Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January: A Story about Good Books Shaping our Lives

The first month of the year is already over. 8% of 2017 is already forever gone.

It was a good month for me.

It was the month I read The Lifegiving Home and felt a deep desire for a better family framework and put better routines in place. It was the month I longed for the kind of family adventures the Clarkson family had. It was the month we went for long walks and snow hikes, snow crunching under our feet and cold air biting our noses and cheeks. January was the month we planned a nearby weekend getaway and excitedly talked about an upcoming trip to the Redwoods with family.

January was the month I accidentally discovered Indestructibles, a magical kind of children’s book my baby can fall in love with without destroying. It was the month I splurged and bought Mama and Baby and Baby Babble. It was the month she spent collective hours each day playing with her books, handing all of us her books to read or “read” to her, learning to flip through books and enjoy them by herself.

It was the month I finally finished Homeschooling: The Early Years, and got a little over-excited about building our homeschool library. It was the month I daydreamed about a homeschool nook in our dream house someday. It was the month I found amazing thrift store finds—A Child’s Garden of Verse, a children’s dictionary, and a complete children’s encyclopedia set, all for $.50 each—and it was the month my mother-in-law caught the bug. It was the month she sent us Usborne Shine-a-Light books and the beginning books of series we hope they’ll someday love: The Cul-de-Sac Kids, Imagination Station, Nancy Drew, Mandie.

It was the month I spent huddled up with the women of my church moms group, talking about A Beautiful Mess and Unreasonable Hope. It was a month filled with inspiring conversation, lessons in empathy, and deep prayer. It was a month spent growing closer to the women I’ve come to know and love, to the women I do motherhood with.

January was the month I finally tried The Message and found Bible reading suddenly quite enjoyable. It was the month I finally found a translation that speaks to my soul.

January was the month I read Read for the Heart and started to focus on better children’s books. It was the month we discovered so many new favorites—Redwoods, All Things Bright and Beautiful, The Chronicles of Narnia picture book, Curious GeorgeLearns the Alphabet, Good Good Father for Little Ones.

It was the month my three-year-old found himself suddenly enamored with dragons and knights. It was the month we read all of the little one-friendly dragon/knight books we could get our hands on: Princess Petunia and the Sweet Apple Pies, Sleeping Beauty, Sir Ryan’s Quest, The Sword in the Stone, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. It was the month we pretended to be in Narnia. It was the month I let my boy lead me down a snowy mountain trail while we hunted a dangerous red, no green, dragon. I pointed out our steamy breath and then suddenly we were the dragons, thrashing about on a hillside and looking for a kingdom to stomp on.

January was the month homeschool preschool evolved into something a little more serious. It was the month my son loved Roadwork, Digger Man, and Alphabet Under Construction. It was the month we payed extra attention to the backhoes and skid steers we saw while we were out and about. It was the month we learned about planes. It was the month we made Lego airplanes and wooden block cityscapes, and it was the month he officially recognized all of his capital letters and started to recognize some of the lowercase letters that don’t match their uppercase buddies. It was the month he frequently interrupted our stories to tell me, “That a is lowercase!” or “That’s a B!” It was the month he started shaping letters out of Legos, lunch, his blanket on the floor.  It was the month he frequently pulled the alphabet magnets off the fridge and told us, “This is a S. It says ssss. Like Sad! Sunshine! Snake! SARA!”
He walked at nine months and was constantly complimented for his clear pronunciations and impressive vocabulary before age two, but still I found myself shocked when January became the month my three-year-old became desperately excited about learning to read.

January was a month filled with activity, adventure, social engagements, chores… but it was somehow also filled with chapters devoured in the bathtub, bedtime stories curled up in my babies’ beds, morning devotionals read in silence with a mug of peppermint tea balanced precariously on the arm of the couch. It was the month we curled up on the couch at the library and read a million board books before they painstakingly narrowed down which they would bring home. It was the month we built a blanket fort and filled it up with books, the month I imagined a cabin in the woods filled with books on all the subjects I will someday teach them about, the month I read chapter after chapter on my recumbent bike, pausing only to watch the snow fall outside my window or shout “What is that?! Don’t put that in your mouth! Bring that to me.”

January was a good month, and a life full of books makes for a good life.

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