Thinking, Playing, Reading


“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

-Anne of Green Gables-

I am sad to see October go!  It's been so beautiful here, with only a little rain and lots of sunshine-which is perfect for bike rides and walks from morning till dusk. 

I must keep in mind that Anne also said:
“It was November--the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.” 

My kids have always liked puzzles.  Janey really loves "the bears" right now,  and we set them up (she does not like the sad faces!) almost every day.
We have so many of the wood Melissa and Doug's-many of them are of vehicles leftover from the boys.


Just finished this short book, a recommendation from the librarian.  It is a story from the South, set in the 1970's, of a white woman who hires a homeless man to cut her lawn, then seeks justice for him when he is accused of a crime.  Well written, thought provoking, beautifully crafted story.

If you have a picky eater it's a good little lesson. Frances will ONLY eat bread and jam-and eats so much of it, that it doesn't taste so great anymore.  A classic for sure.

These are Janey's favorite books-all the books about babies!  And they were mine also-most especially Little Mommy, which is a good thing because I've practically memorized them all.


Toddler Tips:Planning Ahead

Something that has really helped me cultivate good behavior and prevent any tempter tantrums is taking the time to explain what the day holds.  It seems so obvious, but so often, in the busyness of getting everyone ready for the day, or into the car, we forget to let our children know where we are going, and what they can expect.  

If there are times that can be stressful or there is certain behavior expectations that we are trying to work on, this is even more important.

To say, "Today we are going to go to church.  We are going to walk in, and sit down and we have to be very very quiet, only little whispers.  We might hear babies cry, or the bells or the piano and we have to listen for those.  Remember we have to sit still and be quiet."

"After the soccer game, we are going to go to the birthday party, and after we eat the cake, we are going to get in the car and come home."

Or let's say that you know getting into the car, or mealtime, or a very specific situation can illicit tears, or attempts to control which can lead to frustration for both them and us:

Before we walk out the door-"When we get into the car, you can climb into the car seat yourself right away, and then mommy is going to do the buckles. Remember I am going to do the buckles, you are going to hop in."

It gives them some control, and correct expectations, so they don't feel yanked here and there, completely at our whim.  Of course it is no guarantee of behavior for sure, but hearing before hand what will happen and what they must do, paints the correct picture in their head.  Often, besides the adhering to the best advice ever (don't ever let them get hungry and tired), I think breakdowns can occur because what was planned or imagined in their heads, is not what is happening in real life. If we can paint that correct picture that matches up with ours, we give the best chance for peace and harmony.


A Spoonful of Sugar

Thank you so much to the reader who suggested this book-it is as sweet as sugar, just like the title says.  I loved it so much, I am buying a copy of my own for my bookshelf.

It's about a girl (this is a memoir) who ended up getting accepted into the prestigious Norland Institute-a nanny school in England, and her experiences at the school and than afterwards as she grows into adulthood-her whole life dedicated to taking care of other people's children. She was passionate about her job (even when it was very difficult or heartbreaking as it was quite a few times) and really soaked up all the information and experiences she could, and shares them all. Each chapter begins with the schedule she kept depending on where she was, and then ends with some "Nanny Wisdom".

I picked out a few main points she brought up throughout the book that I just loved, with my favorite quotes.

1. Playing outside, fewer toys, simplicity, imagination is so important. Read to them every day. FRESH AIR, always, every day.
"The whole essence of my childhood and, in my opinion, they key to any happy childhood is simplicity."

"Because my days weren't filled with television, computer games and constant activities, my siblings and I learned to use our imaginations.  Sometimes children need to be bored in order to stimulate themselves."

"Give children a chance to use their brains and imaginations, and they will. Put a computer console in their hands, and they won't."

"Put a book there instead or plant them in an empty field or park and suddenly the world opens up and becomes a fantastical place of make-believe and adventure."

2. Create a routine, teach them truthfulness, and morals, and be consistent.
"Lessons on fairness, truth, and politeness are something they should perhaps teach in schools today, instead of computer skills and foreign language. A sound moral compass is a far stronger guiding light and will take your child much further in life than knowing how to browse the Internet."

(Just a side note: She also spoke often of how important a baby's feeding schedule and routine is, but she says she mostly dealt with formula fed babies, because she suggests a feeding every four hours, or three if exceptionally hungry, and at night giving water. This would be disastrous for breast fed babies, and my babies certainly never lasted for than three hours-usually maxed at out two-for months, around the clock.  But I love that one of the first things she did when she came into a new house was to organize a routine.)

3. Protect children from harsh realities, let them have an innocent childhood, and don't argue in front of them.
"Childhood is over so quickly nowadays, just slow things down and hold on to it for as long as you can! Keep childhood as innocent, pure, and as carefree as possible, that's my motto."

"I could never believe it when I hear people bickering in front of their children. Why, oh why,  would parents subject them to that? I never heard my own mother and father raise their voices to each other, not once and as a result we respected them.  If they said no, we listened and we did what they told us We grew up knowing the different between right and wrong."

4. Don't spank. Use loving discipline, cultivate relationships with time and build trust.
"Smacking doesn't teach a child a lesson, it just says that you have lost control of the situation and that violence is as an acceptable response. I find a lot of people are just venting their own personal frustrations and anger on a  child and in fact are just doing it take themselves feel better. This is entirely wrong and teaches anger, not discipline or respect."

5. Treasure days with your children. Spend time with your children! Children need their parents love.
"So many children get so much for Christmas these days that I fear that the magic of it is quite ruined.  Put aside those endless toys, switch off the television, and play games with your children.  It is those fun times they will remember, not the toys. It's the emotion of the day that carries through over the years and lives on in our hearts."

"Over the course of my career I met some neglectful parents--not many, but some---and it always enraged me. Quite simply, what is the point of having children if you can't be bothered with them? Few thing anger me in life like that that."

"Everything is just a a stage and it won't last long. Try not to despair or wish it away, as something else is always waiting round the corner to whip the rug from under your feet or charm you senseless.  We can never freeze time, but we should appreciate every delicious moment of a child's life for as we all know, they grow up so fast."

"The biggest things I think I learned from the Norland, and which I hope I brought to every home I passed through, was to encourage the mother to spend time playing with her child. I do wish parents would put down their cell phones and laptops and make their children the sole recipient of their time and love for apart of their day."

There is so much more advice, and it isn't done in a preachy way at all-it is integrated as part of all her experiences.  In fact, sometimes I found myself "reading between the lines"-she had that subtle, proper way of stating something in a way that she didn't want to say outright what she thought, in fear of being rude. She talks a little of modern conveniences that we take for granted (no complaining about diapering babies, when you haven't washed nappies for hours every night!) and how the war and sexual revolution changed things in the home. I also keep in mind she had a co-writer and I wonder how that comes into play with some of her opinions, but overall her voice shines through for sure.

It's a very charming, upbeat, easy read.


Encouragement For A Mother's Heart


Thinking, Playing, Reading

"Moms and dads, I want to let you in on a secret. You don’t need permission from your children’s coaches, teachers, youth ministers, scout leaders, etc, etc, etc, to have a family life.  All those people have to ask YOU permission to borrow your kids.  NOT the other way around."  Greg Popcak
The rest of the essay here.
I needed to read this after a busy soccer season-three boys playing, two in a more intense club league (something I say I would never do again after two of our older kids participated and here I am, how did that happen? A weak deranged moment of insanity?), and still have very mixed feelings about it all.  I go back and forth between-
-this is absolutely insanely crazy with the emphasis on crazy and insane.
-it's organized, coaching is superb (no yelling!), kids are nice, and boys like it. 
I lean toward the first most often, especially with the older one where some travel is involved.

Some good deals at Amazon on some of our favorite toys!

Patrick loved loved loved these, and now Janey does also.  They are light and big and chunky.  Janey and I just spent an hour building "cages" for these with magna blocks (these-Magna-Tiles® Solid Colors 100 Piece Set-best toy ever)and then crashing them out after peeking in on them.

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit-40% off-$20.99
and this one also:
Elenco Circuit Maker 200 Sound Plus Electronics Discovery Kit-44% off-$22.39
Both have five star ratings, so it's not just my kids who enjoy them.

I've finished my nanny book and absolutely LOVED it but I want to denote an entire post to it-so much wisdom and sweetness in it.

What Janey and I are reading from the library:
Creaky Old House: A Topsy-Turvy Tale of a Real Fixer-Upper

Anyone who has ever lived in an older house will laugh at this book!  I loved it-one little screw goes missing in this family's front door knob, and when they can't find the right replacement, the project snowballs from replacing the door knob, then the door, then moving the wall, and the staircase, to having to resort of rebuilding the entire house.  Thank goodness one of the littlest members of the family finds a solution.


To Teenage Girls, With Love


Stop taking photos of yourselves.  Selfies. Whatever they are called.

Just stop.

If you keep up at the rate that you are going, you will have one million pictures of yourself by the time you are twenty four!

That is a lot of you.

Too much of you.

Too much looking at yourself.

Too much doing your hair, spending hours on your makeup, dressing just right. Too much getting that perfect angle so your nose doesn't look too big, that break out doesn't show, the bangs hang just right, the lips pursed just so.  Too much posing-the legs crossed so you look thinner, the hips jutted out, the stomach sucked in, the chest out, chin down. The angle, don't forget the angle is everything-one wrong move and your stomach, oh no!  All for a photo!

Too much scrutiny, way too much pressure! What will others think of this one particular picture (out of the thousands they've already seen)?  "Is it sexy enough that I'll get enough 'likes'?  Do I look my best ever? Are my eyelashes long enough, my lips full enough, my thighs skinny enough, my complexion flawless?"


Stop thinking about you, you, you.

Here's what you need to know:

The people who love you, truly love you, love you in person.  

That means they know what you look like in real life. They've seen you without makeup, they've seen what your hair looks like when you first wake up.  They can pick you out of a crowd of one hundred girls just by the way you swing your arms when you walk, the slightest difference in your posture. They don't have a favorite side, angle or pose. They love your real smile-the smile you use when the camera isn't on you and there is a big difference. Their hearts fill with love for you when you walk in the door. Their heart breaks with yours when something hurtful happens to you. They don't scrutinize your appearance, they care about how you are feeling inside.

And they love it the most when you aren't trying so hard to be someone else they don't even know. They love you because you are unique-they love most especially what makes you different.

And do you know when you look your best?
When you are caring for others. 

When you are listening to your grandfather talk about something that doesn't really interest you. When you are reading a book to your little brother again, or trying to decipher your toddler cousin's gibberish. When you are having an honest conversation with your parents and your eyes sparkle, when you are sharing funny stories of your friends, or what happened at work and your smile crinkles your eyes. When your face lights up instantly when you see someone you love. When you take the time to brighten the cashier's day or give a stranger a compliment, or lend a shoulder to cry on, or are friendly to shy classmate.

See, this is you...
you not thinking about you.

You are doing, sharing, learning, helping, listening to SOMEONE ELSE.


Girls, this is the key to beauty.

This is the KEY TO BEAUTY.

These are the girls real men fall in love with (the men worth marrying), these are the girls who find friendships that last a lifetime, these are girls who have the time to discover their talents and gifts and use them for the betterment of mankind, these are the girls that end up with rich fulfilling beautiful lives surrounded by those that love them for who they really are.

Don't spend so much time on your outside that you forget the real you inside, which is the source of your beauty.

Take pictures of yourself having fun with your friends but don't pose, one day you will treasure those memories and wonder where the time went.  Take candid photos with your arms around your parents, you will treasure those as well.  Make your grandparents take a selfie with you, now you will laugh, but one day you will shed tears over that photo and wish you would have asked them one hundred more questions to learn from their experiences. Take a picture of yourself with your siblings-that photo will make you crack up one day when it happens that you all find yourselves in one house again, suddenly grown up with families of your own.

There is no harm in collecting memories.

But then stop.
Become yourself by doing for others.
Live your life in service to others.

And a magical thing will happen-every day you stop thinking about you, you will become more and more beautiful. Inside and outside. If you don't believe me, just try it.

Start living and stop posing.
The world needs you desperately.


Encouragement For A Mother's Heart


Thinking, Reading, Playing

"Being a missionary isn’t just about traveling to the other side of the world. It’s about being love and light right here, in this moment. It’s rocking the brand new baby, and hugging the whiny toddler. It’s feeding the hungry teenager and lovingly welcoming a husband home even when you’re as tired as he is. It’s looking your grocery store cashier in the eye and listening when you ask how she’s doing. It’s paying attention and being willing to care."
Rachel Balducci

More here, on salt and light, love and truth.

I only have three dressing up this Halloween, and only one "ready" in the costume department. (Janey is wearing a hand-me-down from Abbey, a cute little hand made nurse costume.)  We dressed up the house though, same as usual.

Our fall favorites...
Hilarious, and our squirrels are crazy here in the fall, way too brave, (and some pay that price as one can not take a walk without averting one's eye to fresh squirrel road kill) so it makes us laugh all the more.  

I love this sweet story of witch and her friends.

A grumpy teacher gives homework on Halloween, and then has a change of heart.

Thank you to the reader who recommended these books-they are so funny!  A naughty cat goes on nightly adventures and wreaks havoc in his home and neighborhood, but always pays the price for it.
We love these!

As for me, I am on an early 1900's British stint here.
This is a memoir of a kitchen maid (and then cook), who tells of the hard work involved in servitude in a funny light-hearted way-I laughed out loud at her take on things.  If you are looking for a nice easy read this is your book.  I think I could have found a funny quip that I wanted to jot down on each page.  She speak of poverty and wealth, dating and marriage and it's all so true and funny.

Here are two I had to chuckle at:
"Would I have been happier if I'd been able to do what I wanted when I was young? I might have been. I'm not one of those who pretend that because you're poor there's something wonderful about it.  I'd love to be rich.  There's nothing particularly beautiful about being poor, having the wrong sort of clothes, and not being able to go to the right sort of places.  I don't particularly envy rich people but I don't blame them.  They try and hang onto their money, and if I had it I'd hang onto it too.  Those people who say the rich should share what they've got are talking a lot of my eye and Betty Martin (nonsense);it's only because they haven't go it they think that way. I wouldn't reckon to share mine around."


"Any fellow I met who had a face like the back of a bus and who I wouldn't have looked twice at if I'd have been stone-cold sober looked like Rudolph Valentino after a beer or so. Mind you, I had to be careful not to have too many, there was a borderline, you wanted enough so they they would kiss you and make a fuss of you and so that you could leave them thinking that next time it might be all right to go a bit further, but you didn't want them dashing at you like a madman the very first time they took you home.  After all's said and done, you've only go one lot of goods and if you're going to distribute them to all and sundry you haven't go anything worth keeping when the real one come along!"

Anyways, it is a nice pick me up after...

A warning here-it was dark and deep (and contains some strong profanity and a couple very risque scenes-I almost stopped reading from a scene in the first couple chapters but I'm glad I didn't), but I couldn't put this book down. It is a war-torn love story. I think the author has an original prose, and an amazing way of bringing alive the emotional horror of war (WWI in this case) that not only the soldiers experience but those left at home, and those nursing the mental and physically wounded.

Up next is A Spoonful of Sugar: A Nanny's Story-really liking it so far.  I was a nanny after college for a few different families, and I learned so much.  It definitely shaped the kind of mother I am today and influenced the choices I made in my own life-it really is a behind-the-scenes objective study in family life, marriage, child-rearing.