Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Amidst all the "sheltering" and "distancing" precautions in answer to the Corona Virus outbreak, there seems to be the happy consequence of many families re-connecting and discovering closeness and the simple things in life.  

No sports, no schools or churches open, no eating out, no movie theaters, lots of parents working from home...we are all being forced to slow down a little and "live in the moment" as we navigate our new normal. 

Hopefully that means we aren't panicking and spending hours with the news and social media, but instead are taking time to talk, play games, pray and cook together, and read more with our families - appreciate each other, and find joy and beauty in the ordinary. 

It is not from external circumstances, but internal attitudes that sorrows and joys are born.
- St. John Chrysostom

And let's not forget those who are alone, infirm, sick, or unable to care for themselves.  They need our prayers, phone calls, cards, and letters now more than ever.  

I was reminded of this when my friend asked for prayers for her sister and niece, who are in separate care facilities and confined to their rooms.  She is trying to figure out little things she can do to help them through this difficult time of isolation.

Did you notice that today is the first day of Spring?  I think it's a great time to think about Spring-ing into Action!  I looked through my stash of Trader Joe's cards and will be sending some off to my friend's loved ones.  

Here are a few other quick ideas I came up with to help others through this time of temporary isolation. Please share yours!
  • If you have children who like to paint or draw, you could encourage them to [wash their hands well and] make cards to send out to local shut-ins. Start with your own neighbors!
  • Be a pen[computer]pal - you or your kids can send daily emails with family updates to any older family members or loved ones who are quarantined. 
  • Send a new mom, who may be feeling extra overwhelmed with being home with limited help, a pack of diapers, or a gift card, or have a meal delivered to her and her family from a nearby restaurant.
  • If you are healthy and not quarantined, check and see if your local food bank needs help packing up boxes for seniors or those in need.
  • Facetime, Skype, or send a video to a child in your life who would love to hear you read aloud a story.
  • Brighten a child's day with inexpensive activity books or little gifts you can buy online and mail (I recently ordered Star Wars Mad Libs for our grandsons and bath tub toys for our granddaughter.) Picture books, chapter books, stickers, hair bows, coloring books, and bath products are fun options.
  • Find child-friendly recipes that your kids can help out with; and then serve your family a special candle-lit dinner.
  • Send or drop off a beautiful live plant to someone.
  • Share a roll of toilet paper with someone.  I'm serious.  Not sure what the toilet paper shortage is about, but last week we nearly fell into the "uh-oh-we're-almost-out-of-TP-what-now" Category, until my husband discovered a big pack we'd forgotten we had in the garage!  I've now given rolls away to two friends, and we still have plenty.  They're relieved and I'm happy to have shared.
  • Listen to music, play the piano, scrapbook, garden, journal, read (especially the Psalms), try writing some poetry, get out and walk, have a family talent show.  Limit screen time, social media, and news.
  • Remember to SMILE - at your postman, your check-out clerk/cashier, and anyone else you come into (6 foot away) contact with. 
  • Pray. Everyday. For the whole world.

You may find my other posts helpful:

Family Read Alouds:

Monday, March 2, 2020

Lent is here, my dears!

And it is sweet. 

The singing of Psalms is like honey...It is the silence of the mind, and harbinger of peace.  For the psalms pray for the future, sigh for the present, repent of the past, rejoice in good works, and call to mind the joy of the heavenly Kingdom...It is the comfort of elders, an adornment for the young, and the maturity and perfection of the intellect. It teaches always to pray more attentively to Christ God, the helper and benefactor, who by the lips of the Prophet ordained these psalms.
~St. Augustine

This will mark the third Lenten season I have made a commitment to read the Psalter everyday, with a little help from this devotional book, Songs of Praise, by Sylvia Leontaritis. 

It's a perfect companion, either along with your morning cup of coffee or tea, or during a quiet evening after you've put the kids down for bed. 

If you want to make the Psalter a more integral part of your life - either on your own or as part of a Psalter group - Songs of Praise is the perfect aid. 

It includes the full text of the Ancient Faith Psalter (with wide margins for note-taking). Each kathisma is followed by a reflection from popular Orthodox Mom blogger Sylvia Leontaritis plus several blank pages for journaling. Read, reflect, and journal your way through the Psalter and let its holy words sink into your soul.

How about a good Lenten book for your children?

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A Child's Guide to Prayer, by Ancient Faith Publishing, illustrated by Tara Pappas, will make a sweet addition to any child's library.
A Child's Guide to Prayer is a beautifully illustrated prayer book for Orthodox Christian children aged 5-10 who are just developing a habit of prayer. The selection includes morning and evening prayers, prayers during the day, at mealtimes, for family and friends, and prayers of and to the saints - along with psalms to pray and prayers that have to do with communion and confession. 

All the prayers were carefully selected by priests and youth workers to ensure their age-appropriateness. The 120-page guide also includes brief instructions on how to pray, why we pray, and a list of different ways to pray. The book concludes with several blank pages for personal prayer requests. 

About the Illustrator: Tara Pappas lives in the beautiful state of Wyoming, where she is a mixed media artist, illustrator, and stay-at-home mother. She has been actively making art since her youth, influenced by the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. When she is not creating in her studio, Tara enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and friends.

My orange tree is in bloom, perfuming the air.  Lent is sweet.