Back to Dinners around the Table

We are settling in here at the new house. As of today, it has officially been one month and two days since we moved in. ~

We have just resumed having dinner around the table– it took longer than I thought it would! AB has been pushing for it for two weeks now. She loves that time together {we all do}! πŸ™‚Β  Now that we are down to just 8 boxes upstairs {not even going to try to count, or even estimate, the number downstairs…}, I think a lot of things are clicking into place in our new, normal routine here. I am happy and relieved at this reality: it is difficult to feel displaced for a stretch of weeks and months.

As I write this, it is morning– I have been more tired than usual and going to sleep earlier– too early to resume my late-night/midnight writing habits yet. So, I am attempting to squeeze it in during the beautiful mornings. The blue light is welcoming, and the abundance of birdsong on my back porch is very nice, as well. I may make this my new routine and leave the late-night-writing for fiction only.

I have not yet sent out any chapters to publishers– though I do still feel ready for my first rejections. I have been too busy with other things to properly prepare anything to feel good about submitting. With fiction-writing, also absent from my recent life is cross-stitching. This pastime might be my favorite, so its absence has been the most missed; I plan to try to fit it in later today (after all schoolwork is completed here), LW!

On the subject of schoolwork, I am about to begin a new chapter in my own life– separate from my two wonderful kids— in this area: I have ordered a training program in a field of transcription that I am excited to pursue in weeks and months to come, LW! I am looking forward to this! πŸ™‚

Hope you have things you are looking forward to this week, as well.

Sincerely, Tiffany

P.S. Just remembered that today is the birth date of an old friend of mine who was important to me years ago… sending out a heartfelt “Happy Birthday” wish to him– something I failed to do 19 years ago, which I have regretted– should he ever happen to read here. ~

Moving is like Christmas-Eve for Grown-ups.

If Christmas Eve were equal parts excitement and soreness, that is.

Tomorrow begins our week of moving… I am very excited {Yo soy muy emocionado}! So excited, in fact, that I am having trouble sleeping.

It feels as if we have been packing for months instead of weeks {just three/solo tres}… Tonight– last night, I mean, I assisted my teenage son in packing his room. Started around one p.m., left just after midnight (with a long break for dinner, etc.) with almost everything completed (we will tackle the semi-filled boxes in his closet tomorrow a.m., LW).~

His room was the last one to be packed away, and my daughter stored her remaining things, as well. She had a dozen (or maybe 20…) stuffed animals still out, until her dad/DC dismantled her queen-sized bed for more space. She stuffed them into an old (& huge) Thirty-one bag and sent them into “hibernate” by talking to them sweetly as only a six-year-old can. Then, she stacked her plans for a book/movie/episodes of a story she’s “been planning to do…” inside a New Balance shoebox she had found. She is completely finished– but she has been already, for a few weeks, really. She has rolled with this life-disrupting-roller-coaster-called-moving better than the rest of us three. πŸ™‚Β  It has been a relief and a blessing! πŸ™‚

The Aspies of the house {E & I} have not handled everything so well– my sleep has been disrupted more than usual, and my thoughts/nerves have run away with me much more frequently during the past 3-4 weeks. A major source of nervousness, at first, was the presence of a sump-pump in the finished basement-room in the house we have purchased. It has taken a lot of research as well as a few calls to the home-inspector-team to reassure my brain that all is well and will continue to be. I have not yet had any dreams {ie, nightmares} while I am asleep, at least, about a flooded basement– though I have morbidly daydreamed about the unpleasant possibility. My husband reassures me each time I’ve worked myself into a tizzy. Thankfully he loves me in spite of my “goofiness….” (His words~)

Another source of stress– good stress, but stress nonetheless— has been scheduling. My husband is the main planner here, but I have wanted to have a more relaxed transition than we did during our last move. [Imagine it: You’ve taken your house off of the market– it has been “for sale” for almost eight full months and you decide to remove it from the market. A few days later you receive a kind letter in the mail from a nice realtor who is interested in seeing your home as she is shopping for a new home and likes your neighborhood… her best friend lives on the same street, even… you honor the request, allowing her to tour it at her convenience sometime during the next couple of weeks. Weeks go by, you hear nothing– only because she’s been getting her home of a couple of decades ready for resale, etc. Still, you do not know this and therefore write it off, thinking that she’s found something else— there’s no need for packing… You relax and spend your days in your normal routine. Until… one day soon– just after your entire family has just gotten over a monstrous cold, everyone except you (you still have it)– you get a call from your realtor/agent with a sweet offer. *If you can close in 10 days. Oh yeah, and turn the keys over a couple of days later– on the day after Thanksgiving. ~ πŸ™‚Β  Yes, it really happened that way. The Lord provided a good rental home with more space than we’d ever need– with a gorgeous screened-porch, surrounded by trees; we found it in about a week, though it was not on the listing from the rental-property-list we joined asap– still amazing to me. ~]

And while it has been a more streamlined, easy-going kind of a lead-up, it has also been busy. The home-education side of things has slumped back into more than half unschooling. Something I did not want for the first months of 2016… In addition to the normal upheaval of scheduling around a move, our closing/signing date was moved closer by three weeks, then moved back out by a week, so we have scheduled and re-scheduled things. Shifting calendar dates is not fun or easy. πŸ™‚

I am sure, though, that by the end of this-coming weekend, LW, it will have been worth it. I am looking forward to wrapping up E’s room tomorrow morning and assessing whether or not we have enough boxes, still, to complete the kitchen on Wednesday evening, LW. The movers come Thursday bright and early– and we are ecstatic at the thought, the reality that it is almost here!~ πŸ˜€

So, the working plan for this week is:

Monday a.m. – conclude E’s room (mainly closet, already-packed-boxes under bed), deep-clean current (rental-house) bathrooms, including laundering bathroom rugs and shower curtains separately. (This begins in just a handful of hours, LW.) ~ Monday afternoon/evening – get keys! (Woo-hoo!!) (Carpets [though old] have been freshly cleaned by a local steam-cleaner, LW.) Go to new address– yay! πŸ˜€Β  Al swings in her backyard; EA enjoys a cup o’ tea in his backyard, LW! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€Β  Then, leaf-blow garage and begin cleaning top-to-bottom, room-by-room until exhausted and sweaty. πŸ™‚Β  Go home to eat the bbq chicken in crockpot/slow-cooker. πŸ˜‰Β  Get some sleep. // Tuesday – continue cleaning both residences until fully clean. Shop for paint; buy ceiling fans. Get some sleep. πŸ™‚Β  // Wednesday – Take some boxes to new house, especially breakables. Paint E’s & AB’s rooms (and maybe the laundry + living rooms if I’m still going like an Energizer-bunny… this will not be the case, perhaps…). Finish spot-cleaning carpet in rental. Get some sleep. /// Thursday – movers arrive bright, early. ~ Move in. πŸ˜‰Β  Arrange core furniture, put boxes in respective rooms. Finish cleaning floors at rental-house– now furniture-less. ~ Get some sleep. // Friday a.m. – carpet-cleaners arrive at rental.* Turn ceiling fans on, lock-up, and leave. Return to unpacking new place. πŸ™‚Β  // Saturday a.m./p.m. — *need to call our {great} landlords to set a specific time– final walk-through + return keys = everything completed. ! πŸ™‚

Whew!… I really feel better, having written it all out. It’s not gonna’ be so bad… ~ πŸ˜‰Β  I will just continue to think the phrase that has been comforting me already: “Too blessed to be stressed….”

The night before moving– or simply getting the keys to your newly-purchased home– is truly like Christmas-eve for me tonight: I cannot get to sleep– but it’s not just the anticipation. It’s my aching muscles, brain-fatigue. ~

Good night {or morning}~ Wishing you a happy & productive-yet-restful week! Happy that it’s almost time to celebrate Easter! πŸ™‚

Tiffany

Home Again, Home Again.

For our first three years of marriage we lived in my husband’s 1,000-square-foot-bachelor-pad. We three (E, DC, and I) were quite happy there, amazingly– and the fact that our daughter got to come home to that tiny apartment, as well… is one that I, now, appreciate, despite my misgivings back then, in the days leading up to her due date. ~

Six, almost seven, years later, we have lived in five additional homes, all varieties, six total… with one more on the way. In just two days we are scheduled to close, or sign, on our new house. It is a nice one and a fixer-upper in the same token; we are excited and looking forward to being there for the foreseeable future, Lord willing (LW).

After six (6) homes in the past 10 years, we are looking forward to making this place into what we want it to be without giving thought to making smart choices for future resale, etc. Years ago/originally, I loved the process of moving (so much that I had even thought I might’ve made a good military-wife because of my affinity). Well, no more. This time around– while it has seemed more streamlined, easy, I am ready to be finished with the art of moving for a long, long season, LW. {I hope, anyway.}

Weekend before last, we spent most of an entire day going through boxes-upon-boxes of old paperwork. I am not kidding. Sigh/Yikes…. I am unsure why I felt it necessary to keep thousands of receipts, paid invoices, and other paper-based things– including possibly, every drawing our {prolific-artist-of-a-} daughter has ever created, along with thousands of her brother’s artworks, additionally. On a plus-side, we re-discovered at least a dozen books of old photos from when E-man was about A’s age! πŸ™‚Β  Also found, were both of their baby books, an old Thirty-one bag I thought I’d lost forever, and several more unexpected items.

While preparing for our daughter AB’s birth in early 2009, I was discouraged at the reality of her “nursery” being simply a small space in our bedroom. A corner in a two-bedroom apartment that was already somewhat over-crowded. Looking back, however, the sweetness of those moments spent sitting on the floor, breastfeeding my sweet, new baby– trying to find a quiet spot of peace, I feel nostalgic and cozy. From here, I am able to see that it was truly a splendid set-up, indeed. ~

I think that after all of the moving around for the past half-decade, knowing that we– our little family– started out in the same location, though we’ve moved perennially since, is a wonderful gift that the Lord knew I would need. We have traveled together through each “tent” and season between then and here together, and that is the way it will be: our memories will be set against many backgrounds, dwellings, etc., yet they will, also, always be filled with much more important things than paint and square footage and wall-hangings. And the Lord will bring us comfort when we allow Him to. Into each and every place where pain used to be.

Six years ago, when I was questioning Him deep inside– questioning His provisions while remembering preparing her brother’s more-spacious-nursery with paint and a border and other pretty, matching things before his arrival, He was working things together for good, for my heart here— in a fast-forward-place. He was preparing something I could not see. Now, to be able to look back and remember every place we have lived with each of my people present… While I was feeling abandoned and cheated in some ways then, He was looking ahead, seeing my heart now. Today. And knowing I would feel complete the way He was doing things.

I am thankful for each and every memory in each and every place, past and present. Not just in the homes mentioned here– not only in recent years… but further back– to every person from childhood through adulthood in my life. Each one is important and has his place. The Lord paints it all together beautifully. When we let Him, He will change the pain into a painting. ~

{My heart and mind have been full of thoughts of John 14 verses 2 & 3 as I’ve written here tonight/this morning… remembering that He is preparing a place for us with Him someday! Amen~!}

Happy Wednesday to you~

Sincerely,

Tiffany

P.S. Posting this on my second nephew’s birthday! Happy Birthday, RMBJ!!~ You are a great young man & we love you!~ <3

New things.

January has arrived, signalling the second-half of the school year. This is my son’s senior year and my daughter’s first in elementary; the first half was productive and pretty wonderful. December turned into much more of an unschooling endeavor than I had originally planned– even the short unit study did not get completed– we still enjoyed it fully (except for the cold [& bronchitis for AB]). A & I will wrap that up next week, Lord willing.

Today, E mentioned missing the regularity of daily routine and schoolwork– I feel the same (not sure that’s so for AB…). I am a weirdo who loves taking down all of the Christmas decorations, including tree, as soon as Christmas day has ended. My family wanted it for an extra day or two this year, however, since we did not get any of it out until the second week of December. We had a nice season of celebrating, starting Thanksgiving-week in Texas with our far-away family. Immeasurable gratefulness for our Emmanuel’s birth. Amen!!

We are planning to begin a new home-search by the end of this month, LW; as much as we have enjoyed our current, spacious rental house with the funky layout, huge yard, and monster-jacuzzi-tub, we are ready to own our own home again.

Excited for a new year in which to grow in discipline, as well as to work on new things.

Happy new year, happy 2016– to you, too~

Tiff & crew.

31 Kids’ Books We Love Postscript (and Popcorn)

As I was closing up shop, writing the last posts for this series, my husband asked if I had included any of the classic books from his childhood that are now part of AB’s growing library.Β In truth, I had forgotten about them. Ootah’s Lucky Day by Peggy Parish, Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel, Miss Suzy by Miriam Young (pictures by Arnold Lobel)– these are a few of her favorites from this nostalgic, little collection (But No Elephants, Jerry Smath, used to hold the grand-prize spot, but, alas, she has outgrown it).

Many volumes were destined to be left out of this group of only thirty-one; still, seems unfair to not include at least one of these great classics. {Just as it is wrong that The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams, is not present! Sorry: couldn’t locate AB’s copy…} Therefore, I am going to consider today day number 32, and share a final summary. This story is set on Halloween. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. {P.S. It is now available in Kindle-format, too! πŸ™‚ }

Title: Popcorn, written and illustrated by Frank Asch; 1979; Parents Magazine Press, New York; ISBN 0-8193-1001-8.

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Story in a nutshell: Sam’s parents, Mama and Papa, leave him home alone to attend a Halloween party.

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So, Sam rounds up friends for a costume party of his own….

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Everyone brings popcorn to share (notice the large stack just outside the front room)!

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When someone pops the corn, things quickly become a little strange…

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Soon, the entire house is full (popcorn even spills from the chimney!)! The kids yell to each other through the white space.

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Then, they munch, chomp, their way through the mountainous snack so Sam won’t get into trouble when his parents return home. It takes a long time, and all of their stomachs complain– but they manage to do it! And while his friends walk home home, Sam clears the rest of the mess and gets into bed. He falls asleep quickly.

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His parents wake him when they get home, excited to share the surprise they’ve brought back. It is…

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…guess what? Popcorn………. !

Ugh. Oh-h, no…!! πŸ™‚

~~~~~~~

Thank you for spending part of your October here, reading a few fun books for kids– hope you and your families had a wonderful Halloween and fall! Hope, even more, that you have a nice holiday season coming up. ~ Many blessings to each of you, goodnight!

Book Twelve: The Monster at the End of this Book ~

Sesame Street’s the MONSTER at the end of this Book (sic) is the book at the end of this challenge. It is, also, one that each of us in our little family-of-four has loved in our respective childhoods.

Though my husband of nine years was born a year and a half before I, and grew up in small-town, southeast Texas– while I have always been a central-Alabama-girl (a distance of more than 500 miles)– our upbringings were surprisingly similar.

A few years ago, he (DC) and I were discussing the children’s television shows Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, when we remembered today’s book. We searched boxes until we’d located a copy E had had when he was younger. It was an instant and lasting winner with AB. It is definitely one we must have energy to read, as well. πŸ˜‰Β  She can read it herself now, and sometimes does, but when she asks one of us to read it to her we had better be ready to give a spirited performance, full of expression, animation!

Title: Sesame Street’s The Monster at the End of this Book written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollin; 1971, renewed 1999; (a Golden book) Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York…; ISBN 0-375-82913-X.

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Story in a nutshell: “Lovable, furry old (sic) Grover” narrates this fabulously interactive story (without an electronic screen!). He opens with a question, posed to us, the readers. He is obviously concerned about the prospect of a monster being in the book with us.

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He tells the reader to be very quiet and to stop turning pages– he is afraid of monsters!

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Next, he tries to physically stop readers from turning pages– by tying ropes around them…

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…and constructing wooden obstacles and even building a brick wall. Each attempt to keep the pages closed fails… one after the other (each a bit more dramatic than the last).

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Until, finally, we reach the end to discover…

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…that he– Grover— is the only monster around. ~

This book is a winner– a great, engaging one for you and your kids to enjoy together! πŸ™‚

And, indeed, a great one on which to close this October writing series. The challenge has been great fun, friends!~ Hope each of you has a wonderful November– and Thanksgiving (and beyond)!~

~~~

A few words to leave on—

I once had a bookmark with the following quote displayed: “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” –Chinese proverb ~

Books are treasured things in our home– most of the boxes we still have upstairs (in this temporary, spacious rental) are filled with them— books, books, and more books… tomes with which we are unwilling to part. ~ Like music, books can be unifiers, childhood books included: when you meet new people and share about your lives and likes, careers and kids, books usually have their time in conversation. Think:Β Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain {Samuel Clemens}; The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; or A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens… {Probably even more universally-intellectually-unifying on a widespread basis, would be other such classics as 1984 or Animal Farm, both by George Orwell, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, or perhaps even works, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude… and those like it. ~ {I simply lean more toward romantic literature, having been a fanciful English major, myself, a while ago…}

Whenever we can converse about a shared subject, though we may never have met before, there is an immediate camaraderie between us that we can take deeper into a friendship from there should we choose. ~ John Waters, American cult-film director, said that if you should go into someone’s home and they have no books to run!~ He shared this in a lecture DC and I attended a decade ago, and I am paraphrasing, of course. That might be the only thing I remember– or care to remember from it— but I agree. πŸ™‚

Also, while lingering on this subject in farewell, I think of Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly in You’ve Got Mail (a contemporary classic film from 1998, Warner Brothers), when she says to Tom Hanks’ character Joe Fox: “…When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does….” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/quotes) Hmm, so true.

Let’s celebrate reading and really snuggling in with good books with our kids, and hopefully someday, when they are grown, they will not only have wonderfully warm, cozy memories– but will be able to (re)visit the “gardens” of reading and find a place of true comfort within at any moment. ~

Happy reading to you & yours’. Good night!

Book Eleven: Cats, Cats!

Since I had already begun this current article on a much-loved short book of AB’s, I will go ahead and complete it; then, it’s on to writing the last piece of this #write31days series– to include a quick summary of her favorite children’s book of this ilk.

A few years ago, our little family had a fun time of cat-sitting for about six months. One of my husband’s cousins planned to live abroad for a year, while pursuing a graduate program across the pond (her travel ended up being cut short, sadly), and she needed some place to stay for her two adult cats while she was away. We were excited to volunteer– well, the kids and I were…my husband DC was not so enthusiastic about the prospect at first; still, on the whole, he did see that having a pet is a mostly fun adventure. We wanted him to warm up to the idea over the year. He did, marginally, at least. πŸ™‚

Cats, Cats! by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt is a fun, little book full of {adorably hand-lettered} adjectives– this, along with mad-libs books were most likely AB’s first introductions to that little part of grammar! This book is one we ordered online in preparation for an author-talk to be held at a local library a couple of years ago. Yet, while AB and I did travel to that library on the night of her talk– books ready to be signed— we were unable to attend… we had just parked at the library when it became obvious that A was not feeling too well. These things happen. We rolled with it and returned home a little disappointed– but we still loving the books! Haha! πŸ™‚

Title: Cats, Cats!, written and illustrated by Michelle Nelson Schmidt; 2012 (and Kane Miller, 2011); Regent Publishing Services, Hong Kong; ISBN (paperback) 978-1-61067-042-5.

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Fun, descriptive narrative, instead of a storyline in this little volume.

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A few of Allie’s favorites, below:

The “Nosy Cat.” MNS’s illustration, then AB’s version, hand-copied by yours truly for an over-tired, little girl one Sunday night. She colored it hurriedly, then went to bed happy. πŸ™‚

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The “Brave Cat.”

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The “Fluffy Cat.”

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And it ends with a fun, little cat-mirror for your child to see what kind of cat he or she might be… sneaky or silly, maybe?

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This one has been a winner with its lighthearted, animal fun and vibrant– sometimes neon– colorfulness!~

Have a great night!

Book Ten: Paw Patrol’s Itty-Bitty Kitty Rescue

AB received this next book as part of a super-β€œpawsome,” Paw-Patrol-themed birthday gift in the mail this past spring. Some of her super-sweet, Texas cousins sent it her wayβ€”and she really enjoys this story. We read it together several times before she apparently decorated it/made it her own sometime after having begun reading by herself this summer…. πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoy her ad-libbing as much as I did, upon discovery. ~

Title: Paw Patrol Itty-bitty Kitty Rescue, written by Ursula Ziegler Sullivan, illustrated by Fabrizio Petrossi; 2014; copyrighted by Spin Masters PAW Productions Inc.; Golden Books… a division of Random House LLC, New York; ISBN 978-0-553-50884-0.

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Story in a nutshell: Chase and Rubble, two members of the Paw Patrol rescue team, hear a kitten in distress near where they are playing frisbee on the beach.

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They run to tell Ryder, their person/leader, who will organize the team!

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Soon everyone is present and they make a plan for action!

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Zuma and Skye will take the lead today. They are ready in a flash to rescue that kitten!

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After a chase around the bay, the kitten is safely on land again. Hooray! Rubble takes her to their friend Katie’s pet salon for a warm bath. But the little cat turns out to be quite a handful today…

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After having made a mess of things at Katie’s Pet Parlor, the kitty takes off on Rubble’s skateboard– oh, no! Where did she go? It doesn’t take the pups long to locate Rubble’s skateboard, but their little friend is no longer on board! But not to fear– they will use their talented sniffers to find her. Along the way, they also find the little girl who owns her– yay!

They find the kitten is inside the town hall’s bell, very high in the air! How will she get down?

Marshall gets his ladder, ready to help!

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Both Marshall and the kitten take a tumble off of the ladder…

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…and into their owner’s arms! Whew! What an amazing day.

*Great story with a great crew AB loves to watch– or read about– any day!

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Book Nine: Sarah and the Art Contest

Have you ever entered an art contest? I cannot remember whether or not I have, myself– but I do remember that my youngest sister participated in one when she was a youngster (maybe five or six?). She won a sweet prize-pack from a local mall’s Sanrio Surprises store. I haven’t seen the photos in many years– but they still exist somewhere in my parents’ house, I am sure (perhaps in a shoe box…). It was a very cool event!

{On a separate, random note, I just finished watching a movie on Netflix that included a snowboarding contest: Chalet Girl. Enjoyed it.}

To be honest, we have read this book only once or twice– it is a little longer than AB would prefer… It came from the same July-fourth shopping trip as Hedgie’s Surprise, along with two Skippyjon Jones books and a few vintage Sesame Street hardcovers– and maybe a few more– as well. …What? they were having good sales at a couple of the booths we visited!

The following tome is from a collection of children’s books entitled Larry Burkett’s Great Smoky Mountain Storybook Series. I would love to find others from it! (I am discovering that I sometimes like AB’s books more than she does… hmm.) This series title intrigued me upon first glance– because number 1) I love the Smoky Mountains {Gatlinburg, TN, is one of my favorite locations} and 2) AB loves {to create} art. {And though she has not yet been to Gatlinburg, I think she will, someday, love it, too, LW! I hope!}

Without further ado, here is the summary of our next book:

Title: Sarah and the Art Contest, written by Larry Burkett with K. Christie Bowler, illustrated by Terry Julien; 1999; Moody Press, Chicago; ISBN 0-8024-0984-9. {Apologies, in advance, for blurry images– our iphone4 has been having trouble with focusing.}

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Story in a nutshell: Sarah, an elementary-age student, comes home from school excited about the possibility of entering an upcoming junior art show!

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Her grandparents (who seem to live with them) offer both her and her brother a twenty-dollar bill each for hobby supplies; they encourage them to be wise shoppers.

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The kids thank their grandparents, excited for their new endeavors! The next day, their parents take the two to town to peruse local shops for what they seek– watercolors for Sarah and a “camper’s survival belt” for Joshua.

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Sarah spots an all-in-one artist’s kit right away and quickly makes her purchase, though her brother suggests calling a couple of other shops first or checking another, nearby– he was thinking about waiting for a sale at local store Camp-Out after having already checked around himself, but was still going to look at Rough (don’t you love these store names?) for his tool while they are out.

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The next day, Sarah’s little sister Carey colors with the crayons from the new, “complete set,” while Sarah paints her entry for the contest. Sarah tries to enjoy it, though the colors are not as vibrant as her old ones were and the paintbrush bristles keep shedding. When the crayon Carey’s using snaps in half, Sarah tries to help her be more careful; instead, she breaks another, herself. She frowns, but, in the end, is still satisfied with her finished painting.

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She puts it away to dry, returning only to see it on Saturday morning, the morning of the contest’s deadline for entry… ruined! The paper she had used (from the kit) has curled almost closed and the colors have all turned into the same muddy brown! There is not enough time to paint another picture, so Sarah will have to miss the contest this year.

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When Sarah’s dad takes her to return the set, they see that the store has a no-return policy.

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Sarah’s grandpa offers to help her shop around for a nice art set, Sarah promises to participate in searching and to work hard to earn the money for it.

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…and she does. Over the next weeks she works many odd jobs around the house for her parents and grandparents.

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By the time she has finally earned enough for the new (satisfaction-guaranteed) set from The Studio, it is on sale, and Sarah gets to save the five extra dollars she has remaining!

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Sarah’s family loves her new paintings!

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So much that they even frame one and hang it on the kitchen wall.~

We enjoyed this book. My favorite things, I think, were the thoughtful pages of notes (below).

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For more from these authors and publisher, see the last page, as follows:

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Have a nice night!

Book Eight: The Fact Book of Horse Breeds

The Fact Book of Horse Breeds by Cynthia McFarland (text) is a new one to AB. She chose it at a recent library book sale, and has carted it around with her frequently since.

Are you surprised to learn that there are more than 350 distinctive breeds of horses and ponies? (See info. at the following link: http://www.webertrainingstables.com/breed-numbers.) And almost half of those are highlighted herein.

Title: The Fact Book of Horse Breeds, written by Cynthia McFarland, edited by Bobbie Chase, most photos by Bob Langrish; 2005; Pony, 2009, Italy; ISBN 1 933343 04 4.

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No story in this one, but below are a few details, starting with a glance at the table of contents.

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Page Layouts look like this:

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Separation between breed families. Note the clear, beautiful photography.

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The back cover.

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And, lastly, a couple more of AB’s favorite photos (on the day I took these shots, at least…).

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I once wrote a research paper on horses/horse breeds; it was one of my first papers, in fact. I can remember sitting in a classroom, writing the outline on note cards. {I loved my school– my “home away from home” every day. Fond memories for me. Plus, it was writing…! ~ Pen and paper…(sigh of contentment).}

Back to the present, AB and her dad have started a game when “reading” this horse-book together (AB enjoys skipping around, instead of reading every fact…)– “I want this horse in my stable!…” Evidently, they “cannot” both “own” the same horses at the same time. You’ve got to love the fun, original things kids come up with (and the things their dads create, too [pretty sure DC started this particular pastime…]). Thankful for great dads! The world needs more of them. Amen?