Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Twitterature - July 2014

As further evidence that I only tinker with this blog in order to participate in Twitterature, I give you my next Twitterature link up post!

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel (hardcover, library)  Fascinating, yet ultimately very sad, behind-the-scenes look at the early NASA missions despite the annoying and disconcerting gossipy tone throughout.  The wives deserved better than this, surely.  A surprising story involving LBJ, Annie and John Glenn, and reporters is what I keep remembering from this book.  #spacerace #gladtolivenownotthen

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider (Kindle purchase)  The essays about intentionally traveling with your children were like a shot in the arm.  Loved those.  Her write up on an anniversary trip was delightful as well.  I've often thought about various issues being or not being a "hill to die on" because of her and could relate to creativity being a wonderful boost when worn down.  #intentionalbutrealistictoo

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam (paperback, library)  I believe this is the paper form of the ebooks of the above title, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, and What the Most Successful People Do at Work.  Easy read but chockful of good advice.  I got my husband and I up and walking in the morning (separately due to kids) and planned a weekend more concretely because of this book.  I imagine I'll be poking around Vanderkam's website and books a lot more because of her solid writing and suggestions.  #moreintentionality #prayandwalk

What about you?  Have you read these?  What did you think?  What are you reading right now?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Twitterature - June 2014

Let's start off Twitterature with a bang!

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell  (hardcover, library)  This book just sang with the true voices of the title protagonists, though I probably would have been more annoyed with them if I had let how many times they said "God" really sink in.  (You know, in that tone.)  It was also fun to imagine them into all the music I was blissfully unaware of in the mid- to -late eighties.  (As in, why was that guy singing about finding what he was still looking for when I really wanted to hear The Right Stuff on Friday Night Videos?)  Eleanor and Park gave a glimpse into what it's like to be teens brave enough to be themselves.  I often imagined what it was like to be Park's mom while I read, which brings me to the recommendation of talking this one over with any child who reads it.  Also, I loved Park's dad.  This is probably an early favorite of the year.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (digital, library) I was excited to find this available digitally until I discovered it was not a memoir, and not much later, it was abandoned.  #likethecoverthough 

Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Kindle purchase) I enjoyed and appreciated the perspective of the author until I reached the part of the book where I take the test.  I have yet to devote the thirty minutes needed to complete it.  I am very curious to learn what the official test says about my strengths.  Previously, I took some sort of version of Strengthsfinder online after my husband introduced me to it.  My number two strength was Cheerleader, which was a surprise at first, but then, I realized it made a lot of sense.  My number one strength was Learner, which was not a surprise, yet still a pleasant validation.  Will the results be the same?  What will Rath suggest as strategies for my strengths?  Stay tuned.

I feel like I'm forgetting a book, but maybe this really is it for this month.  I'm excited about some books I put on interlibrary loan.  We will see what next month's Twitterature brings!  Thanks for hosting, Anne!

What's on your nightstand?  Your Kindle app?  Do you use your actual Kindle?  Read anything good lately?  Abandoned anything that surprised you?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twitterature (Inaugural Link Up May 2014)

I am quite excited because this is my first time joining in for Twitterature at Modern Mrs Darcy.  I have often piped up with what I am reading in her comment box, but I decided that talking about what we are reading is so fun that I have to do this, too!  Twitterature is why I started becoming interested in trying to spruce up this blog.  So, thanks, Anne!

Here's what I've been reading:

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton (ebook) - How appropriate for my first link up!  I actually heard about this book from Modern Mrs Darcy, probably on Twitterature.  It was a fast read and quite interesting.  I don't know much about tech startups, and learning about Twitter was a neat glimpse into the lives and interests of people with skills that are far different from mine.  Evan Williams taught himself code before he invented Blogger (Blogger!), and then he became one of the founders of Twitter.  I had to take a deep breath after each chapter, I was reading so fast.  #techdrama #dofriendsandbusinessmix #creationstory

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (ebook) - I think I stole this title from Modern Mrs Darcy's Pinterest book boards.  Fast read and very encouraging.  I appreciate that Kleon doesn't seem to take himself too seriously.  I sadly didn't realize that the adage "There's nothing new under the sun" was biblical.  Kleon had some interesting suggestions, such as his log book.  I stared at that illustration for a while.  I have realized that I am very taken with artistic process.  Fascinating.  I already started to read it again, but I keep waiting for it to disappear from my Kindle app because it's an electronic library checkout.  Also, the author claimed what one of my best curriculum and instruction professors often touted in class: the best teachers know how to steal.  They see what's good and emulate it.  #notpretentiousthankgoodness #thanksfortheencouragement

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith (hardback) - Pre-ordered a while ago, Nester continues to inspire me to let go of perfection and embrace what is in the land of interior design and decor.  I appreciated that it wasn't just a retelling of her blog but a nice narrative of her learning journey with houses.  She reminds me to not take decorating so seriously, to try, to embrace limitations, to love where you're at, and many other things. She can talk philosophically about houses and gives great practical tips, too.  I will be rereading this for sure.  She totally inspired me to not give into perfection paralyzation and dig in.  She knows us, and it shows.  #faveblog #nesterrules #idhtbptbb

Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler (hardback) - Another favorite blogger, another current release.  I just finally got to pick this book up.  I probably would've read it by now, but I am hindered by the hardback that I really wanted to have.  I could've bought it for Kindle, but it's nice to have this one in hardback.  It's just hard to read while holding a baby.  I know a lot of Jen's story, but I have enjoyed the details, getting more of her story filled in while reading this one.  She's had her first son and reading The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  That's as far as I've gotten!  (Is that too much of a spoiler?) #loveconversionstories #faveblogger #joefulwilerisfunny

The Family-First Creative: 42 Tips for Following Your Dreams While Putting Your Family First by Jennifer Fulwiler (ebook) - Jen wanted to thank all the people who supported her by pre-ordering her memoir; so, she wrote this ebook that was only available until the book came out.  I zipped right through it, and I'll very likely zip through it again, as her tips seem hard won and proven.  There were a lot of neat things in it like her recommendation for the St. Catherine of Siena Foundation's Called and Gifted Series and the reminder I needed: even if no one sees what you create, the world is better place because you did it.  Art can serve you.  Creativity is for all humans, not just the super talented ones (which I do not mean snarkily- I love creative and super talented people.  And I love people who don't feel super talented but create anyway!)  Like this blog: who cares if no one sees it!  That's not why I started it.  I started it because it looked like fun.  I'm not going to pressure myself to perfect it.  If I want to work on it, I will.  If I feel like writing something, I will.  Jen seems to get that.  #thanksjen #familyfirst #conversiondiary

The bookshelf in my head most often includes: 

just started StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath  
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Strangers and Sojourners by Michael O'Brien (my husband bought this for me on Kindle a while ago, and I haven't dived in yet....I don't know why not!  Father Elijah was amazing.  So is O'Brien's art.)

Hooray, my first Twitterature!  How about you?  What have you been reading?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A New Way to Declutter

Not my basement

Put it all in the basement and then decide what can stay in the basement.  That's the long and short of it.

I'll back up.

I had a baby almost four months ago.  She joins two older brothers. I've been a determined declutterer for a while now, but it kicked into higher gear with the birth of another child in a two-bedroom house.

Suddenly, I couldn't handle the toy tubs in the living room.  They would get dumped, toy parts would get jumbled, and then, we'd just throw it all back in, too weary and/or annoyed to put the piggy bank coins back in the piggy bank toy.  You know?  I could not look at it all. I needed clear surfaces more than ever.  (This was randomly validated by a Holly Pierlot post I stumbled onto postpartum.)

Not long after baby was born, I hauled those toy tubs down to the basement.  Then, the rest of the toys in the living room (bag of costumes, musical instruments, larger toys) made their way down as well.

Soon, anything that was just sitting out where it didn't belong made it's way down to the basement.  Fun box?  Sensory rice bin?  Bye-bye.

When you have too much stuff in a given container, it all comes spilling out.  It forces decision-making.  It's that or live with things falling out of cabinets or having to move three things to get to the one thing you wanted in the back of the cabinet.  Dana at A Slob Comes Clean is very good at talking about accepting your container's (cabinet, drawer, box, house) limitations.

My house is a container.  The things that are sitting around, getting in the way, causing visual stress are going downstairs.  Sure, that's making the basement a mess, but here's the thing: unless I know where it's going, it's not coming back up.  I'm pretty determined this time.  Those things have to prove their worth.  

Some of you might cry foul: what about the kids' toys, right?  They've hardly asked for them!  They don't seem to remember what is down there.  I've been asked for a remote controlled dump truck and excavator.  I was also asked for Buzz and Woody once.  That's it!  Isn't that something?  

This positions our family nicely for a toy library, a rotating bin (though I'm leaning toward the library), and some new furniture in the living room for toys.  That's where I get stuck.  What to purchase to organize the toys.  I'd really love shelves that are neatly labeled so kids are empowered to put them back where they belong.  I don't want to shell out the big bucks for the nicer looking furniture, but the cheap stuff looks....cheap.  

We'll see where this goes, but I think I'm on to something.  

Prove yourselves, things.  Prove yourselves.  Or be prepared to exit my house.

Monday, April 28, 2014


So,  I got up in the wee hours of the morning for these two:

but not these two:

Bad Catholic.

But you know, it doesn't mean that I won't (or haven't) read more about them lately.  I am far more familiar with JPII, and I continue to enjoy learning about him.  I have loved learning about his Theology of the Body.  As for John XXIII, I look forward to learning more about him, especially after I heard that he would leave the Vatican in the middle of the night like Pope Francis to visit people who were homeless.  I am fairly certain I saw his tomb at St. Peter's.

I liked Reading Catholic's 7 Quick Takes on the two new saints.

Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us!

Pope St. John XXIII, pray for us!

Did you rise early for the canonizations?  Learn anything new about the popes?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mapping History

I was excited to receive this in the mail the other day.  Michele Quigley made a beautiful Book of Centuries for her online store, and when she opened the store back up again not long ago, I put in my order as soon as I could.

Michele also made a free, printable version of a century book available on her Mater Amabilis site.  From what I've read, people have had fun creating books, making them their own.  I thought Michele's was really pretty.

I think it will be pencil-only.  At least for a while.  A nice, sharp pencil.

Purchased or created any learning tools lately?  Any Book of Centuries fans?

Friday, December 6, 2013

An Advent Countdown with Books: 2013 Edition

It's that time of year again!  A little pre-Advent planning for this booklist helps get the season off to a terrific start.  I am revisiting last year's booklist for this year's tweaking.  I am also hoping to purchase a few of these books, especially the Tomie dePaola books, for our collection.  I have been blessed to find books used; so, I am hoping that will be the case this year, too!

Sunday, December 1st is the first day of Advent this year.  I will need 24 books, 1 Bible for the 25th, and possibly 12 books leading up to Epiphany on January 6th.  I have no leftover wrapping paper that will really work for this project, but I will just purchase some inexpensive paper for the 24 books, wrap the Bible in some pretty gold paper I still have and tie it with a gold ribbon (also already have), and maybe have enough for the final 12 books.

I will also split the content of the books up into Advent and Christmas, with the 24 books being focused on feast days and preparation for Christ's birth and the final 12 books being about celebrating Christmas and Epiphany (lots of books on the 3 wise men we haven't not read yet, not to mention St. Wencelas and St. Stephen).  Books will be scheduled for the night before a feast.  So, I will begin reading about St. Nicholas the night before St. Nicholas's Feast Day (December 6th).  Though, St. Nicholas is so fun that we will read about him more than one night.  Last year, we read the books right before bed.

Here's the list:

Sun, Dec 1: The Story of Christmas - Pingry & Thornburgh
Mon, Dec 2: An Early American Christmas - dePaola
Tues, Dec 3: St. Joseph's Story - Guadagno & Lo Cascio
Wed, Dec 4: Saint Nicholas: The Story of the Real Santa Claus - Joslin & Cann
Thurs, Dec 5: Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend - Stiegmeyer & Ellison
Fri, Dec 6:  The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving - Mackall & Porfirio
Sat, Dec 7: Immaculate Conception (booklet) - Winkler
Sun, Dec 8:  Our Lady of Guadalupe (pop up) - Serrano, Davano, & Guzman
Mon, Dec 9: Tony's Bread - dePaola
Tues, Dec 10: The Candle in the Window - Johnson & Elliott
Wed, Dec 11: Our Lady of Guadalupe - Bernier-Grand & Engel  
Thurs, Dec 12: The Birds of Bethlehem - dePaola
Fri, Dec 13: Tomie's Little Christmas Pageant - dePaola
Sat, Dec 14: The Little Fir Tree - Brown & LaMarche
Sun, Dec 15: Bambinelli Sunday - Welborn & Engelhart
Mon, Dec 16: The Night of Las Posadas - dePaola
Tues, Dec 17: Bear Stays Up for Christmas - Wilson & Chapman
Wed, Dec 18: The Gift of the Christmas Cookie - Mackall & Chabrian
Thurs, Dec 19: The Very First Christmas (a Hallmark book recorded by hubby's parents in 2010)
Fri, Dec 20: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell! - Colandro & Lee
Sat, Dec 21: A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche - Cole & Lemieux
Sun, Dec 22: Room for a Little One - Waddell & Cockcroft
Mon, Dec 23: The Legend of the Poinsettia - dePaola
Tues, Dec 24: Gospel of Luke 2:1-14  Family Bible, NAB -  (can find online at USCCB)

Wed, Dec 25:  Stephen's Feast - Richardson

Thurs, Dec 26: Good King Wenceslas - Henterly
Fri, Dec 27: The Twelve Days of Christmas - Long
Sat, Dec 28: An Angel Came to Nazareth - Knott & Kneen
Sun, Dec 29: The Nativity - Sanderson
Mon, Dec 30: The Friendly Beasts - dePaola
Tues, Dec 31: The Clown of God - dePaola
Wed, Jan 1: Mary, the Mother of Jesus - dePaola
Thurs, Jan 2: O Holy Night - Christmas with the Boys Choir of Harlem - Ringgold
Fri, Jan 3: The Last Straw - Thury & van Kampen
Sat, Jan 4: Humphrey's First Christmas - Heyer
Sun, Jan 5: We Three Kings - Spirin
Mon, Jan 6: Baboushka and The Three Kings - Robbins

A blessed Advent to you!  What's on your reading list this Advent?