Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reading Pleasures

I have three books that I read this summer that are some of my all time favorite books so far. 

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

I already talked a bit the first one here and I really did love it, but the last two I just think everyone should read!

Both of these books have been in our home for years.  The movie of Cry the Beloved Country is one of Cameron's favorites so I've seen it a couple of times and almost anyone who has been involved in Christianity for any length of time has probably heard of C.S. Lewis' book even if they haven't read it.  There was no particular reason that I decided to read these books this year, but in hind sight, I believe it was providential!

Cry the Beloved Country is one of those books that is really quite sad as far as the main events that are taking place.  In fact, at one point, I did have to set it aside for a few days.  It was really heavy.  However, it is so beautifully written and in this case so timely to what has been in the news this summer, that there was no way I could not finish it.  I not only finished it, I loved it.  In the movie, the main character is played by James Earl Jones.  His voice alone is enough to love him!  So all through the book that's who I pictured and heard in my head.  I don't even remember the other actors from the movie, so it wasn't distracting, just him. 

This story takes place in South Africa.  Mostly in Johannesburg, but also in a rural village.Young people are leaving the village and going to Johannesburg for jobs and "a more promising future", but  Johannesburg is a place of much racial tension and most of the young people from the village aren't finding a better life at all but being swallowed up in poverty and often crime.  As is usually the case, there are those who want to help and those that just want all of the "natives" to go back where they came from. 

Here is the passage that struck me the most and that just made me shudder with the truth of it. 

Yes, that is right about power, he said.  But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love.  Because when a man loves he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.  I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it.  He was grave and silent, and then he said sombrely, I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they are turned to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.

This was just one among many passages that I highlighted.  The only downside to this book?  It is written without quotation marks.  Sometimes that caused me to have to go back and double check who was speaking, but only a few times.  Otherwise, it was just the best book.  Also, it does have a happy ending.  It's somewhat bitter sweet because of what has already happened, but it was definitely a good ending!!

Ok, Mere Christianity.  This book was just so helpful and plainly written.  Especially after the first chapter or two.  Those two did take a little more thinking to get through, but the way he explains some of the common questions, criticisms and misunderstandings about Christianity are just so good!  I kept thinking, Wow!  I never thought of it like that!  And I've been a Christian practically my whole life.  It was so timely because of some of the questions that Callie was asking at the time and so she is reading it now too.  Sometimes I know what I believe and why, but I have a hard time articulating that to others.  The chapters are very short, it's not hard to get through at all.  I found it very helpful and sometimes even funny.  C.S. Lewis was a very clever and witty writer I'm finding out.  Now I'm in the middle of The Screwtape Letters and am enjoying it very much. 

You will not be disappointed if you try these two books!  {I feel like the kids at the end on Reading Rainbow}

Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2017 First Day of School Field Trip

I'm sorry to shock you with such pictures!  This is how it was that morning and it's actually a very good thing!  If I had for one second thought about the fact that this was Callie's last First Day of School and the last time that we would be field tripping all of us together with our friends, I'm sure there would have been puddles of tears!  Downpours actually!!

So goofy, badly lit, somewhat blurry pictures we have.  Yet it was a great day and one of my favorite field trips that we've ever had.

Our theme for the year, Proverbs 22:17 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit drys up the bones.  I don't think I've ever officially chosen a theme before, but I decided to this year.  I wrote it on this "chalk board" contact paper and the next day I taped it to the stairwell with washi tape.  It is a much needed reminder some days!

I also took strips of the same paper and made them sashes with their grades written on there.  I thought it was an awesome idea, if I do say so myself.  I'm not exactly sure they agreed, but they did cooperate, so that's something!  If you actually peel the backing off, it would stick and really be perfect, but I figured if I asked them to wear these on their clothing all day, they might just run away!  Forever!

This year we decided to go the the C.A.N.D.L.E.S. Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute.  Someone said that was a depressing field trip, but my friend answered, "Yes, but an important one."  Oh how right she was!  This was one of the best field trips we have ever been on because we were able to hear the first hand account of Eva Kor's survival of Austwitz concentration camp.  She is now in her 80's but don't let her small stature and walker fool you.  She is not one to be reckoned with! LOL  She is funny, she is poignant, she spoke for over an hour and even Kate was never bored, even though she was tired of sitting.   We had just begun the question and answer time when a pesky politician came in to be interviewed with her (it was the day or two after the Charlottesville, VA riots) so our time and picture taking opportunities were cut short, but she had told us we could take pictures with her, get autographs, and ask her anything we wanted.   If you ever have the chance to hear her speak or go to the museum, do it!  You will want to call the museum first, as I think she is not there every day.  It is a small museum, but very well done.  There is also a virtual interview of another survivor that you can participate in and that was really good too.  You get to ask the questions, anything you can think of, and he has answered them.  Sort of like a live Google search of this man's experience.  It was pretty neat.  Sad, but so meaningful!

Remember the movie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"  So far, I have refused to watch it, but Callie really loves that movie.  Anyway, it was kind of cool (in a weird sort of way) to see the real thing.

There is so much that I don't remember from my own history studies in school.  It had just so happened, unintentionally, that I had read several novels about this time period and saw The Zookeepers Wife in the previous six months, so it was very interesting to see all the factual pictures, articles, etc. line up with the novels I had read.

Then of course there is always the group hug at the end of the day.  Again, if I had thought about the significance of this particular field trip, I would have made a greater effort at a more perfect picture here, but let's just all thank the Good Lord that I didn't!!  Because right now?  Watery eyes!!  I can't believe that Callie is a Senior and Kate is beginning 6th grade!  It just doesn't seem possible.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Heart

My father has been a minister my entire life and other than serving in the military during the Vietnam war, his entire adult life.  Was he perfect?  Close, but not quite.  Were his kids perfect?  Close, but....just kidding!  Not even close!  Perfect or not, there is no way I could respect him any more than I already do.  

When Callie said she wanted "Granddaddy" to baptize her I could have cheered wildly and acted like a fool, but I calmly said something like, "If that's what you want then that's fine with me." :)

So we made a short trip to celebrate not just her Grandmother's birthday but also Callie's baptism.  Her other grandparents and all her Indiana cousins and aunts and uncles were there too and it was the perfect celebration!  {Except I didn't get pictures of her with her other grandparents somehow and so I hang my head in shame!!}

So I don't know what else to say without getting really sappy!  I'll just say, I love my family, perfect or not!!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer 2017, Pt. 2

July was full too.  We had friends over for dinners, sleepovers for the girls, movies with friends and swimming.  Kate has a Wonder Woman obsession now and it was fun to see Despicable Me 3 with friends too.  Callie continued working and Kate spent tons of time swinging and drawing Wonder Woman.

Someone got their first, and hopefully last, cavities and was an awesome patient!!  Much better than her mother would have been.  And much calmer than her mother felt just being in the room!

Apparently we were having too good of a time to think of taking any pictures though.  Although I can always count on Callie to have some great pictures of our flowers and various things.

We ended the month with the county fair.  Callie did not participate in 4H this year, but Kate did.
Her original idea was this snake.  Until we discovered that I had the date wrong for the fair and she needed to have her project done a week earlier!!  So she picked a new project that could be finished much faster and then still made the stuffed snake for fun.  His name is Elliot. :)  He's very nice.
She won a blue ribbon for her feather wall hanging and it now hangs in our dining room.  I love it when their art or crafts can serve double duty!

Next up will be the August recap and I'll be up to date!  Wonder how long that will last? :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer 2017

It always feels so awkward trying to write after such a long break.  I really don't want to give up completely on this blog though, so here goes.

This summer has been full of all kinds of goodness!

There was cousin time.....

along with honorary cousins......

princess camp......

in which Kate got to be a helper this year!

Callie got to take a trip to Florida with a friend!  I was just a teeeny bit jealous!

There was a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo with our field trip buddies, one of whom is now employed by the zoo and so we got free admission and all the rides were free!  It was so much fun being able to say "yes" to everything!

I just love this picture!  All kinds of happy!!

There was all kind of picture taking.  Some serious.....

some not so serious!!

And there was one epic hair cut!!  All this in the month of June.

I mostly shuttled Callie back and forth to her first job at a local ice cream shop.  She has been a hard worker and getting lots of hours.  I also did some sewing, mostly pillow covers, curtains that should have been hemmed YEARS ago and some quick little crafts.  I also did a little bit of gardening and weeding of flowerbeds.  Mostly just weeding though.

I read A LOT!  I started with All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Oh my!  I absolutely loved it.  It is such a different type of WWII story than I had read before and the writing was just beautiful.  Definitely a favorite and one I will reread, which I don't do often.  I pre-read a couple of books to for the girls (Kate actually).  A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  Both were excellent.  I love books that make us think about how fortunate we are and how others in this world have to work much harder for things that we take for granted.  Like water.  A Long Walk to Water is the true story of a lost boy of Sudan and what he was able to accomplish as an adult to help the villages of Sudan after being adopted by an American family.  One of the things I love about Callie is that she still likes to hang out and listen and so both girls enjoyed these stories.  Kate really loved Wonder and we can't wait until the movie comes out in November.  Hopefully, they will stay true to the book!

I also read Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton and I'm almost finished with Mere Christianity.  These two books really deserve a post of their own.  And they just might get it.  For now, suffice it to say that everyone should read these books.  Yes, everyone!!

Honorable mention books that I read are The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and Surf Shack: Laid Back Living by the Water, a decorating/lifestyle book.  I enjoyed them all but Peace Like a River did not quite end the way I thought it should.  It was still a very good book, though.  

Reading for fun is the best way (although I wouldn't turn down a trip to Hawaii) to just chill after finishing up our school year.  I read all through the year, but when we aren't doing school I can read a lot more and with out feeling like I "should be" reading anything in particular.  Some of these were read in July and August.  I don't read that fast!

Stay tuned for the rest of the summer's highlights and our back to school post!

{Thank you to Callie for taking the majority of these pictures and letting me use them!}

Friday, May 26, 2017

Callie's Acting Debut

It should not have been a surprise.

Her whole childhood was spent reading stories, watching stories and then acting out those stories.  The most memorable is when she was Laura Ingalls of "Little House on the Prairie."  I don't remember exactly how old she was, maybe around 5, but if we called her by her name she wouldn't answer.  She called us "Ma" and "Pa"  and would pretend that her bed was her covered wagon.  When we would go somewhere in the car and we would come to a stop sign she would say "Whoa."  She had the clothes too and wore them everywhere we would let her.

Towards the end of last summer Callie "suddenly" wanted to get into acting.  All of these years it's been nothing but ballet and suddenly, seemingly overnight, she was dying to be in a play.  Sounds simple enough, but we are just far enough away from Indianapolis that most of the places we knew about were just too far away at the time.  There was also the stipulation that she did NOT want to sing, just act.  Want to know what most groups do?  Yep, musicals.  Little did we know that right under our noses was a school that does a little bit of everything.  I thought they only provided dance and gymnastics, but they also do acting and musical theater classes separately.  Callie could take an acting class, be in a play and not have to sing her parts!

She signed up in January for the spring semester.  The play was Doctor Dolittle and Callie was cast as....Doctor Dolittle!

It was a very small class and a very low key production which really was perfect for her first time.  She was nervous enough as it was so low key was perfect!

She was in every scene and had a lot of lines to memorize and she did great!!  It was so much fun watching her!

 I can't wait to see what she does next.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Road Trip Preparations

Apparently the most important things to get done before a road trip south is....pick out the right southern book and do some sewing!  I seem to have developed not only a "book by a southern author" tradition, but also a "I have to sew something before we leave" tradition.

Forget toothbrushes and toothpaste, surely something, anything neeeeds to be sewn!

We try to picnic as much as we can to save money so I thought the Picnic Rolls in Amanda Soule's The Rhythm of Family book would be perfect.  I had enough fabric on hand, thanks to a wonderful friend who recently was downsizing her stash.  That whale fabric is left over from a pair of pajamas I made for Kate a couple of years ago.  Isn't it perfect??  I can't wait to have a picnic on the beach with these!!  I also had enough because I made them smaller than the ones in the book.  They really don't even need to be as wide as these.  They will hold a set of silverware and a napkin and there is an extra spot for anything else we might decide to add.  It would be fun to add a surprise candy or granola bar.  This is a super easy project and came together really fast.  The last three were even faster than the first when I figured out a couple of shortcuts.

I'm looking forward to reading Grisham again.  I absolutely loved his first books when Cameron and I were first married, The Firm and Pelican Brief, and I think I liked most of  his others too, but somewhere along the way I stopped reading them and haven't read his last several books.  This one takes place in Virginia which is not where we are going, but it is the South so that's close enough!

Now I'd better go pack the "non-essentials." ;)