Category Archives: Uncategorized

Too Many Books = Reader Blues

So, I’ve done it again, as is my terrible habit: I’ve started a whole bunch of books and don’t have much will to finish them.

Here’s a rundown of what I’ve got going right now:

Liberty Defined, Ron Paul.  I very much want to finish this book beore it’s due at the beginning of October, but it’s so very dense that I can’t read much at a time.  There’s so much good, solid truth in Dr. Paul’s words that I don’t want to just blaze through it….maybe I’ll have to read half now, return it, and check it out again sometime.

The $5 Dinner Cookbook, Erin Chase.  Also, the breakfast and lunch cookbook by the same author.  So many good recipes, so little time!

The City of Tranquil Light, Bo Caldwell.  This novel about missionaries from China around 1910 is really good but getting sad so part of me is reluctant to pick it up.

Vive la Revolution, Mark Steel.  Learning a lot but since I own the book I’m setting it aside until I clear a few other things from my plate.

There are some other novels waiting, plus I had to return ten or so books I hadn’t gotten to but had incured mucho fines for ignoring…

Phew…now that it’s listed, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but for some reason, I feel overwhelmed lately.  Like I never get any reading in.  Like I’m getting nowhere.

Have you ever felt that way?  What helped?


Mama Goes to College

Well, sort of.  But not really.

I realized recently that though I don’t miss being told what to read, when to read it, and how to think about it, I do miss the stimulation and accountability that college builds into my reading life.  So I took it upon myself to create my own semester schedule!

I know I’ve said before that reading plans stifle me, but this is looser in the sense that I have assigned course topics and beyond that can read as I please, whatever book strikes my fancy on that topic.

Originally, I had a four-course load but realized that’s too much when paired with my full-time job of monkey wrangler mom and part-time, self-imposed writer gig.

So my “formal” courses are

Ron Paul-ism.  I started following Ron Paul’s political career in 2007 when I saw “Who is Ron Paul?” scrawled in sidewalk chalk on my way home from class.  After a little time on Google, he became my candidate of choice for the 2008 election and I am thrilled to support him this time around in his bid for the presidency.  I am in love with this Congressman from Texas’s principles, integrity, and consistency.  Only the first can be learned by books, so I’m reading books by Dr. Paul and some he recommends on monetary and foreign policy.  I highly recommend you check out his campaign website here.

The French Revolution.  After reading Gates of Gold and seeing several documentaries that show how much the French influenced the American Revolution and vice versa, I’ve wanted to know more about this period in history…beyond Kirsten Dunst and “let them eat cake.”

Running.  Not reading material, true, but it takes up my time for it, and if I went to University, they would charge me to take a class on it, so it counts.

I’ll also be reading fiction, cookbooks, and anything that grabs my fancy from the “New” shelf at the library as I see fit.

What are you reading this fall?


Helen Keller & a Library Visit

I haven’t finished any books since I last posted, but I am really, really enjoying Helen Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life.  I highly recommend it to anyone; the language is rich and the stories are interesting–much more so than any other autobiography I’ve read.  I’ll write more on it when I finish, but for now it’s a great treat.

Yesterday I realized that I had overdue books…oops.  So, Pookie and I took a trip to the library, with the intent of getting a few board books for her.  I did that…but Somehow, I ended up with a stack of my own…

The second and third Felicity books from American girl for lunch time readalouds.

The Celtic Knot, another “Girls of Many Lands” novel from American Girl (notice a theme here?)

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea

The Mountains Bow Down by Sibella Giorello

A big fat cookbook and a bunch of Helen Oxenbury books for Pookie

A lot of fun, easy reads before September sets in…looking forward to them!

What are you reading this week?

Rev It Up!

VBS this week; Pookie and I are in the nursery, taking care of the littles whose parents are teaching, preaching, and leading.  It’s a full-day VBS, which was new to me, but it’s so gospel-centered that its worth the extra effort.

Two of us working in the nursery, eight kiddos: 4 two-year-olds, two crawlers, two newborns.  Moms in and out to nurse.  Babies up and down for naps.  Coloring and snacks at the table.  Lots of poopy diapers.

Back to books next week…if I get enough sleep by then!

A Gripe

I raved earlier about Cinderella Ate My Daughter, a book about the girlie-girl-ness of being, well, a little girl today and all the implications that may or may not have.  I enjoyed the book, it made me think, and it changed the way I look at certain aspects of princess play, Barbies, etc.

So I was really excited to pick up Orenstein’s previous tome, Schoolgirls, taking the same sort of approach to girls in middle school.  Though it was published in 1994, the girls Orenstein writes about could very well be your current neighbors: they struggle with eating disorders, sexual harassment, the constant urge to look desirable while being told that they’ll be considered sl**s if they actually feel desire.  Their tales are gripping and eye-opening, but I’m struggling with Orenstein’s main thesis.

Her premise is that girls are taught to be docile, “sweet”, to play the rules; meanwhile, boys are taught those things with words but their outbursts are tolerated and even coddled or pushed aside as “simply boys being boys.”  The author comes to the conclusion that we should be pushing girls to be more aggressive and outspoken.

As a Christian, I feel that Orenstein–and perhaps a lot of other feminists and women’s issue writers–has pinned down the wrong problem.  I think we need to teach our young men to be real men.

I worked in a public school before Pookie was born.  I spent full hours searching the halls and grounds for sixth grade boys skipping out on math–hours when I should have been tutoring kids in multiplying fractions. Why is this tolerated?

Boys were loud and obnoxious in class, but the repercussions were never much.  Why is this tolerated?

A boy in the lunchroom had smeared ketchup (accidentally) all over a bench.  Other kids told me and pointed it out; the boy was embarrassed and refused to clean it up.  Instead of lecturing, I appealed to his masculinity–but the real kind, the gentlemanly, chivalrous kind: “I guess somebody’s just going to have to be the hero and clean this up.”  He blinked while my words soaked in, wiped up the ketchup, and tossed away the dirtied napkins with a big grin.  It became my go-to tactic, to ask boys to be heroes.

Sorry, this post is disjointed and not entirely well-written…I’m just trying to work through my thoughts on the issue of boys and girls and discipline and what’s truly the matter with how they act, because I’m certain it has less to do with a need for female dominance than feminists want us to think.

Care to chime in on the subject?  I’d love to hear other experiences or opinions!

Wordless Wednesday :: Birthday, Birthday!

Bookish things will be back tomorrow…once I recover from the cuteness.


Well, I should be writing about American Girl and the fun new books I’ve found from that series…but I got my birthday present early from the Professor yesterday.

And I cannot take my eyes off it.

Needless to say, I’m a bit busy.  Plus I’ve got to bake a bajillion cupcakes, clean my house, pack our bags, and get ready for a birthday-and-fireworks-packed weekend away.

Have a terrific Independence Day (and long weekend)!

American Girl, Unplugged

Last week, I happened upon a new blog: Unplugged Sunday, a blog about a family that…well, unplugs on Sundays.  They swap iPods and wifi for books, hikes, and cooking together.





Doesn’t that sound phenomenal?  The Professor and I were talking about how recently our computer/TV/screen-in-general time had seen a dramatic uptick, so we decided to dive into our own unplugged Sunday.

Were we successful?  Sort of.

It wasn’t idyllic, there was no hiking, no gourmet dinner.  Pookie whined all day with teething/growing/I-hate-being-weaned pains.  We didn’t even make it the whole day: we turned on the computer sometime after 6PM to listen to some sports talk radio (a station we can’t get on the actual radio) and to print a journal article for the Professor.  That led to fantasy baseball team-checking, Tetris playing, and so on.

But.  We played together on the floor.  We had a nice library outing.  We talked more about the Sunday sermon than we otherwise would have.  During Pookie’s nap, the Professor and I played Kings in the Corner and Go Fish while laughing our heads off.  We read in bed and turned out the lights early.

Not perfect, but good enough to try again.

How does that relate to American Girl?  I’m glad you asked.

After reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter and the author’s account of the American Girl store, my love for the American Girl books was rekindled.  I remember reading Meet Felicity, Meet Addy, Meet Molly, and the like in my grandmother’s basement when I was a little girl.  The books portray history (think the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWII, the Depression, etc.) through the eyes of relatable, strong, moral, dynamic young girls–the kind of girls you want your own daughter(s) to be.

So for my own reading and nostalgic pleasure, I browsed the American Girl section at the library, brought how a few of the classic Felicity books, a Felicity mystery (more of a novel length book), and a “Girls of Many Lands” book–a novel-length story that follows a girl named Cecile as she serves at the court of Versailles in 1711.  I haven’t finished any of them (see the teething/growing/I-hate-being-weaned note above) but plan to finish and write about them Thursday.

What’s your take on American Girl?

No Books but Plenty of Wailing

Crying Out Loud by macfrancis_12
Crying Out Loud, a photo by macfrancis_12 on Flickr.

So, I have a summer cold. Also, Pookie nursed for the last time last night, is cutting teeth, has growing pains, and has separation anxiety about trying to walk on her own.

Needless to say, my mood isn’t fantastic; I won’t be winning any awards for Christ-likeness this week…though I think awards for such a thing would be counterproductive.

See how my brain can’t focus?

Maybe I should have just stayed in bed…

P.S.  The library sent me an email to inform me that the Mary Lincoln biography I’ve been { s l o w l y } enjoying is two weeks overdue.  Grr…

On My Hiatus and Overwhelm

So, I stopped posting.  I didn’t say good-bye or “see ya later.”  I didn’t explain that I was uninspired or that I would be away for a week visiting family and helping with sibling graduation parties.

I’ve started and stopped blogging more time than I could count, particularly about books and reading, because I always worried about not being able to “build a presence” or “gain a following.”  Plus, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of books other book bloggers get through.

Then, while sitting on my parents’ front porch swing, rocking peacefully while Pookie napped and the Professor brushed up on his Nazi-killing skills with my younger brother in front of the XBox, I read something that really spoke to me:

A child who is racing through “Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series!” in a rush to pull ahead of their friend is not reading so much as consuming.  When a desire for the next thing is at the heart of an experience, we’re involved in an addiction, not a connection.
Kim John Payne, M.Ed., in his book Simplicity Parenting (emphasis mine)

When I read to fill a quota or to finish some list of bests or to keep-up-with-the-bloggers, I enjoy reading far less and even put it off.  I started this blog to record what I’m reading, not to compete…guess I just needed a reminder of that.

I’m determined to make reading a joy again, one book (read slowly if that’s how it goes) at a time.

I’ve decided to try scheduled blogging; I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays and see how that goes.  And since Simplicity Parenting is due Thursday, I’ve got to finish it (and blog about it!) by then.

Happy reading, everyone!