Monday, October 20, 2014

Bedtime Reading :: Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne


Sometimes it's hard to capture a serious picture when you are reading aloud to Spiderman.

Ethan and I finished our first chapter-book-at-bedtime read-aloud this week. A few weeks ago he asked if I would read Winnie-the-Pooh to him and, when looking around our bookshelves, it seemed that we no longer had any WtP picture books to speak of. Remembering that the chapter book has little illustrations scattered throughout, I picked that up and over the course of 2-3 weeks, on nights that he and I had the stamina to stay awake, we read about a half a chapter. Bedtime with this boy has always been my most consistent (and sacred!) time to read to him - we usually have a good 15 minutes of picture books that we roll through most nights - and this was our first attempt at something that continued. While we definitely aren't abandoning picture books, I think this is the start of something new for his bedtime routine. He is ready for a shorter chapter book and, of course, what mama turns down snuggling with her boy at bedtime to read. Not me. : )

He's already picked out that next one that we're going to read together: Dick King Smith's A Mouse Called Wolf. I'm pretty sure he's picked it solely based on the cover picture, but that's okay. I've been known to do that myself sometimes. : )
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quoted :: The 13 Clocks by James Thurber


I know it's no shock that we are constantly on the hunt for new-to-us authors and books to try out for our read-aloud time. I would be remiss if I didn't make sure that the twelve people that read my blog didn't know about The Read-Aloud Revival Podcast put together by Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things. She has had a wonderful crew of writers and educators come through - Andrew Pudewa, Melissa Wiley, Heidi from Mt. Hope Academy - and my wish list on Amazon as well as my library hold list has grown considerably due to the book recommendations dished out on each episodes.

The book above, The 13 Clocks, was one recommended by Heidi and we recently picked it up at the library. We're about half-way through the book - the jury is still out on what I think of it. It's definitely odd. However, there have been some quotable gems from the book that I have flagged as we've read. One such in the first chapter describing the problem the Duke had with his clocks not working goes something like:
The clocks were dead, and in the end, brooding on it, the Duke decided he had murdered time, slain it with his sword, and wiped his bloody blade upon its beard and left it lying there, bleeding hours and minutes, its springs uncoiled and sprawling, its pendulum disintegrating.
And the alliteration in this sentence - something that came up just this week in N1's essentials class at Classical Conversations:
At the sign of the Silver Swan, in the town below the castle, where taverners, travelers, taletellers, tosspots, troublemakers, and other townspeople were gathered, he heard of Saralinda, loveliest princess on all the thousand islands of the ocean seas.
More word play and alliteration that I just loved:
The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets. Farther along and stronger, bonged the gongs of a throng of frogs, green and vivid on their lily pads. From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets.
And a simile that just made me laugh:
The traveler vanished, like a fly in the mouth of a frog...
: )

Hopefully I remember to report back on whether this book was a winner or not, but some of these quotes were too good not to write down to remember.

And as a bonus, a photo of a studious girl working on her math test. We do do other things besides just read aloud here. : )


Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

Coffee and the current read aloud. Latergram from yesterday. The story is getting good so I'm eager to get back to it later today!

Here I should like to remark, for the sake of princes and princesses in general, that it is a low and contemptible thing to refuse to confess a fault, or even an error. If a true princess has done wrong, she is always uneasy until she has had an opportunity of throwing the wrongness away from her by saying: 'I did it; and I wish I had not; and I am sorry for having done it.' So you see there is some ground for supposing that Curdie was not a miner only, but a prince as well. Many such instances have been known in the world's history.
The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

A favorite quote from our recently finished read-aloud, read in conjunction with the Reading to Know Bookclub. It's been YEARS since I've spent time with George MacDonald and I have to say diving into one of his fairy tales has been delightful.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

October is My Favorite

Where to start.

The last five weeks have been ones of big BIG change for our family. The addition of a 14 year old girl has been such a blessing but there have also been some big hurdles and bumps that we have (and are) experiencing as we fit her into the family, as well as helping her overcome her own personal hurdles. (I hate the vagueness that life has to be right now in some areas. Please forgive the lack of specifics).

I've noticed that I'm not taking many pictures these days. I miss that. My plate is so full of what has to be done next that I'm not slowing down and being observant and thankful. I'm too busy focusing on the next meeting, the next school assignment, the next bathroom that must be cleaned, the next meal to be made. Those things are all very true and it's definitely helping me to be more focused and on task, but I'm drained when I don't take a little time to emotionally (creatively) recharge!)

October IS one of my favorite months. The changing leaves, all our family birthdays, the crisp weather ... I could go on and on. I've made myself a little photo challenge called #Octoberismyfavorite and I'm trying to remember to take a photo a day solely for the beauty that I am noticing that comes in the month of October and post it to Instagram. I'm not going for perfection ... I already missed posting yesterday ... but I'm slowly reminding myself to pause, look for beauty, and remember to be thankful that it is there even when the days are long and hard.

A glimpse at what I've captured since Wednesday:

Day 1: October means pumpkin in all the things ... pumpkin waffles for breakfast. (Also, in honesty, we are a cereal eating family at breakfast and we were out of all of it ... ergo, I had to actually MAKE breakfast!) Recipe from weelicious.

October means pumpkin in all the things. Pumpkin waffles this morning! Recipe from @weelicious

Day 2: take yesterday's pumpkin waffles. Add brown sugar cream cheese. You're welcome.

Yesterday's @weelicious pumpkin waffles with @jessicagfisher brown sugar cream cheese. #octoberismyfavorite

Day 2 (bonus): pre-birthday celebrating the night before.

Birthday-eve celebrating.

Day 3: Eleven is my new favorite. She's already great at being eleven.

Eleven is pretty fantastic.

Day 3 (bonus): also, ten is my favorite. (All the ages are my favorite!) Celebrating the one and only nephew with a fantastic photobomb by my dad in the background.


Day 4: Soccer on cool, crisp Saturday mornings. And the fact that this girl played ... that's a whole post in itself that I need to write up to remember. So proud of her yesterday and definitely an October favorite.


To be continued...

Friday, September 19, 2014

American History Reading, September 2014

American Historical fiction is one of my favorite things to read with my kids. There are just so many options out there that I admit to being a bit paralyzed when I've been trying to come up with reading lists for this year. As of right now, I've just given up on the actual list (unheard of for my normal nature!) and am just picking books as we need them and as they tie in with our studies.

Of late:


I've read Sam the Minuteman and Paul Revere's Ride with the littler girls. I am (slightly embarrassed) to say this might be the first time I have read the Paul Revere poem in it's entirety. I would have thought I had read it before as familiar as I was with the famous first lines
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
And then there's a line about one if by land, two if by sea and my memories stop there. : ) We'll be giving this a re-read before shelving it for the year. I've also found a reading on YouTube I'll have the whole crew listen to as well. (See also: Andy Griffith telling the tale of Paul Revere. Definitely checking this one out as well). : )

Afternoon coffee with pumpkin spice creamer (oh, yes) and the current read-aloud. Trying to find our homeschool groove after the last couple of crazy weeks.

Pedro's Journal was our first back-to-school read-aloud, following our fun summer of sequels. This is the story of Columbus' journey as told through the journal of young Pedro, a young boy chosen for the journey because of his ability to read and write. With short chapters, this book gave a great feel for what it would have been like to travel with Columbus - the stressful sea voyage, first impressions of the natives they encounters (and Pedro's thoughts of Columbus' treatments of them), and a myriad of other details related to sea travel and exploration.


I've also pulled this resource off my shelf and am planning to utilize it quite frequently this year. I bought this at a homeschool seminar well before N1 was even in kindergarten and we dog-eared the pages of this little guide most of her K through 2nd grade years. I was hunting for an age appropriate book for N1 for independent reading - one that neither of us had read - and just needed some inspiration and help with the decision making.


We settled on Johnny Tremain and we'll be reading it together on our respective Kindles. N1 is a big fan of audiobooks as well so I splurged the extra $3+ and bought the accompanying Audible recording which she can listen to on my Kindle. I've never read this Newberry winner and am excited to read it with her. N2 is currently engrossed in all things Roald Dahl and is reading Matilda. Not exactly a tie-in with our American History studies, but I'm okay with that. : )

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grace and Peace

When we pursue the path that Christ sets before us, even with our weaknesses, He works in and through us as he disciplines and trains us. Those weaknesses we started out with? They will not be further disabled - they will be healed! (Bible Knowledge Comme

We are slowly and surely moving into a new season in our family ... in a family of seven. We are now the parents of a 14yo girl and while things are settling in smoothly(-ish), it has just been busy on so many levels. (Busy isn't even the right word to use, I'm sure, but it's what I've got right now).

I've pared myself down to the bare minimum of outside responsibilities for me right now and I'm finding that is still stretching me to my limit daily with three to educate at home, one to keep busy, and one to get back and forth to public high school and help with 9th grade work. (Thank goodness for husbands that get - and enjoy! - algebra). I'm still working a little for our church and tutoring for our Classical Conversation group, but anything else beyond those two responsibilities (one of which I do with one of my own child in the class) is just not happening this year. I miss writing about the read alouds that we are discovering and writing "around here" type posts as a hodgepodge of notes about our days. For now, the daily pictures I manage to get to Instagram will have to do and as I can flesh out a detail or two about a photo there, I'll do so.

Like this one:


My tried and true banana bread recipe, multiplied times four to feed all the eaters in this house.

Banana Bread

1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 T white vinegar)
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 c. raisins (I almost always leave these out and sub chocolate chips)
2 t. unsweetened applesauce or vegetable oil
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
4 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

Beat the egg and the brown sugar together until foamy and the sugar is somewhat dissolved. Stir in the applesauce, bananas and buttermilk, mixing well between each addition. Sift the dry ingredients (I never do!) and stir into the liquids along with the raisins (or chocolate chips). Spray a 9" load pan with nonstick spray and spoon in the batter, smoothing the top out with a spatula. Bake at 350 on the middle rack of a preheated oven until deep golden, the center bounces back to your touch and a toothpick comes out clean. I check it at about 45 minutes but in my oven it takes 50-55 for it to be done all the way through.

Grace and peace.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Because I am Sunday night tired ... a recipe


This recipe is courtesy of my sister and it is soooo good. I made this for dinner last night and it did not disappoint! I don't know why you couldn't just combine all the ingredients and put it in the crockpot for the day instead of the oven, so I'm going to try that next time, but either way, this was still delicious and worth making even with the extra steps to cook it in the oven. (I also want to try substituting the buffalo taste with bbq since my kids prefer that to buffalo/spicy flavors)

Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole
  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 8-10 medium potatoes, cut in ½” cubes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 6 Tbsp. hot sauce
  • 2 cups fiesta blend cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled bacon
  • 1 cup diced green onion

Preheat the oven to 500°.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and hot sauce.  Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat.

Carefully, scoop the potatoes into the prepared baking dish, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mixture as possible.  Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy and browned on the outside.

While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mixture and stir to coat.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400°.  Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken. 

In a bowl, mix together the cheese, bacon and green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mixture.  Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Early August Daybook

Outside my window…

It's a mild summer night ... a couple of the girls are playing with a neighbor and I've got two hanging in the school room with me. I love summer nights where the kids can play for a while before bed, but it has done havoc with our bedtimes this summer and we are transitioning.

Giving thanks…


For twelve years of marriage! While our actual anniversary was Sunday, we celebrated on Saturday night. Our niece (the flower girl at our wedding, fyi) babysat for us and the kids had a ball with her. We just enjoyed getting out and hanging out together, just us. It seems like it had been a while since a nice long date night! Dinner at Culver's (with a buy-one-get-one-free deal on a burger!), a little shopping for bedsheets and towels for our bathroom (by year twelve has everyone else's stuff worn out like ours?), and a movie before heading home.

I am thinking about…

Or trying not to ... our homestudy and waiting to hear that it's made it through the review process. We had the chance to proofread it last week and it's a little freaky to read so much about your life written out by a 3rd party that you have only known for about six weeks!

In the Schoolroom…

Fuel for the second day of school.

Mama's fuel for school.

We are back at it! The first official day was on Friday and we kicked it off with lots of donuts and reading aloud. We had a solid Monday (the good and the bad), but we're slowly getting back into a routine of a little reading, writing and 'rithmatic each day. Our CC program doesn't start until the end of the month so we'll have almost four weeks under our belt by the time we add that in.

From the kitchen…

School has started so it's time to get serious about menu planning.


I'm working, working, working on sticking to our meal plan as our fall activities will be starting very soon! I've been checking out a few new cookbooks (thank you library!) and perusing old ones for new crockpot recipes and freezer meals. Tonight we had Pioneer Woman's orange chicken and it was YUM. Monday's are a good day (typically) for me to try a more complicated recipe and this was well worth the extra steps. FYI - some kids here thought the chicken was too spicy, however the adults were passing the bowl back and forth for the last bites.

I am creating…

Much catching up in my Project Life album - yay! Last week (or maybe the week before that?) knowing that we were very close to school starting, I took a couple afternoons and cranked through the first half of 2014. Thankfully, I had been pretty diligent about getting pictures printed almost every week - while the girls have music lessons I usually sort / upload / edit a weeks worth of photos. I'm caught up through our summer trip to Ohio and that feels VERY GOOD. Maybe a PL post one of these days?

I don’t ever want to forget…


Dentist rock star. Seriously.

The really, really cute stuff that this boy says now a-days. We are all about superheroes right now - "fiderman" is a current favorite. We also like "capan 'merica" a bunch too.

I am working on…

The #shereadstruth plan in Hebrews. This summer has been such a sweet time in the Bible for me and I'm a little sad that I won't have the leisure of so much study time in the morning before the kids get up as we return to a more normal schedule. God has answered a prayer of mine to hunger for His Word and I am eager to get out of bed in the morning to get at it. I also wish I could say I hungered to get out of bed to run several mornings a week, but I'm not quite there yet. : ) I am trying to get up and exercise three mornings a week early - like dark early. I've accepted the reality of life right now that if I don't get up and go before the kids are up, it's just not going to happen later in the day. So early it is.

I am reading…

I'm not sure how I will be getting any work done the rest of this week!

Well, I'm staring at this. I know I'm not going to want to put it down once I pick it up so I've read only a few pages. Maybe this weekend I can make some headway on it? Since my last post, I've also finished:
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (for the Reading to Know bookclub)
  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins (EXCELLENT book walking you through how to study the Scriptures on your own. I was much encouraged by reading it).
  • A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. Carrie recommended this one and it was delightful. One I'll remember for the girls when they ask for something.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban / Goblet of Fire (mindless re-reading) : )
We also finished The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander - one of our summer read-alouds that took to finish. This wasn't a great book to stop and start so much because there was a lot of action and unusual names, but we finally got several days under our belt in a row with it and made it to the end. Still recommend it, but not reading it in bits and spurts like we did! We're currently reading Henry Reed's Babysitting Service and laughing our way through it. Henry does not disappoint.

I am hearing…

Right now (because I'm finishing this post two days after I started it) one of the girls and T watching a movie together. N2 asked her dad for a special daddy/daughter after bedtime movie night and the rest of the kids are in bed.

Clicking around…
  • Schole Sisters :: a new classical education blog whose focus is "a community of homeschooling moms who believe that teaching is the art of being imitated, who long to teach from rest, and who draw on wisdom from the classical tradition." Am loving what I'm reading there.
  • Humming Home Habits from Simply Convivial
Around the house…

Trying to remember to stay on top of daily chores now that we are back in school. The girls have spiffy new chore sheets and they have been working pretty well for the most part. We T did a MAJOR purge in the girls' rooms - decluttering is one of his gifts - and that has been a HUGE help in them being able to keep their rooms picked up during the day. It's a beautiful thing!

One of my favorite things…

Best group of cousins ever. Cousin day before starting school tomorrow!

And end of summer cousin day. They have been few and far between this summer - the oldest cousin spent several weeks working at camp, we had travels / swim lessons / camp for our crew and schedules just didn't match up often. We had one last fun day seeing the cheap summer movie at the local theater and then swimming the afternoon away. This gang is full of personality as you can tell and we had a blast all being together for the day. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact the my oldest niece is a junior in high school this year. She has her learner's permit and chauffeured us around as we went to the movies and picked up lunch and I have to say I could get used to being driven around. : )

A few plans for the next week…

Activites and dates are starting to fill up the calendar! Tutor meetings for CC are coming up and soccer practice will start for the little girls in another week or two. We've aged B up an age level in soccer so that she and N2 can play on the same team - yay! - only one practice and game to juggle per week instead of two!

A photo worth sharing...

Summer Sundays rock.

Quite possibly my favorite summer photo. : )

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wishing a...


Happy Bloggy Birthday to my friend Carrie at Reading to Know!

As part of her birthday celebration, she is holding a little contest for an Amazon gift card - the requirement is to post a photo of yourself with your favorite book. She and I share a deep love for L.M. Mongomery's writings and so it was easy to pick my favorite from the series - Anne of Windy Poplars. (This is my original, well-loved book from the box set I was given in junior high). Windy Poplars has always been my favorite of the series - partly because Anne is off on her adventures as a teacher, living with the precious Aunts Kate and Chatty and one-of-a-kind Rebecca Dew, and also because a majority of the book is written from the standpoint of letters from her to Gilbert. As someone who truly misses the art of corresponding by mail, I loved reading the (highly wordy) letters that she sent to Gilbert and I'm a sucker for pretty much any book written in this fashion.

All book-loving talk aside, Carrie is a wonderful friend and one that I am so thankful to have gotten to know through blogging. There are lots of times I contemplate throwing in the towel on this little online space (time being precious and hard to come by lately), but I am so thankful for some of the relationships that I have made through writing in this spot and commenting on other blogs. My book-loving friends Carrie and Amy fall into this category. They are an encouragement to me as a wife and a parent and I am so glad the internet has enlarged my world to include them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kitchen Day

Thankful for generous friends who share their CSA.
More tomato goodness. A sweet man from church said he could keep me stocked in tomatoes if I could make him a little salsa. Of course!

Tomato day! Spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove for the freezer...

... and a triple batch of @thepioneerwoman salsa in the fridge.

Cooking day continues ... @thepioneerwoman panzanella.




Gifted with a boatload of tomatoes from a friend's CSA and another friend's garden, today was a big kitchen day to deal with them. Three batches of Pioneer Woman's salsa, one batch (which made three dinners worth) of this amazing spaghetti sauce used up most of the tomatoes, but I managed to save a few to make panzanella for lunch (also a PW recipe). It was so fresh and good! I am sad for my kids who don't like fresh tomatoes. As a consolation lunch for them - mac and cheese out of a box and chocolate chip cookies. They were thrilled. : )

Monday, July 14, 2014

Currently :: July 2014

Selling ourselves for free chicken.

Eating ... free Chick-Fil-A. (Photo from Friday). It was dress like a cow day and we braved the crowds with five kids for free chicken. FYI, no children we harmed in the taking of this photo - not sure what is up with some of those faces, but they really were all happy!

Drinking ... less coffee and more water. Still love, love, love my coffee, but trying to set an example for girls that don't care for water.


Studying ... The Sermon on the Mount with #shereadstruth. It has been so good this summer and I have been blessed by the #shereadstruth gals and the work they are putting out.


Reading ... good stuff this month:

Unbroken :: This was my vacation book this summer and it was unbelievable. Amy has recommended to me time and time again and I finally bought a used copy on Amazon and devoured it. Such a powerful story of a man's courage and character (with an ending that somehow I had never heard about and did not see coming!) in the face of incredible circumstances. It will go down as one of the best books I have ever read, period. I've already ordered a used copy of Laura Hillenbrand's book, Seabiscuit, and while I can't imagine that a story about a horse will be quite as powerful as Unbroken, I'm eager to read another book by her.

The One Hundred and One Dalmatians :: This month's choice for the Reading to Know bookclub. I read this one in a few days (I needed something completely different after Unbroken and this was a perfect fit). A sweet story just like the Disney movie.

I'm now dabbling in a couple different books, but not making any real progress.

Reading Aloud ... The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander with the girls.

Sunset. #shepherdsummeradventures

Driving ... lots lately! Way more than normal. To swim lessons, to VBS, to Ohio (Lake Erie) and back.

Dropping big girls at camp for a week. So fun to have a big cousin working there with them this week!

Dropping ... big girls off at camp this week. The house is much quieter this Monday.

Planning. Goal making. And trying to wrap my mind around the fact that we start back to school in about three weeks.

Plotting ... our school calendar for the year. I had it all planned out prettily to start us off on a six week on / one week off plan ... and then we have had some family stuff change everything. Back to the drawing board because we are...

Adding ... a new member to our family! We are in the process of filling our foster / adoption paperwork and will, Lord willing, be adding another to our number by September. So much to tell ... so much we can't share. I know folks understand, but we are excited!

I am a sucker for this boy.

Dying ... over the cuteness and fun that this boy is in his current Captain Batman stage. I will be super sad when he grows out of it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Quotes

Right now.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness - secret wishes. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

Isaiah 45:3

Friday, June 27, 2014

Around Here


Around here ... we had a great VBS week last week. It was the boy's first year to participate so all four kids were able to involved this year. The weather was great and we had a great group of kids turn out each night. I taught the 3-5 year old Bible study portion and had a blast ... and was wiped by Friday night. But so worth it.


Around here ... we have had a couple of munchkins down with what I've affectionately dubbed the VBS virus. Ergo, there have been quite a few Star Wars movies the last few days.


Around here ... so many legos.


Around here ... I'm pulling the next book off my summer stack and getting ready to dive in. If the book is as good as the two page preface that I read this afternoon, it will be fabulous.

Errand buddies.

Around here ... we have driven around like crazy people this week running errands. They have been troupers and earned a donut stop one morning.

"Wait ... and then wait again. No where are we promised an easy time when we obey God or we reach what we think is the answer. We are just to wait, trust, obey." #shereadstruth #ruth

Around here ... I'm finishing up the study of the book of Ruth along with #shereadstruth. Such as good study on waiting on the Lord and then waiting some more.


Around here ... filling out lots o' paperwork for our homestudy. Slowly and steadily making progress.

Summer boy.

Around here ... summer is slipping by way too fast. So thankful for these sunny days.