Children’s Book Review: H is for Holy

Like most homeschooling families, we love books and there are never enough shelves for all of them. So when a friend at Ancient Faith Publishing asked if we wanted to review a copy of the new book H is for Holy, we were all so excited and we of course said yes. We’ve been checking our mailbox every day waiting for it to arrive and yesterday it got here, yay!

We sat down on the couch together after ballet and I started to read with all three big kids crowding in to listen and see the pictures.

Would you believe that a couple years ago when we started looking into Orthodoxy that it was a children’s book we found to be one of the most helpful? It had a way of explaining things so simply rather than the sometimes heady comparing and contrasting of Orthodoxy with other confessions or the rich theology of the Church. H is for Holy is like that with little nuggets of simply put information about the Church, theology and icons woven throughout.

We especially loved all the beautiful artwork in H is for Holy. One of the things that was a bit of a disappointment about that primer book a couple years ago was the lack of beautiful artwork especially coming from a faith with a heritage of such beautiful artwork. H is for Holy does not disappoint in that regard. Bright colors and beautiful depictions of the church and icons fill the book from cover to cover.

I was caught off guard by the way my children responded to the interactive questions sprinkled throughout. Normally, getting my kids to respond to a question in a book or even in our schoolwork brings forth “I don’t know” or they just want to skip over them. As we were reading through H is for Holy, however, my kids were quick to point out crosses on our icon corner, recount Bible stories and all of the other directives we came across.

In the last six months or so I’ve been collecting some Orthodox children’s books both for use by our little mission parish and for our own homeschooling use. Quite a few have recently gone out of print (I found a great little stash at our favorite monastery this weekend), so I am really glad that publishers like Ancient Faith are still making great books like H is for Holy for our kids. This one is a keeper for sure. I even found J looking over it again all by herself this morning.

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Ethan and Peter

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Awhile ago we came here, soon after we moved back to Bakersfield, to do a hike with homeschoolers. Today, I decided to go back in search of green grass growing after the rains. When we bought our house on this side of town years ago, it was a wet year and the hills all around our development were green and rolling. It seemed like a whole other country and definitely not Bakersfield. The last few years have left things parched, dead, hot. This fall the rains returned and I am remembering why this area sold us.

We found ourselves next to the river with rounded boulders, the long green grass I was hoping for growing up in tufts between them, the fog rolling in just as golden hour brought the promised honey hues. It was magical and ethereal, like something out of a fairy tale. However, earlier this week my kids had a meltdown because we went to a park and *gasp* there was no playground equipment. It took them 20 minutes to get over themselves and realize that they could be having a whole lot more fun with the other homeschoolers playing tag. So after that experience, I did not exactly expect them to enjoy today’s outing.  And yet there they were leaping from rock to rock, making up a story about being wolf hunters and not wanting to leave even though it started to get cold and we had a birthday cake to bake.

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Today my Ethan is five. It doesn’t seem real or possible and yet here it is. This month is also his youngest sibling’s fourth month on earth.

Ethan has so many fun little quirks. I call him my little engineer. He always wants to know how things work, take them apart and put them back together. He is very sensitive and will wear shirts with tags inside out and hates pants most days (the colder weather is breaking him of this because he really hates being cold more than any other discomfort). His skin is sensitive and prone to outbreaks. His emotions are sensitive too, but in a less explosive way than his next in line brother. He is definitely a giggler though and often laughs his way through life. He goes through periods of loving to dress up. He wore his Beast (of Beauty fame) costume three days in a row this week. He even wore it to his sister’s ballet lessons. A few months ago he wore his Flynn Rider costume in much the same fashion. Yesterday it was traditional Korean birthday clothes. I made him change and wash his face for the photo shoot because I’m mom like that. He is a collector and today was no different, we brought home several clam shells and bottle caps. The usual hunt for the perfect stick was also on.

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Peter has rolls upon rolls that I could kiss all day long. They are so puffy and soft like clouds upon clouds. He is very vocal and he is starting to make a noise that sounds something like “Mama.” Or at least that’s what I think. He has the stub of a tooth and as such his cheeks and chin are chapped from the drooling. He’s still easy and sweet. He’s full of smiles and as delightful as babies can possibly be. He sleeps well and tags along on our day to day with ease.

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December 2014

This month has been marked by trips to the beach and St. Barbara’s Monastery with my Godmama, Peter being three months old, Nutcracker rehearsals and performances, crafting, glorious rain, opening presents, and church feast days.

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School days

I am definitely starting to feel the winter burn out, but am managing to press forward with school most days. Here is some of the stuff we’ve been up to on those days…

Edible DNA models:
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Stethoscopes:

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A field trip to the San Diego Museum of Man:

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Peter love.

I probably say this way too much, but Peter is the BEST baby. We won the baby lottery, guys. I’m not the greatest about updating this blog anymore and instead tend to throw a bunch of photos into albums on Facebook these days or a quick shot here and there up on Instagram. But I know some of my family and friends still check here from time to time and are not checking those other ones. This space is an album and journal of sorts for me, so many memories and years marked here and in one place. As such, it is still worth keeping up as I am able.

Newborn pictures my sister took:

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1 month old:

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2 months old:

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Baptism:

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Because learning with a Kindergartener and First Grader is awesome

We are about five weeks in to our school year and it really is my favorite year so far. I mean ask me after the December burnout sets in, but that is how I feel right now. Some pictures and highlights…

Second day of school pictures:
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The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History:
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Nurturing my boy’s love of collecting things and connecting our lesson about archeology finding over 100 bottle caps by the Kern River:
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And this hilarious exchange which followed during the car ride home…
“Remember how archeologists like trash?”
“Yeah, but they call it midden.”
“So what would archeologists think about what people did by our river if they dug by it and studied the trash?”
“People drink a lot of beer by the river!”

Cave paintings like nomads made only ours were on grocery bags:
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My favorite Garden of the Theotokos art because it is so high sensory depicting Kolliva for Saturday, the day of the departed:
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Hieroglyphics and cuneiform:
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Henry loves to paint! Tagging along for “On the first day God created the light.”
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Excavating mummies:
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Sugar cube pyramids:
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Henry surprising me by being incredibly well behaved and the sweetest big brother at the symphony:
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Having fun with ‘dem bones, ‘dem bones:
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Celebrating the end of five weeks of awesome with ice cream and time at our favorite park:

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Blessed Feast of the Cross!

Today we celebrate The Exaltation of the Cross.

We harvested our basil plant this morning. Ethan was thrilled to discover and capture two grasshoppers. All the holes in the leaves were not so thrilling, but we managed to get enough nice ones to fill the basket.

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During Lent, Jilly’s godfather came down to deliver some of his beautifully crafted liturgical furniture to another priest. The kids all loved the simple wall crosses he brought down too.

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He told them he would send some “kits” so they could make their own. I saved our share of them because I knew they’d be the perfect activity to go with our Garden of the Theotokos curriculum for this day. Jillian and Ethan had fun gluing their crosses and painting them gold while Henry napped.

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It was nice to have some festal things to do as a family even though I was still confined mostly to bed to continue recovering from Peter’s birth.

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