Top Reads of 2017

In all this year I read 71 books… which is a lot, likely too much. I’ve been convicted a lot of how often I close the book and move on to the next one without really processing and applying it… so am trying to slow down and think through things. But my books-to-read list keeps growing! I have to remind myself frequently of Ecclesiastes 12’s comments about “of making many books there is no end and much study is weariness to the flesh,” and the challenge of Psalm 1, Psalm 19, and Psalm 119 to delight in and meditate on His Word above all other writing!
These are some of the books that help with that, and/or were ones I kept thinking back to.

None Like Him (Jen Wilkin) and Humble Roots (Hannah Anderson)
These are very similar so I put them together here. They both opened my eyes to see how much I try to be God, especially in the area of control.
None Like Him had a discussion questions that were really helpful, and is a look at eleven attributes of God that He does not share with humans (immutability, omniscience, etc.).
Humble Roots didn’t impact me as much as I read it, but afterwards I kept being convicted by it. Its focus was more on how there is rest in humility (which often comes down to not trying to be God!) and is more practical than None Like Him, but I felt like to focused more on the problems than the answer – None Like Him brought me to worship more.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Tony Reinke)
Reviewed here.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows (Zack Eswine)
A biblical, practical look at depression (in a small book!), looking at causes, helps, theology… it gave validity to a lot of my feelings and questions after PPD that had often felt heretical.

Spiritual Depression (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Another biblical, practical look at depression, but one that focuses more on the spiritual causes of it. It felt less pertinent to PPD, since it was more on spiritual roots of depression than physical ones with spiritual manifestations, but it was still incredibly helpful and one I will refer back to often. It was also really convicting in areas of sin that for me haven’t led to full-on depression but may affect my mood for a short time, things like discontentment, pride, etc. One very helpful thing in the discussion of contentment was the idea that to be content we have to be independent of our circumstances, not relying on anything but God for our joy (a “duh” moment but still much needed!).

Parenting (Tripp)
A big-picture parenting strategy, helping me see what my role as a parent really is. There is lots of repetition, but in a good way if reading it slowly, because there is SO much good it’s overwhelming.
Some key points:
I am more like my children than unlike.
I am His ambassador, showing them what is in their hearts and pointing them to Him for repentance and change. Redirecting their worship!
Clearer than Give them Grace that this does NOT mean suspending the law.
“Parenting is not just about getting your children to do something, but helping them to see so that they would desire to do it.”
“What right now does God want my child to see that he is not now seeing and how can I help him see it?”
“If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation.”

“This book has been an elaborate discussion of one thing: God’s call to you to be an essential part of his mission of rescue of the children he has given you. But it has not been just about the mission that he has sent you on, but also about the fact that he has gone with you. He doesn’t ask you to do what you can’t do, and he is eternally willing to do what only he can do. So he blesses you with his presence, power, wisdom, and grace. He faithfully parents you, so that by his faithful grace you can faithfully parent your children. In every moment of parenting, the wise heavenly Father is working on everybody in the room. You are blessed to be chosen to go on the mission of missions,a nd you are blessed with his grace so that every day your parenting would be dyed with the most powerful force of change in the universe: mercy.”

Highly recommend: 
These are either fiction or ones that were very good but weren’t quite as directly applicable to me this year.
Messy Grace (Kaltenbach)
A pastor whose parents are homosexual writes about loving them and the LGBT+ community without compromising conviction.

Symphony for City of the Dead
Not a life-changing book, but it was fascinating and has really stuck with me throughout the year, and caused me to fall in love with Shostakovich’s 7th.

Holy Labor (Aubri Smith)
Reviewed here.

The Hawk and the Dove (Wilcock)

Music Through the Eyes of Faith (Best)
This is not something I am currently wrestling with, but his discussion of what kinds of music may or may not be acceptable for Christians was the most theological, logical, biblical thing I have ever read on the subject.

Runners up:
Preemptive Love
Dispatches from the Front
The Cup and the Glory

Kids’ book authors we went back to again and again:
Ezra Jack Keats
Robert McCloskey
Patricia Polacco
Dianna Aston


What we Read: 4th Quarter 2017

(Look for a top books of 2017 post soon!)

The Lifegiving Table (Sally Clarkson)
While this book was good, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. There was lots of repeat from podcasts and other books, and lots of anecdotes. But I say that as someone having grown up with family meals around the table and thus know how important they are – so the content wasn’t anything new to me. I was still encouraged that daily mealtimes MATTER, even now, and what a gift to my kids those mealtimes are. Good reminders about the importance of fun and phatic communication. It also helped me see too how refreshing it is for me to be in someone else’s home for a meal and not to take that for granted.

The Hawk & The Dove (Penelope Wilcock)
One of few books I read purely for enjoyment this year, and I intend to read more of the series. I couldn’t figure out what exactly drew me in but the characters and writing style were both so vibrant and I couldn’t wait to pick it up every evening.

Humble Roots (Hannah Anderson)
The summary: I am not God, and when I try to be it leads to lack of rest & burn-out. When I first read this book I thought it was good, but while there were parts that I noted and thought about more, I didn’t connect with it deeply… but then it kept coming back to me again and again.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Tony Reinke)
reviewed here.

Preemptive Love(Jeremy Courtney)
The story behind how Preemptive Love Coalition got started. I couldn’t put this one down. The story is riveting, and it felt like an answer to what was left unanswered in They Say We Are Infidels – what do we do? How is there change? How can we as outsiders help others love their enemies?

The Cup & The Glory (Greg Harris [not the homeschool Greg Harris])
This book would have been better read slowly, but I made a lot of notes to look back over later. I wish I had had it in the midst of PPD; it might have helped me see more clearly what was going on. It’s basically a biblical perspective on suffering, but in a way that felt much more tangible and less dry.

finished The Hidden Smile of God (Piper) with Ezra
This is one of Piper’s biographical books, looking at Bunyan, Brainerd, and Cowper. We were encouraged by all of their lives.

Gilead (Robinson)
I’m still not entirely sure why I finished this book. It wasn’t bad; I was just never really drawn in and it didn’t hold my attention that well. There were a few profound moments but a lot of it dragged.

Sanctification (Powlison)
The back of the book summarizes it well: “Scripture portrays the dynamics of sanctification in a rich variety of ways. No single factor, truth, or protocol can capture why and how a person is changed into the image of Christ… shows personal and particular ways that God meets you where you are to produce change. He highlights a variety of factors that work together, helping us to avoid sweeping generalizations and pat answers in the search for a key to sanctification.”
His comments on giving “unbalanced” specific counsel and really connecting dots for counselees was very helpful to me, both in my own conversations with people, but also in realizing why some counsel I received for PPD was very helpful and other counsel didn’t help at all.

The God I Love (Joni)
Reviewed more here. It’s fascinating reading biography as an adult with kids, wondering what will greatly impact them and what struggles they will have.

P.G. Wodehouse Anthology (excerpts)
This was my light Thanksgiving read, and very enjoyable.

Different (Nathan & Sally Clarkson)
Good encouragement for loving kids even when they’re hard – even when my kids are not truly ‘different’ they are still very different from me (as I was and definitely as I am now!). Helped me have more compassion to understand their limitations and how they see the world differently, and to give love and affirmation even in difficult moments, remembering their worth goes beyond our expectations and societal norms.
That said, if you had a truly different child I don’t know how helpful it would be beyond encouragement to keep loving them. There wasn’t much I thought was practical in how to help them, and it often felt like they were just putting up with his disorders rather than seeking to help him change (loving your kid no matter what is different than affirming their obsessions, which is often what I felt was happening).

Teaching From Rest (Sarah Mackenzie)
Good overall message – a philosophy of restful schooling, focusing on what matters and not trying to be God, but knowing what to let go of and Who our standard is. It was good now, but probably need it more in midst of homeschooling, than I do right now. I don’t agree with all her theology, but that plays a minor role in the book.
It tied in well with Humble Roots; in some ways it was Humble Roots applied to homeschooling.

Between the Woods and the Water (Patrick Leigh Fermor)
The second part of Fermor’s writings about his journey on foot from Holland to Constantinople. This was mostly Eastern Europe, so fascinating to me as I’ve never been there, but also a little overwhelming because I didn’t have any familiarity with the area and its history.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch (Cowan)
This book was yet another piece in the PPD puzzle. It didn’t give new insights into healing, like I was expecting. Instead, it gave a clearer diagnosis that helped some things fall into place. It gave validity to some of the things I had been feeling, and the sense of sorrow and grief I often feel looking back. It also gave hope to me for if it comes again – reminders of PPD being a where you are not a who you are, and that while it may have spiritual manifestations, it is a treatable disease, and that while it was really bad after Ellie, it could have been way worse.
I felt like Cowan could have fleshed out more on what helps heal/how those things help, but for a book detailing the variety of PMADs (postpartum mood and anxiety disorders) and what those look like, definitely look into When Postpartum Packs a Punch
She is a believer, and talks about “faith” a lot but doesn’t flesh that out much.

Three Years in Afghanistan (Matthew Collins)
Recommended by WORLD Mag in their beach reads issue, this is the story of a family’s time in Afghanistan working with an NGO. It was really fascinating, although his writing style wasn’t my favorite.

The Secret Garden
I know I read this as a child, but couldn’t remember it well, and Ezra’s parents have a beautifully illustrated version that I enjoyed very much.

Spiritual Depression (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
His sermons on depression, arranged topically by cause, each chapter focusing on a certain passage of scripture and applying that to the cause.
Some of the causes mentioned: high view of self, low view of self (both misunderstanding gospel), regrets from past sin, fear of future, emotions, lack of faith, looking at the waves (focusing on the trials instead of on Christ), false teaching, bondage to sin or the law, weariness in well-doing, discipline, trials, chastening, exercise/difficulties that help us grow, worry, discontent.
It was very useful as a whole, but also in counseling to give someone ONE chapter to read instead of a whole book! Very down-to-earth, no-nonsense, succinct, biblical.

George MacDonald’s Christmas Stories
Found in a box of Christmas books at Ezra’s family’s house. There wasn’t really anything that really stuck out to me, but I enjoyed reading them.

skimmed Educating the Whole-Hearted Child.
Draws a lot from other books by the Clarksons. Overwhelmingly detailed and comprehensive (down to manners and organization), in some ways more of their notes on how they did things. More of a curriculum than a homeschooling philosophy, so to me it came across as somewhat legalistic, but that may just have been because it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Finally finished (read all year)
God’s Prayer Book (Ben Patterson)
I went through the Psalms this year and enjoyed his commentary and the further reflection and prayer this book brought.

Parenting (Paul Tripp)
This book gets repetitive, so it’s not one to read all at once, but we read about a chapter a month this year and found it really, really helpful. It’s not very practical, but it did help me with connecting behaviors to the heart, and having a proper perspective on what my job as a parent is. We highly recommend it.

In the middle of Neptune’s inferno as our current car-read, and Because He Loves Me (Elyse Fitzpatrick) with my sister.

Island Boy (Cooney)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Paddington (Bond)
Meet the Orchestra
Farm Anatomy (Rothman)
The Bee Tree (Polacco)
The Great Gracie Chase (Rylant)
10 Little Fingers, 10 Little Toes
Gingerbread for Liberty
West Coast Wild
The Apple Pie Tree
James Heriot’s Treasury for Children
Fujikawa’s A Child’s Book of Poems
Baby Jesus Prince of Peace Greene
Wee Gillis
Yoko’s Paper Cranes
Dianna Aston “A Seed is Silent”
Eight Animals on the Town (Susan Middleton Elya)
Christmas in the Barn (Margaret Wise Brown)
How My Parents Learned to Eat
Apt 3 (Keats)
There is a Carrot in My Ear
The Thinks You Can Think (Seuss)
Mrs. Katz and Tush (Polacco)
Ginger and Petunia (Polacco)
Pancakes for Findus (Nordqvist)

Hidden Figures
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

We also watched Silence, which was very difficult to watch, not so much because of the violence but because of the theological questions it brought up.

Gems from “Spurgeon’s Sorrows”

Digging through all my “PPD processing” documents (I realized a few months ago that I process by writing, so that means I have a number of Word documents that are compilations of quotes, scripture, journal entries, steps to take for healing, and other notes) I found a lot of quotes from the book, “Spurgeon’s Sorrows,” by Zack Eswine.
I read this book back in April, alongside Michael Card’s “A Sacred Sorrow,” and together they marked a turning point for me, the place where I finally realized I hadn’t been being completely honest with God about how I felt about Him, and that that was likely continuing the cycle of depression. A lot of this was due to the promises of God bringing no comfort, something that felt almost blasphemous to think, and I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone that because His promises were what were being offered to me as hope. But Eswine deals with that feeling in “Spurgeon’s Sorrows,” and that along with these other gems opened up the conversation with God again, allowing me to fully lament the way I was reading about it in Card’s book.
May these quotes encourage you and lead you towards reading the whole (little!) book.

“Grief is depression in proportion to circumstance; depression is grief out of proportion to circumstance.”

“Depression can so vandalize our joy and sense of God that no promise of His can comfort us in the moment, no matter how true or kindly spoken.”

“The sun may not rise for a few hours yet. But here amid the waiting hours, the sorrowing have a savior.”

“No matter how far you fall in your depression, the everlasting arms shall be lower than you are.”

“Hope demolished can become hope rebuilt, if it is realistic and rooted, not just in the cross and empty tomb but also in the garden and the sweat-like blood.”

“I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than ever I saw in the light, – more stars, most certainly, – more things in heaven if fewer things on earth.”

“The valley of the shadow of death is not our final destination” – Michael Jinkins

What We Read: 3rd Quarter 2017

Third quarter! That means only one quarter left to finish my book list for the year – although I’m happy and surprised by how much I have read already this year. It’s amazing how much you can read in only a few minutes a day if you really stick to it.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full (Furman)
My favorite of Gloria Furman’s books that I’ve read. Full of good reminders and encouragement for mothering. A lot of it was in Missional Motherhood, but in a format that was more devotional/encouragement than theology.

Son of Hamas
Picked from WORLD Mag’s “beach reads” recommendations, but read at the cabin. 😉 It was gripping, but I often felt with the way it was written that the goal was thrill more than really educating on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Unhurried Homeschooler
A quick read, good overview of a lot of Charlotte Mason ideas… all very familiar though as it’s become a bit of the “thing” now to have the unhurried style. But lots of good reminders on the heart being the most important thing, not the textbook, on implementing character – especially at S’s age! I did not really like her section on why to homeschool; it felt like the main goal was sheltering and discipleship was secondary.
I am interested in comparing it to Teaching From Rest, hopefully in the next quarter.

Why the Universe is the Way it is (Ross)
WORLD had recommended this so I was surprised to find that Ross is old-earth, though WORLD doesn’t take a clear stance on that anyway. But it was the first time I had read anything from an old earth perspective, and that helped me engage with it more and solidify my young-earth perspective.
My main critique is that I was expecting it to bring me to worship in awe of God’s power and design, and for hte most part that was dampened by his old earth perspective, as well as the way he assumed arguments and assumed the reader was familiar with common old earth arguments, and did not cite or explain very much.
That said, there were some very good parts, like the discussion of how an imperfect world can be “good,” and the ways that natural disasters can actually help keep the earth in balance, and how time and space restrain evil. My favorite thought: the way the moon’s darkness allows us greater view into space! All that was to show how God isn’t weak and uncaring for world/design/plan to be how it is – but maybe not convincing for a skeptic.

skimmed Home Education (Charlotte Mason)
Most of this content I had read in other places, understandably so, but some of it was more fleshed out. Still, I would recommend For the Children’s Sake and A Charlotte Mason Companion more.

Roaring Lambs (Briner)
A book calling for excellence in Christian art. Some good thoughts, but overall a little confusing as he seems to imply the need for just excellence without speaking but then also says to milk your platform. It was also very rant-y and his opinion and experience.I was expecting the whole book to be more of the last chapter, not just telling us what’s wrong but what to do about it.
However, the study questions at the back were good, and it was written a number of years ago – so it seems a little unnecessary in the Csehy circles, which means the book may have had some impact!

Pride & Prejudice (Austen)
One of two books I chose to read after reading How to Read Literature Like a Professor. I enjoyed it more than I expected I would!

The Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare)
The other book I chose to read, guided also by A Time of Gifts, since Fermor frequently referenced it. My appreciation for Shakespeare has grown since highschool, and it was helpful to read alongside notes to apply more of How to Read Literature Like a Professor… but I could have done without the soap opera. So I think my next Shakespeare will be Henry V!

Surprised by Joy (Lewis)
I had read a quote from this and then had this book recommended to me, so decided I should finally read it. It solidified Lewis as my favorite author, and made me think a lot about how the things I do and the environment in which they are raised will impact my children. My biggest takeaway was related to the quote I read,
“You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment; for in hope we look to hope’s object and we interrupt this by (so to speak) turning around to look at the hope itself. . . . Introspection is in one respect misleading. In introspection we try to look inside ourselves and see what is going on. But nearly everything that was going on a moment before is stopped by the very act of our turning to look at it. Unfortunately this does not mean that introspection finds nothing. On the contrary, it finds precisely what is left behind by the suspension of all our normal activities; and what is left behind is mainly mental images and physical sensations. The great error is to mistake this mere sediment or track or byproduct for the activities themselves. (Lewis, Surprised by Joy, pp. 218–219.)”
It has been timely as I have been looking back on PPD, trying to understand it to some degree, as well as in daily life when I start analyzing why I was impatient (which generally just leads to stewing about something or someone rather than removing a stressor), instead of repenting and setting my gaze on Christ.
Some really good thoughts on Lewis from John Piper here.

Lit! (Tony Reinke)
Subtitle: A Christian guide to reading books – and it meets that subtitle very well! If you love reading or hate reading, he has some really good tips for deciding what to read, how to read what you read, and a few comments on digesting what you read – all from a perspective of reading with a Christian worldview and with purpose (even fiction for fun!).

in the middle of: Parenting (Tripp) // The Hidden Smile of God (Piper) // 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Reinke) // Because He Loves Me (Fitzpatrick)

Movies We Enjoyed
A United Kingdom (there was one scene I skipped)
Luther (documentary)
Mr. Bernstein
The Pianist

Kids’ Books:
Creature Numbers (Zuckerman)
Up! (Hughes)
Adele & Simon (McClintock)
Frog & Toad
Dodsworth (Eagan)
Rookie Toddler board books
Katie Meets the Impressionists
Green Eggs & Ham
Perro Grande, Perro Pequeno
Are You My Mother
Mama Panya’s Pancakes
My Big Girl Potty (Cole)
The Journey (Sanna) – we’ve read a number about refugees and this one is our favorite.
Charlie Needs a Cloak (DePaola)
A New Coat for Anna
Chicken Sunday
George & Martha
The Quiltmaker’s Gift
Bible Basics by Catechis Books
Biggest Story ABC

Also, I now have a sub-page under “good reads” to have a running list of our favorite children’s books.

2017 Second Quarter: What We Read


Give them Grace Elyse Fitzpatrick
I just skimmed this one because there are SO many parenting books and I had heard so much about this one from people that both like and don’t like it so I wanted to get a feel for it myself before deciding if I wanted to read it more or not. There were some very helpful parts, but there is a fair amount of ambiguity where you can read in certain things depending on where you are coming from that could lead to permissiveness. Overall, though, I would say that their main message isn’t giving them grace as in letting off the hook or not giving law, but grace as in offering them gospel when they fail to obey.
We haven’t finished it yet, but I would recommend Paul Tripp’s “Parenting” book over Give them Grace since I feel like it says a lot of the same things but more succinctly and without the ambiguity.

Give Your Child the World
This isn’t really one to sit down and read fully, but I did get some good ideas. I wrote down a fair number of books from the book lists to check out of the library, but I was expecting less book list and more practical on ideas for helping your kids have a global perspective. That may just be because most of the practical things she mentioned are common sense to me from the way we were raised. Not one I think I would own, but I would get it from the library in the future to get more ideas.

Hints on Child Training Turnbull
This is an often recommended book in Charlotte Mason books. There was a lot of helpful stuff in it, but I think you’d be better off reading “For the Children’s Sake” by Susan Schaeffer McCaulay since it has similar philosophy but doesn’t feel as Victorian/focused on outward behavior and politeness. I feel like that’s a weakness in the Charlotte Mason stuff in general – it talks so much about character but often feels moralistic.
Most helpful to me were reminders on whole person, individuality, not repressing polite questioning, and directing, not breaking, the will of the child, as well as teaching them self-denial and self control.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner (and a few others, Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
Hungry Planet

Always Ready (Bahnsen)
Not what I was expecting… I walked away being convinced that presuppositional apologetics is the way to go but not really knowing how to do it.

The Singer, The Song, and The Finale (Calvin Miller)
These are favorites of mine and I read them aloud to Ezra in the car.

Missional Motherhood (Furman)
I picked up some helpful tidbits from this book, but overall ended up skimming a fair bit. It would probably be more helpful to someone who hasn’t read and studied a lot about biblical womanhood.

Spurgeon’s Sorrows (Eswine)
Mentioned this book before, but I can’t recommend it enough to anyone in the midst of depression, counseling depression, supporting someone with depression, or just curious about it and wanting to know more.

The Land I Lost
Ezra remembered reading this as a kid and it was a nice break from heavier reading.


The Genius of Ancient Man

Messy Grace (Kaltenbach)
Another one that I highly recommend. Kaltenbach was raised by LGBT parents and has solid insights in how to show grace and love to the LGBT community without compromising conviction.

Better Late than Early
I ended up skimming most of this one. The first half is explaining why it’s better to start education later than earlier, including some facts like kids being far sighted until 7 or 8 and that making learning to read more difficult and even detrimental to eye health. The second half is some ideas of what to be doing until formal schooling. A lot of it was common sense and long winded.

Holy Labor (Aubri Smith)
A review of this is coming in a separate post!

None Like Him (Jen Wilkin)
SO convicting, one I will read again in the future! It made me realize how often I try to be God in how I act and live, how much I fail at trying to be God, and how great He is.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor
I was really disappointed by this book. The writing style was too casual (almost blog-style), a lot of the examples were PG-13+ and from literature I had never heard of, and it was SO repetitive.

Music Through the Eyes of Faith Harold Best
Really really good. Probably the first thing I’ve read that discusses truth and beauty and worship and what kinds of music are acceptable for the Christian in a way that goes beyond “we shouldn’t listen to rock because it has bad associations,” etc. Some of his comments were a little Spurgeon-esque in the sense of “I see how you got there, but I don’t really know if that’s what the text means, but I guess it could.” But it was never to a degree that I felt extrapolated too much from the text. Highly recommended!

A Time of Gifts
If a highschool dropout traveled the world today and wrote about it… it would be a far cry from this book, about Patrick Leigh Fermor’s travels (mostly on foot) from Holland to Constantinople. It made me feel SO uneducated – his writing is so rich with description (it had to be; he didn’t have a camera to remember things by!), full of phrases in many languages, literary references, historical knowledge and references… not as light of a read as I had been looking for, but I really enjoyed it and do plan on reading the second part sometime.

in the middle of Parenting (Tripp), The Hidden Smile of God (Piper), 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You (Reinke)

Children’s Books we enjoyed
Balloons Over Broadway about Tony Sarg and the story behind the Macy’s Day Parade!
One Day, One World
The Ology Machowski
Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping S loved this more than us. 😉
Swan a beautiful, poetic book about Anna Pavlova
Where Did My Clothes Come From? a bit above S’s level right now but she would look at it and on the page about rubber say “That’s my rain boots!”
How to make an Apple Pie and See the World
anything by Ezra Jack Keats (especially the Snowy Day and Clementina’s Cactus)
Compost Stew
My First Day
St Patrick (Tomie De Paola) – the best one we’ve found on St. Patrick’s day that our library has
In the Sea
(David Eliott, Holly Meade)
Curious George & the Alphabet
Children Just Like Me

National Geographic Children’s Atlas
Abuela (I am trying to learn some Spanish with the girls – this one had some Spanish phrases thrown in with mostly English)
The Night Gardener (Fan)
What Can You Do with a Paleta? (another bilingual one! Also “What Can you do with a Rebozo?”)
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (Messner)

Hungry Planet: Washington, USA

We really enjoyed the books “Hungry Planet” and “Material World,” by Peter Menzel, and decided that while doing our own version of Material World – putting all our stuff out in our yard – was too much, we could do our own Hungry Planet! So for kicks, here’s what we ate in a week and some stats. We hope to do this every few years to see how our food habits and family change.
As a side note, we highly recommend both books as a great way to learn about the world and other cultures, and it really makes you realize how much we have as Americans and how little we have to complain about – I felt really guilty complaining about our 950 square feet in Japan feeling small when you read of families of 10 living in 200!

April 2017, Washington State.
2 adults, 1 2.5-year old, 6 month old baby (eats only a bite or two of food a day, but ups my appetite!)

Eggs & Dairy: $14.49
2 dozen eggs 8, purchased from local farm
1.5 gallons milk, 1 quart+ used for yogurt
1 lb monterey jack cheese 5.49

Meat: $22.09 (est. yearly consumption per adult: 130)
1 lb grassfed beef 7.50
15 oz can wild caught salmon 4.59
4 lb organic chicken $10

Produce: $43.51
4 lbs oranges 2.36
2 eggplant 3.36
daikon radish 1.5 lbs, 1.76
8 cucumbers 3
2 lbs frozen green beans $2
1 lb frozen corn 1
.5 lb bok choy .74
spinach bunch 1.48
green onions .38
serrano chili .04
2 lb mexican squash 2.50
10 lbs squash 7.80
2 lbs carrots $1
4.5 lb roma tomato 3.57
cantaloupe 2.48
3.5 lb yellow onion 1.51
2 heads garlic .80
2 lemons 1.32
1.2 lb satsuma 1.83
4.2 lb bananas 2.38
2 lb green cabbage 1.10
3 limes .39
2 avocados 1.36
plantain .71
*5 lbs potatoes
usually – less side veggies (ie, mexican squash, squash – and instead 3 heads of lettuce)

Condiments, Snacks, Drinks: $23.11

applesauce 3.58
ketchup 3.29
worchestershire sauce 3
seaweed 2.39
.6 lb walnuts 3.86
1 lb tahini 6.99
*homemade kombucha
*natural peanut butter
(Won’t use all the tahini, applesauce, ketchup, worchestershire sauce in a week, but there are always weekly purchases to restock pantry items so I included it anyway!)

Grains & Legumes: $5.88
1 lb dry chickpeas 1.49
15 oz can refried beans 1.39
2.5 lbs organic oats $3
*5 lbs organic whole wheat bread flour, for making bread & pizza dough
*.5 lb quinoa
*2 c cornmeal
*1 c green lentils

*not included in price/bought previously or in bulk
Not pictured: olive oil, coconut oil, honey, also all purchased in bulk.

Rough total: $113.08
(I was actually really surprised by this as normally it’s more and I didn’t feel like I skimped on anything that week)

We generally make one grocery trip every week, and every four weeks pick up our co-op delivery. Every few weeks I make a second grocery store run to stock up on meat at a store that is more expensive but has better options for meat.

What we ate
This is something I wish they’d had in the book so am including it for us.
Ezra: overnight oats x2, banana x2
S & I: yogurt and granola x1, oats x1, overnight oats x1, eggs x2
All: veggie frittata, breakfast star/bread

leftovers most of the time, on days we didn’t have enough leftovers, we supplemented with sandwiches with homemade bread, veggies and hummus, and -almost-7-layer dip.

Salmon chowder with green beans
Okonomiyaki, miso soup, daikon and bok choy
Tamale pie, squash
Lentil chickpea salad with tomato and cucumber side salad
Curry and yogurt chicken, quinoa, green beans
stuffed squash and cantaloupe
Pizza, roast potatoes, any leftover fruit and veggies
Saturday night church potluck – brought roasted zucchini and eggplant

Hummus & veggies
breakfast cookies
Kombucha jello
frozen peas

Children’s Bible Comparisons

As a teenager I remember hearing parents at church complain about the lack of good children’s Bibles… and then by the time I was pregnant with S it seemed there were suddenly many to choose from and more coming out! I have been checking recommended ones out of the library to read to S to compare them. I still have a few on my list but our library doesn’t have them, so someday I may update this post, but for now, these are the four we have read the most:
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
Biggest Story Bible by Kevin DeYoung
For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith

Some thoughts on each of them:
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Age range: (older) toddler
Artwork:intricate photos, sometimes odd, but mostly beautiful, not very realistic
Big picture:love story about our rescue, pointing out Jesus in Bible stories
Strengths:references included with each chapter, chapters a good length for reading aloud, making neat connections to Jesus, includes most “famous” Bible stories.
Weaknesses: poor understanding of God’s justice and wrath (it’s all about love, which isn’t a problem if the reader is saved, but I agree with others whose comment is that it can give kids a wrong idea of their relationship to God), twaddly/long-winded and poor sentence structure at times, sometimes outright changes it (for example, after the flood, God promises to never destroy the earth again, VS never destroying it by flood again).

The Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm
age range: (younger) toddler
artwork: Bright, bold drawings, sometimes a little odd. There is often symbolism in the pictures, though, which is really nice for the parent and to explain things more for older children.
big picture: Jesus as King and God’s Promise, mostly overarching theme but also in some smaller stories
strengths: easy to understand, language toddlers are used to (obedience, etc), no twaddle, coherent big picture story, more simple concepts to grasp, theologically sound. Repetitions in phrasing also make it easier for younger kids to understand.
weaknesses:only comes in a big big book, leaves some stories out, no references.

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung
age range: older toddler/early elementary, though S sits through half of it in one sitting sometimes.
artwork: probably our favorite artwork, though it still gets a little odd (green faces sometimes, etc.). Doesn’t show Jesus clearly, which I like. Secret of Kells-style art that is visualy stunning but not realistic, but often has lots of imagery
big picture: a fast-paced, highlights look at the journey from Eden to Heaven (the gardens)
strengths: Engaging language, theologically sound, mentions a lot of smaller stories despite not having the whole one.
weaknesses:So fast! Skips Jesus’ ministry

For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith
age range: older toddler/early elementary (doesn’t usually hold S’s attention very long)
artwork: Warm, simple, realistic. Jesus is never shown head on. I love the intricacy and symbolism of The Biggest Story, but this is a close second.
big picture: the faith of women in the Bible
strengths: includes references, inspiring girls to be like (or not like!) women
weaknesses: creative license needed at times to fill in gaps, little dialogue/much telling, includes debated Mark 8, portrays the women as almost-perfect/no struggles, just faith. A few minor theological points I disagree with, but not as big of disagreements as with Jesus Storybook Bible.

How do all the stories compare/line up?
I made an excel spreadsheet for this since I wanted to fit it all together so we could use them all chronologically if we wanted to.
Bibles a
BIbles B
Bibles C
Bibles D

What do we use after all that?
I read to S from the Big Picture story Bible daily. It’s the best fit for her attention span and understanding right now with word choice and repetitions. I also read to her from “women Bible” as she calls it, “For Such a Time as This,” and will continue to do so especially as her attention span lengthens. But I wouldn’t use it alone since it’s not meant to be comprehensive. We want The Biggest Story but I don’t know if I would use it every day right now.

Comments on the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook:
I paged through this at my in-law’s. It’s very different from most children’s Bibles. Each story is a page of text and one picture, and then there is a section with a Christ connection and a question. It’s nice because it includes more stories and reads more like a regular Bible, but the straightforwardness of it makes it a little harder for younger kids to connect with, and I like it better when the Christ connection is worked into the story more like with JSB and BPSB. The artwork was pretty standard for a children’s Bible (though everyone was very buff!). The big upside I see to it is that it could be more easily used if they just weren’t quite ready for a regular Bible, and they make a version that is a regular Bible that includes the questions and Christ connection, which would be a good Bible for kids who are reading the Bible on their own but could use some extra explanation or guidance in thinking about what they read.

What are your thoughts on children’s Bibles? What are your favorites and why?