Thinking, Playing, Reading

I recently reviewed my New Year's resolutions (I keep a little index card in my closet to remind me of them) and one stood out this last week. It was a goal this year to be very centered in keeping my focus on my family and community and church and OFF the media.  I have done well, except for the last week.  But as a result, I have felt different: unfocused, less purposeful and behind in my daily tasks (which directly affects the attention I give my family). How much precious beautiful sacred time are we willing to waste? That is the question. Looking into our children's eyes is the only way to answer that question.

I am reminded of this quote, Mother Theresa, who I go back to as a mother time and time again:

There should be less talk,
a preaching point is not always 
a meeting point. What do you 
do then?
Take a broom and clean 
someone's house. That says enough.
All of us are but His instruments
who do our little bit and pass joy.
(taken from this dog-eared worn out copy of one of my favorite books.)

she also said this:
War is the fruit of politics, 
so I don't involve myself, that's all. 
If I get stuck in politics, I will stop loving. 
Because I will have to stand by one, and not stand by all.  
This is the difference.

We are trying to be outside as much as possible-it is getting chillier and the leaves are falling rapidly, and I am not trying to panic about enduring the long gray days ahead.  The sun has been wonderful. I have been reading about SADD and how we must not say "I hate winter" but find good things about it. I sort of spit out the food I was eating when reading that and laughed to myself.  Is that the key? No wonder I am not fond (better?) of dark cold cloudy winter.    

On the same note, does anyone out there take Vitamin D and swear by it for the winter ickies?  And is there a more effective brand than the other?  I think I need to pour it into my body come January.

Here is how Janey spends her days: Playing store.
Playing with her Fisher Price dollhouse.
Playing babies.
Doing "homework".
Running errands with me (grocery, library, etc.)

She received the cutest cash register from Grandma for her birthday-you can "scan" food on one end of it and it comes with money and a credit card and discount card.  She spreads her food out around the living room (the store) and while I man the cash register, she brings me her full cart, I fill up the bag, and then we repeat, repeat, repeat.  It's so cute.  She has her purse with her credit card in it and just zaps it through, or better yet, pays with cash.

Also her cousins lent her their precious Fisher Price Dollhouse and all the accessories they have amassed over the years, and oh boy, this girl is in heaven.  She plays with it constantly and it is so funny to listen to her!  I was surprised at what a hit this is.

I am gaining ground on my Christmas shopping and patiently hoping that after Advent I just have a few finishing touches and can concentrate on our sweet traditions and spending time together.

Once again I have a huge stack of books by my night stand but I am excited about all of them.  I finished Tattoos on the Heart, recommended by a friend, and it is EXCELLENT.  It's written by a Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, who serves as the leader of the largest gang intervention agency, located in LA.  What an incredible human being he is.  I laughed and you can't help but crying at some of his stories, but his message is what hits hard.  

"You stand with the least likely to succeed until success is succeeded by something more valuable: kinship. You stand with the belligerent, the surly and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear." Greg Boyle

I haven't found a single Thanksgiving book I've liked (any suggestions welcomed!) so since Janey and I are interested in adding to our Christmas books so we have been checking out TONS of Christmas books.  I have realized how picky I am, but I cant't apologize for it, and have started this far ahead so I can peruse my choices slowly.

This is one that is definitely purchase worthy for me and will be added to our small collection.  I will do a post on all of our Christmas books soon.

Oh, I love this story and as a child I would have adored it, because a beautiful doll is involved and the art is wonderful.  It is long, so with Janey I definitely skip a little here and there to get to the point but in a couple years she will hear it all.  So so sweet and good about a little orphan girl who seeks a family, and a little doll who seeks an owner, and a childless woman who seeks a daughter and predictably (for adults at least) they all find each other.


  1. I take vitamin D! My levels were low - it's an easy blood test - and I do think it helps with my winter blues. I take it all the time - don't wait for January! You might want to also read about 5htp and see if that is something that would help. I take that daily as well. I keep walking in the winter. It's really cold, but I layer up and stick to it unless the trail is covered with snow. I miss the warmth and vibrant colors but I think you are right - finding things to at least be thankful for in the winter landscape is important. One of my thankfuls is how empty the trail is. I live in the city so there are people everywhere. As we head into the cooler months I get to walk in mostly solitude!

  2. Holly and Ivy is one of my very favorite Christmas stories. I cry every single time I read it to my kids. Another sweet tearjerker is The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Can't wait for your Christmas book list!
    I'm really picky too and it does seem like there aren't a lot of great Thanksgiving titles. A few that I like are Squanto: The Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxes, The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, and Sharing the Bread by Pat Zietlow Miller. We just read one from the library called The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by P.J. Lynch. Lovely illustrations and an interesting story. The only thing that made me a little crazy was the poor grammar and vernacular that was used (written from a young indentured servant's perspective.

  3. I take Vitamin D3 + K2 every day unless we are out in the sun a lot that day. I really do swear by it making me feel better but also, it helps prevent a lot of diseases and almost everyone is deficient in it (at least in the Northeast!)

  4. Your amazing gift guide has helped me so much with Christmas shopping in years past that I posted my own. Most of the toys won't be new to you but maybe the books lists would help with the shopping? http://theirchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/11/christmas-gift-ideas.html

  5. vitamin D is great! I would recommend a trip to a health food store though not all brands are equal. Our whole family takes it.
    We love the little critters books. They have one called just so thankful. It's not a Thanks giving book-but it has the right message for the season so I pull it out then. :)

  6. I LOVE Tattoos on the Heart. I thought it was amazingly inspiring and I learned SO much. Had to buy it. Recommended it to my book club and no one else really liked it, haha - totally surprised me! But it's still one of my favs.

  7. I'm up Int TC, so a fellow Michigander who can relate to the apprehensive feelings about the approaching winter! I keep telling myself we are already midway through November with no hard frost or snow so we are doing better than past years! ;) and Halloween was great this year which helped. I bookmarked this article and read it every year to remind myself. Worth reading.


    We like the story Cranberry Thanksgiving. And In November by Cynthia Rylant. The Thanksgivig Story by Alice Dalgliesh is good, too, but possibly a little long for Janey's attention span. Christopher's Harvest Time by Elsa Beskow is another book I pull out this time of year. Happy Reading!

  8. Hi, I'm mom to five (ages 7-17) and enjoy reading your thoughts on parenting and family, very helpful to know there are other families out there with similar values. A few things. Thanksgiving book: Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas. It will bring tears to your eyes, it is SUCH a lovely book and does a great job of showing how generations in America have been blessed by Squanto. It's also a great book for showing how God can take something that men intend for evil but He turns it into good. Great, great book. On Vitamin D. I had my doctor test my D level through a blood test. The normal range is 45-60. I was at a 9. (No wonder I was tired!) My doctor actually prescribes Vitamin D year round. I take 1 vitamin per week, each capsule is 50,000 units of Vit D. It makes a HUGE difference in how I feel! I also use a light for seasonal affective disorder. I got it from Amazon, it is a Philips. (I live in Pennsylvania, so while we are not as far north as you are, light is in short supply here during the winter.) I start using the light when we turn the clocks back. I turn it on while I'm sitting at the computer, maybe just for 30-60 minutes total each day. When I forget to use it I can feel the difference because I feel more tired at the end of the day. I would definitely recommend getting a light and having your doctor test your D levels.

    1. Thanks for the Vit D info-I have a long awaited appt in December and I'm going to ask for that test!

  9. I used to struggle terribly with depression in the winter. It was horrible & I would dread it beginning in August! It was crazy & I kept setting myself up for a negative outcome. I do take vit D (as well as my kids), exercise regularly, and the thing that has helped me the most (I have had NO DEPRESSION for the past two winters), is to write in my 'gratitude journal' daily, and I completely changed my inner & outer dialogue. I no longer allow myself to dwell on the negative. I say out loud to my friends & family, 'I'm so excited for winter! The holidays, the lights, the giving, the family time inside our cozy house, Christmas songs, focusing on the Savior...etc'. I try to fill my mind & heart with so much gratitude that I find I don't have time to be negative. I do my best to get up each day & notice SOMETHING beautiful outside on particularly crappy, grey days... the ice crystals on the tree branches are so intricate & beautiful. And then I point it all out to my kids. They need to notice the small and large blessings/beauties around them always. It might not seem like much, but it has changed my life for the better. I'm a better mother, wife, friend, person. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! God bless!

    1. I love it Kiersten. I do find exercise is huge for me and getting outside. I'm going to try your optimism it is wonderful!

  10. Hi Sarah, Here is a link to a great podcast with Thanksgiving book suggestions. I also LOVE Cranberry Thanksgiving by Devlin. https://amongstlovelythings.com/55/#comments

  11. As always, thank you for your writing! My day is always made when you post. The quote from Mother Theresa is a special bright spot today!

  12. Here are some of our Thanksgiving recommendations:
    Too Many Pumpkins (Although this is more "Fall"/Halloween) by Linda White
    A Pumpkin Prayer by Amy Parker
    This First Thanksgiving Day-A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed
    One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G.Hennessy ( A favorite for over a decade in our house!)
    Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes (**Our very favorite that we all read every year!)

    1. Sarah-
      I do reply with much thought as I honor and respect the amount of time/effort/sincere thought you put behind your book lists! We all treasure them here in this family! Thank you always!

    2. Thank you so much Staci! I am requesting them all from the library!

  13. I love those quotes by Mother Theresa, and the second one especially resonated with me as that is what I have been struggling with this whole political season, and also in my family as my parents divorced this year and family members are determined to choose sides. I've had to repeatedly defend my right to "stand by all", but I feel like it is important, so I keep trying. Thank you for sharing.

  14. "Sharing The Bread" by Pat Miller is our new favorite Thanksgiving story. Sweet illustrations, lovely rhyming words and just such a beautiful old fashioned sort of goodness. We also have enjoyed "The Thanksgiving Door" by Debby Atwell. The read-aloud-revival has started sending out a list of children's books for each month, and I have had a lot of fun with their picks. I think you would enjoy them.

  15. Sorry to comment twice...but I thought of one more Autumn book you might like, although it is not related to Thanksgiving. "Sky tree" by Thomas Locker

  16. Thanks for this topic on thanksgiving books - can't wait to check out what everyone suggested. I always love all of your posts on what you are reading, great books for kids, and holiday gift ideas. I'm having a hard time figuring out what to get my kids this year - they don't seem to want much. As far as vitamin D, yes!!! Take it year round - don't wait until winter. Almost all Americans are deficient, and low levels are tied to so many health problems. I think the optimal level is like 70-80, I had my level tested through a blood test at a physical last year, and my level was 46- AND I had been working at it (getting sun exposure daily, plus taking d3 and k2 - which helps you absorb it better). So- take at least 2,000 iu's or more daily - or even higher like a commenter mentioned above. And yes - daily workouts are a must to keep the (winter) blues away too. I do that at least 5 days a week now and could never give it up.

  17. I'm not sure if you have read Thanks for Thanksgiving, but we enjoy it at our house. I buy many of your book recommendations but hardly ever find myself actually READING much...my brain can never seem to relax enough to absorb anything from a book, hopefully it's just a stage of my life!

    I know your feelings on winter and it's a common sentiment in Minnesota, where I live!! I will say though in Minnesota we tend to get lots of sun in the winter...the cold must scare away the clouds, so I don't have a problem with the low sunlight as you must where you live, assuming you might have milder temps. Vitamin D is a great idea...I often forget to take mine but find it does help when I do.

  18. My daughter, Elizabeth, had to read "Tattoos on the Heart" in high school and loved it. It's one of those books that had a profound effect on her and how she sees people. She chose to keep it in her perusal library.

  19. We love the Thanksgiving book Beauty and the Beaks by Mary Jane and Herm Auch. Together they made the chicken mannequins and beauty parlor set that were used for the book's illustrations. We love examining the craftsmanship chickens as much as we like the funny story.

  20. I live in the Seattle area and take vitamin D. I also install white lights with wavelengths that are the same as sunshine in my home. It helps a lot!

  21. A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting is a favorite for my own children and my 5th graders!

  22. We love the book Turk and Runt by Lisa Wheeler. It's a cute story about family loyalty in a family of turkeys at Thanksgiving time. :)

  23. You probably do need a Vit D supplement! Most of us do! If your blood tests confirm this then you need to take Vitamin D3. Not all are alike though so it pays to do your research and pay for quality. Also, next year, be sure to get tested again to see what your levels are. Sometimes you need more than what they initially recommend. Read what levels they recommend and compare to other countries like Japan who have a substantially higher level recommendation. But, the biggest thing that most people don't realize is that since it is a fat soluble vitamin, it must be taken with fat (I eat an egg every morning when I take mine--2,000 iu is what keeps me where I need to be) or you will not absorb it. It has made a world of difference in my immunity in the last 5 years that I've been taking it! Lauralli

  24. Franklin's thanksgiving is a good one. I love the illustrations in "Thanks for Thanksgiving " that someone else mentioned. We also like "A Turkey for Thanksgiving". "The Thanksgiving Surprise" and "silly tilly's thanksgiving dinner" are kind-of silly but cute. All the Places to Love is not a Thanksgiving book but good for a gratitude theme and just a great book.

  25. The littlest pilgrim is also cute.