Monday, April 30, 2012

Playing In The Pain

Dear Arielle,

Sunday when you said, "Love hurts like nothing else." ~ you were voicing a truth older than time. Loving others, as you instantly loved those precious baby guineas, means freely sending our heart outside of us. And anytime our heart is living outside there is a risk of pain.

Jagged rocks. Slippery surfaces. That's what pain is made of. I'm heartbroken those beautiful guinea babies didn't make it and I'm hurting with you. My lap, my arms, my hands were made for holding you at times like these because my words only fail. And I want you to know that they will always be open and available for you.

Pain can sometimes prevent us from loving fully. Fear may urge our heart to stay inside rather than play in the pain. My beloved daughter, play in it anyway.

xoxo Mommy 

He has helped me understand pain.
You can find Martina's CD here. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Week Of Wonder: The Links

Ikea fun.

Reading this, because of watching this.

I have a personal shopper now ~ love this website.

Book Spine Poems. Brilliant.

New favorite, neighborly cookbook.

Google Map Pins become art.

Furniture for breakfast. Weekends will never be the same.

Grazie, Pandora, for introducing me to him. sigh.

Enter to win signed copies of books from one of my swoony literary crushes here.

Check out a stack of beautifully balanced collections from your library and snuggle with your children this weekend.

xoxo Michele

Friday, April 27, 2012

Library Living At Home: Sports

The NFL Draft has been the buzz of our home. For days. Remember this?

If you have football (any sport) fanatics that qualify as dependents on your tax return, use that momentum and excitement to share great reads from the library.

1) Tony Dungy: Quiet Strength
2) Tim Tebow: Through My Eyes
3) Drew Brees: Coming Back Stronger

Library Living: It's always a great time to share wisdom and encouragement with your children, especially through subjects that they personally enjoy. 

Embarrassing Admission: I may or may not have learned a lot about football from My Football Book. I wish I could fit it in my pocket, it's super smoochie. Really. It must be a Mama thing.

We adore the entire series of Alphabet Books and all of Tim Green's sports reads have an inspiring message for kids.

The Carolina Panthers had a Draft Party, and you just know we had to attend. 

Have any tips on how you library with sports? Please share. 

For more ideas on Library Living At Home, click here

xoxo Michele  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If You Give A Child A Library...

You give them the world.

And if you give them the world, they'll always be curious about learning. 

I stole this idea from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. But she did ask all the questions. Before lunch. Which explains why we're always at the library.

What questions do you have? Let the library help answer them today.

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Astonishing Art

On a morning walk our oldest son saw this sculpture for the first time. He froze. Took a deep breath. Then silence. Reverence. His heart witnessed something astonishing.  

That night we read from this. I can't tell you which is more powerful, the images in front of or behind his eyes. But because of the art contemplated on our walk and the art found at the library, Nicholas grew. We both did. 

Libraries encourage growth.

xoxo Michele

More information on the astonishing artist here

Sunday, April 22, 2012

National Park Week

National Park Week is this week, April 21-29th, and you won't want to miss it. Rain changed our plans slightly (we originally planned to go here) but it couldn't dampen our Sunday. The children walked through history here

You can find your local National Parks here. The library shares beautiful  resources guaranteed to give your visit a deeper understanding of the rich history behind the park. Check out this and this and this. These books have also encouraged our family to seek time outdoors.

The National Parks Passport is inexpensive beauty. You can pick them up at the Visitor's Center or buy them online here. What child doesn't want to collect all the cancellation stamps?

Have your children each bring a friend. Then go visit history. And if it rains, you will have the park all to yourself. Which was kinda cool but was also kinda creepy in a Hunger Games sorta way. We are going here this Saturday. 

Which National Park will you discover this week? Let the library inspire you.

xoxo Michele

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Week Of Wonder: The Links

Our container garden is showing signs of life. Swoon.

I've been eating batches of this. I'll share as soon as I stop burning the nuts.

Richard Turere, you are the pride of Nairobi and an inspiration to our family. And that smile ~ bright as the sun. Youth rocks.

I borrow five of these at a time from the library. One of my fave authors is on this cover.

The upcoming Cake Walk fundraiser for our children's school necessitated this.

I love this blog.

Holocaust Remembrance Day was last week. Watching this, reading this.

Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops. Hilarious.

In honor of his birthday tomorrow, we have borrowed this and this, purchased these for the kids and are visiting this.

I'm scheming backyard beauty with these books.

My son wants the Jeff Gordon poster, which one do you want?

Visit your local library this weekend.

xoxo Michele

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lives Of Service

The quote came from this amazing true story, but of course it has me thinking about the library.

Libraries are shining stars of service, and we support them simply by borrowing their beauty. 

All that borrowing leads to sharing.

We all know a special person who lives a life of service. Why not surprise them today with something borrowed {from the library} something new and something delicious, too. 

1) Buy a cast iron skillet for a friend, and one for you. If you buy here, the prices are so low you'll splurge and buy two - or five - for yourself.
2) Borrow this beauty of a cookbook from the library.
3) Go straight to the dessert section. Giant Cookie-In-A-Pan had my name all over it... plus I happen to have all the ingredients and most importantly, the recipe is epic fail proof.
4) Bake in your own cast iron skillet and share a few slices with your selfless friend. 

I put a note of thanks along with the borrowed cookbook and freshly baked cookie slices in a new cast iron skillet for a dear friend that truly lives a life of service to others. We share the same library, so returning the cookbook isn't an issue for her. Economical, eco-friendly and ethereal - a great way to gift.  

Our libraries depend on our support. Please visit yours today, and leave a comment if they have inspired you to share with others in a creative way.

For more library cookbook inspiration click here.

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Madonna Made My Daughter A Reader

I can't believe I just said that. But it's true. 

We tried every series you can name and then about fifty more. Arielle would start a book with delight, but by page seven (if we were lucky) the book would disappear. Under her bed. At the bottom of the hamper. On top of her armoire, hidden under stuffed animals. She would feign illness during nightly reading alone time (Arielle adores picture books, non-fiction books, biographies and when I read to her. Anything but chapter books.) 

I had long conferences with her teachers, crying conventions with my husband, counseling sessions with our dear librarians. Really. I'm profoundly dramatic when necessary.

But then we found The English Roses series at our local library. Arielle didn't stop on page seven, or page twenty seven. In three days Arielle had read one book - the entire book - without prompting. She didn't care that she was reading the series out of order. I have enjoyed these books as well.

Arielle doesn't know who Madonna is. When I'm ready to reveal, the library has all of her music - which I'm now listening toGrazie, sweet librarians, for encouraging us to never give up. 

A sincere thank you, Madonna. Your books have turned our daughter into a chapter book reader. And through reading this world-rocking story about Dr. Paul Farmer, we found you in this movie (it's on Netflix, instant play). Bravo.

Has a celebrity surprised you with bookish beauty? Please share.

Hank made our son a reader.

xoxo Michele

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Library Living At Home: Camping

Can you library when you aren't at home? Absolutely. It's our favorite time to pick out beautifully balanced collections, like this:

I'm also swooning over this cookbook. Camping weather is here, and the library makes a fabulous guide. This beautifully balanced camping collection is dreamy too. What camping essentials are on your library list?

You can find more fun ways to library at home here.

xoxo Michele

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Survives

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. 
Enable them to see that it is in their interest to preserve peace and order,
and they will preserve them...they are the only sure reliance for the
preservation of our liberty.  ~ Thomas Jefferson

Two hundred and sixty nine years ago today, Thomas Jefferson was born. This photo of John Trumbull's original painting above includes some of my favorite people. 

Ben Franklin gifted us our public libraries. John Adams gifted us "a government  of laws, not men." And Jefferson wrote the words that gave us the Declaration  of Independence. 

I feel compelled to teach our children history, and the library perfectly partners with me in that endeavor.

Some Of Our Family Favorites:
Worst of Friends

Imagine these two - a revolutionary odd couple. Disagreements over politics kept them from speaking for years, but a dear mutual friend, Benjamin Rush, brought John and Tom back together. They devotedly corresponded by pen for fourteen years (and they were still fighting! Jefferson would write in Greek; John preferred Latin). 

Those Rebels, John & Tom

Did you know John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other on July 4th, 1826? 
The 50th Birthday Anniversary of our Nation. 
John Adams' last words were, "Thomas Jefferson Survives."

John, Paul, George & Ben

Need courage?

 Battlefields & Blessings, The Revolutionary War

This devotional is the reason I became obsessed with American History. 
One of my favorite books to give as a gift.

It lead us to this miniseries and author. 

John Adams 

Smoochie David McCullough, you make history more palatable than chocolate.  
Jefferson (in this movie) is more dreamy than you can imagine.

Learn more about David here.
McCullough's books should be mandatory in High School.

But then again, that is what the library is for. It's a revolutionary concept in liberty.

Thomas Jefferson survives. 

xoxo Michele

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Library Living At Home: Avoiding Library Fines

I love it when my readers ask questions - this is for you, Liz

I hit my library card limit of 99 items frequently, and rarely have late fee fines. How? The books are strategically placed where the children and I have easy access to them. Don't worry: my endless, pull-your-hair-out searching is dedicated to other notable tasks: finding children's shoes, socks, pencils with erasers, pencils with lead, tape, scissors, the cordless phones, the TV remote, can you relate? But library books are effortless to find in our home. Here is how our boys library in their room:

Easy, Cozy Access: A few shelves and lights from Ikea and we're in business. The children rarely move the books from this area because the books are located in the ultimate cozy, easy to reach spot. Library books have a better chance of getting lost (and unread) if I put them on our book shelves. 

An Eclectic Mix: We read a lot of picture books, which is why I hit my limit. The children can read upwards of 10 per night (x three kids = 30 books). I go to the library 3-5 times a week (a benefit of my job and living location) so I return and replace them frequently. Poetry, biographies, graphic novels, science and math - all in picture book beauty.

To witness this each night is joy. And knowing where the books are helps avoid fines and encourages stress-free sleeping for me.

How do you keep track of your library items? If you have tips and tricks, please share.

You can find more ways to Library At Home here.

xoxo Michele

The Library Shares Happiness

Happiness is an open library.

Pin it. Share it. The library should be shared with everyone you love.

xoxo Michele

Monday, April 9, 2012

The World Within

I'm homesick, which is a normal reaction to spending the Easter holiday without extended family. My kin is in the Northwest, my husband's is in the Northeast. But they are also right here with me in North Carolina. I carry a world within, where the past lives on and dances around the present. And when I find an author that speaks to this world within - well, let's just say the laundry starts to pile up and dinner is of the microwave variety. Frederick Buechner is new to me, but we're becoming fast friends. This is what I'm reading right now.

Yet another reason to love the library: the stacks are filled with new and old friends for your world within.

xoxo Michele

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Christian Seder

 Jesus - The Lamb of Jehovah's Passover. ~ Charles Spurgeon

Our new-ish family tradition of a Christian Seder is in remembrance of Christ as our Passover Lamb and we do this in conjunction with Christ's Last Supper. We started this celebration five years ago after reading the following (very, very abridged) sermon by my swoonie preacher crush, Charles H. Spurgeon

The children look forward to this evening as if we're celebrating Christmas, which in a way we are. Amazing how all of our life celebrations lead back to Jesus. The photos are old, but I hope you enjoy this peek into our Christian Seder.

"Christians have had the same deliverance from spiritual Egypt... Come, let us keep the Passover this night, and think of the night when the Lord delivered us ... Let us behold our Saviour Jesus as the Paschal Lamb... 

... Some of you, my friends, who are true Christians, live too much on your changing frames and feelings, on your experiences and evidences... When a man lives on his frames and feelings, that is as much as if the child of God should live on some tokens that he received in the sanctuary that never were meant for food, but only to comfort him a little...

...What the Christian lives on is not Christ's righteousness, but Christ... It is not pardon that so much makes the Christian's heart rejoice, it is Christ the pardoner... 
Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon

You can find the beauty of smoochie Charles Haddon Spurgeon at your local library.

Poetry Selection for April 6th:
You can find the timeless beauty of William Blake living in your library.

Happy Easter Weekend. 

xoxo Michele

Making Clay {and Mimsy}

There are few things in life I enjoy more than how we spent Wednesday afternoon; in the kitchen making clay, singing poetry (yes - real and loud and silly), creating cherished memories with children. I'm blessed to be doing what I love. We are fashioning clay necklaces and bookmarks for Easter - and learning poetry at the same time.

2  1/2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
Mix and play. You can use food coloring, but we like to wait until they dry and then paint. More mess = more wine for me later.

Poetry Out Loud:
Some poetry just pleads to be spoken or sung - think theatrically and you've just witnessed our family life in a nutshell. Here are a few of our favorites from the library:

Don't let the Jabberwocky book above scare you - my boys love it. My oldest son memorized Lewis Carroll's classic nonsensical poem in kindergarten and taught it to our entire family. It is out loud poetry perfection

If you think the illustrations above might frighten your youngest children, try this:
Poetry Selection for April 5th:

What are some of your favorite family poems - please share.

xoxo Michele

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Library Book Club Kits

Have you thought about starting a neighborhood book club? Or if you're currently in a book club but would love great literary suggestions and a kit put together for your group every month ~ the library wants to help. They provide free (all you need is your library card) kits that include 10 books, discussion questions, as well as thorough background information on the author and subject matter ~ deeper insight provided by librarians and warmly shared with us. 

Our library is sweet enough to also include a Book Club Directory of local book clubs and helpful book club resources such as book reviews, author information and online book review websites. 

When you're thinking about your Top 10 heroes, is Dr. Paul Farmer on your list? He should be. Mountains Beyond Mountains is our pick for April ~ would love for you to join us. For more on Dr. Paul Farmer, watch this movie.

Happy Birthday, Maya Angelou.
Poetry Selection for April 4th: 
Photo taken from the children's book Maya Angelou. Available at your local library.

xoxo Michele