Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumpkin Patch

It's a fall family tradition to trek out to our local pumpkin patch and gather up harvest treasures by the wagon full. The boys always love picking out their own special pumpkins and Mama always carts home more than a fair amount of the off beat varieties- white, blue and lumpy. A family owned patch out in beautiful country with lots of quintessential harvest fun activities- what more could you ask from a Fall Day?

It's already time to start thinking Christmas..and I'm alreadygathering Holiday Books

I just have such a hard time coming to terms with how fast this year has just flew by- I can not believe it is already time to realistically be thinking about Christmas so as to not being running around at the last minute (like I usually do). I'm hoping to be a little more intentional this year and have a picture and purpose for what I want our holiday season to look like this year. And, of course, Christmas time isn't complete without books hand picked just for the season. I am giddy over one I just recently added to the "Christmas Books" collection- The Fir Tree

This is a story written by Fairy Tale Master, Hans Christian Andersen. I am so excited about adding this read to our holiday reading list as my boys have really been enjoying adding Fairy Tales into our reading repertoire more lately and I have been so impressed and impacted myself by the tales Andersen wove. The fantastical world of Fairy Tales is the perfect setting for children to encounter morals and meet adventure. It seems this will be a great story to bring my boy's attention to the life truth that life is to be savored and enjoyed now- don't always be wishing for the next best thing to come along or you will miss so much. Frankly, that is a truth we all, especially this Mama, needs reminding of.

What really makes this book a treasure though is the gorgeous design and illustrations by Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka. To start with, this book is decadently cloth bound with eye catching metallic detailing on the front and back cover.

The book only gets more beautiful and engaging as you crack it open and flip thorough the rest of the book.

I love the playful colors and geometric designs that Annukka used across the whole story. I am so excited to savor this beautiful book with my boys this holiday season and see this title being one I some day pass on to my grandchildren- it is a treasure.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hope-something we all need desperately to prevail in our lives

There has been a common thread that has ran thru many of my posts and book review picks over the last few months- and that is life has been hard and even depressing at times lately. I've watched my always positive,rock of a husband struggle to find motivation and joy in every day life- it's been difficult for me to be much of an encouragement as I've battled with feeling the same. After losing my Father-in-law there is a large family of deeply hurting people around us and several other loved ones going thru disheartening trials of their own. I would like to think that somewhat going thru the valley myself would give me enough empathy and some insight to share with others, but unfortunately, I feel most times lately too overwhelmed and that it's all too fresh. I'm just not far enough out of the valley to be of too much help on my own. That's when I turn to books- sometime's a soundly written topical book is a sort of saving grace. A book that has proven to be helpful to me in this season is Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor's personal journey through depression

I really appreciate that this book is written by a true expert- a neuropsychologist who has walked the road of deep depression. Dr. Michelle Bengtson believed she was doing all she could for her patients with her medical treatments. Then she fell into debilitating depression herself and had to truly see the struggle that sufferers are up against. In her book, she vulnerably shares her grappling and overcoming of the darkness that is depression. 

I think that this is a great book for those who love and live with someone who battles depression. Bengtson does a great job of painting a true to life picture of what life looks like thru the eyes of those weighted down with this burden and a doctor's diagnosis of the legitimacy of this issue. For those struggling through themselves, this book offers deep perspective on  how to overcome thru Christ and not let Satan steal your joy in this hard place. Bengtson offers comprehensive chapters complete with homework assigmments, a prayer, and a customized playlist of hopeful songs. This book is a great resource for any relationship minded Christian to have on their bookshelf.

I received this book from Revell Books.

Plan and Document your Homeschool (and have fun while doing it!)

We have (Finally!) got a rhythm and a plan going for our school year that works for us and that we are actually getting done on a consistent basis- rather than just theoretically thinking will work. I have a daily minimum Three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) that Cole needs to get down and more than enough extras to plug in when we can. There are so many things I want to do and learn with my boys but I have definitely found just because I have the idea and desire doesn't mean it's going to happen. I need a plan and I'm also finding, I need a planner. I have always loved the idea of physical, write in planners but have never really found them realistic enough to need on a regular basis for my day to day life. So much of my daily life is just routine chores and tasks, there's really no reason to have them written down in a book, no matter how cute it is (believe me, I've tried to justify it many times to myself!). But I am finding that school plans are so much more likely to be executed if I have thought and written them out in advance, rather than waiting for an idea to pop into my head and then having to go gather up all the supplies, etc. 

But then it comes down to which planner to use, because there are about 100 just homeschooling planners alone. Well Sarah Janisse Brown of Thinking Tree Books was so generous to send me a copy of her planner, The Eclectic Homeschooler's Plan Book-A 180 Day Plan to give a try out in my homeschool planning endeavors.

 I love how open ended all of the Thinking Tree products are- you can really customize them to exactly what your family needs to get out of them! The cover alone is a motivating start with it's bright and engaging hand drawn pictures and a soft to the touch matte finish. This is a thick book with a nice, large format to fit a lot of plans into. With the signature Thinking Tree flair, these aren't just ordinary black and white pages, but all of your planning boxes are set against a fun floral and swirls pattern to color in. 

I think when homeschooling older and a little bit more independent learners, this book would be a great for fit for the daily spiral notebook assignment checklist method Sarah Mackenzie encourages in this post. This is really a funner and slightly more detailed version of just that idea. I think I am personally going to be using this planner slightly more out of the box while my kids are younger and document weekly projects, achievements and just fun moments I want to remember from our schooling journey. I think it will be really neat to have a written record of all the highlights of our early learning years! 

There is also a neat bonus feature sprinkled through out the book: There is a Plans & Perspective page to journal a little more long term goals and visions and a correlating Remember... page to document stand out school experiences. This is a well made, beautiful book that is straight forward enough in it's format that I think you could use it in a multitude of ways.

I am loving our experience with Thinking Tree books so far and can't wait to share some more of these treasures with you. Being a Charlotte Mason inspired Mama, I am especially excited to dive into the Timeline of History and Picturing the Past art study books. 

I received this book from The Thinking Tree LLC.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What Mom always said is true- Life isn't fair

As a child you have an innate sense of justice (at least when it comes to how you are personally treated)-everything needs to be fair. Your sandwich half needs to be the exact same size as your brother's, you need to be able to pick out the tv show (because your sister did last time), and, basically, everything needs to go in your favor. Our much wiser parents informed us that life wasn't fair and we were going to have deal with it in order to be a high functioning adult. And then we grow up and, in most ways, we do accept this truth and press on. But when it comes to matters of the heart, things we care deeply about and how we want life to go, it definitely still hurts when life isn't fair. 

 Like most of us, Melanie Dale realized in a hurry that life isn't always (probably mostly always) how we dreamed it would be. It's complicated and painful and the issues don't always quickly wrap themselves up in a neat little bow. She's had her fair share of "not fair" with infertility, miscarriages, complications through adoptions, and on going health issues. A heavy weight to carry that you think would make her a bitter, beat down person. Instead she is the hilarious and empathetic voice behind, It's Not Fair: Learning to love the Life you didn't choose.

Melanie starts with offering a vulnerable glimpse into her own unfair world and all that she's had to struggle thru. Reading Melanie's personal story, I quickly felt that if anyone had a right to tell me about how to make the most of an unfair lot, Melanie could. Melanie has allowed God to use both her hurts and "not fun" life experiences and her humor and skill for writing to truly empathize and encourage women thru this book. 

Though a little overkill for my taste at points, Melanie does use well honed sense of humor to lighten the mood as she stoops down to women at their lowest of lows. This book is a mixed bag of treasures- offering everything from recipes and scripture to the perfect comeback to give the "well-meanies". Life is hard and I have usually found a good timed book (probably of the self-help variety) to be a real comfort and help to me. But sometimes things don't get better for so long that a self help book isn't going to fix anything and may,in fact, just make me feel worse. It's not Fair is the book for that point in time. While she won't allow you to wear out your welcome at your own pity party, Melanie does sit with you and offer a chocolate bar or two. ;)

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Book Look Bloggers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Created for More: A devotional for the creative types

Since I was in elementary school, I have always gotten a little bit giddy over a new themed, devotional book to work thru. There was the Christian Kids gardening guide and devo book, a horse lovers volume and of course plenty of 90's teen girls devotionals covered in psychedelic flowers. A supplemental devotional guide has been a part of my quiet time pretty much as long as I have had quiet times. It's fun to remember the different ones I've read thru during different stages of life. Of course, the bible is my main focus text and focus for Christian growth but a themed study to take you thru different scriptures can be a refreshing add on sometimes. 

  Created for More:30 Days to see Your World in a New Way by Johnathan Malm is a unique and interactive devotional that will make for a fun month of quiet times! With a specific encouragement to Be certain character trait or virtue each day, the premises is straightforward but then things get creative. You are given a Be of the day and a corresponding bible story to learn from and then a prayer starter asking God to help you Be. From there, there is a Change the way you think paragraph that addresses how this trait you're focusing on might effect your creative work and then comes the biggest challenge-each day you are given a prompt to work on a certain creative project or think through a  concept.

 This is a neat, little book for people who think outside of the box and process things thru projects. It's mainly targeted to people who work in the some form of expressive job field but could be applied by anyone. I can think of a few impressively creative friends this might make a great gift for. ;)

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Moody Publishers.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fall Fungi

It is October-and October means the beginning of the cold, wet, darker days and hunting season. I like to be outside in the gloriously warm and long, lingering days of summer- on  a river bank or in the garden. When the damp weather sets in, I like to be on a cozy  couch with a book and a cup of coffee. My husband (and increasingly my sons) count down the days until they can hike around in the wet, dreary weather due to the previously mentioned month of "deer season". This has never had much appeal to me, because hunting and being wet and cold isn't really my "thing". Usually it works out just fine for Mama to stay home and catch up on chores and make a big pot of soup (and some hot chocolate ;) for the hunters to come home to. But I know as my boys get older and hunting season becomes a big deal for a far outweighing percentage of my household, I should probably learn to find some ways to be present and involved. My husband always appreciatess my coming along for the ride and it is a beautiful season up in the mountains. Since somewhat picking up photography, I enjoy the challenge and art of capturing the fall colors in photos. 

Another byproduct of time in the Great Outdoors that I have a fondness for is Fungi- the edible type. I love the rich, unique flavors of a great mushroom dish and always find it fun to try out new varieties at edgy restaurants. The crazy thing is mushrooms are a kind of rare and valuable commodity but super abundant around these parts, and in astounding variety too! How neat to have access to such fun, exotic ingredients in "your own backyard"? But on the flip side, mushrooms seriously freak me out considering their potential to cause some psychedelic hallucinations or even kill me. Soo..I'm not super confident to go out and pick a random basket full and dish them up as dinner for my family. Mushrooms are a enticing, yet scary mystery to me.  

I was so excited to find this awesome (and super thick) resource to help me in my fungi education. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A comprehensive guide to the fungi of Coastal Northern California  by Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz. And comprehensive it is! With gorgeous (as pictures of mushrooms can be), full color photos of each type of mushroom and a very detailed description as well. This is an impressively through and very educational volume that I am a little giddy to add to my shelves. Not only for my own personal use maybe doing some mushroom hunting but also as a nature study resource for school in the coming years. With the great photos to sketch from and technical information to take notes with- I can see this being a fantastic way to spend a fall excursion or two- identifying and recording some of the fungi in our area. 

 While I don't live in Northern California, the Southern Oregon Coast (where I do live) is very similar to the climate and terrain of that area and I think this book should more than cover the mushroom variety in my neck of the woods as well. I'll share a couple pages from the book that include some mushroom varieties I already know and love!:

The mushrooms on the righthand page are lobsters.

And classic chanterelles.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.