A Literary Advent

A few years ago I read about having a literary advent: reading a book a day through the advent season. Last year I got things together enough, and with the help of some sisters and a brother-in-law after a family dinner, we wrapped up 25 Christmas books.

It was an overwhelming success! The prefect fit for our family who loves to read. (I do like to find the thin, less pricy wrapping paper. And as much I love to fully decorate Christmas packages with ribbons and bows, these books do not get that full treatment.)

aliteraryadvent

This year I browsed the used books stores all year and picked up a few new ones to add to our collection. Most of our collection was given as gifts or I found used, a few I bought new.

Here’s a little on the books I have lined up for this year: (My son is 7, daughter is 5, and my youngest son is almost 2)

Great Titles for the Littlest Ones

Lift the FlapLift the Flap Nativity by Allia Zobel Nolan
(Board book) This one is more for my youngest, but it’s a new (used) find this year that I’m sure will pique the interest of the older two. (They’re always up for a new-to-them book.) :-)

the story of christmasThe Story of Christmas by Patricia A Pingry
(Board book) Another one for my littlest guy. Last year I wasn’t sure if I’d add anymore board books to our home collection, but with another baby due in the Spring I’m not sure our current board books will survive that many little hands. (With each child they seem to love “harder” on our board books!)

Picture Books:

Mortimer'sMortimer’s Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson
New (used) one this year. I’ve seen Mortimer on Christmas book lists all over the internet and decided he needed to be in our collection too. (Age 2-8)

God Gave Us ChristmasGod Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
(Board book) A new one this year because of so many high recommendations. (Age 3-7)

The Animals Christmas EveThe Animal’s Christmas Eve (a Little Golden Book)
This rhyming favorite is in delicate shape from my childhood. (Age 3-7)

humphrey's FirstHumphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer
Lovely little picture book about the camel who carried the gift of gold to baby Jesus. (Age 4 and up)

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-JonesSong of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones
The whole universe anticipates the birth of Jesus. (Age 4-7)

Christmas Big WoodsChristmas in the Big Woods (My First Little House Book)
Another new find for this year. We’ve just started reading this series, and my daughter really enjoys it! (Age 4-8)

Mr Willowby's Christmas TreeMr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Very cute picture book. (Age 4 and up)

the twelveThe Twelve Days of Christmas Illustrated by Jan Brett
I might have them open this one the same day as the pop up 12 Days of Christmas book, or I might drop it from the stack this year. (Age 4 and up)

The Crippled LambThe Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Love this one. Good story. (A little long, I’m not sure my youngest will sit through it all.) (Age 3-7)

Night TreeNight Tree by Eve Bunting
Fun story we’ve read since my oldest was 3. Would recommend for everyone’s home library. (Age 4-8)

Wild ChristmasThe Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
Cute story about litte Teeka getting the reindeer ready for Santa. (Age 4-8)

The First NoelThe First Noel Illustrated by Jody Wheeler
The story of the birth of Jesus through the verses of the Christmas carol we all know. (Age 5 and up)

The Tale of Three TreesThe Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
Story of three trees that dream of becoming a holder of treasure, a fine ship, a hilltop beacon pointing to God, and as you can guess become the manger, a fishing boat, and The Cross. (Age 5 and up)

The Legend of the Candy CaneThe Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Bernardin
Fun little story that makes my mouth water for hard candy when I don’t even like it! (Age 4-7)

The Light of the World by Katherine PatersonThe Light of the World by Katherine Paterson
I love this one that includes the birth as well as life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus. (Age 4-8)

gigiThe Perfect Christmas Gift (gigi: God’s Little Princess) by Sheila Walsh
Another one more specifically for my daughter, obviously. (Age 4-7)

The Year of The PerfectThe Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
A longer picture book that might bring a tear to your eye. (Age 5-8)

 

Classic Christmas Picture Books: 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
No comment necessary. My oldest two can almost quote the entire book! (Age 5-9)

A Charlie Brown ChristmasA Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
Again, the collection wouldn’t be complete with some Charlie Brown.

The Polar ExpressThe Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
I’ve yet to see the movie, but we love this book. (Age 4-8)

 

Longer Picture Books:

Christmas TapestryChristmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
I found this one last year but thought it was a little too long/deep for them last year. After a quick re-read I think it’ll be a perfect story for them this year. (Another one that might make you tear up at the end.) (Age 6-8)

OrangeAn Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
This too was a find from last year that I held back. Good lessons taught through story always make a winning book. (Age 6-10)

Books with a little extra:
Depending on the child these two might need adult supervision.

Jolly Christmas PostmanThe Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
This one I’ll admit I did buy new. But it’s worth it! This was one of their very favorite books last year. Full of envelops with fun surprises just like the original Jolly Postman. (Age 5 and up)

the 12The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition (A Pop Up Celebration) by Robert Sabuda
This one I’m very excited about! It’s a new one this year, and yes, I paid full price. The kids have seen the cover, and how thick it is and keep begging to peek inside! The last page not only pops up it lights up as well! (Age 4-8)

 

Picture books that could be read as daily advent reading:

Nick and HollyWhat Nick & Holly Found in Grandpa’s Attic by Melody Carlson
Love this story, but partly because my Dad played Grandpa in a play of this story at our church. (I still need to hunt down a recording of it to show my kids! They’ll love it!!) Originally, you could buy a set of Adorenaments (from FamilyLife) You can read it in one long sitting, or break it up into 12 days, learning about a different name of Jesus each day. Amazon will let you see inside the book. It’s not too long for little ones to sit through. (Age 4-7)

One-Wintry-Night-by-Ruth-Bell-GrahamOne Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham
Another one you can read over. Last year we broke it up and read a chapter a night. (Eleven chapters, each chapter is about 2 pages.) (Age 4-7)

 

What are your favorite Christmas books? I love finding those gems out there!

 

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Bold Year {First Quarter glimpse}

This year I’ve been participating in and co-leading an online challenge: The Bold Year Challenge with MacKenzie and a few other online and in real life friends. (Jodi, Lauren, Kari, and ReneeButton-Bold-Year-ChallengeIn short it’s a year to be BOLD.

Now, I’m not already bold, I’m learning to be bold with all the participants.
Real life.
Bold living.
Imperfectness and all.

The challenge as several components. The main one is The Bold Year Visual Bible Study: reading, studying, and visual journaling through the New Testament inductively. <– Right there? All those words? So exactly me and what I wanted for my year anyway! (Also this type of study aligns exactly with my learning style.)

We are attending a church that’s a bit of a drive from us and in this current phase of life driving to church throughout the week for different activities and Bible study is more than we can commit to as a family right now. Enter the online world. YES. I know some of you might think community and relationships can’t happen and won’t grow though the computer, but it is possible! I wouldn’t say that is the only way or that you shouldn’t have face to face time and fellowship with others, but as a mom with three young ones, this is my reality right now.

I often meeting with friends on Google + hangouts or Facetime. The kids even join in sharing. Don’t knock the internet friendships ;-) that’s all I’m asking. Sooo all that rambling to say I’m loving the NT challenge with these lovely ladies online! I’m marking my Bible with the precept studies key word markings. (I even copied them ALL into a mini moleskin to use as a reference. A long project but worth it. I plan to continue marking my OT as I read those with our church and next year.)

Real life note: I’m behind in this portion of the challenge. I skipped James while we were traveling and on vacation. I’m studying and preparing to teach a bible study this summer and adding that on top of the NT challenge made my head swim.

Another component is Bold Fitness. Each month you can download a calendar of tips and exercises. I’ve picked up doing yoga again. It was one of my favorite prenatal exercises when I couldn’t get to the pool to swim. I have P90x so I use that yoga routine if I have a larger block of time. Or I find one on youtube. I’d love to get better at some of the more challenging poses…. so I know I have to get in a better routine of practicing regularly.

Real life note: I’m getting exercise in 3-4 times a week. Which isn’t bad, but I’d love for it to be 7 times. Current obstacle here: Isaac likes to get up at 5:30 am. (insert yawn.)

Each month also has a theme. April has been “The Ways of Old” – Looking at traditional homemaking tasks and hobbies to see how we can apply them today. May will be “Beautiful Spaces” – Making our houses into homes.

And the last (but not least!!) is the Bold Book Club the portion of the challenge where I contribute. The word challenge seems fitting here. I’ve had an in-real-life book club for six years next month so I know the blessings and joy of meeting face to face and discussing books. I’m still working on finding a way to have a good book club discussion on line. (Let me know if you have suggestions!)

This month we’re reading Home Comforts. It’s a really a reference guide, so definitely on the heavy/long side. But oh, so, handy! Visit Anne’s site for a great description of it here. Next month, Emily P. Freeman’s A Million Little Ways!

If you’re interested in joining the challenge the beginning of every month is a great time to start! Visit Bold Turquoise for all the details.

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March Reading {2014}

Screenshot 2014-03-30 21.08.43

19 down 41 to go

This month was full of a few other projects some things cooking on the back burner. (Not to mention I taught 3 classes on essential oils!) But I was able to still finish 5 new books:

Read Alouds:
Revenge of the Red Knight (Imagination Station #4)
Showdown with the Shepherd (Imagination Station #5)

Book Club:
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield (March’s book club)

Audible:
Daring Greatly (Loved this! I see why people say it’s one they’d read more than once!)

Continuing Education:
The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple (This puppy has taken me for.ever. I started it last May!! But I’ve been slowly savoring it. I was and still am not a math/science kind of girl, but Stewart does a great job of explaining the chemistry without making me gloss over in the least!)

2 re-reads:
Organized Simplicity (March’s Bold Book Club book)
Forgotten God (great book! highly recommend! Really. Stop reading here and go find a copy.)

I’m slowly working on me currently reading book pile.

I’m reading Crystal Paine’s book with a friend. We meet once a week to discuss a chapter at a time. She lives pretty far away so we have FaceTime meetings. Occasionally, small children join in to share their latest lego creations with their new friends across the country!

Emily Freeman’s book is our May book for the Bold Year book club so I’ve got that on hold so I can read it with everyone else then. And The Mystery of the Cross I’m reading for Lent. Fascinating book with 40 short chapters… I haven’t finished yet but I think I’ll be recommending this one for sure!

I’m also chipping away at the audible version of this month’s book club book: The Secret Keeper. April is our annual book club tea party (!!!!) and this was such a fun book with so much detail I want to listen to it again before our discussion! (Plus, now that I know what happens I think I’ll pick up on more of all the goings-on this time around.)

I’m super excited about those things I mentioned I’m cooking up. We’ll see how April shapes up in the reading department. We do have a roadtrip planned so it’s possible I can finally get around to a few audiobooks I’m been anxiously awaiting!

Check out my GoodReads page to see how I’ve rated my March reads.

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February Reading {2014}

FebBooks

14 down 46 to go

I surprised myself again this month reading another 7 new books, because I was also re-reading a few:
Pride and Prejudice (Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club)
The Ministry of Motherhood (Bold Book Club)
The War of Art (March’s Book Club book)
I guess technically that means I read 10 books!

This month I wanted to work on finishing some of my “currently reading” books… and it didn’t quite happen as much as I wanted.

I finished reading:

2 books with the kids:
Peril in the Palace (Imagination Station #3)
The Children’s Book of Virtues

2 audio books:
Dad is Fat (so funny! *Jim Gaffigan reads it.) *twothumbsupemoji
The Secret Keeper (this will be our April’s book club book)

1 Classic:
The Three Musketeers (February’s book club)

1 giant cookbook:
Nourishing Traditions (Bold Year Challenge book club)

and 1 book on books (this one was fantastic!):
Lit: A Christian Guide to Reading Books (This is right in line with why I started Broadened Horizons Book Club. Highly recommend.)

I do think my reading will slow down a bit in the coming few months. We are gearing up for the homeschool convention so I’m about to start doing more research on curriculums and prepare for the upcoming First Grade, Preschool, and Tot School Year. Do you remember those grades??! I’m SO excited for the coming school year! SUCH fun ages!!!

I’m also reading some heavier books and working on some book club events coming up. So I may have a little less free reading time but homeschool research and book club planning?? Those are right up there with some of my favorite things!

Bring it on March! I’m ready. (*fistbumpemoji)

Check out my GoodReads page to see how I’ve rated my February reads.

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What I’m Into {January 2014}

umm… What I WAS into {January}

Looking back at January here’s a bit of what’s been going on around here:

My Life/Family Life:Random Things:
Wow. 2014. Seems like it can’t possibly be that year! For real. I think I really am turning “old” this year. Wasn’t it just 1999?

Me: I wrote a pretty long and details new set of goals -more life goals, not so much New Years resolutions. Then I divided them up into categories, then into steps to read those goals. (Yep, I was a little goal crazy.) January was spent working on trying those steps and experimenting what I can incorporate the bite size steps now and what needs to go on the back burner. Right now a big focus is finding margin. And then not immediately filling it.

I’m in a new phase now that Isaac is 11 months. (Much cheering was heard!) Buuuut, I am still adjusting to having THREE little people who need ever so much time and attention. (For those of you with more than three, you are my hero.) The amount of “free time” for me to do other activities beyond family, kids, and house care is tiny at this point. I’m a leader in the Bold Year Challenge heading up the book club portion of the challenge -I know. Right? Go figure. (There has been a book club intervention for me. And they were right. I was in too many book clubs. I’ve cut it back to 3….. maybe 4. But don’t tell!)

Also. I never spell challange, challenge? right the first time.

So all that to say, I’ve dropped back to not being involved in as many things as I hoped to take part in. It’s just not in this season of my life. (This also means I’m not going to the Young Living Convention. But I’m OK with that. Another time. I’m also experiment with not doing laundry. But my family keeps telling me that’s just not doing to work.)

The fam: Isaac is almost 1 and moments away from walking! I think he secretly knows how to walk but his red-hair stubbornness tells him to just go ahead and keep being carried. Lydia got a cat costume from the neighbors. She’s been a cat for days. Today she wanted whiskers. So, of course, my eyeliner pencil and I obliged. (She’s perfectly fine with my no laundry plan. Cat every day? She says OK!) Aaron continues to ever impress us with his creativity and building skills. Several times a day he drops everything and will go build something new out of Legos, or Zoobs, or Straws and Connecters. Can’t wait to see what he grows up to be! (He’s also getting too tall too fast!) David is still finding days to bike in to work. Even with this Polar Vortex!

TV & Movies:
I’ve really backed off watching much TV. But SHERLOCK. Go watch it if you don’t know what I’m talking about! BBC: You’re my favorite. We previously had been watching Downton Abby, but have been busy and haven’t started this season yet. Maybe I’ll catch it later, but from the little I’ve heard I’m not sure I want to even get into it. Sounds rough.

From The Bookshelf:
I’ve been busy previewing and skimming books for the Bold Book Club for the year. I’d like to get them all selected and matched up with each month’s theme soon so I can get down to the business of reading them. So thankful we live so close to the library.

My Audible app is queued up to The Three Musketeers for my book club for February, and when I get in the mood for something else I switch to Dad is Fat. Highly recommend them both!

Around The House:
PSA: Never put tile in a kitchen. Just don’t. I’ve sure I’ve said it before, but the moment, yes, the very moment I stepped into our now house while house-hunting I backed up a little and said “No.” The tile is not my taste and I KNOW that it would be too much of a headache to remove it. (Can you even imagine removing it?!) But here we are 2.5 years later of living with this tile… but so much closer to having saved up to fix this problem. Yep. It’s a problem. Do you even know how many times a dish or glass falls or gets dropped and SHATTERS in to BILLIONS of pieces, shooting from one end of the house to the other. I’m not kidding. Well, maybe, it’s millions not billions. Then it’s at least 40 min of clean up. And still, twice glass has gotten in someone’s foot. Let’s just say it’s been traumatic.

I’ve been scheming new plans and pinning like crazy gearing up for the next big step in our kitchen remodel. (technically I think the pantry and a few cabinet additions are next, but the resident contractor and husband is the boss of this part. Then the beloved new flooring will soon follow.)  It’s probably still months before the real work gets underway but I’ve keep myself busy drawing the changes and decorating in my head. I love figuring out new ways to make our space work for us. I’ve recently come up with a new idea! Maybe I’ll post about it later. Let’s just say after my 5 ideas for different pantry options I’ve moved onto the island… I mean continent.

In The Kitchen:
I met with some friends and had the first, of what I hope to be many, Kraut Club meetings! We gathered and made Kimchi together. I’ve made basic fermented things plenty of times but I can’t wait to glean more from these other ladies who are pro with ferments!

The Bold Challenge also has plenty of food portions. January was yogurt. David is king yogurt maker in this house, but we’ve cut way way back on dairy and it seems to suit everyone.

What Coming Up:
Much homeschool planning and research. The convention is at the end of April but a friend or two and I are re-looking in to our options and what will fit our families best.

I think we’ll have a small first birthday for a certain little boy. (Feb is also David’s and my birthday! Party month!)

Also some plans in are in the works to step up our book club! I’ve recently found some new inspiration for our monthly discussions!!

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January Reading {2014}

Screenshot 2014-02-05 20.46.40

7 down 53 to go.

I usually read quite a few books in January but not usually this many kids books!

Check out my GoodReads page to see how I’ve rated my January reads.

Raggedy Andy Stories
The Little Book of Talent
168 Hours
Voyage with the Vikings (Imagination Station #1)
The Margaret Wise Brown Treasury
Attack at the Arena (Imagination Station #2)
Freefall to Fly

I have a record-breaking (for me) current books that I’m reading right now! As well as Pride & Predjude that I’m re-reading. (Why won’t GoodReads let me add re-reads??) I actually have more books current in progress, but that just feels embarrassing to have THAT many listed. I think February’s theme might be “Finish some books, Sarah!”

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A book look at 2013

2013′s book number was 59

But still. 59 books in a year I had a new baby! I’m impressed! Granted quite a few were YA books or Kindergarten read alouds.

I counted the book if it was a chapter book. As much as the Sarah inside of me would love to count and keep recored of all the picture books we read, well, that isn’t a reality in the stage of my life.

2014 book covers

My 2014 favorites break down…

Kindergarten favorites (Aaron’s favorites)
The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel
One Wintery Night by Ruth Graham Bell
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I read this to him, his dad has now almost finished the series with him!
Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Book #2 in the series, book #1 we read and loved in 2012.
The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Book #3 in the series.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Non-fiction favorites:
Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh. I liked this more than Quiet by Susan Cain and I highly recommend that one!**
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. With all the books on books I’ve read I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to pick this one up. (see Resources for Inspiration for more of my favorites in this category)
It Starts with Food by Melissa Hartwig. My secret weapon for loosing weight. Seriously. this works and is good for you at the same time. Currently doing another Whole30 this month.**
Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Enjoying Well Fed 2, right now!
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. But this is on everyone’s favorites list I think**

Fiction favorites
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Listened to this on Audible. Excellent audiobook.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. This was for our tea party. Part of my 2014 goals include writing more letters.**
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Quick fun story. So glad there are more in this series. (This is on the line, and possibly a YA book.)

Young Adult favorites I’m don’t usually read in this category, but for my year with a newborn it hit the spot. 
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead**
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum. Not like I remember the movie, it was better than the movie. But I’m not sure I completely remember the movie.
Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Feuvre. A Lamplighter book. I had a goal to read I think 6 Lamplighters this year, I read 3. But this one was excellent!!**

The book break down for the year…

59 total books
19 favorites (books I rated with 5 stars*)
11 book club books (plus I re-read/skimmed Stepping Heavenward which isn’t counted in my total)
33 fiction
25 non-fiction
14 kindergarten read alouds
7 YA books
19 audiobooks
14 read on my kindle (or kindle phone app)

*I can’t really say I’m a “new reader” anymore. It’s been over 5 years that I’ve claimed reading as a favorite hobby. Lately, I’ve been working to find friends who’s tastes are so similar to mine so I’m unlikely to pick up a book that I don’t already know I will like. (My GoodReads friends have been good to me!) This year I must have hit a sweet spot. 19 sounds like a ton of favorites to me!

**These books I would recommend to anyone. Anyone.

Linking up with Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy

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