Monday Reading, The MIA Edition

Home again, home again, jiggity jog.

So I've been rather MIA lately - it isn't called being on vacation for no reason, right?

Two - no make that THREE - Monday's missed, ack! And I have so much reading to share. But there are plenty more Mondays, and I may just share some links for fun later this week. I haven't done as much reading as I would have liked, but then again, we've been ultra busy.

The last two weeks have felt kind of like boot camp - everyone screaming "GO, GO, GO!!" We've done so much, I can hardly believe it! :O)

We're back from Florida and had a fantastic time. Truly one of the best trips I've enjoyed in a long time. But once we returned, it was necessary to take two full days to recover. Yikes.

We airboating on the Everglades, went to the AMAZING circus, we went geocaching for the very first time (WOW, was THAT ever fun, too!), we played with baby farm animals, saw (almost) all the family, visited with good friends, had two cookouts, we ate so much stone crab that I and everyone else nearly made myself ill (Although the Ladybug, who was all over eating crab until it was *actually* time to do it said she didn't like the "funky red stuff" on the crab meat. Ha! Crazy kid.), we celebrated a birthday or two, went shopping, and I even got in a trip to my favorite thrift store.

Whew. I'm exhausted just reading all that. And that doesn't even include all the movie-watching and game-playing there was. No wonder we needed two days of sleep.

Anyway, we've been home for a few days now and are finally starting to settle back into the "at home" routine.

As an aside, traveling while homeschooling is awesome. NO, we DID NOT do school every day, however, we did do QUITE a bit. We took several books with us, and KayKay finished one, got most of the way through another, and in general did very well. It was great, too, because my Dad got to help her with some of her math work.

That was a BIG DEAL because, A) My Dad is a *great* teacher/explainer. He is very patient and takes all the time necessary to make sure that everything is understood, and B) For certain things, KayKay simply learns better from others. Fractions is one of those things. We went to Florida with KayKay having meltdowns over fractions and left with her having a pretty darn good understanding of what fractions are, and how they behave (except in mixed numbers and some division stuff). I'd say that's success!

So on to reading - this post has taken FAR TOO LONG already for me to throw together, so you're just going to have to wait on the fun "look what we did" posts. Photos will be forthcoming, though!


So I still haven't finished Rooms - it's not that I don't like it, it's just that it was the wrong reading material for me to have on our trip. So I've shelved it for a bit, although I'll probably finish it in the next week or so. On that front, then, there's not much to update. 

But because the library is threatening to rescind my card if I don't return Scarlet  (the second bookof the Stephen Lawhead King Raven trilogy) soon, I'm blazing through that one. And by blazing, I mean, like 200 pages in three days. I need to finish or else they'll come repossess it AND my firstborn. Ack! 

I really like Scarlet. It's written in a completely different manner than Hood was, and at first, I wasn't too thrilled with the change. In this book, it's written mostly in Will Scarlet's voice, continuing the story of Rhi Bran y Hud (King Raven) in a much more earthy, first-person telling. I'm officially liking Will Scarlet a whole lot. He's interesting and has a great sense of right-and-wrong, and an oddly similar sense of humor (although there's not much of that in the book) to mine. 

I'm nearly half done with it, and hope to have it back to the library by the end of the week so that there's no shedding of blood, which is generally a good thing. I'll give a further review of it when I finish, but so far so good. I'll definitely be picking up the third book, Tuck, in the very near future. Just as soon as I can convince the librarians that I PROMISE TO NEVER, EVER HOLD ONE OF THEIR BOOKS HOSTAGE AGAIN. 

As for children's reading, KayKay just wrapped up Mistress Masham's Repose, by T. H. White. She loved it, and I'm inclined to agree with her. And absolutely worthy and just plain GOOD read. I was not familiar with the story until a friend of mine, who has a similar affinity for delightful children's stories, insisted that I bring it home with me and read it immediately. 

I did, and I loved it. So much so, that as soon as I gave it back, I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon (the selfsame copy that I have linked to, actually). 

The story is about a "poor little rich girl" in essence, who lives in a dilapidated old mansion whilst being cared for (if you can call it that) by the WORST possible caregivers. She has no friends but a rather doddering old professor who advises her. And then, one day, magic happens. She discovers Lilliputians. A whole city of them. Right on the grounds of her estate! The rest you can discover if you read it. 

The story is lovely - just enough humor, seriousness and peril to keep it interesting, and wrapped up in it all, there is a great moral. Perfect for a young reader like KayKay, but certainly enough to keep me interested, so it would likely be a fun read-aloud, too. 

So now on to the other reading... 


Theory of Loose Parts: Let the Children Play. This is an interesting idea - it's more than an idea to me, actually - that's practically how I ALWAYS played as a child. But for a mom like me, who - at least in the arena of her children's cleanliness and what I consider "junk" - is rather Type A (I can't claim such in really ANY other area of my life, though!), this can be hard for me at times. But reading this post did help!

20 Indoor Activities for Kids Besides TV: Simple Mom. We don't watch a whole lot of TV in our house. We don't even have cable. But we do have Netflix streaming. So I'm always looking for ideas to move away from the television. Although most of these are common sense, and I've done at least half of them, sometimes, it's just good to read (and be affirmed in) them. 

What's Healthy for Kids is Healthy for Adults: Simple Mom. Love SimpleMom, what can I say? And this is a GREAT article. And, as the old saying goes, "What's good for the gander is good for the goose." Right? 

Marriage Advice from the Big Horn Sheep: Well-Grounded Life. Wow. This is a good one. Just what I needed to read. 

Bugs, Birds & Beasts: Se7en. This post is a great chronicle of outdoor science experiments for homeschooled (or not!) kids. Most of them are super-easy, and if you're like me, EASY IS GOOD. I definitely think we'll be trying some of them in the spring, maybe even sooner! 

You Know You're A Homeschooler When: Art's Chili Pepper. Although I'm not long in the homeschooling world, I still found this a fun and light-hearted read.  

Collecting Thoughts, Holding on to Dreams: Gathering Spriggs. Love, love, LOVE this post by my friend, Heather. Such good food for thought - us creative types need to be challenged in such ways! 

Hidden and Quiet: Evlogia. Oh, wow. Just... Wow. In the frequent chaos of my life, this was so convicting... And so right to read. 

Okay. It's now totally past my bedtime and I've absconded with the Daddy's laptop. I'd better stop and just post the darn thing, or else it'll be another week, and the reading list will have tripled at least. (I KNOW I'm leaving out at least THREE GOOD LINKS, but I can't remember them right now. Maybe later in the week?!?!)

Monday Reading, On Wednesday

Well, this was started MUCH earlier in the day, and then got set aside as other things came up. It was supposed to be an afternoon post. Oh, well. Enjoy!

Hello, friends. It's cool today here in Miami. Nice.

The Daddy told me a few minutes ago that the high for the day back home is twenty-one. Twenty-one degrees. Maybe I'm a weenie, but that seems pretty darn cold to me!

It's not sunny - rather, it's overcast and grey - but there no rain, so that's good. The wind is strong today, pushing and tugging at the lychee, palm and mango trees in the backyard. It's a jungle out there, the backyard of my childhood - not just palms, but also coconut, key lime, gardenias, and hibiscuits (as KayKay used to call the hibiscus); lizards, chameleons, chickens, dogs, and certainly (although we generally don't see them) snakes.

The girls love it. And when it's like this, I do, too.

Sometimes, when I come back, I feel like I've been transported to an alternate universe, complete with alternate versions of me. Because when I'm down here, for good or for bad, "Miami Kristen" comes out. But that's a post for another time.

But right now, I am watching the Ladybug push a motley circus of plastic animals across the floor - there's a monkey, an elephant, a plastic princess, a toucan, and a frog. Oh, and a butterfly. Let's not forget the butterfly.

They are, at this moment, all drinking pretend tea from a communal teacup.

KayKay is dutifully doing her schoolwork. So far, no complaints. Hopefully it'll stay that way. We're set up, even with a perfect little desk in my old bedroom for her to do her work.

I recently bought KayKay the Yellow Book and the Purple Book of the Miquon Math curriculum. We're about 15 pages into the Yellow Book, and she hates it. *Sigh* It came SOOO highly recommended. I was so excited about getting the books and starting them. I think it's interesting and unique. She's fought me tooth and nail every step of the way.

She doesn't like that it doesn't have enough words. Sound familiar? Not that anyone else in the family likes a WHOLE lot of words or anything.

But still. One of the basic principles of Miquon is that you simply don't need lots of words to be able to do math. And it's true.

For math before, we were working through a basic third-grade workbook and doing handmade worksheets. And when the workbook came to an end, I figured I couldn't go wrong with Miquon. Argh! I don't know what to do here - mathematics were never my strong suit, and my aversion started at right about the same age as KayKay is now. I DO NOT want this to be a repeat performance of my experience. Both my Dad and the Daddy are both brilliant at advanced mathematics. And I mean, BRILLIANT. It stands to reason that my children would be good at math, too. Right? The "math brain" has to come out sometime. And so far, KayKay has been quite advanced. I mean, she learned the basics of numbers squared and cubed at age 6. Any kid who can do that can conquer Miquon.

But now she says she HATES math. With emphasis. H-A-T-E-S it. *Sigh* And I'm afraid it might be all my fault.

At this point, I am pretty good at basic things - percentages, fractions, multiplication, division, etc. I use those things every day mentally, in estimating discounts and price comparisons. I even like it, most of the time. But, in this, I freely admit, I have no idea how to foster a love for numbers, for fractions and percentages, for number formulas.

I could use some ideas! We can't afford to fumble around with 37 different curricula trying to find the perfect one. That was one of the (MANY) reasons why I was drawn to Miquon. SO CHEAP!

I am fairly well certain that KayKay is an auditory learner, so verbalizing things definitely helps (As long as she's FOCUSED. Otherwise, it's in one ear and out the other.). Truly, most of our battles through the year so far have been about mathematics and certain principles. She doesn't deal with change and new ideas very well, and at this stage, pretty much everything is new and different. But I honestly think there's gotta be an approach I can take that will ease this issue.

So if you have any ideas, please, please, PLEASE pass them along! This needs to be fun and effective... For BOTH of us.


I'll leave the homeschool drama for now. It's reading time.

The list will be light this week - I have several links on my computer at home that I'm excited to share, but those will have to wait, because I'm very obviously not home. So this post would do better with the title, "Holding Pattern Monday Reading".  


So my start of Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature was rather derailed by this trip. I'm about sixty pages into it, though, and still enjoying it. I am into the early years of her life right now, and in my opinion, she had a childhood and adolescence worthy of envy. There were constant visits to country homes and her childhood was steeped in art and literature. She was quite the witty one as well, and I've laughed out loud through several passages. There is a particular paragraph about a "horrid" hamster that had me giggling and the Daddy giving me another one of his "Oh, no, she's lost it again" looks.

I decided not to bring it with me on this trip, though,  because I got sucked into a book that one of my very dearest friends, the glorious Miss Gretchen, suggested. She and I have often traded books and have similar taste in fiction, at least most of the time! I'm not a lender, in general (although as I've gotten out of college, that has changed somewhat), but with my books, I have a pretty much open-door policy. I am working to become more of a library-goer, but most years I my "library" has been other people's bookshelves. Even now I frequently trade and talk books with my friends. 

So anyway, train's back on the tracks. It was derailed there for a minute. So Gretchen loaned me a book. It's called Rooms, by an author I'd never heard of, James L. Rubart. And it's got a very interesting principle. It's about a man, Micah Taylor, who runs an extremely successful software company. He receives a mysterious letter telling him that he's inherited a multi-million-dollar mansion on the Oregon Coast, at almost the exact place he had suffered a tragedy as a child. 

Several authors whom I admire recommend this book, as well, so I picked it up and am already about halfway through it. 

I like it, but I want to like it more. It has a great premise, and I do like the way it is unfolding, but it feels really preachy to me in a lot of ways. Not church-preachy, but still preachy... Like, everything-is-a-little-too-perfect-when-he-starts-to-bring-God-into-the-mix kind of preachy. The writing is also not as compelling as I would typically like, so I guess this book is what I consider fluff, sort of mindless reading. 

On an aside, the Daddy and I just had this conversation about the term I was looking for to describe what kind of reading I feel like I'm doing right now (the ones above still don't quite fit): 

Me: What is it called when you watch something for ONLY it's entertainment value? Like, you're not looking to get really anything out of it, and if you miss a part of it, it's not really a loss?

The Daddy: Fun?


Here's the word: Distraction. This is distraction reading. I get the point he's trying to make, the writing isn't all that great, but it's not awful, and I want to find out how it ends (Because, unlike other "fluff" books, I actually can't really see how it's going to end.), so I'll plow through it. Gretchen was right, that it is a good book, if you're looking for something easy. But I guess I'm just looking for something more

It seems like the last few books I've read and talked about on here, I've been rather critical, and honestly, I guess I either have extra-high expectations, or I'm just not picking great ones. I don't know.

But I'll finish Rooms, and maybe I'll be happier with it when it's finished. I'll let you know.  

In the meantime, I've gotten finally Scarlet, the sequel to Hood by Stephen Lawhead, from the library, and have read about twenty pages of it. I actually got it a lot sooner than I'd anticipated. Yay! So far, very interesting. I like it. 

In other book news, I ordered the D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths for the girls for Christmas, and started reading it to them, and letting KayKay do some independent reading in it. Thus far, we all love it. And considering I'm not well-versed in Greek mythology, I've been learning a lot. 

KayKay has made several comments about the "silly Greek gods," and even mentioned, how for being "gods" they did an awful many things just like regular people. The Ladybug had lots of questions, and it was a little difficult to try to explain to her four-year-old brain why Cronus decided to EAT HIS CHILDREN. 

But we love it. I'm definitely going to be planning on getting the other D'Aulaire's books in the future. 


We Interrupt This Existential Crisis: Throwing Marshmallows. This post struck me because that's very nearly what I'm doing right now. My blog post last week, The Revelation, caused a little buzz, and I haven't even mentioned it since I've been here in Miami. 

Listening In The Car: Throwing Marshmallows. Another post from her... I like this idea - it's not a new one by any standards - however, I didn't know that The Story of the World came on CD??? Wow. Awesome. We may be picking those up in the near future.  

If Your Resolutions Are Already Mocking You: The Gypsy Mama. Love this post. It was recommended by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience. The author centers this post around Christmas, but I really love how she talks about parenthood and how plans just totally get derailed when you have kids. SO TRUE. Love it. Since I'm a planner, this makes my life miserable at times, but it is a really stretching and growing experience. If having kids teaches nothing else, it teaches that you simply can't plan for everything. Or anything at all. Because having a child means that life is FULL of unexpected moments. Unexpected STUFF.

Jesus Wasn't Radical: Inspired To Action. Speaking of unexpected, Kat always throws stuff at me that I'm not expecting (Kind of like my kids, but with a grown-up twist. Ha!), and this post was one of them. Made me think, that's for sure. I would like to increase my faithfulness in a serious way, because there are times when I find myself floundering in this area. Would you? 

12 Words For Setting Goals In The New Year: Inspired To Action. Just... WOW. Looks like I've got a lot of work to do this year. 

January Joy, 1000 Gifts: Planted By Streams. Also referencing Ann Voskamp and her book, this post feels like a gratitude list, which I have not yet tried, but am very interested in doing! 

Chores In Our Family: The Thinking Mother. Oooooh, the endless chores debate. I love how she handled the laundry thing. I may have to consider that (I loathe the laundry, and the kids complain about it a lot) at some later date. I just discovered this blog, and from what I've read, I LIKE IT. 

Carnival of Homeschool, Week 252: Why Homeschool. And, as if all this wasn't enough reading, here's a post with about a bajillion links in it, ALL about homeschooling. I haven't even gotten a chance to look through half of them, but wow. AWESOME! There is some fantastic stuff in here. And, even better, it's Princess Bride-themed! Whooo! 

Oh, and check out this video. SOOOOOO CUTE. SOOOOOO SWEET. I've never liked Jonah all that much (selfish, ungrateful man that he was), BUT... This little girl actually makes me want to like him. And that's saying something! 

Alright. I'm done (finally). Good night! 

Monday Reading Becomes Tuesday's Fodder

Sorry, friends. No Monday Reading.

I'm in Miami. It's tropical.


Left a blizzard of gloriously beautiful snow to come down to a balmy eighty degrees and TWO HUNDRED PERCENT humidity. Ah. Lovely.

Actually, Miami in the winter is pretty fantastic. To visit, I mean.

Florida in November through February: FABULOUS.

Any other time of year: Satan has his summer home here because the temperature is just about right for his tastes. Ugh.

Imagine this: Miami in August. It's - and I'm not kidding - averaging around ninety-six degrees and eighty-percent humidity. Classes for fall semester start at the beginning of August. Worst month of the year, no joke, just ask ANYBODY who lives down here. Campus is about thirty miles across, and that's after you park and actually GET to some of the buildings where classes are held. Hauling (And no, I'm not exaggerating here, either.) at least twenty-five pounds of books and laptop with you.

And all my classes are on opposite ends of campus. But I can't drive between them, because that would take too long, and then I'd have to fight for another parking space and probably lose to some blonde Beverly Hills bimbo with fake boobs in over-priced Gucci glasses whose Daddy just bought her her second BMW after she totaled the first one. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

I'm actually NOT. Totally not. In fact, I kind of live my life trying to be the opposite of everything that girl stands for. You couldn't pay me to be her. Except, maybe, for the lipo, boob job, and Beamer. But other than that... Nah. I don't much like spoiled little rich brats. Especially ones who waste their parents' money.

But anyway. I'll get down off my rantbox now.

August and September here were always the worst. But the rest of fall semester, even with the heavy books and twelve-mile long treks between classes - everything - was absolutely gorgeous.

And then, about halfway through spring semester, the heat would come back, with a vengeance, like it was angry for being banished even for a few months. By the end of March, the gorgeous was pretty much all gone, and it's back to dragging your sweat-laden bodies through humidity so thick you had to push through it like swinging doors. Ugh, ugh, UGH.

But it's not March, it's January. Beautiful January. Happy January. Breathtaking sunsets and cool nights with the salt breeze January. Makes dealing with the traffic much easier. I'm SO happy to be here in January. Then, I can actually do stuff with my family OUTSIDE, instead of hibernating inside until the sun goes down like we're some sort of weird family of vampires. Not the sparkly kind, mind you.

So anyway, I'm here.

Happy to be here. Happy to see my Dad, step-Mom, Grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone else.

Planning on eating all the amazing Cuban food I can stuff down, drink all the amazing Cuban coffee I can guzzle, enjoy my family, visit with my friends (Oops, I meant to say, FRIEND... There is no plural, and YES, I know that it's SAD. And you know who you are.), take a couple of little old ladies out to lunch, go to all my favorite haunts, and just generally enjoy being down here during the most beautiful time of South Florida's season (Yes, there truly is only one season here, and it has two settings: "Warm," and "Hellish").

It will be fun. It already has been. I miss my family. A lot. I just don't miss Miami when Satan's visiting. Or the traffic. Or bajillion other things I could write about right now, but won't because it's almost midnight.

But... I *will* write a Reading post this week. Just not on Monday.

Because I've been up since some unholy early hour, have been through three states and three airports with two small children, lots of whining (Although on the upside, no projectile vomit - now THERE'S a story for another time.), not enough coffee, all the excitement and exhileration of visiting with family and getting settled in, and I am JUST PLAIN TIRED. So tired that I can hardly think straight. Not that I needed to explain all that, but whatever.

I'm going to bed. We'll read together soon, I promise.

The Revelation

Today is the Day of Revelation. According to tradition, that is.

I thought that was a fitting word for today. There has been much revelation going on in my life lately. Just seeing myself, my life, different. Reflecting on some things that I have taken as TRUTH, when in fact, those things may only be delusions built by my own inability to trust real Truth.

Asking hard questions. Hard questions that are taking a sledgehammer to some foundations that have been laid. Hard questions that are made harder when sometimes, the only answer is faith. And not the pie-in-the-sky faith that sings Kumbaya and buries its head in the ground. No... Not the pretend faith that glosses over the hard things and lets everybody think your life is perfect when you're really screaming inside.

But faith. The real, nitty-gritty faith, the kind that shakes its fist at impossibilities and "the odds" and that leaves your fingertips cracked and bloodied because that's all you've got to hold on to.

I'm not talking about the kind of thing where it's obvious that God has closed a door and you're standing there banging your head against it because you just can't let go.

I'm talking about the kind of thing where you don't even know if the door is THERE. But you're going to keep pounding until Somebody either makes one and opens it, or tells you to shut up and go peddle your wares elsewhere.

I think, for a long time, I've been praying the wrong kinds of prayers with all the right intentions. But, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Point taken, unknown person.

So I've started shifting the way I seek the Face of God.

The last few days have been full to bursting, unearthing questions I'd stopping asking, dreams I'd put away, impossibilities that were... Well, impossible.

In certain areas of my life - my health, for one (and OH! there are PLENTY of others) - I've gotten to complacent, accepting status quo. And it's time for that to end. I have no idea what that looks like (yet), but I know that I am moving into a different place.

I read yesterday over at SimpleMom, a post that basically said, "Never choose good when you CAN choose best." Whoa. Rocked my world, that right there. Because I've been choosing "good" and "good enough" for a good long time.

It's time for BEST. For me to be the best version of me that there is. And with God's help, I'll get there.

Just don't expect to see me next week or next month having lost 50 pounds and running five miles a day and having become Mother Theresa to my children and "the poor." Because I'm more of a realist than I admit, and all-too-often, change is a LONG TIME IN COMING. I know I need it, and sometimes even when I want it, I fight it.

But it's time for best. It's time for the revelation of who *I* can be to come out of the shadows and into LIVING.

So if you do see me next week or next month, though, ask me how the changes are coming. I might need a kick in the pants already.

What's YOUR revelation?

Monday Reading, New Year's Edition (Minus the Resolutions)

Happy Monday. As Ann Voskamp said of this Monday in her post earlier today, “the first Monday of the first month of a new year, the first Monday of a brand new decade…”

Yes, indeed. Lots of firsts today.

Surprisingly (at least to me), I feel some of that newness today. I didn’t yesterday. I certainly didn’t on Saturday, the FIRST DAY of the New Year. So why today? I don’t know.

Perhaps because today has been solid day of progress. And happy attitudes. Whoa. Homeschool work was completed quickly, without complaint (WOW!! I mean seriously, WOW!!), naptime was relatively easy. And now the girls are at the park next door, screeching happily and playing, where they’ve been for the last HOUR. Can we say, Double WOW?? I think I may need to sit down, all the compliance and the noticeable lack of arguing are making my brain swell.

Maybe I even need to get back in bed, because I obviously didn’t wake up this morning and am still dreaming.

Dear God… I hope not.

I’m not one to bargain with God, but I’ll be honest – happiness and cooperation have been such that I’m tempted to do something foolish and offer God something He probably doesn’t really want anyway, like my left leg or something, just to keep it happy around here on a CONSISTANT basis for a while longer. 

But I digress.

You’re not here to read about my happy perfect life (BWAHAHAHAHA! You know that’s a lie!), are you? You just wanna know what I’ve been reading, right? So let’s jump right in.


My book reading list is a bit shorter this week than usual. That’s because one book in particular has captured all my attention and REFUSED to let it go.

That book is Defiance, by Nechama Tec.

This is the same book that the 2008 movie (of the same name) featuring Daniel Craig was based on. I haven’t seen the movie (surprising, I know), YET. But when I passed the book while looking for another at the library recently, I had to pick it up.

I’m not going to lie – the writing of the book is not so great. Not great at all, actually. Not truly awful, but she definitely needed a good editor to help clarify and condense. Nechama Tec, while a obviously a dedicated historian who took great pains to interview and research her work, definitely bounced around A LOT in the telling of the Beilski Otriad. That created a lot of confusion during the reading, and I didn’t discover the glossary and list of key players at the end of the book until the very last chapter! If I had, it probably would have made the reading a bit easier. And there is also quite a bit of repetition in the book, which, by the end, did get rather old.

BUT… The story. What a story! Just wow. The story centers on three of the Beilski brothers, namely Tuvia Beilski, who ended up being the leaders of the only fighting group in the woods of Western Belorussia (Poland) that dedicated itself to saving Jews from the Nazis. By the end of the war, there were over 1200 people in the group, most of which were unarmed and unable to fight – women, children, the elderly and the infirm. But the story of how these brothers accomplished this is simply unbelievable. In that respect, it was a joy to read.

It’s not an easy read, it’s often not a fun read, and honestly, the ending was rather depressing… But once I picked it up, I was completely absorbed. It went everywhere with me – doctor’s appointments, riding in the car, everywhere. I read the entirety of it in a week, which is unusual for me to do these days! And additionally, for non-fiction to grab and keep my imagination for that long – let’s just say that’s a feat. I typically don’t read much non-fiction (unless, as in this case, it’s Holocaust-related, but as I’ve gotten older, I have come to appreciate it more in other areas, too).

I can’t wait to watch the movie!

That’s pretty much it for this week, although I did pick up Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear during the same library trip. I have literally just picked it up (last night) and am about twenty pages into it (which isn’t saying much considering it’s just over SIX HUNDRED PAGES LONG. It vibrates the whole nightstand if I put it down too hard. I’m surprised the bed doesn’t vibrate. Talk about heft, that’s MY kinda book right there.), but so far I like it. It reads more like a novel than a biography, so it already appeals. That and I’ve always loved Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-duck. Mostly for the adorable illustrations, but still.

But I’ll admit I’m a little intimidated by its length. I mean seriously, SIX HUNDRED PAGES.
That having been said, though… Honestly, it’s not that long. I guess it’s just that it’s a six-hundred page biography. Again, though, it reads appealingly, so I have hope.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I do have some new children’s and intermediate books that I’ll be working through in upcoming weeks as well, so pester me about those, will you?

Oh! Before I forget (and move on), next week there may not be a Monday Reading entry. We are leaving for Florida for two weeks that morning, and although I’ll try to get something ready the day before, there is no guarantee that I’ll actually remember AND DO what needs doing to get that done. Amidst packing for myself, the two monkeys and the multitude of other things that need doing before then. So yeah. 



As usual, there are 37 bajillion links that I’ve been reading, and I want to share them ALL. But I’m not going to, because then we’d all be here for WAY TOO LONG. So here are some of the best from this last week.

Philosophy of a Hang Nail, Resolutions Part 1: Strawberry Freckles. Wow, great read. I really identified with this post about allowing one’s anger at being mistreated to color your whole life. I have dealt with a couple of similar situations, and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve been able to start putting those experiences into their proper places without serious anger about them. Even still, sometimes it’s a struggle.

Why I Can’t Not Be Shy: Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind. The background on this blog is a little distracting for me, but it’s an excellent read. I can only pray that my life is such that I am as honored as Lorraine was when it is my time. On an unrelated note, I misread the title of the blog as Perpetual Wanderings of a Chaotic Mind. Freudian slip? Perhaps! Sounds a whole lot like my daily life! And like an awesome title for a book. Hmmm…  

Five Things That Will Make You Happier: LiveScience. This is a very interesting article… I need to practice ALL of these things, although I’m generally never short on optimism!

Couples Grow Old, Happy and Sad Together: LiveScience. Another very interesting article. I love how it highlights how couples become more alike as they grow old together.

A New Year… Time for Me to Focus: Whimsyway. Although I talked about resolutions and goal-setting yesterday, I still really liked this post by the author of Whimsyway. She is *very* ambitious (at least in my opinion!), but her goals are ones that I can identify with and appreciate. I love that she wants to continue educating herself while she educates her child.

In Our House, There’s No Santa Claus: Babble. I think I posted a link similar to this a week or two ago, but I’ve found yet another good read (with good reasoning) about moving away from Santa. We don’t particularly “celebrate” Santa, so to speak, but we don’t altogether ignore him, either. I still struggle with this, because there is something special about the magic of Santa Claus, but at the same time, I completely agree with this author’s assessment of the whole thing. *Sigh* I’ll figure it out one day, hopefully before the children are grown and have to deal with it themselves.

The Five Obstacles to Eating Right: Clean Plate (Slate). A friend shared this with me on Facebook, and it’s a great read. I am working on a post about eating (not necessarily what’s categorized as “eating right”) and food, and I *may* include some of quotes from this post, because it really hit something with me that resonated.

New Word for the Year: SmallNotebook. Every time, every *single* time I go to her blog, I find something that inspires me. What is my word for 2011? Do I HAVE to choose just one? Man, that’s hard (and this being me, at least four times as hard as it would be for a normal person)… I guess I would choose Blessed. Or perhaps, Better. Or some other “B” word.

How To Select Good Picture Books: Ohdeedoh. So much good information in this article! And lots of wonderful links! What’s not to love??

Homeschool Mama, Self-Care for the Teacher: Beauty That Moves. This is a very good post about taking time for ourselves as mothers AND teachers.

Choosing Purposeful Words for Your Family in 2011: Simple Homeschool. Hmmmm, I'm thinking Rachel from SmallNotebook may have gotten her inspiration from here... But THIS POST doesn't limit you to only one word. Yay for wordy-word people like me! 

Enjoy, friends! And seriously, happy Monday! (The lack of complaint has continued even to now, I’m feeling kind of shell-shocked. There was only ONE WORD of moaning about dinner – leftovers – usually there’s at least 20 minutes of whining for this particular dinner!! WHOA.) 

A Year of Memories, A Year of Moments

So here we are, a few hours into 2011... Well, closer to forty-eight hours into 2011, but who's counting?

It is a gloriously bright and beautiful winter's day, much unlike the unseasonably warm weather we had on Friday... Friday, New Year's Eve, was almost like spring has come three months early. Which was okay with me, because it feels like a good time to start blooming anyway.

But I am glad to embrace Mother Winter's return from her day trip, for wherever it was that she went, it obviously pleased her - the sun is shining, outside the air is chilled to perfection, and inside the afternoon light sighs warm through the windows, brightening every corner and glinting like glitter, bringing magic to even the most ordinary things.

So 2010 is over. Unlike most, I am not happy to see it go. But neither am I disheartened to be here, already in 2011. I am just... Me. And 2010, 2011, whatever year it is... Well, that's when it is.

There was no fanfare to welcome the new year - in fact, it was one of our more quiet evenings. There were no resolutions made by me, although I did fleetingly consider one or two.

I personally think that most resolutions - at least the ones that tend to crop up this time of year - are a waste. A waste of time, energy, and emotion. To resolve something - to stand firm in it, or change in such a manner as to eliminate a problem - the word has lost its meaning in much of our modern society. Oh, we resolve to do plenty of things, particularly around New Year's, but most get lost in the shuffle, when it's too hard, and we just don't feel like it. We toss around resolutions like they're fun and easy, when a resolution - I might even go so far as to say ANY resolution - should be entered with thoughtfulness, introspection, and a sobriety that is unheard of by many.

So if there ARE any resolutions that come into being this year, it will be after a time of consideration and prayer. And these last weeks have been too hectic, and I too unwell, to allow for that. Hopefully this week will present more opportunities for reflection, prayer, and thoughtfulness that might lead to some resolve. I don't know.

But in the meantime, I thought I would share the best of 2010 in photos...


What started out sweet and happy...

Quickly began disintegrating... 

Into utter silliness.


I finally... FINALLY finished the girls' room. Isn't it beautiful??

Do I even need to put anything here? 


Happy girls on Easter... 

KayKay the cowpoke.

Only the Ladybug would want me to take THIS picture!

Making soup and having a blast!

A freshly hatched monarch butterfly... 

With relatives like these... 
Do you even HAVE to wonder about me? 

Playing dress-up at a friend's.
Man, she loves that dress!


Unhappy cowgirl.

Three girls and their boots. 


KayKay loves Chihuly. So do I. But she's lovelier. 

The Ladybug is, herself, a work of art.

Late afternoon little girls.

The girls with Santa Cow.
The Ladybug is a wee bit obsessed.
If Fritzy Von Buckeroo won't have her,
I think Santa Cow may be her second choice. Oy vey. 


White Christmas, yay!

KayKay starting her (potential) career as a guitarist.

Cheesy pose, cheesy smile. Happy girl! 

The Ladybug with her new, glow-in-the-dark game.
Cheesy smile part deux. 
And that's that. The moments, the memories... That's all we have left. So goodbye, 2010. It was a good year, dark days and all. And although I feel that I may have had a few more than my share of dark days this year, 2010 was still good to me. I am truly and ever so blessed.

Here we come, 2011. I hope you can keep up with me!