Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading Aloud ::: Henry Reed, Inc.

This week, I'm introducing the kids to one of my favorite literary characters from my childhood - Henry Reed. He's no Anne Shirley but he sure does have some funny things happen to him. :)

I just finished reading one of my favorite childhood books with the girls. Henry Reed, Inc. As if you couldn't tell by the cover, this book is pretty dated. Set in the sixties, it tells the story of a military kid, 14 year old Henry Reed. Henry has lived all over the world with his parents but has spent little to no time in the United States. He gets the opportunity to spend the summer with his uncle and aunt in rural Grover's Corner, New Jersey. With the assistance of his neighbor, 12 year old Midge Glass, he runs Henry Reed Research, Inc. and goes into business for himself. They find all sorts of ways to make a few dollars around the neighborhood and keep themselves entertained ... along with getting into an innocent scrape or two along the way.

This book was so fun to share with my girls. While most of the books that we read are not set in the current day and age, it was fun to read about these kids who entertained themselves outside most of the day, looked up information in books if they were interested in something, and got around primarily by walking, riding bikes or, on the rare occasion, using the riding tractor to get around the neighborhood. My girls loved the story and laughed aloud over the situations that Henry and Midge got themselves into. It also was a fun book to read as we are nearing the end of our school year and we are thinking of ways to fill our days this summer - it's possible to do so without the aid of screens or electronic devices! : )

We give a hearty recommendation to this book if you aren't familiar with Henry Reed. There are several books in this series ... I blogged another of my favorites in this series, Henry Reed's Journey several years ago and you can read that review here.


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Keeping Things Simple



I recently did a personality test online ... I've known for some time that I probably fall into the introvert camp, but I was interested to see what an actual test would conclude. Yes, still introvert. HUGE introvert. I thrive on routine, structure, organization, and time alone to recharge when I've had to expend a lot of energy being social and with people.

Basically, the exact opposite of my day as a homeschooling mama.

I know full well, and have recently had it reconfirmed through some thinkerly type moments and conversations that homeschooling is the path for our family and is the place that God wants me spending my time and energy. (Not that I was questioning it, but it's always comforting to have it confirmed and be refreshed in that goal). However, I need to give a bit more thought as to how I can keep myself from burning out time and time again in this place. Being available for these amazing little people who I get to learn and love alongside of is a such a gift. But the mama that is continually overextended or not making a priority to manage her time and possessions (i.e., keep things picked up!) is no blessing to the family around her.

Just a few thoughts that have been percolating of late. The last few weeks have been some of our best this year as I have narrowed my focus as much as I can to two goals for my day: keeping up with the housework (which entails anything that falls under my homemaker umbrella) and homeschooling the children. Anything that doesn't clearly fall under those two categories get some serious thinking about before I say yes or add one more thing to the calendar. This line that my husband and I have come up with for me has been such a huge help in pushing back the feeling of being overwhelmed. Maybe it's too simple, but sometimes simple keeps it just that ... simple.

Monday, April 07, 2014

What Monday Calls For

Malted milk chocolate chip cookies for the Monday win.

Sometimes a Monday calls for a batch of yummy cookies to make it through the rest of the day.

Recipe is Pioneer Woman's Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies. Adding malted milk powder to my go-to chocolate chip recipe? Game changer.

The cookbook is called Cookie Friday and sold by Marta. Pretty sure that our summer bucket list will have the goal of baking our way through this little book one recipe at at time.

No affiliate links here - I just like to support mamas that want to stay home with their kids when it fits my budget and my needs. Not that I really need a cookie recipe book. : )

Friday, March 07, 2014

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Reading to Know March Bookclub :: The Little White Horse

My intro post to the March Reading to Know book club is up on Carrie's blog. We are reading The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge - hope you will read along with us!

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

40 Days

Pretty symbolic of our weather. #pictapgo_app

I need Lent this year.

There has been a lot of complaining. (You probably have not heard it but it's there).

There has been stewing over situations and letting frustrations fester.

There has been the trying-to-do-all-the-stuff to the point that none of the stuff gets done.

40 days. I need this season. A season that isn't talked about much in the circles that I generally run in, but one that I want to learn more about and benefit from. I do not, under any circumstances, profess to be an expert on Lent. But a season of reflection in the 40 days until Easter, to think about the sacrifice that Jesus faced on the cross for me and the victory that He won. And to think about why he made that sacrifice.

Me. My sin. My shame.

Time to reflect on what he has done for me when I was so underserving.

Resources / books that I'm gathering:
Lent Journal from Naptime Diaries
Journey to the Cross Devotional from The Gospel Coalition
Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliott

Saturday, March 01, 2014

These Happy Golden Years :: A Read-Aloud Thursday / Reading to Know Bookclub Post

World's longest title ever.

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In a last-day-of-the-month push, we finished our recent read aloud - These Happy Golden Years. I have thoroughly enjoyed taking my girls on this literary journey, (re)introducing them to some of my favorite people of all time, the Ingalls family. We have deliberately spaced the books out instead of reading them in one right after the other and decided to jump back into the series in conjunction with the February Reading to Know bookclub (who actually read Little House on the Prairie).

This one was a delight to reread. For those that might not remember, this volume tells the story of the sweet and simple courtship of Laura and Almonzo, and the growing relationship that lasted over three years before they finally got married. My girls (now 10, 8 and 6 1/2) were finally old enough to "get" this book in the series and my 8-year-old would repeatedly ask me "are they or are they not going to get married in this book?!?!" To her utter frustration, I wouldn't tell her. : ) That came back to get me as said 8-year old is now quite a fluent reader, so she snagged the chapter book at bedtime and just happened to read ahead a few chapters to satisfy her curiosity before turning out her light one night. We have now instituted a "no reading ahead" rule in our house - one that we haven't had a need for before!

As the mama, what struck me this go round was how few material belongings Laura had. When she would travel to teach in the little one room Brewster schoolhouse, or when she packed her trunk at the end of the book to move to live with Almonzo, all her possessions could either be carried in a small carpet bag or small trunk. Such a contrast to this day in age where the message from media is more!, bigger!, better! I think this all is striking me as we are nearing the season of Lent and Easter and I'm spending time in the book of John. I'm hearing the message of what it means to love one another. What it looks like to serve another. How that might not fit with the American quest to buy! more! stuff! My thoughts are still choppy about this topic, and I'm still processing but that struck me. She was so happy to go and marry Almonzo. Completely satisfied with her tiny house that he built her with his own hands. Felt there was not a single thing that they needed in the world. My, times have changed.

All-in-all, a delightful return trip with the Ingalls and one that I enjoyed sharing with my girls this February.

Past Little House reviews:
The Long Winter
By the Shores of Silver Lake
Little House on the Prairie

Belatedly linking up with Read Aloud Thursday and the February Reading to Know linkup.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Slump

Peanut butter and jelly oatmeal and reading for breakfast this morning.

Considering that we only have two more days of February, I think I've done pretty well on making it through the month without my annual slump. The one that I get when we haven't been able to go outside and burn off energy. The thing is, I love winter. I love the cold and being bundled in my sweatshirts. I love the chance of flurries and the possibility of slick roads so we have to stay home. But living where we do, we don't typically have months of this kind of cold. Tennessee is good for a 60 degree day to pop in every few weeks for a bit of a reprieve that helps one endure winter with a bit more ease.

Heavy on the vitamin C.

When I feel the slump coming on, it's time for an easy day.
  • We did lessons this morning and I switched them up so I lots of time to work individually with everyone first thing (getting any schoolwork battles out of the way instead of saving them until later when I would be tired and might give in too easy).
  • We saved our favorite things until after lunch - reading aloud from Story of the World (volume 2) and These Happy Golden Years ("are Almonzo and Laura going to get married or not in this book?!?" ... and I won't answer the question). : )
  • We delivered a meal to a friend this afternoon and the boy and I took a small detour to swing by Grandpa and Grandma's where he got to deliver some cookies to them. So fun to be able to surprise your grandparents when you are a 3 year old boy.
  • We came home and since it was way too cold to play outside, we got a snack, curled up under blankets and watched the first Toy Story movie.
Tonight's Awana so while the kids spend time with other adults that love them and they get a hearty dose of God's word, I'm going to go shop for a one of the girls' little friend's birthday and quite possibly pick up something warm to drink. Back home with kids in jammies, maybe a little more Laura and Almonzo to read if we're lucky, and then everyone tucked into bed with me not far behind after a little hanging out with my favorite person in the world.

A slow day is sometimes the best antidote to the winter slump no matter what the reason on when the season.

I am so very much looking forward to this workshop from @heartofmyhome! #restoreworkshop2014

PS. One of my favorite homeschooling books of all time is Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. This book is out of print, but this winter, she has taken the time to turn a few of my favorite chapters into a six week workshop on both avoiding as well as battling back from burnout for the homeschool mom. I'm very much hoping to participate in this!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Quotes



"Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don't know what to say, when there are no words to say ... But it isn't about perfection, and it isn't about performance. You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you are too scared or too ashamed to open the door."

"The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. Its about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment. Part of that, then, is honoring the way God made our bodies, and feeding them in the way they need to be fed."

-- Bread and Wine, Shauna Niequist

Photo: my next book in my current food memoir reading bent. Free printable from here.

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.





Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's On My Plate, Listed

The other day a friend asked me what I have been eating over the last year with all the weight losing and running - what were top five things that I was eating now-a-days and to be honest I didn't have to think terribly hard. A quick scroll through the food pictures that I have taken have shown that I have some go-to meals, especially for breakfasts and lunches. I typically eat what the family does for dinner though I might substitute the starch, if there is one, for an extra vegetable.

In general, I'm eating lots and lots of veggies. Lean meats. Very little dairy. Very, very little carbs. (I miss carbs). Very, very, very little sugar. I can live without sugar. I'm definitely a salty over sweet person.

Anyway, here are five seven things that you will routinely find on my plate.

:: Brussels sprouts. Pan roasted in a bit of bacon grease or Pam spray. (Depends on how wild I'm feeling). Tossed with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

This photo I threw in a chicken sausage with the Brussels.

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This one has an egg beater or two added. (Note: I'm not opposed to eggs at all and eat my share of those. However, someone in this house has had the occasional high cholesterol test and we keep egg beaters in the fridge. And, they cook super quick).

Breakfast is better on a polka dot plate.

:: Fish tacos. I buy fillets of tilapia at Aldi's and can pan fry them super quickly while I'm making lunch for the kids. I season them with whatever I find in the front of the spice cabinet - garlic salt, onion powder, Lawry's seasoning, taco seasoning, etc. Throw them in a corn tortilla with some peppers and onions and lunch is done.

It's a fish roc kind of Monday.

Sometimes a little lettuce or shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix is added if I have any around. Maybe a drizzle of ranch dressing.

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:: Sweet potato fries. Weekly. I dice my potatoes and flip them with a little Pam and season them heavily with salt, pepper and Lawry's. Roast them in the over on 425-ish for 20 minutes-ish. Watch them near the end - the ones above are a little more done than usual. : ) Cook time depends on how think you cut the potatoes and sometimes I'm lazy (or really hungry) and don't take the time to cut them small. I've also just diced them in cubes, cut up some peppers and onions and roasted all that together. Makes a great lunch for me to take on our tutoring days. (A chicken sausage is a nice addition to this as well).

:: Spaghetti squash. I lived on this stuff this winter. While I made breakfast in the morning, I would steam them in the microwave and then by lunch they would be cool enough to shred and eat. I season them the same way I season Brussels: salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of shredded parm. (Shredded Parmesan + anything = yum).

A day that is stretching and wearing. Mitford, baked spaghetti squash, and 20 minutes of quiet are going a long way towards refreshment.

:: Last summer I survived on pan roasted asparagus. I would be super sad when my fridge would be empty of it! Same seasonings as everything else.

Two days in a row. Asparagus, egg beaters (not because I'm opposed to eggs), and chicken sausage. #pictapgo_app

:: Chicken sausage should probably get it's own listing. I buy the big pack from Sam's and cook up a link with whatever veggie I have in the fridge. There are tons of different flavors and seasonings and it's just the right amount protein. (The one below was thrown in with a scrambled egg). I also make turkey kielbasa with a bit of regularity.

It was 59* when I went to run (at 8am) and I hit another goal. Celebrating with eggs cause I'm crazy like that.

:: The banana pancake. Now that I think of it, I haven't had one of these in a while, but I ate these like crazy the first few months. With a smear of almond butter down the middle - so so good.

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:: Bonus: favorite bread. Joseph's brand in flat bread and pitas. Just the right sizes if I want to make a sandwich (because sometimes the sandwich is just easier to tote places!)

This stuff is getting me through a summer of sandwiches. #vscocam

And there you have it. And now I'm hungry. : )

 photo ListswithFriendsBlue_zps3dfee69b.jpg

This post is part of a list-making project called Lists With Friends 2014, an effort to document the year in lists of all types. I love lists and am excited to be taking part of this fun project. : )

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Lesson in Praise from Potty Training (and the Psalms)

I've got a new post up over on the Jelly Telly blog this morning ... a lesson in praise that I've recently picked up from potty training.

It’s easy for a grownup to get down on a child’s level and be excited with them over a big accomplishment. We let loose a little of our inhibitions and joyfully shout “Good job!” when the 3 year old shares his potty training news. Or the 5 year old loses their first tooth. Or the 6 year old takes off the training wheels and rides their bike down the block that first time. How wonderful would it be if we were so free and childlike in our praise of God? If we shouted aloud when God does a mighty thing for us in our lives?

You can click over and read the rest of it here.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February Winter Break Daybook

Outside my window...

It's supposed to hit 63* today!! I may have broken out a skirt to wear even though I'll probably be chilly when I go outside. The sun makes me do crazy things!

Giving thanks...

For sunshine. For antibiotics for pinkeye (still trying to get rid of it in some of us). For a couple days of winter break. For girls happily crafting.

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I am thinking about...

The faintest glimmers of thought are poking around in my head about next year's school plans. I'm doing my best to stuff the back for a few more weeks! I don't want to wish away the rest of this year too quickly.

In the Schoolroom...

We are down to our last six weeks in CC so it's time for those of my girls that want to test for memory master or memory cadet to get to work polishing up what they do know and working ahead on what they don't.

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B and I have added a few lapbook elements into her first grade work and I'm having moments of regret that I didn't start that sooner this year with her. One of those things that got forgotten in my planning. We had a great time working and reading Another Celebrated Dancing Bear. We even made time for tea one afternoon and had brown bread and jam just like the bears in the story.

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Truthfully, and just as I expected, my girls were not fans of the strong taste of the brown bread! However, that opened the door for a great discussion on how we act when we go to someone's house and are offered food that we don't care for. And, after that discussion, we broke out some ritz crackers and peanut butter. : )

From the kitchen...

We have had so many evening activities the last few weeks. I have been super thankful that I put the effort into a menu plan this month. I was pretty wishy-washy with what we ate in January ... just the leftover blahs of being tired from the holidays. I've done a much better job this month - lots more veggies on our plates and I've thrown in a few new recipes that have been winners. I haven't had any urge to get out and run of late (shame on me) so having a plan for what I want to eat is even more important or I just graze willy-nilly in the kitchen. Tonight I'm making lawnmower taco ... one of my girls' FAVORITE recipes. (I think someone even asked for it as their birthday meal last year). Super quick and easy.

I am creating...

I finished up two weeks of Project Life last week, and have another one waiting on me in the album. Just need to snatch a few moments to do my writing. Creating a notebook for the last six weeks of CC with all my tutor information (and any worksheets I want my kiddos to do for extra practice). I'm so glad that is something I've added to my prep time this year. It's a little work on the front end, but it was invaluable to be able to hand that off to my sub last week when we had to miss because of eye infections.

I don't ever want to forget...

52 degrees so we bolted for the park!

How excited this little boy is to be potty training. This is not something that I was planning on starting right now, but he was very interested so we jumped on board. He has done really pretty great and we are so proud of him. And, I'm glad that I didn't know that the last time that I bought a box of diapers was probably the last time that I would buy a box of diapers.

I am working on...

Being intentional. Thinking about how much time I spend checking off lists and staring at screens versus playing cards and airplanes and sitting and being still with one another.

I am reading...

Celebrating Presidents Day with a couple days of winter break. We stocked up on craft supplies at hobby lobby this morning and I've got a goal of finishing this book while the girls create to their hearts content and the boy enjoys a rare "school day" mov

After all the reading that I got done in January, February has been slow going. That said, I finished Wildwood Imperium (book 3 in the Wildwood Chronicles) and started Shauna Neiquist's Bread and Wine. I have a feeling that the food memoir may be my new favorite kind of book to read. A book where it is like you are chatting with me over coffee AND your favorite recipes? Yes please! Up next will probably be The Little White Horse for the March Reading to Know bookclub (I'm hosting!) and finishing Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming. And maybe starting another C.S. Lewis book. Or one of the many, many others on my list that I want to get to. : ) The kids and I are reading These Happy Golden Years aloud right now ... it's been forever since I've revisited this one and I'm enjoying it immensely.

I am praying...

For decisions that we are making as a family. For a friend and her husband with some big medical needs.

I am struggling...

With exercising! It has just been so cold that I can't get excited about heading out the door in the dark to go exercise before the kids get up. And, I have been managing my time very poorly of late so later-than-normal bedtimes have also had a big effect on the getting-up-and-out-the-door situation as well.

I am hearing...

A movie playing behind me. (It's winter break after all). One of the girls is at the dentist with her dad right now and I'm thinking that when she gets home and we've had some lunch, we'll get outside for a bit. It's going to be in the mid-60s today after all!

Clicking around...

Rest Begins with Acceptance from Sarah @ Amongst Lovely Things
34 Gift Ideas for the Brand New Mama from Elise @ EliseJoy // so fun to read her list as a first time mama and nod and agree
What are We Doing to Our Boys from Circe Institute

Around the house...

Floors are crying out for attention, but I've been on a serious decluttering mission of late and in general, it's not too bad.

One of my favorite things...

Photos. Instagram. Savoring the days and stages of my kids in film. I haven't taken many pictures the last few days and while it's good for me to put the camera down every now and then, when I need a picture and end up scrolling through my files on the computer, I'm always amazed and thankful at the memories we have captured.

A few plans for the next week...

A well-check for a girl. A playdate later this week. A grown-up dinner out with friends.

A photo worth sharing...

These two make me smile. :)

These two make me smile.

Happy Tuesday. : )

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Quotes

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By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

-- 1 John 3:16-18

Meditating on this verse this past week as I saw photos of Valentine crafts and treats that we just didn't get to and fighting off frustrations that none of my ideas of special things came to pass. This week was one where walking in deed meant adding potty training to a busy schedule. It meant practicing patience and contentment pinkeye showed up for three of the munchkins and we had to stay home from CC (and a Valentine's celebration) on Tuesday. It meant that my husband took care of something I forgot to do so that the kids and I could get some spontaneous (and much-needed) time with friends on Friday afternoon. It wasn't a week of chocolate and flowers, but one of looking to the needs of others as greater than our own. A lesson I need to learn much more than I need the chocolate. : )

Sunday Quotes: a quote from something I read that I marked in a book, worthy of remembering and sharing.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

10 on the 10th :: February 2014

A few smattering of photos from our Monday. Mondays tend to be a favorite day around here. Although it's generally quite busy because we are finishing up work for CC on Tuesday or playing catch-up on the weekend's laundry, we are typically home all day. Those are my favorite.

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Monday breakfast. Cinnamon roll waffles for the kids + a smoothie for me. (I haven't been making it out to run at all lately ergo no sweets for me).

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Piano practice for this one. She has switched from violin to piano (same teacher) and we are thinking this is a much better fit for her right now. And she's loving it.

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A fun Valentine's-y coloring page during our morning read-aloud time. We usually do read-aloud after lunch, but we switched the schedule around some today.

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Exploding the Code. : )

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Putting together the final touches on her IEW paper for Tuesday.

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Labeling and typing. (Note: I ended up doing the bulk of the typing in for her though she usually does it. We were pressed for time today).

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Mama needs refueling.

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And on to math after lunch.

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A few snuggles with the boy.

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Pulling our next read-aloud off the shelf. Reading along with the Reading to Know February bookclub; technically they are reading Little House on the Prairie, but we are jumping ahead to the book in the series that we are on.

Monday in a nutshell. On Tuesday's agenda? We are home (unexpectedly) today from CC with a round of pink-eye so our afternoon will include an outing for some antibiotics. B had it over the weekend, and I had hopes that we caught it before it spread but no such luck! Ah, well. Thankful everyone is in good spirits although disappointed we are missing friends today and that it's not something worse!