Monday, May 04, 2015

Read Aloud Report :: All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Next up in the read aloud list. We finished The Green Ember last week and read the last 60 or so pages straight through because we couldn't put it down. #readaloudrevival

We just finished our latest read-aloud and it was so good! (I feel like I gush about all our books, but this one really was so! good!) We devoured All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor in a little over a week and it's taking all our willpower not to jump right into the rest of the series right away!

This is the story of a Jewish family living New York City at the turn of the century. Papa and Mama have five daughters - Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie - all two years apart and the reason for the nickname they have given themselves as being an "all of a kind family." The story tells of their simple family life and the pleasures the find in small things and in each other. Papa owns a junk business - he has peddlers that canvas the streets for junk and bring it to his shop so that he can resell it. Money is tight for the family and Papa has to work very hard, but he does it willingly and cheerfully to support his wife and daughters. I loved this look into tender Papa's head and heart when the girls bought him a present for his birthday:
Papa was thinking: So much  money spent on a fancy cup and saucer that I could just as well do without. Haven't we enough cups and saucers in the house now? I have to work so hard to make enough for the necessary things and here they spend money on such a luxury. What if the amount they spent wouldn't help much. It's little spendings like this that add up. 
But right through his thoughts, there floated a little disappointed whimper from Gertie, and Papa suddenly remembered his children. He looked down at the faces, so puzzled and sad now. They had been so gay a moment ago. They were young. It was bad enough that they had to be denied so many things because he couldn't afford them. Must he deny them even this pleasure of giving up their small allowance for a present for him?
Mama was also a delightful character. Her joy was taking care of her home and her children, and the glimpse into the days of a Jewish homemaker was fascinating!
Less than a week and so much had to be done to get ready. Throughout the Festival of Passover, which lasts eight days, no bread or leavened foods may be eaten. In the days just before Passover, Jewish people thoroughly clean their homes to remove all traces of such leaven. Even the pots, pans, and dishes have to be changed. Every religious Jewish household has so much kitchenware that it looks like a store. The family must have two sets of dishes for everyday use: one for dairy products and the other for all meat foods; as well as two sets for Passover, to say nothing of special dishes for company use.
She never complained about the work that she did for her family but did it cheerfully and wholeheartedly. Even when four of the daughters came down with scarlet fever in the days leading up to the Passover, Mama never uttered a word of complaint, but did what needed to be done and cared for her family.
"Scarlet fever!" Mama's heart sank. That meant quarantine and isolation. It meant special diets, probably leavened foods, and they were coming into the Passover holidays. How would she manage it? But none of this dismay was noticeable in either her voice or manner. She seemed calm as always as she lined the children up for their examinations.
We also learned a great bit about Jewish festivals and holidays. As different ones would come up in the course of the story in turn, the author would give a short description of the holiday and explain it's Biblical significance and why and how they celebrated it. (Perfect tie in to the era of history we are reading about right now in Story of the World!)

Really, I can't wait to dive into the next in the series with the kids. We are going to wait a few weeks to dive into them as I have one classic that I want to get to before the end of our school year, and then we will be ready to jump into our summer read-aloud plan which I'm kind of excited about. Maybe I'll make it back to share that later this week. : )

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Reading to Know Bookclub for May :: Christy by Catherine Marshall


My intro post for our read-along of Christy by Catherine Marshall is up on Carrie's blog. I do hope you'll join us this May.

I’m trying to remember when I first read Christy by Catherine Marshall. My copy is quite old and exceptionally well loved, and I honestly am not 100% sure on how I came by it. My best guess would be that my parents picked it up at a used bookstore (along with a stack of Agatha Christie novels) for their young teen daughter who was a voracious reader. A fan of Little House on the Prairie and mild Janette Oke romances, the story of a schoolteacher in the Smoky Mountains seemed right up my alley....


More over at Reading to Know! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Read Aloud Thursday :: From the Boy's Shelf


I'm trying to pay attention to the picture books on our shelves these days as I can see in the (very, very distant) horizon that picture books days are fading. Just this week, I did some major bookshelf rearranging to make room for more chapter books and our every growing nonfiction collection for school studies. I pared down a few of the girls' picture books and tucked them away in a closet for now as I'm also noticing that our collection of boy picture books is accumulating which is as it should be. Even good change is hard, mamas.

Anyway, these are the books that have been on repeat from the boy's shelf the last several weeks (actually, probably the last couple months!)

  • Sam & Dave Dig a Hole - boys and dirt, what more is necessary. The boy enjoys this one as you read about Sam and Dave digging for adventure and coming close several times. This was a recent win that we picked up at the library on a whim.
  • Dragons Love Tacos and Not Your Typical Dragon - We can't get enough of dinosaurs and dragons and these these two books are noteable in that I haven't gotten (too) tired of reading them repeatedly. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've shared these two here on the blog before and they are still in rotation. (Yep, still going strong since February!)
  • Little Pea / Little Hoot / Little Oink - oh, we love these little books. This is one of our very favoritest sets of board books to buy our friends if they invite us to a one- or two-year old birthday party. And the boy is at the delightful age where he gets the humor in these books. Little Pea is our favorite, but the other two share their turn in the read-aloud spotlight as well.
  • And Poppleton. The girls have checked out every Poppleton they could get their hands on at the library and we have all enjoyed this series. Cynthia Rylant is one of our favorite for easy readers and we have gone through our Annie and Snowball and Henry and Mudge phase as well. But right now, pigs that have a llama as a next door neighbor are the favorites.
All four munchkins will actually gather round when I pull out a stack of picture books for which I am very thankful ... and I'm thankful that in this season this boy has three big sisters who are pretty easy-going about reading some of these favorites over and over to him as well. I think picture books still have a lot of life left in his house, now that I think of it. : )

Sharing alongside with Amy for April's Read-Aloud Thursday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading Report ::: April 2015


April means wrapping our our Classical Conversations tutorial.

April means being outside more.

April means that the end of our school year is in sight and it's time to knuckle down and get 'er done.

All that adds up to the fact that I didn't get a ton of reading done this month and that's okay. : ) We also had a LOT (comparatively speaking) of traveling by two of the girls this month. The N's went with their dad on a short trip early in the month. N2 had her grandparent trip to the St. Louis Zoo at the end of the of the month. Those of us left behind didn't want to read ahead in our current chapter book (at the time it was The Green Ember) without the whole crew gathered so it took us much longer to get through it that might think. We more than made up for it by reading the last sixty pages in one fell swoop because we couldn't put it down!

Anyway, this is what I managed to get to this month:
  • Theodore Roosevelt by Clara Ingram Judson - read and blogged for Amy's Newberry challenge.
  • Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs 4/22/2015 - sometimes I just need a nice mystery and Laura Child's tea shop mysteries are a clean and easy read.
  • The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Woods - couldn't put it down when I got started with this one, which I think says a lot about this book which is 5th in the series. And, yet another cliffhanger!
  • The Green Ember by S.D. Smith - our never ending April read-aloud. Even thought it is the only one that we read this month, it's not because it wasn't wonderful! If you don't have this book, you need it. Blogged a bit on it here.
  • One failure - I was supposed to read 1984 for last month's Reading to Know challenge and I got about 1/3 of the way through and fizzled out. 

Next up in the read aloud list. We finished The Green Ember last week and read the last 60 or so pages straight through because we couldn't put it down. #readaloudrevival

On tap for May:
Fortunately, there is never a shortage of things to read, right?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt by Clara Ingram Judson

"Why do you volunteer?" friends asked him.
"I like life," he answered thoughtfully; "I have no spirit of reckless exhilaration. But I have an interest in Cuba and her urge for freedom from oppression. I find it easier to explain to my children why I go than why I would not go. When a man believes something is right he must be willing to back his faith with his body - I can do no less.
Just finished this honor book for the 1954 Newbery Award. Yes, I'll be blogging this one. #shepherdslovebooks2015

As part of Amy's Newbery challenge, I read a fantastic biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Clara Ingram Judson. Of all the options from the 1950s, you are probably wondering why this one? I had my reasons. : ) First, we are wrapping up a year of American history focus in Classical Conversations and this is a great tie in. Second, the cover! I loved the painted look to it and it instantly drew me in. And, third (and probably the best reason), I have always been fascinated by Teddy Roosevelt, but have not read much about it. I seized the opportunity!

I'm not going to go into a long description of his life and accomplishments - if you don't know them already, then you need to learn more about this amazing man. Rising from a childhood plagued with illness, he worked hard to strengthen his mind when his body was weak, and over time, strengthened his physical abilities so that he became the outdoorsy and active president that is most known.

His rise to presidency was fascinating. He entered the political arena because of his fascination with how the ward (city council) was run. He was a ward member, state legislator, federal officer, police commissioner, governor of New York, and President of the United States. He also was extremely knowledgeable about the navy, in spite of never having served as a naval officer, and wrote books counselled the government on many naval matters. His stint in the army is well known as he led the Rough Riders and helped Cuba win their independence.

After reading this book, I had nothing but admiration for Theodore Roosevelt. His work ethic and determination was inspiring as well as his moral standards and ethics. Several times in his life, he was pigeon holed into certain public offices where folks though he might serve quietly. No such luck! Anywhere that Teddy served was given 100% of his loyalty and attention. He was never looking to climb a political ladder and move to the next bigger and better spot. He was a humble servant who loved his family and his country and that was evident in the way that he lived his life.
Remember, doing what you have to do, whether you like it or not - that's courage.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Present Participle List for April

realizing that I get why people call these present participle lists from some of our Classical Conversations memory work this year. "A present participle is a verb plus -ing...". Thank you Cycle 3 memory work.

#itssimplytuesday and she was simply a delightful Lincoln! Presidential presentations today at CC!

checking books out of the library like it's my job. The oldest has a paper on Susan B. Anthony due next week and little girls did presidential presentations on Lincoln and Reagan so the house has been full up on historical biographies.

remembering that next week is National Library Week and I really want to do something for our librarians. They are so kind to us crazy homeschoolers and our huge pile of checkouts and holds each time we go in.

reading Theodore Roosevelt by Clara Ingram Judson for Amy's Newbery challenge. Sharing this book with B because when she spotted it, she immediately started reading the first chapter in the car on the way to her soccer game. We are also about half way through The Green Ember as our read-aloud. 

anticipating the end of our CC year in just two more weeks. It has flown by.

This girl was on fire. ��⚽️

watching soccer and lots of it. I love the spring season (though I don't care for soggy games so much). 

trying to write a little every day. I've been doing the #listersgottallist challenge on Instagram and while the prompts aren't all terribly deep, it's a little bit every day.

realizing we have less than 40 days of school left. Just, wow.

cooking ... not much the last few days. A few in our family have been out of town and those left behind have made do with leftovers and takeout. 

eating too much sugar! Moving Easter candy and sweets out of my line of sight!

looking back on this 2014-2015 school year and realizing that it's not been our finest. This past year (with the fostering) has been a huge fog and I am just now coming out of it a little lot on the bruised and battered side. Thinking through what is to come this next year (most especially, the last year I'll do the bulk of the planning for N1's school work before she enters the CC Challenge program) and grieving that a bit. Not the entering Challenge part - it's an exceptional program that I know will be really, REALLY good for her. This year was just so .... hard and disappointing. 

planning a little person turning eight very, very soon. Yet another Very Hard Thing. : ) We have acquiesced to a friend event this year and she is having a hard time making up her mind as to what she wants to do within the parameters we have given her.

sharing this photo.

Super E. #itssimplytuesday

He is just such a cool kid.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

King of the Wind: The Story of the GoDolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry

When Allah created the horse, he said to the wind, 'I will that a creature proceed from thee. Condense theyself.' And the wind condensed itself, and the result was the horse.
For Amy's Newbery Challenge in March, I read King of the Wind: The Story of the GoDophin Arabian by Marguerite Henry. This was the 1949 medal winner and from an author that has long been on my to-read lists. Marguerite Henry turns up on many of the booklists that I scour for ideas, yet she has not been one that we have gravitated to in our home. Partly, I think, because I am admittedly not one of those little girls that LOVED horses growing up. I love watching the majesty and beauty of horses and petting them is safe at times; however, I am one of those people that when I actually got ON a horse, it never went as intended. I have memories of being a little kid and a horse getting spooked and running away with me seated on its back, hanging on for dear life as well as getting pitched into a bush during college when a horse came to a sudden stop. Ergo, books about horses are not a huge priority to me. : )


This happy smile is misleading.


I did love this book. This story starts with a young Arab stable boy and a mare that is one of his charges. When she dies shortly after giving birth he takes the young colt under his wing and nurses it and cares for it and promises to keep it safe. This sounds easier than it was as the colt and the boy were shortly sent to France as a gift to the current king as a gift offering from the sultan. Unfortunate circumstances followed the pair and even though the boy and horse are separated several times, life and a few kind individuals conspire to bring them back together. 

Without going into too many details the story does end happily for the boy and the horse. I also appreciated the glimpse into life in for this servant boy in Morocco and his later life in England and France. I can see me pulling this back out as a history read-aloud and tie it in with our Cycle 2 work as we cycle back around in Classical Conversations. This was a winner in my book so, thanks Amy, for the prompt to add this one to our shelves!
Agba swallowed. He felt a tear begin to trickle don his cheek. Quickly, before anyone noticed, he raised his hand to brush it away. His hand stopped. Why, he was growing a beard! He was a man! Suddenly his mind flew back to Morocco.
My name is Agba. Ba means father. I will be a father to you, Sham, and when I am grown I will ride you before the multitudes. And they will bow before you, and you will be King of the Wind. I promise it!
He had kept his word!

Thanksgiving trail ride. #simplethingssunday

Happy trails.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reading Report :: March 2015

Starting a new read-aloud today. #shepherdslovebooks2015


That was March. There really wasn't that much on the calendar this month - so many things being cancelled due to our crazy cold weather. Maybe it's just because the last week was so busy! We went to the Nashville Teach Them Diligently conference at the tail end of our spring break and it was such a wonderful time of encouragement. If there is one of these conferences anywhere near you, I highly, highly recommend it!

Where most of my early March reading happens - in the warm car at soccer practice. ⚽️

Now we are thick into soccer season and counting down the end of our CC year and school year. Only four more weeks of Classical Conversations to go and, at last tally, 48 days of school left for Shepherd Academy. Not that we have a countdown on our white board or anything. Ahem.

I seem to always be pleasantly surprised when I get to the end of a month and look back at the list of what I have read. I definitely got through more in March than I thought! Granted most of these books were very quick reads (a couple of them I was even able to tackle in an afternoon thanks to spring break and nice weather outside where kids could play).
  • The Council of Mirrors (The Sisters Grimm book 9) by Michael Buckley This is the last book in the Sisters Grimm series. N2 is deep into this series and I decided I needed to read the last book before she beat me to it. I definitely lost steam near the end of this series.
  • The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazier Blakemore (started and didn't finish) I was so excited about this book but after the first couple chapters ended up setting it aside. I adored her first two books but this one introduced some social issues that I'm not ready to hand off to my girls in casual reading.
  • The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery 3/5/2015 (read-aloud) We were all very sad to get to the end of this two book series based around the King family.
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater I read this as part of Amy's Newbery challenge as my book pick from the 1930s. A fun cute story that will probably pop up as a read-aloud for us down the road. I can totally see our boy loving this one.
  • Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon (reread) I'm really not sure why I picked this one off the shelf and reread it! But still, time in Mitford (in my opinion) is never wasted!
  • The Practice of the Presence of God by A.W. Tozer (skimmed last 1/2-1/3) This was the book of the month for Carrie's bookclub and I staggered through this one. Man, is my brain out of the habit of reading something a little meatier. Note to self: read non-fiction (and older non-fiction) more often to stretch those lazy brain muscles.
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (R/a) We read this as a tie in with our American history studies for this year on Amy's recommendation and it was wonderful! Such a beautiful story of a life well-lived in the face of great odds. I shared a quote that I loved here and have several others that I might come back and share if time permits.
  • King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry My selection for this month's books in Amy's Newbery Challenge. I needed to read a book from the 1940s and having never read a Marguerite Henry book that seemed an obvious choice to me. (We have Misty of Chincoteague around here somewhere, but I've not read that one). I am now eager to read another of her books, and definitely putting her on our to-read-aloud list. 
Starting our next read-aloud today! #readaloudrevival

What I'd like to get to in April:
  • the 4th book in the Penderwicks series arrived today and I'm eager to dive into it, though I may have to race the 11 year old to get to it first.
  • the 5th book in the Incorrigible Children series arrives later in the month. Also high on my list.
  • a book for Amy's Newbery challenge from the 1950s. Right now I'm thinking of The Witch of Blackbird Pond (if I have read that one before, it's been YEARS), Theodore Roosevelt by Clara Ingram Judson, or one of another handful I have on a post-it in my planner to decide from. 
  • 1984 by George Orwell is the book selection for Carrie's bookclub and it's on my kindle waiting for me.
  • We also started The Green Ember as our next read-aloud. Excited to dive into this one with the kids!
I'm sure other books will crop up as well. : ) Happy reading!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Project Life 2015 :: February, Part 2 (and a smidge of March, I think)


Memories from the last few weeks of February. Lots of reading. Lots of snow. Not a lot of variety in my photos, but it's a true glimpse of those cold, cold weeks where we were home reading and eating and that was about it!


So much random-ness in my journaling cards. I'm on a mission to CLEAN OUT my stash and if it's out, it's getting used up.


Only one insert snuck in here. Someone is working really hard to write his name. : )


Photos + memories document = good stuff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Notes from What We are Reading : Amos Fortune, Free Man

Amos went to church for long hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, observing with respect the laws that pertained to the Sabbath during the hours when he was not under the vigilent eye of the minister. It puzzled Amos that the white people put

Amos went to church for long hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, observing with respect the laws that pertained to the Sabbath during the hours when he was not under the vigilent eye of the minister. It puzzled Amos that the white people put so much stress on Sunday. Yet it seemed somehow similar to the stress they put on the color of a man’s skin. To Amos, once he understood the Lord, everyday was lived to Him.

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Worth a Share

A few posts that I have bookmarked and keep referencing:

  • a post from Modern Mrs. Darcy on how to save big on audible audiobooks. I had noticed this a few weeks before she shared her post, but she wrote it out much more succinctly and clearly that I could have.
  • Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles has been on a book list kick lately and I am devouring them. My wish list in Evernote and Amazon is getting quite long.
  • these two posts on creative lettering. Handwriting and creative lettering has also had a special place in my heart and these two inspired me.
  • Mystie's series at Simply Convivial about using Evernote for homeschooling. I have been using Evernote to store recipes and blog posts I want to revisit for years, but I'm learning tricks to use it even more effectively. I'll never move away from planning with paper, but for long term reference and searchability, Evernote is the bomb.
Now I want to go and reread each of these posts as we start off a slow Saturday since our first day of soccer games have been cancelled due to the snow!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner


We are under yet ANOTHER winter storm warning here so it was time to pull out a spring book! This one arrived in the mail yesterday - I love it when I pre-order something for one of the kids and it falls off my radar. Surprise mail is the best.

We were a fan of Kate Messner's book Over and Under the Snow and when we saw that she had a spring/summer volume coming out, I snatched it up. Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is a delightful look at the inner workings of a family garden. While on the outside, you might just spot tomato plants and the tops of carrots, there really is a lot more than what meets the eye when you get in close. There are bugs galore (my little guy is all about the bugs right now) and other animals that come around to investigate the garden. These animal descriptions are interspersed with descriptions of how a grandma and granddaughter tend to the garden through spring planting, summer watering, and fall harvest.


And the illustrations are just delightful.

While reading this book today didn't bring spring immediately, it did give me hope that the sun will come again. In the meantime, I'm going to make some more coffee and go work towards something warm for dinner!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Restricted in Love


A photo of a boy, eating oatmeal and drinking hot chocolate, and sitting on his toes as only little boys can do.

Very often we feel restricted in our situations, our families, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts. There we are restricted, and that is the root of our lack of freedom. If we loved more, love would give our lives infinite dimensions, and we would no longer feel hemmed in.

- Fr. Jacques Phillipe

From the Restore Workshop.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reading Report :: February 2015


Reading in the winter is just the best. There are very few other (outside) demands on my time, and there's nothing much better than climbing into bed, almost immediately after I've tucked kids in bed, with my own book.

What I tackled this month:
  • The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery (read-aloud), blogged
  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, blogged
  • The Love Song of Ms Queenie Hennessy (skimmed) by Rachel Joyce - didn't love this one. I mentioned that I was sent this one for a review and again, language made me want to put this one down.
  • Bliss by Katheryn Littlewood, recommend to me the girls by our friends the Dillows so I snatched up a used copy and sped through it. Sweet, magical and involving baking. It was a great one to snuggle up with!
  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin (reread), one I read last year and recommended. Worth taking the time with it again.
  • The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner. I feel like I want to say more on this book in another post. This was one of those books that kept popping up EVERYWHERE I turned. Seriously, everywhere. Every blog I read reviewed it (some that surprised me), it was all over instagram as folks showed off their copies arriving. Just everywhere. Apparently I needed the message and I've already gone out and bought a copy for a friend. So yes, I think (I hope) I will come back and journal some here on this book.
Coming up in March:

My Friday night. I am about 1/3 of the way through this book so far and it's pretty fascinating.
  • Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Another review book, but I'm about half-way through it and it is fascinating.
  • The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer for the March Reading to Know bookclub. I totally wimped and bailed out on February's book (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Just a couple paragraphs told me that I was not going to put forth my best effort on that one!) But Tozer has been on my list to read for just FOREVER so I really, really, really plan to read this one. Really.
  • my book for Amy's Newbery read-aloud. (I got stuck on my little non-fiction jag as February ended but I'm not giving up on these Newbery books!) 
Happy reading, indeed.