Saturday, January 31, 2015

Reading Challenge Update - January

I finished six books from my 2015 Reading Challenge list and I must say I am seriously loving this challenge. 
My first book, Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery, I chose because I had read the first two books in the series and was still in an Anne kind of mood. Aren't these books just lovely?  I read them when I was younger, and have seen the show many times, but I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed the books as an adult.  They are so full of charm and dreams and beauty.



My second book was Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. I was surprised by how much I loved this book.  I was expecting a good survives-against-all-odds kind of story, but it turned out to be so much more than that.  Louie Zamperini was a truly remarkable man. His strength, determination, and fortitude were unbelievable.  The fact that he survived the war is nothing short of miraculous. Hillenbrand did an excellent job of packing this book with historical information without weighing down the story.  It could easily have been dry, but she brought it to life.  
I enjoyed this book so much I considered recommending it to my kids, but decided against it because of a few not very kid-friendly scenes. I was thrilled when I found out there was a young adult version of the book.  I immediately bought the audiobook and the whole family listened to it when we were out and about in the car.  Everyone loved it.  Many times during the book one or another of us would say, "Whoa" or "No way".  I remember one time in particular, we were just pulling up to a store when we reached an especially powerful part of the book.  My husband turned off the car and my daughter said, "I feel like might start crying!" My son responded, "Start crying? I did a little bit!" Whig and I admitted to getting teary-eyed ourselves.  It was a beautiful moment.


Unbroken left me on a WWII kick, so I picked The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom.  Oh my goodness, what a book!  This one is my favorite of the ones I read this month, and that's saying something.  TJed really encourages you to highlight and make notes in the book you're reading, and I have a hard time of it, because I get so engrossed that I forget to write in it. But I marked the heck out of this one.  Not because I wasn't engrossed, but because there was so much to write!  This book is rich with history, but more importantly, it's full to the brim with examples of true Christlike love. I marveled at the wisdom of Corrie's father, the goodness of Betsie, the complete honesty of Nollie, the foresight and charity of Willem. Apart from Corrie's father, I think Corrie herself was my favorite person in the book because she was so human and accessible.  She struggled with the same doubts, fears, and weaknesses as the rest of us.  She wasn't perfect, and struggled to understand and emulate the goodness that she saw in members of her family.   Her insights inspired me.  Her growth helped me grow.  Her love for others, even her enemies, softened my own heart.  This is such a beautiful, life-changing book. I highly recommend it to everyone.  And take my advice, highlight and take notes in your book.  It really enriches your reading experience.



Somewhere in the middle of reading all these books I listened to Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia.  I like listening to audiobooks when I'm making dinner or doing chores.  It makes the work less tedious.  My husband had listened to this one previously and recommended it, so I gave it a go.  This is a fun book.  It's not a classic by any means, but it is full of monsters, heavy-duty weaponry, libertarianism, and punching, so I enjoyed it. There is some language and loads of violence, so be warned.  Otherwise it was a nice break from my more ponder-worthy reads. 



I figured I'd finish up the WWII books on my list by reading Diary of Ann Frank. (The version I read is the complete one, which is about twice as long as the edited version I had read in High School.)  It's such a different experience reading this as a mother than as a teenager. I often found myself thinking, "Wow, she is such a teenager." or "Yep, I used to do that same thing when I was her age."  I think I'll read it again when Gigi gets into her teen years, just to remind myself how moody, confused, and conflicted teenagers can be, even (or maybe especially) in their own minds.  I didn't start marking this book up until the last half, when she's been in hiding about a year.  Before that it's mostly teenage angst and complaining.  But something changes, I'm not sure what, where she started becoming more self-aware, more mature, more desirous to improve herself. 



My final book this month was  The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  One one hand, there are some stinking funny parts.  I shared the chapter where J.D. tries to get the mumps with my kids and they thought it was hilarious.  There are also great lessons about kindness and looking out for others.  And I must admit, Tom is pretty ingenious.  On the other hand,  Tom is SO greedy and proud! It was driving me nuts, especially the way he manipulates J.D.  I was all set to seriously dislike this one, but the very end turned it around for me.  I love how much he helps his friend and that he doesn't (for once!) accept payment for it.  I gives me hope for book two, which I think I'll read next even though it's not on my list.  It's a quick read after all.

I'm excited at how many books I got through this month. Reading that many excellent books in such a short amount of time was a great experience.  I'm starting to get how life-changing reading the classics (and lots of them!) can be.  Here's hoping I'll be able to keep the momentum going after the baby's born!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gigi's 2015 Reading Challenge


 Gigi was excited watching me create my 2015 Reading Challenge list so I recommended she create one of her own.  She decided 52 books was a little too ambitious for a 10 year old, so she settled on a 27 book list instead. Here is the list she came up with (I corrected some of the spelling and added links, and the italicized parts are my remarks, but the rest is how she wrote it. ):

  1. A book in a series by an author you love-Guardians of Ga’hoole the capture (by Kathryn Lasky)
  2. a book your mom loves-Anne of Green Gables  (by L.M. Montgomery)
  3. a book your friend loves-a living nightmare (by Darren Shan)
  4. a book you can read in a day-harry the homeless puppy (by HollyWebb)
  5. a book in a series you have not finished-Harry Potter 3 (do I even need to say who the author is?)
  6. a book about wars-Guardians of Ga’hoole the journey (by Kathryn Lasky)
  7. a book about animals-puppy place moose (by Eileen Miles)
  8. a book that scares you-the color out of space (The H.P. Lovecraft short story.  Very creepy.)
  9. a book in a series- the Rescue (by Kathryn Lasky)
  10. a book that teaches you something-Girls Guide to horses
  11. a book about something new-physic (She asked me what other categories to put on her list and I recommended a book on a subject she had never studied before.  We went through a few subjects and she picked physics.  If you know any excellent physics books for 10 year olds I would love to hear them!)
  12. a book just for fun-bone Rock jaw (by Jeff Smith)
  13. a book you have  heard but not read- magyk (by Angie Sage)
  14. a book on someone who inspires you-Rosa parks (Again, book recommendations on this topic would be much appreciated)
  15. a book on the past-middle ages (I can't find the link for this one)
  16. a book by an author your dad loves-winter smith-Terry Pratchett
  17. a book your brother/sister picks-red scarf girl (by Ji-li Jang)
  18. a book on cooking- nom nom paleo (by Michelle Tam)
  19. a classic- P&P (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
  20. go to your book shelf close your eyes and point and pick the book your pointing to- Alyth (by Jared Southwick)
  21. a book older than you-Matilda (by Roald Dahl)
  22. a book from a different country-hiding place (by Corrie ten Boom)
  23. a book on personality-mom’s book (She's referring to The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle, but when I pointed out it's a parenting book, she decided to go for another of Tuttle's books on personality types.  Maybe Remembering Wholeness?  I don't know yet.)
  24. a book on art- terry Pratchett Disc world art (by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby)
  25. a book grandma loves-Hondo (by Louis L'Amour)
  26. a book on a celebrity-mathematicians are people too (and by celebrity she means a famous person in the past or present, not a movie star or whatever)
  27. a book on a mad man in a big blue box-any doctor who book 
Gigi has already finished three of the books, and is almost finished with the fourth.  I think it's likely she'll finish her challenge before I finish mine.

Sunday Morning

I woke up for the third time last night to discover it was morning.  6:45, fifteen minutes before I would have to get up anyway.  No point in trying to fall back asleep.  I rolled over (a multi-step process for my overly pregnant body) and tried to scoot Hamish over without waking him.  I vaguely remembered bringing him in to our room last night after hearing him cry.  I  really must stop doing that.  I did what I do every morning that I have a few minutes of quiet.  I grabbed my phone and read through a few of my favorite sites.  Nothing too heavy at that hour.  I didn't want to fall back asleep.  7:08.  I should get up...just five more minutes.
7:19.  Fine, I'll get up.
I marvel that Whig's still asleep. He is usually up at 5, even on the weekends.  Not by choice, it's just programed into his body.  I enjoy the silence as I heat up leftover pancakes.  Ugh.  I should not eat these.  They are going to make me feel tired at church.  I should have made sausage and eggs.  No time now.  I wake Dale, Gigi, and Whig, then eat breakfast as I read over my Primary lesson.  I give Gigi my last pancake.  Dale can't find his church pants.  I dig through the laundry, he digs through his closet.  I find them in the dryer.  Who would have thought?  Hamish wakes just as I go in to get ready for church.  Gigi's already dressed, so I ask her to make breakfast for him. 
I grumble over my lack of maternity church clothes.  I remind myself that I'll only have to worry about that for 6(ish) more weeks.  Then I can worry about how none of my regular clothes or maternity clothes fit right.  Ahhhh, postpartum awkwardness.  I put on my least favorite maternity dress.
Wash face, brush teeth, apply lotion, deodorant, perfume, make-up, the whole shebang.  Hamish tries to put make-up on too.  I give him a decorative thing with rocks and glass votive holders to keep him busy.  He sits on the floor and puts rocks in and takes rocks out and stacks votive thingies and is happy.
Diaper change, little toddler church clothes. Check diaper bag and primary bag.
 Oh crap, how is it 8:50 already?!
Time to go! Time to go!
Driving to church we listen to the young adult version of Unbroken.  It's not super churchy, but I am so excited that the family is enjoying it that I don't care. The kids laugh at Louie's antics and are amazed by his speed.  Whig is transported to the theater with Louie, hearing about Pearl Harbor and America at war.
Church.  We make it for the sacrament hymn.  I am relieved.  I hate missing the sacrament.  Dale and Gigi draw.  Hamish wants to draw too.  Ten minutes before the meeting ends that Hamish decides done sitting.  I walk the halls with him.  He insists on turning off every hall light he sees.  Why oh why did they make the switches so low? I am able to sneakily turn them back on if we're already down the hall and he has had a chance to turn off the lights ahead of us. He catches on to what I'm doing after a minute and tries to chase me away from the switches.  I herd him into the empty RS room.  He is resentful but obedient when I tell him no piano playing.  He draws on the chalkboard, then erases, then draws. After a few minutes I erase his masterpieces and we make it back to the chapel just after sacrament meeting ends.
I lose him in the crowd for a minute when someone asks me about cleaning the church on Saturday.  I find him in Whig's arms, thank goodness.  I head to primary, where I find my classroom full.  9 kids.  I only made enough handouts for 5.  Hmmm...  The kids are especially wiggly and chatty, so we don't get to the handouts in any case.  I wonder if it's because there are twice as many as usual. Maybe it's something in the air.

I don't know why I wrote this.  Last Sunday I just had the urge to write out my day.  Nothing interesting happened, it wasn't blog-worthy at all, but I had the hankering, so I wrote.  Unfortunately I conked out before I could finish and now I seem to have lost steam on this post.  I know if I don't publish this now I'll never finish it and never publish it.  So up it goes. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

I came across The 2015 Reading Challenge recently and was immediately sold.  (I mean come on, a challenge that involves reading?  Where do I sign up?)  Basically the point of the challenge is to read 52 books in a year.  Someone even came up with this fun list you can use when picking your books: 

I thought this list was fun, but I really wanted to make one more TJed friendly.  (TJed (A Thomas Jefferson Education) is the homeschooling philosophy/template we use.  For more info about it check out TJed.org.)  So with a little help from the TJed Facebook group, I came up with my own list. Some of it I borrowed from the original list, some is TJed-esque, and some is just for fun.
  1.  A book with more than 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book with a one-word title
  4. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
  5. A Newbery Award winning book
  6. A book that you always meant to read but were too intimidated by it to try
  7. A book your mom loves
  8. A book that scares you
  9. A book more than 100 years old
  10. A book more than 500 years old
  11. One of these five books: A Thomas Jefferson Education, Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens,The Student Whisperer, A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion
  12. A math classic
  13. A book from the TJed Classics for Young Children and Families list
  14. A book from the TJed Classics for Youth list
  15. A book from the TJed Classics for Adults list 
  16. A work from the TJed Classics for Adults list that is NOT a book (ie The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, etc)
  17. A book written by one of the Founding Fathers
  18. A book about the Founding Fathers
  19. A biography/autobiography about someone that inspires you
  20. A book about a classical musician or musicians
  21. A book about a famous artist or artists
  22. A book of essays, speeches, or short stories
  23. A play
  24. A book you can finish in a day
  25. A book that is part of a series
  26. A book of poetry
  27. A book that was originally written in a different language
  28. Close your eyes and point to a location at random on a world map. Pick a book set in this location or written by someone from this location. (Can just be the country, not the town)
  29. Spin around with your eyes closed, then pick a book at random from your bookshelf
  30. A book your husband picks out for you
  31. A book your children pick out for you
  32. A book recommended on the TJed Facebook page
  33. A book you own but have never read
  34. A book you started but never finished
  35. Reread a favorite book
  36. A book you read as a child/teen but hated
  37. A book you think you won't like
  38. The pinnacle work of a culture
  39. A religious work within your own religion
  40. A religious work from a different faith than your own
  41. A book written by or about someone related to you
  42. A book that teaches you a new skill
  43. A book that improves upon a skill you already possess
  44. A book about/from a period of history which has always interested you
  45. A book about/from a period of history which has never interested you
  46. A book that you read aloud to someone
  47.  A book just for fun
  48. A book on a subject that you are passionate about
  49. A book on a subject you used to be passionate about when you were young
  50. (50-52) A book about one of your child's passions (3 books total for me-one for each child)
 Here are the books I chose for my list (though it will probably change somewhat over the course of the year):
  1. A book with more than 500 pages - Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2. A classic romance - Persuasion, Austen
  3. A book with a one-word title - Utopia,  Classics for AdultsMore
  4. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book - To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  5. A Newbery Award winning book - Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, Rachel Field
  6. A book that you always meant to read but were too intimidated by it to try - The Gulag Archipelago Classics for Adults, Solzhenitsyn
  7. A book your mom loves - Last of the Breed, Louis L'Amour
  8. A book that scares you - At the Mountains of Madness, Lovecraft
  9. A book more than 100 years old - The Law, Bastiat
  10. A book more than 500 years old - The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
  11. One of these five books: A Thomas Jefferson Education, Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning, Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens,The Student Whisperer, A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion - A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion
  12. A math classic - A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, Schneider
  13. A book from the TJed Classics for Young Children and Families list - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,
  14. A book from the TJed Classics for Youth list - The Hiding Place, Boom
  15. A book from the TJed Classics for Adults list - Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
  16. A work from the TJed Classics for Adults list that is NOT a book (ie The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, etc) - The Declaration of Independence
  17. A book written by one of the Founding Fathers - Common Sense,
  18. A book about the Founding Fathers - Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, Lossing
  19. A biography/autobiography about someone who inspires you - Education of a Wandering Man, L'Amour
  20. A book about a classical musician or musicians -Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, Kavanaugh
  21. A book about a famous artist or artists - Leonardo's Notebooks, da Vinci, Suh
  22. A book of essays, speeches, or short stories - The History of Freedom,  Classics for AdultsActon
  23. A play - Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare
  24. A book you can finish in a day - The Phantom Tollbooth, Juster
  25. A book that is part of a series - Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery
  26. A book of poetry - Beginnings, Pearson
  27. A book that was originally written in a different language - The Analects, Confucius
  28. Close your eyes and point to a location at random on a world map. Pick a book set in this location or written by someone from this location. (Can just be the country, not the town) - I picked Egypt, so my book is... Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie
  29. Spin around with your eyes closed, then pick a book at random from your bookshelf - Defiance, Oliver Lange
  30. A book your husband picks out for you - Monster Hunter International, Larry Corriea
  31. A book your children pick out for you - The Art Of War, Sun Tzu (My 10 year old daughter picked this for me. She "heard good things about it".)
  32. A book recommended on the TJed Facebook page - For the Love of Learning, Edwards
  33. A book you own but have never read - Wives of the Signers, Green
  34. A book you started but never finished - Gift from the Sea Classics for Adults, Lindberg
  35. Reread a favorite book - Diary of Ann Frank
  36. A book you read as a child/teen but hated - Lord of the Flies, Golding
  37. A book you think you won't like - The Chosen,  Classics for AdultsPotok (I started reading another book by this author and was not a fan. Hopefully I will enjoy this one more.)
  38. The pinnacle work of a culture - Undecided
  39. A religious work within your own religion - The Book of Mormon
  40. A religious work from a different faith than your own - Undecided
  41. A book written by or about someone related to you - Sunnyside Memories, Turner
  42. A book that teaches you a new skill - Backyard Winter Gardening, Warnock
  43. A book that improves upon a skill you already possess - Writing with Pictures, Shulevitz
  44. A book about/from a period of history which interests you - Unbroken, Hillenbrand
  45. A book about/from a period of history which does not interest you - Haven't decided yet, but probably something about Victorian England
  46. A book that you read aloud to someone - Laddie, Stratton-Porter
  47.  A book just for fun - The Great Brain, Fitzgerald
  48. A book on a subject that you are passionate about - The Encyclopedia of County Living, Emery
  49. A book on a subject you used to be passionate about when you were young - Haven't decided, but probably a horse book
  50. (50-52) A book about one of your child's passions (3 books total for me-one for each child) - 1) Dale's book - something involving drawing or robotics... 2) Gigi's book - hmmm...I need to think about this one... 3) Hamish's book - something about trains...
 There you have it!  If you have any recommendations for me, even if I already have a book picked out for that category, let me know.  I'm always interested in good books.

Well I'm off.  I need to go read now.