There are always a lot of new things to do at the end of December and through January after Christmas and with thoughts of New Year goals. One thing I want to do this year is read more books of the sort that do not start with "face."
Here's some of what's been new with us over this past month.
Books That I Read:
No Time To Lose: A Timely Guide To The Way of the Bodhisattva by Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron's words radiate peace, love, and joy. This book is her take on The Way of the Bodhisattva and is about keeping your heart open and living from a place of compassion. I love to learn from her.
Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
A story that explores both late life aging issues and Great Depression era circus train life. I know that I really love a book and its characters when I feel sad when it ends. This was one of those.
Doctor Who: The Angel's Kiss by Justin Richards
A short book to fill the Dr Who void between seasons. River Song is one of my favorite characters, and it was fun to read this story about her, with her character, mannerisms, & voice in my head.
(ongoing) A Year of Living Your Yoga: Daily Practices to Shape Your Life by Judith Hanson Lasater
Quick morning coffee read with a daily though about yoga principles to consider connecting daily life and asana practice (what happens on and off the mat).
(ongoing) Vegan's Daily Companion: 365 Days of Inspiration for Cooking, Eating, and Living Compassionately by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Another daily morning coffee read about what is such an easy way to practice compassion in a very concrete way every day.
Books I Read Aloud to/with the Kids:
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
This was a slow read for us, partly because it was still nice outside when we started and we just weren't spending as much time reading, partly because it is long, and partly because it just took us a lot of chapters to really get into the story. We were actually more interested after we saw the movie and after we watched the LotR trilogy. Finally finished it today.
A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Seth especially is loving this series. He loves the writing style, and I hear him drop a lot of Lemony Snicket-isms from the books in everyday conversations.
A Series of Unfortunate Events #2: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
By the end of the first book, Maya was also interested, and now Riley is listening, too.
(ongoing)The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times -- from the Earliest Nomads to the last Roman Emperor by Susan Wise Bauer
We have had this book for several years but interest in it never really took off. Lately there has been some interest in the flow of history and in what events fit where, so we read a little every few days. There are some biblical stories interspersed with the history. I'm probably oversensitive and tend to avoid reading biblical stories, but my kids don't have all the dogma wrapped up with them, and it is interesting to consider what they mean to people in the context of the culture we live in`. We've been having some good conversations about how the facts and fiction get sorted out and about what points the stories are trying to make or what sort of events they're trying to explain. They are interesting alongside the Greek mythology we're reading, too.
(ongoing)Life of Fred: Apples by Stanley F. Schmidt
My kids have a Love/hate thing going on with our Fred book. We had heard some homeschooling friends talking enthusiastically about the books and wanted to check them out. Everyone enjoys laughing and groaning at the silliness of the story, and it touches on a wide variety of topics in each short chapter, making for good jumping off points for ideas and conversations.
(ongoing)D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaires
This has great descriptions of the ancient Greek gods and goddesses and their stories as well as nice illustrations. Also, it goes well with gyros!
TV and Movies:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
We decided we couldn't wait until we finished the book. The movie actually left off at about the same point we were in reading, so that worked out well; and, if anything, it caused us to be more interested in finishing the book. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!
Matt and I saw this. Had high hopes that it was going to be really funny or maybe outrageously shocking. It was ok. Each sketch seemed to have lots of potential, but then just missed something. I left feeling like I actually didn't know if I liked it or not.Spaced
This is an older British sitcom we just noticed on Netflix that we are really liking. It is written by and stars Simon Peg, who we all enjoy watching.Dr Who Christmas Special
Didn't enjoy the snowmen aspect of the story. It never seemed to really take off. Enjoyed the introduction of the Clara Oswald character, though. Her story seems like it will be intriguing, and she is likeable already.Lord of the Rings trilogy
Matt and the kids had seen this before, but I wasn't into it originally. Reading and watching The Hobbit has me hooked on the story now, so we did a weekend LotR marathon.The Office
We are catching up on the last season or two that we never got to see or only saw sporadic episodes originally.The Brady Bunch "Cincinnati Kids" episode
This episode was filmed at our local amusement park, Kings Island, back in 1973. I have gone there at least once every summer that I can remember since I was little, and since we live so close now, we often get season passes, taking our kids there regularly. It is on the Hallmark Channel tonight, and I can't wait to watch it with my kids and see what still looks the same and what has changed, reminisce about all the old rides, and check out those 1970s clothes and hairstyles!
Beat the Parents
Kids against parents game. We have fun with this one and are pretty evenly matched. Our kids seem to know a lot of "our" popular culture trivia, and we know a lot of "theirs." We spend a lot of time together and are curious about each other's interests and experiences, though, so I imagine that helps.
Trivia game by the company that makes BrainQuest cards. Questions are divided by age/grade, but we mostly just ignore that part and play all the questions on each card for each person.
This was an impulse buy Matt and I made at the grocery store one evening. It's a pretty fun, easy to learn game similar to Scattergories. Turn over a subject card and a letter card, then everyone starts naming things in that subject category that start with that letter. There is a timer that buzzes at random intervals, so the last person to come up with a word wins that round.Skip Bo
This is a fun little Uno-like game. Our biggest challenge is keeping our card piles straight and safe from our cat, Razzleberry.
This is my favorite new (to us) game. We are still learning it.Mortal Kombat 9
I haven't played Mortal Kombat since the first version came out and I kicked butt with Sonya Blade; but Matt, Riley, and Seth are loving it. I helped Seth look up some combination moves.Assassin's Creed 3
This one is Seth's. I help him look up American Revolution era history when he's interested in sorting out the storyline.
I joined a yoga studio that I am loving and going to classes as often as I can. There is a great class on Sunday evenings that is a combination of Restorative Yoga with study of a different Yama each week. Maya is also taking a teen yoga class there once a week.
And typing "Yama" and "Maya" so closely together just now made me nostalgic for when she used to write her name (and everything else) either backwards or all jumbled up when she was younger. I remember times when her little library storytime name tags said "Yama" or "Ayam" or "Aaym." I used to occasionally show her the left-to-write spelling, but mostly she would just tell me she didn't care about such things, so I left it alone. She reads and spells and writes left to right just fine these days, by the way.
Matt's sister and her husband gave us several old copies of National Geographic from the late 40s and early 50s. It was interesting (and sometimes shocking) to read about life then and especially fun to look at the ads!
I got a Ukulele for Christmas and have been slowly learning a few songs on that. Maya got an acoustic guitar for Christmas, too. Riley has been helping both of us with those.
Chloe Coscarelli's Cookbook: Chloe's Kitchen. I got this for Christmas and it has become our whole family's favorite. We have all made so many great things from it over the past month.
Maya is spending a lot of time drawing (both on paper and on the computer) manga and creating OCs and creating a variety of things on Minecraft and for DeviantArt and Youtube. She has been researching and experimenting with several different computer drawing programs to find the one that works best for the things she likes to make.
Riley is trying to learn to play (on guitar) all the songs from one of his favorite bands' albums. He is also experimenting with an online sound recording/mixing program he found.
Maya and Seth got lots of Legos for Christmas and always enjoy building with those.
A friend posted on facebook about an international postcard swap site, Postcrossing. It is free to join and seems to be heavily used by people in many countries. I started an account this week and sent off my first set of postcards. For the first batch I was assigned one to each of these countries: Russia, Belarus, Germany, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.
Peace, Love, and Joy to you in all your life and learning!