The Read-Aloud Family

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I was determined to only read the books that I already own this year (or at least the ones I can get from the library). But when The Read-Aloud Family was on sale for $2.99 on Kindle, I couldn’t resist.

In my elementary school teacher days, my favorite part of the day was read aloud time (and guided reading). Before lunch and at the end of the day, whenever we had time really, I would read aloud to my class. We always started the year with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Even my more reluctant readers would beg for “another Wayside.” One year my class wrote the next chapter in the Wayside series, wrote a letter to the author, and only read books by the author, Louis Sachar. I have actually been looking forward to introducing Clarissa to the Wayside series since before she was born.

Reading has been a part of our routine from the beginning. Clarissa has always loved books, even if she was mostly eating them at first. We read multiple times per day and she even “reads” to herself. She has recently been adamant about starting kindergarten so that she can “learn to read for real.”

I have heard about Sarah Mackenzie on one of my podcasts, Cultivating the Lovely. I knew that if she was writing a book about reading to your kids, it needed to be on my wishlist.

  • She talks about reading books being the same thing as eating comfort food. “When we’re in a new city we’ve done nothing but meet new people, eat new food, have new experiences. And yet at the end of the day, whether in a hotel room or a tent or even on a plane, we can open up If You Give A Moose a Muffin or Blueberries for Sal or some other book we’ve read a hundred times, and it’s comfort food. It reminds us this is who we are. “
  • She talks about how reading with our kids gives them the opportunity to live vicariously through the storybook characters, giving them a more well-rounded childhood than we could ever accomplish in real life.”
  • “By the time our children leave our homes, we don’t want them to wonder whether their lives matter. We want them to know they do. If we tell them enough stories, they will have encountered hard questions and practiced living through so many trials, hardships, and unexpected situations that, God willing, they will have what they need to become the heroes of their own stories. “
  • “It is said that a person who reads lives a thousand lives, but a person who never reads leads only one. What better opportunity can we give our children than to live a thousand lives before they leave home?”
  • It is impossible to teach your kids everything they will need for life before they leave your house. You can help them to learn to think and process information by reading to them, even when they can read themselves.
  • ” A good education, then, is not one that results in high test scores, elite college acceptances, or the ability to read Virgil in Latin or War and Peace without Cliffs Notes. A good education teaches us – – and our children – – to love fully and to love well.”
  • If you read aloud to your children, just ten minutes every other day, it will add up to over 30 hours per year!
  • You don’t have to discuss every book you read. “Trust that a book can speak directly to your child, even if you never intervene with a conversation or discussion.” You still want reading to be enjoyable.

Sarah shares ideas for reading journals, conversations, and even reading lists for each age group in this book. Sarah Mackenzie also has a podcast where she regularly talks to authors about kids and books.

God Schooling Review

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Since Clarissa is in kindergarten, I am very new to this homeschool mom thing. As a former public school teacher, I am used to following curriculum or a pacing guide. But learning to go at my child’s pace is pretty new to me. I enjoy it but I always wonder if I’m doing it right. So when I had the chance to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco, I knew I would benefit from this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

God Schooling book

In the first section of the book, Julie really challenged my thinking about what homeschooling should look like. She makes some great points in the first chapter about curriculum as a tool and not as an end goal, teaching character before academics, and your relationship with your children. “If we are walking closely with the Lord, He will show us exactly what to do at exactly the right time. ” So as long as I’m seeking God,  Clarissa will be fine. “He loves Clarissa too much to let ME ruin her…” So it really helps to alleviate some of the stress of am I really doing this right?! 

In the second section of the book, Julie Polanco spends some time discussing how to teach children at different ages. Research shows that “the basic character of a child is set by age 7,” but a child can learn academics at any age. So especially when a child is young, teaching character and behavior is more important than learning facts. She thinks that children don’t really need formal academics until about age 8-10, but they will learn more quickly at that age because they are developmentally ready for it. She encourages readers to focus on life experiences instead like writing letters to Grandma or learning math through daily life (cooking, playing games, counting things, etc) instead of a formal curriculum. She also says that teenagers should be able to cook, clean, mow the lawn, run errands; basically to run a household. This totally makes sense if you are going to prepare them to be independent adults.

I did like how she said not to assume that Clarissa would enjoy certain subscriptions or field trips. Ask her first. Sometimes she would rather stay home and play. I have found this to be true with my child. Several times in the book the author mentions “I have often found myself worrying about what other people think about my kids, rather than what God thinks about my kids.” I think this is probably true of most moms, myself included. It is just refreshing to hear another mom admit this. My main goal in homeschooling is for Clarissa to be who God created her to be and to be ready to walk in whatever He has called her to. So it is going to look different than what other parents are doing with their kids because their kids are probably called to something different than Clarissa.

I like many of the points that Julie Polanco makes in her book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. I think it would be encouraging for homeschool moms to read, just to see how another mom thinks and teaches her children. I don’t think I’m a true unschooler as I am not ready to throw away all of my curriculum. But I am learning to not demand that Clarissa completes a certain number of pages each day. I have an idea of what I want her to work on, but if she loses interest before then it’s okay. We’ll get to it eventually. She actually enjoys doing things in a set pattern or working through a book together. As she gets older I think she will have more say in what subjects we will study. For now we are going to focus on Bible stories, life skills, and learning to read.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Women in the Bible book review

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When the Ladies Bible Study at church decided to study The Incredible, Powerful, Inspiring & Engaging Story of Women in the Bible, I decided to join. I probably would have joined regardless of the study in order to get to know the ladies at church better anyway. But I really enjoyed this study.

I have been a Christian since I was a little girl, so I know a lot of Bible stories pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised that I learned a lot that I hadn’t realized or heard before.

For example, Adam was with Eve when she tasted the apple. He was with her for the whole serpent experience. It’s in scripture that he is right there, but I guess I always thought he was somewhere else. And can you imagine being Eve pregnant or giving birth? This had never happened before. There was nothing to compare it to. I bet nine months felt like forever if she didn’t know how long she would be pregnant!

Some of my other favorite quotes and thoughts:

  • “Like Mary, there are times in a woman’s life when she needs to step back intentionally and allow the Father to lead the man in her life, as he has the God-given ability to hear, heed and walk with the Lord, just as Joseph did” (27).
  • This idea of using your influence for good and not for evil. She talked about Queen Esther saving her people (at 14 years old!) and then in the next chapter talked about how Queen Jezebel used her influence for evil.
  • Talking about the woman at the well, the author says, “Our testimony belongs to the Lord and we never know how He might wish to use it” (77). I like the idea that this woman wasn’t looking for Jesus. She wasn’t looking for a miracle. But the change in her life, changed the lives of many in her town.
  • It was also very interesting to read about Naomi and Ruth and perspective of the responsibility of a mother in law because one day I will probably be one.
  • Or to be reminded of how many times that Sarai and Abram made mistakes and God still used them to be the father of all nations.

On a different note, if you have the opportunity to attend a Bible study, I definitely recommend it. It doesn’t really matter what the study is about. You will learn scripture and grow in your relationship with God. But it also gives you the opportunity to get to know some people in your world better. You will do life with people and pray with them. They can become your lifelong friends.

Tokyo take Three

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We have less than a year left in Korea. We were thinking about one more trip for the fall, but since we don’t know when we’re leaving, we decided to go to Tokyo one last time for Tim’s birthday instead.

We planned a morning flight to give us an extra half day in Tokyo. I booked the flight on Orbitz with Asiana which I read great things about. So we arrived at Incheon and waited in line for Asiana only to be told that this flight was actually run by Seoul Air so we had to go check in with them which was a horrible experience. We were beginning to think they weren’t going to let us check in because we didn’t have an army leave form. Tim isn’t in the army…

Anyway, we got through security and immigration and to the other side of the airport just in time to board the plane. By this time we were very hungry. We took the 6am bus and our flight was at 10. Thankfully they served some fruit and a salad to hold us over until we landed in Narita. The seats were very comfortable. There was no in-flight entertainment but it wasn’t an issue because we brought our own electronics anyway. The flight attendants were nice. I don’t think we will fly Air Seoul again though.

We tried something different this time and took the Keisei Skyliner into town instead of the airport limousine bus. It cost more but took half the time, so I think it was worth it. As a side note, the reason that the skyliner worked for us is because Tim could handle the suitcases and I was in charge of Clarissa. If you have several bags or multiple small children, you are probably better off with the airport limousine bus because it is basically door to door service from the airport to your hotel.

The Skyliner ended at Ueno and we needed to switch to the metro to get to Shinagawa. We decided to have Hard Rock Cafe for lunch before heading to the hotel since it was already after 2pm. As usual our food was delicious and Clarissa picked some fun pins for our collection.

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After settling in to our favorite hotel, Tim headed to Family Mart to pick up his amazon order. This was something new for us this trip as well. Tim usually has a list of electronics items that he wants to find. This time, he found some on Amazon Japan ahead of time and had them shipped to a convenience store down the street. This eliminated some of the searching since we had a shorter trip this time.

It really can’t be Tim’s birthday trip without visiting Akihabara so we headed to there next. Tim found a few things at BIC Camera and Yodobashi. All of us enjoyed Kotobukiya, with Clarissa and I both finding some treasures. Another fun surprise on the way back to the train was the Square Enix Cafe which had some fun things to see as well.

I learned how to make kimbap!

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I went to a church baby shower last week. I brought my usual veggie tray with hummus and some sugar cookies.

When I arrived the ladies were in the kitchen making kimbap. Kimbap is a traditional Korean dish, often used as an appetizer or side dish. I wanted to watch because I have never seen anyone make kimbap before. They invited me to join.

The ingredients were already cooked and cut. But basically, you need seaweed and sticky rice. Then you can add whatever veggies or meat that you like. We had spam, eggs, tuna, carrots, spinach, and radish available.

First, you lay two sheets of seaweed on the tray. Next, you add the sticky rice to the seaweed. You can fill the entire sheet of seaweed or do less if you want. Then you add whatever filling you choose. You might choose to make one with spam, carrots, and spinach. Another may have tuna with egg, radish, and spinach. The possibilities really are endless. Only fill about two inches of the seaweed.

Now it is time to roll the kimbap. You use the wooden mat to roll the seaweed over the topping, making it as tight as possible. Once you have rolled your kimbap, roll it again to make sure it is tight.

Once you are satisfied with your roll, cut it into pieces about as thick as your ring finger and serve.

Kayla Jarmon Books Review

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Discussion Book Series and A Boy and His Dog by Kayla Jarmon

Kayla Jarmon is an author who writes books from a Christian perspective. For this review, I was able to read three of her books: A Boy and His Dog, Don’t Forget Me, and Dying is Part of this World.

Clarissa was very excited about A Boy and His Dog. This is a great story about a day of adventures in the life of a boy and his dog. They wake up together, eat breakfast, play outside, take a bath, go to bed, and even dream together before they wake up the next day to start again. I like this book because it reminds me of Clarissa and Mittens (her cat) and all the things they do together each day. Clarissa said, “I liked it because they had fun.” She was frustrated when they played chase. She said, “It’s called tag, not chase!”

The next book was fun as well. Clarissa really wanted to read Don’t Forget Me because it is about the conversations that God would have with a baby before he is born. My sister is pregnant with her first cousin right now so she is very excited about all things baby related. We were not disappointed with this story. I really liked that the baby was comfortable talking to God. The baby also recognized the voice of his mommy and daddy while in the womb. God kept reminding the baby not to forget Him once the baby was born. I liked that the mom and dad prayed for their baby once he was born. Clarissa thought it was funny though because she thought the baby kept interrupting his parents while they were praying. I guess you can tell we have been working on being quiet while mommy and daddy pray…I think this is a great book to talk to kids about what life was like before they were born. It would probably also spark great discussions about siblings as they grow inside of mommy’s tummy.

Clarissa would not read the last book, Dying is Part of this World, with me. It has chapters and very few pictures (plus the pictures are black and white) so my four year old was not interested. Each chapter has a different fictional conversation that you could use to talk to your child about a life event like death. There are discussion questions for every chapter. The first chapter is about a conversation with a child and her mother about being afraid of her mother’s death and her mother tries to comfort her by talking about heaven and Jesus. The second chapter is about a mother telling a child stories about when he was born and very small that he doesn’t remember about his own life. I think these stories were a little awkward to read out loud. They might be okay to hand to an older elementary school child to read by themselves but you would want to actually have a conversation about them.

Kayla Jarmon has some great books for kids. I think that her stories would spark some wonderful discussions for families. I like that they are also from a Christian perspective. I look forward to the next books in this discussion series.

Discussion Book Series and A Boy and His Dog {Kayla Jarmon Reviews} 

Crew Disclaimer

Princess Cut Movie Review

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Watchman Pictures

I love a good romance movie, especially one that doesn’t have any inappropriate scenes or themes in it. Princess Cut by Watchman Pictures, is one of those movies. The movie would be appropriate for elementary school students to see, but I think they would be bored with a love story. They use the word “intimate” instead of “sex” in this movie. There aren’t any kisses either. Someone tried to kiss Grace and she stopped him and said, “Not until you put a ring on it.” This is a movie that I definitely plan to watch with Clarissa when she is in middle school because it provides so many discussion points about relationships but also family dynamics.

Princess Cut The Movie

The movie is about Grace and her hard working, Christian family who lives on a soybean farm in North Carolina. At the beginning of the movie, Grace is kind of your typical college girl who just happens to be a Christian. She is so focused on her relationships with boys that she isn’t really paying attention to the people around her. She has two relationships before she realizes that something needs to change.

By this time, her dad has been encouraged by his pastor to study about the father’s role in his daughter’s relationships. He learns that the giving the daughter away during the wedding ceremony actually comes from Jeremiah 29:6. Grace and her dad have a conversation about how things need to shift so that they can do this God’s way. Her dad encourages her that “it’s not as much about finding the perfect person as becoming who God made you to be.”

During the second half of the movie you really watch Grace grow into this beautiful woman of God. She really wants to honor God and her family in the things that she does, including any romantic relationships. She goes to the library for some books about the subject and actually picks up some that I really enjoyed during that season of life, When God Writes Your Love Story and Boundaries in Dating.

A young doctor named Clint does get to know their family and asks for Grace’s parents permission to get to know her better before he even talks to Grace about it. When he talks to her he says, “Your heart is too precious a treasure to play games with.” That is the kind of young man that I would like to pursue Clarissa. I don’t want to give away the whole story. I will say that I really enjoyed it, which means it did have a happy ending.

There are so many good things that I will discuss with Clarissa when we watch this movie.

  • It’s not about waiting for the perfect guy. It’s about trusting God.
  • I want you to be able to talk to your dad and I about anything. God. Boys. Life. No matter how bad you think it is.
  • Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
  • Know what your boundaries will be physically before you start dating.
  • Not everyone believes that same things that we do, so you need to be careful about who you are receiving counsel from.
  • What kind of a friend do you want to be? What kind of friends do you want to have?
  • How should you treat your parents? siblings? How should they treat you?
  • What blessings has God given us that we can share with others?
  • How can we serve other people as a family?

I have seen a few “Christian” movies. Often you can tell they are lower budget than something that comes out in the movie theater. The actors were pretty good in this one. There was one scene that Grace was supposed to be crying and it wasn’t super believable. There were a few times when the camera angles were odd. For the most part, the acting and the sets were great.

Princess Cut {Watchman Pictures Reviews}Crew Disclaimer