Tuesday, December 05, 2017

November 2017 Reads

Untitled

Untitled

My reading stack for November. It was a light month for me as far as books go. I've got a big project that I'm working on book wise and it will probably take me through the end of the year (more on that in a minute).

We'll start with read-alouds. The boy and I finished Prince Caspian as our bedtime read-aloud last month. We are slowly but surely making our way through the Narnia books - if I'm counting right, this is my third time through reading them aloud. We were going to jump into The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but we have taken a slight detour (though a worthwhile one) and he and I are reading The Hobbit together right now. Just so you know, The Hobbit is so much FUN to read aloud. This is the first time that I've ever done that and I think it's easier to follow when I'm reading it aloud versus reading it to myself. And, since Ethan has watched the movies (4th child with older siblings problem), he can ask if this is the part with the ring or Gollum or the goblin cave and is following along just fine.

The other read aloud we finished in November was our school-time read, Little House in the Big Woods. N2 (my 11 year old) remember much of the story from when we read aloud several years ago (and has read it on her own since then), but I'm not sure how much B remembers. She would have been 3 when we originally read it! Ethan hung in with this "girl" book pretty well ... there is a lot of Pa in this book so that helped. We'll see how he feels when we get to something like These Happy Golden Years. :)

As far as personal reading, I read Emily Ley's book, A Simplified Life. I enjoyed this book - Emily has a very friendly and encouraging writing style as she walks you through ten different areas and ways to simplify your life. I think I need a book like this every so often to remind me that it's ok to let go of things (clutter does not equal joy) and where I can tighten up ship around here in other ways. The book also has blank pages if you need workbook space to work through your simplifying needs and strategies. I haven't used those but those could be a great tool for a wife and/or mama that is completely overwhelmed and needs even more help on where to start.

The other book I have read this month is an advanced PDF of Kristen Kill's book Finding Selah. I read this book in one sitting (started it on my phone at gymnastics on night - my least favorite way to read ever!) and I am eagerly waiting my advance copy to get here so I can highlight in it. I became aware of Kristen when she began co-hosting Sally Clarkson's podcast with her and was eager to read her writing since Sally (one of my top homeschool mama mentors) thinks so highly of her. Her writing is lovely and I hope to share more on this one later.

The other big reading project that I've been working on - and the reason my book stack is so small - is that I've challenged myself to read through the whole Bible this Christmas season. Instead of a chapter a day, I'm getting through as many as I can with the goal of absorbing and taking in the big overarching scope of the Bible. I have read through the whole Bible before as a year long project, but if you are like me, by the time you get three-fourths of the way through, it's a little harder to find those connections with what you read at the beginning. Plus, I love to spend time also doing in depth verse by verse studies of certain books ... again, well worth my time, but hard to get the feel of the book as a whole. Which is what it is - one whole book, subdivided into different books but with one overarching theme and story that it is telling. I've just finished up 2 Samuel this morning and am about to dive into the lives of the kings of Israel and Judah. I can't wait!

November in a nutshell! I foresee December's stack will be small with my Bible project, but I'm sure there will be a read-aloud or two to share in a few weeks. :)

Friday, December 01, 2017

Making Advent Harder Than It Needs to Be

Untitled

Apparently, I'm not the only one that makes things harder than they need to be! After hitting publish on that last post, I thought of several areas where this is glaring at me right now. (I'm sure there are others, but two are in the forefront of my mind right now.)

The first is Advent.

I realize that it is December 1 today and if you are like me you have been inundated with Advent every where you turn for the last few weeks. Daily activities for children. Countdown calendars. Devotional books for adults. Devotional books for children. Jesse tree projects. Christmas book projects. And, on and on. There are just so many options - good options - that it gets overwhelming. And I tend to think that I need to reinvent the wheel every year and if we don't do all the things I will fail my kids utterly.

That's really not true. (Whew.)

I am giving myself permission to keep out Advent simple. For the most part, I'm not planning on buying anything new. (Except for the chocolate Advent calendars ... last year's were eaten). :) I'm reading an Advent devotional that has been on my Kindle for at least a year (maybe two) and I've never read it. We are going to read all our Christmas story books without wrapping them. And that's really as far as I've thought about it. Micromanaging our month is not just stressful, but it's not really all that fun either. Most of the things that would probably be on my "want to do" list happen naturally without needing to make a note that we are making gingersnaps on the 8th of December no matter what unfolds on that day's schedule.

December always seems to hold a magic of its own and when I overplan and overschedule, I tend to miss it. And for me, instead of December being about all the extra activities, it is about the margin that comes to our schedule because of the break from Wednesday night church and gymnastic practices and music lessons. It's more nights at home and time to make a real dinner as opposed to eating quesadillas over the stove as I cook them up for everyone before heading out the door. Margin to take a meal to someone that needs it, or for those one-on-one shopping trips with a child that usually always includes a trip for coffee or a donut.

Maybe that's where I've been getting it all wrong ... focusing on the more, more, MORE that comes with December instead of embracing less. Less stuff, less going, less "me, myself and I" this month. I think this is the direction I'm going to head this way for this year.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Making It More Complicated Than It Needs to Be

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

I've gone back and forth over the last couple of months over whether to let my blog fade a slow death, start something new, or just pick up here like I haven't fizzled off writing except for the occasional monthly book report. (Of which I haven't written one on here since May!) My kids are older now. I have one who starts high school in the fall of 2018. (High. School. Not possible). The days of all of sitting around the table doing our school work together have faded over the last year so posts about art projects and joint curriculum have fallen by the wayside. More often than not I ask to take their picture now instead of the cute candids ... and then I need to ask before sharing it.

Like most moms that have a houseful of littles, I have found that several of my hobbies have fallen by the wayside to getting this child reading, or getting that child sleeping better at night, or filling the need as tutor for this child's class. I've lost a little of my own individuality in the process. My schedule has turned into less of the hands-on-all-the-time parenting to the role of chauffeur and cheerleader on the sidelines. While not an overabundance, there's margin in my days that comes with older kids and I'm struggling with how to fill it. I'm still very available, but instead of the time consuming need to sit on the floor to tie all the shoes and cut all the food and get everyone's clothes laid out and ... and ... and ... before heading out the door, it's now coffee and chocolate and all the conversation. Parenting tweens and teens is an entirely new animal altogether and most days I'm not quite sure what I'm doing.

All that rambling monologue to say, I may use this space once again. I don't know what will turn up ... most likely I'll write about books some (a lot). Photos and photo projects. (December Daily is coming up and I'm in the mood to do something with it this year.) Whatever I'm reading in the Bible and what God is teaching me.

We shall see what comes of it!


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 2017 Reads ... or Lack Thereof

Untitled
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Untitled
El Morro National Monument, New Mexico

Untitled
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Untitled
Hoover Dam, Nevada

Untitled
Hollywood

Untitled

Untitled
Ventura, California

Untitled
Malibu, California

Untitled

Untitled
Santa Barbara, California

Untitled
Arches National Park, Utah

And that is the reason I have little to no reading to post this month! We were either frantically wrapping up school, packing or preparing for the trip, or traveling across the United States over the past two weeks. It was all sorts of fun, but left little time for reading. A grand total of two things were read this month:

  • one was a read aloud that the boy and I finished at bedtime, Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. It has been a LONG time since I have read Henry and Ethan and I promptly went to the library and checked out some more books about him. 
  • I also finished Outlaws of Time #2: The Song of Glory and Ghost by N.D. Wilson. This is the second book in N.D. Wilson's Outlaws of Time series. While I am a big fan of his 100 Cupboards books, and enjoyed one of his stand-alone mysteries, this series continues to baffle me a bit and I seem to have a hard time keeping up. However, I don't mind adding his books to his library because I have a fantasy-loving girl that will enjoy them, and I feel sure the boy will down the road. 
This week is our Classical Conversations practicum (3 days of a mini classical homeschool convention and training for next year) and then I'm hoping there is much pool and reading time in the near future!