Q and A: Teen boy books; loving our husbands when they are not lovable; toddler training; my high school clique



Four Moms Weekly Q and A!

book shelf border smallTop 5 “fun but not mind-numbing”, wizardry-free books you would recommend for teen boys?

ONLY FIVE? I can’t do that. However, these will not all appeal to the same boy, so you might have him read one by each author, and then follow up on the ones he enjoyed most.

1. John Christopher’s Tripod trilogy and the prequel.  These are sci-fi, dystopian but with HOPE.  The world has been invaded by mysterious aliens nobody ever sees- what is seen are their transportation devices- giant tripods that patrol the land.  They do have their own cities, but no humans have ever returned from them.  The earth’s culture and technology have been sent back to a sort of medieval fiefdom era.  Children are ‘capped’ at age 13 in a special ceremony- the caps prevent rebellious thoughts.  There is an underground rebellion.

The books are:
The White Mountains

The City of Gold and Lead

The Pool of Fire

And the prequel, and I do believe they should be read in this order, with the prequel saved for last:

When the Tripods Came

John Christopher’s other books are hit and miss, IMO, but these are outstanding.

2. The adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson. For instance:

The Black Arrow

Treasure Island

The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter’s Tale 


3. The Swiss Family Robinson (Collins Classics)
These stories were first told to his four sons by a Dutch pastor, and later one of the boys wrote them out and published them.

4. Rosemary Sutcliffe’s historical fiction– here are just a few random titles in no particular order. I don’t think she wrote a dud.

The Eagle (The Roman Britain Trilogy)

The Lantern Bearers (The Roman Britain Trilogy)

The Silver Branch (The Roman Britain Trilogy)

5. The Little Britches books by Ralph Moody. These do occasionally have ‘language’ in them, but I do not think it’s gratuitous.

Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers

Horse of a Different Color: Reminiscences of a Kansas Drover

Man of the Family

Shaking the Nickel Bush

Mary Emma & Company (Bison Book)
Don’t be put off by the female name in the title.

6.Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s White Company.

Most people know Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and I do recommend him), but fewer are aware of the delightful The White Company, which Sir Arthur himself preferred. It’s historical fiction set in the days of chivalry. This is technically volume 2, but I prefer this one, and the story does stand on its own.

When published in 1891, The White Company became Britain’s best-selling book since Ivanhoe, surpassing A Tale of Two Cities, Treasure Island, and other literary giants.

7. Barbara Willard’s historical fiction:

Son of Charlemagne

and others=)

8. G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories– kinder and gentler than Sherlock HOlmes and not at all bashful about faith

THE COMPLETE FATHER BROWN MYSTERIES COLLECTION [Annotated] (Complete Works of G.K. Chesterton)
(these are not complete, I don’t believe, but it’s a start)

9. The adventure tales of John Buchan. These are early 20th century, and I enjoy them, but when race is mentioned, I am not comfortable at all with Buchan’s approach. I am not sure I could read all of these aloud to our Little Boys, who are black and biracial.

The Thirty-Nine Steps

Greenmantle (Richard Hannay)

Huntingtower (Oxford World’s Classics)

John Buchan’s Amazon Page

10. Dandelion Wine

I also like Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Illustrated Man, but they need more careful previewing by the parent who cares about that sort of thing. Dandelion Wine is not sci-fi or fantasy, which is more what Bradbury is known for, but it is an excellently written tale of a 12 year old boy and his summer. That may not sound all that fascinating, but it’s Ray Bradbury, yo.

Of course, his Fahrenheit 451: A Novel is must reading as well.


1976, Dazed and Confused

You all seem to be without questions tonight, procrastinate much?  In high school what was your clique, or were you homeschooled if so how did that play out in social situations where you had to explain homeschool?

A. Yes, we procrastinate much, except maybe Kimberly.  🙂

In high school my clique looked an awful lot lot like the guys in this picture– except one of my besties was Hawaiian and quite a few were Mexican (I lived just a few miles from the Mexican border and my school was 70% Hispanic).  In case this picture isn’t clear to you, my friends were stoners or boozers or both.  I was in high school in the 70s in Arizona.  Everybody was pretty much one, the other, or both. The number of kids I knew who did neither, I could probably count on one hand.  Our high school regularly had a group of kids (the group varied) who collected funds from all the students all day, let us know where the party would be (it was the desert, there were loads of party places and wide open spaces), and there would be a keg or two there. Where did teenagers get a keg pretty much every single weekend of the year?  At that time, the drinking age in Arizona was 19 and some of the kids in school were 19, and many of those who weren’t had older siblings.

And yes, the majority of other kids in my ‘clique’ were guys. I had very few female friends, and the two or three I did have moved out of state.   Why were all my ‘clique’ boys?   Because I was a mess.  God cleaned that up for me.

teenywee_frontispieceI’m currently working on training my just-turned-two-year-old toddler twins to obey. Yes, I know, I’m way late on taking up this task! Any tips? One is doing well, the other seems to think it’s a fun game.

I don’t know that there are any shortcuts.  Consistency. Firmness warmly joined with kindness.  Patience.  Diligence.  “Do not grow weary in doing good for in due time we shall reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

101_Favorite_Stories_from_the_BibleBible Time for 5 and 3 year olds?  What should it look like?

Short and sweet, based on what your five and three year old think is short and sweet.  My favorite children’s Bible story book for small children is 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible by Ura Miller.

I also liked to sometimes just retell the Bible stories.

Other times we listened to the Bible on tape or CD while we colored or snuggled.

We always sang some songs.

How do you prepare for the next school year? A bit at a time, a retreat, together with your husband, etc? Not sure how to get it all done this year!

We school year round, usually, so there’s not a big prep time- I prepare for the next term during a week or two between terms.  However, this year is a little different because everybody is doing so much traveling and we have some big, big items on our plate that we’re not blogging about (tease, tease)- so we didn’t get schooling done through this summer like I wanted to.

In this situation, I sit down with my laptop, my notebook, and stacks of books and just plug away at it.  In times past, I had a spot staked out on the couch with crates of books around me, or I hogged the dining room table and we didn’t eat there for forever.

My husband is not the academic of the family (which is funny, as he’s going to be the school teacher), and he trusts me implicitly with hsing (and other stuff).  We’ve been married 31 years and we’ve been hsing for 25 or so years.  So he doesn’t get involved much.  In the past he was more involved because I was buying stuff, and I do consult him if I want to buy something large, like a new language program, but in general, I’m using things we already have on hand.  We have over 8,000 books after all, and probably closer to 10,000.

How do you love your husband when…?

I’m leaving out the conditions and reasons because I don’t think the specifics here alter my answer much.  I will say I am not talking about the case of a tyrant, where church discipline or even the arm of the law needs to be brought in.   I talked about that here, here, and here.

These are just hard things that anybody would struggle with that might make it difficult for whatever reason to love one’s husband.  I’m not going to tell you I have ‘the answer.’ I have some suggestions, tools, that might help.  I hope something here is beneficial.  But I am not trying to act like it’s easy to do any of them, or keep on when you just don’t feel it.  Still, we are supposed to keep on whether we ‘feel it’ or not- so maybe one of these ideas will help you through a tough spot:

Role play to yourself.  Ask yourself, “What I would be doing right now if I did love my husband?”  And then do it.

Pray a lot.

Treat it as a dry spiritual spell and act accordingly.

Think of love as a verb, not a feeling.

In other cultures, you work at loving the one you are married to instead of relying on fluffy feelings before hand.  Just knowing that might be an encouragement.

Work on your fruit tree: ” the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith… “Galatians 5:22

Notice that fruit there is singular, not plural. And notice that this is about the outcome of something- the fruit. The fruit of what?
I do better when I remember that these qualities are outpourings of time spent at the feet of the Lord, receptive to the Holy Spirit, these are part of the ‘fruit of the Spirit,’ and fruit is the natural outcome of a well watered and fertilized plant.

Spend more time at the source, with the Master Gardener, and He tends to take care of the fruit.

More about that here.


Be sure to visit the other Moms of a Passle of Kids=)

Be sure to see which questions the other moms answered:

Kim, at Life in a Shoe

Connie, at Smockity Frocks

And Kimberly, at Raising Olives

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  1. Cindy Watson
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    teen boy books: Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serillier, Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes, I enjoyed Mars Year One by Brad Strickland And can I just put out there anything by Timothy Zahn. I love his Cobra series and Night Train to Rigel. This a good adult sized novels that are CLEAN and full of action. I have enjoyed him for years (95%) and just found out he is a believer!!

  2. Fatcat
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I’d like to hear your teen boy’s list of favorite books. Are they the same as yours?

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      His list includes books with wizards, and they were excluded. I think if he can’t have wizards, he’d rather read a biography of a general.

  3. Sheila
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t comment the day you posted it, but I really loved your post on dry spells.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted July 19, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink


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