Silje’s Top 10

My eldest daughter, Silje is obsessed with reading.  We keep trying to figure out where she got that from…


She has loved books since she was a chubby little toddler, and her love isn’t satisfied even now as a lovely young lady.  One of the most asked questions I get on the blog is: what books would Silje recommend?

I feel the need to preface, that Silje is more of an advanced reader than my other kids.  Also, from the time she was little, we have been working hard developing this love into an obsession, much like her dad is obsessed with the perfect cup of coffee.  We wanted her palette to be so discerning that she would spit out anything that was cheap or not written well.  To do this, we took out any “twaddle” from our house, and she kept gravitating towards it even at the library that we had to cut off any “candy books” for awhile while she was really developing those reading taste buds.

Candy books are those cheap little books with popular cartoon characters, that are entertaining, and not morally bad, but does not require much from you as a reader.  It is pure entertainment.  It does not require you to think.  Entertainment is not bad, and I believe that there is even a place for it, but it’s not the meat and potatoes that help you grow as a reader.  I have used candy books to beg and plead my other kids to just give it a try because I’m worried they’re lacking literature-based nourishment, but I have found it’s hard to introduce “vegetable” books once “candy books” have been discovered.

My degree was in English Literature, so I’m familiar with many books, but I still could not homeschool without some reliable book lists.  If you want to know how I pick out various books from the library, etc, I recommend: Read for the Heart, as well as Educating the Whole Hearted Child (which is far more than a book list, but has some great novels to read while studying various ages in history.  It’s basically the book list the parents of the ‘Read for the Heart’ author used while they were educating her.)  Also, I don’t own it (yet) but I really like the Honey for a Child’s Heart book list.  It’s very well done.

So when you see this list below, know that I have kids who struggle in each subject.  Silje has subjects that are a struggle, but reading isn’t one of them.  All my kids don’t excel in reading, but I am using various techniques to develop their palette anyway.  She was my easy one for this subject.  Maybe it’s bad to say, but I’m very proud of her developed tastes, and I laugh when she will discard a book “because it lacks depth.”  I’ve turned her into a book snob, and could not be prouder.

So I’ve asked Silje to come up with her “Top 10 Book List” to share with other moms.  This has been agonizing for her.  It’s like picking a favorite child.  You will notice a strong animal theme with her.  She wants to stress they are not in any particular order.

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God with Us

Have patience with me.  I’m going through some stuff.  I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I have no idea how to sugar coat how hard it’s been.

Like always, I’ll just write my way through it.  Many dear friends have been asking how I’ve been doing since David’s new diet that restricts several foods and put my world upside down.  I’m not sure how to respond.  The rhythm of my day looks kind of like this:




freak out on everyone.

guilt.  apologies.


yell at everyone, over everything.

guilt.  apologies.  numb.

You get the idea.

Last friday, it was chicken butchering day.  A team of butchers came out to our farm and Knut and his cousin were busy helping them outside, and I was busy inside with the kids, and swatting the 186 flies that had come into my kitchen the day before as Knut was working on fixing the rotted front door frame, and let a bunch of flies in.  All day on Friday, as I went around, swatting flies, my chest just hurt.  It was a physical hurt, and one I’m familiar enough to know what it means.  It meant my anxiety was not in control, and a panic attack was looming.  That made me fear, which made the pain worse.  It’s how this whole anxiety cycle works.  Some of you know exactly what I mean.

My go-to in managing this chest pain is some medicinal tea which works the majority of the time.  I have tried several things, and this is what works.  I was drinking cup after cup after cup of this tea and I couldn’t shake it.  Swat!!  Slap!!  Flies were everywhere.

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Wool Socks

hate mending.  I just despise it.  Most especially because most of the mending I get is Knut’s work clothes, many of them still dirty and with 20 other patches, and I just want to throw them out and start fresh.  One of his work sweatshirts literally had 30 patches on it.  I bought him a new one to replace it, but he said it was too nice for work.  If you need to know anything about farmers, it’s that they rarely throw anything out.  I guess for city people like myself, when we throw things out, we imagine they disappear.  When farmers throw stuff out, they know it’s going in some landfill somewhere and that unsettles them.  Farmers love their land.

So, in spite of my less than enthusiastic feelings towards mending, a few years ago I picked up a darning egg at an antique shop for $3.  Because…wool, knitting, homemade.  All good feelings.

It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that it is time to put this darning egg to use.  Let me explain.

If there’s anything I hate more than mending, it’s socks.  Can I get an Amen! from other mothers out there?  Socks are everywhere in my house.  They overtake wintertime hours.  We have 7 people in this house, and let’s say the 5 little ones wear 2 pairs a day (at least, because…kids do) that is 12 socks being washed a day.  That’s 84 pairs of socks that need matching a week.  Nobody has time for that.

This is why, a few years ago, Knut and I made a very purposeful decision to start to transition our family over to wool socks.  Ironically, this push came from Knut more than me, but the more he explained it to me, the more genius it was.  The reasons are mainly in the wool vs. cotton explanation.

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These Days – I’m Blessed

Our internet has still been down.  We have had to rely on our cell phone data to keep emails and some contacts going.  However, I sat down to my computer to use some precious data to update you all on what is going on around here, and the internet is slowly working this morning.  So I don’t know what that means.  There aren’t many internet company choices out here, and when the one you use is (perhaps) going out of business, or at least unresponsive for you and your neighbors for weeks on end, you start looking for other options…and finding a few that make cell phone data look dirt cheap.  Sigh.

I don’t know why it’s working this morning.  But I will take advantage of it.

Our life has changed pretty dramatically this last week.  I know I have written before that my son, David, was diagnosed with alopecia.  Over a few short months, we went from a little spot on his head, to having to shave it completely because he only had 3 tiny spots of hair left.  This last week we didn’t have to shave it at all.  There was nothing to shave.



(The picture I texted to Knut last April with the question, “Do you know why David has a weird bald spot?”)


(David after we shaved his head about a month ago.  His friends think it’s awesome.)

He has lost all the hair on his arms.  His eyelashes are thinning and will soon be gone too.  He still has most of his eyebrows.  He is proving to be in the very, very, very, very small percentage of alopecia patients who lose all the hair on their body.  I cannot even begin to explain how watching this has been breaking my mama heart.  I don’t even know where to start.

The first 2 doctors we talked with said we could try steroid treatments.  However, one of them warned that the steroid treatments would aggravate some of his other medical issues, and the other doctor thought it would be fine.  Both agreed he had maybe a 50/50 chance of it helping.  There was a good chance they wouldn’t help at all, and just add a bad rash to his bald skin.  The treatments were not covered by our insurance and would be hundreds of dollars for each treatment, and he would likely need several.

We decided not to go with the steroid treatments, with the blessing of the doctors.

And then he started to lose his eyelashes.  I hit my breaking point.

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