Weekly Journal: Valentine

I  hope you had a very happy Valentine's Day and felt all the love.  My husband and I invited one of our favorite couples over for a family celebration.  After everyone ate, we got the kids settled with games and movies and played cards.  Spades is our favorite game to play with them and it was so much fun to relax with friends.  I am not fan of the overpriced prix fixe menus so sharing surf and turf with them was my idea of a perfect night!

What I have planned for the weekend:  It's time for the Great Backyard Bird Count! Our feeders are full of seeds, our bird baths have water and I even cleaned the windows for optimal viewing.  There are lots of great birding apps and resources on their site, but we do mostly reference this inexpensive field guide.

What I'm reading: Peter Wohlleben's The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief and Compassion - Surprising Observations of a Hidden World.  This book came up on my radar somewhere recently and I immediately grabbed it because I found his first book, The Hidden Life of Trees, to be so eye opening I still keep talking about it three years later. That first book blew my mind with its anecdotes about trees caring for each other and showing emotion as well as having the capacity for math skills and communication.  I will say that although I am thoroughly enjoying the book about animals, it is not hitting me nearly as hard as the book on trees.  I guess this is mostly because I have always believed animals feel pain and compassion no matter who told me, "oh, the fish don't feel the hook in their mouth."  It is nevertheless fascinating to read these stories of animal behavior, so I recommend it, just after you've read The Hidden Life of Trees first, because that is not to be missed!

What I'm obsessed withThe Dutch House.  Still.  At the risk of sounding like I'm just going to be an Ann Patchett Fangirl blog, she has a wonderful post on the Parnassus blog, Musing, answering all of my (our?) questions about the book.  Of course it just makes me want to read it again. And if you are as big a fan as me, in addition to her other fantastic works of fiction, you may want to consider adding This is the Story of a Happy Marriage to your TBR pile. It's a collection of literary and memoir essays that really tell a lot about Ms. Patchett's personal and writing life and will make you want to be her BFF. Have I told you I sat through a five hour run of The Met Opera's production of Aida at my local theater on the advice of this book?

What I'm thinking about: Phonics.  This article in the NYTimes explores the controversy over how to teach reading.  As a homeschooling mom with a first grader, we are balancing quick daily phonics lessons that seem very rote (think words with "oa" today and "ow" tomorrow) with the more pleasurable literary pursuits we find reading poetry, lush picture books and family read alouds.  It's a lot to think about and the consequences of how our schools teach reading can make or break a child's life.  I want our schools to take reading seriously, but I hate when the fear mongering phrases like, "able to compete in a global economy" are thrown into education.  I notice there is no mention of how most of the countries doing so well don't teach reading until age 7, and how these younger students spend their days absorbed in natural learning.  To me this absence is glaring and possibly a big piece of the puzzle we're missing here in the US.

Have a wonderful weekend!

*The links in the post may be affiliate links.  Your price is not affected but I may earn a small commission if you purchase using the links and for that I am very appreciative.


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