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Gifts Ideas (That Have Been A Hit) From A Wanna-Be-Minimalist, Mother of Four.

Here’s A List of Gifts That have been a hit in our home :

butterfly

Butterfly wings, Simple, inexpensive and my girls still play with them  three years later people-  three

 

Product Details

Flash lights again practical, simple and my children love them. For older children Reading lights.

tooth brush

 

Battery Operated Toothbrushes I know, it’s terribly practical, arguably worse than socks, and maybe my children are odd but they love getting these. I also buy my girls new hair ties, clips, brushes and the men in my life may get combs & shaving supplies (lame or genius? You decide).

 

Water Colored Coloring pencils   for the older children and Crayons for the younger ones.  I also get new pencil sharpeners and They usually get a coloring book or a new notebook to go with them. Cute Bookbags and pencil cases are always nice to have (I love goldfish) I found this at TheCrownedRabbit (I love etsy):

Blocks, and if you already have blocks (most of us do)  just sneak some of the old blocks from the toy room, take a sharpie, and make them into buildings, and ta-da new blocks!: here's an EXTREMELY easy way to personalize some plain wooden blocks: grab a sharpie and decorate them with architectural details / window frames / etc.

Balancing toys. I love balancing toys and so do babies, toddlers and older children. The great thing about them is you can just store them with the blocks. I have bought a few sets in the past and I found these on etsy:

so cute, admittedly pricey, but cute! There are lots of other (more affordable) on etsy. (Be careful when buying online sometimes it’s hard to tell the scale and they turn out to be choking hazard size. )

Sugar Lulu Sweet Savings Bank SetPiggy Banks. The piggy banks I bought last year are still in use. I like the ones divided up into save, spend, give. You can put little treats inside too.

These Holy Heroes CDs are really wonderful for boys or girls, all my children love listening to them, and I’ve learned a lot too.

Still got nothing? What activities are they in? My girls are in gymnastics so new leotards, silly scrunches are always welcomed. Movies are also fun to get and of course, Books, I always get them Books. But that’s for another post . .

 

And for the record,  socks make a great gift.

 

-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.

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Walker Percy’s “Love In The Ruins” Sequel

The Thanatos Syndrome is Walker Percy’s Sequel to “Love in The Ruins.” In 1989, Percy stated that, in The Thanatos Syndrome:
“I tried to show how, while truth should prevail, it is a disaster when only one kind of truth prevails at the expense of another. If only one kind of truth prevails — the abstract and technical truth of science — then nothing stands in the way of a demeaning of and a destruction of human life for what appear to be reasonable short-term goals.”

Books Babies Love

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Lullabies (with pictures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Many mother and baby pictures, that little ones identify with easily, from various parts of the world are included. It’s also fun to “find” people from our extended family in the paintings.

The World of the Polar Bear (nature photography related to their interests)

This is a great one, if your toddler likes polar bears. Lots of amazing shots of mothers and cubs. Not limited to bears either; meet muskoxen, seals, walruses, belugas, and arctic foxes.

Corduroy and Goodnight Moon

These classic picture books never get old. Not even after ten consecutive repetitions 😉

A is for Altar, B is for Bible

Build a basic religious and liturgical vocabulary and begin (or enrich) the most important conversation you and your child can have. This Montessori-inspired alphabet book is a beautiful aid to handing on the faith, communicating the love of Jesus, and bringing even the youngest children into dialogue with the Word of God. (Catholic or High Church Anglican specific.)

Write Your Own Book! (or “Wreck This Journal”)

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In our blank book, we draw and name basic shapes, illustrate favorite nouns, explore with crayons and colored pencils, paste stickers, favorite greeting cards, and pictures, and practice fine motor skills with colored tape. Give your toddler freedom to scribble, rip, and experiment to his heart’s content but don’t be surprised if you like some of the pages so much that it becomes difficult to do that!

-Mrs. Aldertree

What’s On Your Nightstand?

Fast Food Nation  by Eric Schlosser is an amazing read. While I don’t agree with many of his solutions, the terrible and largely unforeseen consequences of Fast Food and Big agriculture are brought to light (and it’s not just about health concerns). Like it or not, the fast food industry has changed the way we farm, eat, advertise and shop. Throughout the book Scholosser seems to be pushing for unions and more government regulations to solve these problems  but in the end it’s about getting people to opt out on a large scale.  It’s informative, gripping, disturbing and yet he also maintains a sense of humor- Investigative journalism at it’s best.

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The Lost Traveller by Antonia White.

I’ve read her first book Frost in May last year and found her storytelling simple and completely engrossing. The second book, The Lost Traveller, is just as engaging and accessible as the first, the characters absorbing and writing clear. I am waiting for the heartbreak though. You sense a tragic tone from the onset.

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I’m also reading (thoroughly skimming?) Nourishing Traditions, rereading Woods Etc., avoiding journaling and in denial about my lack of interest in Theodore Roethke’s  poetry, despite my love for his poem the Root Cellar.

My husband’s nightstand, however, remains focused and avoids such disillusionments:

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What’s on your nightstand this month?

Mrs. Renner

Mrs. Renner managed the classroom with authority,  humor and a pinch of sarcasm. She was probably the best teacher I ever had; for she introduced us to good books. We read: Where the Red Fern Grows, Number The Stars, The Phantom Tollbooth, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bridge to Terabithia.

I didn’t realize at the time what an impact those books would make on me or how they would help me later in life. When Mrs. Renner read to us, we weren’t listening to improve our language skills, we were encountering life, it’s beauty and it’s pains. These books taught us how to live, how to cope with boredom, loss, how to think.

I don’t remember ever being tested on these readings, they were given without attachment to scores, or outcomes. Mrs. Renner did not come between the student and the book. This made all the difference; these books spoke and she simply let them.

I was not a big reader at the time, but I quickly became entranced by  Billy’s love for his two dogs Old Dan and Little Ann, Karana’s shrewdness, her grief at losing her brother,  Annemarie’s courage, Milo’s adventures, but Bridge to Terabithia was my favourite.

Initially, I was disappointed that Terabithia was not another Narnia. A new world did not unfold, rather a sad story of friendship. In it I encountered grief in a new way. In Island of the Blue Dolphins the struggles were of a far off land in circumstances beyond my little world but in this one, loss was confronted in everyday life. The book stayed with me as good books do.

Four years later, my younger brother fell from a tree in our backyard woods and died. Those woods were our romping grounds. We were children in those woods, warriors, pioneers, confederate soldiers, doctors, nurses and then we weren’t. Childhood ended with the shock of death, the sharp pain of loss, the dull ache of grief.

As a Catholic, I had hope in eternal life. As a young girl with no actual experience of death until then, books inadvertently became a guide to grief. Thankfully, good ones had been set in my path by a good and loving teacher. And when I had the courage to walk in those woods again,  Billy, Karana, Annemarie, Milo, Jess and Leslie all came back to me, their losses, their grief, their grit. I was not alone.

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 -Mrs. Cooper

Small Bee

This evening I found myself looking at an old journal and reading the details of my own past life like a novel. I would never have remembered all this if I hadn’t written it down but, unlike with a novel, I didn’t just imagine the events I was reading about, I really did remember them.

On one of the pages, I’d copied out this poem.

Small Bee

I must tell you how it happened,
Believe it or do not –
An episode to end housewarmings
In granaries of song.

I say, the drowsy blossom closing,
A bee was trapped within;
Moonlight passed through clouds and darkness
Till lawns lay diamonded.

Then spirits stalked to beg for baptism
In the open halls of night,
Their silent footfalls never troubled
The clovers’ sleep nor mine.

Astonishing – that one night’s hostel,
The thousand shimmered dreams –
Who knows sleep’s charm inside a blossom,
Except the captive bee?

Leonardas Andriekus was a Lithuanian poet and a Franciscan priest. He died in 2003, not so long ago. I loved this poem all over again when I rediscovered it tonight. The spirits begging for baptism bespeak a uniquely priestly nightmare.

Let’s pray this month for the souls of the dead still longing for heaven, for the souls of the living in desperate need of baptism.

-Mrs.Aldertree

Prayer of St. Gertrude to release 1000 souls from Purgatory: "Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.":