Thursday, December 13, 2018

Life lately

Yowza! Elliot, Asher, and I made it to the end of our first semester at our homeschool group, and we are ready for a more relaxed school schedule before break. The last week was spent prepping Christmas gifts for the tutors at friends at Classical Conversations community, making goodies and homemade wooden swords to sell at the kids' Christmas bazaar, and finishing up papers and presentations. That last push is always hard because we want to be done and relaxing!
oral presentation-his favorite topics are animals, wars, and famous battles
Isaac and Audrey have their blue book exams next week, and then on Thursday we are done with school until the new year. Therefore, this week will be filled with lots of studying for Isaac and Audrey, a more relaxed school schedule for Elliot and Asher, baking, board games, and Christmas movies. I am ready! 

I am also on a huge house cleaning kick. I am so tired of my messy, disorganized self. I am easily distracted and will use any excuse to skip cleaning, but it is time to establish some habits to streamline cleaning. I'm trying the Organised Mum Method. I chose it because the creator of it has a British accent and talks about hoovering, cleaning the splash-back behind the hob, and cleaning the loo daily. Just kidding. I chose it because she breaks it down into a one week bootcamp to clean your whole house, and she tells you what to do each day to get it in tip top shape to start with, then she has a cleaning schedule of what to do each day to maintain. (Her accent and lovely British words are just extra perks.) Like my workouts, I need someone to tell me what to do. Cleaning is not intuitive for me. I am fine with (too much) clutter. Since our school days are slowing down for a bit, I'm hoping to use this as an opportunity to get a handle on the house. Our closet space is very limited, so I just don't have a spot to put stuff that isn't being used right that second. But, I can do it!! (That's my little pep talk to myself.)

This sweet love nugget came down at seven zero zero to snuggle with me in front of the Christmas tree yesterday. It brought back memories of when all the kids would pile into our bed each morning. Oh, how quickly it all happens. I cherish these snuggles.

And, finally, may I introduce to you the dogs who aren't allowed on the couch? We're actually fine with Charlie on the couch since he doesn't shed and he's tiny, but Bear sheds like a fiend and takes up the whole couch. He is obviously nonplussed by these truths. Little, adorable, stinkers!
What are you up to this fine Thursday? 

Friday, December 7, 2018

What I'm Reading Wednesday. . . on Friday

I'm a big lover of books, so my goal is to do a weekly book write-up to share what I'm reading and to hear what you're reading too. I am always eager to add to my ever growing pile of books to read, and with kids ranging in age from 5-14, I read everything from picture books to thick classics and everything in between. As your calendar suggests, it's a few days past Wednesday, but I'm a firm believer in better late than never, so here we have it.

At any given time, I am usually reading two to three books by myself, one with all of the kids, a school book, short story, or historical document with Isaac, one before bed book with Audrey and Elliot, which Isaac usually listens to, and a boatload of picture books with Asher.  

Here's my current stack. There's also a nonfiction book upstairs. I have a weird relationship with nonfiction books. I want to like to read them because I think they are good for my brain, but when I read, I want to be transported away and entertained. Therefore, I tend to dawdle through nonfiction before just giving up on it and devouring more fiction. It has to be a really engaging, well-written nonfiction book for me to finish it. (I just finished Just Mercy for the second time, and I highly recommend that book to everyone. Read it, please!)

For me: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline and Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

I just finished an Agatha Christie book yesterday afternoon, so these are fresh books for me. I went through an enormous Agatha Christie kick when I was in high school, but haven't really read any since. I decided to revisit her to see how they held up a few decades later. Her stories are smart, and this one kept me guessing until Hercule Poirot put the pieces together in the very last chapter. One thing I do not remember from my Christie kick in my early teen years was the racism and sexism, but I actually expected to see it, considering when it was written. 

Since I am fresh off of Dead Man's Folly, I started Wishin' and Hopin' last night and the other today. They are very different reads, but very engaging in their own rights. I have read at least two of Lamb's gigantic tomes, so this one will go quickly in comparison. It is billed as a fun, quick holiday read. 
Wishin' and Hopin'
A Piece of the World grabbed me from the very first paragraph. I am so excited to dig into this book more deeply. The writing is gorgeous, the story is unique, and I love historical fiction and fleshing out a real piece of history with an imaginative story. 
A Piece of the World

With all of the kids: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton and illustrated by Brett Helquist
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
This is just fun. The writing is delightful, the characters are a hoot, and the premise is silly. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel, and we are excited to see what Ms. Trafton comes up with next. We stop school for the morning at 11:30 so I can read our book until lunch time. The kids do word searches or color as I read. It is a special time for the five of us. There is one illustration per chapter and they are beautifully done and match the story so well. It is a lovely little bonus. 

We are also reading through Ann Voskamp's advent book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. We are thoroughly enjoying it. We read the bible and this book during breakfast. The readings are broken up by days and have discussion questions at the end. Part of understanding the waiting and anticipation of Advent is understanding the pain in the world and the hurts in our lives. My older kids, especially the 14 and 12 year olds, are feeling that more acutely this year, and it has enriched our reading of this book and our discussions. 
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas  -     Narrated By: Ann Voskamp
    By: Ann Voskamp

With Audrey and Elliot: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)

We have one chapter left. Sooooooo good! I read the series with Isaac and now I get to reread them with the two middle kids. They are as engaging, fun, and full of life and friendship lessons as I recall. Here's something you should know. I love Neville Longbottom. My kids know I will cry about his unsung heroics and general sense of showing up for people in every single book as I gush, "Find yourself a friend like Neville Longbottom, and be a friend like Neville Longbottom." 

With Isaac: We just finished the play "Harvey," which was interesting and should bring about some lively class discussions in his Challenge class. We also read a lot of historical documents for his American government class. I have learned so much by reading these original documents and discussing them, their flaws, their contributions to our country, and the authors of the documents. 
Words Aptly Spoken--American Documents: A Study Guide to the Documents that Shaped the United States (2nd Edition)  -

With Asher: Asher always has no fewer than 20 picture books checked out from the library. Right now the selection is heavy on Christmas books. He reads a few of those each days, but at this point in his life, he only has eyes for Mother Bruce. These books are written by Ryan T. Higgins, and they are hilarious. There are currently five books in the series, but I would expect more are in the pike. The illustrations are perfect, and the writing is great. The big kids and the parents actually enjoy reading these books to Asher because they're smart and silly. 

There you have it. A short synopsis on what we're reading at our house. People ask how I have time to read. I make time to read. (It also helps that I'm a fast reader.) I always have a book in my bag for the few extra minutes waiting for practice to end or while a kid is at the dentist. I read after the kids go to bed. I read while the bread is baking. I read while the soup is simmering. These are times I should be doing the dishes, but I read instead. Reading definitely detracts from my housekeeping, but definitely adds to my quality of life. Life is all about trade-offs, isn't it? haha. Reading brings me such joy, so I make time for it. I also read lots of books with my kids, and I actually love the books we read together and the time we spend together with books. 
Image may contain: 1 person
reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle with 4-year-old Elliot.
It's safe to say that he and Asher are related!

So, what are you reading? Any that I should add to my list? Hope you have a great weekend and that it includes a little reading.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Running scared

I am looking at training plans for a half marathon I am signed up for on May 19. I am actually sitting at my table crying in paralyzed fear about it. Mind you, I have run a marathon. I have run many half marathons. I have even run a few of them quite quickly. I was a running coach for women for cripes' sake! But tonight I sit at my table in absolute fear of trying to do this.

Also, I work out five to six days a week. I am physically stronger than I have been since we moved to Colorado four years ago. The thing is, running doesn't give one hoot about how strong you are physically if you are mentally fried or fragile or unsure.

Since having Asher and especially since moving to CO and having foster kids, consistent running has been hard to come by. I have not found a group of runners that is convenient to where I live. Oh, I miss my Moms on the Run people! I have not found a consistent time for running. I work out at 5 am before the kids wake up, and I choose not to run at that time because it is also prime mountain lion hunting time, and this mama is not messing with hunting time! The kids are older, our school days are longer, their afternoon activities are more prevalent, and I am their designated driver. By the time we are home and settled, it's dark again and we're back to the "not messing around with mountain lion hunting time scenario" again.

Those are the things I tell myself to rationalize why I work out like crazy, but don't run. The thing is, if I wanted to, I could find a way to fit one to three runs into my week. But I'm scared. I'm scared it'll be too hard and I won't be able to do it and I'll fail. If I'm honest, I'm mostly scared that I'll start a training plan and not finish it, which has been my M.O. since having Asher and moving to CO.

Self-doubt sucks.

It also doesn't stay put. If it pops up in one aspect of my life, it sneakily seeps into other aspects, too.

So, here I sit, crying about half marathon training plans and performing an armchair psychoanalysis on what this says about me as a mom, wife, friend, teacher, daughter, sister, human.

I have all of the words that I would tell the women I coached. I would cry with them as they told me all of the reasons they were scared and all of the lies they told themselves about why they couldn't. And one by one I would tell them all of the reasons that fear is a liar and they are strong and capable and ready. I would tell them that I'm with them and for them and will train beside them.

So, here I sit, crying about half marathon plans and armchair psychoanalyzing and giving myself a little pep talk about why fear is a liar and I am strong and capable and ready.

And I thought, maybe other people are sitting at their houses worried about something or letting fear hold them back. So, guess what? The pep talk is for you too.

Fear really is a liar, but it's a crafty one. It finds the chinks in our armor and digs in. It finds what we think are our inadequacies and whispers them to us over and over so we forget all of our strength and all of our accomplishments and all of our power.

I've got no magic wands. I've got no magic words. As I tell my kids, just because something is hard doesn't mean we don't do it. It just means we have to swallow our fear and try harder. It's true for math and public speaking and running and life. And I want to show them that truth in my life. So I'm going to do it scared. I don't call myself a runner anymore. It used to be a huge part of my identity. It's time to find her again.

Won't you join me? What has fear been keeping you from accomplishing? And if you run, what are your favorite half marathon training plans?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

I'm with you.

The other night, Asher and I were reading the bible before bed. He has a kid version that gives the CliffsNotes' version of the most well-known bible stories. He chose Naomi and Ruth, and I was reminded how much I love that story, especially the first chapter where the two women cling to each other in such troublesome times. I love it for a few reasons. First, stories that prominently feature women are not so easy to come by in the bible, and Ruth is one of only two books of the bible named after a woman. (Esther is the other.) It also reminds me of this beautiful song about the special relationship shared by Ruth and Naomi, which was inspired by The Story.  Pretty please listen. It is so gorgeous. Lastly, the message of hope, togetherness, and friendship is inspiring and timeless.

***Please note that I am about to talk about the bible and Christianity. I have not been to seminary. I am not a bible scholar. These are my thoughts on a book of the bible that I love because it abounds in love, loyalty, generosity, kindness, and care. I'll take more of those, please! Some of you will read this and think I'm a heathen. Others will read it and think I'm a bible thumper. We'll all be ok.***

To me, Ruth is a story of friendship, kindness, and hope. If you're not familiar with the story, the book of Ruth is only four chapters, so you could read it in a jiffy. Otherwise, here's my shortened version, focusing on Chapter 1. Naomi, her husband, and sons were from Bethlehem, but went to live in Moab in Judah (not to be confused with Utah) due to a famine.  The two sons married two women, Ruth and Orpah (not to be confused with Oprah). Naomi's husband and both of her sons died while they lived in Moab. Now, you don't need to know much about the bible to know that being a woman in bible times with no husband and no sons to care for you put you in quite the pickle. Naomi heard that things were better back in Bethlehem, so she decided to head back. She was too old to remarry and have more sons, but at least she could be near her family, who might help her.

She told Ruth and Orpah to stay in Moab since they were from that area, had family there, and were young enough to remarry and have sons. Yes, there's a lot of talk about remarrying and having sons. Side note: Moabites did not worship God. In Ruth 1:15, Orpah decided to stay in Moab after a brief protest. Naomi spoke to Ruth, saying, "Look, your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her." Ruth refused. She was sticking with Naomi.

These were ridiculously difficult times. Two women traveling together with nothing. Two women returning to a town with so many unknowns now that their husbands had died. Two women of two different faiths on a difficult journey. Yet, no matter what, they were in it together. These lyrics speak it so beautifully:

Now I'm on my hands and knees
Trying to gather up my dreams
Trying to hold on to anything
And we could shake a fist in times like this
When we don't understand
Or we could just hold hands

You and me, me and you
Where you go, I'll go too
I'm with you. I'm with you.
Until your heart, finds a home
I won't let you feel alone
I'm with you. I'm with you.

In verse 16, Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you from me.""

OK. We're finally getting to the part of the story that grabbed me the other night, even as I read it from a little kid version of the bible. No one said, I'll feed you if you believe in my God. I'll keep you safe if you believe in my God. I'll protect you if you believe in my God. No one said I'll kill you if you don't believe in my God. I'll wage war against your people if you don't believe in my God. I'll destroy your family if you don't believe in my God. There was no coercion or force. There was love and kindness. Naomi had been good to Ruth. When the dire hardships of life threatened to overwhelm, she offered Ruth an out. She put Ruth's needs above her own, and Ruth did the same for Naomi.

These women hadn't met Jesus. He didn't come along for many, many years. They didn't know that he would be their ancestor. These were just two women struggling along together. In their togetherness, they experienced God's grace and mercy. *Spoiler alert-Their return to Bethlehem works out.*

No matter our faith, no matter our background, no matter our circumstances, we are all looking for someone to say, "I'm with you." "Life is really stinking hard and it's kind of a mess, but I'm with you." "You're hurting, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm with you."

This is what God asks of Christians. Show up. Love well. Pray. Believe. These women are beautiful examples of how we should treat everyone, whether they worship Chemosh, the chief god of the Moabites, or whether they are Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, on and on the list goes. Even if we're the same faith, but practice it differently. We can and must be able to believe different things without treating each other disrespectfully or, worse, inflicting pain and hurt on each other. There is enough hurt in the world without adding hate and persecution in the supposed name of religion. We should be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

So, I'm just saying, "I'm with you. I'm sorry if you're hurting or tired or scared. I'm thrilled if you're celebrating and joyous and enthusiastic. I'm with you." It will be messy. We'll all make mistakes because that's how we humans roll, but together is the only way I know to navigate this glorious, beautiful, horrible world. Thanks for the reminder, Ruth and Naomi.

OK. Am I a heathen of a bible thumper? haha.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sunday Funday

It's Monday morning, and we Christmased the heck out of the weekend. (Click here for Saturday's fun.) Homeschooling between Thanksgiving and New Year is not easy. We're home and the tree is so pretty and it smells so good and shouldn't we just sit in the living room under blankets and read together all the livelong day? Pretty please? That answer changes as the kids get older. Asher and I could totally veg out with books and cocoa all day long, but the big kids would revolt because they have stuff to get done. I guess that means I'll be the grown up and get off of the couch, but I will do it begrudgingly. (And we will read extra books, and no one can stop me!)

Jim finished his job in Arizona early, so he flew home Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, which meant that he could join us for church. We went to church and Sunday School, then came home for lunch and a little quiet time before heading to get our tree. But first, I walked into the living room to this nonsense.

The crazy cats decided to pretend to be trees in the cleared out for the tree corner. They had me in stitches as I snapped these pictures.

An acquaintance and her family opened a tree business this year, so we went there. We found just what we needed and it was reasonably priced and 3 miles from our house, so we're calling it a success. We got the tree home and the big boys promptly headed to the family room to watch the Vikings play, and ultimately lose to, the Patriots. (Boooo!)

While they cheered and shouted at the refs about missed pass interference calls, Jim started feeling crummy, so he went upstairs and we haven't heard from him since. Poor guy is out of it. Asher flitted back and forth between the football game and the serious business of naming our tree. We name our tree every year, and Audrey was getting a strong girl vibe from this tree. We purchased her at the Olde Towne Christmas Village or Olde Fashioned Christmas or some other sweet, Victorian-esque named tree spot. Therefore, we decided to name her after English townes to honor her pretend heritage. I know. It's confusing. It made so much more sense when Audrey and I talked it over. At any rate, we decided on Whitley London Wakefield, all towns in England and a charming name, to be sure.

While we played the name game and wrapped some gifts, some mule deer got up close and personal to our front window. They really have no fear! They eventually ran to the backyard, which explains Asher's looking out the window yoga pose.

Once the game ended, we had appetizers for dinner and decorated the tree. We've never done it without Jim, so the kids took the light situation into their own hands and rocked it.

Then it was time for ornaments. We give each kid one ornament each year to highlight something they learned or a special occasion from the year. I have all of the ornaments ordered, but only two have arrived so far, so they'll have to wait a few more days to hang their newest ornaments. We still had a special time looking back at the years of ornaments and the memories that go along with them.

I vividly remember the years when 94% of the ornaments were on the bottom quarter of the tree because that's all the higher my little people could reach. Now my 14 year old is almost as tall as his dad, and the tree has ornaments from top to bottom. Asher still had three ornaments hanging on one bough, but before I blink three times and say how in the heck are you old enough to drive, he'll be hanging ornaments at the top, too. How is it possible that parenting and raising these little, squishy babies into grown, bona fide humans can feel like a marathon and a sprint at the exact same time? Parenting is so full of conundrums. Here's what I know unequivocally. 1-I mess up so often. 2-I feel so terribly inadequate. 3-Those truths hurt all the more because I love them so, so much. 

We'll put the angel atop the tree today because Jim has to be involved in at least one little piece of our Christmas tradition this year. We'll all wake up and get our school done with the smell of Christmas tree and the twinkle of lights distracting us. We'll do our best. We'll mess up. We'll love each other. It's how families operate. 

Happy Holidays! And, introducing Whitley London Wakefield, in all of her glory.

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 1 festivities

Tis the season, friends! We are getting into the holiday spirit over here. I'm done shopping except for one pesky 12 year old daughter who is difficult to shop for and one stop at Target to knock out socks, underwear, toothbrushes, and other stocking basics. I have to be almost completely done shopping by December 1 or I get really crabby with the scheduling and the responsibilities and the obsessing about waiting in the 23-person deep line at the post office on December 18 along with the rest of the county. I just can't do it. I want to actually enjoy and appreciate Advent and the joys of the season.

Today we did a pretty darn good job of it. Of course, there were moments. Take for instance, the mama's hands covered in cookie dough while the kids are all sitting at the table dipping pretzel rods in melted chocolate bark. One kid got sassy and bossy to another kid who retaliated with sass and rudeness, and I ungraciously shouted, "Kid and Kid, knock it off now!" But, for the most part, it was a quiet, relax at home, tis the season day at home.

Here's our day:
(I am fully aware that you, whoever you are reading this, don't particularly care. I consider this a diary of sorts, so there you have it.)

What a lovely morning of piano. Audrey and Elliot have a wonderful piano teacher, and it was fun to listen to them showcase the pieces they've been working on for so long. Jim's out of state for work, so he missed the recital and the fun of the day, but, like most parents, I have videos on my phone for him to listen to and applaud upon his return.

Holiday piano recital for these two. They did a stupendous job!
We got home and I did a crapton of laundry. . . is it all put away? I'll let you figure that out. haha! Asher's is put away and I will have our laundry put away before Jim gets home. #wifegoal

We had lunch, Isaac took a run, the boys played outside, and Audrey and I watched a holiday baking show. It was almost luxuriously chill. After snack, we made our first batch of Christmas cookies, peanut butter blossoms. It is almost always the first cookie of the season and a family favorite. The kids did their pretzel dipping while the cookies baked. Did I mention Christmas music? Always Christmas music. And by always, I mean after Thanksgiving and before New Year's. haha!
Audrey mixes while the boys open the Hershey kisses

putting the kisses on

dipping the pretzels in chocolate.

Isaac was really into his book, so he multi-tasked during parts of the cookie baking
 Once we were done baking, we lit our advent candle, and Isaac read John 1:1-5. I made a little paper chain "advent calendar" that has bible verses to read each day, and I ordered this gorgeous candle thingy-ma-bob. It has Mary and Joseph on a donkey and 24 holes. You move the candle one space closer to the center each day of December and move Mary and Joseph along the way, too. We will light the candle, read our bible verses and read from our advent book each day as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ. Let's be real. Some days we'll have to double up because we forgot the day before. (Cool perk. It comes with pieces that extend it to 40 candle spots for use during lent, at which time you swap out the donkey for a wooden piece of Jesus carrying his cross. It's beautiful and simple.)
cookies cooling, kids in motion, bible time
The kids played Monopoly, Jr. while I washed dishes and warmed up lasagna leftovers for dinner. Only one kid cried in the playing of this game. You might not be surprised to find that it was the 5 year old. Sometimes losing feels like a great injustice of life.

I got the littlest fellow to bed with a story and lullabies and approximately 14 hugs and kisses before the big kids and I played a round of Seven Wonders. I lost, as always. Have you played that game? I cannot for the life of me figure out the strategy for winning. Grrr! Now all the kids are in bed, and I failed at getting the laundry put away before Jim got home because he finished his job and flew home tonight instead of tomorrow. #wifegoalfail

I hope you are feeling festive this weekend. Did you do anything fun? Bake any tasty cookies? We're going to try a few new recipes this year, so hit me up with your favorite Christmas cookie recipe. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas picture books for the whole family

Most people assume that once kids hit a certain age, the picture books get packed away. While it is true that my older three kids usually read chapter books, they'll also sit down with a big pile of picture books. There are amazing non-fiction and fiction picture book options for older kids and adults. Elliot and Asher have been studying Japan and China over the past few weeks, so I picked a slew of related books from the library. The other day, Audrey was voraciously reading through some picture books, including "Ruby's Wish" by Shirin Yim Bridges. She read it quickly and told me that I should read it because it was really good. Sure enough, I read it and it was fantastic! Ok. Ok. You get the point. All of that to say that we shouldn't poo poo the picture books. Just because you can read longer, more involved, and more detailed books doesn't mean that is all you should read.

Which brings me to two pictures books that Asher and I have been reading on repeat for a few days. Well, he actually chooses three books to read over and over, but Santa Bruce, while funny, isn't my favorite of the three. (We checked these out from our local library, so if you don't want to add to your personal book selection, see if your library carries them, too.) **please note that both of these books are clearly Christian. These might not be fan favorites if Christmas is not a Christian tradition in your home.**

1- Babushka: A Christmas Tale by Dawn Casey and illustrated by Amanda Hall

For the kids in our lives, it's a sweet and tenderly illustrated story about the wise men taking a break on their way to celebrate baby Jesus and a nice, old babushka.

For the grown-ups with the to-do lists and the jobs and the car payments and the responsibilities that fall under the general heading of adulting, it is a sweet and tenderly illustrated reminder of what is important. Babushka spends her time cleaning and tidying her home, which is "as neat as a pin." When the wise men stop at her home on their way to meet the Light of Love, the Prince of Peace, the Newborn King, she feeds them and gives them a place to rest before they continue their journey. As they leave, they invite her to join them to meet the new baby. She is taken aback. She could never leave without washing the dishes and tidying up. Later, she regrets her decision and resolves to follow them the next day. Of course, the trail has been covered in snow when she wakes up, and the bright star is no longer lighting up the sky.

I don't want to give it all away, but I'll say that it doesn't end in sadness that she can't find the way.

2-Father and Son: A Nativity Story by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Fabian Negrin

If you haven't read her stuff, Geraldine McCaughrean is a legend. She is a British author who has written over 170 books which have been translated to over 40 languages. Her children's books on mythology are beautiful, and my kids have read and reread them many times throughout the years.

Here she looks at the traditional Nativity story from a unique perspective. The book starts, "After the stars had set, after the angels had roosted, after the shepherds had hurried back to their sheep, there was one person still awake in the dark stable." That someone is Joseph, and he spends the quiet time while Mary rests, after the angels have left, once the shepherds have returned to their post, to mull over his unique position. Being a father to the Son of God. He worries how he could possibly have anything to offer to the one who created the world. It is beautiful for its simplicity. Joseph asks the questions so many of us ask as parents. How can I adequately love this small person that God has chosen to be my child? What about my flaws? How will I prepare you for this world? How will I experience this world now that you're in it?

There are many books about Jesus' birth. There are many books about Mary. There are even lots of books about the stable and animals. I love the unique perspective and the timeless questions explored in McCaughrean's book, and Negrin's illustrations suit the story beautifully.

Have you read any good books, picture or chapter, lately? If so, don't hold out on me. . . What are they!!?? If you read these two suggestions, let me know what you think.