Monday, April 29, 2013

Published 7:27 AM by with 0 comment

How Many Books Can You Buy For $25?

This weekend was the Greater St. Louis Book Fair, a charity book sale that has been going on for more than sixty years! It's one of my favorite springtime events. Chris and I have found that it is helpful for our budget to take cash and only buy as many books as we can with that set amount of money, because there are SO MANY BOOKS that we'd love to get! Cash in hand, we combed through many tables of books for over an hour this afternoon. We couldn't stay much longer than that because it was chilly and Harmony was under the impression that all the books belonged to her and should be eaten or thrown on the ground immediately. Sigh.

Here is what we bought!

Old favorites from my own childhood, which I can't wait to read to Harmony! 

Books for Harmony to play with and for us to read to her. The colors and shapes books are heavy plastic, perfect for her to turn the pages; the "Rabbit in a Hurry" book has a cardboard bunny which pops up when you pull the tab on the side. Harmony is all about the interactive books right now. 

My sister and I had this book when we were young. It provided HOURS of entertainment! Our mom made saltdough and helped us create tiny animals, play food, decorations, doll-house sized people, and many more fun toys which we found in this book. 

This was a strange, beautiful find: a book of mazes based off of St. Louis landmarks!

It is a unique treasure. It will be exciting to photocopy the pages for Harmony to do someday, and then we can even take her to see the real landmarks that the mazes resemble!

This was one of my favorite books when I was a child. I may have shrieked with joy when I found it lying in a random box of books at the sale. It'll be a few years before Harmony can enjoy it, but I didn't want to pass up this gem from my childhood.

My sister and I, as children, were obsessed with the world created around Dinotopia. I even learned the dinosaur track code found in the book and wrote letters to myself with it (I was weird). And I'm pretty sure that the gorgeous illustrations in this book were one of the main things that inspired my sister to be such an incredible artist. She used to look at the pictures in the book before she could even read.

Now that I have a daughter, I'm excited to read this beloved series by Noel Streatfeild with her : )  As a young performing artist, I was able to to identify with the characters in these stories, sympathize with their problems, and discover their solutions to the challenges of growing up as a performing artist, battling performance anxiety, working through difficult assignments, learning how to interact with an ensemble, adjusting to the pressures of solo performing, etc. The girls in these stories taught me that it is possible (and important!) to be a polite, compassionate person AND a good performer, not just one or the other. Even if Harmony never ends up being a performer, I'm sure she, like myself nowadays, will still enjoy the stories.

More childhood books that we will read out loud to Harmony in four or five years! I always enjoyed hearing books read out loud that were a bit difficult for me to comprehend; plus, children understand and learn to catch on to much more than we often give them credit for. Edward Eager's tales about magical adventures are lovely. The "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" series always made me giggle. Don't even get me started with how incredible the "Redwall" series is... my home-schooled friends and I would re-enact Redwall scenes, make up stories, pretend to be characters from the books, and imagine life at Redwall for days on end, probably years. RYAN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, I'm glad you were just as obsessed as I was with Redwall!!!

Two more books that I've seen before, but never owned until now. They will be great for quiet time activities or car trips!

This is another book that I couldn't believe that I found. I definitely did gasp and squeal when I picked it up! My mom used this book with my sister and I as part of our home-schooling years. We have many, many fond memories of our nature excursions together.

Here's an example of what the book says during our current week. My hope is that Harmony will learn to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, so a book like this will be great to help us explore the wonders of nature. Very excited to re-visit these familiar pages!

This is a hilarious book. I read it six or seven years ago, enjoyed it greatly, and mentally classified it under the category "read again in a few years and share with someone who will appreciate it too". Chris and I bought it now to read aloud together. 

Reading aloud is an awesome pastime that we've been doing for quite a few years, ever since Chris, a good friend, and I read "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" by Goethe aloud over the course of several semesters during college. Since then, we've read many books together. The last book Chris and I completed was "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins, and we're currently about two thirds of the way through "The Hobbit" by Tolkien (for the millionth time), since we just watched the first installment of the new movie. "Three Men in a Boat" and its sequel, "Three Men on the Bummel", will be next! Now if we could just get back into the constant habit of reading aloud, since our schedules haven't quite been steady yet since Harmony came along... oh well, it will happen in good time : )

This last book was one that I bought for myself. I've been interested in L'Engle's "Crosswicks Journals" for a year or two, but couldn't justify buying it new; there are so many books that I'd love to read, I'm sure the house (and my budget) couldn't contain them all, so I rarely, rarely purchase any books for myself anymore. The library is an amazing resource, of course, but often I will go for several days without picking up a book now because I use my free time to write, read my Bible, journal, knit, or do other activities, which means that a library book often goes unread or only partly read before I have to take it back. Sad day. But now, having found "A Circle of Quiet" for one dollar (hooray!), I can keep it quietly on my nightstand, waiting for a few minutes of peace to begin reading what already looks to be an intriguing book!

There we have it: twenty books for less than twenty five dollars! I put back at least fifteen other books that didn't make the cut. Maybe they'll come up again someday. But we are so thankful to have a rainy day fun-fund put away for special times like this. I'm also grateful that we have books not just for us to enjoy now, but for our family to grow into as Harmony gets older, too. 

Have you found any good books lately? What books are your children having fun reading? We can always use some new ideas!

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Published 6:39 AM by with 7 comments

This Moment: Over the Highway

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this fun Friday!
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Published 8:23 AM by with 0 comment

The Liebster Award!

Much to my surprise, I am excited to say that one of the other blogs I contribute to was nominated for the Liebster award! My lovely friend Heather and I are working on writing down 1,000 (yes, one thousand) things we are grateful for. This blog, Unwrapping Love, is where we share some of those gratitudes and write about what we are learning along the way! My journey started last year as part of my exploration in Trust, and has continued this year as I delve into Grace.

Nominated for our blog Unwrapping Love

For the Liebster award, we had to write eleven random facts about ourselves and answer eleven questions, like "who would you call a hero", "what occupation would you love to try", and "who was the one person who had the greatest impact on you growing up".

We also nominated eleven other blogs that we really enjoy reading as the next recipients of the Liebster award. They are definitely worth checking out, so come on over!
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Published 7:37 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

This is an interesting social experiment: the city of Seattle will be planting a food forest free to the public. But what if someone takes all the fruit for their own profit? How will people share? I'm full of questions about this, but I sincerely hope it works.

I love browsing through these beautiful paintings by Janet Hill. The series entitled "Miss Moon was a dog governess" is my favorite. They spark so many creative stories!

Gratitude is something that we struggle with, especially in this plentiful, instant gratification age of entitlement. Here's one's author's way to raise grateful children.

The Huffington post refused to publish this article about school shooters. I wondered why until I read it. Now it makes sense. Anyone with students or children should seriously consider the thoughts here.

How would your interaction with others change if you followed the one piece of advice offered in this article called "The Great Social Experiment"?

We live in a small two bedroom, one bath apartment, which I enjoy sometimes and regret other times. This post about the blessings of a small home made me feel better about it today!

Last week I heard an intriguing piece of music on the classical radio station. I looked it up and found out that I was listening to a classical interpretation of the theme from a video game! I had no idea that the music from games could be so interesting when played by a classical string ensemble.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Published 7:44 AM by with 0 comment

100th Blog Post! (again)

Well, folks, here it is. The 100th blog post!

Several years ago when I first began this blog, I reached the 100th post and wrote one hundred random facts about myself. That page is still in the archives, if you're willing to go digging through to find it ; )  But I deleted most of the blogs I had written in that time (they were either too weird or too annoying for my taste now).

I don't think I want to come up with a hundred facts about myself again, so here are some other random things!

10 of my favorite composers!
~ Antonio Vivaldi
~ Ludwig Van Beethoven
~ Astor Piazzolla
~ Eric Whitacre
~ Howard Shore
~ Sergei Prokofiev
~ Jorge Morel
~ Philip Glass
~ Piotr Tchaikovsky
~ Fernando Ortega

9 hymns I enjoy singing!
~ Be Thou My Vision
~ A Mighty Fortress is Our God
~ And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?
~ Jesus, Lover of My Soul
~ Great is Thy Faithfulness
~ Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
~ I Need Thee Every Hour
~ O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
~ Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting

8 places I went this weekend!
~ Church, for worship
~ My folk's house, for family
~ Tilles Park, for a walk
~ Around my neighborhood, for more walks
~ Schnucks grocery store, for food
~ The Webster Groves annual herb sale, for plants with my neighbor
~ Fitz's Restaurant, for a letterboxing meeting
~ The Loop, because people are awesome there

7 of my favorite foods!
~ Avocados
~ Artichokes
~ Lemon bars
~ Spaghetti
~ Authentic tacos
~ Strawberries
~ Captain Crunch cereal

6 of my current hobbies!
~ Knitting
~ Reading
~ Nature walks/hikes
~ Writing
~ Making art
~ Letterboxing

5 websites I visit almost every day!

4 plants that I bought at the herb sale this weekend!
~ Rosemary
~ Basil
~ Sunflower
~ Tomato

3 things I'd like to accomplish today!
~ Plant my herbs and the tomato plants in the correct way.
~ Wash all the dirty dishes in my sink.
~ Have a productive rehearsal tonight with the ensemble I coach.

2 other blogs I have!
~ Life is the Teacher (newly updated, too!)
~ Unwrapping Love (new blog post coming soon!)

1 picture of Chris and I during our college graduation weekend four years ago! How time flies.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Published 5:30 AM by with 5 comments

This Moment: Colorful Music

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this windy Friday morning!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Published 7:12 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Yes, my child will grow up fast. I am shocked every day at how much she changes. But when people tell me, "Treasure every single moment!" then I smile, but inwardly disagree: there are many moments which I do NOT treasure, like when Harmony throws a tantrum in the grocery store (yes, she already does that), or thrashes wildly to avoid her diaper being changed, etc. This article made me feel better because it said that I don't actually have to love every single moment of being a parent. And that's okay.

I'm extremely excited to read this new book coming out soon, written by a man whose words I've always valued, Jerram Barrs. It's called "The Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts". Birthday present, maybe?

This composer from Iceland used the knitting pattern of a lace shawl as the score for a musical work! Yarn and music ARE compatible, after all!

Guess what? When two musicians play a duet, their brains synchronize. Very interesting article.

Mark Twain's incredibly witty book, "Advice to Little Girls", written in 1865 has some hilarious excerpts: "Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought never to 'sass' old people unless they 'sass' you first." Making a note to get this for Harmony in a few years...


Ever read "The Last Man in Europe" by George Orwell? How about "First Impressions" by Jane Austen? That's because those titles were almost the names of best-sellers "1984" and "Pride and Prejudice", but were changed before being published.

Speaking of novels, many people can recognize famous classics by their first sentences, but what about their second sentences? I only identified one of these novels correctly, much to my chagrin.

In the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, I'm exploring a question: do you believe that it's better to not follow the news? After reading an article in favor of keeping the media out of our lives, I wrote a blog post exploring this idea. I'd like to know what you think. Please let me know your opinion in the comment section.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Published 11:45 PM by with 6 comments

Should We Stop Reading the News?

News headlines have been screaming. The Boston marathon bombings are another heavy tragedy in the wake of other recent national calamities. My heart aches.

But the gory, horrendous photos of the incident found on the front pages of newspapers and emerging online make me sick. What is the purpose of displaying blood and terror, especially where children can see it? I remember, as a child, catching glimpses of awful events happening, like the Oklahoma city bombing, the terrorist attacks on the world trade centers... these things shook me for months, even years. Although my parents reassured me that I was loved, cared for, and kept as safe as possible from harm, fear still wound its way through my thoughts.

It seems like all news features are turning into sensationalism. Yet I feel guilty if I don't read the news. It makes me feel like I don't care what happens in or to the world.

The worst part is knowing that I can't do much to change the outcome.

As I got older, I turned to prayer as a way to channel my worries, fear, and sorrow in the face of tragedy. Prayer is a form of intercession and a way to plead for mercy and peace beyond human understanding. My adult mind is also able to rationalize and process information more calmly. But I hate reading article after article about all the wrong happening in the world, knowing that I am still virtually helpless.

The media is everywhere: paper news on street corners and check-out lines, websites by the millions, half the television channels, the radio stations, pop-up messages on smartphones... you can't escape it. Or can you?

Am I burying my head in the sand to admit that I'd rather not be inundated at all times with the fear-mongering, melodramatic, often explicit news stories that the media chooses to showcase?

Author Rolf Dobelli lists reasons here about why the news is bad for you. "Society needs journalism," he writes, "but in a different way. Investigative journalism is always relevant. We need reporting that polices our institutions and uncovers truth. But important findings don't have to arrive in the form of news."

What do you think, after reading the article? Please let me know in the comment section below.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Published 7:16 AM by with 0 comment

Surprised By Harmony

Today, I was once again surprised by my daughter.

Several months ago, my mother made a toy from a clean sour cream container. She punched holes of three different sizes in the lid, then bought several sizes of puff balls that would fit through the holes. She showed Harmony how to put the balls through the holes, and how to push the larger balls through with her finger, but Harmony showed little interest. I told my mom that the toy was too advanced for her. My mom brought the toy out every few weeks for Harmony to see, always putting it back in the toy basket when Harmony didn't respond. This happened four or five times. Harmony had the opportunity to take the toy out if she wished, but while she sometimes played with the puff balls, she favored her other toys.
Suddenly, last week, Harmony paid attention to the toy.
Come over to my other blog, Life is the Teacher, to read the continuation of this story!

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Published 6:18 AM by with 6 comments

This Moment: Neighbor's Spring Gift

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama on this Friday morning : ) 
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Published 7:59 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

You know those tasty, tasty mints called Altoids? When I was twelve, they were all the rage with my friends. The little tins they come in are so useful, too. Here is a recipe (with pictures!) that will teach you how to make your own Altoids!

Speaking of candy, here is a website that offers candy "unjunked", candy that doesn't contain corn syrup or artificial ingredients! I'd definitely enjoy some peanut butter cups or M & M's that were made from real food processes and sugar : )

Here are a series of photographs that make it look like people are floating! I just thought it was cool.

Photo by Natsumi Hayashi (source)

How would you define "real food"? Does your family eat "real" food? I'm still in the process of trying to figure out what my family's dietary needs are, which is difficult since one of us three doesn't really eat solid foods yet. Here is this woman's definition, as she explores how to feed her family while they travel to different countries with unfamiliar food cultures: "Real food is wholesome and nourishing. It is simple, unprocessed, whole food. Real food is pure and unadulterated, sustained but unchanged by man."

I really enjoyed these pictures which commemorate the National Geographic's 125th anniversary! My favorite is probably Alexander Graham Bell kissing that girl inside a tetrahedral kite.

On a more serious note: C.S. Lewis wrote many books that I enjoy, but his Space Trilogy is in my top five favorite books (as a series) of all time. This article made me deeply concerned, because it gives an example of an experiment done in a modern college classroom that is frighteningly reminiscent of a scene in the last book: "'Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper', the lesson reads. 'Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can't step on the paper. Discuss the important of symbols in culture.'"

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Monday, April 08, 2013

Published 9:21 AM by with 0 comment

Classical Music Forever!

Before television took over as the main source of entertainment, radios were the center of attention. Now, television has mostly replaced the radio in our culture. Many radio options are often tailored to our specific desired genre, with technology like Pandora or Spotify. Stations like "country", "oldies", or "modern" are still doing well.


But sadly, St. Louis (my city) lost the one radio station that meant the most to me and a lot of my friends: the classical music station. I knew several of the radio hosts there and have performed more than once on air. I would have the station on constantly, in the car and in my home, so when the station went off the air a few years ago, it was devastating. Chris and I listened to the final broadcast, which was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with tears in our eyes.

Our lives, ever since we were both very young, have been involved with classical music in some degree. Chris began playing piano and I began playing classical guitar when we were eight years old. We both went to college for classical music degrees. We have been performing classical music for almost two decades. As dramatic as it sounds, we've seen the decline of classical music appreciation over the years in our general society so that it sometimes feels like we are participating in a dying art. Orchestras are being disbanded across the country. Music programs are being dropped in public and private schools everywhere due to lack of funding (yet the sports programs seem to be thriving). One in a hundred high school students might admit to listening to classical music for enjoyment occasionally, but their numbers are dwindling fast as teenagers become addicted to whatever is newest and loudest. Chris and I have sought to support other musicians like us as much as possible at concerts, trying to ignore the empty seats and lack of young people in the audience. So, as classical musicians, the loss of St. Louis's only classical station meant the disappearance of one more pillar of support for our passion.

The station then became a modern Christian music station... don't even get me started with how many reasons that infuriated me.

But today there is a victory.

The classical music radio station is coming back!

Today, at 10:00 a.m. St. Louis will hear the sounds of classical music again coming over their radios at 107.3 FM, HD 96.3 FM, and streaming online.

My friends and I are rejoicing.

Feeling very blessed today.

If you want to listen along online, visit
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Friday, April 05, 2013

Published 7:06 AM by with 10 comments

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama on this first April Friday!
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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Published 8:01 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Today I am over at my other blog, Life is the Teacher, with a great assortment of online links that explore various education topics.

Warning: some of these articles and quotes may challenge what you believe about education, our school systems, and how children learn. I am constantly pondering different ways of thinking when it comes to education, because there is much that I don't know, and my explorations often take me far away from what we would call "traditional" learning models. Please keep an open mind as you join my journey!

With that being said, come on over and join me!

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Published 8:41 AM by with 2 comments

Beauty Found Anew

There are many reasons I follow the teachings of Christ. By follow, I don't mean perfectly obey, but rather that I find glorious hope and grace to change my selfish ways. 

This Easter was another beautiful celebration of Christ's resurrection. Rejoicing with my family and church, we had a delicious breakfast together, watched the little children have an egg hunt on the lawn, danced in the street (my favorite part!), and worshiped. Music and dancing are two of the deepest ways I am able to express my emotions, so using them in praise of God on Easter seems very fitting. 
I'm not much of a girly-girl, but my heart melted a little (a lot) at the sight of my Bug in an adorable dress. She is working on walking while holding on to furniture or our hands. Today she even let go of me to take two wobbly steps over to the couch!
My favorite photo of Harmony

Of all the things I've read and heard this weekend about the resurrection, this has stayed with me the most. The lovely woman who blogs over at Journey Mama meditated on the story of Mary Magdalene, the woman who saw Jesus first after he rose to life, and imagined how Mary's reaction might have been. Reading these words reminds me again of why I follow Him: because He Himself is so beautiful.
He may have been the first person ever to see value in her, to love her. She was left unloved, without him. She had been out of her mind, before. A used-up, broken woman who talked to herself in the streets. You know the type, you've seen them. He healed her. She traveled with his followers. She stayed with Him to the end.
And she went to the tomb to prepare the body, but then her heart went crazy! He was gone. This was the absolute end of her. She only wanted to care for the broken, empty body. And it was gone.
There was a lot of running. Running to find the men, the disciples, running back to the tomb. (Cool air of the morning, sun rising in the hills.) The men saw that she was right, ran off again.
And from Mary, weeping. Despair. Anguish and the worst kind of loneliness.
I want to truly find that moment, capture it, live it, when he identified her and she knew him. After she mistook him for the gardener, all he said was her name, "Mary." And she knew him.
Anguish to beauty. She would never be unloved again.
Although I'm sure she always had to remind herself of that. And that is what I am doing this morning in meditation. The garden, the cool of the morning. The dust under her feet, the rocks sticking out of the earth. The earth under her knees, her despair, and then Him. His face. His radiance.
In my life on this earth I have been asked so many times, why I follow Jesus. Merely stating that I do is enough reason for people to tell me why I shouldn't. They tell me of the travesties that have been done by Christians, they tell me of historical inaccuracy, of relativism, of how mistaken I am. I have loads (heaps!) of thoughts about all these things. I can talk, I can discuss, and I do.
But there is only one real reason that I follow Jesus. It is because of him. Because of his radiance, his gentle beauty, the sweetness of His WHOLE Being. My Guru, my Master. "Rabboni!" Mary said. This moment is overlooked sometimes, but is one of the most important of his whole life on earth. No other god, no other teacher compares.
Because in his most triumphant moment, finally justified as the One who could destroy death, the first thing he did was comfort a girl, a broken ex-prostitute who nobody cared about. It was the first thing he did.
~ Rachel Devenish Ford, at Journey Mama
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