new read-a-loud

Mar 31, 2012 by

A couple of weeks ago someone on an email list recommended The Wonder Book For Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne as a great read-a-loud for a wide range of children and that boys will especially love it. Since I have a wide range of children and a boy I was looking for a new read-a-loud for since his Spies book was putting me to sleep, I thought, hmmm, I will check it out. I quickly found it for free as a Kindle download and sent it my way in seconds. Then I started reading it to Fisher. Then, I said, “Fisher, go grab Keziah, I think she will love this.” So he did. And we read. And we loved it.

Now Fisher, Keziah, and Annes hang out on my bed drawing and working on handwriting while I read to them the adventures of Perseus, Midas, and Pandora’s Box. It is exciting enough to distract me from the pain in my hip and it is written in a way that appeals to each of them. We have never spent much time on Greek Myths, although Blythe had a phase where she was slightly obsessed with them and I own and LOVE the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.

So, if you are in a reading rut, check out Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Wonder book and see if you fall in love as we did.

p.s. To all of you who are wondering, yes, I hobbled downstairs and typed this on my big computer. Perhaps a mistake, but I had a ton of emails to get out for gymnastics and the 3rd Annual Homeschool Read-A-Thon and it seemed a much better use of my fingers and brain to do it here. I’m hoping I won’t pay for it in the hip department.

read more

Related Posts

oooooohhhhhh, such insights!

Jan 7, 2012 by

I love family read-aloud time. I love reading high-quality literature with my family and having discussions about what we read. We started The Last Battle a few days ago and though we have read it before, we have never read it as the people we are right now. Each time we read a classic, we are reading a new book because we are new people…and a new family…with new thoughts in our minds and dreams in our hearts. We are facing new challenges and so we see new things in the book.

It is one of my favorite things about reading together…to learn about each other through learning what each of us takes from the book.

I have a friend who has been dealing with a narcissistic person and so as we read about Shift and his ego-maniac manipulations of Puzzle, I see narcissism written all over it (if anyone has a narcissist in their life, just read chapter one and their behavior will start making total sense to you!). Fisher sees how wrong it is to dress up like Aslan, and Keziah wonders aloud if Puzzle is weak-minded (he just didn’t know any better) or weak-willed (definitely weak-willed as Blythe passionately informed all of us). We had discussions tonight about dating, idolatry, knowledge of good and evil, courage and lack thereof, listening to your parents when they say that someone in your life is a narcissist, the harm that is done by pretending to be God (1. It’s a big fat lie. 2. People may believe you are God and do the wrong things you say to do. 3. People may believe you are God, but see that you aren’t anything all that great and then stop believing in any God, because if this is what God is, why worship this?), and if intelligence is of any use if the person uses their intelligence to do evil.

This is why family read-alouds are powerful. Its not just the books. Its the books and the people and the discussions, and the issues, and the insights into each others’ hearts that make them powerful.

I love being a mama. I especially love being a mama who reads to her children.

read more

Related Posts

to destroy you is no loss

Dec 6, 2011 by

to destroy you is no loss

Do you know over 3 million people died because of the actions of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979?

Do you know nearly 2 million of those were murdered in cold blood?

Do you know many, many more lives were cut short or irrevocably changed?

Do you know the Khmer Rouge’s mantra that played daily on the radio was “To keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss.” and that people were told they were less significant than a grain of rice?

Do you know people were clubbed on the head with hoes and then pushed into rivers, ponds, and reservoirs?

Do you know that people who had any education at all were killed while those who could not read or write and often did not think for themselves were promoted to leadership?

This is one reason why I am a defender of liberty, an advocate of liberal arts education, and most importantly, a mother who spends her days teaching her children.

My Worldviews students and I are discussing this book this week and it has touched them deeply. My hope is that they take with them a commitment to freedom and an understanding of the methods of a communist regime. If you have not read Joan Criddle’s book, To Destroy You Is No Loss, read it…it will change your life.

read more

Related Posts

little annes is not so little anymore

Nov 28, 2011 by

little annes is not so little anymore

Just ask her.

She will proudly stick up four chubby little fingers and tell you she is GROWING UP!

Our Thanksgiving weekend baby just turned four years old.

How can that be I wonder?

It doesn’t seem possible that she is fully out of toddler-hood and fully into big-girl-hood.

And yet, she is.

Just ask her.

Since her birthday is always right around Thanksgiving she usually gets gobs of presents from her aunts and uncles and grandparents. This year proved no different and she came home with two bears, one lion, a twistable crayon and sketchbook set, and an adorable pink purse shaped like a puppy. We all adore her…how can we not adore this face?


Snuggling with Cousin Andie


Opening presents




Isn’t this a great outfit from the thrift store! ($8.50!)


The pink puppy purse


She personally designed her birthday cake (Mint Moosetracks ice cream with Oreo crust and chocolate chips on top) and let everyone know if they could have a big piece or a little piece. I was glad I was on her big piece list because it was delish!


Blowing out the candles


The inside of the cake (is it still called cake if there is nothing but ice cream and oreos in it? Or is it some kind of frozen confection?)


Some of the party guests


She started out the day with finding her hidden presents and then moved on to a blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs breakfast (neither of which I think she ate). She colored and played with her animals for the rest of the day while her sister threw up all day long and everyone else shopped, ate leftovers, played Rook, watched football and movies, and laughed ourselves silly.

Her birthday book this year is so stinkin’ cute! Gyo Fujikawa is my new favorite illustrator and I am on a mission to collect all of her books. She has an ABC book that I think I must add to my voluminous collection of 26-little-letter works. She also has a Mother Goose, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and several counting books.

Aren’t the illustrations delightful?

We have been reading her several stories a day and so far they are all big hits.

This morning while she was taking a bath with me I asked her “Are you my son or my daughter?” and she quickly replied “I am your SUNSHINE!”

Yes, she surely is.

Happy Birthday Sunshine.

read more

Related Posts

the usborne art treasury

Nov 13, 2011 by

the usborne art treasury

I am not an artist. At least that is what I used to say. Now I say, let’s paint! Let’s draw! Let’s try it out and see what happens!

This has been a journey for me and actually, it is one I am still on because sometimes I let those old scripts play in my mind that say “you are not an artist”. I determined long ago that I did not want my fears and phobias to be passed on to my children. They can make their own, but they don’t need to be burdened with mine. So, I overcame a pretty serious creepy-crawly phobia and now have bug-lovers for children. I am working on overcoming my kitchen, sewing, and art anxiety and one way I do that is by surrounding myself with great information.

Like this book.

It is one of our favorites and we are creating all sorts of amazing things with it. The book is laid out in four page sections. The first two page spread showcases an artist’s life and one of his or her works. The next two pages give step-by-step instructions to create your own masterpiece in the same style as the artist just spotlighted.


And even for a recovering art-phobe like me, it works wonderfully well. So well, my children don’t even know the extent of my limitations.

read more

Related Posts

fiar: how to make an apple pie

Oct 24, 2011 by

fiar: how to make an apple pie

Our FIAR book of the week is How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World by Marjorie Priceman. Fisher and I are in love.


The market is closed so the girl must travel the world to find her apple pie making ingredients. She traveled to Italy to find wheat for the flour, France for elegant chickens to lay the best eggs, Sri Lanka to find kurundu bark for the cinnamon, England for a cow with the creamiest milk, Jamaica for sugar cane, and Vermont for apples. What a trip!

Then we finished off the day by eating a real apple pie and carving pumpkins (no, I didn’t make it today…I made it a long time ago and froze it and Keziah thought it would be a fabulous idea to bake it for our Family Home Evening treat.)

Fisher giggled all the way through it, told papa all about it when he got home, and he can’t wait to read it again tomorrow. This one is a keeper!

p.s. I am on a posting spree…I don’t know what is up with that! Pictures of the pumpkin carving will be up soon.

read more

Related Posts

fiar: who owns the sun?

Sep 20, 2011 by

fiar: who owns the sun?

Who Owns The Sun?

Before I started Five In a Row with Fisher, I had never heard of this book. We put it on hold at the library and waited for our name to come up on the list. We were finally able to check it out and we read it yesterday snuggled up on my bed.

Oh. My. Heavens.

I MUST own this book.

I am so in love with it.

The problem? It is going for around 100 buckaroos because of the whole scarcity-grows-demand-grows-prices issue.

If I wasn’t an honest person I would just keep the one from the library and pay the fee…but who knows, maybe even their replacement fee would be in the three digit range? I am just going to have start telling everyone I know to keep their eyes peeled for it at used book stores!

This book was written and illustrated by a fourteen year old girl named Stacey Chbosky. The art work is so lovely. In fact, all of us are going to try to paint a sun like hers this afternoon because Fisher and I are so completely in love with her sun. I guess there is a yearly contest for students to write and illustrate their own books and then if they win their book is published. This book won the contest back in 1988. All of my children want to learn more about the contest and enter their books this year.

This beautiful story is a conversation between a boy and his daddy. The boy asks questions about who owns the sun, the stars, the birds, the wind, and the flowers. The dad gives answers that speak right to my soul, teaching his son that no one can own those things, they are too big and powerful for anyone to own them. They are for everyone to be blessed by. Then, the boy overhears a Mr. Finley saying he owns Big Jim, who is the boy’s father. The boy is angry and hurt and scared at the thought of anyone OWNING a human being when no one can even own a flower or the wind. His daddy teaches him about slavery in such a poignant way I could barely make it through the reading of it.

He says “A man is a beautiful thing, a very beautiful thing. But some men forget this. And sometimes they try to keep other men captive. They buy and sell people, as if human beings are no more than cattle. But only a fool believes he can really own another man, and only a fool will try. Mr. Finley may own my body, but I have a heart and I have a mind, and he can never own these. Inside of me, I’m too powerful to be owned by anyone. Inside, I am like the sun.”

Our family is pretty passionate about freedom for all of God’s children. We talk about different customs, cultures, and government forms often. We discuss which forms create the most freedom and which create the least. We have studied the lives of great men and women who have given everything they have to help others have freedom. This year, Keziah and I are studying American history from the Vikings to the Civil War and I can’t wait to recreate an Underground Railroad experience for her and her friends. I read several books about William Wilberforce during my pregnancy with Annesley and desperately wanted to name the child inside me after him (but she turned out to be a girl and so we named her after Susannah Annesley Wesley instead).

So, when I read this book yesterday, thinking it was just a lovely book about nature and how the world works, my heart soared when I realized it was really about slavery and freedom and the greatness of the human soul. What a great story!

Let’s all write to the publisher and beg them to re-issue it! In the meantime, I will buy it from anyone who finds it at a thrift store and throw in a foot massage as well!

read more

Related Posts

sacred sabbaths: the great divorce

Aug 28, 2011 by

sacred sabbaths: the great divorce

Today I started reading C.S. Lewis’ classic on choosing heaven over hell, The Great Divorce. I had always wondered at the strange title until I read about William Blake’s work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Lewis offers this work as a rebuttal to Blake’s work and puts forth the idea that the two cannot coexist in our hearts…we must choose heaven completely or we will be in hell.

I am loving it so far! Who else has read it and what are your thoughts?

read more

Related Posts

book bonanza: kate shelley, bound for legend

Jul 14, 2011 by

book bonanza: kate shelley, bound for legend

I have been spending a lot of time reading with my children lately and I have so many books I want to share with everyone! I love quality children’s literature and wish I could fly from house to house delighting children with the magic of words.

Last night for our family read-aloud, we read Kate Shelley: Bound For Legend by Robert D. San Souci. I had learned about Kate in Keziah’s Birthday Book last year, but this was the first time our whole family was introduced to her.


Kate, a young girl of 15, went out into an Iowa rainstorm after she heard the railroad bridge break near her home. She found an engine in the river and men holding onto willow branches to stay afloat. She shouted to them that she would go for help. Knowing that the midnight express was due soon and fearing for the lives of those aboard, she decided to go to Moingana where the telegraph was located. The only way to get help was to cross the flooding Des Moines River, in which her brother had drowned the year before, on a 673 ft. trestle bridge with two foot gaps between planks. In the darkness and rain, she inched across, wondering if the midnight express was going to come barreling down on her at any moment, if she would fall through the planks, or if the trees crashing down the river would knock her off the bridge to certain death in raging water below. She finally made it across and ran the half mile to the station office at Moingona, told them about the flash flood that took out the Honey Creek Bridge, the men in the river, and the need to stop the express train. Luckily the train had been stopped already and she led a rescue team back to the men in the river.

After her heroic actions, Kate was so ill she stayed in bed for the next three months. Throughout her life she would refer to the actions of that night with humility and gratitude. In her words,

“I believe that God makes strong the weakest and makes the poorest of us able to do much for His merciful purposes.”

Now I want to mentor a class on heroes! Wouldn’t that be fun to focus on all sorts of different types of heroes for a semester? Think of the inspiration that would flow into each heart if we pondered the greatness of spirit, courage, and sacrifice so many men, women, and children have made throughout history!

read more

Related Posts