Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Lost Has Been Found!

The lost present mentioned my last post was found shortly afterwards. My husband found it when he went to his secret stash so he could wrap presents to me. I'm not sure how this present got there, but right now I don't care since it's been found.

The case of the missing present

Well, here it is Christmas Eve and I have spent the majority of my day looking for a lost present. It was the first present I bought for my children this year and I have turned all of the places where I typically hide present upside down without success. Frustrated doesn't even begin to cover my feelings. I'm really nervous that it might have gotten thrown out while I was cleaning my closet one day. I sure hope not, but at this point in time I just don't know. Fortunately, since we don't typically open all of our presents on Christmas day, I have time to find it or if needed get a replacement item (Ugh!). In the past we have opened presents on each of the 12 days of Christmas and have also waited until Epiphany/Orthodox Christmas to open all of the presents. We still haven't decided which tactic we are using this year.

Our observance of Advent has been less focused than in previous years and our decorating for Christmas has been more minimalist than usual. In some ways one contributed to the other and our lack of decorating was caused by the heap of stuff that is still in the garage from our June flood. I hope that perhaps the next few days off will allow us to address those items.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, it has been forever and a day since I last posted. I hadn't realized it had been so long since I had posted anything but an entire semester has passed without any word from LibrarianMom. Since life isn't that exciting here, I don't have too much to report.

Reading Challenges: Last December I excitedly posted about several reading challenges I hoped to participate in. Well, I didn't finish. My intentions were good and I would like to read the books, but planning out all of my reading for a year at a time was too constricting. I would like to read the books I listed, but I like the flexibility of reading a variety of other things as well.

Afterschooling: This isn't happening to the extent I would like. DD is reading a lot more on her own which is exciting. Our reading isn't progressing as quickly as I would like which I attribute to dd giving herself a bath now instead of needing to be "supervised" like when she was smaller. But something is always better than nothing, and we usually accomplish something each week.

Life is pretty much not coming together in the way I would like. I hoped life would improve since dh changed jobs and no longer has a long commute. However, the house is still a mess and my personal and professional life seems to be at a standstill. Hopefully 2009 will look up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Responding to random comments

Last week someone made an off-handed comment that really bothered me. I'm certain they didn't mean anything by it, but it's one of those things that keeps coming back to my mind. I was making idle conversation with someone and inquired how his kids were responding to his wife taking a position. He responded that the position was only 20 hours a week because they had decided that having someone at home was more important than making lots of money.

Frequently, individuals have made comments like this and they seem to paint that everyone who works does so in order to make lots of money to the detriment of their children. However, they don't know the specifics of individual circumstances that cause people to work. Do I wish that I didn't have to work? Sure I do sometimes but until recently, it wasn't a questions of if I wanted to work. And now I feel like I'm in a scenario that my company has invested time and energy into my professional development and that I couldn't quit even if I wanted to. But if I did quit, what would I do? Well, I'd end up volunteering at a variety of things and basically be working anyway.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer 2008

My summer has passed by too quickly with absolutely nothing productive to show for it. I've done a few things but not nearly to the extent I would have liked. Even for a Librarian Mom, my reading has been minimal at best. Lately I've been feeling particularly glum. I wish I could put my finger on why I feel that way so I could do something about it. I think it mostly has to do with summer ending, school starting next week, and my general unproductiveness.

In light of my summer failings, I intend to do better in the fall. I need to be more consistent in after schooling with both kids. I plan to reinstate the family menu schedule to bring more consistency to our meals and less running through the drive through or making whatever comes in a box that is in the cupboard. I really need to work on better home maintenance. I have to admit it really isn't something I enjoy, but it does make a difference in how I feel and interact with my family. Hopefully, having a more intentional plan and schedule will help on a variety of fronts. Including the things I've mentioned above, I need to get back on an workout plan, eat better, have more consistent devotions, and find time to do the gazillion things that I would like to do.

Consistency seems to be the theme that runs through the above paragraph. I really need to work on a stop doing list for at home in order to regain time to be the wife, mother, and person I would like to be.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I've been meaning to post for some time about a variety of exciting life happenings. However, as the time has passed the events have been exciting in a variety of ways--not all good. So here goes the run down.

The Good:
1. The best news that has happened recently is my husband got a new job as a library director. We've been really excited about this mostly because he won't have such a long commute any more which should have a positive impact on our family life.
2. In early June we went on vacation. We had a good time staying in a nice resort/lodge. We had a two room apartment with kitchen which was really nice. We intend to stay there again and will investigate similar lodging for future travel.
3. DS will go to pre-school at the local elementary school in the fall. At first I was disappointed he wouldn't go to the church pre-school, but I've decided this will actually be really good because it is daily and free.
4. DD is finally starting to read. I think she could before, but she's finally showing more interest and doing quite well.

The Bad:
1. Nothing too awfully bad is going on except that we're tired and my to-do list is longer than it should be. I have lots of books I want to read and have to read that I'm not getting to. I also have lots of house projects (see below) that I want to do but I'm not getting to. I had also hoped to pursue more recreational opportunities over the summer. I'd really like to learn to play golf and tennis but it's not going to happen this year.
2. Anyway, all of the above items plus the items below at times contribute to a low disposition, but I have to remind myself that it could be much worse.

The Ugly:
1. When we arrived home from vacation, our downstairs carpet was soggy wet. It turns out the power had gone out in our subdivision and nearly everyone's sump pumps failed. So we had to have the carpet pulled. This means our belongings are in the garage which is truly ugly.
2. Things in the garage and the downstairs being a mess has had a domino effect on the rest of the house. I'd really like to clean and sort, but we can't put anything in the attic or the garage for storage.
3. Our new carpet won't be in until sometime around August 1. The good part is that we've been needing to fix up the downstairs anyway and I'm committed to only bringing in half of what's currently in the garage.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May update

Lately life has been a whirlwind of many appointments. I feel like I haven't had a solid week at work for a long time which isn't necessarily a bad thing. My reading has still been mostly non-existent as I spent the bulk of my non-work time finishing up my course for this semester. I wrapped that up last week so hopefully I will have more time for pleasure reading. I must admit though that I'm already wanting to take something else but probably shouldn't push the issue quite yet. I need to take some time focus on my family and the condition of my home.

DD and I have started reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I did read ahead and finished it. I'm going to try to read Prince Caspian before the movie this weekend.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Checking In

During the past month, I've been busy getting by. I have done no significant reading to report, am behind on my studies, and have made little progress in any other areas. On the other hand though, dd and I enjoyed making some great snacks for her class the last week of March/early April, the children and I enjoyed a marvelous walk at one of our local parks taking in the first really nice evening of spring, and my husband and I celebrated our anniversary with a nice day out.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Passing Over Easter

I finished another book from my reading challenge list this morning. Passing Over Easter by Shoshanah Feher was a good book although not quite what I expected. I expected a book that was primarily about the religious and cultural practices of Messianic Jews . Although this subject was touched on briefly, the book was in actuality an ethnographic study of Messianic Jews which compared and contrasted Messianic Jews, traditional Jews, and evangelical Christians. Not having considered those relationships in depth before, it was interesting to realize that there are significant boundaries between Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians which they refer to as Gentile Believers in addition to the expected differences between Messianic and traditional Jews.

My personal experience with Messianic Jews has been extremely minimal although I would love to visit a congregation some time. The Old Testament feasts and festivals and Jewish practices are intriguing and the little bit of reading and study I have done on the topic has enriched my faith quite a bit. This is an area that I would like to learn more about and to incorporate more fully into our family life, yet I'm not quite ready to give up Christmas yet (although we try to scale back). In addition, I think that it would be easier to practice these traditions in community. For example, although I have purchased and read various sources, because these practices are so foreign it would be really helpful to have a mentor who could demonstrate how to do these things. In a similar way, I would love to practice formal morning and evening prayer within our family, but I really feel a need for someone to show me how or at least to see what it looks like in real life. I'm finding myself attracted more and more to a liturgical tradition, but the actual practice is a stumbling block in my current life situation.

On that note, I must confess our observance of Lent was mostly non-existent. We do a pretty good job with Advent, but there is so many external stimuli that feed into that observance. Lent and Easter, except for specials on seafood, doesn't have the same focus. Except for the fairly recent observance of Ash Wednesday at my institution and services during Holy Week, the weeks of Lent pass by without much thought. I just need to plan better and earlier next year and find an accountability partner or family.

You Go, Girl!

This post is a tribute to my dd, currently in kindergarten. Yes, there are times when she is frustrating, doesn't do what she's told, and just generally acts like a kid, but there are times when she makes me a very proud mama.

At her school they have an Easter party the day before spring break just like they have a Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Valentine's day party. While getting dressed that morning, she asked me if the party would mention Jesus or if it would just be about "fake" Easter. I responded that she can tell them about Jesus. DD responded that she drew Jesus on the cross on the Easter bags they had made. Sure enough when she brought her bag home yesterday, she had a great picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns, a black sky, and lightening. That's why, even though I stress about her education and whether to send her to public, private, or home school, that for now she's staying in her local elementary.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cat Who

Last night I finished The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts, the first title in the mystery category for the 888 Reading Challenge. I initially found the book slow to get started and went back and forth between reading it and several other titles I was working on. The first few chapters were very detailed in order to set the stage for the mystery and set up the relationships between all of the characters. Once I finally got past the first few chapters the pace picked up and I finished rather quickly. I enjoyed this book as this mystery was rooted in historical events that had happened years before and ended up tying several prominent townspeople to the criminal with a tidy finish. However, the criminal was easily identified early in the book so the "Aha!" was more from how the plot came together more than "Who did it?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Technology Frustrations

Last week I attended a workshop on Blogs and Podcasts at my workplace. The workshop was quite honestly fairly pedestrian and nothing that I couldn't have picked up in half the time given the opportunity. Yet, therein lies catch-22 "given the opportunity." I feel that as a librarian I need to be on the cutting edge of technology or at least up to speed on some fairly commonly used tools and resources. I would really like to be able to utilize these tools not only for myself but actively in my workplace as well. In particular, I would love to be able to put links to all kind of cool resources and blog on the library website and other things that many libraries/librarians are doing as a matter of course. My biggest question though is when do other librarians find time to keep up with the technology? Are others allowed opportunity to explore those areas on the job? Do they do it all on their own personal time and have no life outside of the library? Are they infinitely more talented and accomplished than I? How in the world is our library going to be seen as a technological and instructional leader on our campus if we are not allowed the opportunity to explore and experiment in these areas and others that are just emerging?

Reading back over this post it sounds like I'm whining. I don't intend to whine but I honestly want to know how they are doing it and what I/our library can and should be doing differently or more expediently. Unfortunately, I don't really feel I can post this question to the library list servs as it would come off as whining and have my IRL identity attached.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The last book I finished was an "add-on" to my previously posted 888 listing. However, The Learning Coach Approach by Linda Dobson caught my eye and zoomed to the top of my reading stack since as a book from the public library it didn't have as long of a check out time. This title is unique in that it addresses the unique aspects of afterschooling which isn't written about much. I had previously read another title by this author about what the rest of us can learn from homeschoolers. Dobson makes afterschooling seem do-able to all people and just a natural part of parenting and helping your child succeed in life instead of an add-on. She emphasized adhering to the school curriculum fairly closely as using a coach model as the title suggests. This is where I differ from Dobson. I am finding that there are so many gaps in the school curriculum that must be addressed. Yes, there are times when you can use the school curricululm as a springboard, but there are other times when you need to go a completely different direction. However, I know that as my children's homework load and outside activities increase, how much I can do at home will diminish and will need to be carefully selected.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

General updates and musings

Well, our family has joined the vast number of other families in succombing to the lure of a mini-van. We found a great deal on a new model that will allow us to take extended family members with us on trips and better be able to take friends on shorter trips. DD is very excited about being able to have friends over more easily.

888 Reading Challenge: I'm gradually plugging along on my reading challenges. I'm dreadfully behind on the theme challenge but will hopefully catch up quickly. While the discipline of sticking with a reading plan is good, I find there are always numerous other books that appear (particularly in my line of work) that are just too good to resist or that fit a current information need. So I have lots of stacks of books by my bed that are waiting to be read in addition to the items on my list.

As always, I'm trying to figure out how to reasonably accommodate the half-millions things that I want to do in 24/7. It is particularly frustrating trying to schedule those activities that I know will make my life infinitely better (exercise, spiritual disciplines, home cooking) but cannot seem to fit in. In particular, I need to refrain from comparing myself and my life/schedule with others as not only does everyone have an unique set of life responsibilities and opportunities, but it only serves to make me more frustrated. However, when LibrarianMom rules the universe, everyone will have a 4 day work week.
I finished reading last week the most marvelous book, When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today (Dewey Decimal 600s in my reading challenge) is in many ways a sequel to Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake. The latter book was my first introduction to Charlotte Mason and a great deal of it makes sense. I learned of the first title last fall and borrowed a copy from another library to read. The book is primarily authored by a professor of education at Covenant College and two administrators at private Christian schools who utilize the Charlotte Mason philosophy. This describes the type of school where I would enroll my kids in an instant if one was available. I read references to Charlotte Mason quite a bit of various homeschooling and afterschooling forums but had not seen her philosophy mentioned in regards to a traditional classroom although that was her original intent.

One of the things I really like about her philosophy is the oft-quoted (and paraphrased) statement that children should be given real or "living books" to read instead of "twaddle". In so many ways this just makes sense because if children read only twaddle they never develop a taste for the best of what is available and become loathe to try anything more difficult. In addition to twaddle-free education, Mason puts a emphasis on lots of nature study, picture study, composer study, reading Shakespeare and poetry, doing handicrafts, and letting children have opportunity to play and be kids. Her philosophy advocates academic school subjects in the morning with the afternoons devoted to nature walks, handicraft, and play or what she refers to as "masterful inactivity". Sometimes I have the brash idea that it would be fun to open a private school. At this point in time, it would be really difficult to decide between a Mason style school or a University Model School. I really think this type of school would fit a niche that currently does not exist in our area. The only private schools are a Lutheran school and a Catholic school that run through 8th grade but having looked over their websites and handbooks thoroughly, the curriculum uses the same textbooks as the public school with the main difference being the addition of Bible/religion class. Although, we're not displeased with our local elementary school, it hasn't knocked our socks off either. But until another option presents itself or I can figure out a way to fit full-fledged home schooling into our hectic life, I'm going to take the $3 grand plus that it would cost to enroll in private school and use that money to buy lots of great books and resources and take purposeful educational trips.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dewey Reading

I recently finished The Grammar of Our Civility, my selected book for the Dewey 400s. This book was not the inspiring read that Climbing Parnassus was. Perhaps if I had read this title first, I might feel differently. In many ways this book emphasized why classical studies are in the state they are instead of why studying the classics are an important area of study.

Having focused much of my recent reading on non-fiction, I have turned to lighter reading and began the Cat Who books yesterday. I'm finding the reading challenge good in that my reading is focused, but I'm finding it hard to avoid dipping into the books that cross my path particularly related to daily life issues. As always, reading for my class, although enjoyable, vies for attention among all of my other reading interests.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Some days and weeks are much more frustrating than others. This week in particular has seemed to be one frustration after another. After last weekend, I was pulling my hair out and really ready to go back to work. However, I had a really difficult time getting to work as the car became stuck at the end of our driveway. It took my husband and a neighbor to get me out. Later I needed to take our son to the doctor and became stuck in here driving as well. Fortunately, I was able to get it out myself.

Home life has been frustrating not because we haven't gotten along, but because time runs away from us. Several evenings this week, we were out out and about until late and then it's time to put the kids to bed which leaves no time for cleaning. I'm also trying to catch up on rest after not sleeping well last weekend and getting to bed later than I should most of the time.

I also spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what we are going to do to celebrate Lent. I gathered some good ideas but haven't had time to begin implementing many of them yet.

Work life has been frustrating as well. A student worker resigned this week; another informed me he isn't returning in the fall. I already know another isn't coming back because of an internship and possibly a second as well. It is so frustrating to train them and watch them leave time and time again. Several other frustrations arose involving the need to get permission for everything. This need to seek permission forced me to be "wait listed" for a conference. The second need to get permission hasn't been decided yet but involves participating in a state committee. However, it would be nice to hear "Congratulations! That's a great opportunity!" before hearing "Well, we'll have to see how that impacts your other work and if you'll have time."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snow Day reading pleasures

We celebrated February 1st by enjoying a snow day. I was as excited as the children to receive this reprieve from my normal schedule. I attempted to put the extra time to good use by catching up on my reading for class. I had hoped to study for my exam as well, but Pocketful of Pinecones called to me instead. I attempted to read the short chapters in between my other reading and study, but alas Pinecones won and I finished it this morning while enjoying my hot chocolate.

I had checked out Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola last fall before I learned of the various reading challenges. Thus several of the items in my Dewey selections for the reading challenge appear due to their prior selection and some of the area are more heavily populated. Pocketful of Pinecones, a often recommended book about nature study in the Charlotte Mason tradition, was an enjoyable but not taxing read. Although a non-fiction work, this "diary" of a fictitious depression era home educator read quickly and easily. As expected, the nature study ideas were welcome and I hope to incorporate them more. However, I feel guilty due to the hard work of this wife and mother doing her laundry, keeping her house tidy, gardening, learning herblore, sewing, knitting, and other tasks that comprised her day. So in addition to the call for more nature walks and study, the call to more industry in my house keeping and time management echoes.

Alas for the next few days, home industry must wait its turns while I prepare for my exam. I hope the siren call of reading this title is replaced with diligence in other matters.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

This week I finished reading two of the books I listed for the Dewey 300s in my reading challenge: 373.24 Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Simmons and 371.04 Morning by Morning by Paula Penn-Nabrit. I really enjoyed reading these books although they were very different in content and style.

Climbing Parnassus focuses on why a classical education was the primary educational model for centuries and why it should still be important today. I initially read it because I have been reading other books about classical education and this was recommended. Many of the other books were good about some of the "how-to", but this book emphasized the why. Simmons also differs from the common history-based classical education frequently espoused today in that he emphasizes that the languages are at the center. Among the emphasized points was that previous generations of classically educated people had a common core of knowledge and language to draw upon. Their understanding of morality, justice, liberty, and freedom came from reading the Greek and Roman classics (in the original) and they could banter the exact translation and meaning of certain items. Simmons also emphasized that this classical education and requirements to compose in Latin is a main component of the great literature produced in previous generations. My interest in learning Latin has been rekindled although will most likely not be acted on right away. I figure I have a few years to get up to speed on Latin before I need to teach my children Latin--they need to gain further competency in English first.

The second book I read, Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy Leauge by Paula Penn-Nabrit, was primarily the story of one family's experience. However, it was different from many of the other books I have recently read about education. Many authors write glowing reports and emphasize everyone else should do exactly what we did. This author, on the other hand, was very honest in stating this was our experience and what we learned, but it isn't for everyone. While reading the book, several times I felt like I was sitting at the table having a frank discussion with the author. This family came to home schooling after bad experiences in their private school. An emphasis was placed on how they desired to provide a holistic upbringing for their children encompassing not only education, but physical fitness, spirituality, arts, and community service, and how they accomplished their goals. This book provided a lot of food for thought for all parents regardless of the educational choices they make for their families.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This week life finally began to fall into a pattern again. In the evenings I really enjoy spending time reading to the children, but Christmas break had resulted in a too relaxed atmosphere largely from watching too many movies. This past week though we started making headway both on our for fun read-aloud and our non-fiction items. We also had better mornings although those can certainly be improved upon.

My own reading improved as I finished the first book for my reading challenge. Northfield by Johnny D. Boggs took top billing in the western category. This novel about the James-Younger gang's debacle of a Minnesota bank robbery piqued my interest in learning more about the main characters. Boggs employed an unique writing style where each chapter was told in the voice of a different person which both gave multiple perspectives on the events and carried the plot forward.

The biggest excitement for the week came when I received permission to take a course this semester. This feat was not easily accomplished and requires extra diligence on my part so that I may hope to take additional courses. So I have added weekly class preparation to my reading repertoire; however, every course I take forms a needed stone in the pathway to my future goals. On that note, studying beckons.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Book about Other Continents and Cultures (Books Around the World/African Reading Challenge)

Left to Tell: One Woman's Story of Surviving the Rwandan Holocaust.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah (memoir, Sierra Leone)

Joki-by Njeri Mbuti

The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi (JUV)

Reading Lolita in Tehran

The Kite Runners

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Bookseller of Kabul

Empress Orchid by Anchee Minn

The Last Empress by Anchee Minn

Sold by Patricia McCormick

The god of Small Things Arundhati Roy

That is the last of my lists. Well, I think I'd better get started reading.

Books about world religions

Neighboring Faiths

Tapestry of Faiths

Buddhism: A Short Introduction

Hinduism: A Short Introduction

Islam: The Straight Path

Inside the Community: Understanding Muslims Through Their Traditions

Miriam's Tambourine

Passing Over Easter (Finished)

Shinto: The Kami Way

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam by Sidney Harrison Griffith

Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish co-existence in the Middle East by Zachary Karabell

Books previously purchased and not yet read (there are boxes and shelves of these)

Preacher's Wife

Tortured for Christ

He Leadeth Me

Monganga Paul

Cat who talked to Ghosts (Finished)

Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

Cat Who Lived High

Roger Caras' Treasury of Great Cat Stories

Chronicles of Narnia (all 7-I plan on reading these aloud to my children over the summer.)

One book from each of the 10 Dewey sections

000 006.7 a book about blogging or 025.524 Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online;

100 One of the many philosophy books I have purchased but not yet read.

200 One of the many books that I am surrounded with on a daily basis both at home and at work.

300 373.24 Climbing Parnassus, 371.04 Morning by Morning, 372.357 Pocketful of Pinecones (Finished all three)

400 480.7107 The Grammar of Our Civility: Classical Education in America (Finished)

500 509 Story of Science by Joy Hakim (all volumes available to date)

600 649.68 M381Yc When Children Love to Learn; any other parenting titles I choose to read this year (Finished)

700 783 Story of Christian Music; something about art

800 Roger Caras' Treasury of Great Cat Stories; Immortal Poems of the English Language; also some works on creative writing

900 909 The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon


Cat who talked to Ghosts (Finished)

Cat Who Knew a Cardinal

Cat Who Lived High

The Maltese Falcon

1 Agatha Christie

1 Susanna Gregory

1 Peter Tremayne

1 G. K. Chesterton (Father Brown)

1 Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael)

1 Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey)

1 Emily Brightwell (Mrs. Jeffries)

Fantasies (Mythopaeic Awards Challenge)

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess

Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley

A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Deerskin by Robin McKinley

Winter Rose by Patricia McKillip

Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Northfield by Johnny D. Boggs (Finished)
The Virginian by Owen Wister
To the Last Man by Zane Grey

The Light of Western Stars by Zane Grey

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Buffalo Wagons by Elmer Kelton

1 Max Brand

1 Louis L'Amour

After nearly two weeks of contemplating just what titles I plan to read for the Reading Challenges, I have posted my list. I had never planned an entire year's worth of reading in this manner before. In some categories it was difficult to list specific titles, but in other categories it was difficult to narrow the field to just a few items. I found myself finding many books that sounded too good to pass up. That led me to list more than eight titles in several categories. I figure this gives me some leeway in case a book doesn't fit as well as expected. In total 65 book are listed, not including the Chronicles of Narnia. I doubt I will get to them all, but it was a good exercise to construct a list.

  1. Biographies/Memoirs (In Their Shoes Challenge)

Preacher's Wife

Tortured for Christ

The Narnian

Walking from East to West

The Hiding Place

Son of a Shaman

He Leadeth Me

Monganga Paul

Autobiography of George Muller

Here I Stand: a Life of Martin Luther

(several of the books listed in category 8 Books Around the World are also memoirs.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Book Review

This weekend I finished reading Flirting With Monasticism: Finding God on Ancient Paths by Karen Sloan (IVP, 2006). The had been sitting on my "to read" pile through I-Share for quite some time. The looming date finally spurred me to read it. In brief, this book recounts the story of a Protestant girl (technically a Presbyterian minister by trade but not by practice) and her friendship with a young man who is entering the Dominican order and how she is lead to learn more about the Dominicans and incorporate various monastic or Catholic spiritual practices into her life. This book read quickly and was an interesting story. However, I was not satisfied with it. I must admit that it did not live up to the high expectations I generally have of IVP books. This book was not from their academic line, but wasn't even on the par with other books in their popular line. The author takes a girl next door tone and resorts to several passages where she uses "Me: Them:" to reproduce dialogue. I expected to have more research and how-to's in addition to the story line which precipitated the writing. I was hoping the book would knock my socks off and I could then recommend it for adding to the library where I work. I will not make such a recommendation and must confess this is the first IVP book in which I have been disappointed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reading Challenges Part 2

I accidentally posted before I finished so here is the rest.

Along the way I discovered several other reading challenges including In Their Shoes Reading Challenge (reading biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs),the Book Awards Reading Challenge (reading books that have won awards), the Themed Reading Challenge (4 books about any theme between January and June), To Be Read Challenge, Book Around the World, Africa Reading Challenge, and others.

Here is my list of eight genres for now:
  1. Biographies (to meet In Their Shoes Challenge as well)
  2. Mysteries
  3. Fantasies (Mythopaeic Awards Challenge)
  4. Westerns
  5. Books about world religions (can be fiction or non-fiction but primarily non-fiction)
  6. Books previously purchased and not yet read (there are boxes and shelves of these)
  7. One book from each of the 10 Dewey sections (will overlap with other sections)
  8. Books about other continents and cultures (Books Around the World/African Reading Challenge).
Numbers 2, 3, and 4 will cover Book Awards Challenge as well. Many categories will overlap and YA or children's literature can be included as well. More specific lists will be added in the next week or two although I reserve the right to edit and change the lists as needed.
Earlier in December I learned of the 888 reading challenge. This sounds really neat and most of my reading the past six months plus has focused on parenting and education issues. While I will continue to read in those areas I want to branch out in my reading a bit as well.

New Year's

That grand day of the year when everyone resolves to do this, that, and the other has arrived. This ritual has been a source of much contemplation the past few days as I have tried to figure out what I would like to do that stretches but does not set up certain failure. My list includes the ubiquitous exercising more, being more faithful in my devotional life, better parenting, keeping a cleaner/more organized home, etc. James Emery White's recent post added to this mix as I contemplated things to stop doing such as less time spent on the computer.

Well today, I received inspiration from Dear Abby's annual New Year's column. Her column emphasizes "just today" I'll do this. Focusing on today instead of yesterday, last year, or next week resonated with me. However, as I pondered this idea and implementing it, "just today" morphed into "one thing." So for 2008 "What one thing today?" is my constant question. What one thing can I do to benefit my health? To strengthen my walk with God? To be a better parent, wife, employee? Stay tuned for more details on how this continues and what other incentives or tools I add.

Christmas musings

It's been enjoyable being home for Christmas break. Visiting with family was nice on Christmas day itself. The little ones enjoy opening their presents a bit at a time and seem to enjoy the things I purchased. A few have not been instant favorites although some have been a bigger hit than I anticipated. The best part of break has been sleeping in as late as we want and doing pretty much nothing. Of course, that means I did not finish the books I wanted to read or other productive things. But I figure, it's vacation--I'll have opportunity to be productive later.