HA! One of life’s great ironies! I didn’t let you know!!

(please see previous post)


still thinking….

I am currently going through a reading phase.  I go through a lot of phases. (Blogging phases, type 4 phases, homeschool methods, etc, etc, etc…..) Right now, I am on an education phase, and I am reading education books. I always read, but sometimes I read things that are just time wasters. Recently I took a break from education books and picked up a Dickens book “Our Mutual Friend”. I think Charles Dickens is the most amazing writer EVER!! I do love Shakespeare but sometimes… the going gets pretty tough. He seems to take a lot of work to understand.  Dickens is certain not a light read, but I don’t seem to get lost in the words the way I do with Shakespeare. I could compare it to the four gospels verses any letter of Paul’s.

So while on a trip to the library I picked up several books on Dickens life, and also a book on getting the most from you reading. (If anyone has any suggestions on books that help you get the most from your reading, send them my way, I might flip through them.)  In looking for books I came across a book I have read before.  It is called” The Well Educated Mind”. I love the ideas the book has on writing.  “We write to remember”, the book said.  I keep a commonplace book, in fact I keep several.  I have yet to finish even one of them. I just buy a new one when I need inspiration to get back into a reading phase.

My commonplace book... one of many unfinished, but started


So, I do try to write, but the phase usually ends with the same type of burst that it started with, explosive and short lived, somewhat fireworkish.  While reading,  I also learned, “What we summarize becomes our own.”  But who wants to read a book summary?  I don’t.  I do love to read other people’s thoughts on books they have read. (Hence my addiction to Goodreads.com…. I could get a lot more reading done if I just quit reading what others have to say about the book I am currently reading….waste_of_time.)

Here is what “The Well Educated Mind” has to say about journaling or keeping a commonplace book:

“…the journal is the place where the reader takes external information and records it (through the use of quotes…); appropriates it through a summary, written in the reader’s own words; and then evaluates it through reflection and personal thought.  As you read you should follow this three-part process: jot down specific phrases, sentences, and paragraphs as you come across them; when you have finished your reading, go back and write a brief summary about what you’ve learned; and then write your own reactions, questions and thoughts.

In this way, the journal connects objective and subjective learning, and ideal described by Bronson Alcott in his own journal of 1834:

Education is that process by which thought is opened out of the soul,and associated with outward…things, is reflected back upon itself and thus made conscious of its reality and shape.  It is Self-Realization…. He who is seeking to know himself, should be ever seeking himself in external things, and by so doing will he be best able to find, and explore his inmost light.

I might write a summary of what I learned, thought, felt while reading Dickens…. and I might pass through the writing phase before I get any actual writing done.  But either way, I let you know.




I love books!

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES. Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare—does reading some of them count?

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger—my brother said this is the best book of all time

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez—started it….complete garbage!!!

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding—hated this book

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens —2nd best book of all time

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens—it’s all about the food

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo—why is this book #100??THE BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME!!

Where is the marking for if you OWN the book?  I would have done a lot better if they had that one.

I’m glad that they wait until dark to shoot off the fireworks.  For me it has nothing to do with the light, or that you really can’t see fireworks during the day. For me it is all about the fact that I cry during fireworks. I really do. When they set off fireworks and play the song “I’m Proud to be an American” (and they ALWAYS do) , I cry.

I glad no one can see me cry because then I would have to explain why I was crying, and I couldn’t do in in under 1000 words (possible even more), and no one wants to hear that much talking during the fireworks.  They want to lay down on a blanket and look up at the sky  and be transported to their own world of reminiscences of our great country.  I don’t think I could put it into a simple sentence what I feel on the Fourth of July.  I simply couldn’t explain my love for our country. I couldn’t do it during the fireworks.  I couldn’t explain to them that I read “Red Scarf Girl” , and I read Anne Frank’s diary, and I read “The Hiding Place” and I read “The Bridge at Andua”.  I learned that a bad form of government makes living a peaceful, happy life a lot harder, if not impossible.  I learned that my form of government, all though it is not perfect, it has the potential to be more perfect than anything we have yet  seen.

I also learned from further reading, that our founding fathers were inspired men, called to a great work, and chosen for a great mission of putting a form a government on the earth that is unlike any other because it took  from other forms of government the best of what it had to offer, and put those into a whole new form of government.  These men were great men who thought about government (and everything else in between).   These were men who who were honorable, noble and magnanimous. These were men who believed so much in what they were doing that they were willing to sacrifice everything.

Knowing all this sometimes leaves me feeling very small.  Can I offer anything to this great country?  Can I make any difference in today’s society?  Has it all been done, and now all I need to do is sit back and let the clock tick?

If I am so proud to be an American what am I doing about it?

I am trying to keep the stories of our founding alive for my children.  I am trying to teach them about the lives of our founders. I want them to know who they were and what kinds of people they really were.  I am trying to be  active in what’s happening in my town and in my community. I am trying to help by raising good people who want to do the right thing because it is right, and who actually know what the right thing is.

What are you doing?

use more glass

No matter how hard I try, I just cannot make a short blog post.  It’s just that I have all these things I want to say, and then after I have said 1/4 of what I want to say,  I have a long post. They all seem to go on and on….

P.S.- This picture is before my plastic craze.  I read the book  Boys Adrift.  After reading that I guarantee you will not let your children (especially your boys eat or drink from plastic). It is truly frightening what plastic does to boys bodies.  I have gotten rid of all the plastic that anyone could eat or drink from. At least I think I have… I am amazed at how much plastic is out there.  Everything is packaged in plastic. I still find plastic around my house. When I do, it hits the garbage immediately.


Sylvie, a reader asked:

I would like to ask you two questions if you don’t mind:
1. Do you have a written daily or weekly routine that you could share with me (including chores, bedtimes, individual time you spend with each of your children, meal preparation, etc…)?
2. How do you train your children to remember doing their chores? My 8 year old is perfect in this area, but my 5 year old and my 3 year old still need to be reminded to brush their teeth! I feel I should probably don’t need to wait until they turn 7 for them to remember on their own. How can I enforce chores without having to remind them? I tried chore cards, but I had to remind them to do their chore cards, so that was useless!

Here is my answer:

I don’t have it written down, but we all know the routine. At one time I had it written down, and on the fridge for all to see (no one ever looked at it).  I  think it fell on the floor and some one threw it away when they swept the floor.

I get up at 7:00 (I know, I know… if I would go to bed I could get up earlier then I could get up earlier.  I could say “working on that” but then I would have to say “working on that”  for the whole entire post, and I don’t want to do that. So there you have it.)

8:00 get family up

8:00 start breakfast

everyone gets ready for the day (get dressed, brush teeth, comb hair,  make bed and straighten room) Bub helps cook, Runty sets the table…We all eat breakfast

8:30 clean up breakfast

I do the dishes, Daniel, 11 drys and puts away, Miles, 13  picks up pergo and sweeps and mops it (this is most of the top floor of our house, so it is a pretty big job, and always needs to be done). Matthew, 15 cleans counter, and picks up, sweeps and mops kitchen tile. Hannah, 11 cleans front room.  Sarah 9, cleans library area (this is just off of the kitchen, a very small great room of sorts). One of the girls vacuums the front room and one vacuums the bedroom the girls share.  I vacuum the library area when I am done with the dishes. This system works really well because no one has to wait for a sibling to get their job done before they can do theirs.  I tried that before, and that doesn’t work. I like to keep an empty  laundry basket near by for quick pick ups.  We can just throw everything in the basket and put it away later.  This is especially good for the after lunch clean up.

Start school 9:00 with devotional (each person has a turn to conduct, they are in charge for one week,  we rotate from the top and work down) Devotional consist of song, prayer, thought, talk, scripture that we all memorize together, and thought, talk or story by me and closing song

9:30 circle time

10:00 start lessons – I start with the 4 year old, I do about 20 minutes with her, I then move up the line to the 7 yr.  I spend about 30 minutes with her, I then go to 9 yr, also 30 minutes, then 11 yr 40 minutes, 13 yr 30 minutes, 15 yr 30 minutes.  All times are approximate, if something is not clicking I will try to work with them more, if they are still enjoying the lesson and I can see that they need a little more of my time, I will stay with them.  If they are not in a learning frame of mind, I close up shop in a hurry.  There is always tomorrow.

12:00 lunchMatthew is helper for cooking, Daniel sets the table, Sarah and Hannah clear, Sarah wipes, Matthew does counter and tile, I do dishes, Daniel rinses, Miles sweeps pergo, and then everyone runs outside to play until 1:00

1:00 out loud reading time (usually everyone joins, they don’t have to, but they want to.  It depends on what I am reading whether the 16 will join or not)

2:00-4:00 finish up school, clean up- same as morning jobs

5:00 Bub helps with dinner, Daniel sets the table, Dinner clean up is exactly the same as breakfast and lunch clean up. Keeps fighting to a minimum. Everyone knows their job, so if it isn’t done, I know who didn’t do it.

(This picture is not intentionally here, really!! )

7:00 Family time (we usually read)

8:00 Everyone does their areas again.  I scour the sink.  We vacuum again.  I like to clean before we go to bed so we can wake up to it clean.

8:00 bed time (I shoot for 8:00 and typing this schedule has made me realize why we never get to bed at 8:00… I have got to start the clean up earlier!!)  from 11 yr and younger, in bed (I would love to write 8:05 kids asleep, but that would not be true!!! Maybe if I made them work longer and harder.)

9:00 bigger kids to bed (they don’t have to go to sleep, but they have to go to their room and be quiet.

That is the answer to question #1, the answer to question #2 is really easy: family work!

We all work together until it is done, if someone is working slow, then they can finish up by themselves while the others go out and play. I like to work together.  I think it builds unity.  The idea behind family work is that we are learning to work as a team.  I can see who really is working and who is not. We don’t have a welfare house, the idlers don’t eat the bread of the laborer here!  The idler gets to work one on one with me, and practice good habits.  That being said, I try to train my children in their jobs.  They know what is expected.  They know how to do them.

I don’t think kids can work by themselves well until after 8. And your comment says the same thing.

I don’t do chore cards either.  I use the power of the GROUP.  We brush our teeth together.  Well, the girls and then the boys.  We get dressed at the same time, we comb hair at the same time, we put away clothes at the same time.  I believe that good habits should be made.  I think it is easiest to make good habits when people know the routine.

And that is my day in a very large nutshell.

(And I have just realized that I must really like parenthesis because I seem to use them a lot and I feel they are completely under rated and under used, just like run-on sentences are not very often used, really when was the last time you saw one of those; I haven’t seen one for a very long time, not since I read the Declaration of Independence, I mean, there are a ton of run on sentence in  that thing (!!!), but I don’t think there are any parenthesis in it, and if I am wrong , you be sure to let me know.)

Books for Children

In my last post I recommended my favorite book. I have another book that I love.  It’s called Tending to the Heart of Virture.  This book recommends reading lots of fairy tales to children.  There are several reasons for this.  In fairy tales you call always tell who is good and who is not, and good always wins.  Second, fairy tales feed the imagination.  Third, fairy tales use symbolism, allegories, and metaphors.

We are living in a  culture in which metaphor is discarded for these so-called facts.  We train minds to detect these facts much as one breaks in a baseball glove.  Meanwhile, the imagination is neglected and is left unguarded and untrained.

From Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian

So if you want your children to learn good, bad, true, false, right and wrong, read lots of fairy tales.

Here are some of my favorite fairy tale books:

Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales

I read some where that this edition was more true to the original Dutch.  I don’t know Dutch, so I can’t tell you if that is true.  I can tell you that the language is beautiful and deep.  I love the pictures, also.  They are black and white drawings. (Word of warning: save the Red Shoes for an older, 12 or above, child!)

I bought some of the fairy tale books recommended in Tending to the Heart of Virture.  Here they are:

I love this book so far.  It has The Golden Key by George MacDonald, which is a really interesting read.

This is a fun book because it traces the story back to the oldest known version and tells a little of the history of the story. My copies don’t match the links because I went for the hardbound editions.

I also really like:

As you can see this is a subject that I could go on and on about, but I’ll save some of my thoughts for another day.