Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14 x 14 Reading Challenge in 2014

I love challenges, but it's been awhile since I really took one on.  Then my mother and I were talking about our reading piles for next year, and the idea was born for a 14 x 14 in 2014 challenge.  This is wildly ambitious and might just be impossible (that is 196 books, or about 2 days to read each book, and in 2013 I only read about 85 books), but we are both motivated rather than discouraged by Big Goals.

So the challenge details:

  • Pick 14 categories for your reading
  • Try to read 14 books in each category

The categories I've selected:

  1. Religion and Ethics
  2. Spirituality and Philosophy
  3. Work-Related
  4. Poetry
  5. Self-Improvement
  6. Parenting
  7. Homesteading
  8. Science
  9. History
  10. Literature
  11. Children's Lit
  12. Books Made Into Movies
  13. Recreational Reading
  14. Around the World

And let the reading begin!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: A Year in Books

Thanks to Goodreads, it's easier than ever for me to track all the books I read, so this year's Book Post goes like this:
  1.  Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation by Andrew Root (Theology, Youth Ministry)
  2.  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (Children's Lit)
  3. Chaos, Wonder, and the Spiritual Adventure of Parenting: An Anthology, Conover and Springberry, editors (Essays, Parenting)
  4. The Gift of Faith: Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children by Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar (Parenting, Religion)
  5. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg (Religion)
  6. The Dance: Moving to the Rhythms of Your True Self by Oriah (Spirituality, Self-Management/Improvement, Memoir)
  7. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan (Religion, History)
  8. Introduction to World Religions by Christopher Partridge (Religion)
  9. Sticky Faith: Youth Worker Edition by Kara Powell, Brad M. Griffin, Cheryl Crawford (Youth Ministry)
  10. The Time of Your Life: Self/Time Management for Pastors by Robert Randall (Self-Management/Improvement)
  11. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (Journalistic, Non-Consumerism, Social Commentary)
  12. Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott (Essays, Memoir, Spirituality)
  13. A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer (Spirituality, Self-Management/Improvement)
  14. Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris (Mystery)
  15. The Odyssey adapted by Gillian Cross (Children's Lit)
  16. The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, and The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau (Children's Lit)
  17. Cooked by Michael Pollan (Journalistic, Non-Consumerism, Social Commentary)
  18. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (literature)
  19. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (Children's Lit)
  20. Workshops: Designing and Facilitating Experiential Learning by Jeff E. Brooks-Harris (Teaching, Pedagogy)
  21. Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (Journalistic, Parenting)
  22. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (mystery)
  23. Behind the Kitchen Door by Sarumathi Jayaramen (Journalistic, Social Commentary)
  24. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but not Literally by Marcus Borg (Religion)
  25. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (Book Length Essay)
  26. Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry (Children's Lit)
  27. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Literature)
  28. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Children's Lit)
  29. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad by Rosemary Sutcliff (Children's Lit)
  30. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel (Religion, Parenting)
  31. Scat by Carl Hiaasen (Children's Lit)
  32. The Sacred Art of Listening by Kay Lindahl (Spirituality)
  33. How Children Succeed by Paul Tough (Journalistic, Pedagogy)
  34. Pastoral Care: An Essential Guide by John Patton (ministry)
  35. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (Journalistic, Social Commentary)
  36. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (Children's Lit)
  37. Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in a Digital Age by James P. Steyer (Parenting)
  38. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (literature)
  39. Alanna, In the Hand of the Goddess, Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce (YA Lit)
  40. Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean (Children's Lit)
  41. A Simpler Way by Margaret J. Wheatley (Self-Management/Improvement, Spirituality)
  42. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams (memoir)
  43. Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky (Journalistic, Pedagogy)
  44. Theories of Development by William Crain (Pedagogy)
  45. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff (Journalistic, Book-Length Essay, Social Commentary)
  46. Matilda by Roald Dahl (Children's Lit)
  47. Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying by Emily Bazelon (Journalistic, Social Commentary)
  48. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (Children's Lit)
  49. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (Journalistic, Science)
  50. Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl by Susan Campbell (Religion, memoir)
  51. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball (memoir)
  52. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle (Journalistic, Social Commentary)
  53. God Believes in Love by Gene Robinson (Religion)
  54. We Have Been Believers by James H. Evans, Jr. (theology)
  55. Process Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead by C. Robert Mesle (theology)
  56. What Americans Really Believe by Rodney Stark (religion)
  57. Varieties of African American Religious Experience by Anthony Pinn (Religion, Theology)
  58. The Minimalist Vision of Transcendence by Jerome Stone (theology)
  59. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (Children's Lit)
  60. A Feminist Ethic of Risk by Sharon Welch (theology)
  61. Proverbs of Ashes by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker (theology)
  62. Religious Naturalism Today by Jerome Stone (theology)
  63. Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology by Monica Coleman (theology)
  64. Reason and Reverence by William R. Murry (Theology)
  65. Making the Manifesto by William Schulz (history, theology)
  66. Winter: A Spiritual Biography of the Season by Gary D. Schmidt (editor) (spirituality, essays)
  67. On Religion by Schleiermacher (Religion, theology)
  68. D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths (Children's Lit)
  69. Everyday Spiritual Practice by Scott Alexander (editor) (spirituality, essays)
  70. Faithiest by Chris Stedman (religion, memoir)
  71. Faith Without Certainty by Paul Rasor (theology)
  72. The Eyre Affair by Jaspar Fforde (mystery)
  73. The Essex Conversations (pedagogy, religion)
  74. The World's Religions by Huston Smith (religion)
  75. Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher (youth ministry)
  76. Getting to Calm by Laura Kastner (parenting)
  77. Letting Go by Roy D. Phillips (Ministry)
  78. Replenish by Lisa Grace Byrne

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How the Walking is Going

So you might remember that I (without really meaning to) laid down a new walking challenge for the kids.  The original threat intent was to hike Every Day.

Every Day is not possible, sadly.  There are so many days that are already overfull with Stuff To Do, or days when Someone Is Sick, or days when The Weather Sucks.

But we have managed to do at least one hike a week, and it's been good.

There has been a simple walk around the lake, with a quick sighting of an invasive species, the nutria:


And a quick hike on a loop trail in the city that provokes the question "what is that stuff growing on these sticks?" (really, if you know please tell me!)


There have been extremely cold hikes where we had to walk fast just to keep warm.


And hikes where a sign at the trailhead warning of a cougar sighting spooked my daughter out and made her jump at every rustling fern the whole way.

There have been many opportunities to learn more about our local ecosystems and do some nature study.


We even managed to do one of our hikes so quietly that a pileated woodpecker flew right up to us before it saw us and swerved.  The loud beats of its wings were startling in the quiet forest.


And the kids are impressing me.  They really didn't want to do this, and they were not good walkers.  Now, they have both developed better attitudes about it, become more interested in what there is to be seen along the way, and have better stamina.  This time together can be a great chance to talk, hold hands, indulge in imaginative storytelling about the landscape around us, and just be present to our own bodies and the nature around us without the distractions of toys, entertainment, books, etc or the self-consciousness that comes from being in society.


Walking is one of my new favorite things!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Winter Break Time

I wasn't planning on really taking a Winter Break in our little home school (we school year round, and take breaks that are convenient to us - such as when I am away at a conference for a week), BUT ... we were all pretty tired and the kids wanted a break so much I decided to go ahead and relax.


So we had a bit of time to add a personal touch to Christmas.  Cookie Cutter Gift Tags and Kid-Made Napkins and Napkin Rings.


I also had to create some time without kids around to finish up sewing new pajamas for each of them for Christmas.


And now, a week and a half more of break.  Time for me to plan the next few months in our homeschool.  (I can only plan two months at time or we get too far off the plan.  I don't know how folks do it who plan a Whole Year at once!)

A bit of down time will be good for us. (I'm also taking vacation time from work, so it's Really down time!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Some more critters for us!


Christmas came early for my kids and two lucky critters rescued from the animal shelter.  My mom knew the kids were wanting a guinea pig and a rabbit, and then she got a message from her local animal shelter that they had maxed out capacity on small animals.  Each pet came with a cage, and she delivered them as an early surprise.

Meet OMSI (named after the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) the guinea pig and Quicksand the rabbit.


We got books from the library on their care, and both kids are studying up on how to be good pet owners!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Museum Fun

Last weekend we took the train down to Portland, walked miles and miles, and spent a day loving the museums.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is big fun.  We were in there for 3 1/2 hours and still had to pull the kids away when it was lunch time.  They could have spent all day exploring and doing the puzzles that are set up all over the museum.  I was really impressed with the "labs", areas where you could actually have a kid or a group of kids work through some hands on experiments - not just push buttons and watch stimulations but actually DO some science.

The Portland Art Museum was a surprisingly big hit with the kids.  My daughter especially was enraptured and inspired by all the art she saw.

I had a pad of lined paper in my purse, which she asked to draw on, but it would have been great if we had thought to bring her sketch book with us.  Next time.

Friday, December 13, 2013

taking a little break in our homeschool


In order to make holiday gifts and do some crafting!



Yet another reason I am grateful for a flexible schedule, and the ability to change our lifestyle as the seasons change.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weekly Book Post: Replenish and The Dance

In my quest to practice better self-care, I have just read two very different books on the subject of self-care for women:


Replenish by Lisa Grace Byrne is a practical step-by-step explanation of what the author calls the 7 Habits of Self-Care (Calm Mind, Sovereign Thoughts, Nourished Body, Restorative Rest, Joyful Movement, Anchored Quiet, and Authentic Connections).  Byrne's voice is very "motivational speaker"-ish, but in the good way - I think she would be a good motivational speaker and would get everyone pepped up about going home and taking better care of themselves.

One metaphor she uses that really struck me was to envision yourself as a children's wading pool, rather than a well.  To keep the water in the wading pool, you need at least one garden hose putting water in it.  Or, if you aren't getting enough water from that one source you could have several hoses, each just dripping in.  The water-level in your pool would stay steady, as long as it was getting at least some input from those hoses.  I like this because it takes away the idea of "deep-well-springs" that you are supposed to just possess, which always makes me feel bad when I feel all used up.


Oriah brings a very different voice to The Dance.  Rather than being a motivational-speaker or coach, she is a poet, asking more questions than she gives answers.  Throughout this conversational, personal, and melodic book she challenges the reader (and herself) to accept who you really are and engage with that self.

"What if the question is not why I am so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?"

Indeed - what if that is the question?  A provoking question that I would like the answer to!

"When we avoid the emptiness, when we fill the stillness with too much doing, we are often trying to outrun our sometimes unconscious conviction that who we are will never be enough.  The things we try to hang on to - our work, our relationships, our reputation and perspective - are the things we believe will make us worthy of life and love even though we fear we are basically and inherently flawed.  If we can simply be with the fear that we are not enough, and with the vastness of what we do not know, we discover an emptiness that is not our failure but is the very source of the fullness of who and what we are.  We discover that who we really are - compassionate, gentle beings capable of being with every moment - has always been enough. 

Simple.  But not easy."

Yes, decidedly not easy!

An interesting pairing, which I did not design ahead of time, but I liked the conversation these two authors had in my head this week.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A new walking challenge


On Friday, as is our custom when we are home for the Thanksgiving holiday, we went on a family hike.  Not a big one - most of the really cool trails are already under snow and my kids are woefully lacking in proper gear right now - but still enough of an outdoor experience to refresh us after eating too much good food on Thursday.

It should have been no big deal: a nice wide graveled path, less than one mile round trip, with a scenic goal and a nice place to mess about before making the climb back up.  But it, apparently, was a big deal to my daughter, who was so distraught about walking she pitched a fit on the trail on the climb back up.

That hit some kind of crazy trigger for me, and I did what a parent needs to be careful about.  I Laid Down the Law.  "If you can't handle a small hike we are going to have to Hike Every Day.   STOP FUSSING."

Later, at lunch, she said (loudly, in a restaurant, earning me Mother-Of-the-Year in most of the patrons eyes, no doubt) "The only thing that would get me going is Mommy threatening me."

These are my cardinal parenting rules:

1.  Pick Your Battles.  (In other words, is this really important or not?  Think it through - don't make everything a battle of the wills.  Cooperate, delegate, vote, listen, negotiate, be flexible.)

2.  But Always Win.  (As a parent, you still need to maintain your authority.  Don't give the kids authority over you. Maybe it's a Win-Win, but just don't Lose your position as the Parent.  That's your job, to be the Parent.)

3.  Don't Go Back On Your Word.  (Sure, if you've really made a mistake, call a family meeting and admit your mistake and negotiate a change.  But never make an idle threat - never say something and then just pretend you didn't say it.)


I said it.  And we're living with it.


The next day we were back from the holiday, and we went on a short scenic walk in town.  And we made a goal: we are going to try and walk every day until we have logged 100 miles.

It will be good for us.  There are worse things to have lost my Mommy cool over.