All posts by Amy

Rutherford B., Who Was He? by Marilyn Singer

I’ve wanted to review Rutherford B., Who Was He?:  Poems About Our Presidents for a long time.   I requested my library buy it way back when I first heard of it last summer, and I even tried to nominate it for a Cybils.  (It was published after the cutoff date, so I will be nominating it this fall!)  Nana bought the girls a copy at her school’s bookfair, and they’ve read it over and over again.  They’ve shared poems from it at poetry tea time, but this is really the first time I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and really look at it myself.

Well!  What a treasure this book is!  Singer begins with a little introductory poem that includes this verse:

Who were these men?

Not just names in a book:

the ones who stood firm or preferred compromise,

the ones of great stature (though not always size),

the ones we’ve forgotten, the ones we still prize.

What follows are thirty-some-odd poems in which every president is represented–every single one, from Washington:

He agreed to father a newborn nation–

and never took a real vacation.

to Polk:

A powerful president with lots of gall.

Made four promises, kept them all.

to Obama:

One thing is certain,

on one thing we agree–

as our first black president,

he indeed made history.

and everyone in between.  Some of the presidents are lumped in together, into one poem, especially when they’re closely related to each other.  (For example, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan all share one poem which is about all of their various approaches to the coming dissolution of the Union.)  A few of the poems are standouts in terms of form.  For example, Richard Nixon’s poem is a reverso (see an example of one here on Singer’s website).  Singer’s poetry, coupled with John Hendrix’s illustrations and typography (check it out here), really make this a must-read book.  (I’ve mentioned before how much I love John Hendrix’s work. )  Hendrix incorporates quotes from the presidents with his own brand of humorous illustrations which are caricature-like and support and enhance the message of the poem.  Back matter includes a paragraph per president that sheds a little more light on his time in office and provides context for the poems.  Get this book if you just like poetry or if you want to give your American history studies a bit of oomph.  Highly Recommended.  (Disney Hyperion, 2013)


Poetry Friday Button

I’m blogging about poetry every Friday this month, and I’m linking this post up to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by The Poem Farm.

Living Room Progress

Nice and cozy

Nice and cozy

Our focus over spring break was to finally, finally hang some things on our living room walls.  I really battle a tendency toward perfectionism in some areas, and this is one of them.  I wanted a gallery wall above the loveseat, but I never felt like I had exactly what I wanted to put there.  Finally, I just committed to hanging what we had, and I’m pleased with it.



The mirror is one I’ve had for years and years and years.  It’s metal and used to be a shabby, distressed off-white.  First I painted it black and applied some silver Rub-n-Buff, but I decided quickly that I didn’t like that look.  Then I went for this distressed/shabby yellow effect.  It’s still a little bright for my taste, but overall I like it.

The cross, “Count Your Blessings” plank art, and little round mirror (originally yellow, spray painted red) all came from Hobby Lobby at half (or more) off.





This scripture art I bought from Erin Leigh’s Etsy shop.  I love it!  1-IMG_5817


1-IMG_5816We still have a few things to do–finish the wall above the console table beside the love seat (and figure out a way to store all those blankets and throws, which are used daily).  Oh, and keep the console table cleaned off, period.  :-)

Right now, though, this behemoth is staring me in the face:

1-IMG_5829We had an Amish furniture maker build this 9 foot dining room table for us.  Now I have to finish it (and the six chairs and two benches, plus the chairs we already owned).  I think I have my work cut out for me!



National Poetry Month

1-IMG_3173-001April is National Poetry Month.  Did you know that?  I love poetry, and my kids love our weekly (ish) poetry tea times.    Poetry tea time provides a great opportunity for making something kids sometimes look askance at (what–surely not just my kids do this?!?) a little more appealing.  For the month of April,  I’m committing to publishing something–probably a book review of a poetry book–here at Hope Is the Word.   My plan is to do this on Fridays so I can participate in the Poetry Friday roundup.

To get this month of poetry love started, I’m sharing a list of poetry related links from my archives.  Enjoy!

Be sure to check out Jama’s Alphabet Soup on Tuesday, April 1.  She’ll be rounding up all the Poetry Month activities from around the Kidlitosphere to start the month with a bang.  :-)

Odds & Ends



  • It has been spring break week here at the House of Hope, though the weather belied the name.
  • What this really means for us is that Steady Eddie was off work for most of the week.  As a university employee, he gets a spring break, which is one of the perks of being an educator.
  • We spent most of the week working on our house, and we’ve made a lot of progress.  I hope to share pictures in the near future. :-)
  • The girls spent most of the week reading and playing and mostly keeping themselves busy.  
Bottoms up!  This was trial batch #1.

Bottoms up! This was trial batch #1.

  • Both girls are entering an event in the 4H county roundup next week, so they also worked on their entries.  Lulu will be demonstrating how to make banana chocolate chip muffins (adapted from this recipe) and Louise is entering an art project.
The "skeleton" of Louise's art project

The “skeleton” of Louise’s art project

  • This fellow is celebrating his first birthday next week.  How is that possible?  He isn’t walking yet, but he pulls up on everything.   The baby gate has been reinstalled.  :-)


  • We did get in one game (well, most of a game) of Settlers of Catan.  We’ve had this game for several years, and we only started playing it over Christmas break.  The girls are finally old enough to understand how to play it.  We still haven’t actually finished a game, though.  It’s looooong.


    • Steady Eddie had a meeting in Montgomery on Thursday, so he and I went down on Wednesday night and spent the night sans children.  Yes, you read that right–no children!  It took a bit of planning (and pumping ;-) ) on my part, but we did it.  I spent some time art journaling and praying, reading, and shopping.  I also ate at a couple of my favorite restaurants.  It was a wonderful getaway for me, and one I desperately needed.   The past few months have been extremely busy for Steady Eddie (between work and school–eek!), and they’ve been really stressful for introverted me.   When I get away, I see with clarity how necessary this time is for me.  (I know the concept of “me time” is controversial in the world of SAHMs, but I’m working on 10 years at this gig and I’ve learned a thing or two about myself along the way.)  One thing it really made me realize is that neither I nor Benny was the worse for wear after being apart, and that was indeed good news to me.  :-)
    • I tried a couple of new recipes this week.  Skillet pork chops with potatoes and onions was delicious.  I followed the recipe mostly, except I used red potatoes and baked the whole thing in the oven (after browning the chops in a pan on the stove).  Tonight I assembled a dish of PW’s chicken spaghetti (an old standby) for a fellowship dinner at church on Sunday, and I made PW’s chicken salad with the leftover chicken.  I’ve only sampled it yet, but I think it’s a keeper, too.
    • Gone with the Wind is finally looking up!  Long about the time Scarlett & Co. were fleeing Atlanta, my opinion of her began to slowly, slowly change.  It’s amazing how much more I like Scarlett now that she has suffered hardship.  ;-)
    • While on our trip this week, I purchased a new art book:  One Zentangle a Day by Beckah Krahula.    I’m not interested in the zen part of zentangles, but I am fascinated by the whole idea of repetitive shapes and doodling.  I haven’t had a chance to actually practice any of it yet, though.  (As a side note, I bought the book using a giftcard I received from my aunt and uncle and their family for my 40th birthday.  It cost over twice what the book costs on Amazon.  It amazes me that brick-and-mortar bookstores stay in business, with prices like that.)

  • We’ve slept late all week.  Getting up early again next week is going to be painful.

How was your week?

Scripture Art Journaling

I hesitate to use the term “art” in my title, for I’m realizing more and more that I have very little natural artistic ability.  However, I’m sharing my creations here because it is truly more about the process than the finished product when it comes to scripture art journaling.  I find that when I’m very stressed out and feeling out of touch with God that if I can steal away and focus on His word in a methodical way that some of that anxiety melts away.  Scripture art journaling is a great vehicle for this slowing down for me.

These first two pages are of the entire Psalm 25.  I’ve mentioned before that it’s one of my favorite Psalms, if not my favorite, so I turned to it first this week when I had a bit of time to work in my art journal.  I roughly sectioned the pages off into rectangles and painted each one with watercolors.  The first page I did entirely in the van on a trip, so I didn’t get quite as adventurous with the paint as I did on the second page, which I painted in the hotel room.  I used Sharpies, Gelly Roll pens, and some other sort of metallic marker for the drawing and writing.  There is one verse per rectangle.   It’s not pretty, but I focused my attention on each verse and thought about it while I drew and wrote, so I achieved my goal.



This second page is of Romans 15:13.  This is a verse that has been a big encouragement to me, so wanted to think about it and flesh it out a bit.

This last page is actually pretty private, so I’m not sharing the whole thing. However, I wanted to share the technique I used, just in case someone might be encouraged to use it one day.  I wrote out a prayer to God at the beginning of my quiet time yesterday, leaving enough space between the lines to go back and insert Bible verses above the appropriate portion of my letter.  In other words, I found the “answers” to my requests/questions in God’s Word.

Scripture art journaling is something I want to make more time for in the future. It’s something that really, really meets a deep-seated need in me to meditate on God’s Word.