Friday, July 30, 2010

To Wrap Up July & Head into August

In July, I (and the little folks around my house) participated in the Narnia Reading Challenge sponsored by Carrie at Reading to Know. My original goals were to read/finish The Silver Chair with my girls and to listen to the last two books, The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle, on audio during our family vacation.

I'm happy to say that we completed all proposed goals! I don't have any big, in-depth insights to share from the books. It had been a LONG time since I had read any of these stories so they felt very new to me as we went through them. I found that I have very ambivalent feelings about The Silver Chair. I had a hard time enjoying the characters of Eustace and Jill (although I learned to like Eustace very much in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). Much of time, I felt like it was just a place holder in the series. The middle book that takes you from point A to point B but seems like filler a lot of the time. (Please don't hate!) : )

We also did listen to the last books of the series on our trip and it has renewed my interested to read (with the girls) and re-read (for myself) those books again! I didn't remember much of either of those stories (or The Horse and His Boy for that matter either) and it was fun reconnecting with them. While the girls and I are taking a small break on our Narnia reading for something a little lighter before school starts, I do anticipate we'll get back to them again before next year's Narnia challenge. At least, I hope so!

Next up is Amy's (at Hope is the Word) To Kill a Mockingbird challenge. Doesn't this well-worn copy look impressive?

Sadly, I've never read this book although it's been on my shelf a long time! I'm going to aim to tackle this one in August (along with school, etc.) so that will be the extent of my goals! However, Amy did mention that there is movie made of this book so I may try and tack that on as well, after I read the book, of course. : ) Coincidentally, I read a really interesting article on the book and it's author in the July issue of Southern Living. I didn't realize this was the author's only book, and that she is extremely reticent to discuss it or really accept any recognition because of it. Her hometown of Monroe, Alabama is very sensitive to her wishes and while they have a few things planned for this anniversary year of the book, they are keeping it fairly low-key overall.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Planning for First Grade

We are getting excited about school starting next week for us. This summer has gone by very fast, but I think we are ready and rested for first grade for the oldest and a little pre-K work for our middle girl. I have a few more things I want to do to prepare, but even if they don't get done, we're ready for Monday at least.

This year, Noelle is going to be attending a 2-day per week tutorial. She will do her social studies and science through her tutorial, while I concentrate on her language arts, math, Bible and any art or music I want to do with her at home. It was a hard decision whether or not to send her to this program this year; however, with a new baby on the way (coupled with the difficult time I had after Betsy's birth), this is a good fit for our family for this year. And, she's so excited ... lunch boxes and school supply lists are delighting her to pieces right now. She won't start her tutorial work until later in the month, but we're going to go ahead and start our portion next week to give us some buffer days for baby's birth.

For her language arts program this year, I decided to go with several of the resources offered by Peace Hill Press and put together by the author of The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer. We are choosing to continue with our classical approach to learning and I have been most impressed with what I've looked at so far. 

For math, we are going to continue with Saxon and I really like the look of their first grade materials. In retrospect, I think their kindergarten program would have been better suited for Noelle as pre-K and beginning K material, so I'll be doing a little of that with Natalie this year as she has interest. I'm not on any time-table with her as far as pre-K material I want to cover. She is just very interested in learning to read and write this year and so I've got a few little things for her to do as it fits for both her and me. 

Bible will just be a continuation of what we have been working on from last year - continuing to read through the Catherine Vos Children's Story Bible, making those stories familiar to her. We'll also do memory work through Awana, and she will have a short chapel program with her tutorial once a week. For first grade, I think that's plenty.

For her social studies and science (the two subjects covered by her tutorial), she will be spending time studying Ancient Civilization (creation up through the Greeks) and earth sciences. Because I am a geeky once-upon-a-time history major, I went ahead and purchased Story of the World, Volume 1 for my reading (and probably for some read-aloud time) so that I can learn along with her. This was the social studies curriculum that I had planned on using this year had we not gone with the tutorial so that makes me happy that it will still fit and we can use it.

Edited to add: We found out this week that they are bumping her social studies rotation back one year. Instead, this year she will be studying American History and Tennessee History from the early 1800's to the present. That is actually fine with me - we have some Little House on the Prairie books to finish this year and this will fit perfectly with this!

I think that's first grade in a nutshell! : ) I'm hoping to throw in a few Download N Go studies over these first few weeks to get us back into our school routine. We really enjoyed those over our kindergarten year and I think starting off with one will be a good transition for us. For our first week, we are going to spend some time visiting China, and after that, I think we will spend time doing a fun summer one. (I was sent a copy of Summer Sensations to review and give away on the blog so we'll roll that into our second week of school.) I also am dreaming of few holiday inspired lapbooks for this year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are just so many options - it's easy to get excited and carried away!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nightstand Post ::: July 2010

As you can see, I have no lack of things that I want to be reading right now. I'm sure there are other books scattered around the house that I didn't track down for this pile. I am really backed up on non-fiction books that I want to dive into. My attention span for non-fiction has been very short lately, but that doesn't mean the list of books that I want to read has shortened by any means. 

Just to highlight a few that are in the stack: Nanny McPhee is our current read-aloud. We just finished The Silver Chair and I wanted to do something lighter before school started. I'm also hoping to start The Core, a book written by the creator of Classical Conversations, a homeschool tutorial that I have heard great things about.

We'll see how much of this I get tackled. I haven't been doing a great job carving out time to read lately, between getting ready to start school next week and getting stuff organized around the house. All good things, but hard to do with a book in your hand!

PS. You might notice a new look and a new name around the blog. I've been pondering bloggy stuff some this summer and decided I was ready for a some changes and a new theme to my spot here that reflects more where I am in life right now. (I debated - very briefly - just starting a new blog, but that was too much work to tackle right now!)

Previous Nightstands posts, if you still need more ideas of what to read:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Fun at Chuy's

Summer Fun at Chuy's

Journaling reads:

The girls have been a little obsessed with Chuy’s ever since it opened. I don’t know if it was the bright yellow
paint on the building or the very fun looking outdoor patio, but we never drove past it without someone asking
when we could go eat there. Today was the day.

The restaurant more than lived up to their expectations. We ate out on the patio (I only melted a little bit) and the fod was great. The litle girls raved about their hamburgers and I had a delicious taco salad. And their jalapeno ranch dressing ... amazing. Two thumbs up from us!

Template from Rebecca Cooper (thank you for sharing!) Paper from Crystal's Sweet Summertime Add-On Papers. Font: Pharmacy. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

With Thanks

Much thanks to our friend Carrie at Reading to Know for starting our little man's library off on the right foot with a dinosaur book and Richard Scarry classic that wasn't on our shelf. : ) Thank you for your sweet generosity to our family, Carrie!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photos courtesy of a little 18-hour hospital stay I had last Thursday/Friday. Apparently my gallbladder is staging a rebellion and the hope is to keep it happy until after I have the baby and then they will take it out. Have to compliment the ER staff and the nurses at my local hospital on how fabulous they took care of me. Other than the fact that there really is NOTHING on daytime TV, I can't complain one bit about my time there as they tried to make me comfortable and get some answers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kids' Pick ::: Ella Bella Ballerina

Some time ago, I wrote a Kids' Pick post about our love for the books of James Mayhew ... specifically his books about a little girl named Katie and her adventures at the museum as she gets to know famous works of art. I was thrilled to find out recently (via Elizabeth's blog) that Mr. Mayhew has a new series about a little girl names Ella Bella Ballerina! I immediately made plans to get copies of these two Ella books on our recent road trip for my little 3 and 4 year old who are aspiring ballerinas themselves. See Exhibit A:

Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping BeautyElla Bella is a ballet student of Madame Rosa's. One day after class she opens the lid of a magical music box. Out appears a magical fairy that takes Ella to explore the world of a famous ballet. She learns the story behind the ballet and learns a little bit about the composer that created it. 

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella
Currently, Mr. Mayhew has published Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella and Ella Bella Ballerina and The Sleeping Beauty. A new book about the ballet Swan Lake is due to be published the fall and it's already going on my list for a Christmas goodie for one of my girls. Also, from Mr. Mayhew's own Ella Bella blog, I learned that one based on the Nutcracker is also in the works!

As I've said before with other James Mayhew's books, these are well worth the addition to your library and are a great introduction in to the works of famous composers (or artists) for little people. 

Other Kids' Pick posts I have written:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ::: Cravings

Omitted is the picture of the Mike & Ike's that I've also been craving. I'm trying to keep them out of the house to hold down the temptation. : )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Children's Classics ::: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

This month starts a new Children's Classic series with 5 Minutes for Books where you are invited to read current and past Newberry, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King award winners. (Books that got an honorable mention are also okay!) I'm excited about this - there are so many books on these lists. Many that I have read and a LOT that I haven't. I'm excited about exploring several of these for myself and to possibly add to my shelves for my girls.

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe first book that I chose was a winner! The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly was one of the 2010 Honor books. Calpurnia (or Callie as she is known to her six brothers) is about to turn 12 as the year turns to 1900 in the small, dusty town in Texas where she lives. Callie is curious about life - she loves to explore outside and observe nature and her eccentric scientist grandfather takes her under his wings. He teaches her about observation and how to study what is around her with great detail using a microscope. Such interests of Callie's are most unusual for a girl in 1899 ... her mother definitely thinks she should be more concerned with her piano lessons or learning household tasks instead of spending time with her nose buried in books or off on excursions with Grandfather.

This books paints a great portrait of what life would have been like in a small cotton town at the turn of the century. We see the telephone come to this small town and hear about a new book that turning everyone on their ear: The Origin of Species by a Mr. Charles Darwin. (Never fear ... this book does not delve into the evolutionary theory of Darwin, but spends what little time on Darwin talking about his observation and study of nature. It was fascinating for me read as someone who knows very little about Darwin).

I think this would be a great book to hand over to your 10, 11, 12 year old and let them see what life would have been like for them over 100 years ago. I think, especially if you are a parent (homeschooling or not) who has a love of incorporating nature study into your childrens' lives, this is a fascinating look at nature study and how simple powers of observation are really all you need.

Excellent book. I will hopefully be adding this to our shelves for our girls down the road.

For more award winning books (and reviews) head over to Five Minutes for Books

Past Children's Classics posts:
A.A. Milne
Beatrix Potter (specifically, the Tale of Jemima Puddleduck)
Make Way for Ducklings
The Little House
Ella the Elephant & The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (Future Children's Classics)
Henry Reed's Journey (travel theme)
Island of the Blue Dolphins

Saturday, July 10, 2010

10 on the 10th ::: The July Version

Meredith is hosting 10 on the 10th today and it's been a while since I've participated. I typically don't Saturday blog, but it's 5:45 p.m., I've had my Saturday night bath already and am in comfy clothes. That means I can play for a bit. : )

I thought I'd share 10 links that I have liked of late. Here goes:

1. Bookplates you can print for your child(ren)'s books! : ) I had a ball looking through the different designs and there are some illustrators in there you may recognize. My girls will be thrilled that I found one with Angelina Ballerina on it!

2. A neat, crafty way to make envelopes for CDs. Easy and cute.

3. A recipe for BBQ Beef & Rice that is my new favorite summer meal. Super easy and delicious! And, if you like simple, delicious recipes and don't know about Stolen Moments Cooking, you need to check her site out. I haven't been disappointed by a recipe of her's yet!

4. This book calendar that you can find on Etsy. It's technically to keep track of when books are due at the library, but I think it would be a fun way for my reading girl to keep track of what books she is reading.

5. A great post from Elizabeth & Marie at Write.Click.Scrapbook. about how to tackle the PILES of old photos that you have.

6. A cute summer to-do list. May have to get all crafty and make this next summer.

7. Last night, we watched the movie version of 5 Children and It by E. Nesbit for our family movie night. I read the book about a month ago and really enjoyed it. Of course, the movie takes some liberty modernizing the story a bit, but it is still really cute and the girls totally got into the story.

8. A few more scrappy pages from this week. Thanks to the free templates that Moon Ko put up on Write.Click.Scrapbook every day this week, I got a few layouts done and had fun playing with my photoshop program. I'll never switch completely to digital - I have too much paper on the shelf that I want to use. : ) But for getting some of last week's vacation pics scrapped quickly so the girls can enjoy them? They were perfect for that.

Pool Fun

Papers are from a free kit on TwoPeas, Summers Here!


N1 6th Birthday

Paper from a Happy Birthday Kit and Happy Go Lucky. (Please ignore the typo in the layout. Oops.)

10. And, with that, I ran out of links and stuff to say. Happy weekend!