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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!  🙂

Homeschool Library Builder

As a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, I have been given the opportunity to review a useful resource, the Homeschool Library Builder.  Unlike most of the other products I’ve reviewed, this is not something you purchase; rather, it is a service you use.  Homeschool Library Builder is simply an online new and used bookstore which caters to the needs of homeschooling families (although anyone who loves a good book could benefit).  Becoming a member of Homeschool Library Builder is free, and it is a great service to use to search for those difficult-to-locate titles.  Books are arranged in categories, or you may simple search for a title or browse all books.  The website is easy to use both visually and technically. 

I’m not sure how the quantity of books stocked by Homeschool Library Builder would compare to the big online stores, but I like the fact that this is a home-owned and home-grown company (run by homeschooling families, no less!).  To my knowledge, all of the books (both new and used) are offered at a discount from the retail price.   Shipping appears to be based on a flat rate, too–$4.50 for USPS Media Mail and $12.20 for USPS Priority Mail.  You may pay via PayPal, credit card, or check, and they even offer an incentive program called Book Points that enables you to earn credit based on what you spend.  As a homeschooler who tries to give her business to small businesses, I’m fairly certain I’ll be returning to Homeschool Library Builder when it comes time to purchase more books. 

If you’d like to read more reviews of this company, please visit the TOS HomeschoolCrew blog.

I received no compensation for writing this review.

Sick Day

Lulu awoke very early this morning, and after she had been up for a while she complained of having a sore throat.  I didn’t think much of it, really, and by the time this transpired we had already begun our school day.  We begin our “learning time” on our couch (or, for those not from the South, our sofa), reading together.  We read a Bible story, have a short devotion, work on our Bible memory passage.  Then, I usually read at least one book of each girl’s choosing.  Last, I read whatever I have chosen for that day’s focus:  usually it’s something science or FIAR-related.  Today it was more books about the skeleton/bones. 

After this, I usually supervise Lulu’s piano practice (and Louise’s, too–she has nothing formal to do, but she insists).  However, today Lulu just wasn’t up to it.  I gave her the option of watching a short DVD (which is something we never do at this time of day), and (of course), she chose to do that.  I had forgotten that we have a Bill Nye DVD about the skeleton borrowed from the library right now, so Bill Nye it was.  By the time the DVD was over (about 30 minutes), it was apparent that Lulu is indeed sick, so I scrapped the formal plans for the rest of the day.  I read three chapters from our current chapter book read-aloud, The Boxcar Children, and they would’ve listened to more.  Lulu then listened to part of the audiobook Akimbo and the Lions while Louise and I ate lunch since she had no appetite.  In fact, she dozed off while listening to the story.  While Lulu napped, Louise and I made some granola bars (from Family Feasts for $75 a Week, a book I hope to review soon).  When Lulu woke up, I coaxed her bribed her to take some Advil for the fever she had developed.  The bribe?  Watching the Molly movie together.  Now she and Louise are in their room listening to The Rescuers, if she isn’t already asleep.

I’m not giving a play-by-play of our day because I like to hear myself “talk,” I promise.  What I need is some good old homeschooling advice.  When is a sick day still a school day?  I have to keep records of how many days of school we have, and I’m honestly pretty desperate to get kindergarten finished before baby brother makes his appearance.  In fact, I’d like to finish as far in advance of the blessed event as possible.  Today we none of our formal work–phonics instruction, math, handwriting.  However, we have done an enormous amount of bookish things today–more than usual, in fact.  Upon the advice of some wise homeschooling parents over at The Well-Trained Mind forums, I’m counting today, but I’d like to hear more discussion about it.  (It’s really hard for me to silence my internal box-checker!)  If you homeschool your children, how does this all pan out in your school?  I’m all ears.

(If you’re interested in reading how this all turned out, go here.)

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?

The Week in Words



As a distraction/break from A Tale of Two Cities, I’ve been reading a memoir called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  (This couldn’t possibly be why I still haven’t finished Two Cities. 😉 )  The Happiness Project is immensely quotable, but I found one part that just completely resonates with who I am.  I think Gretchen and I might have a thing or two in common. 

But what, exactly, did I find fun?  What did I want to do?  I couldn’t think of much.  Well, there was one thing:  I really loved reading children’s literature.  I’ve never quite figured out what I get from children’s literature that I don’t get from adult literature, but there’s something.  The difference between novels for adults and novels for children isn’t merely a matter of cover design, bookstore placement, and the age of the protagonist.  It’s a certain quality of atmosphere. 

Reading this for the first time was like reading something I’ve thought all along but never had a reason to put into words. 

For more Week in Words posts, click over to Breath of Life.

Friday’s Vintage Find::Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys by H. A. Rey

Did you know that Curious George appeared in a book before he had his own series?  I think this is possibly the most excited and tickled I’ve ever been over a picture book.  That’s big.  🙂

Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys is the perfectly delightful tale of Curious George, his eight siblings, and their mother, who has the giggle-inducing name of Mother Pamplemoose.  All of the little monkey siblings (with the exception of the baby and the twins, Punch and Judy) have distinguishing personality characteristics.  Of course, it’s Curious George who is clever.  But the story isn’t all about him.  It’s more about the fun they have once they are rescued by Cecily Giraffe, a lonely giraffe whose family has all been taken away to the zoo.  Cecily G. not only rescues them from their plight when their tree-top home is destroyed due to the cutting down of the forest; she also provides them with a home now that her family is all gone.  The best part of the book, though, is all the fun they have with Cecily G., who happens to be a very accommodating giraffe.  For example, they use Cecily as a see-saw, a sailboat, and a slope for skiing.  That’s friendship.  🙂  My girls think all of this is hilarious, and so do I.   The book ends with a fun song, and although my girls don’t usually like for me to sing while I’m reading, they always request this one.  Why?  It’s because the song is written using Cecily G. as the treble clef and the monkeys as the notes.  Lulu is learning to read music, and Louise has a really basic idea of notes, etc., so this is interesting and amusing to them.  And to me.  🙂

I’m just really smitten with this book.  Our library copy looks like the green one above, and the only hint that it’s a Curious George book is the little note on the front which reads, “the first book about Curious George.”  While I do think I probably noticed that when I checked it out (and perhaps that knowledge actually piqued my interest since I thought Curious George was the first Curious George book), I don’t think I expected it to be like the rest of the Curious George books since the cover is different.  However, it appears that the only version of Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys that’s available now is one with the trademark bright yellow cover (as well as the tell-tale red band across the top with a modernized picture of C.G.).  I understand the marketing behind this, but sometimes I wish they’d (whoever they are)would just leave things be.  Lulu even noticed that there is a subtle difference between the coloring of the illustrations in Cecily G. and Curious George

The other observation I wanted to make about this is that if my memory serves me correctly, Cecily G. was copyrighted in 1942 and Curious George in 1941.  Although this doesn’t mesh with the Wikipedia article about Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, it just makes me wonder that if it’s so, maybe Curious George actually did hit the shelves first.  Anyone out there a real H. A. Rey fan and know the answer to this one?

All of this really makes me want to find a copy of The Journey That Saved Curious George (read Stephanie‘s review here) and learn more about him.  Oh, and I’d love to read his other, non-C.G. books. 

Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys earns a definitive Highly Recommended from the House of Hope, as well as a spot on my Best Picture Books list.  Check it out!