Book recommendation (for boys!)

Isaac would like to recommend this book:


He got it for his birthday, read it in two days, and loved it.


And since it can be difficult to find good books for boys?  I'm recommending it to you.  This is the fourth and final book in a series written by Andrew Peterson.

What are your boys reading and liking?

Commonplace Entries

There are times I feel slightly embarrassed at the copious amount of fiction that I read.  It doesn't seem intelligent enough of me or something.  I see the book lists of others and sort of wince at all the deep things I'm not reading.

But here's the thing: I love stories.  And no matter what else I'm reading, I am always yearning for a good story.  Maybe those with the extensive and academic book lists aren't wired that way.  But I most decidedly am.  So I'm becoming accustomed to that in myself.

I've been busily copying into my journal portions from the book I'm reading, and I've decided to share some here.

From L.M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill:
Gay Street should be a gay street, thought Jane, with gay, friendly houses, set amid flowers, that cried out, "How do you do?" to you as you passed them, with trees that waved hands at you and windows that winked at you in the twilights.
"I love making jam," she said, when dad asked her why she bothered.  Just to go into the pantry and look at shelf after shelf of ruby and amber jams and jellies gave her the deep satisfaction of a job well done.
(Is it any wonder how much I love L.M. Montgomery?)  I copied far more down than this tonight, but I'm just giving you a sampling.  :)

Ella finished Jane of Lantern Hill last week and promptly declared that I ought to read it.  (I'm not usually fond of reading a book twice, and this one I know I've read at least once before, but I agreed.)  And now I'm pretty sure I'll be reading all of L.M. Montgomery's books all over again.  I love them that much.

For those of you who appreciate L.M. Montgomery, what is your favorite title of hers?  (My mom just finished The Blue Castle and thoroughly enjoyed it.)  I think this one, below, will always be my favorite of hers, but I'll check back in when I've read through them all again and let you know....

My well-worn, well-loved, much-read copy

Recommending.... Ellie!

I love to sing.  Pre-children, I used to listen to music all the time.  I could even sing along because I had the lyrics memorized.  GONE are those days.  What with all these people around, talking or squealing or screeching or just-- making NOISE all the time, I just... can't.  Music ends up being extra noise and I really don't need any more of that around here.  I cherish quiet. 

This summer I made a whopping exception.  I'll get back to that in a minute. 

I struggled so much last year.  Wintertime brought life and joy and then suddenly, anguish.  Spring came, and as we approached what would have been our due date, God blessed us with yet another life growing within me.  We quietly held this news, and cautiously hoped.  The gift of that tiny life within me eased our grief and pain as our due date neared.  And then, when we lost that baby, too?  I was so very broken.  The grief crippled my spirit.

I prayed long for God to give me something- a verse, a song, a word, something- from Him.  I wanted Him to speak into the darkness.  He did.  First, through song, and then months later- with a passage of Scripture.  But the gift He gave me over the summer was the music of Ellie Holcomb.  I can't describe it other than to say that there are words Ellie sings that seemed like they had come straight from the pages of my journal.  As I journal, I often pray through Scripture and write out my prayers and thoughts, but she sings the truths of God's word- and beautifully.  My soul needed the beauty of her melodies rooted in Scripture.  And my gracious Father gave me such a gift in Ellie's songs.

Every single time I got into the van, I played Ellie.  I would carry around my phone and play Ellie.  On the treadmill, Ellie.  In the kitchen doing the dishes?  Ellie.

My kids always knew that the CD mama was reaching for or the song I was searching for on the iPod would be Ellie.  Without any effort on their part, they all have ALL of Ellie's songs memorized.  Just from the sheer number of times they have heard her.  ;)  And they love her, too.  (Ella's favorite songs are Marvelous Light and The Broken Beautiful.) 

Her song Anchor of Hope* was the prayer of my heart in the darkness.  For weeks I couldn't even sing.  I just wept as I listened.  Then I was able to sing bits and pieces- through my tears.  Finally, weeks later- I could sing it and own it.  I still grieve, of course.  But I truly believe that God used Ellie- we are SO on a first-name basis around here, me and Ellie- to pull me out of despair, and for that I am so grateful.

And so, I heartily recommend to you all: Ellie Holcomb.  Get some of her music and listen.  I think you'll love her.  :)  [I hear she won "new artist of the year" at the Dove awards, recently, too.   She's not actually new, though.]  She's been singing in a band with her husband, Drew, since 2006.  Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors.  Also good.  But Ellie-on-her-own?  LOVE.

 *Anchor of Hope is on Ellie's Magnolia EP.

Oh!  -and I'd love to know who you're listening to.  Who would you heartily recommend?



Last night Mark helped me rearrange the living room.  We pulled all the furniture in around the fireplace, in anticipation of upcoming cold nights with a crackling fire.  It was only last autumn that we got our chimney fixed, so we were able to light fires for the first time in the fifteen years we've lived here.  I am getting so anxious for the temperatures to drop so that we can have the warmth and coziness of a fire again!

(my apologies for the dim photos.  our living room doesn't get much light due to the trees in our neighborhood)

Tucked behind the couches is a table we've set up just for puzzles.  (There's also a puzzle board beneath one of our couches with another working puzzle on it, that we'll pull up and out onto the ottoman when Mark reads aloud at nights.)  It's one of our traditions during the fall/winter seasons.  

I love our home.  I am so thankful for it. 

Life in Pictures

It's been a crazy day (which is pretty much our normal, I guess) but we had a few extra challenges tossed in today which have made it even more crazy.  (Beginning with the fact that I did NOT get up early this morning so I've been running to catch up all day long.)  Hence, a post that is mainly pictures:

One day last week we'd had a particularly rough day (evidenced by the fact that I was already in tears by 8:30 in the morning).  I felt like I needed to escape, so after a couple hours of school, I packed the kids up, picked up fast food, and we headed to the water.  The kids were able to wade, throw rocks and get out some energy, and I was able to breathe.

Ella was hunched over like this- completely still, for about thirty minutes, holding out a french fry to this seagull.  The seagull finally took it from her hand.  She was so thrilled.



And here on the home front, the kids have dug a huge hole in our finished-for-the-season garden, and now there are whole battles being fought out there.  :)


They are having so much fun with this.

Okay.  I'm off to help the kids get lunch, then it's quiet times (bliss!), and then it will be time to prep dinner already.  We have small group tonight, and then I'm looking forward to sitting down with Mark to watch The Voice.  

How is your day going?


If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  -James 1:26
That verse has had me reeling for a few weeks now.  Ugh.  Some days I feel like I'm sinning every other minute with my tongue.  I am thankful for this only because it brings me to the fresh realization that I am in desperate need of my Savior; and that there is no good in me apart from Him.  I am so thankful for the good news of Jesus- that my sins have been paid in full.

This morning for Bible time we illustrated this verse, from Proverbs (using Draw to Learn Proverbs):


(I needed this verse today so much more than the kids did.)



I am trying to sneak in as many minutes as possible reading this.  (I've just discovered it's not worth trying to read while on the treadmill.


If you're not already in the know, Charles Martin is one of my favorite authors.  Because I love a good story, and I sort of marvel at the gifts God has given this man to tell a story.  (Click here, here, here, or here for previous posts where I've recommended his books.) The book in the above photo is his latest. 

I do realize there are other things I need to do today.  First up, devotions.  Then breakfast, Bible, memory work, spelling, read-aloud, history, narrations, math and cursive.  Some chores.  Dinner.  But I am going to try to read, too.  :)

What's the last good book you read? 

Organizing Homeschool Papers

It has taken me several years to settle on a method for organizing all the kids' school work.  I used to do it this way.

I have since simplified.  Now each child gets one binder a year.

Our binders reside on the bottom shelf of a hutch in our living room.

This year I even found some colored binders at Costco, which saved me the time of adding colored or patterned paper to differentiate between kids.  (Audra still has patterned paper for hers.)

I made a Table of Contents for each child:


And pages dividing each section listing the subject:


The Table of Contents vary for each child.  The little girls have a Kindergarten section and a Calendar section.  Isaias has a section for Spelling, while the older two have Dictation.)

This is the best way I've found to organize all the papers that accumulate with homeschooling!