Friday, July 21, 2017

Quick Takes #235: Happy Belgium Day!




In honor of Belgium National Day I decided to focus on that lovely little country today.
  1. About the size of Maryland, Belgium rest in western Europe above France and below the Netherlands. Luxembourg and Germany sits on the eastern border.
  2. My mom is just back from a visit and I.can't wait to see the pictures and catch up on the news of friends and family.  While I never lived there; having visited many times and knowing that it is the homeland of much of my family (my mother's whole family, she was the only one of her siblings to stay here permanently) it has always felt familiar and dear.
  3. The food is amazing with frites (french fries), chocolate, beer and waffles forming the four most commonly recognized cornerstones.  Other national favorites include mussels, rabbit, salad liegeoise, and tomato stuffed with shrimp salad.
  4. Officially bilingual with Flemish spoken mostly in the north and French spoke mostly in the south.  My mom grew up in the capital Brussels which is in the south and so my mom's primary language is french, though all of my cousins also learned flemish in school and their children also attend bilingual schools.
5. Bruge, a canal city often called the Venice of the North, and Antwerp are two other wonderful cities to visit.  I was luck enough to visit Bruge shortly before my wedding and pick-up some its famous lace to carry.
6. There is also forty miles of beautiful seacoast,  and the Ardenne (the hill country) in the east, plus the Waterloo Memorial as other wonderful options to check out.
7. Happy Belgian Day, to those celebrating and Good Weekend to the rest!!

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reading Challenge at the halfway point



Happy July! Hope your summer is going well.  Mine has been made substantially better by the addition of some rockers on our front porch and the fact the weather so far has been warm but not too humid and often with a breeze.  Reading is absolutely one of the best methods of self care for me and hopefully has me modeling a love of books to my kids.  I also appreciate how the different categories in the MMD challenge provides direction and the push I need to read outside my comfort zone.

At the midway point from the reading for fun path (the one I'm focusing on) I've completed 6 categories:

a book set somewhere I'm interested in but never been:
A Year of Living Danishly

a juicy memoir:
Talking as Fast as I Can

a book about books or reading:
Howards End is on the Landing

a book in a genre I usually avoid:
Becoming and Belonging

a book you don't want to admit you're dying to read ( I modified this one to a book I'm embarrassed I've never read): 84, Charing Cross Road

a book I was excited to buy but had not read yet:
Winter Garden


I've only completed one category of the reading to grow path but do hope to complete a couple more while largely focused on the "oomph path"






Anyone else attempting this year's challenge?
What are you reading?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Quick Takes #234 June thoughts



  1. June was every bit as crazy as I had anticipated.  That being said we celebrated school ending, summer starting, Father's Day and for the most part had a lot of fun this month.
  2. This month also marked the 20th  Anniversary of the Harry Potter series. If memory serves I was slightly late to join the reading party but only slightly as I remember reading the first couple while living in Houston which puts it about 18 years ago.  Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas has written many wonderful posts on the series; and here are two of my favorites.
  3. Speaking of anniversaries we are marking 3 years in the house; not very long but long enough that I feel as I'm learning it moods in different seasons.  The addition of porch furniture has been wonderful as I love reading outside and the weather has been very cooperative.
  4. At the risk of jinxing it; I'm quietly impressed with how well the older kids are embracing their summer work. For both kids the first of four books are read and the book reports are done. I have a couple of workbooks for Caitie but thanks to her east facing room she has been getting up early most mornings and that combined with camp has her napping again.
  5. Was sad to learn of the death of Michael Bond this week; I remember reading Paddington Bear as a child and have in the past couple of years enjoyed introducing his books to my kids. What a wonderful legacy. May he rest in peace!
  6. Currently enjoying "Supergirl" on Netflix in the evenings.  Any other recommendations for a fun summer series?
  7. Excited to attend a friend's son's baptism this weekend and then some local fun for Independence Day!  
Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

First Day ~ Last Day: 2016 ~ 2017



Another school year done:

Elisabeth ~ 3rd Grade





Liam ~ Kindergarten


Caitlin ~ Preschool

Friday, June 16, 2017

Quick Takes #233: Thoughts about School



  1. Today marks the end of the school year in the Bailey house. Liam and Caitie actually finished last Friday but since Lisbeth still had school this week we still have been slightly in school mode.  
  2. Kindergarten went well and Liam seemed to really enjoy it. Not nearly as talkative as his sisters he didn't share many details day to day but overall he enjoyed the work, the specials, his classmates and the whole school experience.  
  3. My take: Over the year I saw him meet each new challenge with ease and needing very little additional instruction.  The pace of the work seemed to keep him interested but was never a source of stress. Am curious to read more with him this summer and hopefully get him set for an equally good year in first grade.
  4. Caitlin had a good year in preschool and I think gained a lot of useful social skills as far as listening and sitting attentively.  She made several friends and in the end I'm equally glad we decided to have her attend preschool where her brother and sister did; and that she is attending a more academically challenging program for Pre-K.
  5. We were warned that there is a jump in the workload come 3rd grade and while occasionally cranky about it Elisabeth met the challenge and excelled. She enjoyed more time to explore science and social studies; tackled learning her multiplication tables and basic fractions, and learned so much about different types of literature and author's purpose.  While writing continues to give her some troubles, reading no longer does and has become a source of enjoyment.
  6. We marked the end of the year with a trip to Build-a-Bear where Caitlin made a Lalaloopsy doll, Liam ~ Sonic the hedgehog (not liking any of the Pokemon offered) and Elisabeth made a horse.  I'm sure that this end of year tradition will evolve over time but given Lisbeth's love for stuffed animals she may not be the first one to insisted that they have aged out of this particular treat!!
  7. Have a good weekend and Happy Father's Day to all those celebrating!!

First Day ~ Last Day post

Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Open Book ~ June 2017



The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell is a fun look at a learning about a new country and culture. British writer Russell learning that Denmark is one of the happiest places to live decides during their year of living in Denmark while her husband is working at Lego she would investigate what makes Danes so happy.   Overall I found the book a little statistics heavy and wish rather she had shared more about day to day life in Denmark, but appreciated that she did not take herself too serious as the enviable outsider mishaps happened.  Learned a little ~ laughed a little: win ~ win!





Frederica by Georgette Heyer; I've been reading and enjoying this author's books for several years now but somehow had missed this one and after several recommendations decided to rectify the oversight.  While I didn't find the story of Lord Alverstoke and his distant cousin Frederica to be her best in the romance department, the plot is wonderful and the dialogue superb.  A great balance of hilarious mishaps with believable character growth and enough plot twists to keep it interesting.




84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is my latest 'how did I not know this was a book'!!  The  book is a collection of the correspondence written by the author and the staff at an antiquated  book store in London and one of their buyers in particular.  A wonderful fun read spanning twenty years starting in the late forties touching on current events throughout. I am so glad I found and read this book but given that I was hearing Bancroft's and Hopkin's wonderful delivery the whole time I truly wonder what the experience would be for someone who has never seen the movie.









Please now head to Carolyn's for more Open Book.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Quick Takes #232 Plans for Summer Reading



  1. School is winding up in the next couple of weeks ~ and the weather is finally shifting into my favorite reading outside time.  Thanks to MMD and others I'm having fun planning my reading list for summer.  
  2. I have gotten a slow start to this year's MMD reading challenge having only finished four categories so far but my current read (Talking as Fast as I can) fulfills a category and already have the next couple categories planned.
  3. Am really enjoying Lauren Graham's memoir and am planning on reading her fiction book soon. Planning on also reading Northanger Abbey (one of two Austen's I've never read), Howard End on the Landing, as well as rereading some favorites. 
  4. Lisbeth is closing in on completing her 40 book challenge for this school year; and we are looking ahead towards summer reading. Two books are required but two others are to be picked from a list and I'm curious to see what will catch her interest.  
  5. Liam also has a summer reading assignment.  He has done really well this year with sight words and early readers.  Am wondering if it will be sometime this summer that he has that breakthrough moment when you start to view yourself as able to read!!
  6. And for those times we are not reading; HGTV's Good Bones is such fun even if their design style is very different from mine. 
  7. Have a great weekend!! This weekend brings to end the gymnastics year and has us shifting towards swimming. 
Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's