Sunday Shares

We are already in April– but can summer be here yet?  I miss swimming and my summer husband–that guy who comes around every June to stay up late watching TV with me all summer.

Here are some things that are making my winter brighter:

1.) This lipstick. It’s my all-time favorite right now.  Okay, I think LipSense lipsticks are pretty, but I can’t justify spending $25 on lipstick..sorry! This tube was $6 when I bought it, and it lasts pretty long.  The trick is to put it on and let it sit for 2 minutes before applying the gloss. The cocoa color is a throwback to the 90s, but it has some pink in it that makes it really subtle and pretty.

2.) Tim Ferriss everything.  Last month, I had Tools of Titans waiting for me at the library, and I didn’t remember I had put it on hold.  It is amazing! In fact, my mom started flipping through it while she was babysitting, and she bought it right away (okay, that is kinda characteristic of my mom but…). It is a giant book full of notes he has taken when interviewing hundreds of different celebrities and entrepeneurs that details their tools of success down to their favorite books and what they eat for breakfast.  Reading about others’ daily lives is one of my all-time favorite things, so this book is awesome.  I recently started listening to his podcast, The Tim Ferris show, and it is just as great.  In fact, most of the Tools of Titans interviews are extensions from his podcasts.  He is very inspiring and engaging.

3.) The Sorta Awesome podcast. Speaking of podcasts, I am loving this one. I listen to it at the gym.  The topics are all really interesting and inspiring, and the hosts are just FUN to listen to.  Their discussions are really timely and educating.  They also have a SortaAwesome Facebook hangout group (which is like having hundreds of women to ask advice of) and a spin-off SortaAwesome literary Facebook group for book recommendations.

4.) Judy Blume books.  I loved the Fudge books this year, so I was so excited to introduce them to my kids.  We have listened to the first two on audiobooks while driving to our various lessons, and we all enjoy them so much.  So grateful for library Overdrive for access to free audiobooks.

5.) We needed a book for March for book club, so I suggested the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is one of my all-time favorites.  I was surprised to find that no one in our group had read it yet, as it is a classic and one of my all-time favorite books.  I don’t generally re-read books, but I am loving reading it a second time.  It is actually so much better, because I know how everything is resolved and how the characters will change–so I am enjoying it a lot.  It really is a love story ultimately. It has also gotten me to research the Reign of Terror–and holy nightmares!–but it is all so interesting.

6.) How to make soy candles. I realize that I have been paying $12 per soy candle, but making them is so much cheaper! This post from Alicia Hutchinson breaks it all down.  I love how she spent one quiet time making a huge stash of candles for her family.  Now, I know that beeswax candles are healthier and purify your air, but beeswax just isn’t in my budget right now!

7.) Sufjan Stevens’s Holy Holy Holy is a beautiful song for the Sabbath. Oh Sufjan, why are you so awesome?! You keep surprising me–you are kind of crazy, but also a genius?

8.) Murder on the Orient Express narrated by Dan Stevens. Are.You.Kidding.Me. I am not a big audiobook fan–I am super picky about the narrators–but this one is changing my mind.  This classic murder mystery is narrated by Dan Stevens (aka the Beast aka Matthew Crawley aka Legion), and he is amazing. His accents are perfect–Texan, American woman, French, British and more.  I usually listen at the gym, and I find myself working out a lot more just so that I can keep listening. Bonus: I downloaded the audiobook for free on my library’s Overdrive app.

9.) Nurture by Nature. This book is changing my life.  It is all about parenting according to your children’s Meyers-Briggs personality profiles.  I have read a lot about different personality types, but Meyers-Briggs is the most thorough that I found.  I bought this book used for $3 in order to understand my quirky 5 year old, but I have learned so much about myself and my entire family and how to communicate better with them.  I am on my 3rd week of intently studying this book–it needs its own blog post! Best $3 I have ever spent!

10.) Samurai Gourmet on Netflix.  This 18 minute show about a newly-retired Japanese man is so cute and calming.  It features really short, cute themes and close-up shots of Japanese cooking.  My kids beg for this show, and I only have to read a little of the subtitles for them to get what is going on.  This show makes me happy!

What have you been loving lately?

 

 

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My Top Reads of 2016

2016 is over–hooray!! What a weird year.  My reading goals were the same as last year: Read more classics and read books that I already own.  Unfortunately, my reading habits were also the same as every other year since college: forget the classics and read those hyped-up debuts/bestsellers/thrillers. Also, don’t forget about those books that are going to become movies–must read those. Ha! I also joined a Facebook group this year called SortaLiterary–hundreds of people talking about the great books they are reading–and that also influenced what I chose to read this year.

My reading goal this year was 50 books.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I read 35 plus several read-aloud novels to my kids. Looking back at it, I don’t think making a goal of books is a great idea for me if my goal is to read more classics.  Those usually take me months! That being said, I read so much more this year than any year previously, because I finally have a smartphone with my library’s Overdrive on it. I have a hard time with audiobooks, but I can easily read on my phone while putting kids to bed and scroll through some pages while stirring dinner.

Surprisingly, the best books I read this year were books that I didn’t expect to love. Their topics were heavier, and most of them made me cry. I had a hard time towards the end of the year dealing with family medical issues and anxiety, so I find it interesting that these are the ones that resonated with me the most.

Here are my favorite reads of 2016.

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1.) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Oh, I loved this book! It is kind of a fractured fairy tale about a childless couple living deep in the Alaskan wildreness who build a girl out of snow and soon find a girl at their doorstep. I loved all of the characters in this book–everyone was kind and noble–and I loved the magical realism and description of the snowy forest.  This is a perfect winter read, although the ending is slightly heartbreaking and kind of ambiguous. The author’s notes on this are awesome.

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2.) Everyone Brave if Forgiven by Chris Cleave. Also slightly heartbreaking with an ambiguous ending! This novel is so beautifully written–I found myself wanting to highlight so many passages–and it was the author’s sixth draft of the book.  This tells the story of a soldier serving in Malta and a woman he is writing in London and how they are affected, both as friends and individuals, during World War II. Again, the author’s notes are amazing–he based this book on letters that his grandparents had written to each other during the war.

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3.) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This debut novel about generations of slaves descended from two separated sisters had me ignoring my family and reading through every free minute.  Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different generation, spanning from the slave trade’s beginnings in Africa to present day. It is definitely heavy stuff, but it is also probably the most incredible storytelling I have read this year. The ending ties everything together so well, and it ends on a very hopeful note.

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4.) The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  This thriller was a super fun, fast read. It hooks you right from the beginning, and there is an awesome ending that makes you cheer. I love when despicable characters that get their just desserts! Highly recommended for some mindless reading!

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5.) Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.  I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I tried to read her first, Carry On Warrior, and I didn’t like it at all. This memoir is also heavy reading as the author deals with bulimia, alcoholism, infidelity and more, but she has a spiritual awakening near the ocean that is beautifully written and so interesting. There is a good lesson here about motherhood, forgiveness, and standing firm in your trials.  Nice pick, Oprah!

 

Alright, I am only picking 5 this time.  I really liked a lot of the other books I read, but these are the ones that I LOVED. In 2017, I am going to take the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to try something different.  Besides that, my only goal is to finally read Frankenstein (I know!) in October and at least 5 good non-fiction books.  Cheers to reading!

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017

Another homeschool year is upon us! This will be our 3rd year homeschooling!

Yesterday was our first day. We are having a Harry Potter homeschool year, per my kids’ request.  I love Harry Potter, so I was happy to oblige! Would you believe I only took 1 picture yesterday? Yes, you would–I am not big on taking a ton of pictures 🙂

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The kids woke up to Hogwarts letters, robes, and their own owl.  They have been wearing their robes almost non-stop since yesterday. Learning to nerd right there! We then had an English breakfast of toad-in-the-hole and got our new sketchbooks.  We had science club, violin lessons, and swimming lessons yesterday, so we didn’t do much.

Okay, the general theme for the year is interest-led and unit-study that we decided on last year.  That’s what we love and what makes us happy.   We are using this quote by Dumbledore to guide our year.

We will be learning the hymn “Lead Kindly Light” (my favorite), learning about the scientific properties of light, reading about the life of Christ and studying historical figures (fiction and real) who have been a light to the world.

I am changing up a lot of my homeschool curriculum this year.  We work under a public independent charter school that gives us instructional funds each semester, under the condition that everything is secular.  The school will not pay for anything that mentions God or creation. The last two years I was okay with that, but this year, after researching a lot of different curriculum, I decided to buy used editions of some Christian language arts and science–and I love them.  How Christian are they?  Well, the science book mentions that “God created the flying animals on the fifth day” and the language arts has cursive copywork that includes a few Bible quotes.  Stuff you would never be allowed to see in public school, but I find is really important!

Here is a little glimpse of what we’re using this year (the tables has crumbs because toddlers):

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Science: Apologia’s Exploring Creation Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  We are doing a Care of Magical/Ordinary Creatures this year and starting with flying creatures, like bats and owls.  I love Apologia.  We are still working through Apologia Anatomy from last year, and my kids beg to do it. Even if you don’t use them for homeschool, they are so informative with tons of pictures and links. We are also using A Kid’s Herb Book to get us started on making our own tea and herb gardens for Herbology.  This book is awesome.

Social Studies/History: We are using Story of the World Volume 2 and the activity book that goes along with it.  This year, we are listening to the chapters being read in the car while we drive to lessons, and it is awesome.  We get home and do the activities if we choose or just read more about what we listened to in the car. For example, yesterday we heard the story of Beowulf and came home and watched a Lego version we found. This year will be Middle Ages and then Renaissance, so we are going to read Robin Hood and some Shakespeare along with it, as well as build our own castles. Should be fun!

Math: I said goodbye to Singapore math this year, after I spent one too many times reviewing things with my kids that they should have already mastered.  Singapore is challenging and fast-paced, but it’s lack of review is frustrating.  We are using Teaching Textbooks this year.  My 3rd grader is in Math 4 and my 5th grader is in Math 6 (not related to grade level–just they way it’s labeled).  This is done on the computer, and already I love it so much.  I don’t have to sit with them–everything is explained so well on the computer with instant feedback and grading. There is a massive workbook if you don’t want them on the computer that day. My kids often do two lessons a day–very very excited about this!

Language Arts: We are doing Learning Language Arts through Literature this year.  Last year, we did Winning with Writing/Spelling/Grammar, which we liked but was pretty dry.  These books are based off quotes, books, and history lessons and include copywork, spelling, reading comprehension, and cursive.  I like them a lot so far.  We also are using Pentime cursive, which has famous quotes/scriptures to copy.

Supplements: We will be doing a government/election unit starting in October, so I got a Hands on Heritage election book–Hands on Heritage books are really fun.  I also picked up Geography, Math, and Science Wizardry for some more fun activities during the day.  We will also be cooking our way through the Harry Potter cookbook, which I am super excited about!  We have made cauldron cakes and chocolate frogs so far. We also are hoping to grow a frog, study French, and take some art classes–we’ll see!

So, those are most of the books we’ll be using this year!  We also continue to do lots of reading out loud.  Daddy is reading them the Neverending Story at night, and I am reading them Mr. Popper’s Penguins this week at breakfast.

Here’s to an awesome school year!

 

Saturday Shares

We are heading into the thick of summertime! Our routine is a little off, and nap schedules are waaaay off–but we’re having tons of fun! Here’s what resonated with me this week:

1.) Life saving tips for mothers of big families. I loved reading this! There were such amazing tips! After I read it, I went to my big ol’ missing sock pile and trashed it! I have spent too much time trying to find that matching Tinkerbell sock!  Also pro paper plates!

2.) Four simple rules to clean eating. This is a simple opinion article, but it was a great reminder for me.  You DON’T have to get crazy with monitoring your diet as long as you’re eating clean…but still, enjoy your life! Too often, I get really restrictive with my diet, and it does not work.

3.) Bone broth is a huge food trend right now. It is supposed to help heal your teeth, replenish your minerals, and cleanse your system. I am not a huge fan of eating much meat and don’t like the idea of deboning chicken, so this restorative vegetable broth looks really appealing to me.

4.) Using great literature to teach history. History is my weak point in homeschooling, but I am determined to change that this year! This article, from Susan Wise Bauer, has great ideas for teaching Shakespeare and which books to read to correspond with your history study.  I will be referring back to this a lot!

5.) How to Meditate without Sitting Still. This is another great reminder that you don’t need to be sitting still to meditate (hello, crochet!).

6.) 13 Make-Ahead Healthy Breakfast Recipes.  This has some great recipes! The sweet potato and black bean hash looks super yummy. Great for those times when you don’t want to scramble another egg.

Happy Saturday!

Sunday Shares

Summertime is here! Here are some things that really struck a chord with me this week:

1.) Rad and Happy’s No Bad Days was such a good reminder of little things you can be doing to improve your days.

2.) I love me some celebrity ritual sharing. Here is Jennifer Aniston’s morning routine. I am on board with lemon water in the morning! Reading this has gotten me on the research path of different types of collagen, and I am learning a lot!

3.) I am learning that I can be quite a control freak when it comes to my kids and screen time and getting their math done.  This article about giving your kids a 70s summer made me laugh and loosen up a bit. I am lucky that I had parents that gave us a lot of freedom in the summertime.

4.) I mentioned the Austen project, where famous authors re-tell Austen novels.  Well, this year marks the beginning of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, where famous authors retell Shakespeare plays. I am excited to read Margaret Atwood’s Hag Seed, a re-telling of The Tempest. This will be interesting!

5.) 30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl. I love the Strong is the New Skinny mantra, and this article has lots of good tips. Mainly: Stop focusing on weight! Focus on strength!

6.) The talk by Thomas S. Monson, Guideposts for Life’s Journey,  is amazing and uplifting!

Sunday Shares

It’s Sunday! That means I napped from 2-4, as usual. Everyone in my home naps from 2-4 on Sundays, and then we all stay up a little later. It’s a good time.

Here are some things that I find really interesting this week:

1.) Building a Home Kids Want to Come Home To. This was a good article with some interesting tips about improving the culture of your home.

2.) The Daily Routines of Famous Writers. I LOVED this.  I love reading about routines, and many of these writers have similar ones: Wake early. Write for several hours. Be done writing, but most importantly, you must write. I like the quote from Maya Angelou, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

3.) How to Make Your Weeks Feel More Like the Weekend. I needed this.  Why not watch a movie in the middle of the week or take two baths?  You’re worth it!

4.) How to Be A Bookworm When You Don’t Have the Time.  I love to read, and I get asked a lot how I am able to read so much.  I do everything this article mentions!  Now if I deleted Instagram, I am sure I would read MUCH more.

5.) How to Make Egg-Wrapped Sushi Rolls! One of my favorite Japanese foods is omelette-wrapped sushi rolls. They are so good.  The key is to make a very thin omelette using only one egg and a tsp of brown sugar. Pour it on a hot pan and then turn the heat low, essentially steaming it.  I have yet to perfect it, but these look so good! I have to try again.

6.) Drinking One Gallon of Water a Day. This writer tried it for 30 days and talks about the effects, mainly ENERGY.  I have never thought to actually buy a gallon jug, but I think I’ll try it.  I usually lose track of how much I drink with my smaller bottles.

Saturday Shares

It’s Saturday, and I wanted to share some tidbits with you that I have found hilarious, moving, and also occasionally bazaar. I’ve had a good magazine-reading week, which is where most of this stuff caught my attention in the first place!

1.) Zosia Mamet Won’t Lean In : Glamour Magazine has a monthly column written by various women celebrities. I have loved everyone I’ve read one, but I really loved this one.”I get angry that, when a woman decides to hold off on gunning for a promotion because she wants to have a baby, other women whisper that ‘she’s throwing away her potential.’ That is when we’re not supporting our own.”

2.) A Day in the Life of Donna Karan: Harper’s Bazaar has a monthly column featuring “24 Hours in the Life of…” a famous designer, and they are all amazing.  Every single designer wears a uniform of some sort and has very specific rituals.  I love reading about Donna Karan, because she believes so strongly in self-care.

3.) Would a human head transplant work? :  I watched Victor Frankenstein this week, and the next day read this article in Men’s Health about an Italian doctor gearing up for performing the first ever human head transplant sometime next year.  What? How? My brain is exploding just thinking about this!

4.) 100 Things for Kids to Memorize : This was fun to read. My kids LOVE memorizing things, and we are always working on memorizing several things.  Right now, it’s the Into the Woods song “Your Fault” and the order of the U.S. Presidents.

5.) Don’t Text and Dad: Men have a hard time multi-tasking sometimes 😉

6.) 26 Things You Should Do For Yourself Once a Year: I love this. #4 and #24 especially.

 

 

 

Welcome!

Hey! Lately, I’ve been thinking about the power of words and how words give so much meaning to our lives, especially in the context of storytelling and teaching, in learning from little children, books, peers, and elders. I want to use this blog to remind and inspire and cultivate–a love of learning, a love of reading, a love of finding comfort and solace in the ways others’ express their glorious gifts and talents.