Something To Read

I liked the gift guidance given in the rhyme here.

Early on, I read that children respect books more if they are considered worthy of being a gift. Because I wanted books valued, books as gifts have been present (pun intended) in our house since the children were preschoolers.

Which books were gift-worthy? Hardbacks of books repeatedly checked out from the library: Ox Cart Man, The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge, and the Winnie-the-Pooh Treasury—the last two were expensive for causal buying.

Unusual books that represented a child’s interest and not available at the local library. I purchased Harry’s Helicopter by George Ancona after my kindergartner asked me to teach him to fly a helicopter.

“I don’t know how,” I said.

“Just read a book and tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,” he replied.

Oh, for him to have that faith in my abilities now!

My sons have carried on the tradition. They thoughtfully choose at least one book for my husband each Christmas.

Any favorite book gifts?

Christmas, Favorites

What Should I Give?*

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (ESV)

For me, November used to be when I finished Christmas shopping, not when I started. Throughout the year, I scoured stores for ideas and vacation gift shops for memorable reminders of family times. I wrapped gifts as they were bought so they were ready to place as soon as the tree was decorated.

One child’s favorite wrapping paper.

As much as I felt organized, I wish I had known the ditty below. I might have made better choices.

Give your children

Something they want,

Something they need,

Something to wear, and

Something to read.

What do your children want? What do they need? What should they wear? What should they read?

*Another version of this blog appeared November 15, 2020.


Let’s Ban Some Words This Holiday

Comparison is the death of joy.

Mark Twain

For years, I have disliked words ending in “est.” Why?

Those words masqueraded as a fact when they were an opinion.

Those words marginalized me and my friends and probably you—especially the word “hardest.” Especially when “hardest” was combined with “parenting.”

“Parents have the hardest job in the world.” What about childless couples dealing with crushed dreams?

“Single moms have the hardest job in the world.” What about married moms with abusive husbands?

“Parents of toddlers have the hardest job in the world.” What about parents of teenagers whom are succumbing to cultural dangers?

“Parents of teenagers have the hardest job in the world.” What about sleep-deprived parents of infants. Or parents of struggling adults?

You’ve heard it. And why do we add “in the world.” I don’t know. Do you?

Once thing I learned along the way is that all people “have it hard,” and all stages of parenting seem the hardest. However, I do not wish I had known that fact. Believing the myth that parenting would become easier was comforting.

May “est” words be banned this season while we gather with family and friends and foes.



Basics, God's Faithfulness

Inheritance: A Deeper Understanding

Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:20 (ESV)

I knew that God wrote the names of his children in his Book of Life. I knew that my name was written there. However, my understanding deepened with the passing of my beloved Uncle Floyd in November 2020.

Mollie with Uncle Floyd (August 4, 1928 – November 13, 2020)

When I relayed the news of Uncle Floyd’s passing, relatives listed the possessions they wanted. Only one asked—weeks after her requests—if she was in the will. She wasn’t.

I could only listen. My brother, who held the unopened will, was on vacation. I only knew my uncle’s hints about my inheritance.

Days later, I read these sobering words.

Any other relatives of mine who are not mentioned in this Last Will and Testament have been intentionally omitted and are not to receive anything from my estate.

Inheritance was clearly specified—as specific as the Book of Life.


The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. Revelation 3:5 (ESV)

Homeschooling, Parenting

Writing Advice: Quasi Podcasts

I attended a Smithsonian American Art Museum Teacher Workshop because I liked the exhibition, Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities. However, fifteen years later, I remember the writing advice more than the art. Whether your children have writing assignments, or you have reports, the following might be helpful.

Smithsonian workshop participants were given MP3 players for classroom use—cheap ones but still a free toy—and told to replicate an experiment in a Bethesda school. Those students wrote about works of art, recorded their work, listened, rewrote, and rerecorded. The steps were repeated until the students were satisfied with their quasi podcasts. 

The Smithsonian employee in charge thought it was “educational bubblegum,” and therefore, was surprised with the process and the results. Students heard mistakes that they missed when they read their work. This was especially true when a word was overused. By listening, students also quickly realized when more explanation was needed.

The school emphasized working in groups. One interesting result was that students were more willing to offer helpful advice when they listened to a peer’s work compared to reading a peer’s work. I wonder if it’s because listening is slower than reading.

Have you received unusual academic advice?