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Purposeful parenting amid a world of sugar, screens and schedules.

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Unit Studies for Adults: World War II

After my last update for my reading challenge, I decided to read a book in my “to read” pile that a good friend of mine gave me YEARS ago.  She gave it to me when I was pregnant with my oldest (Big Sis is almost six now!)  But at that time I was working two or three jobs while my husband was student teaching…in addition to being pregnant and preparing to have a baby.  Then once  I had that baby my reading became very sporadic.  (Which is one reason why I started this challenge!)  I am absolutely loving reading regularly again.  I still don’t go through as many books as I used to (i.e. I don’t binge read every free second I have until I am done with a series that I start) but it’s great reading every night in bed.  It helps me sleep better, too!

Anyway, the book I decided to read is called “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” I had no idea how fun this book was going to be when I picked it up.  It is not an unforgettable book that will stick with me forever.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it, will probably read it again, and love that it’s the kind of book I feel like I could recommend to just about anyone.  It was lighthearted, charming and sweet.  Exactly what I needed after the last book I read.  This is a story of an author who, after World War II has ended, finds herself corresponding with a group of people from Guernsey, a British island that had been overtaken by Germans and the Hitler regime.  She is captivated by their stories and decides to learn more and possibly write a book about it all.  The book is written entirely of letters.  It is a little sad, as anything about World War II is, but it is beautiful.  It made me want to go to Guernsey.  And start a book club.  And learn more about the war.  I started with the latter.

Reading this beautiful piece of historical fiction inspired a World War II kick for me.  I then read “The Book Thief,” which was a bit of a tear-jerker, but also really great.  It was written in a really unique way…told by Death.  It’s a beautiful story of childhood and friendship in the midst of really awful things…and how family extends beyond blood relatives.  I also really love the part books play…how stories can help through hard times and the power of literacy.

Next on my list is “All the Light We Cannot See,” which has fantastic reviews and everyone I know who has read it says that it was awesome.  I was going to check it out at the library but there were about 26 people in front of me in line!  So I’m guessing it’s worth purchasing.

I found a bunch of World War II documentaries on Netflix (I started with “World War II in Color”) and I looked up the answers to questions I had as I wondered them.  I ended up spending some time looking up Japanese internment camps, because that’s something that is typically not covered much.  I remember first being introduced to this topic when I was a senior in high school reading “Snow Falling on Cedars.”  I could not believe that something like that could happen in our own country…and that I had never even heard about it!

Picture of World Wars - IL (CV)

I also ordered this World Wars book with my latest Usborne order, which I’m pretty excited about.  I figure since it’s written for teens, it will be engaging and easy to read, which will be nice because I have a hard time getting through nonfiction books sometimes.  If it skirts around some things that I’d like to go into more depth on, I can look those things up.  I’m particularly interested in learning about World War I, which I’m realizing more and more that I really don’t know anything about.

As you can see, my reading challenge has joined together with my love of themes and become an ADULT UNIT STUDY!  🙂  Maybe I have a new category for my blog.

As silly as an adult unit study might sound, I think it’s a huge bonus to homeschooling.  I love learning for the sake of learning rather than because a teacher at school told me that I needed to learn it to pass a test.  And I’m excited that my kids will get to grow up experiencing that!  I hope that I can reign in my excitement for planning things and really let them do most of the leading in our schooling, as we explore the things they are curious about.

Anything you would add to my adult unit study?  Throw your ideas at me!  

Thanks for reading!!


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Reading Resolutions February Update

In January I shared about my 2016 reading resolutions.  I am LOVING this challenge so far.

In January I suggested that we re-read a favorite book.  One of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables.  I loved it when I read it as a kid, I loved it as a college student, and now I love it as a mom.  It speaks to me differently in these different life stages.  I love the humor, the relationships, and the life lessons.


If you haven’t read them before, I highly recommend the whole series, although the first three are my favorite.  So far I have made it through to Anne’s House of Dreams.  I hope to read the rest of them later.

February brought a new challenge so I took a break to read a book that I haven’t read before by an author that I love.  I chose The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.  I’d been eyeing it for a while.  She is such an amazing author.  I love how she has such complex stories that come together so beautifully.  Harry Potter was absolutely amazing…how she created a whole other believable world right within our own world.  She has a very impressive talent of writing incredible characters.  You find yourself caring about and understanding her characters, even if you don’t like them.


We are BIG Harry Potter fans 🙂

This talent carried over into her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy.  Wow.  What can I say about this novel?  If JK Rowling was trying to show the world that she could write something other than young adult fantasy novels of good vs. evil and magic…she succeeded.  This story dug into the deepest, darkest thoughts of the many characters living in a small town who are affected by the death of a prominent town figure.  Although interesting and thought provoking, the vulgarity of it was a huge turn off for me and made it so I really can’t recommend it (seriously, if my mother or mother in law are reading this…do NOT pick up this book!)  I read several reviews and read the back of the book with no idea what I had gotten myself into.  There should be book ratings like movie ratings.  This one would be R…if not worse.  But luckily, I am an excellent skimmer 😉

Most of the characters were not likable at all at first, but as I read more, I understood them more.  In the end, even though I didn’t necessarily like them, I at least really felt for them.  The issues brought up are relevant…the politics of whether or not to help people who aren’t really helping themselves but need help so badly, hurting marriages, abuse, lies, addictions, teenage boys and what happens to their thoughts when sucked into pornography, mental illness, poverty, childhood innocence being stolen…it’s all so very real and something more people should be aware of.  I did not enjoy the book…it was horrible…but I couldn’t put it down.  Like I said, it’s incredibly thought provoking and incredibly well written…and if you can handle the language and the crude sexual content, I think the story is rather important.  It appealed to me, with my communication studies and social work background, for sure.  And although she doesn’t end with any sort of moral or lesson, she leaves us with story that broadens our perspective and challenges our way of thinking.  It was a book I will not easily forget, although I will not be reading it again.

I am now in the middle of an amazing book that I am excited to share with you later.  I’m glad to read an uplifting book after such a crazy first book this month.

My husband read Ender’s Game in January, by Orson Scott Card, another of my favorites.  And he read Ender’s Shadow this month.  I haven’t read that one but my husband said it was a story about Bean, a side character of Ender’s Game.  I think it’s so fun to read stories like that…from another perspective.

Wouldn’t it be great fun if JK Rowling would write more Harry Potter books…perhaps from Snape’s perspective?  Or Harry’s parents.  Or another series that happen many years later that involve their children.  One can hope!  😉

What are YOU reading?!

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Reading Resolutions

I’ve never really done New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t know why though, because I am definitely a list maker and a goal setter.  I can be pretty terrible at following through on goals these days though, so I guess maybe I stay away from New Year’s resolutions because I don’t want to just be another New Year’s resolution failure statistic.  haha

But this year I decided that there is one thing I’d really like to do.  I’d really like to be purposeful about what I read!


I’ve always been a book worm.  There was no better way to spend a day (even in high school when being social was so important) than to lay on a blanket in the shade with an iced tea and a good book.  It’s a lot harder to find time to read now, as a mom.  Which I guess is why I want to make the most of the time that I do have.

I enjoy a lot of different kinds of books but the books I tend to fly through most easily are young adult fantasy novels.  I don’t want to not read these books.  I still will.  In fact, I have the final book of the Lorien Legacies on hold through overdrive.  (Have you used the overdrive app to check out e-books from your local library…if not…DO IT!)  However, I want to read other things too, and I don’t want to just re-read old favorites (I am a chronic re-reader.)  New books can be hard for me to get into  with the constant interruptions of little children, especially adult novels with lots of descriptions.  Which is one reason why I wanted to make some goals!  Because I don’t want to just read fantasy novels or my tried and true favorites over and over, no matter how awesome and fun they are.

I want to read things that challenge my perspective and teach me new things.  I want to read books that I could have a conversation with Rory Gilmore about.  (My husband and I just re-watched all the seasons of Gilmore Girls…because I am a chronic re-watcher of shows as well! haha (Is anyone else SO excited that Netflix is making a new mini-series?!))


Rory Gilmore and I are both book worms, but she is on a completely different level than I am.  I couldn’t get through As I Lay Dying in high school.  It was awful.  Faulkner inspired me to learn to write a paper for my high school English class without actually reading the whole book.  But maybe I would like it better now, as an adult.  A lot of the books I read in school impacted me in some way, and I enjoyed many of them, even if they aren’t the kinds of books I would normally choose to read on my own.

So here’s my list for 2016.  If this list doesn’t suit you, do some googling or check out pinterest for other ideas. Or make your own!

  • JANUARY: Re-read one of your top ten favorite books of all time (I am starting with this one because it’s easy for me…and I wanted something easy to get me going! I am reading Anne of Green Gables.)
  • FEBRUARY: Something you haven’t read by an author you love
  • MARCH: A book that shares another cultural perspective and true life story
  • APRIL: Something recommended by a young reader friend (aged maybe 8-14)
  • MAY: Something someone has given you but you’ve never gotten around to reading (I have so many of these!)
  • JUNE: A nonfiction historical book on a subject which you have always been curious about
  • JULY: Something from a college bound book list that you haven’t read yet…a classic
  • AUGUST: Re-read a book from your youth that had an impact on you but that you barely remember
  • SEPTEMBER: Choose a book that could help you achieve something (this could be a “self-help” book, a spiritual book, a parenting book, a book on learning a new skill like photography or coding, etc.)
  • OCTOBER: Read a book you have always wanted to read
  • NOVEMBER: A book that a movie you like was based on
  • DECEMBER: Something you have started but never finished (I have quite a few of these too!)

Ok!  I am going to blog on my progress each month.  I would like to go in order, but it’s not necessary.  If you’d like to follow along, please do!  You can comment on this post or any of my future posts on this subject, or post the books you are reading and what subject they fit under on instagram using #exploreimagineREAD. Or, if you aren’t doing my list, but want to share what you are reading anyway, use a more generic hashtag #2016readingresolution.


Happy reading!