Archive | March, 2014

Friday Favorites: Audio Books For Children

28 Mar


FRIDAY Favorites

This is the 1st post in a series about Audio Books and children. See the last two posts here and here.

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When our oldest son was about three, my husband and I were on a mission to find an age-appropriate children’s Bible. Our hunt led us to many favorite children’s Bibles, but one, in particular, left an imprint on our family that we weren’t anticipating.

I still remember the day that we were in our local bookstore. Our beloved friend worked there, and we had solicited him for our mission. (He chose to accept it. ūüôā ) We were desirous of a children’s Bible that had an accompanying set of CDs with it. This book¬†introduced to me the idea of having a child listen to the Bible while following along in his/her corresponding paper copy. So, the mission commenced, and our friend directed us to¬†The Word & Song Children’s Bible¬†, which had a Bible and coordinating cds. We immediately bought the Bible and cds and began letting our son listen to them during afternoon nap time and at bed time.

To say that my husband and I were flabbergasted as we discovered how much of the Bible our son was comprehending would be….an understatement. For example, one morning he wakes us up, all decked out in warrior fashion with his homemade weapon, which consisted of a cell phone charger cord tied around a yard stick. “Dad, I need to kill the people who don’t worship God.” My husband, the sage that he is, begins explaining to our son why, according to Scripture, it is wrong to kill other human beings. Our son quickly retorts, “But Dad, God had to destroy the Edomites because they didn’t worship Him.”

My husband knew that our son was referring to the story from the Minor Prophet book, Obadiah. Who had been teaching him stories from the Old Testament?!?!? It wasn’t us, and it wasn’t his Sunday School teachers. After a few minutes of racking our brains, we remembered the Word and Song Bible cds. Yup, that was it; the culprit was the Bible cds. He had soaked up the story of Obadiah by listening to it on a cd. In that moment, we didn’t consciously vocalize the decision, but from then forward, we began using cds as a means of exposing our oldest son (and, now, all three of them) to literature.

I write often about books that we read aloud as part of school or together as a family. If it were up to me, I would read aloud to my boys¬†all day long.¬†However, the piles of laundry, mounds of dust bunnies, and stores of uncooked food in my fridge thwart my read-all-day plans. Sigh. Wish that I may, Super Mom, I am not. As we learned from our oldest son’s early years, audio books can be used to “read” to my sons, even when I am not able. As a result, audio books have become a significant medium in the life of our sons, and our entire family, frankly, whereby literature is introduced. So, today, for this edition of Friday Favorites, I share this family favorite, audio books, with you and why¬†we love them so much!

Audio books

Why I Love Using Audio Books With My Children

1) Audio books expose my sons to great stories that are above their reading level.

In the book,¬†The Core, by Classical Conversations founder Leigh Bortins, she recommends that children read consistently on three different levels: below, at, and above their reading level. One way that I have my boys “read” above their reading level is by listening to audio books. Of course, my heart’s desire is to read every book known to man to my sons, but time does not always permit that. Audio books have helped me stretch the amount of time each day that my boys are being “read to” above their reading level. The audio books that I select for them fall into that category 99.9% of the time. They could not independently¬†read the book they’re listening to, but they can easily comprehend it. An audio book gives them the opportunity to “read” classic literature now at ages 8, 6, and 4. They would have to wait 5-10 years to be able to read such books independently, but why make them wait that long when they are fully able to understand them now? Audio books assist significantly with this.

2) Audio books expand the “Mosley Homeschool” classroom.

Two years ago, we started¬†The Story of the World¬†as a history curriculum. With additional subjects that had to be completed and adding a second child to our homeschool “classroom,” the time that I had to read aloud our Story of the World chapters was diminishing. I checked out one set of the Story of the World audio books from our library, and my boys devoured it. They listened to the entire book in a week! This was the same book that was taking us months to read through together. I eventually bought all 4 volumes of Story of the World audio books, and my boys have listened to them multiple times. The audio books allowed my sons to independently take on a segment of their school, which freed ¬†me up to focus with them individually on the subjects that only I could teach. If you are a homeschooling family, perhaps an audio book is available with curriculum that you are using or one can be used in a strategic way with an existing subject that you are teaching.

3) Audio books increase fluency and vocabulary.

A dear friend is a public school teacher, and she introduced me to the Barnes and Noble Online Story time website, which has 16 books being read aloud with simultaneous video footage of the book. She used the website¬†in her classroom and was the first person to explain, from an educational perspective, the benefits of audio books. Audio books aid a child in increasing his/her fluency, which is the ability to smoothly, correctly read while simultaneously comprehending what he/she is reading. Audio books also expose a child to new vocabulary and introduces it within the context of a story, which increases his/her grasp of the new words. I, naively, assumed that audio books were handicapping my sons’ reading ability when in actuality they work just the opposite! To read more about this, peruse this¬†article or this¬†article.

4) Audio books make free time constructive.

Most afternoons in the Mosley casa, you will find our 3 sons enjoying some quality rest time in their rooms. Though nap time is long gone for my sons, the need to quiet themselves and have some time alone is still a reality. (There Mom needs this time too!) Rest time is also known as “audio book time” in our home. The bulk of my sons’ audio book listening occurs during their afternoon rest time. We may not be sitting at our school table plodding along through a school subject, but rest time in our home is wonderfully educational. This is the time that my boys have listened to the Story of the World audio books and other classics like Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, Charlotte’s Web, and (a family favorite!)¬†The Chronicles of Narnia.

Beyond rest time in our home, our family enjoys a good audio book while on a long trip. When we plan to travel an hour or longer, I make a special trip to our library to stock up on multiple audio books before we depart. Because our boys have grown accustomed to listening to audio books (remember, it won’t happen overnight!) for entertainment, they enjoy passing the time in the van with an audio book. On such occasions, I, personally, enjoy that we are listening to the same thing, which affords us great conversations as a family based on the book. I love how books can be used to create unity in our family. (Thank you, Honey for a Child’s Heart¬†for letting me in on this little secret!) Of, if my husband and I want to have a conversation, a “date” in the car if you will, we turn the speakers to the back of the van. They listen to their audio book, and we enjoy time “alone” together. ūüôā

5) Audio books cultivate a love of  literature.

“Readers are leaders,” was a quote my Dad preached when I was a young girl. It has always stuck with me. I think about it often with my sons. Exposing a child to a vast expanse of literature ensures that he/she will find stories, an author or genre that the child enjoys. The child begins to associate positive sentiments and associations with reading; thus, a love of literature is being cultivated.¬†I have no idea what God will call my sons to do, but I know one of the best ways I can prepare them for their unknown future is to cultivate within them a love of literature. To accomplish this, I read aloud with my boys…a lot, and I let them listen to audio books. ¬†Audio books, as a parent, have enabled me to introduce my sons to a variety of books that I may not have been able to read to them otherwise. In doing so, I have observed, first hand, their eyes dancing with joy and their talking-so-fast-I-can-hardly-understand-them summary about a book’s hero; they love books. As a disclaimer, this hasn’t always been the case! However, their love of books has grown¬†through the intentional exposure to and the investment of time with books–being read by me and my husband or by a narrator on an audio book.

So, the next time you find yourself at your local library, ask the children’s librarian to direct you to the children’s audio book section. Let your child pick out a couple of audio books and ¬†create time in his/her life to listen to them. Remember that it may take several books for it to “click” with your child. Let them have some alone time in their rooms, listening to an audio book and building with Legos or playing Barbies. Pop in your child’s favorite book on cd in the car rider line at school or en route to soccer practice. Look for creative ways to incorporate audio books into your child’s life. You’ll be glad that you did!

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What We’re Reading Wednesday: Installment #2

26 Mar

What We're Reading WEDNESDAYS

It’s Wednesday! Time to take a peek at “What We’re Reading” around our Casa! I hope that you find some books to pick up for yourself, your kiddos, or your family! You can view past “What We’re Reading Wednesday” installments here or click on the tag cloud on the right side of the blog.

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A Tale of Two Cities¬†(by Charles Dickens)-I read this book my junior year of high school with my amazing English teacher, Mrs. Wilhite. One of the history statements that my boys (and their mom! ūüôā ) learned in Classical Conversations this year was about the French Revolution. When I hear “French Revolution,” I always, always, always think about this book, and all year I’ve wanted to re-read this book. After finishing Anna Karenina, I decided that¬†A Tale of Two Cities¬†would be my next book. I got it as a free Kindle book a year or so ago and had forgotten about it. I was glad to make this discovery on my Kindle a couple of weeks ago when perusing through its contents. I am glad to be re-reading it after ______ years (No, I’m not going to confess how many years have transpired since my junior year of high school. ha!). I’m surprised at how much I remember…as well as how much I’ve forgotten. 11th grade was a long, long, time ago. ūüôā

The Word Became Flesh (by Faye Maynard)-Our family is continuing to journey through this devotion for Lent. This is our 4th year to use it, and we love how it puts our family in the Word, reading together about the life of Christ, culminating in the joyous celebration of Easter morning! To read more about this book and how to use it with your family, see my previous post.

King of the Wind¬†(by Marguerite Henry)-My dear friend and fellow book lover, Whitney, told me about this book. She loved horses as a girl and enjoyed this book as a child. I, not loving horses as a girl, did not read this as a child. ūüôā I found it over the weekend for $1 at a used bookstore. After Whitney’s rave review, I picked it up. After all, if it was a dud, I had only spent $1. ūüôā Once I started reading the book, though, I couldn’t put it down. The story is about Sham, a horse from Morocco and Agba, a young boy who was Sham’s caretaker. Sham and Agba have many adventures–both tragic and exhilarating–that lead them from Morocco to France and finally England. Their adventures drew me in, broke my heart and made me smile. This will be a book that I read aloud and share with my boys. I also reveled in this book because of its setting. After college, I lived in North Africa for a year and spent some time in Morocco. ¬†The accuracy of Henry’s description of the culture, language and people was spot on. The story transported me back there and made me homesick for a place I grew to deeply love.

A Fly Went by¬†(by Mike McClintock)-This was on my middle son’s reading list from Sonlight. ¬†The story is about a fly who went by a little boy, and each page gives you a greater understanding of¬†why¬†the fly…went by. It is in the Dr. Seuss Beginner Book series, so I was surprised that that we had not heard of it. I wanted to highlight it here because you might be like me and not heard of it either. It’s delightful! Plus, it was published in 1958, and I just love¬†old¬†books that have stood the test of time. ūüôā

A Big Ball of String¬†(by Marion Holland)-This was also on my middle son’s reading list and is another Dr. Seuss Beginner Book that was unfamiliar to us. It, too, was published in 1958 and appears, sadly, to be out of print. Maybe you can find a copy at your local library. The little boy in the story finds many creative uses for his big ball of string. It reminded me of how the simplest things–like a ball of yarn–are often the most entertaining for my boys. I love how such simple things breed their creativity.

The Berenstain Bears¬†(by Stan & Jan Berenstain)-As you’ll notice there are 4 different Berenstain Bears books in the pictures. Those 4 books were only about a third of the Berenstain Bears books that we checked out from the library last week. This is a principle that I follow thanks to reading Honey for A Child’s Heart. Here’s my principle–When I find an author that my kiddos enjoy, I check out any and all books that he/she wrote or has written. I created this principle which our family adheres to during library visits based on—logic. ūüôā If we enjoy¬†one¬†book by a particular author, surely we will enjoy¬†other¬†books that he/she penned, right? Since initiating this principle, my logical conclusion has been right more often than it has been wrong. There have been a few duds along the way, but the majority of the time we have enjoyed¬†multiple¬†books by the same author. Plus, it’s really fun to go to a shelf at the local library featuring a particular author and empty its contents into your library bag. (At least that is really fun for me. ha!)

Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World¬†(by Douglas Wood)-We have been continuing in World War II readings since it was highlighted for a couple weeks in Classical Conversations. FDR and Churchill were two WWII leaders highlighted one week, so I picked this book up when I noticed it at the library. My boys eat, sleep, and breathe history, so I thought they’d enjoy learning more about these two men. This book was a fun read. Churchill ‘s fireball personality was displayed in one of the stories the book recounts from his visit to the White House the Christmas of 1941. Upon first speaking to the press after arriving in D.C., Roosevelt and Churchill sat behind a desk in a room filled to overflowing with members of the press. Roosevelt told Churchill that he wished the media could see him better. Churchill responds by climbing on his chair and standing upright in it; the media immediately embraced this memorable man. After reading the book with my boys, it became evident to me why the British unwavered in their opposition of Germany during WWII–Winston Churchill. His determined will to oppose the Axis Powers became his country’s will. I think I’m going to have to add a Winston Churchill biography to my “to read” list. Any suggestions?

What are YOU Reading this week?

 

HeartFELT Truths Easter Banner (& a Coupon Code!)

18 Mar

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Whitney from HeartFELT Truths graciously gave our family an Easter Banner to use last year. Awwwwwwwwwww, we love it!

The Easter Banner is for use during Holy Week. Day One begins on Palm Sunday, and the Easter Banner concludes on glorious Easter Morning! For more detailed information, aka “the girl version,” read my review of the HeartFELT Easter Banner.

Here’s the finished product with all pieces on the banner:

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Whitney has multiple options for her Easter Banner.

Option #1: You can download FREE instructions for her Easter Banner on this blog post (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see “Free Instructions” in a downloadable .pdf form.)

Option #2: You can order the complete Easter Banner or a DIY Easter Banner kit from her Etsy Shop. Suzanne Shares readers get 10% off when you use this coupon code (expiration: 3/27):

EASTERSHARES

If you have problems with the coupon code working, mention it in the “Order Notes” box and Whitney will refund them the difference after your purchase.

I love having this wonderful resource to¬†purposefully¬†engage our family with Scripture during the Easter season! I’m excited to¬†share¬†this resource with you!

Cutting Up A Pineapple: Thank You Pampered Chef!

17 Mar

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When I had my Pampered Chef online party in January, I had a few friends ask me if the Pampered Chef Pineapple Wedger was¬†really¬†that magnificent and easy. Of course, I told them it was because, in my honest opinion, it is. ūüôā Since I a few friends purchased one, I felt a duty to show them how to use it. Since I can’t be in their kitchens with them, side-by-side, demonstrating¬†how¬†to use it, I thought I would post pictures of the process.

This post, in particular, is for and dedicated to my friend, Bethany. She was slated to come over to my house last week. The goal of our get together was not pineapple slicing. However, I had a fresh pineapple in the kitchen, so I told her that I would show her how I use my Pineapple Wedger while she was over. These plans quickly vaporized when our youngest woke up in the middle of the night puking his guts out. Yes, that was awesome. So, Bethany and my other Pampered Chef Pineapple Wedger purchasers, these pictures are for you!

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1) Using a chef’s knife, I cut off the top, aka “the sharp poky leaves.” (Be careful, those things are dangerous.) Next, I cut off the bottom of the pineapple. For this step, only a minimum cut is required; this simply is useful for making the bottom level. At the conclusion of this step, you have 2 halves of the pineapple remaining. See the two circles in the upper left hand corner of this picture.

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2) Locate the pineapple’s core. Do you see the dark yellow circle in the center? That’s your core!

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3) Line the circle of your Pineapple Wedger with the pineapple’s core…and press down. I usually gently rock the Pineapple Wedger back and forth as I press down.

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4) Viola! Now, I pull the 4 pieces of pineapple peel away from the Pineapple Wedger.

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5) I remove the two halves of the pineapple from the Pineapple Wedger. All that is left in the center is the core.

image6) Then, I slice and dice the fruit. I repeat these steps for the other half of the pineapple.

7) I practice oodles of self-control and do NOT eat an entire pineapple by myself.

Be cautioned, fresh pineapple will not last long in your house. So, you may want to buy 2, 3, or 50 at a time! I especially like to purchase them when Aldi has them on sale for 99 CENTS!

Friday Favorites: Honey for A Child’s Heart

14 Mar

FRIDAY Favorites

Last week’s Friday Favorites was about a devotion book that our family uses during Lent to focus on Christ. I decided to keep this second edition of Friday Favorites in the literature genre as well. Today, I am delighted to share about a book that has helped me to love books and to unearth quality literature–for my children and myself–from the thousands of books on the library’s shelves. Enjoy!

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One day I almost turned in my library card. Yes, you read that correctly. The gal who writes profusely about books that she adores¬†almost gave back her¬†free library card to the librarian. This same gal almost¬†vowed to never darken the doors of a library again. At the time, I was a mother of two wee ones, ages 3 and 1, and I was doing what I thought all “good” mothers did. I took them weekly to the library for storytime, and after storytime, we would check out books. Again, all “good” mothers read to their children, right? So, I followed suit and let my boys pick out books. I remember one of my college roommates had an entire class on Children’s Literature. Being the social work major that I was, that class wasn’t on my radar. Since my extent of children’s authors included Dr. Seuss and no one else, I wasn’t very instrumental in their selections. Plus, I thought letting my sons pick out the books that they wanted was so very gracious of me.

We took the books home and read them, week in and week out, but one day I finally had enough. The books that I had been reading to my boys were dull, seemed to all involve jokes about bodily functions, and were were simply¬†lacking. Deep down I felt there had to be something¬†more¬†to this “reading to your child” activity. My heart yearned for more, but I didn’t know what or how. I was frustrated and unsure of what to do with said frustration, so I decided….to just be done with the library. I envisioned marching into the library, slamming down my library card and marching right back out again. Reading with my sons was a chore, a chore in the same vein with laundry, dusting, and changing dirty diapers. I did those things out of duty; there was no delight. Reading to my boys had become just that–duty with no delight.

Honey For A Child's Heart

As I was having this internal conversation, my mind recalled the title of a book that I had read about or that someone had mentioned to me previously, Honey for a Child’s Heart. Thankfully, at this point I had¬†not¬†marched into the library and relinquished my library card. I did what any good library patron would do when intrigued by an unread book. I scoured the card catalog for it. Good news; my library possessed a copy of it. I checked it out and¬†devoured¬†it. (Whew! Glad I still had that library card!) This book was just what I needed as it gave me list after list of book recommendations for children. Greater still was its gift to me in this–a vision for the active role that books can play in the life of my children and our family.

“Children have two basic needs…milk and honey from their parents.¬†Milk symbolizes the care given to physical¬†needs…. Honey¬†symbolizes the sweetness of life, that special quality that makes life sing with enjoyment for
all it¬†holds.”–¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart

Gladys Hunt helped me identify what was missing with my interactions with my sons. There was much milk being offered by me on their behalf, but the¬†honey¬†was missing. I knew not how to get there, but thankfully, Hunt guided my steps with each page of the book. “Good books are rich in honey…” she wrote, so that was where I would begin. Instead of marching myself into the library to return my library card, I marched myself into the library with¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart¬†in hand. I would, literally, open it to the first page of the book lists and pick those books off the shelf. It became my BFF as through it our whole family was introduced to marvelous stories, unforgettable characters, timeless authors. No longer was reading to my sons drudgery; it was my delight. We were feasting on¬†honey¬†together, and it was uniting our hearts in a manner that was joyous.

Fast forward 6 years, our little brood now includes a third son, and we are half a decade in to the¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart¬†experiment. I count and measure my life by books, ones that have marked me, set my life on a different trajectory. This is, indeed, one such book. A diet of¬†honey,¬†drinking deeply from it, has introduced us to Charlotte and Wilbur, children who lived in a boxcar, a courageous Olympian and missionary, Eric Liddell and countless other people and tales that have left a little piece of themselves in our hearts. ¬†The greatest imprint of¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart¬†on our family has come in what¬†Hunt calls, “the pleasure of a shared experience” through literature. This particular chapter, upon first reading the book, drew me in. The idea of books creating shared experiences, drawing a family together made my heart want to explode out of my chest!¬†This¬†was my greatest desire, and so we jumped in to read alouds with school and together as a family. What started as an experiment our family has since become a reality. Feasting on¬†honey¬†has created commonality, laughter, shrills of “one more chapter, please, Mommy,” and joy. Just thinking about the memories of varied books that we’ve consumed together over the last 6 years, literally, brings tears to my eyes. What a journey it has been; so thankful.

So, if you’re wavering back and forth about whether or not you should¬†turn in¬†your¬†library card, pick up¬†Honey for a Child’s Heart.¬†May it inspire and instruct you as it did me and our family to intentionally fill our lives, hearts, and minds with quality literature,¬†honey, as Hunt calls it. The last half of the book is filled with page upon page of book lists including various ages, authors, genres. Use it to guide your book selections on your library storytime days, as I did and still do. (Yes, I still take my copy with me to the library to direct my steps! Or, even better, buy the Kindle edition¬†and take it on your phone or tablet to whip out in the middle of the library! All the cool kids take¬†books to the library. You didn’t know?!?!?)¬†As I have begun adding honey,¬†quality children’s literature, to our family’s diet, it has increased my appetite, personally, for rich literary prose. This led me to pick up¬†Honey for a Woman’s Heart¬†over Christmas. I’m looking forward to the unknown adventures and worlds to which it will introduce me. I’m sure it will mark me in the same manner the “kid version” has done. Come, join me in this journey; you and your family will never be the same.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

The Word Became Flesh–WINNER

12 Mar

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And the winner of a copy of¬†The Word Became Flesh¬†and coordinating ornament set is…

Dianna  (March 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm)

Dianna, congratulations! You have until March 13 to contact me at suzanneshares AT gmail DOT com.( If I do not hear from Dianna, a new winner will be chosen.) I will connect you with Faye Maynard so that you can receive your goodies! Thanks to all of you who entered! Wishing that I could give all of you who entered a free copy. ūüė¶ Go here to order a copy. Thanks, again, to my friend Faye for penning this book and for sponsoring the giveaway!

Stop back by on Friday to read the next “Friday Favorites” post.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

What We’re Reading Wednesday-installment #1

12 Mar

What We're Reading WEDNESDAYS

I am probably the¬†most¬†excited about this new series, “What We’re Reading Wednesday” on Suzanne Shares. I just love a good book. That’s all there is to it! I love learning about quality literature with a powerful plot line, hustling to the library to check it out, and reading it. Now, I will admit my book-reading quantity hit an all time low when my boys were teeny-weeny. I remember talking to an older, wiser woman at our church about it at the time. She said, “You’re a ‘reader’ trapped in a mother-of-toddlers body.” She reminded me that there would again be days where I could sit down peacefully (and quietly) and enjoy a book. At the time, I didn’t believe her, but our sons are now 8, 6, and 4. Those days are slowly returning. So, if you’re a mother to teeny-weeny ones and are, as I was, a “reader” trapped in a mother-of-toddlers body, give yourself grace. Your days of reading quality literature will return. Seize the opportunity to read quality¬†children’s¬†literature to your teeny-weeny ones; you’ll love it too.

So, here’s how “What We’re Reading Wednesday” will work. ūüôā I’m hoping to post weekly, but it may be more realistic to post twice a month. I’m all about keeping you on your toes and holding you in suspense! I’ll post a picture of the books we’re reading. I hope to give you a little background on each book in hopes that it will whet your appetite to read it for yourself (or not, if it’s a book I’m reading but not currently enjoying). I will include books that my boys and I are reading, too. “Read Aloud Books” are a staple in the Mosley home/homeschool. Some days that is the only reading that I get around to, so those will be noteworthy, too.

And, again, because I¬†don’t¬†have it all together and never want it to appear that way, please know this is not my attempt to ‘flaunt’ what we’re doing in our home. Also, please note that if you successfully read one book this week (and if the author’s first name is “Dr.” and his last name is “Seuss”), that is AMAZING! I plan to share for this week’s “Friday Favorites”¬†a dearly beloved book that has been¬†the¬†most influential document (and, consequently, my family’s) regarding how to incorporate literature into my life and the life of my family. At this point, I’m four years into the process, and I had no idea where to begin or what to read. I definitely started with¬†small¬†goals,¬†small¬†books, and you can, too. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

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These are the books we delved into over the past week, and please note that none of them were completed in a week. We wrapped up a few, continued on in some and started some new ones.

Corrie ten Boom (by Janet & Geoff Benge): One Christmas when I was in high school, I received a copy of The Hiding Place. I couldn’t put it down. For 72 hours I read and slept; that was it. I was taken in by the story of Corrie and her family during World War II, their imprisonment for assisting Jewish families in escaping the Nazis, but most of all the presence and might of God in Corrie’s life during those¬†difficult¬†days of jail. I couldn’t wait to introduce my sons to Corrie ten Boom, and since our studies with Classical Conversations have been about World War II, I thought this would be the perfect moment to let them meet her. We are HUGE fans of the Christian Heroes Then and Now series, so I was excited to see they had one about Corrie ten Boom. We started it this week, and it has drawn in my boys. ūüôā (Other recommendations from that series that we’ve read and enjoyed: George Muller, Gladys Aylward, Lottie Moon, and Eric Liddell)

The Blue Fairy Book (by Andrew Lang): This is currently FREE on Kindle (woot!). I love¬†old¬†books that have stood the test of time, and The Blue Fairy Book is one of those! However, I have only learned recently about the Fairy books by Andrew Lang. There are multiple volumes, and they are all “color” names: Crimson, Orange, Green, Blue, etc. Lang compiled these books beginning in 1889 with the Blue Fairy Book and continued with many more. Each book is a compilation of fairy tales and myths that you have probably previously been introduced to via Disney or Pixar–Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Rumplestiltskin, etc. We read a few selections out of here, and it was enjoyable to read the “old” versions of many of these popular movies. As with any book made into a movie, they are not always the same, and I always enjoy the book better. ha! We were introduced to The Blue Fairy Book by a book that we use in homeschooling called, Writing With Ease. “Writing With Ease”¬†is an excellent series of leveled workbooks to practice the classical skills of Narration, Copywork, and Dictation. One of my favorite bonuses from “Writing With Ease” is that it has introduced us to multiple, classic pieces of children’s literature that we had not heard of previously; The Blue Fairy Book was one of those!

Viking Adventure (Clyde Robert Bulla): Our “Read To Mommy” books, as they’re called in our home, come from Sonlight. Sonlight has a set of “Readers” recommended per grade, and we have used those since our oldest was in 1st grade. This is a great resource to find quality children’s literature; we have enjoyed every book that Sonlight has introduced us to! “Viking Adventures” is the book that our oldest is currently reading. He’s read a couple of other books by the same author this year, and he’s loved them!

Alvin C. York:Young Marksman (by E.H. Weddle): Sadly, this book is out of print, so I hope your library has a copy like mine did! We have also been studying World War One with Classical Conversations recently. I wanted to track down a book about Alvin C. York. As a Tennessean, I had heard of Sergeant York recalling that he was heroic and instrumental in some¬†war, but that was the extent of my knowledge. This was a delightful “Read Aloud” with the boys. Of course, they were engrossed with the tales of hunting and York’s gun. ūüôā (Mothers of sons will understand that sentence!) I enjoyed the multiple references to the geography, towns of Tennessee and being able in my mind’s eye to see each location mentioned. York’s valor in World War One was epic; however, he, with great humility, never asked for the accolades he received. Greater still was his investment in the lives and education, particularly children, of those from his region of Tennessee. We were so enthralled with the story and the fact that he was a Tennessean that we are hoping to visit his home in the next couple of months!¬†This book was published in 1967, and it is an interesting commentary on how things have changed when fast forwarded ahead 50 years. This secular book, part of the “Childhood of Famous Americans” series, does not omit or candy coat the faith of Alvin C. York, who was a professed Christian. Having known nothing of him previously, I was encouraged to see how York’s faith intersected with his life. This was a memorably “family read.” The longevity of its impact on my sons is already being felt. As they dress up and play “war” since finishing the book, my sons fight over who gets to be “Alvin C. York.” I love how exposing my sons to¬†real¬†men and women who have done or experienced extraordinary things inspires them to aspire to great things.

Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy): This is a book that I’ve always heard about and remembered that was previously an “Oprah’s Book Club” read. However, I knew nothing of the story line. I got Honey for a Woman’s Heart¬†over the Christmas break, read it, and was inspired to tackle some Classics that I’ve never read. She recommended this one, so I got it at the local library. Well, I had no idea that one of the major plot lines is about Anna and her affair with a soldier name Vrnosky. “Awesome,” I thought. “My first choice is a “smutty” book.” I was also¬†slightly¬†intimidated by the 4 point font and 800+ pages, but just overlook those things if you pick up this book. ūüôā ha! I enjoyed the book and now understand why it is a classic. Tolstoy’s writing is magnanimous. Some sentences I just re-read again and again because….they were beautiful. The love story tragedy of Anna and Vrnosky is paralled with the joyous love story of Kitty and Levin, which was a refreshing aspect of the book. There were some moments when I was reading about Levin’s book on agriculture in Russia that made me dose off on more than one occasion, but overall, I am glad that I journeyed through this book. I will say that if you want to affair-proof your marriage this book is for you. The pain and consequences that Anna goes through as a result of her affair, particularly in losing contact with her son, were not lost on me. It led me to pray for God’s protection over my marriage and family.

Well, friends, it’s Wednesday! Don’t forget to comment and¬†share¬†what¬†you¬†are reading!

Happy reading!

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Today’s the last day to enter to win “The Word Became Flesh”

11 Mar

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Today’s the last day to enter to win a copy of “The Word Became Flesh” and a set of ornaments to use with it. What is “The Word Became Flesh?” I explain it to folks as…the Easter version of the “Advent Jesse Tree” that many people use at Christmas. It is a family devotion used during the 40 days of Lent, and it’s fantastic! This is our 4th year using it, and it is such a blessing to our family has we journey through Scripture together.

To read more and to enter to win, go to this previous post. Enter by midnight tonight (Tuesday, March 11). YAY! The winner will be announced tomorrow!!

Friday Favorite: The Word Became Flesh (FREE Giveaway!)

7 Mar

FRIDAY Favorites

I wrote yesterday that I will have 2 new regularly scheduled posts cranked out on Suzanne Shares moving forward. One is “What We’re Reading Wednesday” and the second is “Friday Favorites.” You can read more about them in yesterday’s post.

Drum roll please for my first installment of¬†Friday Favorites!¬†I’m a little excited if you can’t tell! Today, I am highlighting a favorite book, The Word Became Flesh,¬†¬†and a family tradition that our family practices during Lent using said favorite book. With the commencement of Lent, I thought this would be a most excellent time to highlight¬†The Word Became Flesh. Plus, it is an exciting week related to the book, as well! My friend, Faye Maynard, the book’s author, has had the book published, and the book is now available for the¬†whole world¬†to purchase online! I am so excited for Faye, and I am shrieking with joy that all of you have access to buy the book as well. Last year, the book was only available for purchase on my blog or by contacting Faye personally, but alas, those days are in the past! Here’s a picture of the book, hot off the presses!
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Why is¬†The Word Became Flesh¬†a¬†Friday Favorite?¬†I wrote an in-depth review¬†about it last year if you want the “girl” (aka L-O-N-G) version. For the shorter version, here you go!

This will be our family’s 4th year to go through¬†The Word Became Flesh,¬†and it has been amazingly memorable. As a mom, I have always tried to be intentional about ‘recovering’ Christian holidays and celebrating them for their original purpose, and Easter was one such holiday. When searching for Advent resources for Christmas to use as a family, there was a multitude of options. However, perusing the world wide web for Advent resources for Easter were minimal, almost non-existent. I was slightly disturbed by that reality. As a Christian, Easter is just as significant as Christmas, yet its celebration pales in comparison to the festivities of December 25. At Christmas, my husband and I wanted to faithfully teach our boys of the miraculous, glory-filled moment of Christ being born, taking on flesh to enter humanity. However, we also wanted to share with them the other book end of Christ’s life, Easter. His glorious entrance into Jerusalem, the heaviness of a betrayal by one of his disciples, the excruciating pain that was crucifixion, the scream of¬†“It is finished!”¬†signifying the completed work of His sacrifice for our sins, the empty tomb and death conquered–these are the things that we wanted our sons to hear, know, ponder at Easter.

What a joy to hear from my friend, Faye Maynard, four years ago that she had penned a devotion, The Word Became Flesh,¬†to use during the 40 days of Lent in preparation of and for Easter. Faye is the same friend who introduced our family to the Advent Jesse Tree, which has become one of our most meaningful Christmas traditions.¬†The Word Became Flesh¬†has daily Scripture readings for use during Lent, and the readings center around the life of Christ. The first day’s reading is the birth of Jesus, and the final day is Christ’s ascension to heaven after the resurrection. I¬†love¬†that for 40 straight days our family is reading the Bible¬†together¬†,¬†and I¬†love¬†that the 40 Scripture readings aren’t randomly chosen Bible stories. We are together delving into the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. If I could write an unending blog post, it would never suffice in explanation of how my heart and mind have been led to worship in preparation of Good Friday and Easter morning due to the direction of¬†The Word Became Flesh.

One of our family’s favorite aspects of the Advent Jesse Tree is also used by us with¬†The Word Became Flesh–ornaments!

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I participated in an ornament swap prior to our first year of using¬†The Word Became Flesh.¬†Thirty-nine other ladies and I made 40 copies of one ornament, and then we had a vibrant jaunt around 2 massive tables collecting and swapping until we had a completed set of 40 ornaments. Each day there is a corresponding ornament, and we hang it on a grapevine wreath in our home. My sons fight over whose turn it is to hang the day’s ornament. ūüôā I love having a visual, it’s-so-big-you-can’t-miss-it, object in our home to recall thoughts of Christ and His perfect sacrifice for our sins at Easter.

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Another gift that Faye gives us in The Word Became Flesh¬†is artwork! She¬†is a gifted artist and included hand drawn sketches at the bottom of each devotion page.¬†The sketches can be photocopied and transformed into an ornament set for your family. So, no worries if you don’t have time or energy to coordinate an ornament swap! Xerox+the book=a set of 40 ornaments! (Thank you, Faye!)¬†Your kiddos will love the ornament aspect of¬†The Word Became Flesh¬†as well.

To conclude, if your family is looking for a meaningful way to celebrate and think upon Christ this Easter, I highly, highly, highly recommend The Word Became Flesh! 

FREE GIVEAWAY–One more piece of exciting news!! Thanks to Faye’s generosity one lucky Suzanne Shares reader will receive a FREE COPY of¬†The Word Became Flesh AND a set of ORNAMENTS!! (WAHOO!).¬†To enter comment on the blog by Tuesday, March 11, 11:59pm for a chance win a copy of the book. (Open to U.S. residents only. One entry per person.) The winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 12.

What We’re Reading Wednesday & Friday Favorites

6 Mar

What We're Reading WEDNESDAYS

FRIDAY Favorites

I probably have 4, 276, 321 blog posts rumbling around in my brain. Every day a conversation is had or something I do makes me pause and think, “I ¬†need to blog about that.” However, life often gets in the way, and those posts have yet to be written. (and I’m okay with that! After all, I’m first a wife and mother….blogger is w-a-y down on the list.) In an effort, though, to give myself some structure with the topics I enjoy writing about–books and favorite resources, I decided to have 2 on-going series moving forward with Suzanne Shares–“What We’re Reading Wednesday” and “Friday Favorites.”

What We’re Reading Wednesday–These posts will be related to books that I have or am currently reading myself or to my boys. If it’s not evident already, I’m a huge lover of books. I’m always eager to pass along a good book find. Hopefully, many of you will have additional books to offer to the conversation; I love when YOU¬†share¬†with me and my readers, too! So, get ready!

Friday Favorites–This will be a smorgasbord buffet on Fridays. These posts might be favorite recipes, tips from the kitchen, homemaking helps or the like. I might even sneak in a book here and there if it’s a¬†favorite¬†book that we’ve read in the past.

Frequency-I hope to post once a week in either “What We’re Reading Wednesday” or “Friday Favorites.” That is my goal, and as I’ve already confessed sometimes life sneaks in–6 and 8 year old league baseball games are to be watched (aren’t they just too cute in those little uniforms?!?!), church planting activities to plan or attend, a house to clean (oh, wait! I can always skip that one! ha!), or naps are to be taken. The weeks that life doesn’t creep in, though, I’ll be eagerly ready to share. It’s going to be fun!¬†I look forward to¬†sharing¬†and…hearing from you guys as well!

FREE GIVEAWAY–Tomorrow will be the first installment of these two series. Since tomorrow is Friday it will be a “Friday Favorites.” I’m sooooooooooo excited to get this started, and I’m excited to announce that tomorrow’s post will include a FREE GIVEAWAY! So, come back tomorrow to read the first “Friday Favorites” and enter to win this favorite of mine! ūüôā