Natalie’s Reading – February 2008

February 29, 2008 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket
The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket

Jonathan’s Reading – February 2008

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In the Kitchen (Andrew Lost #3) by J. C. Greenburg
Penny Star (Phonics Comics) by Brent Sudduth & Stu Harrison
Twisted Tales (Phonics Comics) by Kitty Richards and Fernando Juarez
Smart Boys (Phonics Comics) by Brent Sudduth & Geo Parkin

Noah’s Reading – February 2008

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Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

Josiah’s Reading – February 2008

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Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel
Dan of the Den (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Emily Fischer
Mig the Pig by Jacqui and Colin Hawkins
Pan and the Mad Man (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Laurie Detweiler and Ned Bustard
Pepin the Not-Big (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Ty and Emily Fischer
Ben and His Pen (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Emily Fischer
The Dog, the Hog, the Rat, the Ram, the Hen, and the Big, Big Din (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Emily Fischer
The Rim of the Map (Veritas Phonics Museum) by Eric Vanderhoof
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Read Alouds – February 2008

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Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn and Linda Washington
Eldest by Christopher Paolini (to Noah)
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery (to Natalie)
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Seeing Stone (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 2) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
Lucinda’s Secret (Spiderwick Chronicles #3) by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
The Ironwood Tree (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 4) by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
The Wrath of Mulgarath (Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 5) by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst
Dry Bones and Other Fossils by Gary Parker
Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Broken dryers and sippy cups

Categories: Kid Stuff , This and That | 3 Comments  

The two items mentioned in the title may seem completely unrelated, but they’re not.

Our dryer went kaput last night. It had been stumbling along, half-drying clothes for a few days, during which I alternated between telling myself, “There’s something wrong with the dryer; it’s gonna quit any day” and complete denial: “It’s just your imagination. That was a really big load – it’s completely normal to have to re-start the dryer four times to get the seams in your jeans to dry completely.”

Then, last night, when I sent Natalie downstairs with a load of damp laundry to ask Kevin to put them back in, he came up and told me that the dryer would no longer turn on. Shoot.

I called the repairman this morning, expecting to hear that I would have to wait until Monday, but he actually showed up before noon! He followed Kevin downstairs and took the dryer away from the wall and then proceeded to pull a sippy cup out of the dryer vent that leads out of the house. A sippy cup with a little Precious Moments girl on it – the kind we haven’t used since we first moved into the house in 2000. Because our eleven-year-old daughter was then four and still used sippy cups. And obviously she also liked stuffing them down the dryer vent from it’s little opening next to the back porch.

The sippy cup didn’t kill our dryer, however, though it might have sped up it’s demise. I am still not sure what it was that the guy replaced, but it took him all of about ten minutes and cost a whopping $93.75.

How to Be Good

February 28, 2008 Categories: Books , Reviews | 4 Comments  


I’m pretty sure I was introduced to Nick Hornby by Staci at Writing and Living. I read A Long Way Down last year, and so when I saw How to Be Good sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, I had to pick it up.

How to Be Good is the story of Katie Carr, a doctor in England. She’s an unhappily married mother of two and isn’t sure she wants to be married anymore. She’s always considered herself a good person – after all, she is a doctor – and she doesn’t want to be responsible for damaging her children. Her husband isn’t very easy to live with, though. He writes a column called “The Angriest Man in Town” – and the title fits. She can’t stand him, and doesn’t want to live with him anymore.

Then her husband undergoes a spiritual transformation, and decides to start living as if he actually believes all the things that liberals (and Katie, herself) like to talk about: the need to do something about the homeless, that their lifestyle is too materialistic, etc. He stops being nasty and starts being good, and now Katie wants the angry man back.

Hornby is extremely funny – I laughed out loud several times while reading this – but he also makes you think. I wasn’t quite thrilled with the ending (hence the 4 stars instead of 5), but I still recommend this.

James Lipton Meme

February 27, 2008 Categories: Memes & Quizzes | 3 Comments  

I’ve always liked watching Inside the Actor’s Studio hosted by James Lipton, and the best part is the questions he asks each guest at the end of the interview. Someone has turned those questions into a meme, which I saw at Books on the Brain.

1. What is your favorite word? susurrus, scrumptious, vivid

2. What is your least favorite word? “Like” when used in place of said. “I was like, ‘Duh!’ You know?” Ugh. Or the word “just” thrown into a prayer. “Lord, we’re asking that you would “just” be with us…”

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Books and music.

4. What turns you off? Whining. Being only half-listened to.

5. What is your favorite curse word? I try not to curse, but I’ve been known to say “crap” every once in a while. My typing teacher used to say “sh-aving cream” – drawing the “sh” sound out for a long time, of course. ;)

6. What sound or noise do you love? Rain. Josh Groban’s voice. Silence.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? The fake crying sound my kids make when they’re mad at each other and trying to get my attention. Teeth scraping on a fork.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Writer, bookstore owner.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Anything in the medical profession. I’m much too squeamish, and I wouldn’t want to be that responsible for other people’s health.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? After “Well done, good and faithful servant” – I suppose, “Here’s the library!”

Let me know if you play along!

Winter Haven

February 26, 2008 Categories: Books , Reviews | 6 Comments  


One of the really cool things about my weekend away was that I had a lot of time to read. I finished one book (Winter Haven) and started and finished two more: How to Be Good by Nick Hornby (review coming soon) and Songs of Innocence and Experience (related post here.)

When I started Athol Dickson’s Winter Haven, I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to love it as much as I did The Cure and River Rising. Isn’t that always a concern when you’re reading an author you love? That you might be disappointed? Well, I wasn’t.

Winter Haven is the story of Vera Gamble. Single and in her 20s, Vera is working in Texas when she receives a phone call that will change her life. The sheriff of the town Winter Haven, Maine – a small island off the coast – is calling to tell her that her brother’s body has washed up on shore. Siggy, an autistic teenager, had disappeared 13 years previously, and had never been found or heard from again. The fact that he has been found after all these years is only Vera’s first surprise.

When Vera arrives in Winter Haven to identify her brother, she discovers that he has not aged a day since the last time she saw him – thirteen years ago. And that’s only the first mystery. The island’s inhabitants are less than receptive to Vera’s attempts to look into her brother’s death, and she stumbles onto some of the island’s secrets: a lost colony of Pilgrims, a lost band of Vikings, a witch, and a ceremonial stone circle at the heart of the island. And the visions that Vera herself is experiencing: are they a sign from God, or from…somewhere else?

I don’t want to give a thing away, but I will say I loved this book. Reading Athol Dickson reminds me of watching a movie made by M. Night Shyalaman (Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Village). Just when you think you have a handle on where the plot is going, you’re thrown for a loop and you’re left guessing again. The other thing I love about Dickson’s writing is his sense of setting. Whether it is the deep south like River Rising, or the coast of Maine, like in this book, Dickson puts you right into the setting. His descriptions allow you to experience the book as if you are really there.

4 out of 5 stars – only because this book took a little longer to grab me than The Cure or River Rising.

All good things…

February 24, 2008 Categories: This and That | 1 Comment  

…must come to an end. I am sitting in our hotel room, soaking up the last few minutes of peace and quiet before we check out, grab some lunch, and head home to our kids. This weekend has been wonderful. It didn’t turn out entirely like planned, however. Michelle’s boys came down with the flu, and so my Thursday was spent alone. And even though it would’ve been more fun with her, it was still a terrific day. As a homeschooling mom, I am rarely alone. I drove two hours alone, went to see 27 Dresses alone, ate dinner alone (with a book), and checked into the hotel alone for an entire evening of reading, watching Lost, and more reading. Alone. It was blissful.

Kevin joined me Friday around lunchtime, and we have had such a lazy time together – more time at B&N, time at Best Buy for him, eating out, reading, and talking without interruptions. No kids, no work obligations, no housework calling to me. Heaven.

The really cool thing? Michelle and I are going to come down for a one-night moms’ getaway sometime in March – so I get to do this again! And this time, when I gush over dinner about the books I found at B&N, the person across the table won’t have glazed-over eyes. ;)

Another really cool thing? I have so much to blog about in the next few days! Happy Sunday, everyone.