Anna’s Summer Reading

As Emily mentioned on Monday, we’re doing our summer reading lists this week. Mine is always a little tricky, because, like Emily, we spend the summer traveling. So not only do I have to choose wisely because car space is limited, but I have to try to judge what I’m really going to enjoy, and how much I’m going to get through in the summer. Up to this point, I haven’t gotten those two factors exactly honed, and end up either running out before summer’s over, or buying books on amazon to bring home (which my husband hates!). So, this year, the pile looks like this:


For myself, I’ll be tackling Female Piety by John Angell James, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen (I know, two really heavy books), Truman by David McCullough, and Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles. I’m hoping that this is the right mix for me for the summer. If not, I’ve got a few options on my kindle: James Fenimore Cooper, Chesterton’s Father Brown, and Louisa May Alcott.

For the kids, we’ll be reading through a few things. In the morning, at breakfast, we’ll be slowly going through The Story of Britain. I haven’t looked at this book much, but the chapters are short and easily read during breakfast, and the illustrations are beautiful. I’m always a sucker for pictures. We’ll be continuing our reading of the Ralph Moody books with The Fields of Home. We love this series so much, I can’t recommend it highly enough. My son will be busy this summer with old friends, so the girls and I will be reading some by ourselves, including Little Women and finishing up the All-Of-A-Kind-Family series, which we love. And, last but not least, our memory work for the summer will be tackling the first part of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, so I’ve brought along the Puritan Paperbacks explanation. I doubt I’ll be reading this to the kids–probably just reading it to myself to understand the questions and answers better.

I’d love to hear what’s at the top of your reading list for the summer!


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Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

Summer Reading

Happy Monday, everyone!  With the school year wrapping up, it’s time for Anna and me to take a week talking about our summer reading plans.  My list actually looks very different now than it was last week, because just a few days ago, my two year old pulled apart my nook (totally destroying it), so I won’t be able to load up on ebooks before our trip home to the midwest next month.  I was right in the middle of one of my favorite new children’s series, too!  Super bummer.

So what will I be reading?  A few books that have been on my to-read shelf for a while.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series–I was halfway through book 3 when my nook was destroyed, and my library doesn’t have book 5 yet, but my husband and I love this series so much that we may just invest in our own copies of the whole set.  They’re sort of Jane Eyre meets Lemony Snicket, full of hilarious aphorisms like “If it were easy to resist, it would not be called chocolate cake.”  I find them irresistible!

Home by Marilynne Robinson.  I read Lila and Gilead this past year, and they were two of the most beautiful books I’ve read in the past decade.  I’m excited about visiting this world again!

Who Killed Homer by Victor Davis Hansen.  We consider ourselves classical homeschoolers, but I often get to focused on the details that I need to stop back and take a look at the overall picture of classical education.

The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes.  I actually had this on my list last year, and I never got around to it.  It has been sitting on my nightstand ever since, and reading about the Great Depression seems quite applicable to today, right?

and I’ll be rereading The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot, one of my favorite pictures of family life from one of my favorite role models.


With the kids, we’ll be going through the whole Little House series since we got E her own set for her birthday last week.  My son and I are planning to read Treasure Island together this summer, and we checked out Pippi Longstocking for a family read-aloud.


In a few weeks, I’ll pull together links to the summer reading programs we like to do (I try to pick ones that give free books as prizes).  In the meantime, what are you hoping to read this summer?


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Posted in Hidden Art Fridays, Reading | Leave a comment

Hidden Art Friday

blueberry lemon curd cakecompleted lemon cakeblueberry lemon curd layer cake

Wednesday was E’s 6th birthday and our community group potluck night, so I went all out on her birthday cake this year.  She requested something with lemon curd (I use Alton Brown’s recipe), and blueberries were on sale!  So we browsed my embarrassingly huge pinterest dessert board and picked out this lemon blueberry marble cake cake recipe.  I did tweak it, stirring in whole blueberries instead of blueberry preserves, using straight lemon curd between the layers (more on that later), and opting for this lemon curd cream cheese frosting recipe.  It took a long time.  E’s best friend was over for several hours, so that kept the girls occupied.  My grocery swap buddy, Sarah, dropped off her son to entertain mine and shopped for my groceries along with hers so I didn’t have to leave the house to get the blueberries for garnishing.  I used my stand mixer AND hand mixer, my whisk, every mixing bowl, and three different spatulas.  I ran the dishwasher three times in one day.  I was pretty proud of my cake, and boy, did the frosting beaters taste good.

Then we had to get in the car and drive 25 minutes to our potluck.  My 8 year old valiantly held my cake plate almost the whole way with no mishaps.  As we paused at the gate of our friends’ neighborhood, I heard an “Oh no!”  The lemon curd had not bound the layers together as I intended, and layers 2 and 3 had slipped away from layer one and were pleasantly pressing into my son’s not-too-clean soccer jersey.  In an attempt to wedge them back on top, his (probably not too clean) hands became covered with frosting and lemon curd.  When we got to our friends’ house, I had to send the girls out the other door and wipe him, his seatbelt, and the cake plate down with multiple wipes before even unbuckling the poor kid.  Inside, I washed my hands and ruthlessly used my fingers to shove things back in alignment and smooth out the frosting.  Note in the shot from above that the right edge of the cake has an…uneven…look to it.  (I did not serve that soccer-jersey-exposed side to anyone outside of the family.)  Our friends were gracious, but I was so aware that pride goes before a fall!  So instead of an artsy photo with one slice carefully removed to show my general awesomeness and Martha Stewart-like baking prowess, I had to settle for a messy side shot to give you the general idea of what it was supposed to look like.  Good thing E2S is not a cooking blog!  (The cake was very yummy, though, so since this was not my first failed attempt to do pinterest-level decorating, maybe I should stick to the baking and leave the frosting for someone else…)


That’s it!  No links to anything of interest elsewhere, because I’ve been too busy to read anything other than cake recipes. =)  Have a wonderful weekend, and may your cake layers stay stuck together!

Posted in Good Food, Hidden Art Fridays | Leave a comment

Reasons Moms Go Back to Work: “My kids will drive me crazy if I stay home with them all day.”


This is a reason I have heard frequently from women defending their choice to go back to work. When someone says this to me, it’s easy to nod and agree. After all, raising children is very hard work, and they are not usually well-behaved all day long. Spending eight hours a day with a small child still learning self control can be very trying to one’s patience. Believe me, I get that.

But in another sense, I could not disagree more.

The assumption with this statement is that children are naturally annoying and disagreeable to be around. This is where our kid-centric culture has done us a huge disservice. Children do not have to be annoying to be around. But making them enjoyable is a long process that takes a lot of vision and very hard work, and cannot be accomplished in the few hours at the end of the day when mom gets to enjoy ‘quality time’ with her children.

The first problem here is that mom is seeing her kids when they are at their worst. Even for those of us who do stay home, the hours from dinner till bed are awful. The kids are tired, there’s homework to finish, baths to take, teeth to brush, and important conversations to be had. If you have little ones in the house, their exhaustion by this point of the day usually means that they are completely unwilling to be well-behaved in any way. A mom who only sees her kids during these hours will of course assume that they would drive her crazy all day.

More importantly, though, a mom who is not around her kids for significant chunks of time will not be able to teach them to be enjoyable. To train and discipline children, you have to be in it for the long game. It is not easily accomplished in the hours after work. The temptation for moms who work is to not worry about teaching and disciplining their children during the few hours they are home because they want that time to be pleasant and special. Quality time, after all.

But in order to really train your children, you need to start in the morning. At breakfast, you remind them not to interrupt somebody else who is talking, and to chew with their mouths closed. During the morning, you train them to play a little on their own so you can take a shower or start the laundry (or, sit and read a book for a few minutes!). Before lunch, you discuss with the older two how it takes two to continue a fight, and how they both are responsible for stopping fights. At lunch, you again remind them not to interrupt, and to not yell at the table (or anywhere, really). You put them down for naps, and enjoy your quick reprieve. After naps, you teach them to not whine for a snack and to not grab toys from a sibling. Before dinner, you work on ‘come here’ and ‘yes, mom’ with the toddler. Before Dad gets home, you remind them to run and hug him when he walks through the door. And at dinner, you remind them again not to interrupt. Kids will not learn these skills anywhere else, and we all can testify that children who do not learn them are monsters. Anybody remember Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

Moms, your kids do not have to be monsters. They can be enjoyable to be around. A mom who spends her day training and teaching gets to enjoy the moments in between, when she gets a brief reprieve to watch her children play with blocks together, or to cuddle up and read a story. And as they get older, they need less and less of this intense training. They become elementary students who are respectful and kind. It is possible! But it can’t be done in an evening.

Posted in For New Moms, Having It All, Philosophy of Motherhood | Leave a comment
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