Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Picture Books We've Loved in July


The library has beckoned us several times over the course of the summer.  Here are three of our favorite picture books:

The King of Little Things | Bil Lepp, illustrated by David T. Wenzel

I wish I could remember who recommended this book, because I'd like to thank them!  The first page reads: Long ago, on the far side of a mountain, lived the King of Little Things.  While other kings busied themselves with the big things of this world, he happily ruled over all things small.  The story goes on to tell of all the little things the king has charge of and affection for: things like ants and buttons and petals and bees.

Can you imagine what might happen when another king wants to destroy all the other kings so that he can be king of the whole world?   Read this one to find out!  This is a captivating story for children, complete with beautiful illustrations, some rhymes, and all sorts of little things throughout the pages of this book to peer at.

* * *


My Name Is Sangoel | Karen Lynn Williams with Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Catherine Stock

Sangoel has come with his mother and sister from the country of Sudan. 
His father was killed in the war, and he holds the name given him by his father with pride.  When he arrives in America, everyone pronounces his name wrong and it is suggested that he choose a American name.  This is especially frustrating when he goes to school, until Sangoel thinks of a clever way to teach his classmates his name.

I love stories like this that open my kids' eyes to the difficulties and challenges others might face.  This story has a delightful ending and it's been a pleasure to read aloud, over and over again.

* * *
The Circus Ship | Chris Van Dusen

What happens when a ship carrying circus animals crashes into a rock?  The animals swim to shore, surprising an entire village.  The villagers are all quite alarmed at the bother of all these circus animals until something happens to win their affections.

When the villagers discover that the circus boss is on his way to find his animals, they rally around their newfound friends and hide them.

With lively, rhyming cadence, Van Dusen tells and illustrates a delightful story.  This one makes a perfect read-aloud.  Guaranteed giggles.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

June & July Book List

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I am ever-so-happily reading again, after a 6-month hiatus!  And I am so enraptured with words (how I love them!) and sentences and thoughts and descriptions and characters and stories and good writing all over again.  I love to read.

So.  Let's start with July, shall we?  The photo above shows the books I discovered in my room today that I've been reading.  We'll work from the top down, and then I'll get to any others I've read that aren't pictured here, then we'll move on to the books I read in June.

Daily Light on the Daily Path - I struggled early in the summer to find a Bible study and selected this off our shelf "in the meantime", until I settled on a study.  But this treasure has remained by my bedside.  It is a collection of daily readings: one for each morning and one for each evening, so each morning before I get out of bed I read the morning entry, and each evening before I turn out the light I try to read the evening entry.  This is purely Scripture and I am loving it.

(The Bible study I settled on is Stone Soup for Five's Colossians study.  I am writing all of Colossians out in my journal and slowly making my way through it, also using commentaries found here and studying key words and all of that fun study business.  I love it.)

Anne of Avonlea -  {happy sigh}  Ella began and finished the whole delightful Anne series a couple of months ago, and as she was reading, she often mentioned characters or places that I had entirely forgotten. (*gasp*)  I am usually not fond of reading books over again-- or, at least not until it's been a good long time, so that the story still feels somewhat fresh to me.  But last week I picked up this second book in the series and plan to read my whole way through.  Dear friends, I am enchanted all over again with L.M. Montgomery's characters, words and descriptions.  I just love her.  I have always said she is my all-time favorite author and she is reminding me why.

Own Your Life - Sally Clarkson's newest book.  I admire Sally, and consider her a mentor of sorts as I have read and gleaned from her books and blog over the past several years.  This may be my favorite book yet. The copy I have is a library copy, and I keep on renewing it so that I can slowly read through it and glean all I can, copying down portions into my journal, thoughtfully journaling through the questions she provides at the end of each chapter, thinking and dreaming and reflecting on how I can be intentional in the life God has given me.  An excellent read.

The Help - This book by Kathryn Stockett is a re-read for me, and this time I am reading it aloud to my Ella, so we have a little Thursday date set aside where we will settle somewhere together-- out in the yard in the sunshine, or on my bed.  I put on my best Southern drawl, and read aloud a couple of chapters, editing as I go.  We plan to have a movie night when we get to the end of the book and watch the movie together! 

Water from My Heart - This is Charles Martin's newest book, and while it wasn't my favorite book of his, I love the way he tells a story, and I will read every single thing he writes.  This is a story about Charlie Finn, a man who has an isolated existence, working in the dangerous and very lucrative field of drug running.  He has very few attachments and even fewer regrets in life, no matter his line of work.  When he travels to Nicaragua and witnesses the fall-out of one of his early business deals,   Charlie is for the first time affected by the choices he has made and the devastation he has helped to cause in the lives of others.  Read it to find out how it changes him.

What Katie Ate -I found this one as I perused the cookbook shelf at our local library.  I love cookbooks and find great inspiration from them in my own meal-planning and meal-making endeavors.  Although I was not familiar with Katie or her blog, her photographs of food wooed me, as well as the fact that she's Irish-born and lives in Australia and was formerly a graphic designer.  That all makes for a fine looking cookbook complete with good recipes of good comfort food.

Another book I read this month that is not in the above photo:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet -by Jamie Ford.  From my Goodreads review:

"A very good novel about Japanese families from the Seattle area who were sent to internment camps during World War II.

The story centers around a Chinese boy named Henry and Keiko, his Japanese friend. Both children were sent to school by their parents and subsequently treated poorly by their peers, so a unique friendship is forged. Henry proves to be a loyal friend to Keiko, even though Henry's father is particularly hateful towards the Japanese."
  


*This is a good living history book for an older child studying this time period.  It's very clean.

For the month of June, these are the books I read:

The Secret of Pembrooke Park -by Julie Klassen, another author whose books I usually read.  This was a satisfying summer read. 

Wonder - by  R. J. Palacio.  I forget where I saw this book recommended, and then again.  Then again. So I decided I would check it out at the library and see what all the fuss was about.  This is not really my genre, but I did enjoy this story of a boy growing up with a severely disfigured face and how he and his family copes with that.  I think stories like this have the opportunity to grow compassion in us for those who have been created differently than we are.  As I was reading it, one of Ella's friends recommended it to her, so I passed it on to her when I was finished with it. 

And.  I doggedly worked my way through this book:

The Sword in the Stone - by T.E. White.  That's some sort of classic, apparently, and is on the Ambleside Year 7 list for two of my kids for next year, so I wanted to pre-read it.  Let me just say that I am genuinely proud of myself for finishing this book. It is very well written and imaginative and descriptive, it's just not at all my genre. ;) So there were some days I had to tell myself, "Okay, 10 minutes of this book and then you can read whatever you want to read." 

That said, I loved the character of Wart, and Merlyn is a kind and lovable old wizard. The last several pages were excellent.

***

Do tell: what are you reading?


This post contains affiliate links.  (Which basically means that I've linked these book titles to Amazon, and if you happen to click on those links, I get some sort of a kickback, as in approximately four cents each click ;), that all adds up to about eight or eleven dollars once per year or something, truly.  While it's not much, I'll take it to support my love of reading.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Songs purchased with an iTunes gift card

For our 18th wedding anniversary, Mark gave me $18 to spend on books, and $18 to spend on music.  It's a fun gift!  Last week I sat on our bed for awhile with iTunes open, searching favorite artists and listening, and ended up only purchasing six songs. 

Here's what I bought:

Four new songs from Christa Wells:
-Come Close Now
-Have Your Eyes Open (with Ellie Holcomb, so clearly that was a MUST.)
-More Than I Am (love this one)

-For My Child (I cried when I first heard it)


One from REND Collective: my favorite version of
-10,000 Reasons (with Audrey Assad)

One from Andrew Peterson:
-After All These Years
 
You do realize that this means I have about twelve songs left to purchase.  So... this is where you come in.  What have you been listening to that you love?  [It doesn't have to be Christian music, either.  (I'm still debating whether or not I want to purchase some Taylor Swift because I sort of love the song Shake it Off whenever I hear it on the radio!)]  Just tell me what you're listening to! 

The $18 for books?  Also tricky.  I rarely purchase books.  I get almost everything from the library.  And I don't buy a book unless I think I'll read it (or consult it) again and again.... so... I'd love to know what would be on your list if you got to buy a book (or two?)

Love to you all,

~Stacy

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me and my littlest at the waterslides recently.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Papered Life

This week we cleaned out our bedroom.  This is a major feat.  Some of you may have nice and tidy bedrooms, but we positively do NOT.  Our room is the catch-all room in our home, and serves as an office and storage room in addition to being where we sleep and store our clothing and a lot of books.  And I rarely ever have (make?) time to clean it. 

IMG_8826We went away for our anniversary (yay!) and stayed in our favorite inn on the Oregon coast. As we left our room that final day, I pondered how restful and peaceful and tidy it was, and resolved to do something about our room when we got home.  I had a vision and a plan, and it came to fruition this week.  It involved making some decisions like this may be a nice big dresser but it doesn't fit this space, and yes, we love books, but we don't need two bookshelves in our room, and it involved moving out four major pieces of furniture and repainting an old dresser and rearranging and a whole lot of sorting through things.

Mostly PAPERS.

There is just a lot of paper in my life.

Yesterday I sat down before a HUGE stack of papers with an iced latte nearby and sorted.  I recycled some and divvied the rest into piles I wanted to save, and it occurred to me that you can tell a lot about a person from their sorted papers. This is what I found as I sorted:

- drawings, pictures, notes and cards from my kids.  Oh so many of these.  I love this. And while I don't save every one, I do save a lot of them, simply because they delight me, and every time I look through them they bring me joy.  I saw so many I love you's and mommy's and misspellings and little drawings particular to each of the kids that are so *them* and long letters from my sweet Ella and my heart was full.

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my most recent box of smaller letters, cards and notes. (most of the kids' drawings went into another box that both Mark and I add to)
-cards and notes and letters from Mark.  I was overwhelmed.  I am so blessed.  This guy loves me well.  And he excels in this area.  He expresses his love for me so well on paper, and these expressions of his heart to me?  I treasure them.

-verses copied down on various scraps of paper: some laminated, some all prettied up with markers, some mounted on card stock.  God's words, written down for memory or reminder.  Most of them for me, but some of them for the kids, too.

-homeschooling-related lists or ideas or plans: school-planning lists, book lists I'd jotted down, daily schedules and daily index cards, some printables and worksheets I'd printed out and had gotten lost in the shuffle.

-devotional papers: so, prayer lists and categories I want to be praying for, and Bible studies printed out, study tips and notes.

-recipes and meal plans and grocery lists

Yep.  That about sums up my life.  :)

What kinds of papers would you find?  Or am I the only one who is still attached to paper in this digital world?  ;)  And if anyone has any paper organizational tips, go ahead and send them my way. :)  I have several piles now (see above list) that I need to find a home for.

And not in our bedroom!

ps: our bedroom looks so nice and tidy and I LOVE IT.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Celebrating eighteen

This weekend marks eighteen years of marriage to my man.  Eighteen! 

Years ago, when we were dating, I asked God if Mark was *the one*.  I was fearful.  I wanted to be SURE.  I had been just a little girl when my dad walked out on my mom, then divorced her.   I was too young to understand it all, and yet that act of abandonment left a mark on me.

I said yes to Mark because I trusted him.  I loved him, deeply.  And he was my best friend.  But above all?  I trusted him.

Even so, I approached marriage with fear and insecurity~ certain, somehow that I wouldn't be enough, that I wouldn't be able to "keep" him.  My greatest fear was that he would leave me for someone else.  My heart was fragile.

And in God's great lovingkindness, because He knew the state of my heart, He knew just the kind of husband I needed, He gave me Mark: steady, faithful, loving, tender, kind.

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he's my favorite
Mark has tenderly, patiently, persistently, graciously loved me in my worst moments.  He has faithfully pursued this heart of mine.  In our early years of marriage when I wanted to run away from a fight, he followed me.  When I have thrown harsh, sarcastic, hurtful words his way, he has responded slowly, and with kind words, and in love.  He always sees the best of me, not the worst.  When I am at my ugliest-- cruel and hurtful, he chooses to see the Stacy beneath the ugly, and speaks love to her.

He wooed me while we were dating with cards, notes, flowers and dates.  He has wooed me in our marriage with his patient, steady love and presence.  He has served me selflessly and tirelessly- doing dishes, getting up with the kids during all hours of the night, working so hard every day to provide for our family so that I get to stay at home.  He listens to my endless stories and ventings.  He prays for me.  He is my greatest comfort besides Jesus.  He tells me I am beautiful every single day- (and I have learned that he actually means it!)  He tells me he's still "smitten" (his word) with me after all these years.  He comes up behind me when I'm washing dishes and whispers love into my ear. He still makes me a cd every year for Valentines Day- full of songs that declare his love.  He still buys me flowers and he still writes me cards.

He loves me well.  This marriage we have?  It is a beautiful treasure. 

And Mark's love for me is such a picture to me of Jesus' love for me.  I am so thankful.  So blessed.

Happy Anniversary to you, my beloved.  (When you happen upon this post in a week or two... ;))
I love you.