Friday, September 14, 2012

Little Britches

I haven't finished Little Britches, but I have read it several times.  As I think I mentioned, I'm reading it with my 9 year old son.  He thinks it's hilarious.  I'm sure most of the dad's lessons are not as obvious to him as they are to me, but the lessons that the boy learned are certainly making an impression.  He's learning so much about hard work and determination.  He's been begging me for ways to earn money.  Listening to Ralph's experience with herding the cows, stacking hay, etc., has been really eye opening for him.  I have always thought that this would be a great book for little boys to read.  I agree that it is pretty sentimental, but I think it reflects true to how Ralph viewed his dad at that point - larger than life, a hero for the ages. And, I think this was probably the best year(s) of his life.  After his Dad died, he grew up so fast and starting helping to provide for his family.  I can forgive his nostalgia.  ;-)

I've actually read pretty much all of Ralph Moody's books.  I highly recommend the one on the Pony Express.  Unlike most of his books, which are about his life, this one is a biography of the first pony express riders.  It's a quick, exciting, fantastic read.

Kami, as for your post about your school....I TOTALLY agree with your father.  That is seriously crazy.

My daughter is in full-time school this year for only the second time in her life.  She is a freshman at a small charter school.  She came home the first week just SHOCKED that most of the kids in her school have no desire to attend college.  They think school is boring.  They can't wait until they're done.
 I really think it's because the kids have gotten pushed too hard while they're young.  They've got to be so burned out by the time they get into high school.  College doesn't sound fun anymore!  Pretty sad, since college is WAY more fun than high school, in my opinion!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Little Britches and 1491

First,  Little Britches.   It was a good story, but I've heard about it so much beforehand as such a great book to teach values, that I think it ruined the book for me. Every time the father said anything, I was thinking, "Oh, and here comes the lesson I'm supposed to learn."  Also, the father had no faults whatsoever, and all in all it seemed too rose-colored.  I realize that the author probably idolized his father and with the father passing away while he was young, he might never had realized any faults or short-comings in his father.  And I think for a younger reader, and for this type of book, it isn't necessary to have a more critical approach.  However for me, it came across as too sentimental.

As for 1491, it was interesting, but seemed disjointed at times, giving it a kind of pointless feel by the end. (I mean the ending just kind of happens with no sum up or conclusion or anything, just talking about what he had been talking about in that particular chapter.) The political correctness was kind of grating at times too--I thought the author did a good job being fair and balanced in his views, but it was so obvious the effort he took to be politically correct, that it was annoying. Another thing was that many of the theories are still being debated and so the author would present both views and then just move on, (okay, I know that's not really his fault but it still made the book seem rather unconnected). But the author never gives his opinion, and I find that rather boring writing.  

I did enjoy learning about the cultures and archaeology. So fascinating! I wish I had read this book closer to the time I read Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond, because they seem to conflict in many areas concerning the Americas.  For instance, Guns, Germs, and Steel argued that the Americas didn't progress as rapidly because it didn't have enough grain crops to domesticate and that corn was inconsequential till recent hybrids and development, while 1491 had a whole chapter on corn and its importance.  1491 and GGS even differed on the location of pre-Columbian corn usage.  (Okay, I'm making these books sound extremely dull. They're really not.) 

My favorite parts of the book dealt with Squanto--yes, of pilgrim fame.  His history is fascinating!  If nothing else, you should check out this book and read the chapter about him and John Smith.  And yes, they knew each other.  The politics that Squanto was trying to put into play by helping the pilgrims--wow.  Who knew?  

Other things I would have found engrossing except I read about them before in other books, like Guns, Germs, and Steel and The Lost City of Z.   So if you've never read those, this book would be even better.  But seriously, read the Squanto chapter.

So much to post on...but first a rant.

This Tuesday, I went to two open houses, one for the elementary school and one for the junior high.  First of all, they overlapped the scheduling.  Umm..that's dumb.  Second of all, is it just me, or is this some heightened form of helicopter parenting?  That's what I felt like, but on the other hand, I did find out several things.  The first one of which will be my rant.

Elena goes to all day kindergarten from 8:20 till 3:40.  I think this is much too long, and she comes home exhausted each day and cries half the mornings about having to go to school. However, I figured, it's kindergarten, they'll have lots of play time and recess, and she'll adjust.  At the open house, I received a detailed schedule of their day.  Guess how much time they have for recess during the entire day???
15 minutes!  

Seriously??  I would be exhausted with the schedule they have these kids on.  I literally cried when I was telling Leo about it at home that night.  (Okay that might be a bit of postpartum hormones.)  She does have PE for 55 mins, 2 or 3 days a week--it varies.  But that's not the same as unstructured play and downtime.  Here's her schedule:

8:20-8:30 Morning announcements and pledge
8:30-8:45 Calendar (reviewing days, months, seasons)
8:45-9:00  Phonemic Awareness (ABC chants, sight words review)
9:00-9:45 Writer's Workshop (kid writing)
9:45-10:30 Extended Learning/Developmental Centers
10:30-10:48 Handwriting
10:48-11:18  Lunch (this does not include recess time, I asked)
11:30-12:35 Math/Science
12:35-1:30 Specials (Art/PE/Music/Library)
1:30-1:45 Recess
1:45-2:00 Snack/Quiet time
2:00-2:20 Themed Interactive writing (science/social studies)
2:20-2:35 Shared reading/read aloud
2:35-3:20 Literacy Centers/Guided reading
3:20-3:40 Pack & Stack/Dismissal

So is it just me, or does this seem crazy?  And the teacher kept explaining how the district upped it's standards this year, and kids have to be reading at a 1st grade level by the end of kindergarten, and how they're requiring more sight words to be memorized, etc.   Really?  I know I'm the odd person out by not having Elena in preschool, but Kindergarten, I thought, was still supposed to be a transition into regular school.  But not only that, I would want my older kids (1st graders, 4th graders, etc) to have more recess too.  Even the national recommendations are at least 20 minutes of recess a day.   

My father referred to my school district as "abusive," and said that "No educator in the country would consider that as developmental appropriate for that age group."

My good friend who has a ten year old brother in an elementary school nearby--which is rated the number 1 elementary school in the entire Houston area, and one of the best in the state--told me that her brother is being treated for anxiety.  And the problem is the pressure he feels at school.  That's insane.  She herself went to a the number 1 ranked high school in Houston, and she said BYU (most of her classmates went to Ivy League schools) was easy for her, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing, because she was so burnt out from high school when she got there and she felt that her high school had been too extreme and not in proportion to the needs of preparing for college and a career. I definitely want my kids challenged in school, but this is too much. 

Back to play, here's some tidbits I found.

 In a comprehensive review of numerous studies on play, researchers found evidence that play contributes to advances in "verbalization, vocabulary, language comprehension, attention span, imagination, concentration, impulse control, curiosity, problem-solving strategies, cooperation, empathy, and group participation" (Smilansky & Shefatya, 1990). Recent research provides additional evidence of the strong connections between quality of play in preschool years and children's readiness for school instruction (Bowman, Donovan, & Burns, 2000; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, 2002; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Further, research directly links play to children's ability to master such academic content as literacy and numeracy. For example, children's engagement in pretend play was found to be positively and significantly correlated with such competencies as text comprehension and metalinguistic awareness and with an understanding of the purpose of reading and writing (Roskos & Christie, 2000).
The Importance of Being Playful. By: Bodrova, Elena, Leong, Deborah J., Educational Leadership, 00131784, Apr2003, Vol. 60, Issue 7

Because of the positive effects of physical activity on attention-to-task, it is recommended that elementary school teachers consider implementing physical activity sessions throughout the school day in the form of recess and classroom-based physical activities.

Impact of short bouts of physical activity on attention-to-task in elementary school children Matthew T. Mahar Activity Promotion Laboratory, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

When youth participate in at least 60 min of physical activity every day, health benefits accrue, such as healthy bones and muscles, improved muscular strength and endurance, reduced risk for developing chronic disease risk factors, improved self-esteem, and reduced stress and anxiety (Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2008).

So I'm going to write a letter to the principal and superintendent of the school district voicing my opinion.  Also, I am definitely holding my other children back a year before they start kindergarten and I'm going to start looking at other school districts nearby and charter schools.  However, the reason we moved to this area WAS the schools.  Elena is in the Spanish two-way immersion program, and I really want my kids to stay in a immersion program for Spanish.  So my options are limited.  (See me now banging my head on the table.) What to do?  What to do?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I'm reading it aloud to my 9 year old son.  We're both enjoying it.  First time he's read it.  We won't be done for a bit, though.  I'm having him help read it aloud as reading practice.

side note:  If there's one thing that public school taught me (as a mostly homeschool mom) it's that children need to have time to read aloud.  It improves their fluency, and prompts discussions for what words mean.  I find kids are more likely to ask what a word means when they are the ones doing the reading.

Anyway, we're working on it!

Monday, September 3, 2012


Did anyone read Little Britches? I just barely got it in at the library, as my Sunday School teacher reminded me on Sunday.  His last names starts with an L too and he was picking up his wife's books and saw mine.  Anyway, I still plan on reading it but I would like someone else's comments.

Will anyone read 1491?  I read it this past month because I didn't have Little Britches and I would LOVE to discuss it.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Congratulations, Kami!  That's exciting!  I've never birthed a baby that big...I'm impressed.    Hope things are going well!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Baby Lando

Kami just posted about a book and failed to mention that she had a baby last week.  Congrats again on Lando's arrival, Kami Sue!  He was huge--8' 14 and more than a week overdue.  Fortunately, everything went well and Kami is feeling well enough to blog about books.  :)


Yes, I have read other Jules Verne books--I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when I was in 7th grade, and I think I read another one too.  Anyway, I remember it being interesting for the story, but slow writing.  That was a long time ago though.  But the book was much longer than Around the World so maybe it did have a bit more depth to the characters.  I put Little Britches on hold at the library.  I read that too in middle school but I don't remember it at all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

80 days

I too read it awhile back and decided not to re-read it. I checked it out from the library but ran out of time. In terms of how I liked the book, I think I'm in the middle between Julia and Kami. I thought it was interesting, but it wasn't the best book I'd ever read. I'm super excited to re-read Little Britches. Ralph Moody is one of my favorite authors. This year for school, I read his book about the Pony Express aloud to the kids. It was a GREAT story to read to my 9 year old son, and even had me in tears at several parts as I contemplated the incredible courage several of the PE riders had. I think I get more emotional when I'm reading aloud than to myself because I seem to cry over all sorts of stories that I read aloud. ;-) I highly recommend the book, as it taught me a lot about the Pony Express that I didn't know, and was an action-filled adventure story, to boot!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ARound the WOrld

It's so funny to me how I can give a book five stars and then have someone give it a one.  How is that possible?!  Kami - sorry you were disappointed. I love this book!  Maybe I just was in a quirky mood when I read it, but I just found this book delightful and funny and worth reading. 

I did not read it recently for this discussion so I don't have concrete points to share (sorry, I decided last minute to be in charge of a girls book group this year and so have been reading ferociously for that trying to decide what books to read). 

I do remember, however, thinking about the time element of the book.  There was a theme on time running throughout the whole book that I found interesting and thought with a book group we could delve into the creation of clocks and how that has affected the way we live today  (something I'm studying in other areas as well right now, actually).  And really, I just thought it was so funny. 

Have you read any of Jules Verne's other books?  Are they dry to you as well?  Just curious.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Around the world....zzzzzzz.........

Oh my goodness, how dry. Luckily it was short. I guess I'm character driven in the stories I like, and the main character in this is personified by his lack of any apparent emotion or reaction to anything. Ugh. The one saving grace was the last two pages, because they were at least romantic. I won't give away what happens though. And I find it funny that Utah and Mormons were one of the 3 places/people he actually spends time describing, I guess we're just that exotic. Hee. Hee.

Ready to move on to Little Britches?  Anyone still reading?  

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Book

Around the World in 80 Days--

Let's get some commentary this month...I have it on hold at the library, hopefully I'll get it soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

book talk

thanks for weighing in.  Josh and I actually discussed this on our long drive and decided at this point it was more about making sure our kids had the tools to make good reading decisions.  We thought it would be particularly beneficial to tell them about the books we choose NOT to read and WHY NOT.  I've had several of those opportunities lately.
We also talked about the difference between (to use DeMille's terms) whole, bent, and broken.  I realized that what was bothering me about a specific book that I was thinking of was not what actually happened in the book, but the fact that it was subtly portrayed as perfectly acceptable.

And for the record - I did not let Hannah read Ender's Game!  Josh did and I found out after the fact.  I wouldn't have let her read it that young.    ;-)

We all have different limits when it comes to books and movies.  I just struggle, sometimes, and wondered if anyone has rules of thumb that they use.  Now that Hannah is 14, I'm thinking most anything is not really off limits - she just has to use her own judgment.


For some reason I got lost and got into Around the World in 80 Days and so didn't read the actual book club book.  sorry.  I'll join in on the 80 Days discussion (one of my favorite books...but my kids say I say that about all books I read).  Ha! 

So, as for Kelly's question (though she and I kind of talked about it a little bit ago).....  It's funny because I was surprised when Kelly told me she had her daughter read Ender's Game but was unsure about Hunger Games.  When for me it was a lot easier to have my son read Hunger Games than to read Ender's Game.  He read both and liked both...but they were introduced in flipped order.  I agree with Kami and actually stear clear of modern adult fiction books because most of them (if not all) seem to push my boundaries. 

I once had a friend tell me about a book and rated it. "It's definitely PG-13,"  she said.  I thought that was funny.  I think even our children are going to rate books differently than we might.  I think it's not so much "a magical age" as it is "per child."  I know my girls will definitely not be reading some of the books John has read at his same age because he has a maturity level beyond where they are.  And, another thing to consider is the way in which the material is presented and the purpose of why it's presented.  YOU know when it's put in there just to be there and not really as a major part of the purpose of the book. 

Oh, and one other many times did you read a book, or start a book, and think, "Woah!  That was not a good book to read.  I shouldn't have read that" or "I'm not going to continue because it's too much for me"??  Our children are going to have that same experience with the books they read.  There comes a point when parents don't "allow" their children to read so much as teach their children to listen to their own conscience of what is right and wrong in their reading.  They will make mistakes.  We may expose them too soon to some concepts (i.e. WWII harshness) and then regret it.   But overall, if we are always providing them with good reading lists and materials from an early age, they will gravitate toward that which is good. 

My ever so readily given opinoin on that topic.  :-) 

Monday, June 25, 2012


Read Wings of Heroes for the second time.  I'd forgotten that I'd read it already, until I got a chapter into it, and then I decided to keep going.

Granted, this book is not as hilarious as some of Peck's other books.  However, one thing that I was enjoying about it was the nostalgic look at the 40s during WWII.  I was particularly moved by the Dad and his conversation with the neighbor who lost a son in WWI.  As Kami said, the repercussions of war echo throughout generations.

Another favorite theme was the idea of people looking out for each other and their families.  Small examples such as blackout watch armband that gets made for Scooter (who they know will undoubtedly be tagging along) and the neighbors bringing over a dessert made with all their sugar ration when Bill comes home on leave reminded me that those sorts of thoughtful gestures are what make family out of a community - and it's such a beautiful, desireable thing!  I think that quality is growing more absent in our lives.

TJEd for Teens--Outstanding!

I finished reading TJEd for Teens and we had our teen book club discussing it. Can I say, if I had read this book while I was a teen, it would have changed my life. I wanted to read classics, but I didn't know how to go about accomplishing it. This book not only motivates us to read difficult books, but has a book list and a pattern for doing so. I HIGHLY recommend it. :)

Also, a very helpful article to reading hard books is here and is called The Secret Code for Cracking Tough Books and Reading Above Your Level by Ryan Holiday. I'm trying out his pattern today. 

Happy Reading!

On the Wings of Heroes

Hey, surprise, surprise.  I did read our book!  It was fun, I almost finished it in one afternoon while the kids played at our local community pool.  It's that short.  Richard Peck is a fabulous author and while this story didn't have the depth of some of his other books (really it was too short to have that depth) and it didn't really have a major climax to the story, it was still very good.

I loved how he tied in multiple wars into the basically WWII story and how war's effects don't remain just the length of a war, but whole lifetimes.  I liked how especially Scooter, the main character's friend, comes to question whether the sacrifices they (soldiers, citizens, families) were making are truly worth it, without ever giving an answer to that question.

On a different note, it made me think of how hard these 6-8th grade kids worked to help collect things for the war effort and how in some ways, I really wish my children had the opportunity to contribute to something that was worthwhile, and learn to work--physically.  (Yes, I know Andrea that many of the things they collected in WWII was actually not useful, but they thought it was, so it meant something anyway.)  Anyway, I was just thinking about physical labor because the last weekend we spent all Saturday digging dirt and doing yard work, and it is actually kind of nice to feel so physically tired and see the work you've accomplished.  Not that I would want to do that everyday, but really, my kids will basically have few, if ever, the need for that kind of work. And I think that's unfortunate.

And really, that's all I have to say, except that I love his teacher that took over the class.  :)

Monday, June 11, 2012


So I would like to read our book this month, however the libraries here in Houston are LAME!!!!  Seriously, our whole library is about the size as the children's section in Provo.  Granted the Provo library is nice, but it's worse than our one in IL and the one we had in hick-town Farmington NM.  I went with a list of 14 books to get, and came out with 0.  Literally, they didn't have any of them.  Sigh.  I did request it, so hopefully it comes by the end of the month.

In other news, I think it's really hard to decide what is appropriate or not, in context of the Sharon Shinn book and younger readers.  I read Dune and Ender's Game in 6th grade, and I definitely think I was too young for those then.  I also remember looking up in the dictionary what a eunuch was in 6th grade, cause I read it in a Louis L'Amour.  I don't know, in some ways it's helpful to learn some things in that sort of a way, especially if in the story it portrays it (like incest) as something terrible.  I read the Safe-keeper's Daughter, but I didn't remember that side story at all.  This isn't really helpful, is it?

As far as adult reading goes, I just read an adult fantasy last fall, and I was shocked because a lot of reviews had it as a good read for teenage readers, and it wasn't good for anyone!  Just my opinion.  It dealt with rape, and it dealt with it in such a way that wasn't necessary to the story, useful, appropriate...I don't really know how to explain what I'm trying to say except that I think it was mostly in there for titillation rather than any other purpose.  On the other hand, I wouldn't be against reading a book with a rape in it if it had some learning purpose, and dealt with it in a sensitive, meaningful way, and if it didn't go into too much detail of the actual event.  Those are my random thoughts.  Now off to sew I go!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Kami, take Peter and the Starcatchers off the list.  It was so lame-o that I didn't finish.  I almost never put down a book before I finish.  It catered to what is traditionally considered "boy humor" and was low on plot development and the writing was overblown.

Kelly, that is such a hard question!!  In my family I'm considered the prude, but whenever I say I won't watch this or that, or read this or that, my family always points out that Dirty Dancing is one of my 3 favorite movies, and that I keep The Road Home--a book about the Vietnam war that is loaded with swearing and alcohol abuse.  And the kicker is that I plan on encouraging all of my kids to read it--when they are in 11th grade or so.  There is just no magic way to decide if the worth of something outweighs the drawbacks of it sometimes.  Then again, sometimes it is obvious that something has no worth (Twilight) but sometimes it isn't that easy.  And also, sometimes we have our pet things that we like to read about, watch movies about, and if a movie deals with that subject matter we tend to overlook other problems (Dirty Dancing--it has dancing, yes, but it also deals with class conflict, one of my favorite movie and book themes).

The opposite is also true--there are things I can't handle (violence) so even if a movie has a really, really fantastic theme if it is violent I can't watch it.  That's why I haven't read Hunger Games.  I'm not saying people shouldn't read it, I'm just saying I have a hard time with violence so I haven't read it.  Maybe it is great--like the Vietnam book I love--and the good/thoughtful parts make it worth reading.

Since, clearly, I have nothing of significance to tell you, I'll stop talking now.  Just wanted to let you know that I hear you--not easy.

Welcome Back Everyone!

I haven't checked this post in's fun to see that we might actually be back...until the next round of babies comes, of course!

I second Valerie's recommendation, Do Hard Things!  LOVE IT and would love to discuss it with intelligent people.  :-)

And, off topic a bit but it goes along with Kelly's book recommendation.  Have any of you seen Temple Grandin?!?!  FABULOUS movie that I HIGHLY recommend for the watching.  I'll read Kelly's recommendation.

I like the list as is, Kami.  Thanks!

Happy Reading!


Do Hard Things

I just read Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris. I LOVED IT! It's targeted at teens (and I have 2 1/2 of those) but it is a good read for all of us. I'm going to read it aloud to my children during Art time and hope some of it sticks. I wish I had a book like this when I was a teen. It talks about becoming more than a teenager, raising self expectations, choosing to do hard things and fighting complacency. I took the advice to do something out of my comfort zone, and I made a wreath for my front door (waay out of my comfort zone!). It felt good to feel stretched.

In a similar vein, I am partway through TJed for Teens. We're hosting a teen book club on that book this month. Both are exhilarating and motivating reads.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Out of My Mind

While the post title is a fitting description of my life right now, it's also the title of a book that I just finished.  Kami, you might want to add it to your list for your daughter.  The author, Sharon Draper, has written an interesting novel from the perspective of an 11-year old with cerebral palsy.  She can't walk, she can't talk, but she has a lot of things going on in her head.  I read it (finished with a few tears), and have passed it on to my daughters to read (ages 14 & 12).  I might even see if my 9 year old son will read it.
If nothing else, it is a great way to introduce the idea that people who look or act different on the outside are still PEOPLE with feelings and thoughts that MATTER.  

A second book that I read was called "The Safe-Keeper's Daughter", by Sharon Shinn.  I liked it.  I think there are more, which I'm going to read.  My 12 year old daughter read it first.  I told her to tell me if there was anything bad.  She didn't say anything.  Then I read it.  There wasn't anything bad per se - like no bad words or sex scenes, but there were a couple of illegitimate children running around and no one seemed to think that was unusual.  So that's my caveat in terms of recommending it to children.  Oh.  And there was a girl that the secret keep finds out is pregnant by her father - and her mother does nothing to protect her.  Although it was a very minor side-story, it is kind of heavy subject matter.  I'm going to have to chat with my daughter about that book I guess.  Sigh.

Which leads me to a question I'd like to talk about.  How do you determine how much is too much and at what age?  I have sat in Relief Society book-clubs and been utterly shocked at some of the reading material that some women will read and recommend for the RS sisters to read.  So obviously people have different ideas of what's appropriate and tolerable.  On the other hand, I think that being exposed to moderate amounts of evil in literature is what helps you define and make judgments without having to be personally exposed.  The scriptures have a lot of bad things happening in them - it's just not all spelled out.  Then, too, there's always the question of language - when do you let kids read books with swear words and how much swearing is too much?  I just feel like those guidelines are so fluid and I never know if I'm being way over-protective or too lenient, or just right!


Friday, June 1, 2012


So, I just finished On the Wings of Heroes and Uprising.  I'll post more when I've had time to process a little bit.  But On the Wings of Heroes is a solid choice for this group.  Good night!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Okay-dokey then

I made the executive decision then and set On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck as our first official book to read in almost two years!!  Private Peaceful looked good too, but I'm in a no depressing anything mood.  Seriously, this pregnancy I can't handle anything sad.  And I rearranged our booklist--I didn't add any books, I just rearranged them to be somewhat less intimidating.  Let me know what you think.

Whatev, man.

I don't care what you do!  I'm too busy to do much reading, but I am finalizing my Crazy Book Aunt Summer Reading Program that I put together every year for my nieces and nephews, and I am still picking the last few titles.  Because of that, by the 7th, I want to have read the following:

Richard Peck, On the Wings of Heroes
Michael Morpurgo, Private Peaceful
Margaret Peterson Haddix, Uprising
Jeanette Ingold, The Big Burn

If you want to read any of those, I'd love to chime in.  If not, that's okay too.  If you have already read any of those--what did you think?????

yes, please

Busy or not, I'd like to read and discuss.

Start up again?

Just wondering if anyone is still interested in starting up again?  I'm not taking any more classes right now and we've moved and everything has settled down a lot.  I know Andrea's crazy busy, but maybe she wouldn't mind if we skipped a bunch of those longer books and read some like the Scarlet Pimpernel and Onion John, or Little Britches, something simple to start off again?  Let me know what you guys think and I'll be more than happy to rearrange our list.

New Reading List

Okay, sorry the title is misleading, it's not a new reading list for us.  It's actually a new list for my daughter.  I pay her $2 for any book she reads off of it.  This is her new one for 7th-8th grade.  I thought I'd put it up for any suggestions..... suggestions are always welcome!  Just FYI, I make the list of some harder books to challenge her, and then some books just so she'll branch out and read a wide variety of genres, and some I just put on because I like them. :)  She doesn't read without being required too, and she wouldn't read most of these without the monetary reward.

  • The Blue Sword -Robin McKinley
  • Kira-Kira -Cynthia Kadohata
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles -Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Lord of the Flies -William Golding
  • Dracula -Bram Stoker
  • The Hobbit -J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Rebecca -Daphne du Maurier
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin -Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Northanger Abbey -Jane Austin
  • Wuthering Heights -Emily Bronte
  • Ramona -Helen Hunt Jackson
  • Mrs. Mike -Benedict Freedman and Nancy Freedman
  • Kidnapped -Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Adrift:Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea - Steven Callahan
  • Little Women -Louisa May Alcott
  • Jurassic Park -Michael Crichton
  • Across Five Aprils -Irene Hunt
  • The Call of the Wild -Jack London
  • Anne of Green Gables -L.M. Montgomery
  • Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm -Kate Douglas Wiggen
  • The Pearl -John Steinbeck
  • My Brother Sam is Dead -James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  • The Outsiders -S.E. Hinton
  • The Cay -Theadore Taylor
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die -Robert Newton Peck
  • Night -Elie Wiesel
  • H.M.S. Ulysses -Allistair Maclean
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips -James Hilton
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins -Scott O’Dell
  • The Sea Wolf -Jack London
  • Treasure Island -Robert Louis Stevenson
  • On Fortune’s Wheel- Cynthia Voigt
  • The Forestwife -Theresa Thomlinson
  • The Bronze Bow -Elizabeth George Speare
  • The House of Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • I Heard the Owl Call My Name -Margaret Craven
  • No Promises in the Wind -Irene Hunt
  • Obasan-Joy Kogawa
  • The River Between Us -Richard Peck
  • The Slave Dancer -Paula Fox
  • Silas Marner -George Eliot
  • Who Has Seen the Wind -W.O. Mitchell
  • Anthem -Ayn Rand
  • The Time It Never Rained -Elmer Kelton
  • All Creatures Great and Small -James Herriot
  • Goodnight, Mr. Tom -Michelle Magorian
  • The Robe -Lloyd C. Douglas
  • Believing Christ -Stephen E. Robinson
  • Our Search for Happiness -M. Russell Ballard
  • A Marvelous Work and A Wonder - LeGrand Richards
  • The Work and the Glory -Gerald N. Lund
  • Fishers of Men -Gerald N. Lund
  • By These Ten Bones -Claire B. Dunkle
  • The House of Many Rooms -Rodella Hunter
  • The Prisoner of Zenda -Anthony Hope
  • I Capture the Castle -Dodie Smith
  •   Juniper -Monica Furlong
  • Rifles for Watie -Harold Keith
  • Charlie’s Monument -Blaine M. Yorgason
  • And Then There Were None-Agatha Christie
  • Elantris- Brandon Sanderson
  • The Hiding Place - Corrie Ten Boom
  • Follow the River - James Thom
  • A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
  • Billy Budd - Herman Melville
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes- Ray Bradbury
  • The Maude Reed Tale -Norah Lofts
  • The Only Alien on the Planet- Kristen D. Randle
  • Freckles- Gene Statton-Porter
  • Soul Surfer - Bethany Hamiliton
  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World- Jennifer Armstrong
  • Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science - John Fleischman
  • An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
  • Any (1 time only) Tony Hillerman
  • Any longer Louis L’Amour (ask me first)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I would LOVE to get back into this as well...the way it was originally set up!  :-) 
Right now I am reading Booker T. Washington's "Up From Slavery."  I understand many of you may have already read this book...but I would enjoy discussing it with other like-minded people. 
What if we each contributed about 5 titles we'd like to see on the list and then put them in order and get started?  Kami - if you are out of control busy, I could set up the list as you've done in the past. ?? 
Anyone else up for it?

Are we still here? Or too busy?

Hey guys,
Is anyone interesting in getting back into some reading and discussing?  I really miss having someone to discuss big ideas with.  Plus, I like the motivation of wanting to be able to join in the discussion to encourage me to read something a little harder or out of my comfort zone.  I don't have a lot of time, but I am aiming to give myself 30 minutes a day to read something worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reply to Kelly

I really liked both those posts. I couldn't help but compare the modesty post to Misfit's modesty post and I think I finally get why several of you can't stand Misfit. Both posts were blunt about the importance of modesty, but this lady's blog focused on the doctrine and the heart which made Misfit just seem like a really nit-picky, judgmental person. I had several people read the Misfit article on modesty and they all got hung up on the "no darts" in your shirt and that was it--all other messages failed to transmit. There is a lesson in there for me as a teacher.

Miriam watched the link to the church website for the youth--the video on deep beauty -- and she really picked up on the "queen" idea. I need to internalize that message. It is so hard to not get hung up on the world's view of beauty. I also have committed to not talking about looks/weight/etc. around my children. My mom never talked about that stuff and I never thought about it, and I think that is really healthy. I think me and my sisters chat about it when we get together because we are all reproducing and that wreaks havoc on your weight/self-image, but I've noticed some of my nieces listening a few times and I think we are sending the wrong messages to the young ladies in our family.

I agree with you, Kelly, that we have to step it up in the teaching spiritual things to our children department. What have you done that has been successful? So far I feel like I've done a few (very few) good things. Baptism Prep with Miriam was awesome. She learned how to find scriptures, she memorized most of the Articles of Faith, we talked about faith and repentance, and I was able to bear testimony to her almost every day. I'm excited to start Baptism Prep with Cowen on March 1 (can't believe he's turning 7!!).

This year for devotional (when I manage to have morning devotional with the kids), I've read a few Friend articles but then I also read a story from Inspiring Experiences that Build Faith by President Monson. He wrote about different experiences he has had that taught him something. Each one is about a page. My kids are really getting to know their prophet and they are remembering these stories. So I feel good about that.

I plan on someday doing a Priesthood Prep, but that is intimidating because I don't really know what a boy should study the year prior to getting the priesthood and I don't know that much about it myself. I have a few years to figure this out. I'm also planning on doing a special YW prep with my daughters when they are 11. I figured we'd talk about all the YW values, spend one month on each, and discuss the importance of each. But, I haven't decided for sure. Instead, I might do 1/2 year YW prep and Priesthood Prep and the other 1/2 year as temple prep, since I plan on taking my kids to the temple once a week once they turn 12.

Okay--that is it for me. Anyone else with any thoughts?? I read in the Ensign that the strongest correlation between a behavior and going on a mission was personal scripture study. If you can get your kids to study the scriptures then they are significantly more likely to go on a mission and get married in the temple. What are the best ways to encourage that? Other good ideas?

Monday, February 13, 2012

arm yourselves, ladies

I have a new favorite blog.  Here are two posts that I read recently and REALLY liked.  I don't know about you guys, but I've been feeling this weight on my heart, prompting, personal interest, etc., lately in what I need to do to teach my children.  And not so much for the battle against Satan that they're going to face themselves, but the battle my grandchildren are going to face when my children will be the parents.  It sounds dire when I say it like that, but I really feel like the Adversary is working hard and we've got to kick it up a notch (or more) in our spiritual teaching to our youth.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Sister Beck gave a recent BYU devotional called "Why We are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies".

I have only gotten through part of it, but thought I'd share.  Sister Beck is so awesome. 

Oh, funny story.  I was doing research for my YW lesson about receiving inspiration from the Holy Ghost and one of the talks that came up on my radar was Sister Beck's talk from April 2010 Conference.  Wonderful talk, by the way.  Anyway, the ideas in it were almost exactly what she expressed to the region when she came to California in October and spoke to us.  Before she started her talk in October, she asked women to share any questions that they had for her.  Those that spoke all told sad stories about personal challenges and seemed to be asking her what they should do about their problems {edited to add that I don't want to sound unfeeling - they really were sad stories}.  Her reply was a talk on receiving personal revelation - exactly what she spoke on in that April Conference.  I was thinking - surely it must be frustrating to our leaders to feel like they are TALKING and no one is LISTENING.  Sister Beck could have said "go read my conference talk - you'll find all you need to know in there".  But she didn't.

Just a little personal reminder to myself to READ and ACT and then go back and re-read and study and, well, stop bugging the Lord to fix my problems when he's probably already provided the answer in one form or another.  Maybe a better plea would be to ask the Lord to help me find and recognize the answer from the counsel we've already received.

Hope you are all having a pleasant January.  I am up to my eyeballs in New Beginnings (happens tonight).  The President that I serve under, and I, have never been to one EVER!   We did something totally fun, though.  The Bishop gave us permission (and then went and did the work for us) to screw hooks into corners of the wall so that we could put pretty lights across the ceiling.  The girls are going to be so amazed because that is one thing that has never been done in our ward.  Should make it a little bit like a fairyland - it reminds me of every wedding reception I've ever been to in a church building.  ;-)  The lovely part of being in this particular small ward is that people have very low expectations!

Oh, just read a fascinating book that my husband had recommended to him called "Donbas: A True Story of an Escape Across Russia".  It's a very quick read and not too heavy or intense, especially considering the subject matter.  This autobiography is a tale of a 15 year old Romanian kid who was captured at the end of WWII and sent to Russia to be a slave in their coal mines...and what happens from there. 

Monday, January 16, 2012


Kelly, loved the misfit post on modesty. I have said many of the same things--especially about the trend toward stores that claim modesty while selling flagrantly immodest items. Drives me nuts. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the heels. I love my heels. On the other hand, it might be a definition thing. I don't wear stilettos. I also don't wear super high heels. Definitely higher than pumps, however. I also think it is ridiculous when YW wear heels. Looks ridiculous--and definitely draws attention. Whether I would go so far as to say they are dressing immodestly . . . I will think about that more.

The post I would write about modesty would focus a lot less on the actual clothes and more on the attitudes and feelings going into wearing the clothes. Yes, a large part of that is competition. Why do we need to compete? Another large part of that is wanting to feel attractive--especially after reproducing when our bodies aren't quite what they used to be. So maybe some fountain of youth might be going on there. Maybe it is because we don't really have a testimony of motherhood. Maybe it is because we're worried our husbands don't have a testimony of motherhood? Maybe it is just because we're surrounded by billboards advertising liposuction?

Any thoughts?

FYI--I come at this from a position of someone who USED TO BE supremely confident in her looks/abilities/everything and then, somehow, lost a lot of that confidence. Why does that happen? Does it happen to most women? I know the article Julia linked touched on it--but her suggestions were no-brainers; dress nicely, do your hair--stuff our moms all taught us. But if you dress neatly, comb your hair, put on make-up and have a hot, tasty meal on the table when your hubby walks in the door and you STILL feel not-good-enough--what then?

books galore

Those books sound interesting.  I, however, will not be reading anything this month that I cannot get from the library or read for free online.  The Run With Me book looks good, but my library system is apparently not carrying it.  I've got Playful Parenting on hold, but it will be awhile before it comes.

I have recently read "Playful Learning: Develop your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder" by Mariah Bruehl.  It was okay.  A couple good ideas that I hadn't hit on before.  It was very Montessori-ish.  One idea that I thought you'd love is the idea of making little blank books to keep around the house to stimulate your child's interest in writing and art.  I made a stack of books by cutting computer paper in half, folding in half, putting a plain cardstock cover on, and stapling, then doing the same thing with some whole sheets.  I have a bunch and put them on a shelf on my desk and told the kids they were theirs to do with as they pleased.  Logan, who usually never wants to draw or write, jumped up and did a whole series of pictures.  We'll see how popular they are, but they sure looked cute.  They were so easy to make and made me feel like SUCH a good, nurturing, crafty mother.    Sigh.

Also recently read a talk by Julie B. Beck called "Nourishing and Protecting Our Families" that she gave at the 2009 BYU Women's Conference.  If you google it, it's easy to find.  A GEM of a talk, as all of hers seem to be.

And I'm fighting my way through the second half of Ken Robinson's book "The Element".  The first half was quick and fascinating and managed to both thrill me and make me feel like a complete loser as an inspiring parent and creative individual.  The second half is making me feel better, but I've either lost interest in the topic, or it's just dragging on too long for one book. 

I'd love reading suggestions for the year.  I haven't given it hardly any thought, but I really like having a booklist to work from when I'm placing holds in the library site.  I need some GOOD books to be coming in every couple weeks or I get bored.

finally, I know we're basically over Misfit here, but she wrote a great post on modesty that Josh and I really liked if you're interested.  I kept her blog on my google reader and I think this is the first time she's posted since the last time we talked.

Thanks ladies!  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Oh yes, Andrea, is your sister still in Switzerland?  I have a couple questions to ask her about train travel.  I'm a bit confused about the various rail passes that I've been reading about in the travel books and what the difference is.  If she wouldn't mind hearing from me, and you wouldn't mind passing on my email address, I would appreciate it.  kelosh 2 at gmail dot com.  Thanks so much!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

books to read

Increase in Learning by Elder Bednar - I have this one sitting by my bed ready to read (Christmas present).  I think it's more of a slow study though, not really a read quick and discuss type book.  ??  I'm excited to get into it though.
Raising up a family to the Lord. - - One of my most favorite parenting books!  A MUST read.  I don't think I'll read it again right now, but I will join in the discussion.  Powerful principles in that book!

Soft-Spoken Parenting - this one might be interesting...always needed.  :-)
I, for one, would also love to re-read Notwithstanding my Weakness by Elder Maxwell (I know, I've been pushing this one for awhile, but it really is GREAT and I need to re-learn some things). 
Also interested in reading and discussing The Divine Center by Steven R. Covey
And, the greatest book I just read was Do Hard Things by ? & Alex Harris  (Two 19-yr old homeschooled Christian twins).  I'm actually having my 12 yr. old read it right now.  It's great.
Just my two cents.


Hey guys,

I'm checking out some books at the library and was curious if any of you were interested in reading them.

Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo

I'm much too lazy to fix the formatting.

Increase in Learning by Elder Bednar

Or Playful Parenting: A Bold New Way to Nurture Close Connections.

Raising up a family to the Lord.

Soft-Spoken Parenting.