Classics Challenge: Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was my second attempt at book written by a non-white author. It was a deceptively simple read. I really enjoyed the writing style and quickly got sucked into the story even though I didn't relate much to any of the main characters and had a bit of trouble keeping track of who was who. Even without much background information, I quickly found myself immersed in the culture of the Nigerian tribe of our main character, Okonkwo and off I went on a wild ride with him through some major changes in his village and life.

 I finished this book a while back but had a hard time writing my review so I let it sit. And now, I am still having a hard time writing this review. There are a lot of ideas in it but its hard for me to put into words. It's the type of book that I want to talk about over coffee with a friend that has read it though. Elaine's review was one of the reasons I picked this book (after failing to get through Makioka Sisters before my ILL time was up) and we texted about it a bit but I struggled to find words then too, at least ones I could write down coherently. Which I realized makes this a pretty lame review. But I am glad I read it, I do recommend it and might even pick up the next one in this series next year.

This was my Non-White Author Selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge hosted by Karen at Books and Chocolate.


Advent Table Time Plans

Time flies and guess what, It's almost Advent! I'm not big into holiday skipping so I feel a bit bad for Thanksgiving but while I'm singing any carols yet, I do have to at least plan for Advent now in order to make it happen. This year isn't too different from the previous few in terms of our family plans, but I do have new school plans!

 We aren't doing a full "Christmas school" month. Lucy has three more weeks of AO Year 1 to finish which, along with 3-4 light exam days, should put us right on time to finish, have a few days to clean and cook for Christmas and then a full 12 days of real Christmas celebrating. But I am going to do a seasonal Table Time (aka Morning Basket, Morning Time, Circle Time, whatever you call it). The best part about changing up Table Time is that I can fit a lot of seasonal stuff in without actually adding anything to my schedule. Because December really isn't the time to try an add things in, at least for me and it seems like we are already adding in two days of speech a week. Yikes!

Composer Study/Devotional - Cindy Rollins' Messiah Guide and Handel's Messiah. I'm doing this because I've wanted to for myself, the kids just have to (get to?) tag along. I'm pretty excited about it. Spotify has the album she uses but I'm going to try and get the cd from the library as well so I can infuse our car trips with the whole production.

Bible Memory - For the last few years we've memorized and reviewed a large chunk of Luke 2. This year we will review that but our main passage will be Isaiah 9:6-7.

Hymn/Folk songs - The division between Hymns and Folk songs when it comes to Christmas Carols is a bit blurred. I am working on keeping Christmas songs preserved for Christmas, so I made up a big Advent list on Spotify for general listening and out of that chose the Advent Hymn O Come O Come Emmanual as our "hymn." The Holly and the Ivy will be our "folk song." That might just an excuse to sneak a bit of Bing Crosby into my life earlier than the 25th. Don't tell the Advent police.

I'm also hoping to print out several copies of the lyrics as well as the ones we've learned the last few years and have the kids decorate them or add picture narrations if their is a more involved story. My goal is to over the years compile them into a couple of Christmas Carol books.

Poem Memory - I just read a few selection for the kids today and we all agree on The Christmas Hearth Rhyme from Gyo's Fujikawa's A Child's book of poems which just happens to be a part of the Google Books preview for that book. Earlier this year, at a completely non-seasonally appropriate time of year, we memorized Christina Rossetti's My Gift which would be another good selection. (And did any of you watchers of The Crown notice that poem/song on the show? In Episode 2, I believe)

Picture Study - We are a bit behind with Mary Cassatt because Tea time is the one thing we just don't get done when the kids are sick. If Lucy's not feeling good, we just do a couple readings on the couch. If Jonah is, we do school without him. But nobody wants to miss out on Tea Time so I can't do it unless everyone is feeling good (me included!) which means we've missed 3 weeks. And I really like Cassatt so I don't want to rush through her. So I won't have time for a full set of Christmas pictures but I'll probably pull out one or two of our Christmas prints from the last two years for our exam week.

Art/Handicrafts - As things end and our time outdoors starts to shortens, I anticipate a bit more time for art and handicrafts. I can't share too much because these pictures and projects will be ending up as presents for people who read this blog but I do have ideas and I just love that seasonal pulling in as winter comes that allows for more of this.

I was going to stop this post at the school stuff but there isn't too much more so I'll keep going.

We'll do our regular advent wreath at night and adding hay to the manger so its ready for Baby Jesus on Christmas. I have the whole set of Jotham's Journey books and I thought about starting them this year but I think I'll wait one more year. They can be intense. We'll stick with the reading through the Jesus Storybook bible. We've moved to a slightly more advanced Children's storybook bible for our evening this past year and it was good for Lucy but Jonah doesn't follow as well so I'm thinking he especially will like going back to this one.

We also do at least one new Christmas picture book a night. I think I'm actually almost to the point where I don't need that many from the library to have enough to last until Christmas! But that doesn't mean I'll stop buying new ones. Oh no.

I like to wait to buy our tree a bit but we've had issues with there being a limited supply or being close to the cut-off for when they are returned but I heard a suggestion somewhere of buying your tree and putting lights on but waiting for ornaments until closer to Christmas. That sounds appealing, especially as I don't want to spend weeks defending it from Norah. We also put out decorations slowly, as we add pieces to our nativity set.

As I said, I'm going to try this year to limit our Christmas songs early on in the season so once exams are over, we will do a bunch of baking and instead of our advent wreath and devotionals, we'll have a cookies and milk treat and sing hymns after our bible time. I might even hold back a few presents to open over the course of the 12 days to spread out the chaos.

Ah, the thing about planning for Advent and Christmas is that it always weighs on me, like ahh! I have to get stuff ready! It's coming too fast! But then when I actually put my plan down on paper (or screen), I feel so ready for it. Advent, a breath of fresh calm air. But first, Thanksgiving! I didn't forget you, I promise!


Mother's Daybook - November 8th

Exciting about - November! Ah, November! So many fun things are happening in November. It's a bit of a downer month normally, what with my mom's birthday at the beginning of the month followed by the anniversary of her passing bringing it's cloud over our Thanksgiving. But I've got a Charlotte Mason conference coming up that I'm really excited about. It's the first time I have left the big kids but Craig's gonna have it all under control and Norah and I are gonna party it up with some homeschooling moms. Yay! And it's not the only thing this month because..

Watching - All the Gilmore Girls. I wasn't planning on rewatching the series before the November reboot but then, well, I started it. And now, it's a challenge. I've also ordered a Gilmore girl shirt. I must be prepared!

Got the t-shirt!

So I wrote all that above on the first of November. But then, mid-blog post, I got interrupted by a kid crying from ear pain. Not a good sign. And the germ started flying (again) and we had another ear infections, another round of fevers and a bad case of croup. We're down to just one sick daddy and a recovering but still snotty baby. So November, you're not quite living up to the hype yet. But I have faith in you. Pull yourself together!

Sick babies are sad, but still awfully cute. 

Relaxing - Because stuff is ending! The kids had their last day of soccer so our Saturdays are free again. Lucy ended up really loving soccer and being goalie. She also liked playing on the field but she had a tendency to run right up near the ball but not even kick it. She did eventually get a kick or two in so I'm excited to see what next year brings. Jonah on the other hand, well, he was a bit more reluctant. He'd practice but refused to step on the field when it was game time. Now, that doesn't mean that the other four year olds helped their team out much more. Four years old just isn't really a game ready age. But boy are they fun to watch. Like the kid who cries when the other team gets the ball, or the two girls that like to stand next to each other and hold hands or the little boy who runs around after the ball with his shirt pulled up over his head. Comic gold. So it was enjoyable but I'm not sad that we will no longer have somewhere we have to be every Saturday morning. We've also finally hit the end of all our appointments. The result of some of those is that Jonah is now approved for twice weekly speech therapy. Which I guess means more appointments but those are consistent and routine things don't seem to wreck the same havoc that irregular appointments do. So, breathing can now recommence.

Reading - Easy stuff. I've just finished my last Classic for the Back to the Classics Challenge. I've still got to write up the reviews do I won't talk about them here but I'm going with some easy reads for a while. 
  • Cinder/Scarlet/Cress (the first three Lunar Chronicles) - Fun YA sci-fi spins on fairy tales. Cute. Don't go expecting fine literature or anything but enjoyable and getting progressively better so I've put the fourth on hold. 

  • The Nine Tailors - This is good if you can get past all the bell stuff. And there is quite a bit of bell stuff at the beginning and I really didn't understand it. Also, not enough Bunter nor any Harriet Vane. But still, it' a Sayers novel so I'm happy I read it. Every few months I check my library and their overdrive has a new Lord Peter book. This makes me happy but I do wish they would acquire them in order. I just read about a honeymoon for a couple that isn't together yet - confusing!
  • The Willoughbys - Oh my. This was hilarious. It's not a book I'd hand to a kid at 8 or 9, especially as I'm reluctant to do too much sarcasm too early, but it is the type you hand to a young teen who has already read lots of Burnett and Nesbit and Dahl. They'll get the jokes. The story itself is simple and quirky but the parody is spot on. If you like classic children's literature and need a fun quick mood lifter, you should give this a try. 

  • The Incarnation by Athanasius- Now, one might not think this is "easy" but I started this thinking it would be a real challenge to get through. It's not, the writing makes the ideas come alive. Profound and thought provoking but simple to understand. C.S. Lewis really knew what he was talking about in his intro (and if you don't have a desire to read this book, at least read the intro which you can get access to in the free book preview. Several quotes just from that. And I'm normally an intro skipper - but not in this case). This is the only book on this little list that I haven't finished but I'm intentionally reading it slowly so I can really have time to spend on the concept. I wouldn't have disagreed with anything he says if you had asked but I can also say that it is has already changed the way I view Jesus. 

Singing - Everything, all the time! We are all loving the last few folk songs we've done. Norah even starts rocking along. And we keep catching each other singing them throughout the day and its become a bit of a joke. I've also started us on the solfa lesson from singsolfa.com and youtube channel Children of the Open Air. It was only supposed to be a once a week tea time thing but they both love them and are asking for it more often. I'm fairly musical although solfa is a entirely new concept for me but these resources make it very accessible and fun and its all starting to make a lot of sense. I've already seen a difference in Lucy's singing. (I think the idea that singing is notes just like piano was a new concept for her - oops!) Jonah loves it too although he won't sing along, or if he does he "sings in a whisper so no one can hear me" That's also how he likes to say his apologies and sometimes his bible verse memory work that way as well. When he's six, he might be in for a rude awakening but for now, he gets a pass (except when it comes to apoligizing. I do believe the phrase "it's only apologizing if the other person can hear you" has been said more than once. So hopefully all our singing is going to turn into pleasant sounding singing shortly!