Tuesday, February 28, 2012

March Reading Plans

So far my little scheme to make a reading plan for each month has been working pretty good for me! (Granted I’m only two months into this but still…)

Currently reading.

My February plans were to read:

  • Running Away to Home for the Reading to Know February book club selection, blogged here
  • The Core - written by the founder of Classical Conversations, a well known homeschool tutorial

Both of which I completed!

Taking about 29 minutes to refuel before tackling Saturday.

I also read:

That’s more than I have crammed into a month in a long time. (Eliminating Facebook and Twitter from daily reading DOES free up more hours in your day … who’d have thought it!?) : )

Come all you weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.

For March, I’ve got so many things that I’m itching to read that I’m a bit overwhelmed with my list. That’s a good problem to have, though. Up for this month I want to tackle:

The Reading to Know bookclub is tackling Pilgrim’s Progress this month and I think I’m going to sit this one out. I actually found my copy yesterday and flipped through it, but I don’t think I have the mental fortitude for it right now … and I’m feeling the need to focus some of my reading time on some parenting issues that are stretching and testing me right now. (Nothing bad or unusual … just normal children stretching and growing and wearing this mama out). : )

I’ve also brought home a stack of books from the library to pre-read for N1 in anticipation of (gulp!) THIRD GRADE next year. These (and others) are in my book basket, but may or may not be tackled in the next thirty-one days. I make no promises!

That sure seems like a lot for March, but I’m finding just having the plan helps, even if I don’t complete all the books. We’ll see what happens when I hopefully check back in at the end of next month!

I’m taking the opportunity to link up with What’s on Your Nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books today as well. It’s been a while since I have had my act together to join in with them. : )

Past 2012 Monthly Reading Goals:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Running Away to Home // Reading to Know Bookclub February selection

I thoroughly enjoyed the Reading to Know bookclub’s February selection: Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters. This book brought back so many memories for me. In 1998, I traveled to Croatia for a two-week mission trip with my church and Campus Crusade.


We stayed in the town of Split (located on the shores of the Adriatic). While I didn’t experience the rural setting the author did, just being in Croatia was such a stark contrast to my middle Tennessee home, there was a bit of culture shock. To an our American expectations of friendliness and hospitality, the Croatians are curt and abrupt. I could relate to the author’s experiences with the Croatian mindset:

“You are on Croatian time now. Get used to standing in line. Get used to waiting. Do not hurry. Nothing is easy.” p. 42

“I felt as if I’d traveled from the First World to the Third World in a three-hour drive.” (Or, in my case, a 10-ish hour plane ride). p. 21


I was very excited to find an ice cold Diet Coke one day. It was seriously hot while I was over there. I admit the Croatians are tougher than I am because it was a hot, hot, HOT two weeks in July with no air conditioning.

This book was a reminder to me about the beauty of being a Croatian national. Their history has been troubled and bloody – “being Croatian meant getting used to other countries trying to steal your land – Austria, Serbia, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia.” p. 16. They are a proud nation. Proud of the beauty of their country and their ability to survive.


I also thoroughly enjoyed the author’s thoughts on the simplifying that she and her husband chose in this trip overseas, and the unity and closeness her family experienced during this time together from our American/modern distractions.


I realize that these are fairly fractured thoughts on this book, but I’m having trouble drawing it all together. (Carrie at Reading to Know has a great review here that I nodded and hmm-mmm-ed as I read it and seems to sum up the book better than I did). Suffice it to say, I did enjoy the book. I do recommend it if you are interested in reading about the Croatian people. I do recommend it if you are interested in travel-type books or what it would be like to immerse yourself in another culture for an extended period of time. There is some profanity in the book and liberal alcohol use which I obviously don’t recommend, but it is an accurate picture of the Croatian lifestyle and is what it is. To have glossed over that fact wouldn’t have shown the full picture.

I’m glad to have read this book and have a short trip through my memeories (and photos) of my time in Croatia over fourteen years ago. (I’m well aware of how much younger I look in the picture above!)

Linking up with the wrap-up post over at Reading to Know for this book. If you are interested in more details on the Reading to Know bookclub check out this post. Our March read is Pilgrim’s Progress if you are interested in participating.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Read Aloud Thursday // Ben & Me by Robert Lawson

We are on a roll with our chapter book read-alouds ... this week anyway! : ) We finished another one this week as part of our social studies reading in the colonial America time period - Ben & Me by Robert Lawson. According to the subtitle, it is about "the astonishing life of Benjamin Franklin as told by his good mouse Amos."

Amos was a poor mouse, living with his large mouse family in the vestry of a local church. One night, in search of food, he stumbled into the home of Ben Franklin and a friendship was formed between the intelligent mouse, and according to Amos, the slightly absent minded Ben. Amos chronicles several adventures and inventions of Ben - the Franklin stove, electricity - as well as several historical moments that Amos plays a key role in. Without Amos, it is sure that the Declaration of Independence wouldn't have had the well known language at it's intro ("When in the course of human events..."). There are also several incidents where Amos, upon taking matters into his own mouse hands, causes such confusion and disruption, that it would have been better if Ben had been left on his own!

This is a book that I was excited to read with my girls because I have fond memories of the old Disney short cartoon "Ben and Me" that I remember watching as a child. The book has many more tales that are not included in the video, and it was a quick and enjoyable read for all of us over the last couple weeks. Would I rank this mouse story up at the top of the list with our favorite Tumtum & Nutmeg? No. But for a fun tie-in to our current history lessons, I don't regret the read in the least. My second grader could have easily read this on her own, but then I would have missed out! : ) I've also spotted another book by Robert Lawson about Paul Revere, as narrated by his horse, and I may tack that on to one of N1's reading lists one of these days.

A few weeks ago, we also rented the Ben & Me short from the library, but I was pleased to find it on youtube as well! Parts 1 and 2 are linked below for your enjoyment, if you are interested.

I'm linking up with Amy for this week's Read Aloud Thursday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project Life Week 7 // February 12 - 18

Week 7. This came together quickly. Last week was a light photo week for me and I think that helped somewhat - I didn't have as many options to choose from. : )


On the left:

  • on my title card a photo of what I did Sunday afternoon: sort girl scout cookie orders!
  • N2 sang on the music team with her Daddy this Sunday morning, even singing a couple lines by herself. She is way more confident on stage that I would have been at her age! So special to see her up there with her Daddy, too.
  • N2's well-visit - all good!
  • a photo of B during a special (very simple) Valentine's tea we had on Tuesday. 



The "this photo" card is from Paislee Press.


The Valentine's journaling cards are from Emilie Ahern's shop. I can see that I'll be using that little lined card with hearts a LOT.


N1 filled out a little survey via email from one of her friends. Obviously, I went into the sent mail folder and copied it. : ) My favorite? Her favorite famous person. Jesus and Jamie & Adam from Mythbusters.


On the right:

  • smoothies for breakfast lately. (Tried taking an picture of our actual smoothies and it wasn't pretty so the default was the recipe book). : )
  • a surprise from my Dad. He stopped by unexpectedly and brought me a Sonic diet coke and a new bag he thought looked like me. A fun treat and a huge pick-me-up last week. : )
  • a few shots of food from the kitchen.
  • the girls went to visit a gymnastics class with a friend on Saturday. They, of course, had a ball.


"Sweet" card from here.


I have a small addiction to taking Instagram pics of my food. It's a little sad.



I'm linking up with Jessica at the Mom Creative for Project Life Tuesday because I actually have it finished to post on Tuesday!

Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on Amazon.comIt can be anything you want it to be. You can view all my posts about Project Life here. I'm always happy to answer questions about how Project Life works for me, if you have any.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Currently :: Late February 2012

Weathering: sunny and 50's. Yesterday we had huge, gorgeous flurries during church and today it is spring-like. Winter is messing with me.

Wearing: grey cargo pants from Old Navy and a red long-sleeved t-shirt.

Listening: Little girls are playing paper dolls in their bedroom. (N2 just told B that she needs to organize her stuff. Ha. So true). : )

Watching: Nothing exciting enough to mention here! I've actually been doing more...

Reading: I just finished Running Away to Home, and plan to blog it later this week for the February Reading to Know bookclub. My February reading goals were to read (and finish) both that and The Core by Leigh Bortin, which I've also completed. Yay me. : ) I am a few chapters into Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick. This week's goals are to make a few March reading goals for, both for me and for N1.

Drinking: coffee.

Eating: healthy. I'm back on the healthy eating band wagon and so far, so good. Even with the arrival of ALL of N1's girl scout cookie orders that sat in my house for a week before we could deliver them (including our own family boxes of cookies), I was good. Praying this continues!


Salmon recipes? This was okay, but not great. (Not enough flavor for us). If you have a good salmon recipe, please share!

Inspiring: I've been perusing the archives at a couple favorite blogs of late, looking for book ideas, thoughts on schedules and routines. Helping me cement a few ideas in my mind for the next several weeks that I want to try.

Surfing: Charlotte Mason Help, Ambleside Online, and In the Midst of It and generating lots of book lists for the coming days / months / year. It's that time of the year where I start getting a little itchy to think about next year's school. I can't help it. : )

Wishing: More like praying for family friends who are at the bedside of a loved one waiting.

Thinking: on books, a reading list for Mama, summer plans, our daily schedule, lists, and etc. We took Friday and today off of school and it has been a much needed break for us. Barring any surprise days off due to illness or other unexpected activities, our next break is spring break! At last check on our school calendar, we have about 60 days left before we wrap up this school year. How is that possible! Truly, the time is flying faster than I would choose it to.

Apparently her future is so bright today, she has to wear shades while doing math.

Her future is so bright, that she needs to wear shades during math. Hee.

Loving: my little munchkins. There have been some hard parenting days lately. As in a string of them. And this is a mama that is tired. But they still amaze and wow me daily. When my nephew's plans changed and he didn't join us today, we threw schedules and chores to the wind and had FUN this morning. (Not that we wouldn't have had fun with him, but I had more a more home-based plan if he was joining us). : )

Free donuts at Krispy Kreme thanks to some Valentine's day coupons from friends. Would you believe that it was (to my knowledge) the first time that either the kids or I have stepped foot into a KK store? The girls loved watching the donuts come off the machine and down the conveyor belt, and the donuts themselves weren't too bad either. (PS. I didn't even eat one.) : )

Happy President's Day!

Look at the boy SHOVELING his in. So proud. : )

Shoving the donut in his mouth.

Next we went over to Barnes & Noble. B absolutely LOVES the Thomas train table there and I never remember to take her to play on it. So we did. And B and the boy had a blast. It was his first time to see the train table and he was most enchanted with it.

Exploring the bookstore train table.

Unbeknownst to us, it was also story time while we were there and the mouse from the "if you give a mouse a..." books was there in person! You will notice that only three children were in the photo. One was hiding behind me, still nursing her deep fear of large costumed characters.

Saying hi to the "if you give a mouse a cookie" mouse. :)

A good morning out for all, following by a huge nap for the boy. So thankful for these little people.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Project Life Week 6 // February 5-11

Week 6 of Project Life.


The left side:

  • we went to a favorite used bookstore on Sunday afternoon to sell some books; of course, a few new ones came home with us. These pictured were actually purchased for the nephew.
  • a note from a friend. : )
  • a photo documenting what we do while N1 is at chess on Mondays. Controlled chaos.
  • we/I needed out on Tuesday so we drove to Trader Joe's which is about 30 minutes from our house. A few little treats were bought and sunshine absorbed. 


I'm not sure I'm a fan of what I did with the title card for the week. I had 8 4x6 photos/items and didn't want to give any of them up. I ended up turning the first photo in the the date card as well, but it's not my favorite. Oh, well. Labels were plain Avery file folder labels (5202) that I ran through my printer to put graph paper on.


A few journaling card shots. I may have a small addiction to finding diagonal lined paper for journaling. : ) And these rainbow stripes make me smile. It was a freebie from this site.


Tuesday card is from Marcy Penner's shop.


One insert this week - 6 x 12. Text and one photo taken from this blog post. Went back and forth on whether or not to cut and paste the journaling so it would be typed and ended up hand-writing it. I think next time, I'll just cut and paste to save a few minutes.


On the back is a heart necklace that B brought home from Bible study. N2 has one floating around here, too, and if it shows up, I'll probably slide it in the side as well.


The right side:

  • candy land with B. 
  • our recent read-aloud that we finished.
  • a collage from our Friday Fun School last week.
  • the annual youth Valentine's dinner at church.
Of note on this side of the page: I was able to include a photo of both the adults in the family! 



A few Instagram shots included on journaling cards.


Lots of hearts and scrapbook paper EVERYWHERE for this one. : ) I didn't include any journaling on this page about this craft or day ... I may go back and slip a journaling card behind the photo. At the same time, I thought the pictures pretty much sum up what went on. : )


The journaling frame and the little bits on the photo are all from the special February kit from Elle's Studio.


See the cute guy playing the electric guitar? : )



Thanks for sharing in my Project Life layouts with me and encouraging me to keep this up every week!

Project Life is a product and a system created by Becky Higgins and available on Amazon.comIt can be anything you want it to be. You can view all my posts about Project Life here. I'm always happy to answer questions about how Project Life works for me, if you have any.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Read-Aloud Thursday // The Long Winter

Last page.

We recently finished our first read-aloud of 2012: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This was always one of my favorite Little House books as a child, and now, reading it as an adult, I'm wondering why. : ) Don't get me wrong, I still absolutely loved it and loved reading it to the girls for their first exposure to the story.


As a mama reading this book? They were STARVING to death, enduring days of darkness and subzero weather and struggling to heat their little home. The six Ingalls literally huddled around their small stove all day long during the blizzards except when venturing out to their shed to twist hay for more fuel. The picture the book painted was much bleaker from my adult eyes that as a child. I can't imagine being Ma, sitting there day-in and day-out, not able to do anything to help her family. I imagine there were a lot of prayers issued while they sat and rocked during those many blizzard days and nights.

From the girls' point of view: they picked up on the fact that the family didn't have much food and that there were some points through the winter where they weren't sure where the next meal would come from. We were all on the edge of our seats for the chapters where Almonzo and Cap Garland went searching for wheat to hopefully help the town survive through the winter. And we were all joyful when the train finally arrived and they had so many things to choose from to eat!

This was a wonderful book for us to kick-off January with ... my one regret was that our weather didn't really cooperate and provide the snowy cold days I was hoping would accompany our book! : ) Oh, well! For our next read-aloud(s), we currently have three books that we are reading from at various points in our day. (Most unusual for us!) We are reading Ben and Me during our school time as we study the beginnings of the Revolutionary War; our lunchtime read (a habit I'm trying to get back into) is The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, accompanying our bird studies in science; and in the evenings, as our activities permit, we are reading The Mysterious Benedict Society. We'll see if Mama (and her voice) is able to keep up with all these books!

I'm linking up with Amy and Read-Aloud Thursday this week. Join in with us at Amy's blog Hope is the Word!

ETA: I'm also linking up with Barbara's Laura Ingalls Wilder reading challenge!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Those Days

I have them too.

Rushing out the door after lunch to get one to chess, then an afternoon well-check doctor appointment for another.

We spill something everywhere at chess.

Another child starts saying they don't feel good so we have the doctor look at them while (conveniently) at the appointment. That one IS sick and needs a prescription.

Everyone was at Walmart this afternoon buying supplies in case of snow and last minute valentines. The pharmacy is located ... guess? Right next to the rock salt display and valentines. Crazy crowdedness.

Sick child is acting slight bonkers at Walmart. Such that I have to carry her through the store to keep her still.

Boy keeps saying "nigh nigh." All he wants is a nap. Me too, buddy. I don't think it's happening for either of us.

Home. Unload. Discover that the meal you assembled in the crockpot before leaving for the all-afternoon events is not prepared because you forgot to plug in the crockpot. Rats.

Three way timeout for quarreling sisters in separate corners of the kitchen while I work. Struggling with one child a lot lately.

Quickly throw together a meal of cheese and crackers, frozen waffles, and whatever else I can quickly find because they are hungry. Now. Ask the girls to stop putting their feet in each others' faces while they eat dinner.

Give the boy a small boy and a spoon and about a tablespoon of yogurt. He is ecstatic. And messy. And now in desperate need of a bath.

Bathe boy.

Husband arrives home. Feeling under-the-weather. Finally succumbed this weekend to the cold that the rest of us have passed around for two weeks.

Just little snippets (definitely not the whole picture) of what Monday afternoon was like. Busy, loud, overwhelming. Yes, we read lots of books in our house and yes, I like to scrapbook pretty pictures, but I we also have not pretty read-aloud moments and non-photographable (if that's a word) parenting occasions as well.

Decided that instead of rushing to finish and post my Project Life layout today, that I'd just briefly sum up a real life afternoon of events. Not perfect by any standards, but definitely our "life right now" some days. And, as such, I imagine I'll print this list out for next week's album page just as reminder of what my life was sometimes like on a busy, cold afternoon in February with an 8 year old, 6 year old, 4 1/2 year old, and 16 month old.

Friday, February 10, 2012

10 on the 10th // February Pinterest Edition

For today ... a listy. Ten things that have caught my eye online over the past few weeks taken straight from my boards at Pinterest. (Pinterest is like a visual bulletin board online to store and catalog things you find on various websites. Genius. Totally helping me keep on track of all those links or ideas I want to save but never keep up with). I've linked my Pinterest over on the right if you are on there and interested in following. : )

I keep a pinboard of those things (crafts, recipes, etc.) that I have tried and succeeded at here
Everything below is untested by me with the exception of #2. : )

1. I am making these this weekend. 

2. N2 has tried this nutella oatmeal and pronounced it GOOD.

3. This is our Friday Fun School craft for today.

4. Hoping to do this one in February as well. 

5.  Star Wars valentines. Yes, please. : )

6. Craving.

7. To feed my Instagram addiction without my phone.

8. Can't remember if I've posted this before, but I love it. 

9. So smart!

10.  Love this idea to for a party. Super cute.

Happy Friday!