A Great Word for Family Gatherings: Idiosyncrasy

wondrous memeWelcome to Wondrous Words Wednesday!  Thank you for stopping by during this busy holiday week.  We can’t let cleaning and turkey basting get in the way of our word nerdiness, right?

If you have time, or you want to procrastinate on the cooking, visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion for links to more cool words.

My friend Valerie recently shared a word that piqued her curiosity: idiosyncrasy.

I thought that as families and friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, there might be many idiosyncrasies being noticed out there, and that we could have fun with this word.

idiosyncrasy \i-dē-ə-sin-krə-sē\ noun from the Greek idio- + synkerannynai to blend

an unusual way in which a particular person behaves or thinks; an unusual part or feature of something

Word Nerd Workout

It’s easy to find idiosyncrasies in others, especially members of our families.  For example, my grandmother kept EVERYTHING, and she always told us it was because she was “a child of the Depression.”

Or, my child #3 literally can’t go to sleep unless we go through a bedtime litany that includes phrases like “I love you” and “You’re the best mom in the world.” (Sweet, yes, but sometimes after 9pm I just want to kiss him and be done.  Then I remember my friend Amy’s post on The Nine Minutes That Have the Greatest Impact, and I give him the love.)

We can all identify idiosyncrasies in others, but are you willing to share your own?  I’ll go first.  When I feel stressed, I talk to myself.  Like, this week, as I prepare for 12 guests, I’m constantly chatting — with no one!  “I need to get a load of laundry in first, then I can clean the veggies for the salad.”  It must have something to do with auditory processing needs.  (That sounds better than “insanity.”)

What are your idiosyncrasies?  Share in the comments, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!



The Perfect Book for Thanksgiving: One Thousand Gifts

1000 giftsMy dad shared a funny picture on his Facebook timeline.  I won’t post it here to avoid copyright infringement; click the link to see it.  Basically, it shows a shows a turkey yelling at Santa:

November is my month, buddy, Wait Your Turn!

So true, right?  We all agree, and yet, somehow Thanksgiving, as a holiday and a practice, often gets lost.  The point is peace and gratitude, not stuff, or stuffing.  I’m hoping for something different this year. If I can pause and truly celebrate gratitude for Thanksgiving, then maybe the Christmas season will be calmer, and more meaningful, too.

I’ve just finished a powerful book to help me with this.  Because I- mother of four and a Type-A controller- am going to need much help.  And, maybe you do too.

The Premise

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp describes how she learned to find fulfillment in the everyday monotony of housework and parenting.  It’s a difficult concept but an easy practical application: she started a list.  Every day, for over a year, she wrote down the ways God blessed her. Usually it was little stuff – the bright orange of carrots, the giggle of a child.  But don’t think Voskamp’s book is full of saccharin platitudes about a positive attitude.  She digs deep.

She shares at the beginning:

I wake to the discontent of life in my skin…  To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing.  Always, the failing.  I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain… I live tired.

Can you relate to this passage?  I can.  Voskamp turned to her faith, to the practice of eucharisteo, giving thanksto bring joy back into her life.  But it wasn’t easy.

I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life… Life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.

She made herself write gifts down.  She didn’t just think about gratitude, she practiced it, listing one item at a time.

What I Liked

One Thousand Gifts demands a lot of its reader.  Voskamp writes with a poetic and unique style, one that can be hard to absorb at 10pm when one finally has time to open a book.  It’s kinda like reading Shakespeare: you have to get into the rhythm of it.  She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, like why bad things happen or the need for total surrender to God.  Yet it’s a book that, if you allow it to penetrate your thinking, will change your life.


1000 gifts app 2

The 1000 Gifts mobile app

If you’re ready for a challenge, if you’re tired of being exhausted and discontented, give One Thousand Gifts a try.  It’s especially appropriate for the holiday season, a time when we could benefit from peace and reflection, if we choose them.  Voskamp writes from a Christian perspective, so keep that in mind if you read or recommend the book.

And there’s more than just reading to do.  I realized I’d be losing the point of Voskamp’s work if I didn’t start practicing gratitude like she did.  I thought about buying a pretty journal for my list, but then I saw the ad for the One Thousand Gifts app.

With the mobile app, I carry my list with me wherever I go and add when the moment strikes, or when I realize that I need to practice some gratitude.  The app lets me add pictures and share gratitude moments to social media.  It also has inspiring quotes from the book.  It uses the soothing brown and light blue color scheme from the book.

Yes, writing things down in a journal would be cool, but I think I’ll be more likely to practice gratitude, to nail in eucharisteo, if I’ve got a constant reminder with me.  I’ll let you know.

How do you think gratitude can improve your life?  What do you think about a gratitude list?  

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for getting thoughtful with me.


The Meaning Behind the Word “Coach”

wondrous memeFor Wondrous Words Wednesday, a look at the word “coach“.  For more wordy discussion, visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion; she’s the hostess of this fantastic meme where readers share interesting words they’ve discovered.

I coach U8 soccer, and let me tell you, it’s not easy.  Fun, definitely, but also exhausting. During one of my coach training courses, the instructor pointed out all the different roles coaches play:

  • teacher
  • mentor
  • analyst
  • public relations expert
  • nutrition consultant
  • organizer
  • cheerleader
  • fund-raiser
  • mediator
  • disciplinarian

Surely I’ve missed something… feel free to add to the list!

All these skills are required for a job that comes from the Middle French word for carriage.

Yes, that’s right.  Carriage.

Coach (noun) can be traced back to the 1550s from the Middle French coche , the German kotsche, and the Hungarian kocsi (which literally translates “carriage of Kocs”, from the name of the village where carriages were made.)

The meaning for a coach as an instructor or trainer first came about in approximately 1830; it was used as slang at Oxford University for a tutor who “carries” a student through an exam.  Coach in the “athletic sense” came about around 1861.

Pretty interesting, huh?  I swear, Online Etymology Dictionary has become my new favorite site!

If you’ve had the privilege to know good coaches, then you understand that they do much more than “carry” their people through competition and performances. They inspire, instruct, and sometimes harass. ;)  No one should criticize a coach until he or she has coached.  It’s a humbling, but rewarding, job.

(I also don’t think anyone should criticize a referee until they’ve done that job.  Talk about tough!)

Saturday morning coaching

Saturday morning coaching; Photo Credit: Nancy Anderson, 2014

That’s me with my little soccer people.  Can you feel the energy?  Do you also see that those 7 and 8 year olds are almost as tall as me?  That’s okay, I’m built low to the ground for speed and agility.  (Thanks Nancy for the picture and Leslie for the short quote.  We just won’t tell anyone how clumsy I am.)

What would be your definition of a coach?  Can you add any more roles to that long list?

Thanks for getting nerdy with me today!



Vote in the Goodreads Choice Awards

Goodreads Mobile App

Goodreads Mobile App

It’s the holiday season.  You need gift ideas.  If you’re a devout reader, you want to support your favorite books and find new treasures.  I’ve got just the spot for you to visit.

Goodreads is running its annual Goodreads Choice Awards.  These awards are some of the few decided solely by readers. The voting for the semi-final round ends November 15th.  Visit Goodreads to vote for your favorite books in over eighteen categories, including Young Adult, Middle Grade and Children’s, Fiction, and Fantasy.

Frankly, I like perusing the lists to find books to read.  My book club will decide on our selections for next year soon; I now have at least five titles I want to suggest.  If you’re a Goodreads member, you can hover over a book title and a snippet will appear along with the “want to read” check box.  Adding books to your TBR list is a snap!

These two books, listed in the young adult category, wait on my shelf; hopefully, over Christmas break, I can indulge.

since you've been gonewe were liars








And here’s my guide to using Goodreads for word nerds.

Have you voted in this year’s Choice Awards?  Do you find the awards helpful for finding reading material?

Now, go vote!



The Meaning Behind the Word “Discipline”

wondrous memeFor Wondrous Words Wednesday, a look at the word discipline.  To find more word discussions visit Kathy, blogger at Bermuda Onion and hostess of the Wondrous Words meme, where people share interesting words they’ve discovered.

A child of mine tried to sneak out of the house this morning with something forbidden.  (I’m keeping details vague because sometimes my kids read my blog, and I don’t need to receive any more glares than I already do.)  Needless to say, the situation called for yelling , lecturing , discipline.  I’m trying hard these days not to over react, and before I addressed the mischievous child, I reminded myself of the original meaning of “discipline.”

Discipline dates back to the 13th century and took its meaning from the Old French word descepline “physical punishment, teaching,” and from Latin disciplina : “instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge”.  The militaristic meaning “orderly conduct as a result of training” comes from about 1500.  Thanks, etymonline.com.

disciplinequote“Instruction given” – that’s the piece I clung to while speaking with my child about honesty and communication.  The kids are getting older, and I want to balance limits and consequences with teaching.  As a good friend said to me recently, soon my children will not be under my constant supervision (e.g.they will take off in a car with friends), and I will have to trust that they make good decisions.

Yikes.  Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart.

Hopefully, they will remember lessons and not lectures.  But I’m already accused of ranting, so…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about strict parental guidelines, but I don’t want my discipline to be so harsh that my children get frustrated and miss the wisdom I’m trying to impart.

What does the word discipline mean to you?  Where do you stand on the punishment/ lesson continuum?

Thanks for getting thoughtful with me, and don’t forget to visit Kathy and the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme.


Four Ways to Get Books To Kids in Need

Intelligent Boy Reading A BookTeaching isn’t for wimps.

I know, I was out there.  I spent a year teaching middle school kids with learning disabilities and behavior disorders.  (I know ALL middle schoolers exhibit crazy behavior at some point, but these guys truly had special needs.)

One of the highlights of my year in teaching was getting my kids excited about books (shock!).  I’ll never forget the day I went to visit one of my notorious students in ISS (in-school suspension) and found him nose-in-book!  Sure, he was trapped in a small room for six hours, but he actually told me he liked the story.

For a kid who rarely cracked a book cover, that was huge.

So when my friend Michelle told me about a friend of hers who is teaching in a county alternative school, I took interest.  The poor thing is stuck out in the annex of the old middle school without access to a library.

How can she get kids excited about books if there isn’t a library?

This teacher gets book donations from friends, unfortunately a ton of Twilight… nothing against Stephenie Meyer, but…  To provide a quality learning experience, this teacher needs classroom sets of great young adult literature.  But how can she get them?

Author Joy Jones had a nice piece in the September/October issue of the SCBWI Bulletin encouraging writers to embrace the practice of giving books for charity.  She highlighted the following resources; I scoured their sites for details.

Resources for acquiring books to share with kids in need


Barnes and Noble:

Barnes and Noble offers sponsorships to organizations that meet “the Barnes and Noble mission” and the following criteria:

  • Organization must be in a community with a Barnes and Noble store
  • Organization must serve the greater good of the community
  • Partnerships should include in-store events, visibility, and a wide reach.

Visit barnesandnobleinc.com.


First Book:

Acts of kindnessStrives to give educators access to high quality books and materials for children in need.

  • Has given over 120 million books to children from low-income families
  • 97% of all revenue goes directly to providing new books to children in need
  • Partners with schools serving low-income students (these schools usually have pitiful funding)

To apply to First Book for resources, you will need:

  • Taxpayer ID
  • Proof of non-profit status or letter stating your organization serves children from low-income families
  • The percentage of low-income children served by your organization (as demonstrated by the number of children eligible for free lunch, food stamps, Medicaid, etc.). First Book usually requires that 70% of children be low-income or that the school is a Title 1 school.

To receive books: http://www.firstbook.org/receive-books

Help and FAQ: http://help.firstbook.org/


 National Home Library Foundation:

Grants money for books and other reading materials to libraries and community groups with limited resources.  They accept grants year round and evaluate applications in the fall and spring.  Grants range from $500 to $5000, with the average being $2000.

To apply for a grant, you must provide:

  • A statement of need and an explanation of how the grant will help
  • Expected results
  • A detailed proposed budget
  • Proof of tax exempt status

Applying for a grant: http://homelibraryfoundation.org/how_to_apply

General Info:  http://homelibraryfoundation.org/home


Joy Jones Online:  The Story Gift Project

Tambourine MoonMs. Jones has published multiple children’s books, including Tambourine Moon.  Her charity work has provided over 600 books to schools in her area, even though she isn’t a millionaire.  She started The Story Gift Project to encourage more young readers.  Unfortunately, when I went to her site, the link to The Story Gift Project didn’t work.  I will try to contact her and update this post with relevant information ASAP.


Do your part to make sure all kids have access to quality books

  • Share this post, especially with educators and people who work for non-profits that serve kids
  • Consider donating to First Book, the National Home Library Foundation, or The Story Gift Project


Do you know of other organizations that help get books into kids’ hands?  Please share!

Thanks for stopping by.