Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reading for the Season

I love books!  I love Christmas!  So, why not combine the two.
Every year, I look for a special new hardcover book to add to my Christmas collection.  I have a red bucket in the living room as part of the "decorations" that I fill with the books for December.  I love reading them with the kids, discovering the magic all over again (We haven't read these books for a year.).  My criteria is different every year- great artwork, moving story, remembering the true meaning, and sometimes just fun.  Sometimes, a books meets more than one objective.  Here's the collection that's amassed over the years (thankfully, my Mom has enjoyed adding to my collection as well).

For the message: (Watch out, some may make you cry)
Mary's Treasure Box by Carolyn Walz Kramlich
Tonight You Are My Baby by Jeannine Norris
The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
The Sparkle Box by Jill Hardie
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love
Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado
The Last Straw by Fredrick H. Thury

For the artwork:
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell

For the fun of it:
The Teachers' Night Before Christmas by Steven Layne
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
Santa Mouse by Michael Brown
How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky
The Tree That Came to Stay by Anna Quindlen

This is just my collection.  I've also put a basket under the kids' tree with fun Christmas themed stories they've collected over the years.

I haven't decided on a book for this year yet.  Any suggestions?

**All links and artwork from**

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Icemageddon 2013

Yes, the weathermen are calling this ice storm "Icemageddon."  While it is beautiful to look at outside, it's cold and slick.  Kevin came in from a work trip and had to park on a more level part of the street, since our driveway is frozen and steep.
For about 10 minutes at a time, we got a little outside time.  The kids were fascinated by the ice everywhere.  The "ice skated" in the yard, tried to make "ice angels" and just happily ran around.
I love the juxtaposition of fall and winter.
 The most fun they've had was "sledding" down the driveway on the recycling box lid.  Giggles, squeals, and a little whining when they put their hands down in the small stream of melting ice on the street.  But, SO much fun!
Thankfully, we've also enjoyed some warm inside time, snuggling by the fire.  It was kinda nice to keep the television off yesterday.  Instead, we read books, played games and just hung out.  Today, more games, more reading, baking cookies, indoor picnic and watching Christmas movies.
We were planning a great visit with Yaya and Popi, but we've had to postpone it.  Church even got canceled this weekend, postponing the kids' Christmas play.  We are really looking forward to this ice melting!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Elf Antics

Well, I thought I would keep blogging, but there hasn't been anything too exciting to post.  Now, after this weekend, look out, we've got lots of fun.  Ok, that's IF the roads melt enough for us get out safely.

Our Elf on the Shelf, Tinsel, arrived the day before Thanksgiving.  The kids were worried that he wouldn't come.  This is the 5th Christmas season we've had Tinsel.  For the most part, he behaves pretty well, just resting in a spot and watching the kids.  But.... every once in a while he gets into some silly places.
Going for a ride!

I had some candles set out for a lesson the next day, and Tinsel decided to roast some mini marshmallows.  They looked pretty tasty.

Oh, Target sells a few outfits for elves.  You just have to set it out where your elf can see it, and they put it on before they head to the North Pole that night to report in.  I think Tinsel likes his "Team Elf" jersey.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


It's time to revive the ol' blog.  I know grandparents love seeing pictures and videos of the kids.  I enjoy looking back in archives and seeing the older pictures, wondering how time went by so fast.  I won't promise lots of posts, but I do promise it won't be 3 months between posts.

Scroll down to find a couple posts to get you started!

A New School Year

Wow, our first year homeschooling came and went so fast. 
The good: The family time and relationship building was incredible.  Learning to lead and work together instead of boss or bully was a big lesson.  Watching Jacob become a reader was amazing!  Experiencing the joy of Beth learning something new and cool was good for my mommy-teacher heart.  We made some sweet friends who are along this same journey, both experienced and newbies.  We also took advantage of making our own schedule and enjoyed vacationing and non-peak times.
The bad: It wasn't always easy.  There were days when staying in pjs and doing a bunch of nothing productive would have been nice. Staying on task and motivated was the hardest part.  Well, that and figuring out how to do school and chores and ...  But, isn't that every mother's hardest task- getting it all done in 24 hours? Despite the misconception, we had more than our share of "socialization."  It was easy to play field trips and playdates with friends or join another activity group.  Not that I would drop any of them, just do a better job of scheduling.

I could probably go on, but it was enough of a positive experience for all of us that we decided to do it again!
We're doing things a little different this year, learning from experience last year.  Plus, Jacob has more of a work load this year.  Core subjects are Abeka curriculum, which provides a great foundation of facts and phonics.  I love being able to focus on the lessons and review that they need individually, taking each subject at its own pace.  Then, we are throwing all kinds of stuff at them, as they learn together. For Bible, we're doing character traits and studying the history of old hymns.  We're learning about great artists and their art work.  This has really surprised me how much they enjoy and take in.  We're actually looking forward to a field trip to the art museum soon. 
 We are doing Apologia science again- Swimming Creatures.  I just LOVE this science.  Thankfully, we have some friends also doing this book, and the mom was excited to do the dissection and let us come watch.  We are also doing history together this year.  It's a combination of a curriculum that is literature based instead of a textbook, plus creating a learning notebook that I tweaked from another curriculum.  The kids have actually been asking to start our learning day with history!  I think it's because we can often curl up on the couch together and read our book.  That's good stuff!
We are keeping ourselves social again this year by participating in a homeschool co-op.  Moms teach and help in classes that provide and extra learning experience for the kids.  I'm teaching a math in literature class, which Beth is thrilled to be able to take.  She's also taking a painting class.  We only have two classes left of this semester, and I can't wait to see all her projects at the Expo night!  Jacob is loving his "PE" class and thinks he's pretty big stuff to be the only boy in his reading class.
I think we've gotten into a pretty good groove this year.  It took some adjusting with our schedule and plan, but it's working.  I love being mom and teacher!  I look forward to what the rest of the school year holds for us!

Soccer Season #3

Jacob just finished his third season of soccer.  He still loves it and is looking forward to next season.  He had a few teammates he'd played with before, so he enjoyed that.  This season's coach was great with the boys.  He really taught them about skills, encouraged them, got on their level and helped them improve as players all season long. They don't keep score at this age, but he played like they did.  He's fast as lightning (when he wants to be), and he's working to become more aggressive to take the ball.  He's also developing some great defense.  We love watching him do his thing!
Of course, his favorite part of any season are the snacks after every game and the shiny trophy at the end of the season.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Bucket List

Our summer started in mid-May.  The kids and I sat down to make a list of 50 things we might like to do over the next 3 months.

Here it is, now, one week until we start school, and we've accomplished 32 of them, some of them more than once.  Gosh, it doesn't seem like much, but some were out of our control (no peaches to be picked this year) or ridiculous in this heat (mid-day baseball game).  I'm glad we made the list.  I don't remember my kids ever having a moment to say "I'm bored".
I think we'll make a list again next summer.  Things I know we'll put on there: camping, water park, all the summer reading programs, visits to grandparents', swimming, reading a special book together, and who knows what else!

Monday, January 14, 2013

So, um, hi again

I realize it's been nearly 4 months since my last post.  To say we've been busy is an understatement.  But, it's a good busy.  Life is a great adventure, and we've loved living it.
Jacob turned 5, started piano lessons, played his first soccer game.
Beth started 2 days a week of gymnastics.
We joined a new church.
We started attending a co-op with other homeschoolers. 
More soccer, piano, gymnastics, co-op classes.
Had fun field trips.
Fed our Disney World addiction.
More soccer (and last game), more gymnastics, more piano, more field trips.
Celebrated the end of semester for co-op.
Had visitors, went visiting, enjoyed fellowship with friends.
Left the kids at Popi and Yaya's for a long weekend (woohoo!)
Started enjoying the Christmas season.
Enjoyed every part of the Christmas season- parties, plays, Jesus, Santa, movies, cookies, family, presents, friends....
Felt blessed for a great year and the paths that God has led our family on.

What's next?  More of the same, with a little extra insanity here and there.  We can't wait!