Celebration! Happy Independence Day!

I’m re-posting this list of 55 ways to celebrate the 4th of July–or to celebrate the USA any day.

1. Read the Declaration of Independence. Take a Declaration of Independence quiz. Learn more about American Independence Day at Independence Day on the Net.

2. Sing or learn about The Battle Hymn of the Republic

3. Some picture books for July 4th:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride.Illustrated by Ted Rand. Dutton, 1990.
Dalgliesh, Alice.The 4th of July Story. Alladin, 1995. (reprint edition)
Spier, Peter. The Star-Spangled Banner. Dragonfly Books, 1992.
Bates, Katharine Lee. America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Neil Waldman. Atheneum, 1993.
Devlin, Wende. Cranberry Summer.
St. George, Judith. The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence.
Osornio, Catherine. The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.
More picture books for Independence Day.

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born July 4, 1804. Advice from Nathaniel Hawthorne on Blogging.

5. Stephen Foster was born on July 4, 1826. The PBS series American Experience has an episode on the life of Stephen Foster, author of songs such as Beautiful Dreamer and Oh! Susanna.

6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty years after adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams’ last words were: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
Jefferson’s last words: “Is it the fourth?”
I highly recommend both David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and the PBS minseries based on McCullough’s book.

7. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. He is supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it,” and “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”
Also, “we do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Amen to that.
More on Calvin Coolidge and the Fourth of July from A Quiet Simple Life.

8. You could make your own fireworks for the Fourth of July. Engineer Husband really used to do this when he was a young adolescent, and I can’t believe his parents let him. He tried to make nitroglycerine once, but he got scared and made his father take it outside and dispose of it! Maybe you should just read about how fireworks are made and then imagine making your own.

9. On July 4, 1970 Casey Kasem hosted “American Top 40” on radio for the first time. I cannot tell a lie; in high school I spent every Sunday afternoon listening to Casey Kasem count down the Top 40 hits of the week. Why not make up your own Top 40 All-American Hits List and play it on the fourth for your family?

10. Via Ivy’s Coloring Page Search Engine, I found this page of free coloring sheets for the 4th of July. We liked the fireworks page.

11. Fly your American flag.

12. Read a poem to your children about Leetla Giorgio Washeenton. Or read this biography of George Washington.

13. Read about another president you admire.

14. Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Subtitled “The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787,” this book is the one that gave me the story of the US constitution. It’s suitable for older readers, at least middle school age, but it’s historical writing at its best. I loved reading about Luther Martin of Maryland, whom Henry Adams described as “the notorious reprobate genius.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who was”always satisfied to shoot an arrow without caring about the wound he caused.” (Both Gerry and Martin refused to sign the final version of the Constitution.) Of course, there were Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, George Washington, who presided over the convention in which all present knew that they were creating a presidency for him to fill, and Ben Franklin, the old man and elder statesman who had to be carried to the convention in a sedan chair. Ms. Bowen’s book brings all these characters and more to life and gives the details of the deliberations of the constitutional convention in readable and interesting format.

15. Watch a movie.
Getttysburg is a tragedy within the tragedy that was the Civil War, but it’s also patriotic and inspiring.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has Jimmy Stewart demonstrating what’s wrong and what’s right about American government and politics.
I like 1776, the musical version of the making of the Declaration Of Independence, but it does have some mildly risque moments.
Other patriotic movies. And a few more.

16. Have yourself some BarBQ.

17. Play a game. Organize a bike parade.

18. Take a virtual tour of Philadelphia’s famous historical sites. Learn more about the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross Home, Valley Forge, Brandywine Battlefield, Independence Hall, and other sites.

19. Host a (cup)cake decorating contest.

20. Download a free Independence Day wallpaper for your computer. More free wallpapers.

21. Photograph some fireworks. Check out some fireworks photographs.

22. Listen to The Midnight Ride from Focus on the Family’s series, Adventures in Odyssey, to be broadcast on Wednesday July 4th.

23. Read aloud the Declaration of Independence.

24. Listen to some marches by John Philip Sousa, performed by the U.S. Marine Band. I played several of these, not very well, on my flute when I was in Homer Anderson’s Bobcat Band.

25. Enjoy A Capitol Fourth, broadcast live on PBS from Washington, D.C.

26. Send an e-card to someone you love.

27. Pledge allegiance with Red Skelton.

28. Bake and decorate a flag cake.

29. When Life sends you an Independence Day, make lemonade.

30. July is National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month.

31. Fourth of July Crafts and Treats: cupcakes, windsocks, stars, hats, and more.

32. A patriotic pedicure?

33. More Fourth of July crafts.

34. Patriotic parfait.

35. Start an all-American read aloud, such as:
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
Guns for General Washington by Seymour Reit.
Tolliver’s Secret by Esther Woods Brady.

36. Independence Day printables from Crayola. And more coloring pages from Moms Who Think.

37. Sing the U.S. national anthem, Oh, Say Can You See?, all the way through. Memorize at least the first verse.

38. More Fourth of July recipes.

39. We always attend the Fourth of July parade in Friendswood, Texas, except not this year since some of us will be traveling. Anyway, find a parade and take the kids or grandkids or neighbor kids. A Fourth of July parade is a celebration of American patriotism in a capsule.

40. Free printable patriotic U.S.A. calendars.

41. Fourth of July art projects for preschoolers and the young at heart.

42. Read a version of Patrick Henry’s great Give Me Liberty speech.

43. Check out A Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a great book of poems about various famous Americans, and I think lots of kids would enjoy hearing it read aloud, maybe a poem a day in July.

44. Make a pinwheel or other printable craft. Or print some games.

45. Spend some time praying for our nation’s leaders: President Barack Obama, your senators, your representatives, the governor of your state, your state representatives, and others.

46. Wear red, white, and blue. Or put red and blue streaks in your hair. When I was in junior high, flag pins and ponchos were in style. I had a flag pin and a red, white, and blue poncho, both of which I wore together. I was stylin’!

47. On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau went to live near Walden Pond. Thoreau and Sherry on Clothing.

48. Any of the following nonfiction books for children would make a good Fourth of July history lesson:
The Story of the Boston Tea Party by R. Conrad Stein
The Story of Lexington and Concord by R. Conrad Stein
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Norman Richards
The American Revolution (Landmark Books) by Bruce Jr Bliven
The War for Independence: The Story of the American Revolution by Albert Marrin
The Story of Valley Forge by R. Conrad Stein
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
The Story of the Battle of Yorktown by Anderson
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman
In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin
The Story of Old Glory by Mayer

49. Host a block party or potluck dinner.

50. Take a picnic to the park.

51. Read 1776 by David McCullough or the two companion novels, Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson. All three would make great Fourth of July reads. Semicolon thoughts here.

52. Serve a Fourth of July “mocktail”–red, white and blue. (Lots of other ideas on Pinterest.)

53. More Pinterest. And lots more.

54. Host a Fourth of July water balloon fight.

55. Give thanks to the Lord of all nations for the United States of America, that He has made this country, sustained it, and blessed it. Pray that we will be a nation of people that honor Him.

Saturday Review of Books: July 28, 2012

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” ~Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I’ve been on that geometrically progressive journey for about fifty years, ever since I learned to read, and today I celebrate fifty-five years of books. I’m hoping for fifty-five more–or for books in heaven. Anyway, my birthday is the reason for all the “55” lists that I’ve been posting for the last few weeks. Here are some links to those, and I’m hoping for at least 55 links in the Saturday Review of Books today. So if you want to celebrate with me, please leave links to your book reviews from this week and be sure to click through to read the ones that interest you.

The Best Advice I Ever . . . 55 Words of Wisdom
55 Ways to Celebrate the USA
55 Favorite First Lines from Favorite Books
55 (Mostly) Short Videos Worth Watching
55 Texas Tales: From Galveston to Amarillo to Brownsville to El Paso
55 Free Kindle Books Worth Reading
History and Heroes: 55 Recommended Books of Biography, Autobiography, Memoir,and History
More History and Heroes: 55 Biographies and Memoirs I Want To Read
Reading Out Loud: 55 Favorite Read-Aloud Books from the Semicolon Homeschool

SatReviewbutton

Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read. That’s how my own TBR list has become completely unmanageable and the reason I can’t join any reading challenges. I have my own personal challenge that never ends.

By the way, I have some more lists of 55 that I’m working on. After all I get to bee 55 years old all year long; I might as well live it up.

54

54 is a wonderful number, not quite as interesting as 52, but still a lovely number and a good place to be.

On October 13th in the year 54, the Roman emperor Claudius died, possibly after being poisoned by Agrippina, his wife and niece. He was succeeded by Nero. O.K. that’s not a very beautiful event to remember, but it is interesting. Has anyone read I, Claudius and and Claudius the God, both by Robert Graves? I read both volumes of Graves’ fictionalized biographical novels about Emperor Claudius quite a while ago, and I don’t remember the details; however, I do remember them as quite well-written and fascinating.

54 is a semiperfect number and can be written as the sum of three squares: 49+4+1
27 + 27 = 54 That’s two times three cubed.

A score of 54 in golf is colloquially referred to as a perfect round. This score has never been achieved in competition.

Car 54, Where Are You? was a 1961-63 TV series starring Joe Ross and Fred Gwynne as New York City policemen having comical adventures.

Studio 54 was a highly popular discotheque in the 1970s and early 1980s. Studio 54 was originally a New York City Broadway theatre, then a CBS radio and television studio. In the 1970s it became the legendary nightclub located at 254 West 54th Street in Manhattan. The club opened on April 26, 1977 and closed in March 1986.

Debby Boone (9/22/1956), Carrie Fisher (10/21/1956), Katie Couric (1/7/1957), LeVar Burton (2/16/1957), Vanna White (2/18/1957), Spike Lee (3/20/1957), Vince Gill (4/12/1957), and Scott Adams (6/8/1957) are all 54 years old right now.
And Osama bin Laden (3/10/1957) was 54 years old when he died.

There are 54 countries in Africa, according to Wikipedia.

NASA has identified 54 potentially habitable, or life-friendly, planets outside our solar system.

54 Wonderful Projects is a post from last week about all the projects I’d like to read about, try out, live vicariously, or at least start. I have lots of lists of 100 (Top 100 Hymns Project), or 50 (50 Favorites) or 52 (52 Ways to Read and Study the Bible in 2011) things on this blog. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to make lists. Look for more “54” lists this year.

54 is the number of cards in a deck of playing cards, if the two jokers are included. And by all means, I’m at an age to include the jokers. I identify with the jokers.

Psalm 54 sounds like a good prayer for this year. I’m beginning my 55th year of life, and for the past 54 years God has been my help, and the Lord has sustained me. Amen.

1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, LORD, for it is good.
7 You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

In Which I Am Born

In 1957, the year I was born, Ed Sullivan had Elvis on his show for the third time, showed him only from the waist up, and said: “This is a real decent, fine boy. We’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you. You’re thoroughly all right.”

Published in 1957:
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
If Death Ever Slept by Rex Stout.
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Movies released in 1957:
Loving You with Elvis Presley.
Jailhouse Rock with Elvis Presley.
The Bridge on the River Kwai with Alec Guinness, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

On the actual day of my birth an earthquake shook Mexico City and Acapulco. But I doubt if my mom noticed it way out in West Texas.

Also born on July 28th (not 1957): Beatrix Potter, Gerard Manley Hopkins

Last year I wrote a list of lists and a bit of a meditation on the number 52. 52 is an interesting number with lots of associations. It’s a good number for lists, and I used it this year a few times to confine and order my thoughts in certain areas:

52 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day
52 Things That Fascinate Me
Summer Reading: 52 Picks for the Hols

I have several other lists of 52 in the works. I think I’ll stick with 52 (and 12) for lists; it just feels right.

53 is more solitary. It’s prime. In fact, it’s an Eisenstein prime. Whatever that means. And 53 is a self number. 53 is obviously not a number for links and lists and affiliations and organization. 53 is independent and somewhat isolated. It’s unique.

For this year, I’ll enjoy being 53, somewhat solitary, odd, and eccentric. Perhaps I’ll even be reclusive at times, as much as one can be reclusive in a family of ten people. I enjoy alone and different and distinctive and slightly idiosyncratic. 53 is the number of countries in Africa, so I’ll continue to work on my African reading project. But 53 isn’t the number for much else. It stands alone.

But at the same time, I still get to be 52. I still get to make lists and connections and relationships. Life, like numbers, has a rhythm. Pull back and enjoy your individual times of 53-ness, and then be 52 or 12 or whatever age the Lord has given you to be and fill the year with people and books and written words and encouragement and the messiness and joy of relationships.

That’s how I plan to celebrate this next year of becoming what God has for me.

And I might memorize Isaiah 53, a very 53-ish passage of scripture:

1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

52 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day

1. O Beautiful for spacious skies . . .
Sing a patriotic song.

2. The Battle Hymn of the Republic

3. Some picture books for July 4th:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride.Illustrated by Ted Rand. Dutton, 1990.
Dalgliesh, Alice.The 4th of July Story. Alladin, 1995. (reprint edition)
Spier, Peter. The Star-Spangled Banner. Dragonfly Books, 1992.
Bates, Katharine Lee. America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Neil Waldman. Atheneum, 1993.
Devlin, Wende. Cranberry Summer.
St. George, Judith. The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence.
Osornio, Catherine. The Declaration of Independence from A to Z.
More picture books for Independence Day.

4. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born July 4, 1804. Advice from Nathaniel Hawthorne on Blogging.

5. Stephen Foster was born on July 4, 1826. The PBS series American Experience has an episode on the life of Stephen Foster, author of songs such as Beautiful Dreamer and Oh! Susanna.

6. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826, fifty years after adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams’ last words were: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”
Jefferson’s last words: “Is it the fourth?”
I highly recommend both David McCullough’s biography of John Adams and the PBS minseries based on McCullough’s book.

7. Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. He is supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it,” and “I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.”
Also, “we do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
Amen to that.
More on Calvin Coolidge and the Fourth of July from A Gracious Home.

8. You could make your own fireworks for the Fourth of July. Engineer Husband really used to do this when he was a young adolescent, and I can’t believe his parents let him. He tried to make nitroglycerine once, but he got scared and made his father take it outside and dispose of it! Maybe you should just read about how fireworks are made and then imagine making your own.

9. On July 4, 1970 Casey Kasem hosted “American Top 40” on radio for the first time. I cannot tell a lie; in high school I spent every Sunday afternoon listening to Casey Kasem count down the Top 40 hits of the week. Why not make up your own TOp 40 All-American Hits List and play it on the fourth for your family?

10. Via Ivy’s Coloring Page Search Engine, I found this page of free coloring sheets for the 4th of July. We liked the fireworks page.

11. Fly your American flag.

12. Read a poem to your children about Leetla Giorgio Washeenton. Or read this biography of George Washington.

13. Read about another president you admire.

14. Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Subtitled “The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787,” this book is the one that gave me the story of the US constitution. It’s suitable for older readers, at least middle school age, but it’s historical writing at its best. I loved reading about Luther Martin of Maryland, whom Henry Adams described as “the notorious reprobate genius.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who was”always satisfied to shoot an arrow without caring about the wound he caused.” (Both Gerry and Martin refused to sign the final version of the Constitution.) Of course, there were Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, George Washington, who presided over the convention in which all present knew that they were creating a presidency for him to fill, and Ben Franklin, the old man and elder statesman who had to be carried to the convention in a sedan chair. Ms. Bowen’s book brings all these characters and more to life and gives the details of the deliberations of the constitutional convention in readable and interesting format.

15. Watch a movie.
Getttysburg is a tragedy within the tragedy that was the Civil War, but it’s also patriotic and inspiring.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington has Jimmy Stewart demonstrating what’s wrong and what’s right about American government and politics.
I like 1776, the musical version of the making of the Declaration Of Independence.
Other patriotic movies. And a few more.

16. Have yourself some BarBQ.

17. Play a game.

18. Organize a bike parade.

19. Host a (cup)cake decorating contest.

20. Download a free Independence Day wallpaper for your computer.

21. Photograph some fireworks. Check out some fireworks photographs.

22. Listen to The Midnight Ride from Focus on the Family’s series, Adventures in Odyssey, to be broadcast on Monday July 5th.

23. Read aloud the Declaration of Independence.

24. Download some free marches by John Philip Sousa, performed by the U.S. Marine Band. I played two of these, not very well, on my flute when I was in Homer Anderson’s Bobcat Band: King Cotton and The Invincible Eagle.

25. Enjoy A Capitol Fourth, broadcast live on PBS from Washington, D.C.

26. Send an e-card to someone you love.

27. Pledge allegiance with Red Skelton.

28. Bake and decorate a flag cake.

29. When Life sends you an Independence Day, make lemonade.

30. July is National Hot Dog Month and National Baked Bean Month.

31. Fourth of July Crafts and Treats: cupcakes, windsocks, stars, hats, and more.

32. A patriotic pedicure?

33. More Fourth of July crafts.

34. Patriotic parfait.

35. Start an all-American read aloud, such as:
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.
Guns for General Washington by Seymour Reit.
Tolliver’s Secret by Esther Woods Brady.

36. Independence Day printables from Crayola. And more coloring pages from Moms Who Think.

37. SIng the U.S. national anthem, Oh, Say Can You See?, all the way through. Memorize at least the first verse.

38. More Fourth of July recipes.

39. We always attend the Fourth of July parade in Friendswood, Texas, except this year when we’ll be traveling. Anyway, find a parade and take the kids or grandkids or neighbor kids. A Fourth of July parade is a celebration of American patriotism in a capsule.

40. Free patriotic U.S.A. calendars.

41. Fourth of July art projects for preschoolers and the young at heart.

42. Read a version of Patrick Henry’s great Give Me Liberty speech.

43. Check out A Book of Americans by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a great book of poems about various famous Americans, and I think lots of kids would enjoy hearing it read aloud, maybe a poem a day in July.

44. Make a pinwheel or other printable craft. Or print some games.

45. Spend some time praying for our nation’s leaders: President Barack Obama, your senators, your representatives, the governor of your state, your state representatives, and others.

46. Wear red, white, and blue. Or put red and blue streaks in your hair. When I was in junior high, flag pins and ponchos were in style. I had a flag pin and a red, white, and blue poncho, both of which I wore together. I was stylin’!

47. On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau went to live near Walden Pond. Thoreau and Sherry on Clothing.

48. Any of the following nonfiction book for children would make a good Fourth of July history lesson:
The Story of the Boston Tea Party by R. Conrad Stein
The Story of Lexington and Concord by R. Conrad Stein
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin
The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Norman Richards
The American Revolution (Landmark Books) by Bruce Jr Bliven
The War for Independence: The Story of the American Revolution by Albert Marrin
The Story of Valley Forge by R. Conrad Stein
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
The Story of the Battle of Yorktown by Anderson
Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen.
The Story of the Constitution by Marilyn Prolman
In Defense of Liberty: The Story of America’s Bill of Rights by Russell Freedman
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
George Washington and the Founding of a Nation by Albert Marrin
The Story of Old Glory by Mayer

49. Host a block party or potluck dinner.

50. Take a picnic to the park.

51. Read 1776 by David McCullough. I’ve been intending to read this historical tome for several years. Maybe this year is the year.

52. Go to church. SInce Independence Day falls on a Sunday this year, it’s a good day to go to church and thank the God who made and preserves this nation and all nations and to ask His continued mercy and grace upon all of us. God bless America.

52

Having as of today, July 28, 2009, spent fifty-two years on this planet, mostly in Texas, I could be expected to say something profound upon the anniversary of my birth. However, all I can think of are lists:
52 Books That Made Me Who I Am,
52 People Who Taught Me All I Know,
52 Quotations for Living,
52 Most Beautiful Words,
52 Questions Still Unanswered,
52 Truths I’ve Learned,
52 Places I’d Like to Visit,
52 Things I’d Like To Do Before I Die,
52 Proverbs for the Young at Heart,
52 Songs That Make Me Smile,
52 Projects for the Next 10 Years,
52 Thoughts on Psalm 52,
52 Names for My as Yet Unborn Grandchildren,
52 Recipes I Want to Try,
52 Recipes Tried and True,
52 Things to Try With a Crying Baby,
52 Wonderful Books You’ve Probably Never Read,
52 Picture Books That Adults Can Enjoy,
52 Ways To Say “I Love You”,
52 Portraits of Fascinating People,
52 Photographs from Before 1950,
52 Bookstores I Want To Visit,
52 Holidays To Celebrate,
52 Historical Events I Wish I’d Seen,
52 Ideas for Celebrating Christmas in the Presence of Christ,
52 Poems That Make Me Laugh,
52 Jokes That Also Make Me laugh,
52 Ways To Simplify and Declutter (I need help),
52 Card Games Anyone Can Play,
52 Games for Playing Outside,
52 Apple-y Activities for Home and School (been saving this one for awhile),
52 Books About Texas and Texans,
52 People I Admire Even Though They’re Not Perfect,
52 Extraordinary People I’ve Known
52 Classes I’d Like to Take
52 Flowers and Plants I’d Like To Grow,
52 Bloggers Who Make Me Think,
52 Things I Love About America,
52 Fictional Characters I’d Like to Meet,
52 Things To Eat Before I Die,
52 Great Words in 52 Languages,
52 Things I Want To Learn,
52 Places in Texas to See,
52 Habits I Need to Establish or Eradicate,
52 Mysteries of History Still Unsolved,
52 People From my Family Tree,
52 Reasons I Love My Engineer Husband,
52 Ways To Show Him I Love Him,
52 Biblical Commands I Can Obey Right Now,
52 Reasons I’m Thankful to Be Alive,
52 Ways To Save Money Now,
52 Names for the God I Love.

52 is the approximate number of weeks in a year, the number of white keys on a piano, and the number of cards in a standard deck of playing cards. At age 52, Alfred Hitchcock directed the film Strangers on a Train, and also at the age of 52 Ray Kroc opened the first MacDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois.

In 1957, the year I was born, Ed Sullivan had Elvis on his show for the third time, showed him only from the waist up, and said: “This is a real decent, fine boy. We’ve never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you. You’re thoroughly all right.”

Published in 1957:
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
If Death Ever Slept by Rex Stout.
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

Movies released in 1957:
Loving You with Elvis Presley.
Jailhouse Rock with Elvis Presley.
The Bridge on the River Kwai with Alec Guinness, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

On the actual day of my birth an earthquake shook Mexico City and Acapulco. But I doubt if my mom noticed it way out in West Texas.

Also born on July 28th (not 1957): Beatrix Potter, Gerard Manley Hopkins

So it’s a happy birthday for me, and I hope your day is happy, too. If you’d like to see me make an actual list for any of the above (52) titles, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do. Right now I’m going to find 52 ways to celebrate my birthday.

Hymn #58: Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed

Lyrics: Isaac Watts, 1707. (b.1674. Yesterday, July 17th, was Isaac Watts’s birthday.)

Music: MARTYRDOM attributed to Hugh Wilson, 1827.
Also sung as “At the Cross” with a chorus and tune (HUDSON) by Ralph E. Hudson.
Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed – Sovereign Grace Music

Theme: “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Luke 7:41-43

Isaac Watts: “I have made no pretence to be a poet. But to the Lamb that was slain, and now lives, I have addressed many a song, to be sung by the penitent and believing heart.”

Fanny Crosby, about yielding to the call of Jesus upon her life while hearing this hymn: “I surrendered myself to the Savior, and my very soul flooded with celestial light. I sprang to my feet, shouting ‘Hallelujah.’”

1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for such a worm as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when Christ, the mighty maker, died
for man the creature’s sin.

4. Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine
and bathed in its own blood
While the firm mark of Wrath Divine
His soul in anguish stood.

5. Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.

6. But drops of grief can ne’er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’tis all that I can do.

At the Cross refrain:
At the cross, at the cross,
where I first saw the light,
and the burden of my heart rolled away;
it was there by faith I received my sight,
and now I am happy all the day.

Even though I have reservations about the “happy all the day” line, we used to sing this song every Sunday morning in the car on the way to church. Z-baby always requested it, and we belted it out. “AT the cross, AT the cross, where I first saw the LIGHT . . .” I never heard the fourth and fifth verses (above), but our family knows all of the others by heart. It’s a good hymn.

Sources:
Hymn Stories and Gospel Hymn Stories: Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed.

Saturday Review of Books: July 11, 2009

“I got hold of the book first. I sat in a corner with that novel and could not do anything but wash and dress mechnically, eat what was put in my hand, sleep reluctantly, and read, for two weeks. Next, my sister seized the book and she was tended, as I had been, and relieved of every household task and duty until, sighing, she turned the last page. Then my mother said, “All right, girls, take over. It’s my turn.” And she never moved or spoke to a soul until she had finished it. My father did not care. He was rereading, for the tenth enchanted time, the African journals of Frederick Courteney Selous, the great English hunter, and while we were in medieval Norway, he had been far away in darkest Africa, with all the wild forest around him. That is the kind of family we were.”
~Elizabeth Borton de Trevino on Kristin Lavransdatter

Welcome to this week’s Saturday Review of Books.

Here’s how it usually works. Find a review on your blog posted sometime this week of a book you’re reading or a book you’ve read. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can just write your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Now post a link here to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

Thanks to everyone for participating.

1. Emily at Homespun Light (Eyes Like Stars)
2. Florinda – The 3 R’s (Fool, by Christopher Moore)
3. gautami tripathy (A Bird in the House)
4. Bonnie (The Magician’s Nephew)
5. Bonnie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
6. gautami tripathy (Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks)
7. Bonnie (The Horse and His Boy)
8. Inquirer (The End of the Alphabet)
9. Inquirer (Books for Boys)
10. Seth H. (Catcher in the Wry)
11. SuziQoregon (In the Sanctuary of Outcasts)
12. SuziQoregon (The Chosen One)
13. SuziQoregon (Chamomile Mourning)
14. Reading to Know (A Little House Traveler)
15. Reading to Know (History in the News)
16. Carol (7 Short Reviews)
17. 5M4B (Along Came You)
18. 5M4B (Learn Me Good)
19. 5M4B (Hands of My Father)
20. 5M4B (Pajama School)
21. 5M4B (The Legend of Vinny Whiskers)
22. 5M4B (Sam Stern’s Get Cooking)
23. Library Hospital (Practically Perfect)
24. Library Hospital (Can You Keep a Secret?)
25. Library Hospital (A Bear Called Paddington)
26. teachergirl (Chains)
27. teachergirl (The Goose Girl)
28. Janet (Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder)
29. Framed (If You Could See Me Now)
30. Heather J (The Last Queen)
31. Barbara H (Take One and This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury)
32. 5M4B (Return to Sullivans Island)
33. Beth (Tumtum and Nutmeg:Adventures Beyond Nutmeg Hall)
34. Beth (The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society)
35. pussreboots (Murder Mysteries)
36. pussreboots (Night Watch)
37. pussreboots (The Second Ship)
38. pussreboots (Kittens First Full Moon)
39. pussreboots (Fairy Glade)
40. FleurFisher (The Reunion)
41. FleurFisher (Instructions to Servants)
42. Deanna (Bitten)
43. Deanna (Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter)
44. Deanna (Rivals for the Crown)
45. Janet (The Wizard of Oz)
46. Janet (Technopoly)
47. Sandra (A Mercy by Toni Morrison)
48. Jolanthe {A Dream to Call My Own}
49. Lazygal (Jarrettsville)
50. Lazygal (The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow)
51. Nymeth (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
52. Nymeth (A Separate Peace)
53. Nymeth (Nothing But Ghosts)
54. Nymeth (Salamander Dream)
55. Diary of an Eccentric (Holly’s Inbox)
56. Lynne (TO HELL AND BACK)
57. Lynne (GOOD HOPE ROAD)
58. Dana(Friends, Lovers, Chocolate)
59. melydia (Xenocide)
60. melydia (Children of the Mind)
61. ChristineMM (Robin McGraw’s Complete Makeover Guide)
62. ChristineMM (My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters)
63. ChristineMM (When the Whistle Blows)
64. ChristineMM (It Sucked and Then I Cried)
65. SmallWorld Reads (People of the Book)
66. Amy @ Hope Is the Word (A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming)
67. Amy(Talking to the Dead)
68. Amy(Valley of the Shadow)
69. Nicola (Prairie Tale)
70. Nicola (The Neighbor)
71. Nicola (Roadside Crosses)
72. Joy (The Blue Notebook)
73. Seth H. (NLT Study Bible)
74. Amy @ Hope Is the Word (River Rising)
75. Word Lily (The Blue Notebook)
76. Word Lily (A Passion Most Pure)
77. Jen Robinson (First Light)
78. Girl Detective (Infinite Jest, wk2)
79. Girl Detective (Ten-Cent Plague)
80. Girl Detective (Infinite Jest: a quote)
81. Petunia (Doctor Faustus)
82. Memory (The El Dorado Adventure)
83. Memory (Fantasy & Science Fiction, August/September 2009)
84. Memory (Extraordinary Engines)
85. Memory (Beauty)
86. Cam (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant)
87. Terri B. (Tom’s Midnight Garden”
88. Amber (Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!)
89. Amber (That Went Well)
90. Amber (The Trap)
91. Benjie (Finding Grace)
92. Benjie (Laugh and Live Longer)
93. Carrie K. (Book of Unholy Mischief)
94. Carrie K. (Songs of the Humpback Whale)
95. Savvy Verse & Wit (Bloody Good)
96. Savvy Verse & Wit (T4)
97. Savvy Verse & Wit (Hunger Games)
98. Savvy Verse & Wit (correct T4 link)

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By the way, today (July 11th) is my mom’s birthday. I won’t tell which one, but she’s even older than I am, and I’ve passed the half-century mark. Happy Birthday to the lady who taught me to love books and reading, who read me the story of Joseph from the Bible when I was a preschooler in such a dramatic voice that I still remember it as one of the best stories ever written. I am rich in having a mother who both read and read to me, and who still reads.

Mom’s current reading project: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

Author Celebration: Alexandre Dumas, pere

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I missed last week’s celebration on the July 17th, the birthday of Isaac Watts, because of my blog issues. (Nasty old spammers!) However, I am just barely here in time to celebrate with you all the birthday today, July 24th, of Alexandre Dumas, French playwright and novelist who was born in 1802 and died December 5, 1870 at the age of 68. His grandmother on his father’s side was an Afro-Carribbean former slave, and his father was a general in Napoleon’s army who fell into disfavor and poverty. Alexandre’s father the general died when Alexandre was three years old, and his widowed mother tried to give him an education. He loved books and read everything he could.

Tous pour un, un pour tous, c’est notre devise.
Translation: All for one, one for all, that is our motto.
The Three Musketeers, Ch. 9: D’Artagnan Shows Himself

Dumas moved to Paris when he was twenty (similar to D’Artagnon), and he began to write plays and magazine articles. His first plays were quite successful, and he soon began writing novels in serieal form for the newspapers. He eventually became so popular that “Dumas became known as the King of Paris and a saying held that, ‘when Dumas snores, Paris turns in its sleep.'”

He hired a stable of writers and assistants who helped him turn out novel after novel in addition to a prolific number or journal articles and nonfiction books on crime and French history and politics. His most famous novels are The Three Musketeers and its sequel Twenty Years After, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask.

How can we celebrate the birthday of this very popular author, perhaps the most widely read French author of all time?

1. Start reading one of his novels. I’m planning to check out Dumas’s Le Reine Margot, which purports to tell the story of Marguerite de Valois, the daughter of the infamous Catherine de’ Medici and King Henry II of France.

2. Listen to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The story of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was written by E. T. A. Hoffmann. Alexandre Dumas’ adaptation of the story was set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

3. Teacher notes for The Three Musketeers.

4. Enjoy a Three Musketeers bar.

5. Watch a movie based on one of Alexandre Dumas’ books. Dumas’ works have inspired more than 200 films. I recommend:

The Three Musketeers (1973) with Raquel Welch, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, and Michael York. The newer one (1993) with Kiefer Sutherland and Chris O’Donnell is OK, but I like the old one better. Oliver Reed will always be my image of Athos.

The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). The story’s better than the movie, but the movie’s not bad. Rated PG-13.

6. Play Three Musketeers. Have an adventure. All for one and one for all. Do kids pretend such things anymore?

7. Make a musketeer costume.

8. Teacher activities for The Count of Monte Cristo.

Do you have anything to say about Alexandre Dumas or his books? Share a link here for his birthday celebration.

1. Nick Pelling (The Dumas Club)
2. Barbara H. (The Count of Monte Cristo)
3. Becky (The Three Musketeers)
4. SuziQoregon (The Three Musketeers)

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Happy Birthday to John Calvin

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On this date in 1509, John Calvin, or Jean Chauvin, was born in Noyon, Picardie, France. His father was a lawyer who sent young John to the University of Paris at the age of fourteen to study theology. He later changed his area of study to law. Sometime during his university studies, Calvin was exposed to Protestant ideas, and he became a proponent of those ideas to the point that he was forced to flee France along with his mentor, Nicholas Cop, Rector at the University of Paris. He went to Basel, then to Geneva, then to Strasburg, and back to Geneva. He pastored, helped govern, and wrote theology in these places, especially in Geneva, until his death in 1564.

Calvin said:

There is not one little blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make men rejoice.

The fruit of the womb is not born by chance, but is to be reckoned among the precious gifts of God.

Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.
Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.

We must see to it that the pulling down of error is followed by the building up of faith.

In the darkness of our miseries, the grace of God shines more brightly.

God . . . makes us rich with the river of his grace . . . so that those things which men call fortuitous events, are so many proofs of divine providence, and more especially of fatherly compassion, furnishing ground of joy to the righteous.

Interesting facts about Calvin (from Wikipedia and other sources):

Calvin took only one meal a day for a decade, but on the advice of his physician, he ate an egg and drank a glass of wine at noon.

Calvin, knowing the benefits of business, was instrumental in founding and developing the silk industry in Geneva.

At the age of twenty-six, Calvin published the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion .

Calvin’s cousin, Pierre Robert, was a translator of the Bible into the French language.

For kids:

This fictionalized biography by Joyce McPherson stays close to the facts of Calvin’s life while adding in some dialogue to make the story come alive. The book includes many of the most important people in Calvin’s life, including Nicholas Cop, Mathurius Cordier, Pierre Viret, William Farel, and Martin Bucer.

Do you have something to say about Calvin, his life, his influence, or his teachings? Add your link to the list, and we’ll celebrate this great teacher and pastor together.