

The kids are feeling better, but I am still suffering. I had a terrific ear infection a week ago Tuesday. I can't remember my ear hurting so much. Kansas Dad sent me to the doctor, though not in time to prevent the ear drum from rupturing (if there was any hope of that). I'm hoping it will heal on its own, but I'm at day ten and still have muffled hearing on that side along with constant ringing. I'll have to call the doctor on Monday, I think, if it's not noticeably better.

-- 5 --

A week after the ear drum rupture, I woke up without a voice. I told Kansas Dad it was only right I be dumb while deaf. Not much reading aloud happened this week. The older kids have been keeping up with their independent lessons, but kindergarten and our all-together lessons have been patchy. I told them not to worry; we'll just have school through the summer so we don't miss anything. Ha!

-- 6 --

In good news, I used some of the missing read-aloud time to complete my thought process for our Lenten cross so I could actually make it. Post to come!

-- 7 --

Somehow I managed to convince eight ladies to meet once a month to talk about Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles using Brandy Vencel's Start Here. Luckily, our first meeting was the night before I lost my voice. As the person who proposed the study, I am the de facto leader (though not a confident one, even when I have a voice).  The first meeting was really fun. We mostly just introduced ourselves and talked. We'll tackle the first principle next month. (Yes, I think the meeting had something to do with losing my voice. I always talk too much at those things which is a good reason not to trust me as a leader. I think I was going to lose my voice anyway; it just hastened it.)

Join in Seven Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum.