House of Literature Bookmobile

This is the place I share book (movie) selections and reviews I have found worth mentioning. I'll also share gleanings of family life, faith, home education, and ongoing writing projects. Book selections will include children's books, books on home education, Catholic books, classics, series, raising children, and books that are made for reading under a shady oak tree with lemonade, in a bubble bath with a latte', or next to a snuggly fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa. Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Blog Deal

I'm experimenting with a new blog service. It isn't a permanent thing...yet. I'm still trying to get a feel for it and see if I like it. I'm very attached to

The first post at my new site will tell you the reasons for the change.

I will keep this blog open for book reviews and literary ideas. Afterall, the bookmobile cannot go unattended. LOL

Click here to visit: Cay's Cajun Cottage

Silent Night? No...Just Silent

Back track to dear husband was in an exceptionally good mood one morning. Make that every morning. You know, the kind of mood where they wake up on a Saturday morning and don't have to go to work but get up anyway and the house is warm and toasty and everyone else in the household is sleeping tucked warmly in their beds and Daddy has no one to entertain but the dog? And after his morning cup of coffee and morning shower, he decides the house is too quiet and---installing his best (and loudest) baritone voice---goes down the hallway singing Christmas carols?

Do you have one of those around your house? A treasure, aren't they?

Still not content with being his only audience, he ventures into the master bedroom where the two little girls and I are cosily snuggled up under mountains of blankets. Before you can say"White Christmas" the room erupts into a tickling fest and a loud booming voice calling, "Everybody! Sing!"

Now, by this time, my head is safely tucked deep under the covers and I've tranced myself back into a half-sleep. It has taken me over eighteen years of mothering to learn this trick, but learn it I have. Off and on, I hear the girls start a holiday tune with their daddy, then stop while he finishes. Figuring his baritone talent is impressing them, I stay in my hibernation burrow and don't pay much attention until...

...until the blankets are rudely yanked off my head and the baritone thunders, "Hey, what's this? Aren't you teaching my children any music? Don't they know any Christmas carols?"

Uh, well...geesh...errrr....hmmmm....

I don't think we ever covered carols in our lame excuse for music. Up until this year, my children were taking a music class at co-op. I left that in the capable hands of the music director and never thought twice about it. We listen to some classical music during school time and we listen to tons of pre-school sing-a-longs because that keeps Starr happy in the vehicle thus everyone is happy. But carols?

Somehow, I always thought children picked up Christmas carols through osmosis in December. Isn't that the way it usually happens?

And now, as the feast of Epiphany winds down to a finish, I realize we never did play those mountains of tapes and CD's. Sinful, I know. Embarrassing, to say the least. Another year...No excuses will do.

What's in Your Art Cabinet?

Though my knowledge of art is limited as you can tell from this post and best revealed through children's illustrations, we do art on a daily physical basis a lot in our house...especially painting. You can guarantee that if the children are not doing schoolwork or play, they are drawing, coloring, painting, etc. They all have art notebooks as well as nature notebooks and are proudly possessive of them.

Within our art supply cabinet, there is fingerpaint and paint in the little plastic oval trays and pastel colors and crayons galore.

There are charcoal pencils and playdoh of every kind and color and more crayons galore.

There is plaster of Paris and modeling clay and sculpey clay and we have even attempted our hand at mud painting (though no where near the quality or effort of this artisit). This is more what our attempt resembles: Mud Painting

There is sidewalk chalk and bathtub paint. There is a chalk board and lots and lots of construction paper.

There are pie pans and palettes and popsickle sticks.

There are rubber stamps and lots and lots of stickers galore.

Lots of religious artwork is made.

There are sketch pads and drawing pads and lots and lots of Mommy's loose computer paper. There is an art studio on the computer that makes fantastic works of art and that is dearly loved.

There are clipboards and homemade picture frames and stencils and lots and lots of puzzles on famous works of art.

There are illustrated books on famous artists and postercards of famous art works and lots of Dover coloring books.

There are paint brushes in the art cabinet and paint brushes in the sink's utensil holder and paint brushes hidden in the cracks of the sofa and under the refrigerator.

And we have taken an art class or two and used Seton's art books till they are raggedy at the seams.

We have a flower press and a ceramic flower pot set that one self-paints and we make Christmas ornaments every year. Santa was very generous with lots of art sets galore this year.

It might seem that we live in a house fit for an artist but, truth is, the supplies are kept in an overflowing utility closest and an art closet down the hallway. I can say, honestly, that they are taken out daily and I don't mind playdoh in the carpet or paint on the tables...not much.

Least you think I'm an Art Goddess, I can also honestly say that I don't play a key part in this loose art study of ours. I supply the materials and they use it. I admire the creations and they make them. The palette is always filled and the audience is always present.

I sometimes paint with them and sometimes make playdoh creations with them but what my children really want is an admiring audience and a receptive lover of their art work. They love to surprise me. I'm always finding pictures on my computer desk and paintings drying on the kitchen counter. The kitchen table is an ever-working canvas of artistic work. The refrigerator looks like a mosaic of the very best art work.

I always admire the end product they meekly present to me but, it is the face behind the art work that is the most priceless piece of art to me.

Melissa Wiley has shared a wonderful art post at her blog.
Amy, shares this artist birthday link at her Call to Adventure weblog .

I can guarantee one thing. If you offer it...they will come.
What's in your art cabinet?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Art Study

My approach towards art study is simply displaying art calendars throughout the house. These can be easily obtained at the dollar stores for only $1.00. There is a different calendar in each bathroom, one hanging from the pantry door (so the children can inspect it while standing there for hours trying to decide what to eat), one in the kitchen, and each bedroom houses a calendar.

One just has to be aware of what different children are sensitive to...such as a portrait of the Mona Lisa hanging in the bathroom while one takes a bath.

The Real Learning board is also offering a monthly art study this year so you might want to keep abreast of that offering.

Yeah, that would do it...

My brother-in-law sent this:

Snowflakes for Breakfast

This morning we had what my 4 yr old calls Snowflakes cereal for breakfast.

It makes Kellogg's Frosted Flakes taste that much better.

And, for your morning reading pleasure, I thought you all might like to look at these old cereal boxes from the past. Just find your favorite top-o-the-morning cereal and click on the link for a bit of nostalgia. Go to Frosted Flakes to see how far Tony the Tiger has beefed up his image. LOL

Old Cereal Boxes

Friday, January 06, 2006

Get Ready!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Fairytale Princess

I call her Christmas Starr because she's my Christmas Angel, my sweet Noel, my joyful Carol, my beautiful Holly, my Half-Pint-of-Sweet-Eggnog-Half-Drunk-Up, my Christmas Baby...

...but Shirley Temple or Curli-locks would have suited her too.

Seton's 5th Grade Reader

Seton's 5th Grade Reader

If you've ever looked at this book and wondered whether you should purchase it from Seton, I'd like to give you the go-ahead to do so. Before my purchase of it, a friend gave me a rave review and her child confirmed it. I see it listed as a Seton "best-seller" and I can see why.

"Story of Jewish boy and Egyptian boy at the time of the Exodus. Sensitive, unique story. Best Seller. Questions are objective or interpretive, and encourage application to daily Catholic life."

We've used it with two of our children (so far) and it has successfully taught them about the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt. It has tested their reading comprehension and, though in workbook format, has held their attention. They have walked away from the story with more knowledge of Egyptian life and hardships than they had before. They also have greater understanding of the faith which led these two families to follow Moses to the "land of milk and honey". I highly recommend it and suggest that this book can be used for (high level) 3rd grade readers to (low level) 7 th grade readers, depending on the child's degree of comprehension.

Follow Joe and Pepi on their journey, their faith, and their friendship. It's a book that will show your child how to speak in faith about his faith to his friends.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers

Christmas Starr (my 4 yr old) spent all morning at this site:

Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

Photo is courtesy of: Post-Gazette illustration by Daniel Marsula

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Can We Eat Now?

Call us Cajuns. Afterall, Cajuns party anytime of year. : )

The official Twelfth Night celebrations are not yet upon us but my family has already eaten two King Cakes.

One at the New Year's Eve party that took place at the nursing home where my father-in-law resides.

One on New Year's Day at the home of Drama Queen's godparents.

And tonight my dear husband brought home a small one for us to enjoy.

King Cakes will be enjoyed from now until Ash Wednesday. If you don't have any in your area, there are bakeries that will mail you one. If you want to try your luck with making one, this link tells the history of the King Cake and gives a nice, easy recipe that is do-able with small children and should be pretty tasty: Easy King Cake Recipe

This site claims to have the Official King Cake Recipe but I'm not so sure since everybody and their brother makes this claim around here.

~ Bon Appetite! ~

Let's Read

We read Saving the Liberty Bell by Megan McDonald today.
It is illustrated by Marsha Gray Carrington. We had barely begun reading when my 8 yr old paused me to say, "I really love the pictures, Momma." Ditto, I told her!

The pictures are great and the story is taken from true accounts of the story history has settled upon. Make sure you read the Historical Note at the back of the book. I read it to my 12, 8, and 4 yr old and it was interesting enough to hold all their attention.

The oldest son's name in the book is John Jacob so my girl's have been going around the house singing (and now have stuck in my head) the child-rhyme John Jacob Jingle-Himmer Smith.

I know it's definitely out of season (the Liberty Bell was officially rung on July 8, 1776 with the reading of the Declaration of Independence), but it's a brand new book (published in 2005) and I happened across it at the library and couldn't resist it because Drama Queen is very familiar with this American emblem and has a strange fascination with it.

List it in your planner for July 2006! or, if you keep a notebook nearby, head a page for 4th of July, and make sure you list this one on it. Request it at your library.

Another book I have been reading on a daily basis to my girls is:
Carla's Sandwich

It's a quirky, wacky book that teaches it's okay to be different and original. My girls love to inspect each page and figure out which child is who and what's in the various sandwiches. They really get a kick out of all the wacky, unique sandwiches found in this book.

An addendum: I agree with the publisher's review that it might " parents with that ever-present dilemma..." of getting our children to eat their lunch.

Heartbreaking News

Click here: Mining Disaster to read article by Jennifer Yates

I have not watched the news this week.
My mother visited this morning and gave us the heartbreaking update.

The photo consists of captions that went out into the media earlier after miscommunication.

Please let us pray for all those involved...especially the one survivor. I cannot image the difficulty he will endure cooping with this tragedy.

2006 Book Fiesta

Book Fiesta has announced the new study for the month of January 2006. We'll be exploring the work of illustrator Renee Graef and discussing her work at Literature Alive!

Renee Graef is the illustrator of the My First Little House Books as well as some of the Little House prequel books by Melissa Wiley and the American Girl Kirsten books.

Please feel free to join us for the new 2006 author/illustrator/theme study.

Windows to the Next World

Nice piece by Mary Biever:
Windows to the Next World

In it, she describes the kitchen scene I hope to replicate this year.

Biever writes: "The kitchen was the busiest room of her farmhouse, and she hummed from canning to cooking...Her home was a place where families were happy, the table was full of good food, and dinner conversation was fun. After we ate and cleaned the kitchen, weather permitting, we went to her living room — swings and gliders in the yard where we could see the flowers, feel the breezes, hear the chickens, and sometimes watch the trains. Here was a refuge where weary souls could rest."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

English today

I have the girls doing this for English today:

Create your own story

Drama Queen proclaimed she was doing every storyline offered.
She did too.

Starr is sitting next to her while DQ explains to her that they need a "noun" and asks Starr to give her the name of her favorite animal. She asks Starr for an "adjective" to desribe that animal. The parts of a sentence are discussed and carefully thought over. In their minds, the girls have an image of how they suspect the story will turn out.

Then the story is created and the final result is read. I hear squeals of giggling as DQ reads it aloud to Starr. That makes learning parts of the sentence fun.

Science link

My friend Tracy alerted me to this site for online dissections.
We're all set for science now.
Thanks, Tracy.

Still Not Ready...

We are not ready for school today.

Well, I'm not anyway. I simply don't feel like I can start school with the Christmas decorations still up. And I'm not being sentimental. This house simply needs an overhaul and good clean-up job before I can feel motivated to do table-time school with them because, ya know, I'm one of those who believes that children are learning something new everyday anyway, because I know I do, so I really don't sweat the issue.

I still want to make sure I'm providing the learning tools and environment for them. So I pulled out some living math books last night and the plans are to:

1) get back on reading fairy tales again so I'll have something to discuss at the new fairy tale blog
2) do a daily game from Catholic Math Activities
3) read plenty of books
4) get out the Montessori trays
5) have them write and illustrate a story this week
6) let them play outside all afternoon since the weather is suppose to be gorgeous this week

Gameboy (he's somewhere between 6th & 7th grade) told me last night he did plan to do his table-time work this morning so he could go golfing with friends this afternoon.

Somehow...along the way...I think I have taught him diligence.

What Would You Do?

Okay, ladies, so what should I do about the book banning, other than using the library, of course, which we do...often.

I really know how you feel and I've always been one for buying books and supporting writers who earn their living this way.

So far, my writing has covered my book buying habits nicely. But, you see, my dear husband just bought a new truck yesterday and we haven't had a vehicle note in ever so long. It's down-right scary.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year's Resolutions


Child wise:
Focus on one interest each child is especially fond of and become their #1 advocate and cheerleader in seeing the interest flourish this year.

Spouse wise:
To make my husband feel as though he's the greatest thing God ever created.

Health wise:
To make sure I drink a glass of water morning and night (at least)
Get back on a daily vitamin
Take calcium supplement
Do some "freestyle dance" for exercise daily with the children
Walk at the gym at least once a week

Money wise:
Eat out less
Stay home more
Cut down on book buying habit

Personal Reading:
Books by Elizabeth Berg
Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert

Work Opportunities:
Finish The Lacemaker's Shop
Finish Catholic Mosaic
Finish Christmas Confetti Catalog

School wise:
Do a math activity/game with the children daily
Watch at least one science video from the library weekly and discuss it
Order and do some science experiments weekly, such as these demos at Froguts

(The science notations were added because we have not been consistent with our science study this school year. I need to get it in my head to do more science.)

If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged! What are your New Year Resolutions for 2006? Even if you don't feel like thinking or writing it down, it's a good way to focus and discern your personal expectations whether you follow through during the year or not.


While trying to get the house in order to the point of affording me some personal "downtime" on the computer, I heard myself hiss, "You guys leave such a mess!"

I immediately regretted it.

I am the one who has long encouraged free-style, creative learning. Somehow this has evolved into firecrackers being snipped into pieces leaving a black trail of gunpowder across the kitchen countertop, a craft basket left trailing down the hallway, a camping area and tent made in the middle of the kitchen with a high chair and blanket, a half-finished picnic left in the middle of a bedroom, a whole zoo of plastic animals hiding in the living room, and stains of peanut butter and bread crumbs strewn on the kitchen table.

Would someone remind me again what my children are suppose to be learning from this unorganized world of illusions while I pretend to be General Lee and get the troops to rally the mess away?

Is it possible...

...that anyone gets published after doing this?

Have you done this?
Is it done by professional writers or only writer-wanna-bes?
Is it done by people who are bored with their career or undisciplined unless held accountable?
Is it done by people who know they can do it or people who hope they can do it?
Is it done by logical people or people who only dream?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)
Niltoy (Novel in Less Than One Year)
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