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This is what you get for asking a question.  Answers!  I’m amazed how much is in one of three categories: Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Classics.  I love my geeky friends.
Me:  Asking a really loaded question: What books do you think are absolutely necessary reading for a seventh grade boy? I was going to make a list for him to go to when I won’t let him on the electronic devices.
Ender’s Game. The Hobbit. Hatchet.
Well — I’d start with the classics:  the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter, the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. Robert Heinlein (Have Space Suit Will Travel and Space Cadet in particular).  Jack London’s Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf. HG Wells, Jules Verne, and Arthur Conan Doyle (esp. The Lost World).  I could keep going … 🙂
Me: The Hobbit is on my list, we’ve done Prydain a LOT and it was a big hit.  No Heinlein, because it gets weirder and more mature if he wants to read more of it.  Did I say weird??  Harry Potter could use a bit more reading.  We’ve only let him at the first movie.  Thanks!
Me: The good news is, he’s read a lot of the books that are recommended on different lists
– I second “Ender’s Game” – great great book
The Bobby Pentagon series is a good read as well.
Narnia?  Enders game. Ray bradbury martian chronicles.  Anne mccafferty dragon riders of pern. Susan cooper the dark is rising series. 1980 s tom swift by … Victor appleton?
Belgariad series by David endings.
The Riddle Master of Hed series.  🙂
there’s so many Heinlein juveniles, he doesn’t have to get into the adult stuff. But as long as we’re there, Asimov is safe and easily obtainable. so much good stuff…
I read hardy boys.
Tom and Huck (there is some language but better he learn it from Sam Clemens than others)
Perhaps everything that Jules Verne wrote?  The Book of Proverbs is a good one:  “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.”
He might like Asimov’s “Foundation” series, although a few more years and he might like it even more.
Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy and the Prydain Chronicles were absolutely my favorites in that general age range, possibly more so than Tolkien’s work. Somewhere around those times I rather enjoyed The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and I think some other books by that author, but for some reason can barely remember what it was about other than magic and the fae in the modern British Isles. Roald Dahl’s works I was also rather fond of, but I have an impression that they are for a slightly younger age. For some good pulp sci fi adventure, I am currently finishing off the third of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series and they would be a pretty good fit (and old enough to be in the public domain and on Project Gutenberg)
My son, who is going into 7th grade is into “Sherlock Holmes” at the moment.  He just finished “The Hunger Games” a few months back and I’m trying to get him into “Lord of the Rings”, or start him out on “The Hobbit”, but he’s not really into that kind of thing.  Some other good ones are “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the good ol classic, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Oliver Twist”, “David Copperfield”.  I could go on and on and on.  Hope this helps…and hopefully I haven’t listed a bunch of things he’s already read.  Oh and maybe some Charles Dickens?  Okay, I’m done for now.
We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, by Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons series) and Carry on Mr. Bowditch… can’t recall author at moment…  I’ll post more later.  I am a book aholic, ya know!! 😉
Has he read the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore?  Our Thomas absolutely loved all of the books and was so sad when he had finished the adventure!!!
Me: So many good suggestions!!!  You are all right on!  I think the boys have Narnia memorized.  We have a cd set with Patrick Stewart and Kenneth Brannagh.  Thanks everyone!  I thought of Hitchhiker’s Guide, too.
Ok, now type this up and message it on your wall.  thes are awesome suggestions!
Eddings, Belgariad series.
Red Badge of Courage
Where the Red Fern Grows
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So… that last post was in September.  I was wondering how long it had been.  Ouch.  It’s February.  Oops.

I have been dying to blog lately, but life keeps getting in the way.  In fact, I can’t really participate in my beloved book club, because I can’t even finish the books I’m working on right now, and they are all good books I WANT to FINISH.  And then people give me more books, for my birthday, and for Christmas.  And then my dear toddler person decides that staying up all night would be fun, and getting up early would also be fun.  Wheee.

Now she is potty training and doing quite well at it.  However, she is waking up early again.  This morning she woke up early because the cat jumped on her at 5:30 am.  The cat?  What cat you say?  Our neighbors gave us a cat.  She thinks she’s a doggy, and she even herds chickens back into their pen.  Chickens?  Yes, we do own only a townhome, but we have now six chickens, after this weekend craziness of going to the animal rescue in our area to grab a couple more.  I own a zoo.  Good thing my husband draws the line at creepy crawlies, because a young man at our house thought the Reptile Zoo was the best thing going.

Ok, back to books.  See?  This is the problem: Parental ADHD.  It’s serious.

I am currently reading several books, but I have had a lot of grading to do, too, so I’m not making as much progress as I would like.  For my birthday I recieved A Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien, which is absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to finish all 1000 pages, but I was rudely interrupted by The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Also amazing, but in a completely different kind of way.  His writing is amazing in a truly literate sort of way, whereas hers is amazing because of the ideas it brings up for the reader to think about.  His does that, too, but there’s a big difference in how they go about it. fter The Hunger Games, I thought, phew, I finished that one, I dare not try the other two in the trilogy, or I’ll never get back to A Father’s Tale.  And then my dear, dear brother in law thought it would be funny to lend them to me.  I am NOT reading them right now, but I am one of those people who HAS to skip to the end, so I did peruse them.  I hear some folks don’t like how it ends, but I thought it was probably the most realistic part of the whole series.  The author has done some work with the affects of war on children, and I think the series reflects that, and is therefore fascinating.  I hope the movie does it any kind of justice next month.  I will have to give both of these books their own time here, when I’m actually done with them.  That probably means July 2012 if I’m lucky.

Ever notice how there will be a drought of movies, tv shows and sometimes books, and then a huge flood of good stuff?  Lately?  SO MUCH GOOD STUFF.  I can’t keep track of tv shows and movies, either.  Sure, there’s tons of stupid shows and movies, too, but the good stuff is SO GOOD.  Usually it’s the geeky stuff.

I’m always searching for answers to the curve balls my children throw at me, so currently all reading is at a halt until I finish Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.  In my many travels to different types of professionals, I discovered this book.  One of my children will be tested for dyslexia later this month, and I’m looking forward to results, but at this point I’m also just going forward as if that child did indeed have dyslexia.  I have it on my Kindle Fire (which my brother in law also gave “our family”, not “me”), and it is taking me a while, but I do love highlighting all the parts I want my partner in crime to read, since he never reads the books I suggest.  I wonder if this crazy scheme of mine will work?

Some of “my” reading time is taken up with reading to young children, also.  For the second time, we appear to be moving rapidly through two series at once, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We’ve been through The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis too many times to count, so I’m trying to get them to listen to these all on CD, and today I picked up another recommendation, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.   So much good literature, why in the world did they invent things like SpongeBob books?  Really?

We’ve been having quite an interesting year around here, and I won’t get into that here, because it would be a WAT (wild-ass tangent, as we call them around here), and that would take away from the purpose of this blog.  Let’s just say life is one heck of an adventure and that things just keep getting more interesting.   Life is giving me a doctorate in something, but I’m not sure what yet.

Because we are having quite a year, I have decided to make a list of goals for this year in our homeschooling, especially the booklists from the curriculum I love, but I’ve decided not to follow it, because I need more flexibility to leave the house at inopportune moments.   Now I have “centers” posted on the fridge, and I try to remind them to do a fairly decent amount of work and their scouting badgework, and that covers quite a bit, really.  So far, I like it.  I feel a little weird about it, but I like it.  I think the kids do, too.  The principal seems ok with it. 🙂

I really hope to be blogging some more soon, but please, please don’t hold your breath.  I don’t want you to pass out.

On with life!

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I keep thinking, I should blog about this book and that book and that book… and I don’t.  So I’ll let you know what I’m reading instead, and you can call me nuts if you want to.

The Mislabeled Child:  A very, very good book I haven’t finished yet.  It will explain everything about all kinds of educational and behavioral quirks in kids.  It even explained my unexplainable problem with math and grammar and IKEA furniture.  I kid you not.  If you are at all interested in learning and learning styles, that book is a must read.  The resources in the back cover practically every book on kids I’ve ever read, and strangely, the people who wrote it live two or three cities south of us.  I may be dropping in on them sometime for my nine year old.

Creative Homeschooling:  This book was written mostly for those who are homeschooling gifted children.  It was mentioned in Hothouse Kids, and I was surprised to find it at the library.  It is quite good and lists a lot of information about giftedness and homeschooling that would normally take about 3-5 books to find.

A Dance With Dragons:  Not recommended reading for the faint of heart.  It is huge and it has very inappropriate material snuck in there with a great plot.  I probably would not continue reading it because the sexuality is just a bit much at this point (read: twisted), but I really must know what happens to my favorite characters.  The HBO series Game of Thrones is re-enacting this book series, and they are pretty darned accurate.  I had to stop watching because my imagination is bad enough, thanks, I don’t need to watch someone else’s.  He’s an excellent writer, George RR Martin, but he’s no Tolkein, like some people compare him to.  I think that’s rotten.  Tolkein’s writing was heroic and beautiful.  This is Tolkein in the gutter.  Still great writing, super fun characters, but really gross descriptions at times.

Jane Eyre:  Our book club is starting off its second year with one of my all time favorites.  I had to read it in 12th grade in English, and I fell in love.  It is such a beautiful love story!  I am excited to re-read it for the third time, but I have so many other things to read!

Large Family Logistics:  This one I really need to get back from a friend, so I can give this copy back to my other friend.  It is such a helpful book for home management that I really will never need another book on that subject ever again.

Eliminate Chaos:  The best picture book on how to clean up room by room.  I will blog it someday.  I like that she also talks about downsizing, organizing computer files (like pictures), and organizing the tossing the things that are taking up room and have emotional attachment.  It’s by a local author, too.

All the cool people live near Seattle.  Just sayin’.

Because homeschooling is starting up again and we have a zillion activities planned for the kids (this after I bowed out of most of my leadership committments this year), I will have to start managing my time better.  Today, for instance, there is soccer practice, but I think I can sneak in a grocery run while it’s happening.  I printed out google calendars til Thanksgiving.  This time of year, I have to think in chunks.  From Sept 1-Thanksgiving is a chunk I can handle.  It has a finish line and is the busiest time of year.  Then nothing goes crazy again til May.

Off we go!  May this school year be filled with many blessings and good books!

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My problem with this blog is that I appear to be maniacally reading and not really wanting to stop long enough to write!  I think I shall put here a list of the titles I’ve been reading, and then I’ll get back to them and say something nice and give you a little taste of what’s in them.

First of all, I went to almost all of those homesteading classes.  The first was probably the best!  I didn’t get to the permaculture/edible landscaping class, and I wish I had, but I did get the list of resources to peruse.  I learned that I really needed to clean up the chicken pen, so guess what I did for my 4th of July weekend? 🙂

Also, our book club has continued reading.  The Jesuit Guide To Almost Everything is awesome, and so is The Surrendered Wife.  I’ve read Wild at Heart before, but we’re doing it again with The Surrendered Wife, to better understand our husbands and our marriages.  It’s excellent.

Then there are two other books.  One that I REALLY enjoyed is called Quarter Acre Farm.  It is hilarious and educational, and about gardening.  What’s not to like?

The last is one I’m beginning without having finished other things.  It is called The Little Way of Homeschooling, and is a collection of stories about Catholic unschooling families.  It’s really neat so far!

One more book, which is self-published, is called Entropy Academy.  Alison Bernhoft used to live in our area, but moved to Ojai, CA.  What a lost treasure she is!  Her book about her life journey with homeschooling as the focus is so inspiring in a “I didn’t know what we were doing half the time, but look, it turned out great!” kind of way.

I didn’t realize how much reading I have been doing!  Holy Schmoley!

I will continue this blog some more this month, so stay tuned.

If you like funny Catholic homeschooling blogs, then you need to check out Simcha Fischer’s blog.  Gosh is she funny.

 

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I know I read this book in 9th grade, Mrs. Patterson’s class.  I remember loving the book, but I didn’t remember why.  I also remember we watched the movie in class. And that is where my freshman year went horribly wrong.  It appears I look just like the actress who played Scout, or Jean Louise Finch.  So every time I walked down the hall for quite some time, boys would screech “Jeeeen Louiiiiise”!!!  I hated my life.  Of course, it wasn’t the book’s fault.  And of course, that was not even close to the last time I heard nasty names in the hallway.  You could not pay me enough to go to high school again.

For my book club, we are reading To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I am very, very much enjoying it.  It’s easy and fun to read, and gives me a view of the South and how people thought, and how that was all very normal to them.  It’s just such an amazing book.  Very well written plot all around, too.  I love how there are several substories.  I also love how the children’s questions, sometimes rude questions, are met by mild eyebrow-raising by the adults.  They are so funny as they patiently explain things, like the fact that their cook, Calpurnia, speaks one way among her fellow “colored” and in a more educated tone with the white folk.

That Calpurnia lead a modest double life never dawned on me.  The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages.

“Cal,” I asked, “why do you talk nigger-talk to the — to your folks when you know it’s not right?”

“That doesn’t mean you hafta talk that way when you know better,” said Jem.

Calpurnia tilted her hat and scratched her head, then pressed her hat down carefully over her ears.  “It’s right hard to say,” she said.  “Suppose you and Scout talked colored-folks’ talk at home — it’d be out of place, wouldn’t it?  Now what if I talked white-folks’ talk at church, and with my neighbors?  They’d think I was puttin’ on airs to beat Moses.”

“But Cal, you know better,” I said. 

It’s not necessary to tell all you know.  It’s not ladylike– in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do.  It aggravates ’em.  You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.”  (Pg. 143

I think that’s true of when you are talking with a lot of people.  Foster care, religion, politics.  Calpurnia was pretty smart.  The older I get the more I learn not to open my mouth, for all the good it will do.

It is, of course, also a frustrating book, because of the injustice of it all.  There are so many paths this book took, all at the same time.  Justice is a funny thing.  Ultimate justice should definitely be left up to God.  He knows what He’s doing, in the long run.  I think our modern mindset leads us to believe we must make people think like we do, instead of just shrugging our shoulders when we disagree with others.  The calm nature of the most intelligent adults in this book show me something I think maybe we’ve lost.  Or maybe it’s because most people live in busy cities.  Life sure used to slow down and think more, at least.  We need to do that.

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When we got married, 11.5 years ago, let’s just say I didn’t know much about cooking.  It wasn’t that my mom didn’t try, and yes, I could cook pancakes and spaghetti.  It is not very fun, though, to cook for one person.  I mostly ate pasta-roni with a little extra chicken or peas mixed in.  My husband-to-be was somewhat appalled.  He had learned to cook with his friends.  They had a game (I think this was in high school), where five kids would head into the store and buy an ingredient.  When they came out, they had to figure out how to make a meal they’d all eat.  Fun game, huh?  I should add that he wooed me with back rubs and food.  It worked very, very well.  If a man wants a wife, cooking may really help. I know, not traditional, but totally works on us.  If you are not a jerk.  I hear even jerks can cook.  Anyway….

I am making a list of the best cookbooks I keep coming back to.  This will make up for my complete lack of blogging.  Tonight I made meatloaf and based it on a recipe from a book my mom gave me for my birthday one year.  It is called Blue Ribbon Recipes, 693 Award-Winners from America’s State and County Fairs, by Barbara Greenman.  YUM.  There no bad recipes here, I promise.  LOTS of variety, too.

“Father of the Fairs:  In 1807, Elkanah Watson, a New England patriot and farmer, earned the title ‘Father of U.S. Agricultural Fairs,’  by producing the first small exhibit of sheep under an elm tree in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.” Pg. 4.

Another favorite is The Pioneer Woman Cooks. If you have never read her blog, go to www.thepioneerwoman.com right now.  She is seriously talented with words, cooking, and photography.  And I love ranch life, even if I can’t have it.  The time she took pictures of the vet and the boys shoving a uterus back into a cow, I loved it, because I’ve seen that event in real life as a small child.  Some people seriously complained that it ruined their coffee that morning to see such things, which took me by surprise as much as her.  So I feel a kinship there.

I LOVE her recipes.  They contain an obscene amount of butter.  Yay, butter.

About the cinnamon rolls on page 36: “If ou begin making these for your friends and family during the holidays, I promise you this: you’ll become famous.  And, on a less positive note, people will forget everything else you’ve ever accomplished in your life.  From that moment on, you’ll be known — and loved — only for your cinnamon rolls.

But don’t worry.  You’ll get used to it!”

Fix It and Forget It, Feasting With Your Slow Cooker, by Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good and all sequels are worth having around the house when you are in a hurry that week and need to plan ahead.  It’s also good for party recipes.  I was handed it by the mom of a kid I tutored eons ago, and I’m so glad.  I’m sure my mom would have sent it eventually, but it’s wonderful.  Pepsi pot roast was a big hit.  You’d be surprised what you can cook in a pot.  Like corned beef! Or hot chocolate!  Or cider!  Or seven-layer bars.  I burned those this week, but would you believe they turned out like over-toasted marshmallows?  I took the crock pot recipe and put them under the broiler.  I thought three minutes was not enough.  Oops.  Still extremely edible.

The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book is a staple.  You have to have that one in the house, in case you forget how to make deviled eggs, how long to boil eggs, how long to cook potatoes, what a basic pancake or waffle recipe entails without a mix, or how long to cook a leg of lamb.  You just never know when these things will come up. All those things are still happening to me.   It’s the best basic cookbook ever.

One more I keep coming back to:  “What’s For Dinner, Mom?” by Lorrie Flem.  She is a local author and mom of a large family.  Because she is the mom of a large family, she is good at cooking for one, and giving advice to those of us who didn’t have much experience with the domestic arts.  For more on what she publishes, go to www.TEACHMagazine.com.  She is awesome, has a magazine, and you can rent one of their beach houses on the Washington coast.  We did so in a large group, and they were lovely.

Pp. 21-22, on first time experiences bulk cooking:

“One day I decided that since I was going to make a batch of macaroni & cheese, it made sense to make a couple extra for the freezer.  I carefully followed the recipe and measured out 24 cups of macaroni.

As I waited for the noodle water to boil, I cut up the cheese, made the sauce, and set out the pans.  When it did begin to boil, I noticed that the pasta needed more and more water added.  When the pasta was finally cooked, I was horrified to realize that my huge stockpot was barely able to contain all the macaroni, and yet I still needed to add the other ingredients!

I still think it is funny that I put in 24 cups of uncooked pasta and the recipe intended for me ot use cooked pasta :).  Believe me when I say that there is a HUGE difference between the two forms!

My brother-in-law, Ty, was called into service and he helped in teh rescue attempt for the macaroni & cheese.  We still laughingly reminisce about what he was thinking as a newlywed, stirring with a 6-foot wooden paddle in the plastic bin that was substituting for a bowl, since I didin’t own one that would hold this amount!  He was thinking something along the lines that this was more work than just cooking a different meal every night!  To top it off, he preferred the store-bought version to our family’s favorite recipe.  The indignity of it all!”

So there you have it, my list of favorite cookbooks.  I can really cook now, and that’s a really neat thing to be able to say.

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I went to Women of Faith in Seattle the weekend of Halloween, but I’ve been meaning to post about it ever since.  Women of Faith is a really neat event/tour which is a lot like a retreat.  Not at all a silent retreat.  It is non-denominational Protestant.  It does a good job of keeping its focus, which is to uplift women, band them together under the banner of Christ, and help them heal if they need it.  As far as I can tell, every woman has some sort of pain that needs healing, but sometimes it’s hard to find for whatever reason.  It’s nice to have an uplifting place, awesome speakers, and a feeling that you can be an instrument of God, even if you are feeling broken.  The message is that God loves you, really loves you, and you can trust that He knows what is good for you, even if it doesn’t look very fantastic at the time.

There were several speakers, but I will highlight my favorites.  They are my favorites because they reminded me of all sorts of people.  I kept thinking, “Oh!  I wish so-and-so were here!” over and over!  It was getting silly.  In fact, the one I wanted most to hear what they were saying was my husband.  Men need things, too!  But this conference focused on women’s problems, and for good reason.  We have particular problems, like mood swings!  Anyway, let me just go ahead and highlight them.

1.  My favorite was Sheila Walsh.  She has several books.  In looking through the one I bought, Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God, I realized that her speaking and singing are better than her writing, but I’m still glad she wrote as well.  Her work is all about trusting in God’s time and God’s process.  She describes her own life and then leads people to think about their own.  In hers, her greatest fear coming true was her greatest blessing and what set her on her current path of bringing hope to broken women.  She is amazingly truthful, and her slight Scottish brogue really makes her a treat to listen to.

2.  Marcus Buckingham and Sheila Walsh were the main speakers all day Friday.  Marcus is equally funny, and they are a good team because they share the same generally dry sense of humor, since he’s from Britain.  His book is called Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently.  He was very interesting because he used to work for the Gallup Poll organization, and he saw a lot of trends over time.  He pointed out things that people say during interviews, and what made certain people stand out.  He found that he was fascinated by people who love what they do and are good at it, and he likes to find out how they became successful.   Adding the Christian perspective on success (service, and finding what God’s purpose is for you), makes his ideas extremely valuable and refreshing.

Karen James wrote Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy.  She spoke of grief, and of how Jesus holds us through unspeakable grief.  She was a news reporter, and her husband loved climbing.  He was experienced and she just could not believe he wouldn’t be coming back.  Then she got to watch the whole drama unfold on CNN.  How much worse could a death be?  However, his introduction of Christianity in her life was what brought her through her grief.  I did not read her book yet, but I thought of grief, and how strong it is, and how you cannot see out of it when you are inside it.  Hope can make all the difference until you can see your path again.

Luci Swindoll wrote Doing Life Differently: The Art of Living with Imagination.  She cracks me up as a speaker.  She is probably my mom’s age, and she is so happy.  So joyful and vibrant and so present.  I love people like her.  Ultimately I think her work is about trusting God also, but hers is more about finding the joy and letting go and letting God.  I wanted to spend more time reading her work, but I did very much enjoy her speaking.  She was very relaxing and fun.  It takes all kinds.

There were other speakers and many talented singers and I enjoyed hearing from them all.  I didn’t feel very comfortable with one of them, but I think her brand of feminist Christian just rubs me the wrong way.  I’m sure her work speaks to some people, just not me.  Another woman’s talent was one woman plays.  She was truly amazing at taking the personal problems of women and making them something all women could understand, and possibly laugh at in themselves.  It was very emotional and beautiful.

If anyone has thought about going or has been invited to Women of Faith, I would encourage them to go at least once.  It really is uplifting, not in the way I’ve enjoyed at Catholic retreats, but in a way that speaks to many, many people, helps them in their struggles, and brings them closer to Christ than they had been before.

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