Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Classic in Translation

I finished my first book for the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge! 

I "bought" The Phantom of the Opera for kindle for $0 and then added the Audible Narration (I think that was $.99)  and I'm so glad I chose to listen to this one because I don't speak French and I would have butchered all the names in my head if I had been reading it instead of listening to it!  lol 

I knew the very very basic gist of the story but I had never read the book, seen the Opera, or watched a movie of this so it was still a surprise to me what happened and how everything happened.  It took me a while to get into it...probably an hour or two.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it but once I got into it I found myself taking a bit longer cleaning up the kitchen or things like that so that I could listen longer!  It was well written and interesting.  It won't be on my Top 10 favorite books or anything but I gave it a solid 5 stars. 

Linked to Karen's Back to the Classics - Classics in Translation post

Thursday, January 4, 2018

365 Days of Les Miserables

When I was looking through blogs linked to the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge I stumbled upon a Chapter-a-Day Read Along for Les Mis and decided to participate.  We stopped by Barnes and Noble on January 1st and I bought the only unabridged copy of Les Mis they had and have read a chapter a day since.  I made a schedule in the back of one of my journals so that it's easy to keep track of where I am.  So far I think my biggest problem will be reading only 1 chapter a day.  LOL!  There's still plenty of time if you'd like to jump in too!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017 Read Alouds

We read a lot.  We read all together, we read alone, I read one on one with each child.  We just read a lot.  I thought it would be fun to go back and see if I could figure out all the books we read together in to the best of my memory, here are the books we enjoyed together last year!  (I think we might be missing some but I'm not sure...oh well.  It's a pretty good list either way!)

First up was the 2nd book in The Green Ember series, Ember Falls.  Rabbits with swords, need I say more??  My kids all really enjoyed this but especially my 5 and 7 year olds (now 6 and 8).  In addition to reading this aloud we also have the Audible version and they both listened to it (as well as The Black Star of Kingston and The Green Ember) over and over again throughout the year.  Oh, and there is a short(ish) story out now that goes along with them and book 3 is coming out in March! 

We finished this version of Pilgrim's Progress again...I think this is only the 2nd time we read it but it's possibly the 3rd time.  It's a great version, still rich language but my kids still know what's going on. 

I really really liked Oliver Twist.  I had never read it before (only watched the musical on repeat when I was a kid!  lol) so I decided we'd read it all together and we all enjoyed it.  There is SOOOO SOOO much more to the story than is in the movie.

The Wingfeather Tales - We read and loved four of Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather Saga books and helped support his Kickstarter campaign for the animated video so we were excited to read these short stories, written by other people, about the world Peterson created.  The kids will say they liked it...and I would probably say some of the stories were really good, but overall I probably wouldn't have given it more than 3 stars.  (The story that Andrew Peterson's brother wrote was really really good and now I want to read some of his books too!)

I'm going to count this one even though we listened to The Song of Hiawatha on Librivox rather than me reading it (those Native American words can be intimidating!) Most of the kids said they didn't like it but I LOVED it.  A LOT. 

Did you know that not all the stories from The Jungle Book(s) are about Mowgli?  Or even set in the jungle for that matter???  The stories were actually written in serial form for magazine publication over a series of several year.  2016/2017 was a bit of the year of Kipling for me and I fell in love with him and his writing.  His poetry, his novels, I haven't read any yet that I didn't love.  I'm sad now that I didn't read Kim when Kessa had to read it but I'm looking forward to reading it next year with Zeke.  Oh, and as for the Jungle Book make sure you grab a copy that has The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book and includes all the poems.  We all thoroughly enjoyed these!

Anything by Lois Lenski is sure to be a winner and Strawberry Girl was no different.  She addresses some really profound moral questions, her word pictures are beautiful, and she takes you back to a time all but forgotten.  We all loved it and we'll probably try and read another book or two by her together this year. 

Treasure Island- Another winner!  I had forgotten how many good books we read together last year and I'm really enjoying looking back over them again and reminiscing.  We finished this one in the dark while we were camping at Rend Lake over the summer.  I still overhear the kids squawking, "Pieces of eight!  Pieces of eight!" while they're playing sometimes. 

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew - ALL of my children LOVED this book.  It's such a sweet story of 5 children making the best of their hard life (although they certainly don't think they're too hard off) and how they love each other and "mamsie dear" with all that they are.  The one I linked is a kindle version with all 12 books.  We started reading the 2nd one together but I had other things I wanted to read to them so I passed it off and they all listened to the rest of it and I'm thinking at least several of them are going to read or listen to the rest of the series as well.  

After reading The Wingfeather Tales the kids wanted to read the Wingfeather Saga again.  Grace and Zane were so little when we read them the first time they don't remember them well.  Just as good the 2nd time around!  We love On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

Kessa and Zeke and I read Richard III in the's...dark.  Kessa and I both liked it better than Henry V but it's certainly still not a favorite...I will have to say that I did enjoy it to some extent though...I didn't walk away hating it...or even necessarily was...good but not great.  

Read with Zeke -

Children of the New Forest by Freddrick Marryat is a captivating story about some orphans during the English Civil war and it's chalk full of fabulous history.  The chapters are rather long to read in one sitting but Zeke and I both really enjoyed this book. 

American Tall Tales - The 2016/2017 school year was the first time we dipped our toes into the Ambleside Online waters (we love it!) so I read almost all of my 8/9 year old son's books to him to be sure he was comprehending well.  He REALLY liked this one.  Most of them are fairly well-known tall tales but there were a few I wasn't familiar with as well. 

The Landing of the Pilgrims - I enjoyed this well written living book more than Zeke did I'm pretty sure.  lol.  The language can be quite challenging to child not used to it although he usually gave me pretty solid narrations even when he said he didn't know what was going on. 

I had never read Robinson Crusoe before but I'm pretty sure I'll read it with my next two children too because I liked it that much.  Zeke liked the adventure and humor but this book is chalk full of spiritual truth as well.  It's SOOO SOOO good and possibly my favorite book that I read all year.  

Read with Kessa -
Wild Animals I Have Known is a collection of (according to the author's note to the reader) true stories about the characters and personalities of different animals.  Kessa and I both LOVED this book.  I think she may have said it was one of her very favorite books from 2017.  Just be forewarned...there are not a lot of happy endings. 

Henry V was our final Shakespeare play that we read for the 2016/2017 school year (this year Zeke is joining us for Shakespeare!  Yay!  lol) and neither Kessa nor I were very enamored with it.  It had it's moments but overall...meh. 

Books read with Grace

Understood Betsy is an endearing tale of a little orphan raised by aunts.  While it's a "children's book" I think it could easily be argued that it is a parenting book through and through.  I very much enjoyed it and learned a lot. Grace proclaimed loudly throughout the entire thing that she hated it...but by the end she was asking me to read just a little further (so that we wouldn't have to read as much later of course, not because she liked it... lol)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Back to the Classics Challenge 2018

Ok, I'm going to ATTEMPT this in the coming year.  Karen apparently hosts this challenge on her blog every year.  This is the first time I've heard of it but it sounds right up my ally and will be a good challenge to help me read books with a bit more substance.  I'll also probably to try to find books from Ambleside that the kids will have to read eventually so that I'm a step ahead there.  So, here are the categories and if I have an idea for what book I'll read for that category I've added it also.

1. A 19th Century Classic -
          In Freedom's Cause (A Story of Wallace and Bruce) by G.A. Henty - This is one Kessa will have to read next year in year 7 of Ambleside Online so it will help me get a jump on my pre-reading.

2. A 20th Century Classic - (written between 1900 and 1968)
          The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill - This is another AO year 7 book! 

3. A Classic by a Female Author -
          The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - I've had this one for a little while, I think I got it after reading The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, but haven't started it yet.   I don't know that I've read anything by Anne before.  I've read several of Charlotte's books and at least one by Emily.  Jane Eyre is my all time favorite book, so we're going to give this one a chance!  lol.

4.  A Classic in Translation -  Phantom of the Opera (done!)

5.  A Children's Classic -
          Possibly A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain - This is an AO year 7 free read.

6. A Classic Crime Story -
          Probably either Bleak House by Dickens or a Sherlock Holmes book.

7.  A Classic Travel or Journey Narrative -
          The Incredible Journey - This is an AO year 4 book that Zeke will be reading and I've never read it before so I'm excited to see how much better it is than the movie!

8.  A Classic with a Single Word Title -
          Pollyanna - another one that I've seen the movie but never read the book!  Horror!  Or possibly Ourselves because I need to pre-read it for Kessa's AO year 7. 

9.  A Classic with a Color in the Title -
          Sir Gwain and the Green Knight (I'll probably read the translation by Tolkien because he's fabulous.)

10.  A Classic by an Author that is New to You -
         Maybe the Tripods series (these just eked in under the 50 year old limit for this challenge!  lol.)  They're on the AO year 7 Free Reads list.

11.  A Classic that Scares You -
         I'll have to think about this one for a while...I know there are several but I can't think of any off the top of my head!  lol

12.  Re-read a Favorite Classic -
         Well Jane Eyre would be the obvious choice here...and I probably will...or maybe The Lord of the Rings...or a Jane Austen book...there are just too many to choose from!!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Mini Charm Pack Quilt Block

Ok, November is my month to be queen in our Instagram #quiltbeenewbees quilt be and I decided I wanted a Sweetwater quilt.  I had a lot of mini charm packs I'd been hoarding so I started playing around with layouts and came up with this! 

So, for this block I sent everyone a different mini charm pack of Sweetwater fabrics.  You'll also need
Solid white fabric-
2 strips 1.75"x16"
2 strips 1.75"x19"
a light colored fabric that coordinated with your mini charm pack (preferably reads solid but isn't)
2 strips 4"x1.5"
2 strips 2.5"x1.25"
2 strips 8"x2.5"
2 strips 12.5"x2.5"

You'll be using all but one of the squares from the mini charm pack so pull one out and set it aside (feel free to keep it if you think you'll use it or send it back with the block if you don't think you will and I'll use it!)

Next pick out a square to use for the center of your block.  You'll be sewing your 2.5" strips to the sides of this, then press and add the 4" strips to the top and bottom.  Press and then trim to 4.5x4 if needed.  You should now have something like this:

Now pull out some more of your squares and arrange them as desired.  You'll need to sew 4 of them together into a strip (x2) and then two together (x2).  Press your seams and you'll have strips as shown below.  

Now sew the strips of two blocks to the sides, press, and sew the strips of 4 to the top and bottom.  You'll now have block as shown below.   It should now measure 8.5"x8".

I forgot to take a picture of this next step but you're going to take your other light colored strips and sew them around the block, after you've done this it should be 12.5"x12" (sorry I forgot a picture of this step!)

Now you're going to sew together 2 strips of 6 blocks and 2 strips of 8 blocks

sew these around the block as you've done with the other strips and then trim to 16.5"x16".

Finally, sew your true white strips around the edge!  Trim as needed and then the final block should measure 19"x18.5".  That's it!  Thank you!!!