Good Reads for Grown-ups – August 2014 – Fiction

I should probably do this more often, but since I don’t, I will only post about the books I can remember reading. And if they weren’t memorable, they probably weren’t worth writing about anyway, right? Some of these were read so long ago that I don’t have a lot to say about them, so I’ll leave you to your own research.

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Ten books I’ve enjoyed over the past couple years are:

The Thornbirds – Not something I would usually pick by its cover, but it was well-written and haunting.

The Shoemaker’s Wife – Heart-wrenchingly beautiful tale that follows a pair of kids from the Italian Alps to New York to Minnesota.

The Forgotten Garden – I remember enjoying this volume by Kate Morton a couple years ago; she seems to like writing about folks who have little memory of their past and go on expeditions to find out more.

The Secret Keeper – Another Kate Morton novel. They’re long, but I do find them captivating. This one is based in the present (2011) and in 1941 bomb-ridden London. Surprise twists.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym (Robert Galbraith), this mystery kept me guessing. It’s been a while since I’ve read a true mystery novel, and I found myself enjoying it again!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Compelling, well-written. I had consumed quite a bit of summer “fluff​” before I read this and it seemed great by comparison.

The School of Essential Ingredients – I want to eat all of Bauermeister’s books, but this one is the most edible. A feast for the senses.

A Week in Winter – I really enjoyed the character development in this one. For Chicky to have gotten away with her lie, it’s a bit much to believe, but the story that came after that was delightful. Maeve Binchy is the author. I’ve read a couple of her other novels, and I always enjoy the Irish setting.

The Rosie Project – A man who doesn’t know he has Asperger’s attracts an unlikely lady friend. Quirky and charming.

The Book Thief – Heartwrenching look at WW II from inside Nazi Germany. Character development is wonderful, the players captivating.

Good Reads for Kids – August 2014

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This month I’m focusing on poetry. There are some great poems out there for kids, and there are some truly crummy ones. Let’s focus on the good ones!

1. Oxford Illustrated Book of Children’s Poems – Not every poem in this book was our favorite (some I didn’t even read to the kids), but the classics plus illustrations made it worth checking out.

2. A Meal of the Stars – Anja originally didn’t want to read this book because “it looked boring.” But the puzzle of figuring out which way to read each poem lured her in at once, as did the clever illustrations. Bravo, local author Dana Jensen!

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3. The Real Mother Goose – Classic children’s poems (some quite frightening!) as you remember them, and some as you don’t. The price on this is outstanding

4. Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein’s poetry tomes have become classics in their own right, and Anja regularly picks this one up to read the silly, somewhat sordid verses. They usually rhyme, which appeals to her at age six.

 

Markus, 4 1/2

Little man of ours, at 4 1/2, you:

  • Verbalize everything. You are a non-stop talker from the moment your feet hit the floor until your head hits the pillow. It is exhausting for this mama, who is an internal processor.
  • Are incredibly creative. We marvel at your drawings, the things you create out of Duplos, your play stories, your questions. I love how God has wired you!
  • Are getting more adventurous with foods. You will now occasionally accept a small amount of sauce or dressing with salads, and you’ve eaten tomatoes (only one and very on purpose) several times.
  • Have stopped napping. You gave them up cold turkey at the end of May. That’s been a transition, to say the least. 🙂
  • Are as intense as ever. You have patented what we call your “pterodactyl scream,” which occurs anytime you are interrupted, anytime your sister gets near you, anytime you aren’t getting what you want, anytime we “aren’t listening to you,” and many other instances. We. hate. it. And we are still working with you on overcoming your need to it. “Please use words instead,” is heard a lot around here.
  • Disassemble everything. We find screws, bolts, nuts…just PIECES of your bed, your easel, your toys…everywhere. I fully expect your bed to collapse beneath you some night.
  • Demand very specific coloring pages. Your coloring books are not good enough anymore. I have had to limit you to one coloring sheet per day, or I’d be printing them out hourly. And you always have a very specific idea in mind when you request them, which isn’t easily met. “Mama, I want a racecar coloring sheet, but no faces on the cars, and with lots of cars on a racetrack, and one of them is the number nine…” I can’t tell you the number of coloring sheets I’ve ended up drawing for you because nothing online matched your customized request.
  • Enjoy reading. I read aloud to you and Anja probably 30-60 minutes per day, and you both enjoy it immensely. Daddy has read you Redwall and has started Mossflower with you over the past six months, and while they’re a bit over your head, you still listen for the most part. Some other chapter books you’ve enjoyed are: The Cricket in Times Square, Henry Huggins, and several of The Bobbsey Twins series.
  • Are getting more independent. Some days you’ll even open your dresser and grab your own clothes and get dressed before I’m awake. I don’t mind that at all!
  • Say the funniest things. We really appreciate your sense of humor. For instance, just while I was writing this, you fussed, “I have to pretend destroy Anja, but she’s running really fast and she’s not going to give my Legos back to me unless I pretend kill her!”
  • Need to be externally motivated. Unlike your sister, who is only self-motivated, you need a carrot dangled in order to accomplish tasks, whether it be a treat, a privilege, or an outing. You see no need to complete chores unless there’s something in it for you.
  • Wrestle with anyone who will let you near them. They might be your size or 6 times your size (Mr. Dustin?), you charge at them with the same ferocity. Your sister does not always appreciate this. You are competitive.
  • Act shy around strangers until they look away. Then you realize you might lose their attention and begin talking their ears off.
  • Are a very social boy. You want to be around people constantly. Getting you to stay in your room for longer than 5 minutes for afternoon quiet time is a big challenge.
  • Have some favorites. Color: blue. Food: pizza. Movie: Planes. Bible Story: David and Goliath. Book: Transformers something-or-other from the library. Toy: Audralina the fox. Indoor activity: Legos. Outdoor activity: biking.
  • Learned to bike with pedals. Now we can do family bike rides! They’re on the slow side, but still fun.
  • Can write most of your letters and some of your numbers. I think we’re going to work on letter formation this year. After spending months un-teaching and re-teaching your sister all her letters in first grade, I want to start you off right!
  • Still like to cuddle with your mama. I’m so glad!
  • Are curious. I think this is why you take things apart and ask so many questions…you have a great desire to learn! We were amazed by your little sponge-brain picking up almost all of Anja’s memory work just from listening along in the car.
  • Have had a little growth spurt since spring, but are still short for your age. All the friends you dwarfed as a baby are taller than you.

We love you, Markus, and we are excited to see where God takes you and how He uses your unique giftings.

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