Monday, November 28, 2011

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas!

Notice I didn't say "a lot" like Christmas. You see, we have this boy. And he is into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. right now. A few baby steps towards decorating happened this weekend ... most of them were things that were up high and unreachable. : )

Our tree. When we moved, we threw away the very, very, very old fake tree I had owned for at least 15 years (and it was well loved when it came to me!) Last year, we bought a very small pre-lit tree at Walmart and it is set up and ornament less for the time being. I would love to get a big tree again, but I don't know that this is the year.



Last night we did our first reading from our Advent devotional for this year. This is our humble Jesse tree we'll hang our ornaments from. I think we'll need more branches before we're done, but there are enough to start with.

Advent beginnings tonight.

One side of our built in bookshelves (the right side if you are looking at it). Our Jesse tree will reside here when we are doing our reading in the evening (over to the right). I have a Susan Branch Christmas book here, plus the four December Daily albums that I've done laid out in front. I would like to put those in a basket, but haven't found one around the house to steal yet to slip them in. : ) Interesting tidbit: As I unpacked them, I sat and looked through all of the albums. With the exception of the first one, everyone has at least one day if not more missing. But, even with missing days, I love these albums. They aren't perfect by any means, but they are such a great overview of four of our Christmases.



The right side of our mantel. Spray painted pinecones. (Thank you Pinterest inspiration). Our nutcracker that has been hot-glued because some child actually tried to crack a nut with it. Decorative purposes only, apparently. : ) And some little matroyska dolls given to me by a friend from church. I love, love, love nesting dolls. If I had time and money to collect them, I totally would.



The right side of the mantel. Well loved stacking Santas that a college friend brought me from Germany many years ago. I love these beat up Santas and the girls love playing with them.



On the built in bookcases on the left: a small tin holding our Jesse tree ornaments all ready to go. Underneath, some favorite small Christmas books. Jan Karon's The Mitford Snowmen, Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery, Christmas Joy by Susan Branch, Touching Wonder by John Blase (my cyberfriend Meredith's husband), another one that I can't remember and I'm upstairs right now, and Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien.



Just a few glimpses around our family room as we prepare for December.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Project Life ::: November 13 -19

This may be one of my favorite weeks that I've laid out of late ... I had more time to play with it this morning while the kids enjoy this beautiful weather outside and the little guy took a nap. It's been a weird Thanksgiving week for us - both relaxing and not all at the same time! Relaxing because we really have hardly left the house since Tuesday and that has been wonderful. Not so restful because poor T came down with the flu Tuesday and was just miserable until about yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, no one else has caught it (which surely it would have struck one of the rest of us by now if it was going to, right?) and he is on the mend. We've done a lot of tiptoeing around while he rested and broken several of the Christmas movies out early to watch with him over the past few days. 

But back to Project Life. : ) Here's the layout as a whole from last week. One 8 1/2 x 11 insert holding a Thanksgiving card N1 made at church for her Dad.

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The left layout: books from our trip to the used books store, a photo of T in his new cube at work, lots of chess being played here of latel.

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I also included a tag ("tis the season") that came with some scrapbooking goodies I ordered from Elle's Studio last week. I made an uncharacteristic splurge and bought their limited edition Christmas kit to use in my December Daily for this year. This little tag was on the tissue paper wrapping my order so I saved it. Now to just wait another week until I can really dive into my December Daily album as well!

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The right side of the week: a photo of my desk (a disaster), a photo of what everyone ate for breakfast that morning (inspired by this post of Ali Edwards), celebrated one of the boy's little buddy's birthday, and a photo from a chaotic Christmas program rehearsal. : )

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A note from N1 that I glued to the title card for the week. I loved how she signed it, "your loving kid."

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Over the past several months I've started reading a few new blogs that have some GREAT Project Life layout inspiration: Lisa Truesdell, Michelle Wooderson, and Marcy Penner to name a few. They have each recently written monster project life posts describing their system and it has inspired me to get a little bit more crafty with my album. If you are interested, Lisa's is here, Marcy's is a whole series that ends here (with links to all previous posts), and Michelle has a great post on getting caught up on PL when you are behind here. One thing that I have learned (which I knew, but it was kind of a "duh" moment for me) was that I really do need to set aside time to work on this weekly. My memories are fresher and it is not nearly as overwhelming to sit down, go through and edit, and print off seven days worth of photos than it is to do that by the month (or more!) Then I do have the time for the creative thought to dress up a journaling card or play with some memorabilia from the week. Just a little enlightenment for me, continuing to keep this project fresh so that I am energized by it and not burdened by it, if that makes sense. : )

Happy Saturday. : )

Friday, November 25, 2011

Truth in the Tinsel // Review

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I was recently given the opportunity to review a new Advent resource from Amanda at Impress Your Kids called Truth in the Tinsel.. The subtitle of the book is called "An Advent Experience for Little Hands" and that pretty much describes this book in a nutshell. This resource ties the story of Jesus' birth to a different craft for each day giving a child a tangible object to create that ties directly to the scriptures read. With three little girls that love some craft time around here, I think this will be a hit. The projects that she has put together are simple and use common craft supplies, i.e., pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, watercolor paints, etc., that you might have on hand or can (fairly cheaply) pick up at most stores. Included in the book are also some small flashcards you can print out to use as clues. Each day, your child can read that day's clue and then listen to see how that ties in to the scripture reading.

This is something that I could easily see me rolling into our circle time in the morning during the month of December. We probably won't hit it every day, but that's okay! At the back of Truth in the Tinsel., she has some suggestions if you can't fit this in every day. You could hit just the basic parts of the Advent narrative and those crafts that go with it. Or you could read just that days that introduce your children to the different characters from the nativity story ... I'm leaning towards this one, especially for B this year. At four, she is at just the right age to really start to get (and remember!) the Christmas story. Taking the time to do some of these crafts this year will, I hope, tuck away the truths that God sent his Son for us so many years ago and that baby is now in heaven waiting for us!

If you think that this is something that would make a great fit for your little ones this Christmas, you can go to the Truth in the Tinsel webpage and purchase a copy. The e-book is normally $4.99 ... on Black Friday, you can pick it up for $2.99! You can also "like" the Truth in the Tinsel facebook page where there will be links and ideas shared related to the book.

Thanks, Amanda, for giving me the opportunity to preview Truth in the Tinsel!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book in return for an honest review here on my blog. : )

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Randomness

happy day

I enjoyed reading Joy's posts on her Happy Day Project a few weeks ago. The girls and I were able to participate in a few things that week and it was good for us.

We baked banana bread and gave it to a sweet friend.

Happy Day project , day 1 a day late :) (@JoysHope)

We wrote notes and mailed them to different people we wanted to encourage.

Happy Day project, day 2 (@JoysHope)

Thanks, Joy, for hosting such a fun week of blessing others!

I've also managed to catch up on a few more weeks of Project Life. This first week is from right around July 4th. Lots of pool shots. : )

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Some of N2's artwork fills a page protector in the middle.

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This is the week of November 6-12.

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Snuck a little extra journaling behind the bottom right photo. : )

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Happy Thanksgiving Eve. Kids are playing outside. Baby is tearing apart the schoolroom while I do massive amounts of laundry and there is a thawed turkey staring at me every time I open the refrigerator. Such blessings. : )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Week and a Holiday Reading List

We are taking a few days off of school this week and I am looking forward to the break! We are catching up on a few dental appointments, going today to buy a turkey (yes, I'm going to try and cook one on Thursday ... maybe my second time ever!), and plotting some fun family plans for the week.

I'm also hoping to do some homeschool planning on some of our time off. We have switched gears on our social studies plans for the year (less Story of the World and more unit studies) for the time being which is going well; however, at the end of last week, I also realized that we haven't opened our science books in (a-hem) a while. We have been so into our Thanksgiving studies that it slipped by. I also feel like we are playing quite a bit of catch-up from the weeks of fall sickness that we had. Lots of half-days here and there due to extra dr. visits trying to get everyone well. Lord willing, that is behind us for now but we have some school catch-up to do!

I thought I would also share N1's "holiday reading list" that I made for her to take her through November and December. Amy asked me to share this a few weeks ago and I totally forgot (sorry!) so here it is. This is mostly my attempt to guide N1 to read some great kid books that she might not pick up on her own.



This is the same plan as her fall and summer reading list. She has to read two of the books on the list (along with any other free reading that she may do on her own). Note: I will let her listen to one choice on audio from the list, but the rest I want to her read whether it be from a "real" book or on her Kindle. If she reads a third book, she earns an ice cream date with the parent of her choice. Four books earns her some book money that she can spend in a real-live bookstore or on Amazon.com (for real books or for her Kindle). Five books earns her a special surprise (to be determined by responsible adults). : ) This time, I've also made sure that we have our own copies of these books in our home, again, whether on paper or loaded on her Kindle. I picked up The Courage of Sarah Noble, Wind in the Willows and Misty of Chincoteague at a used bookstore recently, and we already had a copy of Farmer Boy and Stuart Little. (She also has a free version of Wind in the Willows on her Kindle).



I will admit that so far, N1 has never read beyond the two books she has to read. Some, I think, because she's not sure about the books that Mama has picked, and two, because she is reading a ton on her own. So far, though, I still feel that this is a useful guide for her to have before her in helping her select some good books and I do see some results from it. From her fall reading list, she read All of a Kind Family ... and then promptly checked out every sequel in that series either on book or audio (whatever she could find) and devoured the rest of them. She also listened to Anne of Green Gables on CD; I admit I put that one on there to challenge her and she read maybe a third of it before finishing it on CD. It's a start. : )

Well, we are off today for an orthodotic evaluation for the oldest and just maybe sneaking in a Christmas errand or two while we are out which should be an adventure with all four munchkins. We shall see how much actually gets done! Happy Tuesday to all!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Insta-Friday // 11.18.2011 Version

The snapshots of our week:

A Sunday afternoon trip to the used bookstore. : )



Some pre-Christmas treat prep. Now to keep them hidden until it's time to use them!

A little Christmas treat prep. Now where to hide so it's still around in a couple weeks.

Inspired by Ali Edwards' Project Life post for this week, I did a little breakfast documentation yesterday. Regardless of the fact that some mornings I am a short order cook, I love these little memories of what the kids (and I) are eating right now.

Mama and the boy: baked apple oatmeal. Yummmmmm. Considering making this once a week all. winter. long. That good.



The girls: grits, cereal, english muffin, frozen waffles.



A little Christmas browsing... (clarifying that I'm not looking for me here ... I would KILL myself in these shoes).  : )

Christmas shopping.

The girl is learning chess and trying to teach me. I'm learning a lot slower than she is ...

"Starting with the knight is the most possible move."

Reading lesson ... slow and steady, this one is. Over half way through the book and things are starting to click.

Reading lesson.

Happy Friday! We don't have Bible study this morning so we are going to a birthday party for a little friend and then I'm hoping to get a head start on some housework to make tomorrow a more relaxing day. We'll see how that all plays out. : )


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Currently :: November '11

Weathering: Cool and grey today. Honestly, I've enjoyed the warmer fall days, but I'm ready for cold.

Wearing: capri pants (a little too chilly for them, oh well) and a black long-sleeved t-shirt.

Listening: I purchased the Relevant keynotes to listen to ... I don't know that I have a huge desired to travel to a large blogging conference, but I did want to hear Ann Voskamp, Joy Forney, and Simple Mom speak. And the $10 was for a worthy cause. (Thanking my friend Susan who DID get to hear these women talk for the 2cents on whether or not to purchase). : )

Watching: T and I have watched several episodes of a new show called Once Upon a Time. So far, we have really enjoyed it ... clean and adventurous and I love the fairy-tale and bit of happily ever after that it contains. Hoping it continues to be just as enjoyable. Looking forward to unpacking the box of Christmas movies next week and watching those with the girls. Considering Home Alone for the first time with them this year ... we (T & I) have fun memories of watching that as kids, but I really don't remember it so we want to preview for them.

Reading: Hoping to dive in to The Fiddler's Gun soon. Written by A.S. Peterson, brother of Andrew Peterson who wrote one of my favorite series. And when I searched for it on Amazon, the Kindle version was only 99cents. Sweet. : )

Drinking: coffeecoffeecoffee and occasionally some decaf iced tea or Earl Grey. But mostly coffee. Today was one of those homeschooling days that necessitated the second pot to get through. Oy.

Eating: A little of this and that. Using my crockpot several times a week as our days have not been well planned because of various and sundrey outings and errands. Definitely more than I prefer to pack into a day/week and still feel like we are able to get our schooling done. Anyway, lots of crockpot action. Am also working on (I think) my first ever Thanksgiving Day menu for next week. We are, as it turns out, just us for the actually Thursday holiday and I'm am putting together a little menu for us for the day.

Inspiring: Enjoying these December Daily pages that Michelle Wooderson has put together for her album. Getting excited about my little album for this year and gathering supplies.

Wishing: To slow down my days. The last few weeks have felt rushed. Disjointed. Not restful. Not bad ... I think some of it is just the age of my kids and that they are older. Rest times are shorter and bedtimes for some are a little later. I am seeing the need to try and set aside some one-on-one time with my girls and wonder how that will fit it with other responsibilities. In contrast, our homeschooling days right now are looooong; my tentative schedule that I started the year with worked great for a few weeks, then we had several weeks of sickies that totally threw us off. Now I'm spending days with a frustrated four year old and a baby that sometimes takes a good nap in the morning and others ... not so much. I've put pencil to paper which is the best way for me sketch out a new plan of action and pray over it for the weeks after our few days off for Thanksgiving. I really want our weeks after Thanksgiving to be unrushed and simple so that I don't come to January 1 exhausted from the madness of December.

Whew. That was a lot of wishing there. Processing it all. : )

Thinking: Christmas plans, traditions, to do lists for December. I do love to plan for our family and am trying to balance that with not over-planning.

Loving: watching this baby girl ride her bike. Someone figured out two wheels last week and it is a sad, sad day when she doesn't get to ride her bike.

11'09'2011r

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue Chicken & Along a Long Road // Cybils Reviews

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My friend Amy over at Hope in the Word is hosting an Armchair Cybils challenge right now. For those that don't know, the Cybils are awards are given each year by bloggers for the year's best children's and young adult titles. As I thoroughly enjoy finding new and wonderful books for my munchkins, the Cybils have been a great to point me towards recently released books that are worth tracking down.


I haven't had as much time to read lately ... not to mention blogging books for 31 days straight in October (which was fun!) wore. me. out. : ) However, we have picked up a few picture books that have been nominated for Cybils awards and so a brief word here on a couple that were winners in our opinion.




Blue Chicken by Deborah Freeman: This book was just plain cute. My five year old informed me that she had "read" this already when I brought it to her bedroom for the pre-bed read aloud, and that it was funny. Few words and wonderful illustrations fill this book. The story of barnyard animals just hanging around the page they are illustrating in a book. What happens when one of the little chickens goes exploring and ends up in some blue paint. It gets EVERYWHERE! My little girls were very tickled by the story as we read it.




I had to think about Along a Long Road before I decided if I liked it or not. It's a different book. Containing only the colors black, blue, red, white, and a long yellow road that goes through every page, it is very graphically eye catching. I think that is what has caused me to give it a thumbs up ... the few words that are thorough out aren't much more than props to guide your eye over the vivid illustration. I believe I read on the book jacket (hoping I remember this correctly) that the artist laid the book out on the computer on one giant page, meaning if the book was taking apart and each page could be laid next to each other, they would all fit together like a large map. That isn't want you are intended to do with the book, of course, : ) but it definitely illustrated to me how seamlessly the book pages flow together. This is one that we spent much time studying the pictures and the colors as we read it - for the illustrations alone we give this book our vote for pure enjoyment.


I have in my book basket A Long Walk to Water and The Friendship Doll and I need to get to both of those before they are due at the library. Maybe next time I'll have a few chapter book reviews ready to go. No promises though. : )


For more reviews of Cybils nominated books, visit Amy at Hope is the Word!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Insta-Saturday // 11.12.2011

In retrospect, another busy week. Good, but busy. We've had enough going on that I managed to somehow "forget" about laundry for most of the week so today is serious payback on that front. For some reason, people want clean clothes to wear!

Anyway, in review:

Monday and Wednesday morning consisted of some way-early dental work for Miss B, including sleepy drugs and a little laughing gas. She was a trooper even if she did look awfully teeny-tiny on that big table there.



Andrew Peterson? The author of one of my favorite series, The Wingfeather Saga? Performing an Advent concert in a few weeks? Oh, we are so there.



On Tuesday, a sweet woman from church came and stayed with the kids so I could celebrate a close friend's birthday. The kids had a great time with Miss Betsy and practically shoved me out the door, and I? Lunch! At a fancy(ish) restaurant! On a school day! With grown-ups! Celebrating my friend! It was a  wonderful treat.

Happy Day project , day 1 a day late :) (@JoysHope)

We also had some very normal chicken soup lunches, too. : )

It's a chicken noodle soup kind of day.

We joke that because B now has what we call her super teeth (two nice little silver crowns in her mouth), she was able to learn how to ride a two wheeler this week. I'm not ready for my baby girl to be as mobile as the other girls. Am also working on how to stop time this weekend to counteract this.

Another 2-wheeler rider.

Re: stopping time, see photo below. Always, always, always on the move. When he's not asleep. Always.

Cuteness on the move.

T discovered this Italian Grider sub at a local shop one day on his lunch hour and recreated it one night at home for me. Delicious. And I didn't make it. Makes it even better.

Husband cooked dinner. Italian grinder sub + BBQ chips.

Where I was on 11/11/11 at 11:11. : ) And yes, I told my small group at Bible study that I set my timer on my phone to go off and would be taking a picture at 11:11 no matter what we were doing. : )

Where I was on 11/11/11 at 11:11. :)

Mama's pick for family movie night last night. Even though the girls won't let me sing along, it was a sweet way to end the week with Mary, popcorn and a fire in our fireplace. Such blessings.

Mama's pick for family movie night. :)

Happy Saturday!