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<<August 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: family, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,591
26. Family Mission Trips- How to Prepare Your Children

by Sally Matheny
Take Your Family on a Mission Trip!
     In making your summer plans, have you considered a family mission trip?  
     A trip planned for serving others, rather than ourselves, puts our faith into action.  When we practice sacrificial giving and serving, our faith grows. Flexibility and working as a team strengthens the family. Leaning to trust God with the details, and most of all, the results of our efforts, trains us for further service.

     If you choose to adventure on a mission trip, here are a few helpful tips on how to prepare your children.

     Essential for a successful trip, with all its details and decisions, is earnest prayer. Through prayer and discussion, focus on the purpose of the trip. Remind one another of the Great Commission and everyone’s need for Christ. Pray continually for the people your family will serve. Every detail—the victories and the snags—are entrusted to God.

Bible Study
Share scriptures on serving
     During family devotion times, include scriptures on serving others.    
     Regularly share with one another how God is working in your life and it will become easier to conduct these same conversations with those outside of your home. Give older children opportunities to practice sharing their faith in a comfortable environment before stretching beyond their comfort zones.
     Remind the family of how God works through our weaknesses. Recall Moses, Paul, and people of today who have reached others through the power of God. God enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

     Whether it is within or outside the United States, research the culture of the area you will serve. Host a special family night. Serve foods commonly served there. Watch a movie or read a book about the area.
     Show your children the destination on a map. If possible, let them highlight your travel route and allow them to take this map on the trip.
     Discuss how this is not a vacation. It’s not all about our comfort and pleasure. While there will be fun moments, the focus is on the mission.

     Allow children to help with some of the packing. If there is a required packing list, let children help check off items. Give them choices, when possible—even if it’s between two colors of shirts. This will be another opportunity for children (and parents!) to practice flexibility and sacrifice.
     Will you be taking items to the people you will be serving? This may be Bibles, VBS materials, candy, or other supplies. Enlist the help of your children in collecting and packing the items.

     Pack a backpack of items to keep your child entertained during travel. Consider small toys, card games, art supplies and snacks. Pull out that map with the highlighted travel route. Allow children to trace over the line as the trip progresses, circling areas of interest.
     Help them collect mementos at each stop. Collect items such as tree leaves, area information from free brochures, and camera shots. When you return home, these can be transferred to a scrapbook or lap book.
     Encourage children to share these with family and friends as a way of testifying to God’s goodness on the trip.
Befriending another child is ministry.

     If possible, plan service opportunities that include each member of your family. Running errands, assisting with laundry or just befriending another child are areas of ministry. Stress how God uses all things (big and little) for His glory.
Serve with a humble spirit.
     Remind your children they are there to serve others and how to do that in a way pleasing to God. Perhaps role-play appropriate and inappropriate ways (ex. with humbleness and with haughtiness).
     Also, remember to include Jesus. Repairing a roof for someone benefits him now, but sharing Jesus Christ with him offers eternal rewards. Be intentional and pray for opportunities to witness about Christ’s love.

Spiritual Warfare
     If your children are old enough to understand good and evil, then they will understand that obstacles and difficulties will arise. Discuss the importance of prayer, staying in the Word, and not giving in when difficulties arise. Before the trip, talk about possible trials and temptations and how the family can help each other.
Testing comes when the unexpected
     Testing comes when the unexpected occurs. Understand that the spiritually maturity levels vary in each family. Teach by example by showing the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
     Although no one wants difficulties, they produce a wonderful time to grow in our faith.


Never lacking in zeal.
     Let your love and enthusiasm for the Lord overflow to your children.

    “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:10-12 (NIV)
     Excited about planning your next family trip? Below are a few links to get you started!

    Has your family ventured on a mission trip together? Share with us your helpful tips!

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27. Reread #27 Umbrella Summer

Umbrella Summer. Lisa Graff. 2009. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

 I have been wanting to reread Umbrella Summer for several years now. I first reviewed it in October 2009. I remember having a good, strong connection with Annie, the heroine. Every single person in the Richards family is struggling with grief--with the loss of Jared, Annie's older brother. But it is Annie whom we come to know and love throughout the book. We see the parents handling of grief, of moving on or not moving on as the case may be. We see how they parent, if they parent, Annie. All this is seen through Annie's perspective. Annie's perspective is seen through a complex range of emotions: fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger. For example, Annie has a hard time sympathizing with her friend, Rebecca, who has lost her pet hamster. Her response to Rebecca's strong grief is understandable, but, problematic for the friendship. He was just a hamster. It's not like you lost your brother. While the book is very much about grief, it is also a very good book about friendship, about what it means to be a friend, about building new friendships and restoring broken ones.

One of my favorite friendships in Umbrella Summer is Annie's friendship with their new neighbor, Mrs. Finch. Mrs. Finch is no stranger to loss, she has also lost someone close to her, her husband. Mrs. Finch and Annie both feel their losses strongly, yet, by coming together, by being honest with one another, by sharing the best memories, the best qualities about those they have loved and lost, they realize that they are beginning to heal a little, and that is a very good thing.

I also thought it was sweet that Annie and Jared's best friend have a special connection and come together as friends to truly celebrate Jared.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. The Start of the Parade

In the distance I hear the band warming up – not a single note piercing the air sounds right. Each is singular, isolated, and the sound of them issuing from so many instruments almost hurts the ear. It is not melodious or rich. It sounds a mess.

People young and old run and walk around me, depending on their ability. The youngest citizens are aided by the hands of parents who steady their wobbly steps. The elderly are aided by their children, their children’s children, or a kind neighbor. No one is alone.

Excitement is high. I can see the shopkeepers giving out red, white, and blue buttons, pinwheels, and balloons on sticks to anyone who wants them. Somehow, today isn’t about profit or loss. Those cares will wait until tomorrow. Competition forgotten, today they smile together and serve.

The entire of Main Street is lined with flags – 48 white stars, seven red stripes, and six white. My own native flag boasts the same colors but in a much different configuration. I never saw it displayed so much when my home was there. Of course, as countries go, mine is old and gray while this one is but a newborn. In the latter years, one doesn’t celebrate birthdays with quite as much vigor as a youngster. One hundred and fifty years old today, I’m reminded.

This little town of Portsong is like any other in the country. It boasts nothing outside its borders that make it unique. It is known for nothing, remembered by few, and can’t seem to grow despite the mayor’s efforts. Yet there is something special here. While I cannot put my finger on it or label it properly, there is something that made this old Brit stay and set up shop.

I believe the allure is in the small details.  For instance, I have been asked to join the festivities no less than seventeen times since I came and sat on this bench. Five of those offers came from people I do not know and four more came from people who saw me at a distance and went far out of their way to make their inquiry. I have been here since just after sunrise and it is now nearly eleven o’clock. In that time, I have counted forty-three people of various ages who have passed me. Forty-two of them shared a smile and kind word with me. The only one who did not was little Esther Parsons and being two, she was in the middle of a fit about her bonnet, I believe.

In most places I have been, an old man on a bench can blend in… be anonymous… simply fade away into background. Not here. In this place this old man has been knitted into the fabric of the community so tightly that I believe I would be missed if I left. Yes, I believe there would be a hole in the quilt if I or anyone else took flight. And that is the loveliness of Portsong. Does it exist in other small towns? I am certain to some degree. It is certainly here to stay. As am I.


The parade is about to start. As I leave my seat aided by the hand of a beautiful child with golden ringlets, I hear the marching band leading the way. No longer are they clanging individuals striking off on their own notes. Now they play as one group. Their sound gets closer. It is beautiful, melodious, and wonderful. Like this place, it is a collection of people working together in harmony.

I truly love it here.


-Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle

July 4, 1926

Filed under: Character Voices

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29. Canada Day IS Family Day…

Canada Day officially kicks off holiday season for me here in the northern hemisphere. Kids have big smiles on their faces, and adults are gearing up for family getaways. Some families head for their cottages or vacation homes while others prefer to pack up the trailer or tent and venture into Provincial or State Parks armed with bug spray and bathing suits. Still others choose a stay-cation, opting to stay at home, hang by the pool, or go on day trips with their loved ones. Whatever method of holiday people decide on, the anticipation of being with family for one or two weeks is well worth the wait!

Since this will be our last summer at our lake home (cue the tears), we’re having a big family gathering to say good-bye and celebrate all the good times we’ve had here. I’m expecting a good size crowd, and have plenty of food on the menu. One such appetizer I’ll be preparing—Family Fiesta Dip—is popular at any summer bash, especially when family and friends drop by. So, juice up your taste buds and dive into my easy to make spicy dip at your pleasure.

What you Need:

250g package of cream cheese (soft)
1 tbsp. margarine
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 small jar of salsa (vegetable chunk style)
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I prefer the nacho or tex-mex brand)
1 bag of Tortilla chips

What you Do:

MIX cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise until smooth. Spread in a medium-sized dish with edges to prevent spill over.

COVER with salsa – not too much so it’s not runny.

LAYER as follows: chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, and then top with shredded cheese.

Keep refrigerated before serving. Serve with Tortilla chips (and napkins).

Family Fiesta Dip

 While you’re waiting for the Family Fiesta Dip to set, why not kick back on the beach or wherever you’ll be during your holidays and take a trip back into time with my Last Timekeepers MG/YA time travel series? Safe travels, everyone!

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30. The Cat Who Lost His Meow $50 GC Giveaway 6/30-7/29

The Cat Who Lost His Meow by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: The Cat Who Lost His Meow | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Helen H. Wu | Publication Date: June 1, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3+

Summary: Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before.

Priced at only $.99 during this promotion.




About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author

Angela Muse

Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter



* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: July 29, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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31. Collision: The Battle For Darracia, by Michael Phillip Cash

In this second book of the Darracia Saga, Collision, Michael Phillip Cash continues his sci-fi drama with more deception and multiple character developments that take readers deeper into the solar system and the history of its inhabitants. As the battle for Darracia continues, there are internal traitors, blossoming romances, family tensions and everyone, besides the enemy, is questioning their faith in the Elements.

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32. A Box of Scent

I came home the recently to find this at my doorstep.




I know!  This is an outrage!

It may seem innocuous initially with its flowery packaging and appealing colors, but read between the lines.  Oh, can’t see it clearly? This, my good readers, is a box of scent.  Why is that a big deal, you might ask?  Because, consider the implications of someone giving you a scent meant to cover your current odor. That’s right! Somebody thinks I stink!

Where did this come from? What dastardly knave would leave such a foul gesture on the front step of another?

I know my wife didn’t order something so frivolous when she already has an olfactory sensation in me! I’m like a bed of roses, just ask me.

Did the UPS guy drop it off, and if I so, what does he think of me now?

Is there a scent fairy that didn’t make it into the legend books or that movie where they all teamed up?  A Santa Clause for the nose, as it were.

Why does a box of fragrance smell an awful lot like cardboard? What kind of rip-off is that?

These were the questions I asked myself as I sat beside my box, my anger growing every minute. I began plotting how I would discover the origin of this unwanted gift. I figured it had to be one of my neighbors. We have two that come to mind when anything suspect happens on our street. Two doors down on either side are families that each have their own quirks. We all have those neighbors, so I won’t detail their eccentricities. Suffice it to say that when the media shows up at my door because the police are leading them off in chains, I will NOT say, “Oh, they were normal folks. I can’t believe they found eleven bodies in their yard.”

Since I couldn’t be positive it was either of them, I spent the better part of the afternoon parading up and down the street holding the conspicuous box in my arms so all could see. I watched the eyes of everyone I met – it’s all in the eyes. Each neighbor I encountered looked at the box suspiciously as we engaged in meaningless small-talk, but I never ran across the guilty expression that would pin-point the offender. All-in-all, it was a wasted effort and most likely branded me as neighborhood weirdo number three (if I don’t already wear that label).

When I arrived back at home, I expected the usual June Cleaver welcome. I did not receive anything so grand, my wife was more focused on the box in my arms. For all the attention I got, I may as well have been the UPS delivery guy – whose opinion of me is now as questionable as my odor must be.

“Oh good, the plug-ins are here. Every one in the house has run out,” she said as she took the box and repaired to another room with nary a kind word for me.

What kind of marriage of deception is this? For twenty-two years I lived under the delusion that I was responsible for the lovely smells around here only to discover that in the opinion of my beloved, I stink.

Oh well, even though I now know it isn’t me, I do like the smell of Warm Vanilla Sugar wafting from every outlet in the house…



Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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33. The Magic Trap (2014)

The Magic Trap. (Lemonade War #5) Jacqueline Davies. 2014. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Magic Trap is the fifth novel in Jacqueline Davies' Lemonade War series. Her newest book starring Evan and Jessie Treski opens in the month of May. It is almost summer once again, readers have almost spent an entire year with these two siblings.

Mrs. Treski is going on a business trip. She'll be gone a whole week. She's hired a sitter to stay with Evan and Jessie. But hours before she's scheduled to leave and just mere minutes after an unexpected knock at the door, she learns that the sitter has been in a car accident and needs surgery. While she'll be fine, there is no way she'll be able to keep two kids. The knock at the door? Evan and Jessie's father. He just happens to be in town for a day or two; he just happens to be in between stories for the moment; he's a war correspondent. He volunteers to stay with the kids the whole week. She is hesitant. After all, the last visit he stayed just a few hours. He is always in and out of their lives. He rarely stays around longer than a day or two at most. A whole week with the kids?! Is he capable of sticking around that long? Of putting his kids first? She isn't positive. But she goes.

Evan is working on a disappearing act of his own. Evan's new interest? Magic tricks. He's got a handful he's great at. He's working at mastering several more. He's found an old--really, really old--magic book. He needs help, and Jessie and his Dad are ready to help him out. Evan plans a big magic show and everything...

But life doesn't always go according to plan. And Jessie and Evan are about to be severely tested. All week long, their dad has been emphasizing over and over and over again how tough Treskis are and how they can do anything. Jessie and Evan will be given the chance to prove just that...

The Magic Trap certainly has its dramatic moments.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. The Candy Smash (2013)

The Candy Smash. Jacqueline Davies (Lemonade War #4) 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The fourth book in Jacqueline Davies Lemonade War series brings us to February in Jessie and Evan Treski's fourth grade year. Apparently after returning to school, Jessie decided to start a classroom newspaper. The Candy Smash is ALL about Jessie working very hard as a journalist and reporter as she tries to figure out the ethics of publishing. For example, if Jessie *knows* that someone like-likes someone, should she report it? Perhaps if Jessie herself were to have a crush, she'd know the answer to that one. But boys, well, they just don't interest her yet. Evan, on the other hand, well, he is definitely interested in one particular girl. (He has been since The Lemonade War!)

The Candy Smash isn't all about journalism. The teacher has started a poetry unit. While some students like hearing and discussing the poems each class day, Evan happens to love it. He tries not to let his love show too much, of course. But Evan's big secret: HE LOVES POETRY. And at home, behind his unlocked "locked" door (there's a sign on the door) he writes poetry of his own. For someone who has struggled with school, Evan's newly discovered gift with words is pure blessing.

The books have been getting more serious as the series progresses. In the Candy Smash, readers learn that Grandma has come to stay with them. I was very relieved to learn that she would not be left on her own. Also, Jessie has started thinking a LOT about her father whom she hasn't seen in over a year. Readers learn that HE is a journalist, that he travels all over the world. I knew, of course, that their mother is a single mom, divorced, but this is the first mention that I can recall revealing details about the dad.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. summer: day 5


And here we are at Friday in this unusually busy week. Soon most of us will head out to a party to celebrate the finalization of a friend’s adoption—a most joyful occasion indeed. Things we did today: the trio recited their poems (“I didn’t like this yesterday but now I do,” said Huck during the brief pause for air between his, oh, I’d say fourth and fifth voluntary recitations of “The Rain”); they learned a smidge of Latin; we had our read-aloud and quiet reading times. I actually read during QRT today instead of dozing off.

It’s going to be fun, this summertime focus on the younger set, after the rich and productive (and long) high tide I had with my teens. And of course the teens themselves are enjoying the more ambling pace of their low tide. Jane’s internship is going to keep me on the road more than we’d anticipated, but it’s turning out to be a nice time for quiet conversation for the two of us and whichever of her siblings has come along for the ride. (One sibling at a time is the key.)

I’ve enjoyed keeping this log this week. As our summer days find their rhythm, I won’t have as much detail to chronicle—different books, different pieces of music, some outings. But as is our way, the overall shape of the days will be much the same. The sturdiness of our daily rhythm, enlivened by the endless variety of the books and songs and games that fill up the hours, is what makes that very liveliness possible. It’s like a tried and true recipe that you change up with different seasonings and spontaneous substitutions. A good salad, maybe, or a sandwich.

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Forster and Eliot this week, which is silly, but sometimes I had one book handy and sometimes the other. Forster’s prose makes me ache in the best possible way. I find I’m returning to him more and more often lately, sometimes just opening to the middle of Room or Howards End and reading wherever I happen to land. And yet this is my first time reading Passage! I’m transfixed, as usual.

“She was looking through a nick in the cactus edge at the distant Marabar Hills, which had crept near, as was their custom at sunset; if the sunset had lasted long enough, they would have reached the town, but it was swift, being tropical.”

I find I’m wanting to creep verrrry slowly through Middlemarch this time, taking time to sit with an episode or even just a paragraph and breathe it in, savor its subtleties. For all Eliot is sweeping in scope (800 pages, a whole village-worth of fully realized characters), her magic is in the microcosm. This bit about Sir James, just after he finds out Dorothea is engaged to Casaubon and, after riding hard for a bit, decides to swing by her uncle’s house as previously planned—

He really did not like it: giving up Dorothea was very painful to him; but there was something in the resolve to make this visit forthwith and conquer all show of feeling, which was a sort of file-biting and counter-irritant.”

That there’s a whole lot of character to reveal in a single sentence.

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36. Reread #25 Julia Gillian And the Art of Knowing

Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing) by Alison McGhee. 2008. Scholastic. 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Several years ago, I read the Julia Gillian series. The first book in the series is Julia Gillian And the Art of Knowing. The book introduces us to a lovely little heroine, Julia Gillian, who is something. She is not really like other children her age (she's about 10) and she's not really like other adults either. She is individual, unique, special. While I did not see myself in each and every bit of Julia Gillian, there was one thing in particular we share. (Or should I say shared.) Julia Gillian is afraid of books with sad endings. Julia Gillian has recently bought a book, a green book, I believe, with a dog on the cover. (As a child, I would have known to avoid it.) When she started the book, all was well. A few chapters in, and Julia has become WORRIED, very WORRIED about the dog in the story. She's afraid that the dog might...dare she say it...DIE in the end. The second she begins to worry, she stops reading. She puts the book aside. But. Julia Gillian can't stop thinking about the book, about the characters. Though she's not spending time with the book anymore, it's still haunting her. Her parents guess this, as do some of her older friends, and for some reason they make her finish the book. (The reason why sounded a bit unbelievable to me.) Can Julia Gillian survive reading a sad book, a sad dog-dying book?

Julia Gillian lives life. She is very, very, very close to her dog, Bigfoot. Her dog is her best, best friend. So it's understandable why she has such a hard time reading the book. Her fear is, in a way, not so much that the fictional dog will die as it is that HER beloved dog will die.

There are several little stories going on in Julia Gillian and the Art of Knowing. I liked how Julia reaches out to a neighborhood girl who is about to start kindergarten. They have two conversations, I believe, but in them we see Julia Gillian at her best.

I definitely enjoyed rereading this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. summer: day 4

spicy hummus, yum

Early morning dentist appointment (a long-awaited day for Jane) and then later, midday, Beanie’s Piano Guild audition. She did very well. In between, there was a really delicious snack time accompanied by Beethoven’s 6th (what can I say, I’m a Pastoral kind of girl and always have been). And then a new thing with the younger set—another OLD habit I’m dusting off for the younger set. We read boatloads of poems this year but didn’t do much memorizing, and what’s nicer than a brain crammed with poetry? Huck (with Beanie as coach) worked on Stevenson’s little “Rain” poem; Rilla grabbed “Bed in Summer”; Wonderboy tackled a funny verse about lizards. We’ll keep practicing these next week.

Rose and I made some highly delicious salsa. I found huge bunches of cilantro on sale for twenty cents at the farmer’s market earlier this week—TWENTY CENTS, can you imagine?—so fresh salsa was a must. Very high on my list of things I’m grateful for is that I didn’t get the taste buds that interpret cilantro as soap. I love it so.

Me to Rose: Be careful not to touch your eyes after chopping jalapeno.


Today’s readaloud time began with a Huck request: Mr. Bear’s New Baby by Debi Gliori. All that baby wants is to snuggle; it takes them forever to figure it out. And then another chapter of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. We always have to run to the kitchen for a bite of chocolate afterward. Except today only the kids did the running. We’d been reading in my bedroom and it was mighty cool and comfy there. See also: early morning dentist appointment.


This is what Huck does while I’m working.


I’m working on that Duolingo post I promised. And I got a free session at italki.com, so I’ll be trying out a German lesson via Skype next week. (Eek!) Will report on that afterward.


Next week I’ll probably stop counting off the days of summer in my post titles. Probably.

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38. The Great Search & Rescue

Our cat went missing. Not the new cat, the old cat. She’s a good yet reclusive pet. It took us weeks to integrate the two of them and I’m not just gonna let her go. Besides, can a family of six be complete unless they have at least four pets? Seriously, why would we ever have ten beings who consume and eliminate food living under one roof? Someone should have said no to this ridiculous increase long ago! Don’t ask me who – someone with more backbone than me.

We noticed she was gone Thursday. She has hidden for extended periods of time before, but after a thorough search of the premises, we realized she was not indoors. Thus began our search and rescue.

We started by walking up and down the street calling out her name. Wait, we would have started by doing that, but we never really have given her a name. So we just called Kitty and clicked a lot, completely ignoring the fact that she has never so much as inclined her head toward us when called…or clicked at. The only thing that came at our beckoning was our neighbor’s horse. I sized him up to see if he would be an adequate replacement, but he was completely the wrong color and I worried a little about the size of my litter box.

After the sun set, I posted two guards at the back door and commenced the stake out. The Commandant (me) made his rounds for inspection only to find the two teenage guards sleeping. It seems the batteries to their electronic devices had run out, leaving them nothing to do. I was about to rip into them like a monkey on a cupcake until I saw an eerie set of eyes through the window. The cat!


Assuming the cat wanted back in, we all rushed the scene noisily with search lights blazing and promptly scared the crap out of her. She ran away from us and we didn’t see her again that night.

Night #2. I set one guard along with her charger (fool me once) and went to bed. Around 1 am, I was roused and told the cat was back. Using a calmer approach, we slowly walked in her direction and sat down. She recognized us and without the high-beam flashlight blinding her out of her mind, allowed herself to be captured.

Once she realized she was safely inside her familiar home, she laid down in her usual spot and promptly slept for two days. The thrill of it all left me staring at the ceiling for an hour, pondering several things.

1. Does she care about us in more than a “feed me, then subject to me” way?

2. Did she really want to be caught?

3. What made us think that a cat who has never been outside could recognize the exterior of her home?

4. In case of a dystopian apocalypse, I need to trade in my teenagers on someone who will actually guard something sans electronics.

5. Why would anyone name a cat? One might as well name a roll of tape for all the attention paid to it.

Before drifting off to sleep, I recall having the strange sensation that I was being watched by the cat. I would like to think she was pondering her adoration of me, her rescuer. But I am fairly certain that after two days in the wild, the hungry feline was sizing me up for a snack.


Photo attribution:  Patrick Feller (Flickr)

Filed under: Dad stuff

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39. summer: day 3


I’m sitting here wondering if anyone turned off the soaker hose in the tomato garden. I’d like to call it the “vegetable garden” but all I’ve managed this year (so far) is tomatoes. Lots of ‘em, though: orange grape (which sounds oxymoronic but is delicious) and roma.

This morning during my blissful half hour of reading in bed, I decided I wanted to go back to Middlemarch—remember I started it (a beloved reread) months ago? And then got sidetracked? I opened it on my phone and found I had to go back fifty pages or so because I just had to read this one bit, no and that one, oh and that scene where…and eventually decided I wanted to read a hard copy instead; I’m wanting the tactile experience for this one—though you’d think an 800-page behemoth like Middlemarch is the exact kind of tome for which the Kindle was invented. Well, the only resolution I made this year was to indulge my reading whims, so mammoth codex it shall be.

I’d looked for my battered paperback copy back when the urge first struck and came up emptyhanded. We’ve been doing a lot of book purging (sob) to make space, and faded, ancient, cheap paperback copies of classics have been on the kiss-goodbye list (gulp). The reasoning here being that these are books we can read for free on our e-readers. I mean, certain treasured volumes full of margin notes are forever-keepers, but I’m talking some of these ratty, coverless copies that were decades old when we picked them up at used bookstores in the first place. When I couldn’t find Middlemarch I figured ruefully that it must have gone out in the Goodwill box.

So I stopped at the library on the way to piano, the big lovely fairly new main branch in our town. It wasn’t open yet. Later, WB and I walked back over, and I was surprised to discover they didn’t have a copy on the shelf. Must be the surge of renewed popularity thanks to Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch (which I’ve been in the queue for for ages). Amusingly, the only available copy in our system today is on the shelf at my local branch—the tiny little box of a building we swing by on Saturdays. I meant to drop by on the way home from piano, but I gave a ride to a friend’s daughter and wound up chatting in her front yard until lunchtime.

After lunch, I read a chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the trio and then we had our little bit of quiet reading time. Huck wanted Up Cat to go along with Up Dog. It was in his room, on the board-book shelf. Right next to Middlemarch.

Who knew?

photo (34)

Thick as a board, I guess?

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40. Summer: Day 2


Okay so today I don’t have any photos AT ALL. Here, have a moonrise from last week. How I wish I’d had a real camera with me that evening, not just the phone. Last Thursday: Scott and I had just finished dinner at Firestone Brewery in Buellton, CA, where we stopped for the night on our way to pick up Jane from school. This silvery disk rising up over the green hills was impossibly, staggeringly enormous. We had to pull over and marvel at it. I think it was a day short of full. Glorious.

Jenn left a sweet comment on yesterday’s post about loving that kind of slice-of-life blogging. Me too, especially from blog-friends I’ve been reading for so many years now. How strange it is, sometimes, to think of all we’ve been through together without ever actually having met in person. We watch each other’s children grow up; we see books dreamed of and toiled over and published. We’ve seen each other’s blogs through many iterations. The ones I love best are what I now think of as old-school. Old, you know, like way back in 2006. I began in ’05: this January will be ten years. No wonder some of you were stunned to realize that’s how old Wonderboy is. He was a baby when I began, just a year older than this blog. It doesn’t seem possible I’ve been at it this long.

Anyhoo. Today. :) Another errand-y day that chopped up the rhythm I anticipate we’ll fall into next week or sometime soon. Jane started her internship today. We’re still sorting out transportation details but for now I’m going to taxi her, which means I’m suddenly revising my plans to include outings on the west side of town. A friend is planning bimonthly beach days at a time and place that dovetail nicely with Jane’s hours, and then there are our Balboa Park explorer passes whispering our names. I’m kind of psyched to have a logistical reason to have to get out the door.

So this morning Scott went with me to drop Jane off, just for fun, and when we got back it was time for me to take WB to his audiology appointment. Had a crackly hearing aid in need of servicing; he’s now down to just one for a week or two. On the way home we stopped at the farmer’s market and bought an astounding quantity of fruits and vegetables for four dollars. We’ll be making salsa tomorrow.

By the time we returned home, the others had finished lunch. WB and I ate and then I had a little window in which to read a chapter of Charlie to the trio. Roald Dahl, bless you and your short chapters. Back I went to fetch Jane. Rilla watched some My Froggy Stuff videos (a discovery via Karen Edmisten) and there was a Signing Time in there somewhere. Carrots and peanut butter for a morning snack. Oh, and Rose and I managed a Spanish lesson before the whole taxi shift started. We’re using a book called simply Basic Spanish Grammar (2nd edition) which I found on one of our shelves…no idea when or how I acquired it. It’s a nice little book, clear and brisk, a good complement to her Memrise vocabulary studies.

(The Duolingo and iTalki posts I promised before I got sick are still in the works. Later this week, I hope.)

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41. Best Friends Fovever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt

I love to look at scrapbooks.  They tell so much in the words and pictures the person keeping the scrapbook chooses to use.  I always had scrapbooks for school, camp, and family when I was growing up.  The 1940s was also a time when scrapbooks were a  popular way of remembering important people, events and other things.

Louise Krueger, 14, begins her scrapbook on April 24, 1942, the day her best friend Dottie Masuaka has just left their Seattle neighborhood with her family to be ?relocated" along with everyone else who is Japanese or Japanese American until the world war is over.   But no one knows what relocation mean and where it is.

Through pictures, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and various mementos that Louise pastes into her scrapbook, the reader learns about how the Japanese were forced to sell homes, furniture, businesses and cars they had worked so hard to get for a fraction of their worth on very short notice;  the kinds of appalling living conditions in slapped together huts or horse stalls they were put into and the attitude of many Americans towards anyone who was Japanese.

But the reader also gets a picture of what life was like for kids during those first few months of war.  New wartime restrictions quickly go into effect: rationing gas and a rubber shortage (tires were impossible to get) means trips are only taken when absolutely necessary; mixing yellow coloring into the white oleo to make it look like butter, the flyer from a Japanese Exclusion meeting about "keeping America for Americans."

Louise also keeps all of Dottie's letters which talk about camp life, her grandfather's difficulty with what has happened, and many of them contain drawing she makes of camp life.  Louise also keeps the program from the May Day Performance and her confirmation, two events she and Dottie had been looking for.  And there's lots of realia - ribbons, notes from friends, flowers, movie stubs.

And, of course, there is talk of boys.  Louise meet a young man who lied about his age to join the Army and ended up in a hospital; Dottie is surprised that a boy they had thought annoying has matured in the camp and the possibility of a camp romance is hinted at.

But then suddenly in September 1942 the letters stop.  And no one is more surprised than Louise and Dottie when they discover why.

This is an interesting way to look at the war.  Anyone of Japanese ancestry was sent to an internment camp aftg\er the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941.  Though the story is fiction, Beverly Patt got her idea for Best Friends Forever from a story her mother told her as a child and got the details of what it was like for Japanese Americans sent to the internment camps from a couple name Dave and Margaret Masuoka.  The Masuokas gave Patt lots of details that helped her create and give depth and a sense of authenticity to the character of Dottie.  You can read more about how Patt researched and created the scrapbook Louise keeps in an interview at Discover Nikkei.

Be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book where Patt gives more background information for writing Best Friends Forever.  And she includes an interesting Bibliography for anyone who might want more information about the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

This is a wonderful book for introducing this aspect of WWII history to young readers and to help that, you will find a very useful Teacher's Guide HERE.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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42. The Light Bulb Thief

I had a dream!

Note my declaration is past tense meaning there is no similarity in weight or profundity to Dr. King’s Dream. No, I had a dream that scared me enough to rouse me from my deep slumber to ensure the security of my homestead. You know, that hazy stumble to check the locks on the doors, ignoring the fact that if someone wanted in badly enough, a locked door wouldn’t stop them.

Because I didn’t fully wake, I don’t recall the entire dream, mostly just the impact it had on me – then later, the impact it had on others. I am a very deep sleeper. For years I have said that comes from having a clean conscience. I’m not sure that is true, I just say it to make myself sound righteous.

imageThis dream involved a thief. But he wasn’t just any thief, he was after one thing: our light bulbs. I have heard of houses being stripped of all their copper tubing, never their bulbs. We switched to compact fluorescent long before the government told us we had to. I wonder if I harbor a subconscious grudge about paying more for light bulbs now and my dream was anti-government.  Or maybe I’m against the technology that takes ten to fifteen seconds to brighten the room whenever I flip a switch.  I’m like everyone else, when I want light, I want it immediately. Who knows, but this thief had the old time black mask. I somehow saw him in my mind before I got up, which should have been my first clue that he didn’t exist.

Retrieving my trusty Louisville Slugger from behind the bed, I slowly walked out to the den and checked one door, club at the ready. (Yes, I am an Army certified expert marksman who doesn’t keep a weapon in the house – unless you are a bad guy, and then I have an arsenal.) Door one, secure. Stumble on to door two – secure. The kitchen is declared safe. Front door, fine. Back door, copacetic. Even in my foggy state, something told me not to try the stairs…I didn’t listen to myself.

I stormed downward, ‘Old Hickory’ at the ready, around the strategically positioned sectionals all facing the TV screen, all the way to the door which was tightly locked. Hmmm, nothing to worry about. A yawn. A scratch. I drag my old bat like the Mighty Casey trudging back to the dugout and went to sleep.

Little did I know that to the television watchers in the basement, I had become the entertainment for the evening. I never realized they were there.

Two things to preface the story:

1 Because I rise so early. I typically fall asleep long before the rest of my family. Often in a chair or on the floor where I pick myself up from a puddle of drool, then wearily migrate to bed…which is a problem because:

2. It’s kind of a nightly crapshoot as to whether I have the acumen to dress properly….

I don’t know who was in my basement, or what stage of dress I was in. I haven’t heard from the sheriff’s office, so I assume I was covered. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the bulb thief himself was down there eating my chips and drinking my Dr. Pepper!image

If I had had one brain synapse firing, I could have just flipped a switch and known if my bulbs were gone.

But I would have had to wait those accursed 10 to 15 seconds!


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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43. Summer: Day 1


I thought I might try a photo-a-day thing this summer but hahahaha, this is the only kind of picture I seem to take nowadays. But this is what my world looks like: blurry, colorful, a little off-center, full of goofy smiles. We kicked off our summer today, the younger three and I, with a celebratory lunch at Subway. (Note: I used to refer to this bunch as “the littles,” but Wonderboy has registered an objection. He’s ten, after all: no longer a little one. At a family conference this morning it was decided that they are henceforth to be described as “the trio.”)

We haven’t quite found our summer rhythm yet—it’s early days, after all, with Jane barely even unpacked and Wonderboy only just out of school—but we’re sorting out our plans. WB had an orthodontist appointment and then I dropped the older girls at the mall to see a movie. That meant the trio had me all to themselves this afternoon, and they were pleased as punch. We enjoyed our lunch (I do a good manners/bad manners game with Huck, and this was a chance to practice restaurant manners) and headed home for read-aloud time. Kind of a big day, actually, because I think Huck is ready for his first novel. We usually start with My Father’s Dragon, but that’s a Daddy book (i.e. a readaloud reserved for Scott), so I made a sudden decision and grabbed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You can’t go wrong with Dahl.

Of course we had to go have some chocolate after our chapter. Jane brought everyone treats from school—they make chocolate in the Food Services program there!—which is all the more reason it’s the perfect time for Charlie.

I get so giddy about these milestones, you know.

Then I put on “Young Americans” and we had a little dance party in the living room, because that’s what you do with your sugar rush. After that, I announced it was time to begin a new summer habit we’d all discussed at our morning confab: Quiet Reading Time. “New” only if you don’t count my first seventeen years of motherhood. ;) Somewhere around the time Huck was three and gave up regular naps, our afternoon quiet time shifted direction and became, er, less quiet. But I really really want some reading time for myself this summer (and I’m big on letting the kids see that’s a priority for me), so I decided that we’ll work our way (back) up to 45 minutes of quiet reading time every day after lunch. (That’s a long time for a Huckleberry. Littles are allowed to play quietly with toys during QRT if they get tired of looking at books.) We started with 15 minutes today, Huck beside me on my bed. I read a chapter and a half of A Passage to India and felt pretty spoiled. Huck read Up Dog and Mommy, Mommy, a pair of board books he loves, and then he surveyed the various other options arrayed at his feet and declared he would look at The Grey Lady at the Strawberry Snatcher “because it doesn’t have any words, so it’s easy for me to read.”

Fifteen minutes goes by really quickly when you’re pretending to read Forster but are really spying on a rapt five-year-old out of the corner of your eye, is all I’m saying.

The trio and I reconvened in the kitchen and set to work tidying up the art-supply shelf next to the table. Long overdue. Months of drawings crammed in among the coloring books and Draw Right Now volumes. We sorted crayons and sharpened pencils and got ourselves set to do some art this summer. Then Huck remembered I’d promised him a “play tubby” today (yesterday’s sluice-the-dirt-off-your-grubby-little-feet tubby was way too short for his liking), so I popped him in with some bubbles and took the opportunity to give the bathroom a good scrubbing. Rilla practiced piano and Wonderboy wrote some emails. And before I knew it, it was time to run back to the mall for the girls. On the way over, I couldn’t help but laugh. Low tide, we call it. It’s always high tide for mom, isn’t it?

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44. Reread #23 11 Birthdays

11 Birthdays. Wendy Mass. 2009. Scholastic. 267 pages. [Source: Library book]

I am so glad I reread 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. I had forgotten how lovely this one is. Amanda and Leo share a birthday in June. For ten years, these two kids shared a big birthday party together. For ten years, these two were close friends. But at the tenth birthday party, Amanda overhears Leo's friends asking him WHY he was having a birthday party WITH A GIRL. Leo, wanting to stop the teasing, said something he shouldn't have. He said that he "had" to have a party with Amanda, that he didn't "want" to. Amanda, crushed, fled the party and a great friendship was at an end. The book opens on the day before their eleventh birthday party. For the first time, Amanda and Leo will be having separate parties, for the first time, their classmates, their friends, will have to choose which party to attend. Amanda is not exactly in a happy place when the novel opens...

11 Birthdays is a FUN read about families, friends, and reconciliation. Leo and Amanda celebrate their eleventh birthday eleven times! Yes, Amanda and Leo are caught in a time loop! It will take them working together, speaking together, forgiving one another to break the spell...

I definitely recommend this middle grade novel!

I first reviewed 11 Birthdays in March 2010.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder | Book Review

In Seven Stories Up, Laurel Snyder combines humor and friendship to spin a rich story of adventure, sprinkled with Snyder’s signature magic and mystery.

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46. Dancing barefoot on the beach

Here’s a track from the soundtrack of my trip.

This song was playing at an open air bar/dance club just a few meters away. I was sitting on the beach in front of a bonfire on Gili Air with a group of new friends I’d made there. We were all talking about our lives. How they’d all met, where we might all be going. Laughing a lot. I traveled alone, but found I never was alone. It was the trip’s great gift, the company and wisdom of new friends. They were from Sweden, a guy and four girls. The guy and his girlfriend were very sweet and invited me to have dinner with them earlier that night. What struck me about him was how gentlemanly he was, making sure I had a glass of wine and that I knew everyone. Later that night I would discover the heartache he’d suffered. The gal I spoke with most of the night is an artist-yogi. A few Spanish gals and I would dance until morning.

My guru on Bali said in life three things are certain: Everyone will die, everyone will grow older, everyone will lose all that they have.

I hope to dance barefoot on the beach. Often.


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47. The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Fast talking basketball kid Josh lives for the game.  It makes sense since his father Chuck "Da Man" Bell was a player in his own right back in the day.  Chuck played the European League, but now stays home to take care of the house while Josh's mom is the Vice Principal at his school.  Josh's twin Jordan (JB) lives for basketball too, but things are starting to shift.

Miss Sweet Tea in her pink Reeboks has caught JB's attention, and Josh isn't quite sure how to be without JB.  He finds himself missing his brother's wisecracks and bets.  He's not used to being one.  Even on the court their flow has changed, and Josh crosses a line in a way that he wouldn't have even considered before.

Girls and basketball aren't the only things that the Bell family is dealing with.  Mrs. Bell is trying, trying, trying to get Chuck to deal with his health issues.  He is a man who likes his treats, he gets fired up over his sons' games, and he simply refuses to see a doctor despite his spells.

This story of the love of the game, shifting allegiances and family will take readers on a journey they are not likely to forget.  There's a rawness and realness to Josh both on and off the court.  Alexander's free verse brings the pace of the story up, but there are moments that give the reader real pause as well. For example in Basketball Rule #3 Alexander writes:" Never let anyone / lower your goals. / Others' expectations / of you are determined / by their limitations / of life. / The sky is your limit, sons. / Always shoot / for the sun / and you will shine."  And the poem Dear Jordan will leave you breathless.

The Crossover is a quick read, but it is a book that should and will be reread. Add this to your TBR pile, asap!

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48. Three objections to the concept of family optimality

By Carlos A. Ball

Those who defend same-sex marriage bans in the United States continue to insist that households led by married mothers and fathers who are biologically related to their children constitute the optimal family structure for children. This notion of family optimality remains the cornerstone of the defense of the differential treatment of LGBT families and same-sex couples under the law.

There are three main objections to the family optimality claim. The first is a logical objection that emphasizes the lack of a rational relationship between means and ends. Even if we assume that the optimality claim is empirically correct, there is no connection between promoting so-called family optimality and denying lesbians and gay men, for example, the opportunity to marry or to adopt. It is illogical to think that heterosexual couples are more likely to marry, or to accept the responsibilities of parenthood, simply because the law disadvantages LGBT families and same-sex couples.

The second objection is one of policy that questions whether marital and family policies should be based on optimality considerations. The social science evidence shows, for example, a clear correlation between parents who have higher incomes and more education, and children who do better in school and have fewer behavioral problems. And yet it is clear that neither marriage nor adoption should be limited to high-income individuals or to those with college degrees. This is because such restrictions would exclude countless individuals who are clearly capable of providing safe and nurturing homes for children despite the fact that they lack the “optimal” amount of income or education.

Image Credit: Gay Pride Parade NYC 2013 - Happy Family. Photo by: Bob Jagendorf. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

Image Credit: Gay Pride Parade NYC 2013 – Happy Family. Photo by Bob Jagendorf. CC-BY-2.0 via bobjagendorf Flickr.

It is also important to keep in mind that judges and child welfare officials do not currently rely on optimality considerations when making custody, adoption, and foster care placement decisions. Instead, they apply the “best interests of the child” standard, which is the exact opposite of the optimality standard because it is based not on generalizations, but on individualized assessments of parental capabilities.

Finally, the optimality claim lacks empirical support. Optimality proponents rely primarily on studies showing that the children of married parents do better on some measures than children of single parents (even when controlling for family income) to argue that (1) marriage, (2) biology, and (3) gender matter when it comes to parenting.

The “married parents v. single parents” studies, however, do not establish that it is the marital status of the parents, as opposed to the number of parents, which account for the differences. Those studies also do not show that biology matters because the vast majority of the parents who participated in the studies — both the married parents and the single ones — were biologically related to their children.

As for the notion that parental gender matters for child outcomes, it is the case that most single-parent households in the United States are headed by women. This does not mean, however, that the absence of a male parent in most single-parent households, as opposed to the absence of a second parent, accounts for the better child outcomes found by some studies that compare children raised in married households to children raised in single-parent ones.

In short, the family optimality claim does not withstand logical, policy, or empirical scrutiny. Family optimality arguments, whether in the context of same-sex marriage bans or any other, should be rejected by courts and policymakers alike.

Carlos A. Ball is Distinguished Professor and Judge Frederick Lacey Scholar at the Rutgers University School of Law. His most recent book on LGBT rights is Same-Sex Marriage and Children: A Tale of History, Social Science, and Law.

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49. Saturday and now it’s summer

bare necessities

I certainly didn’t mean to check out for a week, but right after my fun afternoon at the fair I got sick, sick, sick. Spent the better part of three days huddled in bed, wretched and useless. Scott, Rose, and Beanie took very good care of me and kept the house chugging along. By the time I recovered, the week was nearly over and it was time to head up the coast to pick up our college girl for the summer. We got back last night, minivan crammed to bursting, happy to all be under the same roof again.

Wonderboy, too, is finished with school for the summer. A long, lovely low tide is beginning. I’m making summery plans. Some garden work, a lot of Balboa Park time, some geocaching excursions. Mornings outdoors when it’s still cool, afternoons full of read-alouds and Minecraft. A day at the beach here and there. Jane has an internship lined up and plans to take a summer class. Rose wants to focus on her Spanish—and learn to drive. Beanie is practicing hard for Piano Guild. I’d like to empty my house of about half its contents. Is that too ambitious a goal? ;)

And suddenly I’m realizing we’re at the point where Comic-Con is next month. Gulp.

I want to do a lot of art with my younger set this summer. We’ve had trouble squeezing that in lately, and that’s all wrong—I’ve never thought of art as something to “squeeze in”; it’s always been a primary focus of the day. But my current teens-and-littles mix means our days have a lot of things that deserve focus. So I’ll be working to correct that upending of the natural order. :) Gotta clean up the corner of the kitchen where we keep all the supplies. Time for some new watercolors and tissue paper.

I have lots piled up to write about. Like this podcast interview at The Parentalist! It was such a fun discussion, all about parenting and favorite resources. And I told about my Wrapple Summer, a favorite childhood memory.

P.S. If I owe you an email, see paragraph #1! I’m trying to get myself caught up. :)

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50. Tribute to my Dad on Father's Day

I thought I'd take the opportunity of Father's Day to show some of my dad's paintings.

I inherited it all from my father. Though I generally take after my mum, an imaginative and aspirational woman who had a great influence on my development, the nuts and bolts of drawing and painting is all from my dad.

Ken Shelley (after Charles Brooking)
Ken was born with a natural ability to paint, but had no opportunity to develop this in the post-war landscape of Birmingham, like many of his generation art school was out of the question, it was straight from school to National Service, then a succession of mechanical jobs in the metropolis. Ken worked tirelessly in often uncomfortable jobs to raise a family, and through that created the carefree space for me to explore my creativity. I was given the chance to pursue art in a way that was entirely denied his generation. I'm incredibly grateful to my parents for that.

Ken Shelley, (after Charles Brooking)
In the meantime Ken's own talent was completely suspended until he retired. Suddenly, with time to pursue art for the first time since he was at school, Ken picked up a paintbrush again and started produced a string of oil paintings, mostly focused on his love of the sea and the heritage of the English countryside.

Ken honed his technique producing copies of the great 18th century sea painters, which is a great way to learn. However he's also painted many of his own compositions, most of them covering the walls of his house, rarely seen by anyone. The next time I visit him I'll take some more photos and post some more.

Please do comment with feedback. Ken rarely paints now, few people ever see his work so he needs some encouragement, I'd love to see him pick up a paint brush again.

I own everything to my parents, however where my dad gets his painting abilities from though is much more of a mystery.

Happy Father's Day dad!

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