Christmas-y, Winter-y Reading

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John William Waterhouse – “The Annunciation”, 1914 {Google}

Oh, ’tis the season for a good book. Well, it’s always the season for that, but it’s delightful thing to pick up something related to winter and Christmas. I’ve been inspired by reading other’s Christmas reading.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just named a few in each area that we’ve enjoyed or are enjoying currently.

For the Family, our past favorite chapter books:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Christmas Stove by Alta Halverson Seymour -We are currently reading another Christmas story of hers and loving it. These are set around the world and The Christmas Stove is set in Switzerland.

On That Night by Elizabeth Yates – this book fostered many good discussions and I hope to reread it again another year. Lovely, heart-probing story.

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink – a lovely story from the author of Caddie Woodlawn, another favorite title of ours. A family struggling during the Depression, end up staying in someone’s summer cottage. A heart-warming tale set in winter-y Wisconsin.

Currently, we are reading two new tales to us, and are really enjoying them:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute – don’t let that cover fool you! We found an older copy of this lovely story. An orphaned boy runs away to London and spends his best winter ever with an acting troupe! We haven’t finished this, but the writing is GORGEOUS.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge – I’ve been wanting to read this story for years and now we are finally getting to it. Polly lives with her poor aunts and is hoping for a Christmas surprise. Charming story surrounding the Christmas carol of the same name. I am a huge Goudge fan, so I’m delighted with this!

For myself to enjoy, I was trying to remember ones that I have really loved over the years:

 

{Goodreads}

A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge (not pictured) – I fondly remember this book from years ago and hope to revisit it in the future. A collection of stories from her previous novels, centering around Christmas, and a few new stories, make for a charming read by the tree, sipping hot chocolate.

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read – I’m a huge Miss Read fan, albeit I haven’t read much of hers recently and need to remedy that! I enjoyed this story, Miss Read is so good at cozy stories centered in little villages and you can’t help fall in love with what’s happening in the villager’s lives  and the subtle humor throughout.

Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch – this may be a bit too sad for the feeling of the season, but I adored this memoir. Filled with Susan’s delightful illustrations, she shares how she pursued her dreams of drawing & painting, finding a darling little home of her dreams, helping her heal and work through a hard divorce.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen – I read this with my children and was deeply moved. This is a good title for deep winter, angling into spring. A little family decides to move to a small cabin they’ve inherited that is filled with great summer vacation memories. Dad is suffering from PTSD from the war and it hasn’t been an easy time as a family. This is written so beautifully and surprising wisdom and beauty sneak up on you all the time. I hope to reread this later in winter.

Honorable mention: Jane Austen’s 6 novels often make it into my winter reading rotation. My favorites, currently are, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice.

We also enjoy many different pictures books and devotional type readings together, but I’ll stop for now. How ’bout you? What titles have you enjoyed during the winter season?

~

 

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Dancing

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Dancing with them was the best thing that happened last Tuesday.

Curls flying. Laughter. Little, slippery hands in mine.

“Faster, Mommy!” Ella said, on her tippy-toes. We circle dance, meeting in the middle like a bunch of Celtic monks, flowing in and out. It doesn’t matter if the music doesn’t exactly match our dance moves or rather our lack there of.

Loreena McKinnett sings “The Highway Man”, a haunting poem by Alfred Noyes, remember Anne reciting it in front of an admiring Gilbert in the movie version of Anne of Avonlea? My reverie about poetry ending as three year old Ben stomps on my bare toes.

“Dance, Mommy!” he hollers, daring me to stop thinking, pay attention, and just keep dancing.

Giggling, spinning, chattering, and trying to sing the eclectic ballads swirling from the “Book of Secrets” CD.

Phoebe grins her toothlessness up at me, readjusting her iron-like grip. I keep going, huffing and puffing, trying not to accidentally trip and make an even bigger fool of myself.

Collapsing, we start talking all at once, even the non-dancing, by-standing critics. “Remember the ‘Charleston’, that Jimmy Stewart did over the swimming pool?” I throw out into the fray. “Mom, you mentioned maybe learning contra dance,” Annie adds. “Let’s look up circle dances on You Tube,” one enthusiast says, “And swing like from the Glenn Miller songs from the other day.”

Eyes rapt with amazement, we watch the beauty of dance, movement, swiftness, creative precision.

It begins again, inspired and intrigued, we badly “Charleston” around, hilariously attempt Highlander jigs, float like butterflies and, well, you get the picture. We pump up the music and just let go, following a cadence of joyful footsteps dancing away the ages.

So simple, the world to them.

Shining eyes, quick breath, smiles look up and over at me. Like I hung the moon specially for them. All from a simple dance together.

~

 

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #10

{continuing my gratitude list} 

91. Gratitude lists with my friend Marjorie via email every year, she reminds me, so grateful for the slowing down, the paying attention together

92. God’s love, we can’t even begin to fathom the depths of it

93. The fluttering children’s artwork hanging over the heat register

94. My father-in-law and his Amish coworker stopping by for hot chocolate

95. Goofy Messenger texting back and forth between me, my sisters, and my parents

96. Hugs from my 12 year old son

97. Pretty candle holder from the Dollar Store, my Phoebe buying it for me ❤

98. My brilliant green stocking cap, gray wool coat, and floral scarf, so cheerful

99. Thanksgiving feast with family today

100. Words. Blank pages. New day to live.

~

 

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #9

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{continuing my gratitude list}

81. bananas and string cheese shared together

82. last few chapters of a good book, bittersweet

83. the ancient (alright, moldy) smell of old hard cover books

84. Lovely songs, poems, and bits of Shakespeare. We all love this CD!

85. Pilot G2 Extra Fine .05 Gel Pens…perfect scritch-y scratch-y noise when you write.

86. cinnamon and sugar toast

87. conifers, so cheerfully ever green, for the most part, anyway.

88. children crafting with recyclables

89. fluffy towels out of the dryer

90. Tacos on Tuesdays

~

A Seed of Sympathy

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…she will point to some lovely flower flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God, in which we may believe He finds continual pleasure, and which He is pleased to see his human children rejoice in. Such a seed of sympathy with the Divine thought sown in the heart of the child is worth many of the sermons the man may listen to hereafter, much of the ‘divinity’ he may read.

Charlotte Mason

Home Education, p. 79-80

(this quote is talking about the mother (or father, of course), what may be her role as an interpreter between her child and Nature. Miss Mason cautions that this is an infrequent or occasional thing that the mother might do reverently,  probably because we can quickly become moralistic, preachy, and completely get in the way of God’s Creation and the child.  I found this to be such a beautiful passage and idea, that I couldn’t not share it!)

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #8

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{continuing my gratitude list}

71. Outdoor Christmas lights popping up here and there. They are so cheerful driving along on deepest, darkest country roads.

72. My long-suffering Charlotte Mason book study friends, who once-a-month have to listen to me blast them with what I’ve been reading for the last month and all the ideas that come out of that reading. I don’t go out much. Poor friends, you know who you are.

73. My husband who attempts to follow my incoherent ramblings and rantings.

74. Brioche. Need I say more?

75. The beauty and inspiration I learn daily with and from my children as we learn together here at Hearth Ridge. It’s subtle, but astounding if I really pay attention.

76. A week or so without WiFi, showing me that many things I think are important, ahem, aren’t that important. And really, not having WiFi, isn’t even a problem in many areas of the world. Perspective.

77. My mother! It’s her birthday today. We get to go out to lunch together tomorrow.

78. Christmas secrets and surprises being worked on and planned.

79. Pie baking today and tomorrow!

80. Pen pals

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #7

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{continuing my gratitude list}

61. Homemade costumes by Phoebe and Ella, putting on a show for me
62. The beautiful drive to a friend’s house
63. Spending time with new mom friends at local homeschool mothers night
64. Ben being so excited to see after I’m gone
65. Anticipation building for opening day of hunting
66. New book to share over Christmas
67. Jan Brett illustrations
68. Surprise pumpkin pie for Amos
69. Thanksgiving plans at my brothers home
70. The closing down of another blessed year, Lord-willing a new, fresh start next

~

Fortitude

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I’m sick of fortitude. She’s been staring at me ever since July. Botticelli’s painting, a small print of it, a bit worn around the edges, stuck to my fridge.

My single-eyed focus is wavering. Miss Navel-Gaze and Mrs. Self-Absorption are friendly companions. Over a mug of steaming coffee, they commiserate with me.

They help me try to figure myself out, no rigid battle mode here. At their kind insistence, I’m giving myself a little more-than-usual grace. We’re going to figure this out, create some some steps for fixing things. Just why can’t I get myself together anyway?

I’m nervous I’m going to mess up, fail. But my companions are helping me take care of me, to keep my focus on my needs.

Who’s that peeking in at the window? That headdress is hideous. She’s pointing, dress billowing in the wind, towards my daughter, who needs help. I stand, push out through the door, and reaching Ella, I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving. She has only a small cut. My companions beckon at the door of the house, fresh coffee and ease in their hands. I look hesitatingly to the side of me. She stands there. Still, resolute, obedient, faithful. Weariness and slothfulness tug me toward the house, forgiveness, understanding, and strength ooze from this warrior.

I slowly turn, bare feet on cold earth, seeing my husband getting out of his car, eyes weary, arms full. I see gardens needing clearing after the frost, I know of four pounds of beef thawing on counter for this evening’s meal.

Fortitude calmly takes my hand, her sword held purposely in the other. She gives me a tiny smile.

I want that inner strength I see in her battle-worn face. I want this posture of restful readiness and watchfulness. A waiting purposefully for the next right thing.

Ignoring the clanging coming from those voices, I squeeze her hand back and take a step towards living death. Death to self as primary. One of love, not of anxiousness, which I sense from her is really selfishness, after all, it is a preoccupation with self. I take a step towards my husband, kissing his cheek, her sword slashes at the hovering navel gazing, never loosing her grip on me. I do menial tasks, her by my side, I listen to endless conversations from children, cooking meals to feed a crowd, she is stomping self-absorption into dirt. Together, the hard, becomes beautiful.

I look over at that wretched-lovely art print and I thank God for it. It’s trumpet call to humble myself under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift me up. I’m armed and restfully waiting with Fortitude.

May I be bold enough to dive into the tumult with her each and every blessed day I’m given. Fortitude, stand on and continue to shine forth.

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #6

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{continuing my gratitude list}

51. giving, giving, and giving more…coming to the end of myself, seeing the need of my Savior more than ever to carry me

52. library trips

53. listening to my 8 year old daughter talk, talk, talk

54. fluffy, hot, clean laundry from the dryer

55. poetry

56. Minestrone soup with thick-cut sausage, home made bread slathered with butter

57. early morning light reflecting off glass-glazed ice puddles

58. warm, woolen coats

59. new tights, cardigans, rich colors

60. Amish gentleman rollerblading by with his bow hunting gear slung over his shoulder, welcome to the “deep country”, I’m so thankful I live here

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #5

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{continuing my gratitude list}

41. the way leaves swirl up behind our vehicle as we drive down the road

42. Ben’s sweet little hands

43. hours of LEGO playing

44. grilled cheese on sourdough

45. a husband who faithfully provides

46. early morning stillness

47. two oldest passed Hunter’s Safety

48. first big flakes of snow, so beautiful

49. a big load of seconds from apple orchard at a good price

50. hot chocolate mustaches on little children

~

Autumn 2017 – Our Favorite Books for Children & Young Adults

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This may seem like a massive list for just a few months of the year! We do enjoy our books, that’s for sure. However, remember there are eight people (well, my 3 year old didn’t say much) weighing in on their favorites for RIGHT now. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with autumn, just what each person is enjoying personally, some from our learning and others just for extra fun during this season. I tried to take photos of all the suggestions from my family for this list, but that didn’t work out (alas, real life), but I did some. I also added an age range, but honestly, we all love most of these. Hope you enjoy this list!

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay – Hilarious adventures of three friends who have a magical pudding that never runs out! Two nasty puddin’ thieves are after their treat. Wonderful rhymes and songs! (All ages! Australian Classic.)

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton – This is the first in a series and my 5 year old and I are very much enjoying this! Our copy has full page, lovely, colorful illustrations. This is the story of three children that find a magic tree that takes them to faraway, crazy, lands. They meet a host of fun friends, and some creatures they wish they HADN’T met! (10 and under)

 

 

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – a favorite reread here all around. (All ages!)

The Twenty- One Balloons by William Pène du Bois – the incredible story of a retired Professor who decides to take a balloon trip, ending up crashing on an island full of surprises. (All ages!)

American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg – this is well-loved favorite, especially the part about Paul Bunyan. (10 and younger)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer – We are really just in the beginning of this book, but my 12 year old and I are really enjoying it. It is sobering, yet heart-warming. We have really interesting discussion after reading. I’m editing just a wee touch as I read this out loud, but over all a engrossing story of a young man growing up in Malawi. (12 and older)

The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith – (*whispering* I find this series little simple and redundant.) My children, however, especially my boys, find the idea of warrior rabbits, fantastic! This is a prequel, I believe, to The Green Ember.  A certain boy is even getting a t-shirt from this series for Christmas. (10 and under)

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Knee-Knock Rise by Natalie Babbitt – My 8 year old and I are reading this together and so far it is a mysterious, interesting story about a boy Egan who travels to visit relatives. Everyone in the village lives in terror a menacing noise up the mountain, is Egan curious and brave enough to find out what’s up there? (10 and under)

Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace – this is the fourth in this series and I’m looking foward to reading this with my 8 year old daughter. We’ve been slowly savoring these. Adventures of two friends and their families in a Midwestern town. She picked this before we’d even read it, because she really loves these! I’m going to hold off on the last four in the series as those are when Betsy and Tacy are older. We’ll pick up on those later. (10 and under)

The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings – This was a sad, yet mystical story about a little girl and her parents during the Great Depression. A neighbor shares the story of a secret river full of fish, sending Calpurnia on an adventure to help her family and friends. We have the version with Leonard Weisgard’s illustrations and I think that adds a lot to this. (10 and under)

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The Book of Golden Deeds by Charlotte M. Yonge – A collection of stories of bravery and true courage. You won’t find any sports “heroes” in this book! Highly moving and challenging. My daughter and I have wonderful discussions on this title. Older language, just FYI. (12 and up)

The Story of John J. Audubon by Joan Howard – This is an interesting biography or historical fiction? (I can never tell), about Audubon. My daughter and I are really enjoying talking about it. ( 8 and up)

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney – Interesting science behind clouds told in engaging way with folk lore, stories, and myths behind clouds. Good for discussions with older students, some adult- type topics in it, just FYI. (12 and up)

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Half Magic by Edward Eager – Three children find a magic pebble that gives you HALF of what you wish for…so be careful! This leads to hilarious situations! The children love this book. (All ages!)

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss – This is our summer read aloud that we didn’t finish and we are still very much enjoying it. Fantastic examples of what hard work and ingenuity can do. Great examples of a loving family environment. I think some of the situations in the story are a bit TOO convenient, but I didn’t mention that to the children, and they love the exotic animals, interesting houses, and adventures the Robinson family are having! Older language, just FYI. (All ages!)

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards – yes, by THAT Julie Andrews. This started off slow for us, and some children were very frustrated and emotions ran high about certain parts of this book, that they actually wanted to quit! However, I pressed on with this one, because I had peeked ahead, and now they can’t get enough of it. Hopefully, they will enjoy the ending. (All ages!)

Honorable mention, not pictured:

The Dry Divide by Ralph Moody – this is the 7th book in the Ralph Moody Series which my husband has been reading in the evenings to the children. We love this rough and tumble true story of Ralph’s life.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini – my oldest wanted me to include this series. We both enjoy fantasy and she read this series this autumn after it was recommended to her.

We read many picture books and my youngest has favorite board books, but I can’t get my head wrapped around our favorites in those areas right at the moment. I’ll let you know if any jump out at me.

Happy Reading! Please share if you have any favorites from these genres in the past few months!

~

Gratitude List {One Hundred Bits by Thanksgiving} #4

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{continuing my gratitude list}

31. fresh sheets on my bed

32. owl hooting outside my window in the wee morning hours

33. stuffed animal birthday celebration

34. planning Christmas surprises

35. writing group at library, so inspiring

36. surprising the children with donuts and trip to a little local dam (we’ve been reading about them!)

37. sunlight hitting the table full of nature treasures JUST right

38. hot coffee

39. Go Fish and Uno games

40. twinkle lights around the house

~