Our Plans for Adventuring, Reading, & Learning This Year

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As Little Miss Lily is beginning her second year of half-day preschool,  I thought I'd sit down and write out my cautiously optimistic plan for the year. I'm hoping to supplement what she learns in school & help equip her for kindergarten (and really, life in general... that's my job here isn't it?).

This might be more for me than anyone, but I thought I'd share it in case anyone else might be interested! I know I always love reading these sorts of things (especially from Carrots for Michaelmas and Molly at The Merrier World). Keep in mind that I'm pregnant with our third baby who should make their appearance in February, so I don't have many grand plans or hopes for being an overachiever this year. 

Adventuring

Once she starts full-day Kindergarten, I won't have very much time to go on adventures with her, so I'm hoping to go on at least a few good ones this year! I want to make sure we visit a few of Indiana's state parks, and maybe we'll be able to visit one or two of the neighboring states for some fun! I'm also hoping to take her out to at least one fun local adventure each week (like the library, the local play centers, the children's museum, nature center, trails, etc.). At the same time, though, I also want to be intentional about spending time at home and just being together since I know I'll miss this time with her as she grows. Balance, balance. 

Reading

We started reading The Magic Treehouse books over the summer and Lily really loved it! I like that the books are on the shorter side so we can finish one in one sitting, and Lily is starting to recognize some of her sight words. I've also been reading a few pages of this illustrated edition of The Hobbit to the children at night (the illustrations are so well-done and it helps keep Lily's attention as we go)! Other than that, I'm trying to sneak all of the Barbie books out of the house and slowly replace them with more meaningful ones, like Anne of Green Gables & Little House on the Prairie. 

Listening to

We're listening to the audible versions of The Chronicles of Narnia, which they love so far! It's been a lot of fun to introduce the children to some of my favorite stories and help them fall in love with reading (even though they're not quite there yet). I'm also listening to the audible version of Return of the King as I'm finishing up our Return of the King companion journal, so the kids have been hearing bits of pieces of it as we're driving around.

We also listen to a lot of podcasts while in the car, which is really the area where I feel like I'm winning as a parent. Despite calling them "boring", Lily is actually soaking it all in & it's sparked so many discussions! When we listen to Pints with Aquinas, she'll ask me things like, "Why did Aquinas say this? Or that?" It's been such a natural way to teach her basic truths about God, the Bible, and the world, that might have felt forced otherwise. We also listen to a lot of Catholic Answers Focus, Word on Fire, and The Tolkien Road. 

We also love listening to ballet music because Lily has become obsessed with dancing! Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and her new favorite Lindsey Stirling are all she ever asks for. 

Watching

I've come to terms with the fact that watching a little (a lot) more TV than usual is going to be a part of this year because  of my pregnancy sickness and general exhaustion, so if we're going to be watching something I'm hoping to make it something worthwhile. Lily used to love watching these Brother Francis videos about the faith, but she's recently gotten spoiled by Netflix (which I finally cancelled!) so I'm hoping to get her back into watching them (Augustine LOVES them). We've also been steering toward anything on PBS instead of Amazon Video/Netflix because they're at least somewhat educational and the mom guilt subsides for the most part. If you have any good religious/learning video recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Practicing

While Lily is mostly learning letters & numbers and such at preschool, I'm trying to be intentional about making sure we also practice them at home. We have a dry erase board as well as few workbooks for practicing writing letters and numbers. I just came across this one that seems pretty inclusive so I'm looking forward to trying it. I found a pack of sight word cards from the Dollar Tree that she likes flipping through and repeating the words after me - and this wipeable sight words workbook also looks really nice! I've been working on rearranging our play room / living room to have a nice little learning spot where she can practice or learn about whatever she wants. 

For the Babies of The House

  • "A Baby's Guide to" Books by Sweet Sequels: This etsy shop makes the cutest fabric books for babies - I especially love the Baby's Guide to The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit, but they have so many classics to offer that it's hard to choose! I could probably spend like $500 in this shop & not regret it in the least bit. 
  • Baby Lit Primer Books: These sturdy hardcovers are a cute and fun way to introduce babies to the classics! From Little Women to Dracula to A Christmas Carol, they all look so fun! 
  • John Ronald's Dragons: This is a short autobiography about Tolkien and it is one of the sweetest picture books I've ever read (maybe I'm biased). There are plenty of beautiful illustrations, especially of horses and dragons (which Augustine LOVES), and Lily enjoys the story quite a bit. 

That's about all I can come up with for now but it feels like plenty, especially since they're so young and mostly just learn by doing whatever we're doing all day. We're mostly pretty relaxed about it around here (which I hope is a good thing?) but it is fun to sit down and try to make goals/plans no matter how informal they are.

Thanks for reading! If you have any ideas or suggestions for helping my little ones (ages 4 & 2) learn about the world around them without being too rigid or complicated, I'd love to hear them! 

Hobbit Party Planning: Woodland Decor & Accents

This is a part of our Hobbit Celebration series, in which we're sharing inspiration and tips for hosting your own celebration of Bilbo + Frodo Baggins' birthdays on September the 22nd! I hope you'll enjoy these posts and much as I did writing them!  This post contains affiliate links. 

Our 6th annual Hobbit celebration is less than two months away and I'm getting quite excited as I begin planning and shopping a little bit. I wanted to share a few of the items I'm planning to purchase in case you were also planning a Hobbit celebration for this fall! As Hobbits have such a love for nature, our parties tend to lean towards a natural or woodland theme, with lots of green, orange, and brown. I also try to incorporate a lot of warm light (such as these twinkle lights or candles). Because little hobbits will also be invited to our party, I'm doing my best to avoid anything fragile (glass or dainty ceramics) or hazardous (such as tiny acorns or little bits of confetti that babies might choke on). 


I've also been saving inspirational photos to our pinterest board- here

You can also find photos from our past Hobbit parties over on our old site - here


We'll be sipping on Ent Draught through these birch paper straws & unwrapping Lembas from these sage green linen napkins, sitting at a woodland tablescape beneath a ceiling of twinkling lights and autumn leaves. So basically, it will be the greatest. ;) I also wanted to note that these mossy circles are placemats & this candle smells like the Shire! How perfect is that?!  I also have a few DIY plans that I'm hoping to share in the near future. Autumn is truly the most wonderful time of the year (sorry, all you other seasons), and I'm so thankful that we live in a world where Hobbits have birthdays and we get to celebrate them (even if they're not quite real, although I did find the History of Middle-Earth in the non-fiction section of the library once... so you never know...). 

Click through the photos for sources & happy Hobbit celebration planning!
May the hair on your toes never fall out ;) 

 

Discovering the Sacraments in Middle-Earth: Boromir's Confession

Artist Spotlight: This image, titled "The Death of Boromir" by CG-Warrior on Deviant Art, captures this scene with breathtaking detail and composition, particularly in the facial expressions of Aragorn and Boromir. 

In the opening scene of The Two Towers, Aragorn rushes to Boromir's aid after hearing the desperate call of his horn. Upon finding him, he realizes he has come too late. Boromir has been pierced with many orc arrows and now lays dying. 

“I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,’ he said. ‘I am sorry. I have paid.’ His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. 'They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them.' He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again.

'Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.'

'No!' said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. 'You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!

Boromir smiled."

Boromir confesses that he tried to take the Ring from Frodo and as atonement, he has defended the hobbits against the Orcs soldiers. Although he fought valiantly, he was unable to overcome against their strength and number, and the hobbits have been taken captive by the Orcs. Aragorn reassures him, "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!" After this, Boromir breathes his last and Aragorn weeps bitterly for the loss of his friend.

“He knelt for a while, bent with weeping, still clasping Boromir’s hand.”

Bless me Father, For I have Sinned

Boromir’s last moments call to mind an image of a deathbed confession, and indeed they contain all the elements of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: confession, contrition, satisfaction, and absolution.

Boromir speaks plainly of his wrongdoing, facing the truth rather than concealing it from Aragorn (confession).  He is greatly sorry for having attempted to take the Ring (contrition) and has submitted himself to the defense of the hobbits as his means of penance (satisfaction). And as he confesses, Aragorn acts as a priestly counsellor to his friend, showing him mercy and forgiveness in his last moments (absolution).

Forgive us our Trespasses

Encouraged by Boromir's last confession, seek out reconciliation in your own life, whether by receiving the Sacrament itself, by apologizing to a person you’ve wronged, or by doing what you can to heal any brokenness in your life.

Inspired by Aragorn's mercy towards Boromir, consider those who may need your forgiveness. Aragorn may have felt justified if he had lashed out in anger or withheld forgiveness from Boromir after his grave mistake, yet he chose to act mercifully and to grant him peace in his final moments. This, in turn, benefitted Aragorn as much as it did Boromir. 

Today, spend time reflecting on Christ’s words as he taught his Apostles how to pray to Our Father in heaven, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Ready to dig deeper?
Our Two Towers companion journal is filled with reflections and journaling prompts for each chapter of The Two Towers, created to help you grow in holiness (and hobbitness, which is quite similar). 
Order yours today. 

A Look Inside Our Two Towers Companion Journal

A Look Inside Our Two Towers Companion Journal

Each chapter includes a reflection on a theme, quality, or quote from the book. I’ve included space for lettering favorite quotes or doodling, as well as lined area for note-taking and discussion. My hope is to foster a love for beauty and truth as it is present in Tolkien’s world, to draw you closer to Christ through its meaning and philosophy, and to inspire you to action through journaling prompts.

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A Second Breakfast Giveaway

A Second Breakfast Giveaway

I wanted to put this together as a way to thank you for being a part of this community and to encourage our members to share the group with their friends who might also love tea or Tolkien! This giveaway is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by any of these brands (I've purchased all of these items myself for the purpose of this giveaway) but I still wanted to share links to the items in the prize bundle below because they are such sweet shops and I hope you'll support them! 

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Explore Indiana: Coxhall Gardens

Explore Indiana: Coxhall Gardens

Our family visited Coxhall Gardens in Carmel, Indiana, on a little adventure a couple of days ago. It was quite a drive from our little corner of Indiana but we had been wanting to explore different parts of this beautiful state, and I'm so glad we came across this park! It is one of the most beautiful parks I've been to, and the Children's Garden reminded me so much of a little hobitton. If you are ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by for a visit with your little ones. 

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John Ronald's Dragons (A Book Review & Giveaway)

John Ronald's Dragons (A Book Review & Giveaway)

Last week, a friend shared a photo of a library book she'd come across about a boy named John Ronald who loved dragons. And as my little ones have been getting older and asking me to read more often to them, I've been trying to be more intentional about the books I fill our shelves with... so I knew I needed this one.  I posted a little about it on my Instagram feed but I thought I'd share a few more of my thoughts on this sweet biography of JRR Tolkien for children for those who were interested. The story itself was absolutely darling, and the illustration just brought it to life in the sweetest way!

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On this Holy Saturday: Here At the End of All Things (Triduum Series)

On this Holy Saturday: Here At the End of All Things (Triduum Series)

Holy Saturday, the still in-between of such great sorrow and the greatest joy, has always been a quiet mystery to me. Jesus is dead, buried in His tomb. His mother is broken hearted, as are his Apostles and friends. A hush has fallen upon the earliest of Christians, one that they may perceive as the end of all things. And even still today, we might fall into despair. 

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