Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I Read in 2014

My apologies if you have no interest in what I've been reading or don't enjoy giant lists of books.  I can't imagine why you would be in either camp but, just in case :)  

After looking through this list I noticed a few things--mostly that I read entirely too much Agatha Christie this year.  I just don't have the willpower to put them down once I start.  Ask my poor neglected husband and kids--it's very likely that on any given day I spent reading an Agatha Christie mystery the children were forced to scavenge their own food.

Even with the Agatha Christie binge reading, I didn't read nearly as much as I have in past years.  I attribute that to two things--deciding to hand sew Margaret's baby quilt supplanted most of my reading time since you can't quilt and read at the same time and also, I decided to read War and Peace which was....really long, really good, but really, really long.

And lastly, this year brought an entirely new genre of non-fiction to my life--books on parenting little girls--which is both exciting and terrifying :)

On to the list!
  1. The Secret of Chimneys, by Agatha Christie
  2. Mrs. McGinty's Dead, by Agatha Christie
  3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
  4. Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors, by Arnold, Graesch, Ragazzini and Ochs
  5. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline
  6. Dad Is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan 
  7. The Big Four: A Hercule Poirot Mystery, by Agatha Christie
  8. The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie
  9. The Golden Ball And Other Stories, by Agatha Christie
  10. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, by Agatha Christie
  11. The Bells of Nagasaki : A Message of Hope from a Witness, a Doctor, by Tagashi Nagai
  12. The Language of Flowers: A Novel, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  13. Double Sin and Other Stories, by Agatha Christie
  14. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, by Agatha Christie
  15. The A. B. C. Murders, by Agatha Christie
  16. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver
  17. Real Food: What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck
  18. The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, by Leigh Bortins
  19. My Uncle's Dream, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  20. The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish, by Linda Przybyszewski 
  21. The Friend of the Family, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  22. The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, by John Gatto
  23. Reforming Education: The Opening of American Mind, by Mortimer Adler
  24. The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home, by David Clayton and Leila Lawler
  25. Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, by Agatha Christie
  26. Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls--Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins, by Leonard Sax
  27. What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty 
  28. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  29. Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times, Andrew D. Kaufman
  30. Sad Cypress: A Hercule Poirot Mystery , by Agatha Christie
  31. The Mystery of the Blue Train: A Hercule Poirot Mystery, by Agatha Christie
  32. Home Education: Training and Educating Children Under Nine (Homeschooler Series), Charlotte Mason
  33. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, by Peggy Orenstein
  34. Mazli A Story of The Swiss Valleys, by Johanna Spyri

Now, if I had to pick my favorites I'd say:


The Little Oratory is the best book I have ever read on creating a Catholic home and prayer life--and I have read a lot of books on this subject!  This book is especially great for anyone who has ever dipped into say, How to Raise Good Catholic Children or The Year and Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season (which are both excellent books) and thought you might as well stop trying because how could you ever do all of that?  Not that I've ever felt that way :)  This book gives excellent advice that you can implement right away without any of those pesky feelings of overwhelm.  


I came across this at a library sale and I am so glad that I grabbed it up.  It really clarified a lot of the things that have always bothered me about education in America in general but that I could never quite articulate.

3. and 4.

War and Peace is something that everyone seems to either love or hate but for me--well, I loved it!  Somewhere in the back of my mind I always thought of this book as something really long that you are either forced to read in school or choose to read so that you can prove your literary street cred.  It never occurred to me that it would be something I might actually enjoy reading--which is silly because in general I do enjoy classic Russian literature.  I followed it up with Give War and Peace a Chance which I would highly recommend for anyone attempting the novel or anyone who ever gave up on it.  I did learn a few things about Tolstoy that were really at odds with the ideal I had built up of him in my head but, what can you do?  If Dostoyevsky has a disturbing past as well do me a favor and keep it to yourself!  Finishing this beast felt like quite the accomplishment so for me, 2014 will always be the year I finally read War and Peace :)


I cannot believe I never read The Bells of Nagasaki in high school.  This is one of those books that really cements my desire to make sure my kids are reading source material instead of predigested bits and pieces history.  This first-hand account of what really happened when the bomb dropped over Nagasaki could never be adequately captured in a textbook.  Very disturbing and very worth reading.


I'm not sure if this is making my favorites list because it's a legitimate favorite or simply because it's the last thing I've read and still on my mind.  Either way the mother in this novel is superb and it's worth reading just to see the way she relates to her children.  Surprise! she doesn't win their love and respect through the sarcasm and exasperation I've been falling back on with my little angels lately.  Also, (and most likely because this is the same author who wrote Heidi) when I imagine little Mazli in my head she's Shirley Temple skipping through the Swiss Alps and who doesn't love a book that reminds you of that?


I'm not sure what books 2015 will bring.  I'd like to say I'd do something crazy like make an actual to-read list or only read books already on my shelves but I'm pretty sure I couldn't hold myself to either when there are so many good books waiting to be discovered :)  As always, if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on them I might just hit that $10 mark this year :)

    Tuesday, December 30, 2014

    An Advent Baptism

    Christmas really snuck up on us this year, partly because of all the crazy of moving, but I think mostly because Margaret's baptism had the majority of my mental energy in the week leading up to it.

    Because of course the sensible thing to do the Sunday before Christmas when you've spent the past 8 weeks having a baby and then moving that baby from Florida up to Virginia and setting up your house and making some sort of effort at the homeschooling thing would be to invite the better part of your husband's family in to town for a baptism and subsequent party--I mean, we couldn't scrimp on the party--after all, baptisms are for celebrating!

    Margaret spent the majority of her time in hysterics.

    John spent the majority of his time attempting to blow out the baptismal candle.

    The proud godparents were able to be there in person this time....the benefit of holding off on the baptism until we got to Virginia.

    It was a pretty great day, even if our guests did clear me out of Christmas cookies :)

    As well as everything went though, David has still been doubting the efficacy of the whole procedure.  The day after the baptism, when Margaret was starting to cry, he asked me how she could possibly be so fussy when she just got all of her original sin removed?  Oh, if only life were that easy son. 

    Thursday, December 25, 2014

    God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen....

    Our particular merry gentlemen were up at 4:22 this morning--most assuredly not resting--because......Christmas!


    On Christmas Eve day we finished up the last of our crafting, mailed out the Christmas cards (do you count being postmarked by Christmas as on time?) and made cookies for Santa.  Then we opted for a seven pm mass instead of the midnight mass like we were planning, which was probably for the best--Chris and I aren't exactly what you'd call night owls and we don't generally get the option to sleep in.

    Christmas morning was wonderful though, even with the obscenely early wake-up call.  Everyone got presents, even those who didn't *ahem* exactly deserve them.  As usual, David wanted to tear through all of the presents as quickly as possible while Henry and John just wanted to relax and play with their toys as they came.  David's method prevailed in the end since he was not above ripping open your present for you--just to be "helpful" of course.  The boys loved all their toys and I think Henry was finally convinced that Santa Claus is in fact real by the fact that he brought him and all his brothers Nerf guns which is something that I would clearly never do.  What four year old is already skeptical of the existence of Santa because he quote "hasn't ever seen him"?  I was a little afraid there would be uncomfortable questions when Maggie's stocking turned out to be empty but the boys didn't seem to notice or care that when Santa ordered her gift on Etsy he apparently didn't think to check to ship time which turned out to be seven to eight weeks.  Hopefully she's not scarred for life :)

    Merry Christmas!
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