Yes, I’m still reading Emily Climbs. I would say I’m savoring it (and I am), but the real truth is that I’m being pulled in 1,000,001 directions these days. Emily makes me laugh, though. This, from her journal:
“When Aunt Ruth came home she asked, ‘Well, how did you and Andrew get along?’
“She asks that every time he comes down. I know why. I know the little scheme that is understood among the Murrays, even though I don’t believe any of them have ever put it into words.
” ‘Beautifully,’ I said. ‘Andrew is improving. He said one interesting thing tonight, and he hadn’t so many feet and hands as usual.’
“I don’t know why I say things like that to Aunt Ruth occasionally. It would be so much better for me if I didn’t. But something–whether it’s Murray or Starr or Shipley or Burnley, or just pure cussedness I know not–makes me say them before I’ve time to reflect.”
” ‘No doubt you would find more congenial company in Stovepipe Town,’ said Aunt Ruth.”
And so Aunt Ruth has the last word after all. (But knowing Emily, not for long!)
I shared my 2013 booklist yesterday. In addition to these books which I read for my own enjoyment and/or edification, I also read seventeen chapter books aloud to my children. This brings my grand total up to 69 books, a respectable number for me.
I do have two disappointments for the year, though: first, I only read 4 1/2 (or so) books from this nonfiction book list. The second disappointment comes in with the aforementioned half of a book: I never finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. (I did share quotes here and here.) My Kindle tells me I’ve read 58% of it. I was actually really engaged with it and enjoying it, and then I briefly misplaced my Kindle. By the time Steady Eddie found it for me (which is typical around here–I lose; he finds), I had lost my momentum and moved on to something else. I plan to get back to it sooner rather than later.
Well, that’s enough of that–my booklist isn’t supposed to cause me angst or make me feel guilty!
This year I’m going to pick favorites from both my nonfiction and fiction reads. I read a dozen nonfiction books, and at least ten of the twelve made a pretty big impact on me. (It’s not hard for me to put down a book that doesn’t grab me, so if I read a book through to the end there must be something about it I like. If a book is on my list at all, I must’ve enjoyed it at least a little bit.) My top nonfiction book of the year is uncontested–Contentment by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. is the book that had the biggest impact on my thinking, even if, like all flesh, I am prone to the James 1:23 affliction. I think this one is one I’ll need to revisit soon. Reading this one also makes me want to read Swenson’s Margin.
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis is another nonfiction title that I loved. I was really surprised by this one–at how captivated I was by Katie’s story, and about how it made me stop and think about my own life. It dovetails nicely with Contentment, too, and I read them close enough to each other that they fed each other in my imagination and spirit.
The Spark by Kristine Barnett is another book that took me by surprise. I checked it out of the library on a whim and positively devoured it. I do not have an autistic child, but this one made me think about how I approach my own children’s educations.
I have to mention, too, the two online bookclubs I participated in in 2013. This was the second year I’ve hosted a Homeschooling Mothers’ Bookclub during the summer here at Hope Is the Word, and this year’s book, Seasons of a Mother’s Heart by Sally Clarkson, was like a long drink of water on a scorching day. I read much of it concurrently with The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer for the bookclub at Ordo Amoris, and these books also worked together to inspire and encourage me. I really enjoyed reading along with other people and being privy to their thoughts, even if it was only online. This experience has helped to inspire me to start my own in-person bookclub for 2014. Stay tuned for a bit more about that in the future!
As for fiction, obviously my year was heavy on the middle grade novel, once again. Only five or so of the books I read this year might be considered works of adult fiction, and even a few of those could go either way–adult or YA fiction (I’m thinking here of the Flavia DeLuce novels). The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood gets top honors this year as the most delightful series I’ve read in a long while. I didn’t review the books separately because I read the first three in quick succession (and really, they can be considered one long story). I’m currently reading the newly-published fourth book, The Interrupted Tale, and it’s proving to be every bit as delightful as the first three.
My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve won the 2013 Batchelder Award, and very deservedly so. This World War II story captured my imagination and my heart, and it’s one I still think about, even ten months later.
The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck deserves a place in my top picks list because Peck tickles my funny bone.
Paperboy by Vince Vawter is one of those coming-of-age novels that will appeal to adults as much as to middle graders, maybe even more. If you like a well-told tale set in the South, and especially if you’re a To Kill a Mockingbird fan, this one’s for you. I loved it.
My last nod goes to Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan. I’m quickly taken in by stories set in exotic locales, and this one has that and a very compelling and beautifully written story, too.
Again, there are only a couple of books on my list that I wouldn’t recommend, and that’s usually because of content issues rather than the fact that the story is poorly written or not engaging. The books I’ve listed here, though, are the ones that have stuck with me the longest.
Other top picks posts at Hope Is the Word are linked below:
What are your best reads of the year?
I love sharing nonfiction titles with my children, but I love even more when I can read them a story through which they learn something. My only complaint is that often these titles are overlooked because they’re classified as simply fiction picture books, when in reality they relay some sort of information far better than a textbook or an informational text could. What Floats in a Moat? is just such a story. Lynne Berry has written a story that grabs the reader’s attention, so it imparts information about scientific principles without succumbing to dry-and-boring definitions and descriptions. It’s the story of Archie (short for Archimedes) the Goat who is trying to find a way across the moat. He decides he must “build a contraption to float,” so he puzzles, ponders, doodles, draws, sketches, scribbles, and scrawls until he figures out that a barrel might float. He first fills the barrel with buttermilk, and when that doesn’t work, he attempts to send an empty barrel across the moat. He finally realizes that a half-filled barrel (appropriately christened S.S. Ballast) is the answer and exclaims “Eureka!” Skinny the Hen plays straight man and beleaguered assistant to a mad scientist/absentminded professor Archie. The story itself rolls off the tongue thanks to lots and lots of rhyme. Matthew Cordell‘s illustrations are comic book-like and very funny. If you need a fun introduction to Archimedes, this book is it. I read it no fewer than three times in quick succession to the DLM on Friday, so it’s even good for preschoolers. Highly Recommended. (Simon & Schuster, 2013)
In my life this week…it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns. Somehow I hurt my leg at the end of last week, and I’ve really been in some pain, mostly at night. I’ve seen a chiropractor and a general practice doctor, and neither of them has offered me any solutions, other than keep being treated (chiro) and take anti-inflammatory medicines (g.p.). Neither of these is really desirable to me since we have lots of activities coming up in the near future and I am still nursing Benny. Add to this the fact that Steady Eddie was sick this week, and yeah. . . it has been a topsy turvy sort of week. It actually worked out rather well that he was sick enough to be off work since that meant he was available at home to keep me from having to go up and down the steps so much, to pick up things, etc.
In our homeschool this week…
- Circle Time–we managed this three times this week. I’m ready to start making our Christmas plans!
- Language–Lulu did one more letter-writing lesson. This one involved copying poetry and sending it to someone (to hit both poetry format and letter writing, don’t you see 🙂 ), so I had both girls pick some fun/funny poems to send to a little girl from our area (also a homeschooler) who is at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis being treated for A.L.L. Lulu then moved on to dictionary skills/alphabetizing, and she does pretty well with this. I hope to finish FLL 3 with Lulu next week. Lulu also did three 4-level analysis sentences. I’m contemplating doing some more MCT with her–maybe Sentence Island. Louise completed lessons 30 and 32 in FLL 2, most of which was review.
- Writing--Lulu completed all four days of WWE 4 Week 4. I think it might be getting a little bit easier. Louise completed three days of WWE 2 Week 11, which was based on 101 Dalmatians. One of the reasons I love WWE so much is because it keeps the read-aloud fires burning with all sorts of inspiration!
- Spelling–Both girls did the first lessons in their respective grade-level’s Rod and Staff spelling books. I suspect Louise might need to be advanced a grade level. There is quite a jump between 2nd and 4th grades. Lulu also did a studied dictation sentence from Spelling Wisdom.
- Handwriting–Yes. 🙂
- Math–Lulu completed RS D lessons 123-127, most of which were drawing/geometry lessons, and most of which Steady Eddie taught her. (What a blessing this sickness was! 😉 ) She seems to enjoy the drawing lessons, which is a huge surprise to me. I’ll take it! She also did Math Mammoth (multiplication review) a couple of days. Louise completed RS C lessons 41-44 which involved subtracting by going up and down and counting money. Money lessons are always fun! Louise also worked on MM at least one day. She’s still working through those pesky clock problems.
- Science–We’re reading Pagoo by Holling C. Holling and the girls are writing narrations for each chapter. Fun!
- History–We read the first section of the first chapter of SotW 3 this week. That’s as far as we got
- Fun Friday–Circle Time, Poetry Tea Time, math game all together (Sumoku, pictured above & link to the right), chalk pastels for art, Beast Academy for Lulu, SQUILT, typing practice for Lulu (this week she used this Glencoe program, and I think I like it better than Dance Mat), and Pagoo plus narration–a fun day!
(I wish I could capture the DLM’s three year old voice as he narrated from the pictures his own “poems” from this Patricia Polacco nursery rhyme book. He even used a discernible meter!)
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…shake it up once in a while. I try to do something different every week, hence our Fun Fridays. 🙂
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…swimming x1 this week. Bible study. I saw the chiropractor and the regular doctor. We saw a bunch of friends at my mother-in-law’s church’s fall festival Wednesday night. Lulu went as Robin Hood, Louise went was Queen Elizabeth I, and the DLM went as an Alabama football player. We were having technical issues with our camera, so these are the only shareable ones I got. Trust me when I saw that Robin Hood looks fabulous–almost as good as her American Girl doll for whom she made a small-scale replica of her own costume. 🙂
(The instructions for the accessories came from Family Fun magazine, but I can’t seem to find a link now.)
My favorite thing this week was…seeing my girls’ costumes come together. Eating lunch out with Steady Eddie at my favorite little cafe after I left the doctor’s office at lunchtime and my mom was at home with all four children.
My kiddos’ favorite thing this week was…the fall festival, I would guess. Lulu won a cake in the cake walk.
Things I’m working on…Christmas crafts for an AWANA project and birthday plans for Louise.
I’m cooking…creamy chicken tortilla soup and pumpkin bread.
I’m grateful for…my husband. . . always.
I’m praying for…my leg.
I’m reading. . . Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan for the Armchair Cybils challenge. I LOVE it! Our read-alouds are Nurse Matilda and Pagoo.
Something I am ogling or have my eye on…lots of things for the house. . . specifically, flooring samples. We’re beginning the process of remodeling, and we have lots of decisions to make. Eeek!
A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
Have you had a good week?