Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reading for the New Year

As usual, some of the gifts under the Christmas tree were books this year.  Even Beany has enjoyed lift the flap books and being read to by Social Butterfly.  I thought I'd write a post about what we're reading and our thoughts about the books.

As I said, Beany is enjoying his "lift the flap books".  Jetter was always very interested in these at this age too.  Beany is also quite content to sit in my lap, or that of his older sister's, and listen to book after book though.  He reminds me of Night Owl in that regard. 
Beany also received a pretty nifty gift for Christmas that involves "reading".  We got it for him because he is slow to talk and we're hoping to enrich his environment with more language resources.  Of course, all you have to do is visit for a day and you'll think this is ridiculous since there is talking going on here all the time!  But anyway, this is his special "talking toy" and he really enjoys using it.  It's made by Leap Frog and it's called a Tag Junior.  In the picture above you can see the little device he uses.  I just sync this device on line with any new Tag Junior Books he receives and the little "guy" as we call it reads the book to Beany.  If he puts it on a picture instead of the words of the story, it will tell him about the picture or make the sound of that animal or character.  To go with it, we also got him the Leap Frog letter factory DVD.  He enjoys watching it and tries to say the names of the letters, which is the whole point.

Builder received books about Castles and a couple of Magic Schoolbus Books.  He enjoys looking at the pictures and being read to.  He is doing a great job at learning to read, and in fact is a bit ahead of schedule, but his interests aren't usually covered in the "easy reader" books we have.  It wont be long and he'll be reading these Magic Schoolbus books though.

Jetter is coming along with his reading as well.  He's now into the easy chapter books.  For Christmas, we got him a set of the Magic Treehouse Books.  He's currently enjoying the first one, "Dinosaurs Before Dark".  After that he will read "The Knight at Dawn", "Pirates Past Noon", and "Night of the Ninjas".  All of these titles are quite "Jetter appealing" so he is encouraged to keep reading!

Social Butterfly has decided that her new favorite genre is mystery.  She received an Encyclopedia Brown book, which she finished Christmas day.  She also was given the first two Nancy Drew books, "The Secret of the Old Clock", and "The Hidden Staircase".  She really enjoys the Nancy Drew books and informs me she'll need to go to the library soon to get some more.

While I don't have a recent picture of him reading, Night Owl is seldom without a book.  His homework keeps him from reading as much as he would like, but he manages to read quite a bit anyway.  He's currently working through all the books written my Louis LaMour.  He and my husband both enjoy these as "easy reads" and they both received a couple for Christmas.  I carry a list in my purse of the many books written by this author and as they finish one they cross it off.  That way, when it's time to get them a gift, or if I'm at the library, I know which ones they've already read.  Night Owl also enjoys books by Zane Grey and anything history related, especially regarding World War II.

My husband and I don't have as much time to read as the kids do, but we squeeze it in whenever we have a few minutes of quiet.  As I mentioned, he and Night Owl always have a Louis LaMour book they are reading.  But he is also currently reading "The Complete Fr. Brown" by G.K, Chesterton and a couple of books put out by the Arbringer Institute.  He is reading the Arbringer Institute books for work and is finding them quite interesting.  He's added one to my book basket to read as well.  Which brings me to ....

My very over crowded basket of books.  As I mentioned, my reading comes in the little snippets of time when all is quiet.  This is usually in the early morning, while the kids still sleep.  I also find time to read during our afternoon quiet time.  This is when the kids all go to their rooms with a book or two and read quietly for 30 minutes.  I don't always get much reading done at this time since Beany seems to be growing out of his naps already, but every now and then I do.  I also like to read in the evenings when the kids go to bed.  But, here again, my reading is often set aside for things like laundry folding or watching a football game on TV with my husband.  (After 20 years of marriage I've finally learned to like watching football on TV - but only if it is a "favorite" team like the Steelers!)  So, what's in the basket?

As I unpack my books, it seems that each one fits into one of my "life categories".  Some years ago I read Holly Peirlot's "A Mother's Rule of Life".  The information in this book has stayed with me and become part of my life.  The thing that I really took home from the book is the idea of organizing your life by your priorities.  She calls them the 5P's and claims we all have them.  They are Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent, Provider.  When everything seems to be falling apart around here, I take a look at my priorities and get things back in order.  It really does work.  The books I am reading often overlap in different priority categories, but I'll divide them this way for order's sake.
P1 - Prayer - In this category, I am currently reading The Saints and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland.  I actually started reading the book just to skim it before reading it to the kids, but I'm finding the information to be so helpful to me personally.  I am also reading Splendor in the Ordinary by Thomas Howard.  I haven't been able to truly get into this book but I think it requires more time to ponder than I am allowing.
P2 - Person - Actually, all this reading is good for my person since I find it enjoyable.  Much of it is educational for me.  I know that getting out to take a good walk would also be good for my person and that's something I am working on.  But, the book I would put in this category is Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Breathnachs.  For me, this book is just fun.  The pictures are lovely, and I enjoy reading about traditions of the Victorian Period.
P3 - Partner - Under this category, I would put The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute.  This is a book that my husband and the people he works with are reading.  He thought it to be quite interesting so he has asked my to read it.  It makes great food for conversation.
P4 - Parent - It seems that my book basket always has some sort of homeschool book in it!  This is a subject that is of extreme importance around here since much of my day is consumed with the education of our children.  In the past, I would have put books in this category that dealt with ADHD and learning disabilities as well, but for now I just have one.  Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson is a book that I read 8 years ago when we first started homeschooling.  I had borrowed it from a friend, but at that time I was so overwhelmed with reading materials about this new adventure that I  just skimmed it.  Now, I have my own copy, bought used for just a couple of dollars, and I'm able to actually read it and incorporate some of the ideas of the authors.  I'm finding it inspiring as we head back into school after a nice Christmas break!
P5 - Provider - The "Provider" category covers all those things I do for my family.  If I worked outside the home, it would include my job and my financial contribution to the family.  Because I am a stay-at-home-mom, this category includes all the things that go with keeping a home and raising children.  One of the books I am currently reading is Graced and Gifted by Kimberly Hahn.  Since this book also incorporates scripture, I could have put it up in the P1 category.  But since the book's focus is the "homemaker's heart" I will put it here.  I've only just started this book so I don't have much to say here, but I think I'm really going to enjoy it.  I find the books that I read by Kimberly Hahn or her husband Scott Hahn are packed with truth and inspiration.
Also in the P5 category, I am reading Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  This book was recommended to me by a friend and I'm really enjoying it.  The UPS man just brought it yesterday, so once again I'm not far into it, but what I've read so far is intriguing.  It seems that so much of the "Provider" part of my life is about food!  With Beany not able to eat gluten and our decision to keep things like high fructose corn syrup as far from our kid's diets as possible, putting meals on the table really takes alot of thought and energy.  I don't mind because I find it all interesting and cooking is something I've always enjoyed.  This actually brings me to another post I am planning about my drive for simplicity.  So much of life is hectic and I have such a desire to let go of some of the "stuff" and get back to more of the basics.  I'm not going to give up electricity and go live in a log cabin in the woods (although that sounds like a nice vacation to me!).  But there is alot about what we eat and how it's prepared that has actually made our life more stressful.  More about that in another post though!
I'd like to say I'm off to read a good book, but there are breakfast dishes to wash and children who need to start their school work!

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