t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


More Read-a-Louds

I think I have posted before our Christmas tradition of giving our children

A Want, A Need, and Something to Read

This tradition was shared with me by a fantastic family the Hatches, whom we met 12 years ago when Brent and I first got married. I have been thinking a lot about books lately as I prepare for the holidays. I always have a list of 50 I want to buy, and I am grateful for an excuse to cut a dent. Yesterday I posted about the Old Mother West Wind series. Last year for Christmas the children also received The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

About a month ago the girls and I finished the Little House books. They are a greater endeavor than Burgess' books with more mature plot lines and increased length. The books are each about 250-300 pages with an average chapter length of 8-10 pages. But let me divulge a small example of how the characters gripped my children. It was one of those "Mother's Moments" which happened as we were reading the last few pages in These Happy Golden Years, the final book written by Laura. To briefly set the scene, Laura is marrying Almonzo in the morning, and Pa's fiddling all her favorite melodies from childhood. Suddenly, Callista just starts sobbing and laughing all at once.

"Mommy it is just so sad and happy." she choked out. "Laura is leaving home but she loves Almonzo so much. It will just be so different now."

I was floored at the depth of her understanding and emotion. She knew exactly what was happening in Laura's life. It was real. We watched Laura grow up from the time she was 5 years old in The Little House in the Big Woods.

At one point, while we were reading These Happy Golden Years, I told Brent I better finish this one fast with them, because they literally would follow me around the house, holding the book, begging for me to read to them. They giggled and blushed continually at Almonzo and Laura's sweet, innocent courtship.

The children and I learned lessons about pioneer life, gratitude, familial relationships, finances, wildlife, and love. I often find myself using Laura and Mary as positive examples for my children. I can off-handedly comment "Wow, remember how Laura and Mary would work so hard to make Ma's day just a little bit easier. Even without her asking them!" or "Remember when Laura and Mary had just a handful of wheat left for all of them to eat during The Long Winter. We are so lucky to have so much. They were so grateful for just a small piece of bread." I could go on and on. The girls behavior is immediately altered, at least for the short term, until they need another gentle reminder :)

We read all 8 books. I chose not to read The First Four Years with them. I have read on the internet the reviews, which say it was not written by Laura, only based on her journals. It is supposedly quite sad, lacking the exuberance and humor of the other books. Laura made me smile through my tears in The Long Winter, and we will never forget the panther screaming like a woman in agony in On The Banks of Plum Creek, what a gift she has. I will probably read the final book composed by her daughter and see if it is appropriate.

Callista actually had a literal "page count down" going until we reached this illustration.
She was giddy for the romance. I savored the innocence of it all.

I bought the entire boxed set on Amazon (can you tell I don't get out much). You will love the illustrations by Garth Williams. He actually visited all the sites from her childhood in order to make authentic drawings.

More often than not, "Field Trip Friday" turns into "Read Aloud Friday." Lately, we have been to so many doctors appointments, we just want to stay home and snuggle and read. Usually we head to the basement for Emmett to do handstands, bridges, and somersaults (which by the way are adorable), while the girls and I are engrossed in a book.

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