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I’ve Moved!

Hope Is the Word has moved!  Please visit me at my new home on the web, and please update your links!  🙂

Image: djcodrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blog Break, Easter Wishes, and My New Address!

I am going on a bloggy semi-break until after Easter.  I need this time to rest and prepare for an extremely busy Easter season, and the best way for me to do that is to pull back a little from the computer.  However, I still have some reviews for TOS HomeschoolCrew to complete, and Read Aloud Thursday will also still go on for these two weeks.  This is a sticky post, so please scroll down below this post to see what’s new at Hope Is the Word.

I pray that you all have a blessed Easter and that we will all focus on the real hope that we have in Jesus!

On April 5, I plan to go live at my new blog.  Please update your favorites and other links before then!  🙂  I look forward to “seeing” you all over there!

Colorful

I just wanted to post a quick follow-up to my St. Patrick’s Day post in which I declared that we would be making this cake or these cupcakes today.    I opted for the cake after I read lots of comments following the cupcake recipe with phrases like “this took a lot of time” or “time consuming,” etc.  Ours was something of an ill-fated project from the beginning:  I spilled a little bit of the batter after I added the water to the cake mix, so I guessed at how much water to put back in.  Then, I realized that we only possessed two eggs, not three, as the recipe demanded.  Last, Louise managed to drop an entire bottle (the bottle too, not just the contents) into the bowl of batter she was tinting.

All things considered, I think it turned out pretty well.  The girls agree. 

Happy Spring!

In the Spotlight

Regular readers here at Hope Is the Word know I love a good interview. Now I feel all official–Carrie has interviewed ME. You can read the interview at her picture book blog, Reading My Library. Check it out!

Reading My Library

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bloggy Housekeeping, Linky Love, and an Important PSA

In lieu of posting my usual Week in Words post this week, I’m posting something that is long overdue. 

First, almost two months ago now (gulp!), Carrie awarded me with the Honest Scrap award, and I’m just now getting around to publicly thanking her. 

Thanks, Carrie!  🙂

Of course, with most awards, there’s also an assignment.  I’m supposed to share ten honest things about myself and then pass on the award to other bloggers.  First, the ten honest things:

  1. As a teenager and even a young adult, I never thought I’d get married.  I guess I saw myself as the stereotypical old maid schoolteacher or librarian.  😉  God and Steady Eddie had other plans, though, and I’m so very glad!
  2. Even though I was an elementary librarian, I’ve never read a single Harry Potter book.  I’ve tried, but the one I picked up just didn’t appeal to me.
  3. Even though I taught English (and still do, on occasion), I do not have flawless grammar.  In fact, there are some usage rules I have to think really hard about, and I tend to over-correct.
  4. I like eating salad, but I detest preparing vegetables.  Washing and breaking up lettuce is the worst.  However, I don’t care for bagged salad mixes, either, so we rarely eat salad here at the House of Hope.
  5. I like the idea of having pets in theory, but at this point in my life, I balk at the thought of having one more living, breathing creature dependent upon me for care.
  6. I haven’t cleaned my entire house, from top to bottom, since . . . well, I can’t remember when.
  7. I am not a naturally organized person, and this drives me to distraction.
  8. I don’t sleep well if the top (flat) sheet isn’t tucked under the mattress at the foot of the bed.
  9. I use parenthetical statements too much in my writing.
  10. I have a latent desire to write for publication, but I’m pretty sure that my skills (and creativity) are nowhere near the level they should be.  Plus, I’m tired.  🙂

Let’s see, I’m supposed to award ten bloggers with this same award.  Carrie and I travel in some of the same circles, so I’ll try not to duplicate her list.  Here is a smattering of some of the blogs I read regularly.  Since I don’t have an official blogroll on my blog, you might consider this an mini-blogroll.  This is a hodge-podge of bookish blogs, mothering/homemaking/crafting/etc.  blogs, and homeschooling blogs. 

  1. Across the Page
  2. A Spirited Mind
  3. His Mercy Is New
  4. WandaStricklinRobertson
  5. Sprittibee
  6. Semicolon
  7. Blog, She Wrote
  8. Mt. Hope Chronicles
  9. Jimmie’s Collage
  10. Small World Reads and Small World at Home

If you find your blog on this list, consider your self awarded with the Honest Scrap Award!  🙂

Second, An Almost Unschooling Mom awarded me with the Read Across America Award.  Thanks, Mom!  🙂

After thanking the giver, I am commissioned with the task of passing along the award to three other bloggers who read to their children.  Oh, the possibilities!  Several (most!) of the bloggers I awarded above do this, but rather than give them another “assignment,” I’ll stretch in another direction.  I am awarding the Read Across America Award to

  1. Reading My Library  
  2. Brimful Curiosities
  3. Silly Eagle Books

Again, I could go on and on and on listing blogs for this one.  A good place to start if you’re interested in more blogs about children’s books is with those participants of Read Aloud Thursday!  (How’s that for a shameless plug?)

The last part of the assignment for this particular award is to list three things your children like to read about.  My girls have very eclectic tastes, but they do love certain characters.  I would say that right now their top three picks are

  1. Amelia Bedelia
  2. Arthur
  3. Miss Frizzle of the Magic School Bus

Really, what don’t they like?

Last, I have a Very Important Announcement:

Ahem.  It’s that time of year again, folks.  Things get C-R-A-Z-Y around these parts just before Easter, primarily due to several church commitments that we have that happen all at just about the same time.  I am officially putting my pregnant-and-perpetually-tired-self on bloggy break as of this Friday.  Until then, posts should go on as usual this week.  After Friday, Read Aloud Thursday and a few HomeschoolCrew reviews will go on, but other than that, things will be quiet here at Hope Is the Word. 

And then, when I come back, it will hopefully be in a new location!  That’s right–I’m moving!  🙂  I hope you all will follow me to my new, self-hosted blog.  I hope to have things up and runnning over there on April 5! 

If you’ve made it this far in this lengthy post, congratulations and thank you!  You guys really make my day!  🙂

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

*Warning:  This post likely contains spoilers!  Beware if you’ve never read this book!*

I did it!  I finally finished A Tale of Two Cities!  This book has been on my “need to read” list since I was in high school.  Somehow I missed the class in which it was required reading, so I never read it.  I’m making up for lost time.  I have two regrets about this book: 

  1. that I didn’t read it sooner.
  2. that I didn’t read it faster. 

First, I took a whole semester of French Revolution/Napoleonic period history in college, and much of this novel would’ve made even more sense to me then.  Of course, I had other books to read then, so I never even thought about it.  Second, if I had only managed to read this one in a week instead of several weeks, I wouldn’t have forgotten the identity of some of the minor (but major in their contributions to the plot) characters.  Such is life.  I feel like I slogged through the first two-thirds of the book, and then, when most of the major characters are once again in Paris, I picked up speed.  It got good then. 

Ah, Sydney Carton.  Sydney Carton.  Sydney Carton.  He surprised me.  Way back when I posted these quotes from the novel, I had nothing more than a mere inkling of an idea of how it would all work out.  I have to say that this novel has one of the most satisfying (‘though heart-wrenching) conclusions I’ve read.  What better theme than redemption?  This exchange got me:

‘Are you dying for them?  she whispered.

‘And his wife and child.  Hush!  Yes.’

‘Oh, you will let me hold your brave hand, stranger?’

‘Hush!  Yes, my poor sister; to the last.’

I’ve never written much about the name of my blog before, but Victor Hugo wrote somewhere in Les Miserables (another classic I’ve yet to complete) that “hope is the word God has written on the brow of every man.”  I love the idea that as long as we have hope (and we do), we have no reason to despair.  I like to see the theme of hope played out in literature, and if Sydney Carton is not a seemingly hopeless character who ultimately provides the greatest gift to his friends, I don’t know who is. 

Strangely, I thought of To Kill a Mockingbird while I was reading of Sydney Carton’s sacrifice, and it wasn’t Atticus Finch or Tom Robinson who came to mind.  It was Ms. Dubose.  I always loved that little vignette–how Atticus makes Jem go and read to her, a very crochety old lady.  Later, Jem finds out the reason for his father’s insistence that he help her.  In my opinion, she is a noble character because of her steely determination to die a free woman, even in the midst of her pain.  (I don’t want to provide too many details–I don’t want to turn this into a post which provides spoilers for two books.  If you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, please do yourself a favor and read it.  Thank you.)  Sydney Carton’s decision to finally do this one thing right reminds me of her.

Of course, there’s the other part of A Tale of Two Cities that I love so much:  the humor.  Jerry Cruncher and Miss Pross provide just the comic relief needed in a heartbreaking story.  I’ve quoted the novel extensively in my Week in Words posts, and most of the quotes pertain to these two characters.  For a sampling of Dickens’ humor, you can read these posts here and here and here.   

I love this book, and I’m really glad I finally read it.  Now I want to watch a screen version.  Does anyone have any recommendations?  Any to avoid?

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I picked up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin because of a mistake in shelving at the library, believe it or not.  I frequent a couple of libraries, and I always spend far more time in the children’s departments of each library than I do in the adult sections.  One of my libraries has the new juvenile and young adult books displayed face forward on a display close to the circulation desk; this is where I spied The Happiness Project, with its mis-labeled spine.  Its brightly colored cover caught my eye, and I was intrigued by the subtitle:  Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.  I took it home–after all, I needed a mental diversion from the hard work of reading A Tale of Two Cities.  😉  (Does anyone else do this?)  The Happiness Project turned out to be the perfect book for just such a task.

After beginning this book, I learned that it is a project memoir–a book in which the author has undertaken a project and written about his or her experience in accomplishing the project.  This is the first such book I’ve read, but I have to say I like the genre.  I’m a project-oriented person, although often my projects never get off the ground.  Gretchen Rubin, a lawyer-turned-writer, spent a year of her life trying (and succeeding at) improving her overall sense of happiness and contentment.  This was no haphazard experiment, though.  She had very specific goals for each month of the year, and each goal was carefully annotated on her Resolutions Chart.  She based her goals on her extensive reading about happiness.  Her research led her to such disparate authors as Gandhi and Benjamin Franklin, Joan Didion and Victor Frankl.  This is not a dry and dusty tome of research and statistics, though.  Instead, it’s one woman’s attempt to apply sometimes esoteric ideas to her own real life.  It’s mostly about a grand experiment in behavior modifiction, but this one worked.  

Much of this book caused me to contemplate my own life and how just little changes in my own attitude could make a difference in how I “feel.”  It also caused me to step back and look at my blogging, and finally, to declare it an okay thing for me to spend my time on.  I can credit Gretchen for that–one of her monthly resolutions was to “aim higher” in regards to her work, and she started her blog as a part of that.  I feel guilty for the amount of time I spend on my blog (and reading, and thinking about my blog, etc.–admittedly, I do spend too much!), but reading about Gretchen’s experience helped me to realize that although I don’t get paid for blogging (well, unless the tiny little bit that one day I might receieve through my Amazon Associates links counts), I do consider it my work.  I was a reader, and finally, a librarian, before I became a SAH-homeschooling mom, and I enjoy sharing books and ideas.  There’s nothing wrong with that at all.   It makes me happy.  (As a side note, do check out Gretchen’s blog, The Happiness Project.  It contains all sorts of happiness.  And don’t miss this post, especially if you love children’s literature as much as I do.)

I found Gretchen’s voice in the book to be pleasant and friendly–note that I call her “Gretchen” and not “Ms. Rubin.”  I feel like I got to know her through reading this book.  In fact, I felt like she and I might even be friends, if we were to ever meet.  After all, we have something in common.  This is not a Christian inspirational book, however, if you’re looking for a book on happiness from the Christian perspective.  Although Gretchen Rubin is not a Christian (she calls herself a “reverent agnostic”), she did spend a month imitating the life of St. Therese of Lisieux in an attempt to “contemplate the heavens.”  What Gretchen does is choose the approaches to happiness that work for her life (giving proper credit, of course, to those who seemed to have something genuine to say about it) and reject the rest.  I did not find my faith offended by her approach, though.  I just found her approach to be immensely practical.

I liked this book a lot.  I was both entertained and instructed by it, and that’s a rare combination.

Now I just have to decide if I should tell the nice library ladies that the book is mis-labeled.  I think it’s because I actually worked as a librarian (and have the education to go along with it) that I am sometimes hesitant to reveal that information to the folks on the other side of the desks.  I don’t want them to think I’m trying to do their jobs, etc.  I like for them to like me!  🙂  (That’s important if you’re a frequent library user!)  What do you think?  Should I say something or just keep my mouth shut?