Mrs. Kennedy and Me {Book Review}

Recently, I have a new fascination with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I knew very little about the Kennedy administration and that time period in general. Someone I know said that they would love to sit down and have a conversation with Jackie Kennedy. As I thought about what she lived through, my fascination grew.

I bought a book written by her Secret Service agent, Clint Hill. The book is entitled Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I began reading the book not knowing much about the Kennedy family in general and finished the book even more intrigued by their lives. She was the epitome of class and strength in the face of so much. Clint Hill obviously saw Mrs. Kennedy in the best and worst situations, and he was also constantly impressed with the way she handled things.

There were so many stories in the book that I absolutely loved.  One of my favorites was the story of how she so charmed the French writer, Andre Malraux, that he would offer to bring the Mona Lisa to the United States. This exhibition would be the first time that the painting left France.  She was so excited for people who were not in the position to travel all the way to France to have the opportunity to view this incredible work of art.  The History Channel tells the historical story of the Mona Lisa’s trip to the United States.

There are so many great stories in the book. If anyone has even the slightest interest in Jackie Kennedy this is a great book to find out more about the former First Lady. Not only am I completely intrigued by Jackie Kennedy now, I am also fascinated with Clint Hill and the other Secret Service agents of the time. Since finishing Mrs. Kennedy and Me, I have finished a book about all the Kennedy wives and am currently reading one about the agents who were present that fateful day in November when the whole world was turned upside down.

Goodreads says:

The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.

I highly recommend Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

My Favorite Purchase Ever (At Least So Far)

Last summer, I purchased my ALL-TIME FAVORITE antique ever!! My eldest daughter went wandering around on her own and stumbled upon a 5 year diary. This was a rare find because each day (literally) for almost five full years was filled in. The diary belonged to a Texas teenager. She was sassy and funny. She wrote about days of playing cards with her mother and sister. She also wrote about days in church with the guys from Texas A&M (according to her: they weren’t much to talk about). She also chronicled her love for one boy in particular. We sat around the kitchen table after we brought it home and read all the way through the many entries. There were many laughs and even a couple of tears. After we finished reading, I googled her and her family. She sadly had passed away a couple of decades before. Her family is still in Texas. I wonder how in the world her diary made its way all the way to our home state. I wonder if her family knew about the diary she wrote back in her teen years.  I struggle with the idea that I should contact them and let them know of its existence. I treasure it so very much! It’s a reminder of simpler times. It’s also a reminder that feelings never really change. We all feel happiness, sadness, joy, worry, hope, fear, love, and jealousy. It’s those things that I hold close to my heart when I revisit the pages of the daily writings of a Texan teenager in the 50s.

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

I just finished Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.  Most people don’t realize that Mark Twain ever wrote a book about Joan of Arc. He published it under the name of Samuel Clemens. This book, he said, was his favorite. He didn’t want it compared to any of the more popular books. This one took him 14 years to prepare and write while the others took little time at all.

Joan of Arc is a truly remarkable figure. I knew just what the paragraph in the history textbook says. I had no idea how her story truly went. From every movie I’d seen about her,  I was left with the idea that maybe she was a little bit crazy. After reading this book,  I know that is not true. She was truly inspired and the men who prosecuted her and ultimately killed her were nothing but cowards. But I want you to read it for yourself!

I laughed. I cried. I got chills. I was touched.

It’s one of those books that you want everyone to read because the value that is in it.

If you’re looking for a great book for spring break or summer vacation, put this one on your list! I gave it to my dad for our last vacation and he still speaks of it with tears in his eyes.

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Here is what Goodreads has to say about it:

I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.” –Mark Twain

“Mark Twain comes furtively like Nicodemus at night with this tribute to one of God’s saints. In doing so he tells a secret about himself. It is as though the man in a white suit and a cloud of cigar smoke thought there just might be a place where people in white robes stand in clouds of incense.” –Fr. George Rutler, Author, The Cure d’Ars Today

“Joan of Arc is the lone example that history affords of an actual, real embodiment of all the virtues demonstrated by Huck and Jim and of all that Twain felt to be noble in man, Joan is the ideal toward which mankind strives. Twain had to tell her story because she is the sole concrete argument against the pessimistic doctrines of his deterministic philosophy.” –Robert Wiggins, Mark Twain: Jackleg Novelist

Jawbone Fitness Tracker: Review

I’ve had my Jawbone for a few months now. I can honestly say I LOVE it. It is sleek-looking and totally functional. I wear it all the time (except in the shower). It keeps me motivated to meet and beat my step goal each day. I also can keep a food journal with the app. One of my favorite things is the sleep tracker. I know that I don’t get enough sleep. I also know that I wake up multiple times throughout the night. The tracker lets me see how long it takes me to fall asleep and the quality of the sleep I get. It challenges me to go to sleep earlier on the nights when I can. There is a Smart Coach that gives you little tips throughout the day. I really like this part. It has warned me on several occasions that my amount of sleep is so low that I am walking around in a state that is equivalent to being legally drunk. When I get this warning, I make sure I get more rest. The battery life is great on this. It lasts 10 days. I usually just put in on the charger when I hop in the shower.

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I’ve tried to convince both my mother and mother-in-law to get one. I see such a benefit to having a health tracker. If you are looking for one, this is the one I recommend. I tried the Fit Bit and the Microsoft watch and can say honestly that this is my favorite!

 

Hilton Head Island: Fall Break

Our fall break was rudely interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, but we still had a good time. We let our senior in high school decide where to spend her last fall break and HH was her choice. She didn’t make it to the ocean once before we had to leave. She did, however, get lots of relaxation time. We spent one day on a boating and private island excursion with Outside Hilton Head. It was nice to do something none of us had ever done before. I fished for the first time in my whole life. I caught two sticks and a crab. We also kayaked. My dad, at 71 years old, did it for the first time in his life. He loved it and said he wanted to buy a kayak when he got home. We enjoyed the shell island that our captain stopped and let us explore. I could have spent hours there. I have a few DIY shell projects floating around in my brain as a result.

Here’s a little peek at that fun we had on fall break.

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Hilton Head, I miss you already.

Endangered Arts {Art Gallery in Hilton Head}

There is an art gallery in Hilton Head that is absolutely delightful! It’s called Endangered Arts. The owners are Clay and Julie Rogers. She runs the gallery and is a professional photographer. Her love of the ocean and all the creatures that inhabit it is evident when speaking with her. She is kind, warm, and friendly. Her husband, Clay, is a self taught painter. He paints all the things you might see in Hilton Head. They have many works of art from many different artists from all over the world. I was so impressed by every single piece of art there.

We went in looking for a painting that would remind us of our favorite place. Julie helped us figure out exactly what we wanted. We ended up choosing a Clay Rogers painting. He wrote a special personal note to us on the back and included the practice sketch he’d done of the painting. I walk by it every time I go into our bedroom. It makes my heart happy to have something as a visual reminder of the place we love so much. A visit to Hilton Head wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Endangered Arts.

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Antiquing

My new favorite thing to do on the weekend is going to the local antique stores. I didn’t go this weekend and I felt like I was going through withdrawals. I have found so many wonderful items. I bought a bundle of letters from a couple during WWII.  I also found a picture of a baby that is likely to be a distant relative of my husband. I have a love of milk glass and hobnail glass. I’ve acquired some new pieces for my collection.

There is something wonderful about walking in to those stores and thinking of the days gone by. It makes me long for simpler times. The craftsmanship and attention to detail in those antiques is hard to come by in today’s instant gratification world.

My daughters have also found a new love in those old things. It is an activity that we can do together and that has sparked many conversations about many different topics.

Here are some of the items that we’ve come across on our outings.

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Wise Words

One of the things I love about Ambleside online is the amazing books that we get to read. (Now, I will tell you that each year I have found at least one book on our list that I have decided to not read. We either tried it and disliked it so much that there was no point in continuing or we found a book that better fit our children’s and our tastes.)

Back to great books… I have had the pleasure of discovering some great books through homeschooling and I never like to keep good information to myself (that seems so selfish). One of the books we are currently reading is Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin. It is basically proverbs. Some you’ll recognize right away like “No Pain, No gain” or “Haste makes Waste”. There are so many other gems of wisdom in this little book. I have definitely had to explain most of these to my girls. The language is sometimes hard to understand; but there is so much wisdom in those words that once I explain it, they are eager to tell of examples where this makes sense.

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This is a very inexpensive book at only $2.50. It would make a great little gift for a graduate, someone getting a new job, or even a stocking stuffer.

Meet the Disney Junior Characters

Of all the Disney World parks, Hollywood Studios is ranked lowest on my favorites list. I feel like there are not enough rides and that for our family, there isn’t quite enough to keep our attention for very long. On our last visit, I took the littles with me while my husband took the bigs to ride Tower of Terror ( I’ve done it once and I’m good). We decided to meet the Disney Junior characters. The lines were long, but not horribly long. I loved seeing all the little kids just eager with the anticipation of meeting these characters. It was adorable. My parents were with me, helping me wrangle the children. It was incredibly hot that day and they needed water and cold treats and cold napkins the whole time we were in line so I was so thankful they were there! 465 When it was finally our turn it was magical and memorable and they loved it.

 

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David was a little shy with Jake. He really liked Minnie Mouse. But he LOVED Sofia.

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There was so much laughter at that kiss. He had obviously been thinking it out since he saw her. It was priceless and I’m SO GLAD we got pictures of it.

Meeting these characters is completely worth the trip to the park. You don’t get the opportunity to meet them (with the exception of Minnie, of course) anywhere else. If your little ones are Disney Junior fans, then they will definitely enjoy this experience!!

 

 

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This site has an auction with a lot of different and really awesome stuff up for auction all to benefit the Meyers family (The Freckled Fox), if you want to check it out.

 

Reading and Listening: Audiobooks

Since we use “real” books and not as many textbooks in our home school, we spend most of our days reading. Because two of my children are struggling readers and the books that they are “reading” are quite demanding, I usually read aloud. This is good for all of us; but there are occasions where I simply do not have the time or that they are just not listening to me because the baby wants my attention or they are just sick of hearing my voice. During these times, I have found it extremely helpful to use Audibles and LibriVox. Audibles is through Amazon and is a pay program. You buy the audiobook. I use it with my older child. She reads along as it reads it aloud. This was one of the recommended methods for her due to her phonological processing disorder.

LibriVox is a free program. People volunteer to read chapters or whole books. The books in this program are all public domain, so only certain books are available. We used it with Burgess Animal Book. I felt like the girls listened along much better and we were able to pause or go back and repeat if we needed to do that. I like both programs and would highly recommend both to anyone who enjoys listening to stories.

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Please continue to keep The Freckled Fox family in your thoughts and prayers.