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Wrapping it Up:  November

The year is just flying by!  I can hardly believe that December is upon us bringing with it the end of 2015!  My oldest son will be turning 17 and I will be....um....well, older than I was last year!

My Writing World

It's PiBoIdMo 2015- have you signed up??

This was the month of PiBoIdMo - the month where aspiring picture book writers check in with Tara Lazar's posts on her blog to see the day's guest writer's post to find inspiration on our craft and attempt to come up with at least 30 ideas for a picture book.  You can check out my posts about the month starting with this one and ending with this one with a few in-between.  Other than reaching most of my much smaller goals for PiBoIdMo this month (I didn't actually get to work on a manuscript), I did get a few other blog posts out and thus have done better than the last few months.  But I really need to figure out a way to work on some manuscripts.  Sigh.  In time, I guess.  If you want to check out some of the other blog posts, here they are:

My Commonplace Book - this is something that I hope will also improve my writing skills; it will certainly lead to more writing topics!

Peaceful Reflections

Book Review Wednesday: Ishtar's Odyssey - finally- the first book review I've done in ages! Hopefully I will get back to at least doing one a month....fingers crossed!

Year One Homeschooling & Orthodoxy

Foster The Good (actually posted at the end of October)

My Book World

Photo by Kregel Publications
Photo by Kregel Publications

It's been a slow month for reading.  I really haven't been doing much of it at all.  I didmanage to complete For The Children's Sake and worked here and there on The Living Page.  And, if you've followed, I read all of Ishtar's Odyssey in time to do the blog post for Kregal Publications.  It wasn't my favorite book by Arnold Ytreede, but still a quality book for family reading during the advent season.

 

 

 

Our Parenting/Homeschool World

This has also been a slow month for completion of homeschooling.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I have determined that it's okay to stretch out a week of schooling (according to the Ambleside Online 'curriculum' that I'm using) into two or more weeks...but I'm not okay with days going by in which we don't do much of anything for school.  Unfortunately there were a few stretches like that this month.  I don't necessarily think that was a bad thing, but I don't want it to turn into habit.  SO - I just need to juggle this around in my head and figure out how to still get a half hour or hour of school into most of our days, even when really busy.

I've also been thinking over twaddle vs. living books as I mentioned in some of my PiBoIdMo posts (yes, even my Writing World intersects with our Homeschooling World).  I'm thinking more and more these days while there can be a huge difference between twaddle and living books, there can also be some overlap.  What's more- perhaps rather than focusing on eliminating 'twaddle' completely, it's just more important to make sure that better quality Living Books make up the majority of your child's reading time.

Homeschooling aside, I've struggled with parenting in general. Nothing surprising. We ALL struggle when it comes to a method of how to get our children to be obedient without killing their spirit or doing it in a non-loving manner.  My son is struggling with following directions without doing his 'growling' thing or actually attempting to push me or protesting by putting his face right in mine with the dirtiest face a five year old can give.  We read recently, my husband and I, Peaceful Parents Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham.  We believe entirely in her theory but putting it into practice isn't always easy.  His behaviors definitely push my buttons whether I recognize his need for guidance in how to display feelings or not and , well, it's a challenge.  So we are working on that. This afternoon was a difficult task - telling him no, he can not go to the neighbor's house as his behavior after church was not of the quality to earn privileges such as that.  While it was difficult, it was manageable, but only because I was able to prepare myself for it.  I knew , getting into the car at church, exactly what was going to happen when we got home and I had 20 minutes to prepare my own set of mind for carrying through.  It's not so easy when a situation presents itself necessitating an immediate response when we are needing to go somewhere or get a list of things done in a short amount of time.  Those cases don't always go the way  I'd like. But I'm sure I'm not the only one in that boat, am I?

Our Food and Health World

My husband continues his health goals in losing weight and becoming more conditioned. doing-the-w30-fb-cover-660x244Have I mentioned since doing the Whole30 during Lent this past year and sticking to a paleo eating style (at least 95% of the time) he has lost over 100 pounds?  The man is amazing as far as I'm concerned!  While I used to be the one doing the attempts at motivation, he is the one trying to motivate me to start exercising now....sigh... the vision is there....finding the time to do it and everything else needs some work!  I'm at least starting to walk a bit more again...if only I can figure out how to keep it up during the winter!  I have a HUGE aversion to cold weather!

This month we started the Nativity fast that is practiced by Orthodox Christians. I'll admit, we've never been ones to follow the nativity fast as well as we do the Great Lent fast.  But this year, my husband decided he wanted to do another Whole30 for the fast.  While my love for sugar was reluctant, I assented to his wish....well, for the most part.  He's doing a whole30 which I help with by keeping completely compliant for the meals (with a few minor exceptions on Thanksgiving) and I'm doing my own modified whole30- while not whole30 approved, is certainly a step up for me as I remain about 95% paleo,  I'm not adding sugar to my teas, keeping my meals whole30 compliant, sticking to non-processed snacks for the most part (at least at home) and attempting to increase my water intake.  And I'm doing my best to keep Wednesdays and Thursdays as days we not only observe the Whole30 rules, but stick to abstinence of meat products as well in accordance to the Orthodox fasting rules.

Our Faith World

Again, the nativity season is upon us.  I'm trying hard to keep up with my morning bible time, adding an Orthodox Advent Study to my materials. I purchased this last year through Sylvia Leontaritis at Orthodoxmom.com.  Unfortunately, I never got past the first week last year.  This year is still a struggle to keep up but I am sticking with it thus far.  I have actually learned a few extra things about the Theotokos I hadn't known before and I always like reading passages from the Old Testament that were prophecies of the birth of Christ.

We were disappointed to know that my husband has been scheduled to work both the nights of Christmas Even AND the night of Christmas Day.  He will be forced into missing both church services.  It's a struggle to not want to pout and think ill thoughts of those in charge of his schedule....  but we are trying to stay positive and be grateful he has a job and, really, other than church - which is of course the most important part of celebrating the holy day- we can do the other celebrations any time...and have planned to do just that.  Yes, Santa is such a NICE man, that he's decided to wait a few days to visit- so we can all open presents together....  cool dude, isn't he?

Other Parts of My World

Hmmm....what haven't I covered?  My son's girlfriend came up from Florida for a few days and visited.  She was able to watch him in one of his last football games of the season.  It was really nice to have her here.  Of course, it was really sad to watch his sadness in the days following her trip back home.  But they are able to at least count the days to the next visit which isn't terribly far off...though I'm sure it seems a terribly long time to them.

Thanksgiving was spent here at home as it usually is.  We had a quiet day- my husband  worked the night before so he slept for a number of hours during the day after he came home and prepped the turkey and chicken (long story that one).  The kids and I lounged in the living room watching the parade and dog show.  It was nice that I didn't have much cooking to do since I was inspired to do the majority of it the day before.  THIS is something that I plan on doing again!  I was sooooo thankful for a low stress day on Thanksgiving!

The days continue to get shorter and a bit colder though I can't complain about temperature just yet, especially for October.  And we've found an excellent 'handy man' to help us with cleaning gutters and other household/outside tasks that makes prepping for season changes all the  more easier.  We also installed a new pellet furnace in the basement and a pellet stove insert into our fireplace.  Between the two, we expect our electric bill and the hassles of last year's woodstove to be a thing of the past.  Time will tell but we are hopeful and feeling warmer already.

It's now 4:08 in the afternoon as I write this and I can see the color changes of the sky in the west already. This indicates to me as the day is nearing an end that I really should be thinking about ending this post and starting the evening meal.  So, until next time- take care and drop in and say hi sometime!

What did you do during November?

It's PiBoIdMo 2015-  have you signed up??

Well, the week was NOT productive in my writing....but pay a babysitter for an hour and a half today and ....  WOW!

I got to read the whole week of posts and this week they were AMAZING!  I have several pages of notes, a list of activities to work on (buy a notebook for my purse, purchase some index cards and index card boxes, rethink my daily goals, etc.), and added some actual picture book ideas to my incredibly short list (no, I do not even have a list of 14, but I have quite a few more than I did when I woke up this morning).

So I've decided the babysitter thing just may need to be a habit.  My son had a blast.  My only restriction to them was no TV.  I can plug him in front of that brain killing machine myself if I need to.  But a mere $8 got him total undivided attention.  While a little distracting since I placed myself in the dining room (in the middle of the rooms where they were) I also got to listen to him be creative and laugh- a LOT - which is music to a mother's ears and pretty inspirational for a writer to boot!

I can't decide on my  favorite post for this week like I did last week.  But I would say that the words of Janna Matthies, Denise Fleming and Julie Gribble were the most helpful to me at this point in my writing.  All for various reasons, though perhaps it's the insight of Denise Fleming that might keep me going for the long haul....  she reminds us that not only for every good idea are there probably about 50 'stinkers', but that we really should keep EVERY IDEA-- even the ones we think are bad or totally ridiculous.... because you never know where even years from now, that ridiculous, bad idea may lead to the inspiration of your best idea ever. So hold onto them- and keep going back to them to revisit and you may just be surprised one day.

I've been thinking more about the whole twaddle vs. living books as I discussed again in last week's post.  I spend much too much time on Facebook, and have been gradually cutting back (I do not want the most vivid memory of me by my children to include me holding my phone to check Facebook, Words With Friends, or even PiBoIdMo) on using my phone-  but if I do find myself on Facebook, it's usually to check out what's going on at the Ambleside page.  So many really good discussions. One constant discussion topic is the whole twaddle vs. living books debate.  Obviously this is tied into my writing life.  As I discussed last week- I worry about the children's market being so much more geared to twaddle and 'entertaining' kids rather than truly filling their minds with living books - quality books that feed the mind and ignite their passions.

Always on the Ambleside Online page there are questions posted stating , "Is this book twaddle?  What should I do if my child loves to read twaddle?  Should I let my beginning reader read these books she loves if it's twaddle?"  I am always a little shocked at the tone of those telling these mothers to take all the twaddle away.  These kids, they say, will not develop good taste for real literature or a sound vocabulary if they fill their minds with twaddle.  But personally, I'm thinking, why would you take away a book that makes a child WANT to read???  Why would you risk killing that desire to read a book by FORCING them to only read the books that YOU consider LIVING?  Isn't one of the concepts of a living book is that it entices the mind of the child?  If a book is enticing your child to read....makes them hunger for more words on the page....why would you ban it?  If it's not filling up the mind with something immoral, why would you take it away?  Wouldn't it be better to make sure you are reading them living books and giving them choices that include living books rather than insisting they never read something that YOU consider twaddle?

I will not read Scooby Doo to my son.  But I will allow him to bring one home from the library for him to look at himself (or allow someone else in the family to read it to him once in awhile).  Nor will I  buy a book that I consider to be totally twaddle...well- there might be an exception here and there. But if there's a book that makes my child WANT to read on his own (and it's not immoral in any way) then I WILL allow him to read it.  It does not mean that's all he's ever going to read.  I'm not going to go through my bookshelves and immediately throw out all that might be considered twaddle by the ladies on Ambleside.  I think they mean well....but I also think they are missing the point.

Well- enough of my ramblings on twaddle today.  I need to throw out my cold coffee and get some things done (including revisiting my PiBoIdMo notes and my idea page) now before my Movie Night with my youngest son today.  It will be the first time he'll get to watch The Wizard of Oz - my desire to offer him classic movies rather than the twaddle of today and reinforce his infatuation with tornadoes!  Pray with me that the green faced witch and flying monkeys are seen as funny and not scary!

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It's PiBoIdMo 2015-  have you signed up??

So here I am at Day#7.  I was already feeling overwhelmed this morning with so much to do but was determined I was not going to fail my goals in the first week!  So while I'm surrounded by house clutter (my computer barely fits on the kitchen counter as I sit here with my now cold coffee attempting to write this post)and house clutter really drives me crazy, I was determined to finish reading and taking notes on this week's posts!  If you are new to the concept of PiBoIdMo, be sure to click on my posts (see the tag) about it and also hop on over to Tara Lazar's website where all of this is happening!

Honestly, I have really mixed feelings about PiBoIdMo this year for so many different reasons.  I guess the biggest reason is that I just know I don't have the time in my life right now to really dedicate to my writing time the way I dream of and feel is necessary to really put my words on the page and edify them enough to make them publishable let alone take the time to find the right editor/publishing house that would be interested in it!  But I don't want to completely give up on it (my dream) either.

I also have an issue with today's market.  You see, I've spent so much time learning about Charlotte Mason and the difference between living books and twaddle, that I'm realizing that the stories I want to write, don't necessarily fit into today's market.  And the more I look at the books that are selling like hotcakes in today's picture book market, the more I kind of want to cringe.   Today's stories are funny, creative and highly entertaining, and for that they have value. I love the imagination, dedication, and work by the authors and illustrators to put these creative ideas into book form and into the hands and minds of children.  But I now wonder if they really ignite the mind to learn and hunger for more like the Living Books I'm reading to my young son or are most of them truly twaddle?  I think there is a need for books that are entertaining- they have merit- but as I go through the library now and look for quality books that will edify my child's mind, I realize just how much twaddle there is out there.  While I think books that are just for entertainment and a few laughs are fun and not necessarily bad, I'm realizing the majority of today's market is that....   they are not full of rich vocabulary,  high literary quality, or truly leaving an impact on my child's mind that leads him to learn more about a subject, person or time in history.  And that's frustrating to me.

I  think now of my personal favorite manuscript that I have submitted to critique groups....  the biggest common factor they tell me is they love the language of my story but I need to cut it out as it doesn't fit for today's market. Really? We're not allowed to have rich vocabulary that entices the child and challenges their thinking and , gosh,  shame on us for trying to actually teach them some new words???

Sigh.

So I'm torn.  Maybe I'm not cut out for the picture book world of today.

Or maybe I need to stick with non-fiction?

I don't know.

But I do know that when I finally  finished reading the posts for the week this morning (I started earlier in the week while sitting in the ER....but we won't go there...lol...don't worry- all is completely fine), I really enjoyed listening to what most of the authors had to say...  though I did have that word 'twaddle' in the back of my mind for some of the ideas discussed....  and I really LOVED the post for today by Jessixa Bagley! Jessixa wrote about making lists...and I am a HUGE list maker.  Though often poked fun of by my daughter and her friend for all of my lists, they keep me on track and my mind a little more focused and organized and a good habit I refuse to give up- so poke all you want- I love my lists!

So now I breathe a sigh of relief that no matter my mixed feelings, I have at least accomplished my goals for the week for PiBoIdMo (I'm saying that even though I only have 3 ideas listed rather than 7-  it's my prerogative to do so)...  and now I'll go off and try to do some housework....and work on making up for those 4 missing ideas.

Thanks for taking time to listen to me ramble on about PiBoIdMo 2015...

What do YOU think of the books in today's children's market?

 

 

Wrapping It Up:  October

I've only been able to get a few extra stolen moments downstairs in my "office" and while away on vacation to try to get out a few posts this month.  I  again would love to say this is my new habit but I have no idea what each day or week to come will hold for me so I'm just taking it one day at a time....and hoping for the best- whatever that may be.

My Writing World

Once again it has been sparse, but I've still managed to work on blogging a bit.  Have you seen this month's posts?

Peaceful Reflections - October

Cold & Flu Season

Reflections on Homeschooling

Vacation In Florida

I did manage to catch up on critiques for my writing group while on vacation, but I still have not touched a manuscript of my own - not even on vacation- but an idea for one certainly sparked in my mind just today as I sat reading to my five-year old. And since I haven't even thought about a single idea for at least a month or two,  that's really something!

I had ignored the reminders on Facebook that PiBoIdMo 2015 is coming up. I just don't see myself being able to commit to the time at all. But once that idea sparked in my mind this morning for a  picture book, I thought about it.  Maybe I can take part? Just not to the full extent I have tried in past years. I guess there's no harm trying...except for the possibility of getting my hopes up and then frustrated.  So I really need to reconsider my goals. ...continue reading "October Wrap Up"

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I think the most important aspect of education is quality books.  And by quality books, I mean LIVING BOOKS.  So...what is a 'living book'?

                Thank goodness I was never sent to school...Beatrix Potter quote at DailyLearners.com

Living books are those books which make the subject 'come alive'.  They are generally written by one person, versus a textbook written by several authors.  The book reaches out and pulls you in.  It's a book that makes you feel that you are there with the characters.  They are generally written in a narrative style rather than a dry style of writing typically found in most textbooks which usually only present facts in a summary type form. With the right sources, you can find living books that cover most school subjects  -  even math!!

In our homeschooling years, I have tried to use Living Books whenever possible.  Now that I am researching the Charlotte Mason method to use with my toddler, I have found a plethora of sources and would like to share them with you!

Source List for Living Books:

All Through The Ages

The Ambleside Online Curriculum

Beautiful Feet

Books of Wonder

CM Bookfinder

Five In A Row

Greenleaf Press

A Literary Education

Honey For A Child's Heart

Living Books Curriculum

Newberry Medal and Honor Books

Sonlight

Charlotte Mason teaches that you are to select books that will cultivate your child's taste for good literature and words fitly spoken.  A quality book will cultivate imagination and nourish their mind. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers do not usually spend their time using books consisting of 'twaddle'(nonsense or 'dumbed-down' literature).  I don't,however, think an occasional book that is not categorized under high quality literature is a waste.  As long as it isn't the only type of book your child will read, it's not against your morals or values, and it leads your child to reading, then it is a book worth it's price!  Happy Reading!