Monday, April 25, 2011

A Green Cure For Lingering Scent of Cigarettes

Sometime within the past year, I ordered a book from  If you're not familiar with it, and you are a book lover like myself, you really should check it out.  I rounded up all the books that were not really necessary essentials to our family library, and not ones I could sell to other homeschoolers, and posted them as available for swapping. This has been a great way for me to make both my husband and I happy.  I purge some books from the house, and I wind up with others that I can own and read - at least for a time until I might swap them out again. Others I wind up keeping for good.  Overall, even if I don't wind up with as much available shelf space as my husband would like, I am saving money on my books.  For the price of shipping, less than $3 most times, I have a new one.  And for voracious readers like myself (and maybe you), it's a definite win.

Well, as with most arenas you enter into as a novice, I did not know all the ropes at first.  Consequently, I wound up with a book I truly wanted - but which came reeking of cigarette smoke and I was quite disappointed. Afraid that I'd just come out the worse in the exchange, I went searching for a remedy and chose one which I am thrilled to share with you.  This really works!  You have to be willing to be without your book for while, but afterwards I promise - there won't be a whiff of nicotine lingering.  I simply took a newspaper and tore it into squares, placing a page size sheet between each and every page in the book.  A bit time consuming, yes, but I assure you it was well worth it.  I then placed all of this inside a plastic bag.  I'm afraid I can't tell you just how long this part of the purification process took exactly, because quite honestly, I forgot the book in a drawer for months.  However, when I removed it - truly it was as good as new!  I have a very sensitive nose, and there was not a trace of cigarette within the pages.  If you find you have inherited a book you'd really like to read, but are put off by the lingering scent of this stinky habit - by all means give this a go.  Future readers of your book will also reap the rewards of your efforts.

And fyi, you can request your books come smoke-free at, as I later learned. But my inconvenience can be your gain!  Happy smoke-free reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Pinocchio has always been one of my all time favorite children's stories.  Time and time again, my children have heard me begin a little lecture or moral with, "It's just like in Pinocchio when .... "  The oh so true-to-life tale of those desires to do what is right, repeatedly being derailed by the temptations of self-gratifications and our harkening to the deceptive falseness of the quick and easy way.  And yet the duplicitous dangers that await one within Pleasure Island, and the weight of guilt as our sins enwrap and entangle the lives of those we love who seek to warn and aid us.  It is a story of us.

Not long ago, I was sharing something with my youngest daughter that tied in with the story of Thumbelina.  She looked blankly at me in response, and I realized that my daughters were growing up without the fanciful fodder of some of my favorite fairy tales.  Having brought my girls home at the ages of 6 and 8, we had missed out on the investment of oh so many tales and yarns by which kids learn many integral truths in life - with excitement and fun wrapped up in the telling.  I've done some of that, but not enough I was afraid.  A few more could certainly be tucked in still.  What was done could be undone quite easily, and I resolved to fill in these childhood gaps more fully.  Quickly, I flew to my computer to track and reserve a few double editions of some classics, supplying us with several to choose from.  You never know how the story will be told or illustrated, and I wanted full flavored stories and pictures to excite and inspire their imaginations.  My girls?  They began by humoring me, but were soon swept in.

I wound up using two books for every telling, and after reading from one, we would fill in our inner eye's visions with the beautiful drawings and paintings of both artists.  We began with the perils of Thumbelina, beginning life as an answer to prayers, narrowly escaping undesirable matrimonial matches, dealing with the jealousy of others, and being warmed by the kindness of strangers.  The sisters Snow White and Rose Red encouraged us as they forbearingly presented a united front of forgiveness and trust.  Babushka, occupied by the cares and concerns of life missed the invitation to see the Christ Child, and now spreads her love and longing for him to children everywhere as she relentlessly pursues the traveling wise men.  The clever Puss in Boots used his wit and wiles as the servant/benefactor of the poor youngest son, who trusted and followed his conciliere to a better life for all (except the proud tyrant of a giant, of course.)

Pinocchio proved the greatest treasure yet.  Written by Carlo Collodi back in the mid 1800's, it is like many stories that are familiar to us today - it is far different in it's original form, surprising us with twists and turns all the more so because we think we know just what to expect.  I found I preferred reading from this version, but we were wowed by the illustrations of Roberto Innocenti in this one.  Innocenti's perspective compellingly invites and draws us in to the minute details as well as the wide encompassing scope of a scene.  He truly creates a time and place and world for the reality of Pinocchio and Geppetto and the Fairy with the Blue Hair; I would readily display most any of his depictions on the walls of my own home.  I found my library carries a number of his other books, and I will utilize them to expand our appreciation for this dedicated and talented artist.

However, as we came to the close of the story I noticed something in the other book, the one we'd originally preferred to a lesser degree.  As Pinocchio was about to be swallowed by the shark, there was in the illustration an inconsequential turtle on the rock.... holding a small picture.  We all leaned in closer and looked to see what it was;  it appeared to be Jesus in a boat with the disciples at the time when they came to him in the storm.  Then we noticed a bit further on - a small picture floating in the water at Geppetto's feet when Pinocchio finds him - I believe it is of Jesus and John the Baptist and the dove descending.  We went back and began noticing with excitement other small finds hidden here and there, biblical correlations to events in the story, like a crown of thorns barely seen when Pinocchio is chained to a doghouse.

Quite remarkably, there is no mention of this anywhere, and it could very well be missed.  But I invite you to find this book and read it - to yourself or your children - and look.  Iassen Ghiuselev's quiet testimony of One who knows how we are formed because He was the one who created us, realizes we are but "sawdust", who knows and understands our each and every weakness, who forgives and forgives and forgives, who offers us a hope that does not disappoint, speaks eloquently in its silent testimony.  I am sitting here in quiet wonder.  My favorite fairy tale surprised me. In the language of love, it spoke enduringly of my need for my Savior, and there He was.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Semilla Snack Bags

I recently purchased a Jasmere coupon for Semilla Snack Bags.  Choosing from among the prints that were on sale (so as to stretch my money as far as possible), I was able to order two each of the sandwich wraps (they call them snack circles) and the snack sets - six pieces in all.  I am thrilled with them!  Our sandwiches were kept fresh for hours, and the bags have a sound velcro sealing all the way across the top, so no spilling out of so much as a sunflower seed.

We all pack lunches-to-go in our family, and I have been switching out bpa-free containers for the plastics we have used prior to.  Still, a glass or even bpa-free bowl isn't  exactly something you can stash in your purse.  These environmentally responsible and lightweight bags totally fit the bill.  Not only that, but I find that it adds to the pause as we consider what we will be putting into them. With such a conscientiously healthy choice for what to tote our lunch and snacks in, we are all the more mindful of what our meals are composed of as well.  

My son did wish I'd made a bit more manly choice in the prints, but I'll just have to order something special for him next time.  Thumbs up from our kitchen to your's.

No juzgue cada día por la cosecha que usted cosecha pero por las semillas que usted planta.

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Not All Those Who Wander

Several times during my hours of reading within this past year, I have asked myself, "Why are you reading this stuff?"

No, I am not secreting off to indulge in novellas or any other kind of taboo genre that might leap to mind.  I suppose I began this trail by doggedly slogging through Escape From Reason, one of the books assigned to my boys in their high school years which had always intrigued me.  I then moved on to the still meaty but more manageable Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, and continued with a cultural assessment of the standing of the Church in UnChristian.  Hold On To Your Kids impressed upon me even more the vital need for parents to know and hold their place in their children's lives.  I have since pored over the fantastically current and honest The Narcissism Epidemic, and the lesser Generation Me.  

If I can bring myself to do so, I have one more book to review and consider and that is How Evil Works.  Lest you mistake me for a doom and gloom disaster-monger, let me share with you the closing paragraph on this book's jacket which invites me to enter within its pages.
Here's the good news: Once we really understand 'how evil works' - not just in the disasters and mega-crimes that dominate the headlines, but in our own lives as well - evil actually loses much of its power over us, and the way out becomes more clear.  Thus, How Evil Works bears a powerful message of genuine hope.
I have conscientiously raised my children, and continue to do so, in a manner that seeks to turn their hearts and minds always to the truth of Christ in the midst of all circumstances.  And yet I find that to be "in this world and not of it" is a challenge of the most daunting proportions today. It no longer matters to me to make the point of whether this battle is comparatively worse than at any other time in the history of mankind.  Now is the day when my family is living, and the waves both subtle and crashing that wash over and toss us end over ear are relentless.

As I go through these books my head nods, and my stomach knots, and my Lord wakes me in the night hours to pray.  It is tempting to become the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand, but these moments are very like the point in John 6 when Jesus turns to His disciples and asks if they want to leave him as others are choosing to do.  Like Peter, I can only respond,* “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

So, why do I read these books, and why do I encourage you to as well?  Because this is the day the Lord has given to us, and further, He has told us how we are to rightly respond.  It is not as though nothing can touch us, because the insidious creep has it's way of slipping in through every crack and crevice. It is not to pretend that all is blissfully well, because we live in a world where truth and reality are not always self-evident and we need to be given eyes to see and discern.  And it is not to become overwhelmed and to sink in despair, because we have One who knows and will equip us for the task if we go to Him.

   **“Wake up, sleeper, 
       rise from the dead,
       and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

For your sake and for the sake of your children, wake up.  Not all those who wander are lost.

*John 6:68-69
**Ephesians 5:14-16