Around Zojo-ji and the Tokyo Tower

Yesterday we took my parents to the Tokyo Tower and to Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple complex nearby. I love this area.

This is the Unborn Children Garden, where parents can make offerings to Jizo, the guardian of unborn children (miscarried, stillborn, or aborted) to ensure their passage to the afterlife. It’s such a beautiful, melancholy place.
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The gate into the Tombs of the Tokugawa shoguns. You can’t get in this way, and there must be another way in, but we couldn’t find it. IMG_4425

The Tokyo Tower.IMG_4426

Not the Tokyo Tower.IMG_4427 IMG_4428

This is in the temple at Zoji-ji. The first time we went in, these little things weren’t on the floor. When we went back 15 minutes later they were. It was like an invasion.IMG_4432 IMG_4433 IMG_4437 IMG_4441 IMG_4445 IMG_4459 IMG_4470 IMG_4480 IMG_4482

Bones and things

The other day we went to the Special Exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Ueno. Here’s what we saw.

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And then Tiny tried to steal a Monet. She’s definitely my daughter, that one.IMG_4413

Books I’ve read this week: end of July and August

I really didn’t read a lot this summer, my attention was elsewhere. Then I got behind on posting about books, and when that happens, my feet get really draggy. So here is a catch up post.

From Grouchy To Great: Finding Joy In The Journey Of Motherhood by Ruth Swenk is a daily devotional type book, with a short reading for each day that includes scriptural references. This is one of the first times that I’ve actually used such a book the way it was intended- reading it over the course of a month rather than all at once. The segments come from different writers (they’re from blog posts originally, I think), so the quality varies. But most of the time it was a useful read.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Restby Bonnie Gray: I enjoy reading spiritual books written by people of slightly differing faiths than mine, because they tend to use vocabulary that I don’t use, which makes me look at things differently. This was definitely the case with this book, though I remain unclear as to whether the idea of spiritual white space is an concept that anyone other than Bonnie Gray talks about or if she came up with it herself. The book is very interesting- she set out to write a book about rest in God and found herself battling debilitating panic attacks for the first time in her life. As she worked with a therapist to get to the root of the attacks, she dealt with issues from her childhood and was able to find peace and rest as she allowed God to help her process them. The idea of white space is the idea of borders- that when we are stretched to our limit and feel alone, God will meet us in that border space. I’m not explaining it well, but it was a very good book.

 

Simply Homeschool:: Have Less Fluff and Bear More Fruitby Karen Debeus is an excellent, short read about focusing on what is truly important in homeschooling. It does have a religious base, but the concepts are sound even if you’re not religious. One of the big ideas that I took from this book that has changed our school experience is to have “Inspiration hour” first thing- where you take the arty subjects that are important to you but that tend to get pushed aside in favor of the “basics”, and do them very first thing in the day. Absolutely wonderful.

Murder and Mendelssohnby Kerry Greenwood is the 20th book in the Phryne Fisher series. Phryne is an outrageous, rule breaking, intelligent woman in 1920s Australia, and in this book she is called in to help solve the death of a much hated choral conductor. The mystery is fun (though in Greenwood fashion, there is no way to solve who did it until the end, because all the information isn’t there) and the progression of some of the secondary characters is great.

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (The Parasol Protectorate Book 6) by Gail Carriger is a very short story about Alexia Tarabotti’s (from The Parasol Protectorate books) father. It’s a quick, fun little romp and I highly enjoyed it.

In July and August combined, I read a total of just over 1000 pages, which is slightly appalling. I did start a bunch of books that I didn’t finish, so there were uncounted pages in there, but still.

The girls and I read a few books aloud over those months as well.


Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) by Alan Snow is the book that the new movie The Boxtrolls is loosely based on. It is a crazy, delightful adventure with pirates, trolls that wear boxes, people that wear cabbages on their heads, rabbit women, and villains that nefariously hunt cheeses. It is absurd and wonderful.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boyby Karen Foxlee is not a book that I necessarily would have read to the girls yet if I had read it ahead of time- I think I would have figured they weren’t ready for it yet. But even though some parts were scary, it was such the perfect book for right now. Ophelia is a little girl with a lot of worries and fears. Her mother died three months before, and no one is talking about it. She deals with her fears by approaching everything very logically and scientifically, and when she stumbles across a secret door in a museum, behind which a magical boy is trapped, she knows that none of it can be real. She finds herself helping him anyway, and soon is at the middle of a fight to save the world.

This book is beyond wonderful. The writing is lovely, the characters are flawed and real. Ophelia is constantly scared, but continues to summon up the courage she needs to face the next obstacle. She is an incredible role model, especially for the anxiety ridden among us. The book deals with grief in a lovely, age appropriate way, and I was very moved by it.

She had expected magic to be very clean and powerful, but instead it was messy and uncomfortable and full of decisions.

She had expected magic to be simple and tidy, with people disappearing in puffs of smoke- not slowly, by degrees, in a lonely, aching way.

My book total at the end of August is 65. This month’s reading is already looking much more promising.

What are you reading?

Our days

We’ve been back in school (Flying Butler Academy) for two weeks now, and have settled into a routine. Every year I create a basic schedule for the day, and this year I decided to try something different- splitting the school day up into sections. Other than the fact that we don’t start anywhere near the time I have on the schedule (I based it on the girls getting up at 7, and they’ve been getting up closer to 7:30), we’ve been staying close to it, and it’s been working well.

I get up around 6:45 and take a shower and get dressed. Things really go so much better if I’m up before the girls are. Some days, remembering that is the only thing that keeps me from going back to sleep. I check my email and Facebook and look over my to do lists, and basically get my brain in properly.

The girls get up between 7-7:30 and have breakfast and get dressed. I put in a load of laundry now.

First we have our “Inspiration Hour”, which does not take an hour. We say our pledge (“Butler, butler, flying butler!),  read scriptures, and do one of the following- artist study (this month is Van Gogh), composer study (we’re learning about the orchestra), or Shakespeare (intro to his life and times). This takes anywhere between 15 minutes and 1/2 hr., and then we take a break. When the girls finish a school segment, they get to put stickers on a sheet they have to track their assignments for the week. At the end of the week, if they have all of their stickers, they get to put a big sticker on the page. Last week, when they got their big sticker, they decided that they needed to give speeches.IMG_4033

Tiny pretended to cry as she thanked all the little people. It was hilarious.IMG_4040

During the break, the girls play a little, and I hang out the laundry to dry and start cleaning. For 1/2 hr we tackle a room of the house. The girls have jobs to do in the room (for which they can earn money), and I clean the rest.

Then we get back to lessons and do spelling, social studies/geography, and math. This takes about an hour, then we take another break for about 15 minutes.

When we come back from the break, we do Language Lab, which consists of grammar, writing, and handwriting. It takes about 20 minutes. By this time it’s around 11, and the girls are free until after lunch. We eat around 12.

After lunch, we do Special Subjects, which is Life Skills on two days of the week, and science on two. (On Mondays we don’t have Special Subjects because the girls have Japanese class in the evening.) This takes about 15 minutes.

At this point, we’re done with school. We have the rest of the day for the girls to play and for me to get things done. On days that we are going to go out and go somewhere, we can fit in a grocery trip before lunch, or we can take out some of the breaks in the early parts of the day and move Language Lab and Special Subjects to later in the afternoon. Then we can go out around 10 and have until around 2 to be out and about.

We go a big grocery shop once a week, and stop by the bakery to get bread 3 or 4 times a week. My parents are here with us for a couple months, so once or twice a week we go out to see sights around Tokyo.

On Fridays after school is over, I prep for the next week- replacing the girls’ finished assignment sticker sheets with new ones, cutting out anything that needs to be cut out for art or music or geography, and making sure I have any supplies that we’ll need for science. I also make notes about what we did that week for my school records.

I start making dinner for the girls around 4:45 and they eat at 5. (My parents and I eat with B when he gets home around 6:45.)  They take a shower after dinner and then are free again until 6:30 when it’s reading time. They read to themselves for 1/2 an hour, and then I read to them from 7-7:30 when it’s bed time.

I’m liking this schedule because school isn’t rushed, and we still have time to fit in everything. Last year I always felt like I was rushing to get through school or leaving the room to move laundry or something (and then the girls would start daydreaming and I’d get frustrated), and none of us had very much fun. But with the breaks scheduled in, I know I’ll have time to get the laundry moved and still give my full attention to spelling, or whatever subject we’re doing. There is still complaining, (Tiny this morning: “I don’t want to do math! It’s easy and I can do it fast but I JUST DON’T WANT TO!”) but there’s less of it and we’re all enjoying ourselves more.

Random tip for the day- if your kids need to learn the countries/continents/oceans of the world and are aural learners, I highly recommend Geography Songsby Kathy Troxel. They are RIDICULOUSLY catchy, but not obnoxious, and within 3 listens your kids will be singing, “The continent of Asia has Hong Kong in China, Taiwan, Macao and Japan, and Mongolia. North Korea and South Korea are in this beautiful laaaaand.” over and over and over and over and over again.

Apparently she also has a states and capitals album and one about grammar, along with albums for addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts. But not division. No songs about division for you. The math songs don’t sound as strong as the others, but I’m going to try the multiplication songs and I’ll report back.

Time for lunch!

 

Kuhon-butsu temple

Yesterday we explored an area we hadn’t been to yet in Jiyugaoka in search of a temple that my friend posted about on Facebook. (I love FB for that reason.) We found it, and it was incredible. It’s on the site of the old Okusawa Castle (which is now gone) and has trees that are over 700 years old. The grounds are home to a number of halls which hold different statues.

I’m not sure who this fellow is, but he is magnificent. (We’re pretty sure that he’s King of Hell,  Yama- god of death.)
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3 of the  25 attendant bodisattvas. (Those right on the edge of enlightenment who choose to stay on the Earth to help others.)IMG_4294 IMG_4300 IMG_4301

A crow, getting ready to cleanse itself.IMG_4306

Footprints of Buddha. IMG_4309 IMG_4311

Inside one of the halls. IMG_4314

A little caterpillar friend interlude. These little guys were EVERYWHERE. And there were tons of butterflies- we saw at least 6 different kinds; a few I hadn’t ever seen before.IMG_4316

The Hall of the Three Buddhas. There are actually three of these halls, each with three Buddhas. The Buddhas in each hall are the same, but each hall’s Buddhas are different- their hands are in different positions (mudras) and their expressions are different. This was the only hall of the three that was open, but we could see through the windows of the other two. In the third hall, one of the Buddhas wasn’t there- which I think is a gorgeous start to a mystery/adventure novel.IMG_4321 IMG_4327

There is also an extensive cemetery on the grounds. Thank goodness the girls love cemeteries, because we got a good long chance to look around. IMG_4330 IMG_4332 IMG_4334 IMG_4339

I love this little guy so much. It was smaller than my hand.IMG_4342 IMG_4344

Hiding in the gravestones.
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I love that these are things that will fuel the girls’ imaginations and memories.

I wrote a book!

Did you hear that I wrote a novel and it’s available on Amazon? It’s true! Look!

Mystery’s End: A Betsy Malone Mystery (Betsy Malone Mysteries Book 1)

That’s my book! (Clicking on the picture or the link will take you to the Amazon page.) This has been a long, long time in coming, and I’m excited that Betsy is finally out there in the world.

Would you like to know more about Betsy? She’s pretty awesome.

Betsy, whose full name is Elizabeth (she’s named after my sister), is everything a flapper is not.  She has long brown hair, wears sensible dresses, and doesn’t run around to speakeasys. She works as a photographer for a private investigator to support herself after the death of her father. I wanted to write a detective character who wasn’t an “ideal”, who second guesses herself and isn’t overflowing with confidence, even though she’s an incredibly good person. Creating the character of Betsy, I drew from 3 women I know who wouldn’t call themselves special, but who could move mountains if they put their mind to it. (Perhaps I will reveal their identities in another post!)

Angela Bentley, Betsy’s best friend, on the other hand, is what you picture when you hear the word “flapper”. Blond, bobbed, and bubbly, Angela is fiercely loyal to her husband Dexter and to Betsy. Quick with a laugh, Angela is always up for a good time. Writing Angela was pure joy. From her first moment on the page, when she answers Betsy’s after midnight call with a joyous, “Hello darling!”, which she quickly follows up with a, “Oh darling, how ghastly! I’m so glad it was you. Could you imagine? I picked up the phone and the words just came out!”, she existed fully formed and loud as can be. Writing some of the other characters was a bit of a struggle, but Angela was always as clear as can be.

Betsy’s first adventure, Mystery’s End, finds her invited a house party at the mansion Angela has just inherited. The house is a bit insane, as Angela’s old aunt had it built to very specific, very strange specifications. And when Angela introduces the party games of using a Ouija board and table tipping to contact “the spirits”, things get a little spooky. But when someone ends up dead, Betsy has to figure out if it was a vengeful ghost, a heart attack, or murder.

The book is set in the 1920s, because I find that time period fascinating. The spiritualism movement, in particular, is so compelling. As people dealt with the aftermath of WW1, many people flocked to the idea that contacting the dead was possible, and many mediums and spiritualists “helped” them to do so. Some of them believed that they could truly communicate with spirits, while others flat out knew that they were taking people for a ride, and depended on intricate performances and tricks to convince them to part with their money.

If you decide to pick the book up, please let me know! And if you love it, please leave a review on the Amazon page. And regardless, please point people you think would enjoy it to the page. The more people who hear about it, the better!

There is also a Goodreads page for the book. If you participate on Goodreads,  please rate it, or mark it “to read”, or anything else, so long as it’s good. :)

Now I’m off to work on the next book!

Random thoughts

I saw an ad for Lysol that included the “word” healthing. As in, “A healthing tip”. Healthing is not a word. It’s so not a word that the ad actually made me angry. I think perhaps I need more sleep.

Another not verb that bugs me is disciple. I’ve been reading a couple of books written by Christians lately and they all used the word disciple as a verb- as in “to disciple a child” – meaning, to teach them to be a disciple of Christ. But it’s not really a verb, and it just doesn’t work for me. It either brings up images of disciplining or of making the child a disciple of you, neither of which are the definition they’re going for.

MAC Cosmetics is launching a new line based on romance novels and the whole thing makes me laugh deligtedly. They’re totally playing on the campiness of old school romance novel covers and I love it. (Click on the word “new” up there to get through the link. My computer is being titchy so I couldn’t make it a more obvious link.)  I NEED the Before Dawn green nail polish. NEED, I say. It’s possible that I’m addicted to khaki green nail polish.  What can I say, Sally Bowles was an early influence on me.


On a related note, that wide eyed blank look that she gives him as he’s speaking German? I know that look very well. I do it all the time. :)

This next section will probably only be interesting to my friends who watch So You Think You Can Dance, so feel free to skip if you want.

My thoughts on last week’s episode:

I’ve only watched the dances so far- not any of the lead in clips or judging, so I really have no idea as I ask this- was Twitch supposed to be an old man hitting on a young woman in he and Jessica’s routine? Because that’s what it looked like (either the light was hitting his hair weird or it was sprayed to be a lighter color) and the whole thing came off a little creepy.

Ade is a gorgeous dancer. As is Jasmine. I couldn’t watch Emilio at all because I was too busy watching her. She’s just hypnotic. And Kathryn as well.

The lighting was so screwy for some of the routines. I felt like I could hardly see Jacque and Chehon’s routine, or Zach and Amy’s. (Though their routine was incredible. Amy is incredible.)

The entire time that Ricky and Lauren were dancing, I thought Lauren was Chelsea Hightower.

Tanisha has my heart. Anyone who can pull off an excellent Argentine Tango is good in my books.

Rudy needs to stop his face. Too much mugging.

Another girl danced, and for the life of me I can’t remember who it is or what dance it was. Carly, maybe? Oh, wait, Bollywood. That’s right. I will just note that I was glad to see Brandon back, and mention that his biting her dress was really a strange moment.

What does it say that most of what I cared about this week was the All Stars? It says that I really don’t care about anyone this season except for Ricky and Tenisha. And Valerie. She’s darling. But everyone else is there to serve as partners for the All Stars I really want to watch.

Ok, SYTYCD commentary over.

Sometimes I worry (not really, but kind of) about the things I’m drawn to. I was reading a summary of a book and was immediately in when I read the following: “the characters are delightfully profane and dripping with irony, they are arrogant and shallow”. This seems like something I should not think, “Yes! Those are characters I want to read about!” And yet they are.  (The book is The Magician King by Lev Grossman if you’re wondering. I also bought it because it was $2.99 and the book that comes before it was only $2.99. I am a sucker for cheap books. Keeping a resolution not to buy books, you say? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

Have you seen the trailer for the movie The Boxtrolls? It looks utterly adorable. You should know that it’s based on a book called Here Be Monsters!, which is fantastic. I’m reading it aloud to the girls at bedtime and they are loving it. It has a decided lack of female characters, but the story is a lot of fun. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it. (The book is quite different than what it looks like the movie will be.)

I am in love with the song Chandelier by Sia. It’s so evocative. When I listen to it, there is an almost fully formed character that comes into my mind; I need to write her into something. I just have to decide if she’s the murderer or the murdered.

The girls are watching The Muppet Show with Alice Cooper. I remember watching this episode when I was little. I had to take a nap to be able to stay up to watch The Muppets when I was little. I pushed that line one day and didn’t take my nap, and sure enough, I didn’t get to stay up. I was a sad panda that day.

We were listening to Yellow Submarine on the kids’ channel today, and it struck me that it was originally a song for adults. And was a popular song for adults. Isn’t that strange to think about?

That’s all I’ve got for today. Leave a random thought in the comments if you so wish.

Books I read this week: July weeks 3-4 and other rambling

This month has been pretty abysmal for finishing books. I only finished 2 all month. That’s ridiculous.

 

I already posted about In Our Time by Hemingway. The other book I finished was A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe. To say that it wasn’t what I was expecting would be a major understatement. What I knew going in was that it was about a man whose son is born with a deformity, and the book is about how he deals with that. I expected an inspirational, uplifting story of love in the midst of hardship. Anyone who has read this book will be laughing hysterically at this point in time, because the book is about the polar opposite of that. When the son is born, he has what is diagnosed as a brain hernia, and he is immediately taken and put in a NICU before the mother even has a chance to see him. The mother is led to believe (by her mother) that the baby has a heart problem so that when he inevitably dies, she will never know about the deformity.  The father knows about the brain hernia, and finds himself repulsed physically and overwhelmed emotionally by the upheaval in his life. He’s terrified that the baby will die, and perhaps more terrified that he might live. It’s an extremely raw and realistic look at the emotions that could arise in such a situation, and as such it is really uncomfortable to read at times. The main character is highly unlikable for a lot of the book, while at the same time being disturbingly understandable. It’s not one that I’d recommend necessarily, and not one that I will reread, but it was well done.

I started reading If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino about half a month ago and it killed my reading mojo. It’s a fascinating idea – a book that keeps restarting and reinventing itself, but none of the books within the book were books that I was in the mood to read.

I’m currently reading two books, From Grouchy To Great: Finding Joy In The Journey Of Motherhood by Ruth Swenk, and Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. They’re both by Christian authors and have to do with the idea of “finding rest” in God. I will write more about them when I finish them, but I’m enjoying them.

Other things that have been on my mind lately:

So You Think You Can Dance has been really off this season. The kids they cast are mostly annoying, and I’ve really only been sad to see two of them go. (Stanley, because he was a gorgeous dancer, and Serge because I think he was growing by leaps and bounds.)  The choreographers for the group numbers have apparently just learned about competitive cheerleading with the abundance of throws and lifts that they’re incorporating into the routines- it’s the new cool thing to do. In general, none of the routines has really hit the sweet spot until this one on Weds.

Per.fection. I love Ricky so much I can’t stand it. I’m a sucker for long legs and amazing extension.

We only have a few more weeks here in CA and we’re hitting the point where we have to make sure we see everyone we want to see. It’s tricky, because I want to spend all my time with everyone. I have such amazing friends, I want to hang out with all of them constantly. And I want to be with my sister and her family and my brother and his family and my parents the whole time too.

At the same time, I will be glad to be back in Tokyo too. I miss it, though I don’t miss the heat and mosquitoes. And of course, I miss B most of all. We skype with him every day, but it’s not the same as being together.

I’ve been trying to figure out what we need to get to bring back with us. The girls have a bunch of new clothes because Z grew an inch since we’ve gotten here and all of the dresses that she picked out right before we left are now all too small, as are her jeans. And Tiny has new clothes because there are cute clothes here and I’m a sucker. We also have all of Tiny’s birthday presents that have to come back with us, as well as all of the new shoes that have accrued because summertime is apparently the time when feet grow. I’m bringing back hiking stuff because we’re hiking Mt. Fuji when we get back (I KNOW!) and we have some school stuff that is coming too. I think all that’s really left to get is the medicines to restock our medicine cabinet. There are medicines like Tylenol that are cheaper and easier to get here, so we load up and bring a load back with us. So that has to happen.

Right before we left for vacation I got asked to be the Primary President at church- which means that I’m in charge of the organization for 18 month -12 year old kids. Every Sunday the kids have a Sunday school type class split by age group for an hour and then a combined class with singing and an interactive lesson for an hour. It’s my job (along with my counselors) to make sure that all of that goes smoothly, as well as some other things. So when I get back I have a whole bunch of stuff to work on and figure out. (My counselors are taking care of things while I’m gone, which is amazing.)

That’s it for now. If you have any book recommendations to get me out of my reading funk, let me know!

 

Books I read this week: July week 1

I’ve been watching Sherlock with my parents in the evenings this last week, so I haven’t been getting in as much reading time as usual. But I did finish In Our Timeby Ernest Hemingway.

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I’ve written at length about Hemingway before on this blog- about how originally I didn’t want to read him because he wrote about things I didn’t care about (hunting, bull fighting, war). Reading through this collection of stories, I thought about that again- about how I am so NOT a girl that Hemingway would admire, I’m not tough, I don’t like to fish or drink- but how much I appreciate his writing for making me care about things that I don’t care about. I deplore bull fighting, but Hemingway’s descriptions put me right in the center of it and make me invested. His descriptions of fishing don’t make me want to go out and fish, but with his precise sentences I find myself caring about whether Nick catches the trout.  This collection is short but has a lot in it, about war, about death, about love, about being alone, about bull fighting and horse racing; and the throughline of all of it is the need to grapple with life, to face it head on, whatever it brings.

There’s a line from The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry that I included in the last post- “Every word the right one and exactly where it should be. That’s basically the highest compliment I can give.” This is the highest compliment I can give as well- this is when a book sings to me, when every word is exactly, precisely right. Hemingway does it, Evelyn Waugh does it, Fitzgerald does it. There is no other way that their books could be, because every word is perfect. Hemingway does it in such a sparse way that it’s magical- the images that he can evoke with so little words are unbelievable.

They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning. In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.

That’s the only book I finished this week, though I started A Personal Matterby Kenzaburo Oe last night.

The girls and I have finished some fun books in our before bed reading lately, which I thought I’d share.

Pi in the Skyby Wendy Mass is absolutely wonderful. Mass is the author of The Candymakers, which we love so much, and Pi in the Sky is just as great. Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe. His whole family (as well as all of the inhabitants of The Realms) are in charge of ensuring the flow and existence of the universe and everything in it. Everyone has an important job except for Joss, who just has to deliver the pies that hold the gravity that help in the creation of new suns. It’s a job anyone could do. Or is it?

When someone on one of the planets accidentally sees into The Realms, drastic measures have to be taken, which result in Joss’ best friend disappearing from the fabric of time and an Earth girl named Annika appearing in The Realms. She and Joss are going to have to create a solar system to fix things, but neither of them knows how to do that…

In the middle of this book, Tiny sat up and bellowed gleefully, “This is SCIENCE!” and it is. There is so much information packed into this book, about how planets and suns are made, about solar systems and Carl Sagan and wormholes and all sorts of things. It’s done in such a way that either kids will get it or it will slip over their heads, but they won’t feel like they’re missing anything. It will challenge thinking and imagination, and hopefully get them looking upward into the night sky.

I wasn’t really sure when I should read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to the girls- I wasn’t sure how they would do with Edmund and events with Aslan- but one night I found myself opening it and starting. I hadn’t read it since I was little, and I was transported back to my childhood self as I read about Lucy visiting Mr. Tumnus the faun.  As I suspected, the girls were really not fans of Edmund (he is a little jerk for most of the book) but my reader momma heart was full when Zoe said, “I don’t like Edmund at all. But I have to trust him because I didn’t like Phillip [from The Candymakers] either, and he turned out to be a good guy.” Oh, books are a wonder, aren’t they?

For anyone who doesn’t know this book, it is the story of 4 siblings who find a magical world through the back of a wardrobe. A villain has control of the world, and they must work with the good creatures to over through her regime. It a wonderful, wonderful story.

We read strategically, so that we could get through the dramatic elements all in one go. I actually was quite surprised by the brevity of Aslan’s main section (trying not to spoil for anyone who hasn’t read it). It is lovely and wonderful however, and with some prompting, the girls made the allegorical connections.

The Secret Zooby Bryan Chick is the book we are currently reading. A little girl notices something escaping the zoo next to her home, and then goes missing. Her brother and his two friends investigate, discovering stranger and stranger things about the zoo. The girls are having a great time with this one, and get mad every night when we have to stop reading.

 

We are also doing imagination games each night before bed from Put Your Mother on the Ceiling. My mom did these games with us when I was growing up, and when I ran across the book at her house I thought it would be fun to do with the girls. It actually has worked out really well, because the girls love the games (imagine a penguin. Give him a blue hat. Change the hat to a green hat. Make the penguin the size of an elephant.) but they are also practicing skills that I can then have them use when they complain to me at bedtime that they can’t stop thinking about zombies or whatever scary thing it is that night. (I have no idea how they even know about zombies.) Anyway, it’s a fun book and easy to use.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. What are you reading?