Category Archives: Books

Sunshine Jane

My little one recently chose a book to keep from Grandma’s collection.   It is a charming hardback called Sunshine Jane which was published in 1916.   The new owner likes to carry it around with her and periodically read passages to anyone listening.  She can’t yet read of course but we listened attentively anyway. 

 After a few weeks of this I asked if I could have a turn to read her book.  She consented and so we started in on this sweet story from a century past. 

I love this book.   It is happy and thoughtful and challenging.  My eldest thought bits were boring (no light sabers or iPods or dragons). To be fair it does have some rather extensive inner dialogue chapters. Apparently people thought more 100 years ago.  Shocker.  But even my ten year old was surprised at the ending and asked questions and we all pondered deeper ideas than whatever new song kidsbop is currently pushing.  

I read frequently on various electronic devices.  I read fast and move on.  Not as much fun as a real book.  Certainly not the same as this thick paper, velum pictures, think binding, big vocabulary, book. 


CS Lewiw claims we all should read old book.   “Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books…. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us.” 


As we worked our way slowly through Sunshine Jane I thought about what she got right and what we blunder daily in our plugged in too fast too much too early society.   Jane was fighting cynicism and debt and despair and general crankiness.   Her weapons were joy and smiles and hope and kindness.   Seems pretty much the same as now. 


My favorite quote in the book made me pause. I took a photo.  I read it again.  It comforted my soul.  

“We hear much of the downfall of love and the downfall of religion in these days, but no one even stops to realize that religion and love cannot possibly even shake on their thrones. Their counterfeits may crumble and tumble, but real truth can never fail”. 

Beautiful book.  Good choice little one. 

 

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Running behind 

I signed up for another race – mostly because I want to eat and not lose any of the momentum from finishing the triathlon and partly because the next race in October is with very dear friends and its to run over the Astoria Bridge so it involves a weekend away with my spouse.

Finishing the triathlon is not a sentance that my jr. high self would have envisioned – proof that jr. high, while generally miserable, is thankfully not the sum total of existance.  My eldest is going into fourth grade so we have two years left to pour in quality while she is still sane. And then according to my wise mother the goal in middle school is to just get them through it. 

The next race is a 10K.   I ran one several years ago.   I came in dead last.   I’d prefer not to be last again.   Near the end of the crowd is okay. Last, not so much.    I had a hard time this week getting into the gym during the day.   The Scramble for the Kids is on Monday and so this last week was full of a myriad of details.   As a result, two of my excercise attempts happened late evening after the three year old went to bed.    Couple days ago the nine year old wanted to know if she could come along.      I paused.   Sometimes I run because I need a break.   And last time she ran with me it involved more of me dragging her than actual running.  But the jr. high kid in me wants my daughter’s jr. high experience to include fewer painful PE moments than mine had.   Plus the fact that she wants to run with me is a a great honor.   So I said sure.

She did great.  We ran 2 miles in 25 minutes and were still friends when we came back home.

The almost 4th grader asked if we could run again tonight.  I said 

after dinner and after I read bedtime books to the little one  (Make Way for Ducklings, This is Not my Hat and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore for those of you curious).   

We headed out with iPod blaring so we could both hear and I was wearing a light backpack so we could bring home treats.  I asked my spouse if a run still counts if it is to the store for ice cream. He said yes. Points for the husband!

  
We paused at the corner because the sunset was gorgeous.  The nine year old had extra energy tonight because she smoked me. I had to push to keep up.     We had another mid run pause to pick up pints of ice cream  (Peanut Butter Cup, Heath Toffee and cookie dough…go big!).   Ran home with ice cream bumping off my back 

  
This two miles we dropped 4 1/2 minutes off our time.  Seriously should add ice cream to every run. Actually I think the fact that I was chasing her down the whole time pushed us both to speed up. 

  
She talked me through all the post run stretches and then we sat on the couch and ate bowls of ice cream and then I dove back into golf details.  And now the house is quiet, the girls are asleep and I’m grateful for today – for reading and laundry and errands and nap time and quiet moments with my spouse. And for the run. I’m grateful. 

  Our pastor says that parenting is not for wimps.  And so we run.  And eat ice cream.  

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Reading Olympics

My eldest daughter is a reader.   She comes by it quite naturally.  She’s spent the last six years of her life being read to and watching us read.   I’m trusting that her baby sister will join in the love of books as she gets older.   If not, she’s going to have a rough time getting our attention when all three of us have our noses in books.

The first grader’s school runs a contest all year called Reading Olympics.    To participate you just fill out a calendar each month with how much you read each day.    I’m worried that this year the people who keep track aren’t going to believe that we filled it in properly.    The six-year-old discovered Diary of  Wimpy Kid at the library.   She can’t put it down.   I read part of it with her.  We were giggling quite hysterically.   I told her if she got any ideas or picked up attitude we were shelving Greg Hefley.   I figure I survived reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and didn’t turn out too bad.

She received a set of several more of them for Christmas along with a couple of Baby Mouse books.  After she opened her first book on Christmas morning she promptly started reading.   We had to tell her to put the book down to open her next gift.  She reminds me of me. Really the whole point of this blog was to share this photo.    Add a pair of glasses and you have me thirty years ago.

photo-1

 

My first grader and I have many similarities.  We are both fiercely protective and amazingly proud big sisters.   We both don’t shy away from a microphone.   We are both learning to stand up for the under dog and love the bully into submission.

There are some ways that my daughter is nothing like me.  Ways that I am very proud of her.  Ways that she’s a lot like her dad.

She’s way tougher than I ever was at her age.   She can do the entire monkey bar circuit at school.   She beat a third grader at tether ball.    I never beat a kid at tether ball.   I think the third graders would still beat me.   In fact….I’m pretty sure my first grader could beat me.   I asked her how she accomplished this feat.   She says that a friend told her the secret tip.   According to the first grade girls you wind up the ball, fling it behind your back and then throw it as hard as you can.

She loves science.   For Christmas we got her a Snap Circuit set (very cool…check it out here).    She can now explain resisters, circuits and the path that electricity follows.    I even understood what she was talking about.   She and her dad have been spending at least an hour a day since Christmas building simple machines.  They just completed a cool art spinning motor.    I love girls who love science.   I love dads that hang out with their daughters.

My baby girl and I are sitting in front of the fire while the two scientists putter in the other room.    I’m blogging.   Shocker I know.   It’s because my sister-in-law and my sister ganged up on me today and told me it was time.   They are probably right.   The baby next to me is celebrating the fact that she has a new skill.  She knows how to roll over.    Life is about to get very interesting.   Wonder who she’ll turn out to be like.

 

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Stack of Books.

I have to apologize to my three readers.  I haven’t blogged in a week.  In the last week I”ve also ignored all the taunting weeds in my yard and I’ve skipped two training sessions I”m supposed to be logging for my first 10K.      

The reason for my absence is simple.   I was reading.   I had books in a stack looking at me.   I’m a compulsive reader.   I devour books.  Always have.   This is especially true when I have a stack of books that I want to read.   The stack keeps looking at me and I keep reading.   I remember one Christmas when I was about ten that I received maybe eight books from various relatives.   I surfaced sometime after the New Year.

This last stack started with Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile Vs. The Third Reich.    All 591 pages of this book are as daunting as the title.    It was hard to get into and had more detail than I usually like.    However, reading it sharpened my focus.   Bonhoeffer was the kind of person that stood for the truth regardless of the cost.  I want to be that kind of person.   It’s a scary thing to want.

After Bonhoeffer, I read Jill Williamson’s newest book, From Darkness Won.   It’s the final book in The Blood of Kings trilogy.     The two other books in the trilogy, By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled both won Christy awards.   I’m terribly impressed with my friend who is an amazing author.     You should read her books.

Next in the stack was my bookclub book for the month.    I didn’t like it.  I’m not going to blog about it.     

One of the problems when I read is that I tend to tune everything else out.      

When I was about twelve we went on vacation to the Grand Canyon.   My parents were thrilled to hear me oohing and ahhing as we drove around the rim.   They were thrilled until they looked in the back seat and saw that I had my nose deep in the travel guide and was exclaiming about the photos while I ignored the real thing.     I do have to say in my defence that the photographers were excellent. 

In the last week I’ve read until almost two in the morning three different times.   This really has got to stop.   However, I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy and whatever random detective novel I’m in the middle of now is enthralling.  Obviously it’s going to be memerable since I can’t currently remember the title.  Must be lack of sleep.

I asked my spouse if he’d be happy to have his wife back when I finished this novel.   He rolled his eyes slightly, smiled and said “sure, until the next book shows up”.     Does anyone else do this?

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High Tide

In case you hadn’t noticed, life isn’t perfect.  Cars crash, things break, families fight, wars start, pets die, medical tests loom and jobs are lost.

It can feel like you are standing by the ocean and waves keep coming.   Wading in the surf and anticipating that next cold wave to hit is a vulnerable place to be.   I’ve talked to several people who are jumping waves recently.   Naturally, questions abound.  “Why is God letting this happen?”   “Why me?” “Does it ever end?”

The way to keep your balance when the waves are hitting is to make eternity your personal timeline.   The thing about happiness in this life is to remember it isn’t about this life.  It  does not mean that the difficulties don’t hurt.  But it puts that pain in perspective.  It is not permanent.

Matthew 6: 19 – 20 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Want to know what kind of treasures you can store in heaven?

AUTHORS: I love books.  All kinds.  My favorites though are by people who claim to know Jesus.   When I get to heaven I plan on going and meeting all my favorite authors.  I am going to have lunch with C.S. Lewis.   On a side note, this is one of the many reasons to read the whole Bible.  Do you know how embarrassing it’s going to be to be standing in heaven when Malachi comes up and asks how you liked his book?   Awkward if you didn’t read it.

FAMILY: I can’t wait to meet my mom’s father.  He sounds like an incredible person.  He died about four years before I was born.   I want to see my cousin and my grandmother again.  Talk about a good family reunion.  It’s one of the many reasons I pray for my daughter and my niece and nephews.   I want to see them there too.

TEARS:

Psalm 56:8      “Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll
are they not in your record?”

I love that God sees us when we hurt and keeps track of those tears.  Someday, we’ll have the joy of watching as He wipes them off the record permanently.    In The Great Divorce, CS Lewis talks about how in heaven, Good ultimately wins everything and sadness and gloom and strife no longer have any sting.    So cry deeply but briefly.   God sees you.

STORIES: My sister has a theory about heaven that one of the fun things to do will be to go hear about the stories you were a part of on Earth that you had no idea.    Ever donate to a good cause?   Want to meet the people who were impacted?  How fun would that be.    It’s a great past time, giving unexpected kindness.  If you are having a bad day, do something nice for someone else.  Store up a fun story for heaven.

GRACE: If God created us to be in relationship with Him and each other then heaven is bound to be the best party.   Ever been somewhere when old friends reunite?   Ever introduce people you knew were going to hit it off?   That’s the kind of relationships God is looking for.   The best treasure to invest in here is in introducing people to eternal relationships.  It doesn’t get better than friends forever.

The last couple of weeks its seemed like high tide for people I love.    I have a message of hope for you.    I saw this quotation in a cubicle the other day.    It’s a good perspective.   “Everything will be okay in the end.   If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

Life isn’t perfect.   Heaven is.   Keep jumping waves.

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National Read in the Bathtub Day.

My sister called this morning with excellent news.  It’s National Read in the Bathtub Day.   I don’t know who assigns these random holidays but for once I am determined to help spread the word and encourage everyone to celebrate.

If you’ve never been one to read in the bathtub I do have a few hard learned tips.   

#1.  Don’t take library books in the bathtub unless you don’t mind purchasing them later on.  (I also don’t recommend loaning library books to other people who might take them in the bath….or spill coffee on them.)

#2.  Don’t try reading books you can’t manage with one hand in the bathtub.  This rules out War and Peace.

#3.  Pay your water bill.  If you are in the middle of a really good book, you may have to add more hot water about an hour into the read.     

#4.  If you want the full experience, make sure to add some bubbles and take a snack with you.  

I could live in my tub I think.

Are you going to celebrate today??

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Renaissance Woman

My daughter and I went with some friends to a tutu party last summer held     at a local high-end department store. Imagine thirty little girls in line waiting to be dusted and perfumed and spritzed and glitzed and generally fussed over.   They were all wearing tutus.  My four-year old bounces when she’s excited.    As we got closer to the front of the line, she moved past bouncing into full on jumping.    She pointed and yelled “Mom, the grownups are wearing tutu’s too”  (say that ten times quickly).   Sure enough, the workers in the children’s department were decked out with full size ballet tutus.   

Imagine thirty mom’s  waiting in line.  I was  trying to avoid eye contact with the sales people.  I kept checking the tags and asking my friend “Do they really think we’re going to pay $80 for a pair of jeans for a preschooler?”    The glitz and excitement of the under eight crowd was effective marketing though because quite a few of the moms had full arms as they made it to the front.   I was not one of them.
When I was four, I was more the kind of kid who liked mud than sparkles.
I had a dump truck and liked to pick up worms.   In fact, the story goes that one time my mother came outside where I was sitting in the mud holding up a worm above my mouth and preparing to swallow it. She hollered.  I dropped it.
I have a confession.  My daughter is better at walking in heals than I am.
We read a lot of Fancy Nancy books.   I like the vocabulary.  She likes the   sparkle.    We read Pinkalicious and Purplelicious although I do think that  particular littly missy has an attitude problem most of the time.    When we  read it we yell out every time that we think Pinkalicious should go to timeout.   But again, it does sparkle.
I think my daughter has rubbed off on me a bit.   Guess what I wanted and  got for Christmas?   Jeans with sparkles on the buns.    My mother bought  them for me.   Something about being a mom must make you want to see  your girls shine.
The good news is that I think I’ve rubbed off on my daughter as well.    She was still wearing her tutu when we stopped by my friend’s house.   In the front yard was a kid’s lawnmower.

She got down to business and made her mom proud.   Nothing better than yard work in a tutu.  It makes me want to wear heals next time I tackle the neighbor’s blackberry bushes.

There is something about living a life with a variety of interests.   It’s fun to keep people on their toes.
Are you bored this January?    Wear some sparkle. Play in some mud.
Renaissance woman
n.
A woman who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.
Like ballet and yard care.    That’s my girl.

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