• Books,  the learning arts

    Big books for little hands…


    We’ve really been enjoying both of these books at our house recently. The first is Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. We’ve checked this out of the library so many times that it went on the book wish list for our home. The artwork is beautiful and engaging. Every time we read through it we learn something new.

    The second is Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey. The illustrations in these are beyond lovely on their own, but the story that goes with it is really sweet. Little bluebird has lost her friend, the wind, and the whole book is her journey to find it again. Truly delightful.

  • Books,  creative capers

    Knit Along

    photo (1)

    It’s been a while since I’ve had needles in my hand. I finished up the scarves and cowl and then the holiday season took over. I cast on Katherine’s Martinmas sweater in Size 2-4, using the beautiful Madelinetosh yarn she sent me. I’ve never tried anything more complex than scarves and washcloths, so this is truly a new adventure for me. I’ve done well with the first two rows but I keep having to re-do the third. I’m afraid I am missing an idea. I’m pretty sure I’m not doing the M1R or M1L right, which would mean I’d get too many stitches. I need to find a video that explains it- the pictures on knitpicks aren’t making sense to me. If you have a link, please share!

    I won the lovely A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soulfrom Ginny’s giveaway last month, and it arrived just as we left on our travels. I cannot say enough good about this book. I truly have walked away from my time with this book in the last two weeks with such a deep and profound sense of peace. I am sure that must surprise one, seeing as how the word ‘rule’ is in the title, but really and truly. Lovely. I’m not even sure where to start with my thoughts regarding it. I remember being a young mother, with first one little baby and then two, in my little snug house on a hill, and how much I rejoiced in the simple tasks of motherhood and homemaking. Perhaps it was because it was all new, and such a tremendous change from my life previously, but I remember that time very, very fondly. When I think of that time, I think of peace. But as is true, another chilld comes a long, or two, or three, or four, and life gets super intense and welljust explodes! Crisis happens: a cancer scare. A lost job. The death of a child. Serious illness. Two plus years of unemployment and then under-employment. More serious illness. And we forget why we’re here and why we’re doing it.

    Holly Pierlot tells about just such a time in her own life and what led her into the practices she now keeps and shares with us in the book. And it is just so good. I think if I am ever in a position of mentoring a new, young mom, it will be this book I give and discuss with them. I appreciate her gentle, firm, loving tone (the tone I wish for as a mother myself) and how she comes and sits beside you, so to speak, and reminds you, above all, to put on love. Of course she has many practical tips regarding planning, organizing, homeschooling, finances, and the like, but the under-pinning heart beat of the book is rather our Faith, our love for God, and how that informs everything else. Our mother’s rule. I have been a mother twelve years now, with six children, and I remembered and learned so much and have since been putting it into practice myself. A keeper for sure. And I never would have read it had I not won it in the giveaway!

    What are you reading lately?

    Sharing with Ginny.

  • beautiful things,  Books

    grow like a fire…


    God speaks to each one of us only before we’re made, 

    then wanders with us silently out of the night;

    but the words uttered before each begins, 

    the misty words, are these:

    “Go you who are sent out by your senses;

    go out to the boundary of your yearning;

    clothe me with a garment.

    Grow like a fire behind things

    so that their shadows, spreading all about,

    cover me always and utterly.

    Let everything happen to you: beauty and dread.

    One must only go; no feeling is too remote. 

    Don’t let yourself part with me. 

    Near is the land

    you call life.

    You’ll recognize it 

    by its earnestness!

    Give me your hand.”

    – Rainer Maria Rilke

    Rainer Maria Rilke, [60], Prayers of a Young Poet. Trans. Mark S Burrows. Paraclete Press: © 2013.
  • Books,  creative capers

    Yarn Along: Third Time’s a Charm

    photo 1 photo 2

    The cowl is finished, and just in time for the weather to turn cold. This is the first piece of knitting that I made expressly for myself, and I dearly love it. When it was finished the other day, I laughed to see various family members stopping by the knitting basket to ‘pet’ the super-soft, warm cowl. I’m not sure what I’d like to start on next. I was gifted some glorious Madeline Tosh yarn and I’d like to make Katherine’s Martinmas sweater, but I swear, I’m almost afraid to mess up the yarn trying! I seem to make so many (easy, rookie) mistakes (like yarn overs) and I just…it’s so pretty and nummy and what if I mess it up? Decisions, decisions.

    I finished Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games). It seems my predictions about Gale were true. I was so unbelievably sad when Finnick died- after all he had been through and experienced and sacrificed, to die in the sewers seemed especially unjust. At least he had some time with Annie. And Peeta. Man oh man oh man. Wow. And Prim! And President Snow! And, and, and, and….wow. It is definitely a roller coaster ride to the end. And Katniss. I have to say, she’s the first heroine in literature lately that is represented honestly. I deeply appreciate that as a woman. She doesn’t win on beauty. She doesn’t win on wit. She doesn’t even on win on skill. She doesn’t win, period. She loses so much. In the end, she lives, and that is enough, and that is the brave thing. To bring forth life into so much death and brokenness-that was her true act of bravery. To let love win. If there’s anything I carry away from this series, it is that. So so good.

    Sharing with Ginny.

  • Books,  creative capers

    Yarn Along

    photo (4)

    Oh, this cowl. It is described as a ‘one night’ knit. Ahem. It is pretty easy and almost mindless, except for when you forget to mark your rows, and you get three before you goofed, and you have to frog it back, and then you start on the wrong row so you get another two before you realize your mistake, again. Everything is now properly marked, and I hope I’ll make significant progress on it this week. Nothing else has formed and disciplined my habit of attention like knitting has.

    I finished Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World this weekend. Two weeks ago I said I was coming to it with a bit of trepidation. I am really quite wary of homeschooling memoirs and books lately. Perhaps it is because I am second generation homeschooler. Perhaps it is because I have seen homeschooling families collapse under the weight of it. Perhaps it is all of that and none of that, but I really am disappointed when I read a homeschooling book that basically states that if and only you do a, b, and c, you too can have an amazing family life and genius children!  It doesn’t work like that. I brought all that to the table and challenged Ben Hewitt to give me realism. He did. I appreciate his candor more than I can say. He openly acknowledges what he doesn’t know, what mistakes they’ve already made so far and how they’ve adjusted to them, and things he thinks about in the wee smas at night. It is not a homeschooling book. It is a story of a family and what they are learning and un-learning and the story of a place that allows it all to thrive. I doubt few homeschoolers have an educational life that resembles Ben’s family, but it will not prevent the enjoyment of the book. I would gladly hand this to someone considering homeschooling their children, not for the hows and wherefores, but for the whys. Ben is not going to tell you how to homeschool your children. He’s not going to tell you how to parent them, either. But he will tell you what they’ve learned together, and why, and that is all you need to know to get started on your own journey. I would gladly hand it to homeschooling parents who are burnt out and weary. It brings gentle joy. I would hand it to parents who are perfectly happy in a public school system and will remain so- because it’s not a homeschooling memoir. It’s a family memoir. Everyone will walk away with something to think about.

    One quote I underlined from the book:

    It reminds me that the assumptions we have arrived at regarding education are just that: assumptions. They are stories born of a culture, and like all stories, we can choose to believe them or not. We can choose to listen or not. We can choose, even, to write our own stories. (pg.71, The Early Years)

    Speaking of stories, I finished The Hunger Games. It’s the first time that I’ve listened to an audio book for myself. The kids and I have listened to a few, but I’ve never actually thought to pick one up for myself. Chores go so much faster. I don’t know why I am on a dystopian fiction kick lately, but there you go. I was startled by some of the similarities between Panem and our own country at the moment. The historian (and Christian) in me was fascinated by the clear references to the Roman games. Like Enders Game, you won’t like where the story takes you, but you need to go. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series, either by audio book or in paper. Interesting side affect of audio books- you can’t read ahead and you can’t rush. I tend to be a book-eater. The audio book forced me to slow down and savor.

    Sharing with Ginny.