The power of a sky

See, the thing is, it’s very difficult to write blogs or read books when I have such exciting things in my life as this sky

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And these kids to teach.

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So forgive me if my blog suffers while I delve into a new and exciting life in a new and exciting place. Moving away from all my family to the Midwest to teach school is big, and quite exciting. Sometime I’ll be back! :)

Books for 2014 #8

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I’ve been keeping busy, that’s for sure! I’m up to 37 books or so, which is a nice bit ahead of schedule. Perhaps I can fit 60 or 70 into this year instead of 52. Wouldn’t that make me feel smart! :)

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Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Everyone knows this classic, so I won’t say much except that I enjoyed it a lot, as I always do, and that the unabridged version is quite long! But it was a fun read, nonetheless.

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The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash. This poet is, without a doubt, the most nonsensical, charming, and hilarious writer I’ve had the pleasure of reading. For example, “The Lord in his wisdom made the fly, and then forgot to tell us why.”

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Do You Think I’m Beautiful, by Angela Thomas. This book looks at the age old question of beauty, yes, and also much deeper at the love of God, and his complete acceptance of us. This was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m glad I took the time for it.

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Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. This delightful children’s book recounts the story of an utterly spoiled little wisp of a city girl getting dumped on a farm and transforming into a brown, stout child who is no longer hiding behind her aunt’s skirt every time she sees a dog. It is well written, and the story line is excellent.

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Big Mountain, Bigger God, by Duane and Cindy Mullett. I picked up this book because it is written by a family I have briefly met, and I wanted to know more about their story. This particular book tells about their oldest son’s second heart transplant, after surviving the first one, and also two rounds of cancer. It is full of miracles, highs and lows, and medical jargon, which of course interested me. :) This family has some incredible experiences to tell.

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The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis. In this one, Lucy and Edmond once more make it to Narnia, but this time with their cousin who is a complete terror. Such a terror, in fact, that he actually turns into a dragon for a while! Along with King Caspian, these three children set out to discover long lost Lords from Narnia, and along the way, they survive a sea serpent’s attack, the land where dreams come true, and have a narrow shave with a pool where everything turns to gold. They finally make it to the end of the world, which is a place so wonderful that I wish I could visit Narnia too now.

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Choosing To See, by Mary Beth Chapman. This is the story of how the Chapmans adopted three darling little girls from China, and their journey through grief and questions when the youngest girl was killed in a tragic accident.

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Miracles in the ER, by Robert D. Lesslie, M. D. I have read several others in this series this year, and loved them, and this one did not disappoint. It’s full of stories such as a patient coming coming in with four nails through his shoe, and writhing in pain, although when they removed the shoe, all of the nails had miraculously missed his foot.

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One Thousand Gifts Devotional, by Ann Voskamp. I had read Voskamp’s original book some time ago, and really loved it, so I knew this one would be good as well. It’s the same idea as “One Thousand Gifts”, just broken into sixty day-sized portions. It was an excellent nudge towards gratitude for me, since I forget so easily, and so often.

And that is it for this time. More coming later!

Books for 2014 #7

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Biking Across America by Paul Stutzman. Well, the title pretty much describes the content. That’s right, it’s the story of the author’s jaunt across the United States on a bicycle. He had some very interesting encounters and crazy experiences. However, I found the writing style a bit dry.

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Leota’s Garden, by Francine Rivers. This tells the story of an elderly lady who has nothing left to live for; her family is in shambles, her husband is long dead, and she has never told the secret that destroyed her family. However, through some unexpected encounters, the truth comes out, but only after it may be too late to do any good. I didn’t like it as much as some of her other works, but it was ok.

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Across China, by Peter Jenkins. I loved Jenkins’ books about walking across America, and expected to find this one as full of lovely and crazy people, and fun adventures. However, I was sadly disappointed. The author seems to have grown much more cynical since his previous works, and I did not enjoy this book very much. On the bright side, I did learn some cool things, like the fact that it is possible to freeze your eyeballs, and that it will make your vision hazy. Who knew!

Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes. This book is as delightful as “Across China” is not. This lovely memoir of growing up in a boarding house with lots of opinionated aunts, and an equally opinionated, although very sweet, mama is sure to be worth your time. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of this book.

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The Great and Terrible Quest, by Margaret Lovett. If you want a fairy tale full of brave knights, unsuspecting princes, courageous jugglers, and wise old women, this is just the thing for you. It has every element that a fairy tale ought to contain, and is sure to entertain.

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. This is a short book, in fact, I read the whole thing in the bathtub! Want to know how the neighborhood terrors can turn the annual Christmas pageant into the best one ever by blackmailing their ways into the cast? Then read on.

Of tears and unicorns

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Last night I was in the mood to do some drawing. So I sat at my desk, and this picture just asked to be drawn, so I obliged.

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Well, I tumbled into bed soon after, and proceeded to dream the most awful dream about my good friend dying and being buried before anyone even told me. Even worse, I was sure (due to some strange happenings) that he had been buried alive, and no matter how I pleaded and cried, nobody would pay any attention to that dreadful possibility. What a wretched, miserable dream! I was immensely relieved to wake up and discover it wasn’t true. But in the future, perhaps I should stick to drawing rainbows and butterflies at bedtime, then I might dream about unicorns and glitter instead, don’t you think?

Whew, glad that’s over!

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A while ago I wrote about a hundred day drawing challenge that I was doing with a friend. That’s right, draw something, anything, every day for a hundred days straight. I had no idea 100 was such a big number! :) But now it’s past, and I am glad! However, I am even more glad that I did it, and stretched my meager drawing skills a little more.

Following are a few of my personal favorites from the challenge. Nothing professional, but it was fun.

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Books for 2014 #6

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Mister God, This is Anna, by Flynn. Oh boy, I don’t even know how start describing this one. It is one of the staples of my library which should be reread every so often just to stimulate my brain again. It is the true story of a little girl named Anna, and Flynn, who found her roaming the streets at the age of four after running away from home. This is no ordinary little girl, however. The questions she asks, and the perception she has of “Mister God” blow my mind and stretch my imagination again and again.

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The Mistress of Shenstone, by Florence L. Barclay. I picked this one up because I had read another of Barclay’s novels and liked it, and also because I have a thing for old, fantastic, absurdly dramatic novels. This one did not disappoint. It is a classic fairy tale in “real life”, full of drama and anguish and love, with a perfectly happy ending.

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The Dry Divide, and Shaking the Nickel Bush, both by Ralph Moody.
I’ve told about at least one of Moody’s other titles this year already, and these two are part of the same set, telling his life story. In these volumes, Ralph leaves home and goes out west, looking for a cure for his diabetes. He ends up penniless, and driven to crazy adventures such as stunt riding for Hollywood movies, doing plaster busts of self-important businessmen, and even buying a mortgaged farm from a poor, abused widow, and turning it into a big profit. These books were great fun.

Books for 2014 #5

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First up is Stories For The Heart compiled by Alice Gray. This is a collection of short, inspirational stories, and since I’m a sucker for short stories, I decided to give it a go. Some of the stories were great, others, not so much.

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Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. Ahhh, where do I begin? I have read this book many times, and every time it is delightful. It is comprised of letters written by an orphan girl to her sponsor who is sending her to college, along with her crude sketches as illustrations. You can’t help but fall in love with Judy as she discovers the joys and perils of life outside an orphanage. Witty, charming, and engaging, this book is worth your time.

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Dear Enemy, also by Jean Webster. This book is the sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs. It is also a collection of letters, but this time written by Judy’s former roommate from college, addressed to Judy, her boyfriend, and a cranky scotch doctor who she affectionately dubs “Enemy”. This book recounts the ups and downs of Sally’s life as the matron of the very orphanage where Judy grew up! If you enjoy its prequel, this one will not disappoint.

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Let Me Be A Woman, by Elizabeth Elliot. This book was a bit of a different style than what I usually read, but it was well worth my time. It explores the joys of being feminine, versus feminist. It is a collection of notes Elizabeth wrote to her daughter that was about to be married, so it also contains lots of good, solid advice on how to be a godly wife or single woman.

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The Magician’s Nephew, by C. S. Lewis. Need I say more? :) This is the first in the Narnia series, so it tells the enchanting story of the little boy and little girl that discover Charn, and then see the making of Narnia, quite by accident, and meet Aslan, that fearsome and wonderful lion. Do yourself a favor, and curl up with an empty day, a plate of cookies, and this whole series. It is such fun!

Books for 2014 #4

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I haven’t posted my latest reads in a while, but I have been reading! Maybe I’ve just been reading so much that I don’t have time for such frivolous pursuits as blogging. At least, that’s what I like to think. :)

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“The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair. This book took me quite a while to wade through. It’s a horrifying account of the grotesque realities of the meat industry in Chicago in America’s early years, and also it retells the brutality of life for a family of immigrants that was lured to America with the promise of big wages. This book played a big part in the meat industry revolution in America, and I’m glad to have read it, and even more glad that I’m done with it. The writing style is gripping, and the content may well turn your stomach.

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“The Littles,” by John Peterson. This is a silly tale of a family of mice-like human creatures, and the way they survive in a world of big people. Cute and charming.

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“Garlic and Sapphires,” by Ruth Reichl. If “The Jungle” turns your stomach with its brutality, this book may very well turn your stomach too, but for much more delicious reasons. Written by the New York Times food critic, this book humorously relates the story of going undercover to get a better sample of what New York’s finest restaurants are like for ordinary people. It is full of outrageous wigs, mouthwatering food descriptions, glamorous restaurants, and the crazy people that make up our world, all written in a most captivating style. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun and delicious read.

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“The Tale of Despereaux,” by Kate DiCamillo. Need I say more? What a heroic little mouse, what true love, what a classic villain, and what pretty illustrations this fairy tale contains.

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“The Good Day Mice,” by Carol Beach York. I seem to have a thing for stories about mice lately, don’t I? This is an old book which I picked up recently, mostly for its antiquity, but the story ended up being quite fun as well. A little mouse gets captured by a boy for a pet, and his family risks life and limb to bring him back home. It is a charming story, as mouse stories tend to be.

And that is all for now. Stay tuned for more, because I’m still reading!

On babysitting four small children

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Recently my sister and I had the privilege? um, opportunity to babysit four children, ages six and under, for four days. Now, I babysit my nieces and nephews quite frequently, but I had never had charge over this many for this long. During those four days, I learned some very important things about mothering.

#1. Children produce COPIOUS amounts of pee and dirty dishes. Four soggy pull-ups in the morning, and many little accidents throughout the day, which I’m sure was partly due to the fact that two of my charges were two year-old boys.

#2. Children have no respect for morning people, or mornings, or people. One morning one of the kids woke me up at five-something requesting breakfast. Other mornings the four would be up bright and cheerful, yelling about their toys as we adults groggily tottered out of our rooms.

#3. I now have great respect for mothers who ever manage to dress up or wear makeup. Who knew it took so long to get four kids grime-free and presentable?! It’s basically like walking a minefield to get them all to the car without various accidents happening along the way.

#4. If anyone ever needs a personal comedian to have at their side throughout life, have a child.

#5. It’s impossible to stay mad at kids. They can be completely unreasonable and annoying, then the next minute they’ll melt your heart as they give you a few squeezes meant to be a “sherder massage”, or tell you that you are their favorite person in the whole world.

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Snowy days

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Snow here in North Carolina is a rare occurrence, so when it comes, we have to make the most of it!
Recently we had a lovely snowstorm, resulting in about eight inches of fluffy white goodness, so out came the coats and leggings and hats, and we prepared to party! We went hooding in a field with an old truck hood, scooping up laps full of snow, and getting soaked and happy. We went sledding down the neighbor’s hill with a piece of metal, since this is the south and we don’t have sleds! We made snowmen, and did photographs the Croods’ style, and came in to eat hot chili with red noses and icy ears. What a lovely day we had!

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Aren’t snowy woods just the prettiest thing ever?
When you ride the hood like a chariot, and go tumbling off head first into the icy layer just under the snow, sometimes bad things happen.

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And… Our Croods family photo. :)

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Winter, I love you.

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(Photo credits to grettagraphy )

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