Thursday, December 26, 2019

As This Reading Year Ends

     In 2019 I challenged myself to read 35 books and in the end read 43.  For this coming year I think I'm going to go for 40.  In addition to again taking the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge I will also likely join the Catholic Lit challenge hosted by Haley of Carrots for Michaelmas.  Allowing for some overlap I should hopefully be able to strike a good balance between reading for fun and stretching my reading muscles.

     Some favorites from this year; Introduction to the Devout Life, Death Comes for the Archbishop and Eight Cousins.

What were some of your favorite reads of the year?

Summary for 2019

Books Read: 43
Fiction: 31  // Non-Fiction: 12
Kindle Books: 16  // Paper Books: 27 // Rereads: 2

Friday, December 13, 2019

Quick Takes #284: Mid December Check-In

  1. Greeting and Salutations; not sure how all of November and nearly half of December has pasted since my last Quick Takes. November was overall very nice and Thanksgiving in particular as we had a wonderful time with my family including my nephew who surprised us by coming home from college, and encountered remarkably little traffic for a holiday weekend.
  2. Advent is going well. The kids seem to enjoy our wreath tradition while of course debating whose turn it is to light or blow out the candles. I've been pleasantly surprised how independent Caitlin is when it is her turn to read the prayer.
  3. This week in particular is very fun #liturgicalliving wise. In addition to the Good Bishop visiting us last Friday with chocolate and oranges; last night the kids enjoyed Choco Taco in honored of Our Lady of Guadalupe (thanks Colleen for that idea).  Given that I knew dinner was going to be a bit of a rush job given the school's Christmas Tableau I appreciated a fun and easy way to mark the feast.  This morning I made cinnamon rolls to mark the Feast of St. Lucy.
  4. The Christmas Tableau was lovely with all of the kids doing a lovely job under the direction of the school's wonderful music director.  It is the tradition that the 6th graders act out the Christmas Story during the show.  It was such fun for me to watch these kids many of whom I've known since Lisbeth was in Kindergarten perform (she by the way was one of the dancers who ushered the Romans in the proclaim the census).
  5. I am finishing The Cross which is will wrap-up my book challenge reading for this year; and with Modern Mrs Darcy announcement of next year's reading challenge I'm excited to start thinking about next years reading.
  6. We truly love our house but from the time we bought 5 years ago we knew at some point we wanted to put in a bathroom on the first floor; and it is finally happening.  Seriously the whole getting estimates and finding a contractor took much longer than I would have ever guessed.  We have already pulled up our deck in preparation and will this weekend take down some fencing to make way for the builders this week.
  7. Some pictures to share:

Please head over to Kelly's for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Open Book ~ December '19

    As the year winds down I'm focused on finishing up the bigger books I chose for the different reading challenges I'm joining this year.

She-Wolves by Helen Castor is fascinating look at English history after William I when his granddaughter Empress Matilda tried and failed to ascend the throne and what changed and evolved in England and France by 1553 when first Queen Mary and then Queen Elizabeth managed to rule and reign in their own name.  Connecting the dots the author also profiles Eleanor of the Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret Anjou; women who ruled as the mother or wife of the monarch.  An approachable book that balances well sharing these women's biographies and analysis of the psychology of the times regarding 'the weaker sex'; also changes in military strategies and the politics regarding France, Germany and Rome.

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Fall Daybook ~ 2019

Thinking about:  
       Getting ready for Advent and Christmas; have ordered cards and the kids have started working on their lists.  Gathering ideas and suggestions on what to get other people.  
Excited For:
    Thanksgiving ~ one of my favorite holidays, and we are headed down to celebrate with my mom and sisters.  Advent ~ I have my devotional and candles for the Advent wreath.

   Mostly jeans and clogs or wedges; I know for most fall means breaking out the boots (and I have a pair that gets some wear) but for me fall means my favorite wedges and wearing clogs again.  Also my navy pea-coat which helps me feel pulled together when I'm heading out into the world.

In the Yard:
    The trees have dropped most of their leaves so lots of raking to go but the end is in sight and then onto the pruning.  Planted some winter pansies, curious to see how they far this winter.  

Watching and Listening to:
    Enjoying the return of This is Us and Madame Secretary's last season, also The Crown on Netflix. Recently finished back seasons of The Good Place and have yet to find our next comedy to binge watch.
The Kids: 

Elisabeth is thriving in 6th grade; enjoying changing classes, Advanced Math and preparing for the Science Fair.  Continues to excel at her gymnastics class, currently working on her back and front handspring.  The end of the day finds her in her loft bed reading, listening to music and playing Minecraft.

Liam has settled well into 3rd grade; reading better and better all the time.  Enjoyed playing soccer this fall and is currently a Bear Scout. Pokemon is still tops and he continuous to astonish us with his almost encyclopedic knowledge of their different strengths and fighting types.

Caitlin is loving 1st Grade and doing really well; becoming more independent with reading I'm now enjoying the times when she reads to me.  Has been enjoying her beginners ballet/tap class though that is currently on hold while she recovers from a sprained ankle.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Open book ~ November'19

Autumn Throne completes Elizabeth Chadwick's trilogy of Eleanor of the Aquitaine beginning a few years into her house arrest by her husband King Henry II and covers the rest of her life.  As well written as the previous two it was fascinating to read the author's take on how her feelings for her husband shifted over time.  While technically historical fiction I come away from reading this trilogy feeling as if I have a good understanding of Queen Eleanor and the times in which she lived.

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott continues the story begun in Eight Cousins picking up the story as Rose turns twenty and she and many of her older cousins navigate their way into adulthood.  The tone of this book was a bit heavier than the first but felt appropriately so as childhood challenges shift to adulthood questions and dilemmas.  So glad I have expanded into Alcott's other works.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

Quick Takes #283: How is it already late October?

  1. Happy Fall; the mums and asters are planted and Football is again a fixture.  Decided not to plant any bulbs but did plant some winter pansies.  After hearing many dire predictions that fall colors would likely be very dull due to lack of rain, have been enjoying what color there is.
  2. School life is continuing a pace; everyone is settling in after a few bumps.  Elisabeth and Liam saw a jump in the homework required but are meeting the challenges with a minimum of complaint.  Caitlin is liking the 1st grade and slowly building independence with reading.
  3. Out side of school life we are busy with sports and Scouts. After a bit hunting we found a wonderful gymnastics class for Lisbeth and she is loving it and happily making up for lost time.  Liam is on a great soccer team with a wonderful coach who is doing an amazing job of teaching strategies while keeping the focus on fun.   
  4. Caitlin had requested to try ballet this fall and thanks to a tip from the mom of a friend of her's I found a fun beginners ballet and tap class. Unfortunately earlier this month Caitie sprained her ankle on a neighbors trampoline and so she needed to miss a few classes but she is getting back into the routine and having fun.
  5. At the beginning of the month Dr Daddy and I had some fun, dressed up and attended the Penn Newman Anniversary Gala.  The Newman Center at the University of Pennsylvania was founded over 125 years ago becoming the first in the nation. Being long-timers we both remember the 100th Anniversary and was so happy to join in the festivity's for this anniversary.
  6. Because in life sometimes everything happens at once the same weekend as the anniversary events was also the baptism of the daughter of friends of ours. So after returning home from the gala we loaded up the kids in their pj's and headed out into the night to NY.  We arrived in the early hours at a quaint hotel founded in the 1790's by a relative of John Adams and grabbed some sleep. The baptism was lovely, the reception fun, and aside from the rain the trip home went smoothly.
  7. On the docket for the weekend; a soccer match, some home and house work, and getting pumpkins for carving.  Whatever yours hold ~ have a good weekend!

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Open Book ~ October '19

Acedia and Me; Monks, Marriage and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris: is an exploration of acedia or the 'noonday demon' as it was known by medieval theologians Norris began when clinical depression didn't quite fit how she was feeling.  Using the writings of the Desert Fathers and psychologists Norris shares how the eight bad thoughts became the seven deadly sin.  I found this book more academic and less memoir than her earlier books and I missed the personal reflections but did enjoy the book and questions posed.

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott is the story of Rose Campbell who after the loss of her father goes to live with her two great-aunts on the Aunt Hill; surrounded by her many other aunts, uncles and cousins.  This delightful coming of age story is smart, funny and wholesome without being preachy. I'm not sure how I missed this story during my growing up but am very glad to have it recommended and will definitely be reading the sequel at some point.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

9 Fun Facts

  This weekend we had the great fun of celebrating Liam and all the wonderfulness he has brought into the lives of his friends and family; and so I thought I would share some fun facts about him.

  • He has an extensive knowledge about the Pokemon universe and the strengths and weakness of many Pokemon ~ and great patience with his mom who is not quite as knowledgable and therefore falls quickly behind in discussions of creating elite teams.
  • He is a deep thinker and will pondering many things during the day and while he is running ~ and will remember his many deep thoughts and questions for us ~ about ten minutes after tuck-in for the night.
  • Funny ~ having learned much in the last year about punning and what makes a good pun.  He enjoys laughing and making others laugh.
  • Has a great circle of friends from school, soccer and Cub Scouts which he can be very zany with; and then disappears into his room for some intense quiet time like a true introvert.
  • Favorite food include Bangers & Mash (sausage and mash potatoes), Shepard's Pie, ice cream, and fried eggs. The last one often requested for breakfast has greatly improved my technique.
  • Favorite subject in school is Math; still hesitant about reading out-loud but has great fun reading Pokemon Manga's on my Kindle app.
  • Currently wants to be either a Veterinarian or a Carpenter.
  • Currently obsessed with old dances and therefore often asks 'Alexa' to play the Macarena song or if anyone in the house wants to Conga!
  • Affectionate, he checks in throughout the day and asks how my day is going; and recently requested a bedtime tradition with me because while Dad is still tops ~ he wanted some Mom time at bedtime.
Happy Birthday Liam! Nine looks good on you!!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

O'Canda continued

Part 1 here

 After our lovely day in Sydney N.S., we left Novia Scotia and woke the next morning docking at the port in Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island.  This was our one port of call where we rented a car as the place I most wanted to see was across the island from Charlottetown.  While the kids and I had breakfast Dr. Daddy most gallantly figured out the bus system and went to the airport to get the car. Soon we were off to the Anne of Green Gables Museum otherwise known as Silver Bush, L.M. Montgomery's aunt and uncle's home and the inspiration for Green Gables in the Anne book series.  The weather was perfect and so the drive across the island was breathtaking and probably a good chance of pace for the kids who had toured three towns in the previous three days.  When we were on PEI for our honeymoon 16 years ago it had been winter, so it was also fun for us parents to see the island in a different time of year.  The museum is lovely and strikes a nice balance between details from Montgomery's life and references from the Anne and Pat books; and I enjoyed so much going through with Lisbeth who had at my request recently read Anne of Green Gables (in return I read the first of the Wings of Fire books).
    Afterwards we headed to Cavendish beach where walking the bluffs trail might have been a better 'Anne' experience, playing in the water was the better family choice.  We then stopped a Tim Horton to pick up some lunch before heading back to the ship; by complete coincidence the cemetery where L.M. Montgomery was buried was across the street!!  Back in Charlottetown we just enough time to drive past our Honeymoon hotel to show the kids before Charlie dropped us off at the port and went to return the car.

The next day was our one day at sea which was a great chance for the kids to swim and do crafts at the Kids Club and the grown-ups take advantage of the some of the ships presentation ~ or in my case; read.

   Quebec wins the award for the most beautiful views while docking.  An old city built on a hill touring involved a lot of walking but gorgeous views and for the going up portion we took advantage of a fun elevator called the Funicular.   Also of note were the beautiful old churches, entertaining street performers, and the delicious crepes we had for lunch.  We walked and wandered our way down back to the ship and found a fun vendor rolling up yummy maple candy on a stick.  All of the kids warmed my heart so much by doing their best to speak French to the waiters and sales clerks.


Samuel Champlain
  Finally it was time to pack up and disembark in Montreal.  Luckily we were able to store our bags at the port which made it much early to explore a bit before we could pick up our rental cars for the trip back to Maine by way of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Top memories include a historical Farmer's Market located in the city's original town square ~ though the animals were for petting not for sale; another beautiful Church, and Lisbeth found a friendly Corgi to pet.

  All in all it was a wonderful vacation and one that I'm sure we will be referring back to for quite awhile. Thank you for reading along!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Quick Take #282: Endings and Beginnings

  1. I promise to post the rest of our Canadian vacation recap next week but wanted to take time and put down some thoughts as our summer ends and the school year begins.  As many of you parents know come next June my threesome may look very different.
  2. Given how fast this summer flew we must have had a lot of fun! Certainly two trips contributed to the speed I'm sure; but also the kids enjoyed their camps, friends and pool time (when the afternoon thunderstorms stayed away).  Summer work was done largely without complaint and a good amount of reading was done by all of us.
  3. First days are always a bit rough with completing supply lists, forms to fill out and books to cover but all in all I'm happy with the launch week we had.
  4. Elisabeth is starting 6th grade, excited about Advanced Math and considering switching back to drums after playing violin for the past two years.  She is continuing with gymnastics and choir.
  5. Liam is starting 3rd grade, and has the same teacher Lisbeth had. Good group of kids in his class with several of his 'buds'.  He is playing soccer this fall and is asking for guitar lessons.
  6. Caitlin is starting 1st grade and was quite nervous about moving into the main school but after visiting her classroom and seeing many of her friends from Kindergarten she is getting excited about the year.  Will be continuing with Daisy Scouts and has been asking for ballet lessons.

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Open Book ~ September'19

The Guensey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows was as wonderful as many people had told me.  Told entirely in letter form I appreciated the many different voices the author managed to create as well as how the letters shifted in formality as characters came to know each other better.  The lead characters prove to be excellent narrators and help to keep the many minor characters straight.

Becoming by Michelle Obama was an unexpected fun read.  My mom lent her copy to me during a recent visit and told me to read it; and being a wonderfully obedient daughter I did.  Joking aside; I really enjoyed this autobiography/political memoir.  I found the writing very good, and felt Mrs Obama found a wonderful balance of explaining not only what happened in her and the President's life but some of the why and how.

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick continues the story of William Marshall begun in The Greatest Knight.  In this book you see Marshall react to King Richard's death and the tumult of King John's reign; as well as challenges within the family as his children grow and seek to make their mark in the world.  I continue to really enjoy this author; especially her attention to detail and ability to made history come alive.

I also read These High Green Hills by Jan Karon which is the third installment in the Mitford Series and as lovely and as funny as the first two.

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Quick Takes #281: Canada, O'Canada

  1. In a bit of a departure from our usual August vacation, thanks to the generosity of my MIL we as an extended family have recently returned from a Canadian Maritime cruise.  Which in summary was wonderfully exhausting and hopefully have left us with many, many memories to reflect back on over the years.
  2. It all began very familiarly with driving to Maine which actually went fairly smoothly with minimal traffic for a summer Friday; the next morning we quickly repacked and headed down to meet up with the rest of the family and head to the port. Boarding the ship involved the excited nervousness of having never done this before and being unsure of how independent the kids would need to be with holding their own passports and answering security questions.  In the end it all went very smoothly and we found our room which was very nice and well set-up for four people (Elisabeth was staying with her TCBFF in Gma's room).
  3. Bar Harbor was our first port of call and our first experience with the process of getting off & on the boat made more interesting by having to take a tender (small boat) to the port as the Zaandam had anchored off-shore.  Bar Harbor is a lovely old seaport town where we found tasty sandwiches and a wonderful park to eat them.  After while some of the party went shopping the rest of us followed a walking trail along the coastline. Beautiful rocky coast, with evergreens right down to the shore line and lovely old homes.  Other highlights were the cannons the kids could climb on and the ducks by the tender dock.
  4. Halifax allowed for a wonderful and unusual welcome; as we walked down to breakfast we heard a bagpiper welcoming us to Nova Scotia otherwise known as New Scotland.  On our walking tour we saw the Government House, a beautiful old church, the Citadel overlooking the city, and the Public Garden.  After a lot of walking luck smiled on us and we found a playground for the kids to blow off some energy and the grown-ups to sit a spell. Then back to the boat to prepare for our first fancy dinner on the ship.
  5. Sydney was our stop in Cape Breton Island (also a part of Nova Scotia); and we were again greeting by a bagpiper.  After all the walking of the day before I decided to hang back with the kids and we explored the shoreline while the rest of the group headed into town to shop and sightsee.  During our wandering we found a fun ice cream spot that we returned to later in the afternoon while others enjoyed an American Taste Kitchen demonstration.
  6. And so as to not cram too much into one post I will leave the overview here with one lovely hint ~ our next port of call allowed me to visit the house that was the inspiration for Green Gables!!
  7. Photos: 

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