Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird Challenge

WCS Summer Photo Challenges Day 5: Summer Reading

You might have seen this post earlier today and then it disappear. I had set it to post thinking I would write it over the weekend, but it didn't happen. : )

Thanks to a prompt from Amy @ Hope is the Word, I read To Kill a Mockingbird a few weeks ago. This is the first time that I had read the book and, truthfully, knew very little about it other that I thought it had to do with segregation in the south. This book was excellent and will definitely be required reading for my girls as they get older. I can't say that I loved the book ... this isn't one that falls into the same category as my Betsy-Tacy books or Anne of Green Gables series ... it is deep and well-written and worth the time and thought that I had to expend to get through it. (Hopefully that makes sense.) : )

I honestly don't know what to write that doesn't give away spoilers if you haven't read the book. It didn't end like I expected it to. The story does involve the trial of a black man in the rural south, and I assumed that in the name of justice he would be proven innocent. Not so. In fact, it doesn't go well for him at all. However, the trial and the stories surrounding it are key elements in the growth and maturation of the main characters in the Finch family - lawyer Atticus, and his two children Jem and Scout.

I had hoped to watch the movie version of this book, but it has been delayed via Netflix for several weeks now ... I'm guessing the anniversary of the book has prompted a resurgence in popularity for watching the movie! It's still on my to-do list one of these days.

Thanks, Amy, for hosting this challenge and for getting me to read a book that had just been gathering dust on my shelves. : )

This post is linked over at Amy's challenge and at Five Minutes for Books classics challenge for this quarter.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Monday Daybook

Outside my Window ... sunny and warm. I don't think it's supposed to get into the 90's today, so I'll take it.

I am thinking ... that I need to do a little work on our schedules around here. We've successfully completed 4 weeks of school (yay!) and I'm seeing a few areas we can tweak. Also, I need to have a better plan for my Mondays and Fridays while Noelle is at her tutorial. I know that right now a lot of my lack of productivity is end-of-pregnancy related, but I do have a few things I would like tackle before baby brother arrives.

I am thankful for ... Mondays. I love Mondays.

In the learning room ... as I mentioned, we have finished 4 weeks of school and are just continuing to plug along with our language arts, math, Bible and lots of reading, as always. Looking forward to adding Awana memory work back into our learning routine starting next week.

From the kitchen ... cooking chicken for a couple pans of Chicken Spaghetti, full cupboards from a Sunday run for groceries, grapes that I've been eating like candy because they are so good.

I am creating ... working on some ideas for a Learn Something New Every Day mini-album for September. Nothing big or fancy at. all. but just pondering what kind of direction I want to take with it as we are learning daily as part of our homeschooling lifestyle and as we are about to make the big change from a family of five to a family of six. I don't want to miss this last few days like this and feel the need to document them somehow.

I am going ... to pick up Noelle from school in a bit. The little girls are playing together and I need to get up and make us some lunch before we head out for the afternoon school run. We'll hit Sam's on the way home and then enjoy the rest of our day. The rest of the week is fairly empty other than an 34 week dr. appointment for me.

I am wearing ... maternity capri jeans that are starting to get somewhat uncomfortable in these last few weeks and a purple t-shirt (also maternity, of course.)

I am reading ... On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. My husband has gotten on an Andrew Peterson music kick and recently ordered book one in his Wingfeather saga series. (We had a copy of book 2 thanks to a review copy I receieved some time ago but I had never gotten around to reading them ... I just couldn't read book 2 before book 1. Call me crazy).

I am hoping ... for another good report at the dr. tomorrow for baby and to get a few things done while a friend comes to hang with the girls for a couple hours. So thankful for our friend Miss Betsy who has volunteered a few hours every few weeks when I have dr. appointments. I have been so blessed to get a little mama-time for an errand or two and to not have to subject the girls to long waits at ob appointments. And they love the time with Miss Betsy so it's a win-win situation for everyone.

I am hearing 
... of late, we've been listening to the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack as we journey in the car. This is in anticipation of the movie's re-release to DVD which just happens to coincide with someone's 7th birthday around here. I am so excited to see this again. This is (maybe?) my favorite of all the Disney musicals and I haven't seen it in a really long time.

Around the house ... it's feeling picked up and clean for the moment. Who knows how long that will last, but I'm enjoying this morning.

One of my favorite things ... sleep. Haven't been getting much of it lately and I am just remembering it fondly. : )

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... not much. Schoolin', kid-tendin', restin', readin', etc. Laying low for the most part.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ... 

This girl went to a birthday party for one of her girl scout friends on Saturday (and I am ever thankful to the other mom who took Noelle so that I didn't have to hang out and melt at a putt-putt / go-cart course!) Anyway, this girl - three holes-in-0ne. She didn't get that skill from me, that's for sure. : )

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Learn Something New Everyday

If you have never taken an online scrapbooking class with Shimelle, I highly recommend them. : ) She is the creator of the Journal Your Christmas project that I have done for several years now, and while I've not completed every class of her's that I've signed up for, the ones that I have done have been very fun and I have loved the albums I have made.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's on My Nightstand ::: August 2010

I don't know that I need to say much more. Off to sit on my back deck (and hopefully not sweat!) and read.

Previous Nightstands posts, if you still need more ideas of what to read:
July 10

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day Again

Today was the first day of Noelle's tutorial program. We packed a lunch, loaded her backpack, and put on a new first-day-of-(going-to)-school dress to celebrate.



She and Daddy hopped in the truck and headed off for her big day. (We asked if we could go, but she said she wanted to do it herself today).


So the agenda for me and the little girls? Laundry, picking up and vacuuming the house, then an early lunch and a surprise visit to Grandma at her office before picking Noelle up from school. Looking forward to this first "new" day for all of us!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


It's been a while since we've had a slow Saturday. Little girls that slept in until almost 8 a.m.(!) which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was able to get up and get coffee going, my Bible chapters read, and a start at tackling the mess on my desk. (Still working through my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year goal ... as of today I'm nearing the end of Jeremiah.)

We had a busy day on the town yesterday after a couple weeks of staying home and getting into our homeschool routine. The girls and I started out with a trip to Noelle's tutorial to meet her teacher, see/find her classroom, and pick up a few books. We are eagerly looking forward to Monday and the beginning of her first grade adventure there. After that, it was a quick stop at Target and then on to the library. It has been a while since we have taken a leisurely trip there. Of late, we have dashed in, grabbed our few books on hold and dashed back out without taking the time to browse and meander the aisles. Our library basket is now overflowing and I had happy little ladies curled up with books later in the afternoon. For myself, I checked out Honey for a Woman's Heart. This was written by the author of Honey for A Child's Heart, which is an excellent resource for books for children and some thoughts behind establishing a love a reading. I managed to stay up until after 11 p.m. (a minor miracle) reading this book, and am looking forward to scanning through it again with paper and pen to make notes of authors and titles to add to an already long to-be-read list.

On the agenda for the rest of today ... making a couple batches of granola and waffles to store for upcoming breakfasts, a quick run to Sam's, and some reading with the aforementioned new library books. Dinner tonight is leftover lasagna which I love ... Saturday night dinners always seem to sneak up on me. (Lasagna and spaghetti are two things that I think taste even better as leftovers).

Hope you are having a good Saturday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Winner of Summer Sensations

Congratulations to Karen who won a copy of Summer Sensations! Hope you enjoy it!

A Goodie for Mama

Just a little goodie for me for the upcoming arrival. I love these sweet little mommy cards that I got at Sarah + Abraham. Were these a need? No. But I am going to enjoy them. : )

PS. And yes, there is a name under that heart that is discreetly hidden. You only have about 8 weeks to go to find out what it is. : )

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Read Aloud Thursday ::: Nanny McPhee a.k.a. The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda

Nanny McPhee: The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda
To wind up our summer, I decided that we needed a more frivolous read to give us a break from our trek through Narnia. With Nanny McPhee Returns hitting the movie theaters in August, and the original movie set to re-release on DVD in August as well, I decided that would be a good choice for us. (I'm not planning on taking the girls to this one in the theater - we'll wait for DVD - but I am planning a fun family movie night with the first movie hopefully this weekend now that we've finished the book). Anyway...

Nanny McPhee is based upon a book of short stories called The Collected Tales of Nurse Matilda. They were written by Christianna Brand, and illustrated by her brother Edward Ardizzone. These stories were based on ones that their grandmother told her and her siblings when they were young ... the biography I read suggested that these were the stories that grandma told when her grandchildren were being particularly naughty.

In the story, the Brown children come from a large and very unruly family. There are so many children the author doesn't even bother to tell you all their names and ages ... she leaves that to you to figure out as you go through the story, there are that many children. And these children are bad. Really bad. For example:

Francesca had filled the Tiny Baby's bottle with baby-food and was feeding the dogs with it.
Little Quentin had drawn flowers all up the nursery walls and was watering them from the big, brown, nursery teapot, Antony was filling up the nursery ink-wells with runny red jam.
Nicolas had collected all the Little Ones' dolls and was lining them up for execution.
Sophie was shampooing Henrietta's hair with glue.
And the other children were doing simply dreadful things too. (p. 24)

The parents are somewhat shockingly blind to the misdeeds of their children and after yet another nanny has left the family, and they are unable to hire anyone to come and help with their children, they turn to Nurse Matilda. Nurse Matilda (or Nanny McPhee as she is called in the movie) is who you turn to when you are desperate. The first thing you notice about her is that she is ugly - she has a nose that looks like two potatoes are stuck together, warts, stiff black hair in a bun, and a tooth that you just can't seem to take your eyes off of. The children figure that they can get rid of Nurse Matilda just like all the other nannies, but it doesn't quite work out that way. For one thing, Nurse Matilda has this big black stick and when she bangs it on the floor unusual things begin to happen. For one, whatever mischief or naughtiness you are currently doing, you find that you can't stop doing, and so on.

The book is made up of three stories about the unpleasant Brown children. The first book centers on their behavior at home, the second on their behavior when they are sent to stay with their Great Aunt Adelaide, and the third when they are taken on a trip to the seaside. By the third book I was finding the story a bit reptitious as the children's antics seemed to take on a "second verse, same as the first" type quality to them, if that makes sense. I don't know if I would encourage everyone to rush out and buy a copy of the book but if you are looking for something light to read with your children, this is good one pick out at the library and try out ... and to feel free to stop after the first or second story. It's one that could be handed off to older elementary student to read as well.

For more great ideas to read aloud to your children, visit Amy at Hope is the Word.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ::: 32 Weeks

Love ::: 32 weeks

32 Weeks

Baby is measuring big ... imagine that.

He is VERY busy.

Starting to see a tiny bit of swelling in fingers and feet. Sounds silly to be thankful about that, but with as hot as it has been this summer, I find the fact that I can still wear my rings and my regular shoes nothing short of a miracle. 

The cravings haven't changed much other than water sounds the best to me to drink which is very unusual. Typically I don't care for water at. all. so I'm glad it tastes good right now. 

Very much looking forward to tonight - wonderful friends are giving our little guy a baby shower so he doesn't have to wear his sisters' pink hand-me-downs. I don't know who is more excited - me or Natalie. She is thrilled that "she" is getting a baby shower for baby brother. I love it.

32 Weeks

Template from write.click.scrapbook
Papers from Crystal Wilkerson

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bloggy Review ::: Tabernacle Model

Tabernacle Model (Candle Discovery Series)

In my constant nesting and purging state that I'm in, I've found what is hopefully the last book review book that I've missed hiding among my shelves! This copy of Tabernacle Model was sent to me by Kregal Publications in a bundle of Christmas books last winter and is woefully behind a review post. (My apologies to Kregal for forgetting about it!)

This book starts with the history of Jews during the time of Abraham and Moses specifically, up through God's instructions on how the tabernacle should be built. The pages are full of excellent illustrations (Stephanie, the illustrator is from Siloam Springs!) that are full of detail and color - just beautiful! There are also wonderful photographs of replicas of the furnishings that were included inside the tabernacle - the Table of Showbread, the laver where the priests washed, etc. Next is a section on what the tabernacle was for as well as brief descriptions of the different festivals and sacrifices that occured there. Lastly, there is a history of the tabernacle - how Israel carried it all through the wilderness and it's eventual capture by the Philistines.

However, what caught my eye with this book is that there is a cardboard scale model of the tabernacle that you can assemble with your kids! What a fun visual this would be for elementary and middle school students after you have spent time discussing the tabernacle. The book is recommended for ages 4-8, however, I think it would be better suited to a mid-elementary all the way up to a 6th or 7th grade. (I could read it to my 4yo right now, but it would be WAY over her head.)

Again, my apologies to Kregal for the lateness of this review! Two thumbs up on this excellent resource!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bloggy Review ::: Download N Go Summer Sensations

I was recently sent a copy of one of Download N Go's recent releases, Summer Sensations, to review and giveaway on the blog. We have used this study this week and have had a great time with it! 

Download N Go has a lapbook / unit study for all four seasons and these are some of my favorite to do with my new 1st grader. We have spent time this week talking about the seasons in general and why and how they change, and some of the fun things that only come around once a year when it is summertime ... like special cold treats and certain activities!

Interspersed throughout the unit study, are short videos that can be viewed. These make for a great little visual break for both mom and student. While I wouldn't want to do a whole curriculum based around a video, a three minute animated video on the earth's rotation has given both me and Noelle some visual examples as we learn about the changing seasons and why it is so HOT here right now! : ) There are also lapbook elements that you can add as you want to enhance your study. Because Download N Go has an age range of K - 4th grade, some of these are more appropriate for older students than younger and vice verse, but I like the flexibility of having them there if I want to do them.

Below is the information from Download N Go that will give a little more of an overview of the study and at the end of this post, you can find out how you can win a copy of this unit study for your own family.

Introducing the newest title in the Download N Go™ line ... SUMMER SENSATIONS!
Turn school into . . .    cool!

Make a splash to start the new school year --

Your child will investigate how seasons change, what summer is all about, how shadows work, why trees are important in the summertime, and yummy--discover some history about snow cones and ice cream!

And it's a great time to seize many of those cool summery interests that your kids are intrigued with.

Day 1: What is Summer?
Day 2: Science Secrets of Summer
Day 3: People and Places of Summer
Day 4: Time for Tips and Treasures of Summer
Day 5: Goodies and Surprises of Summer

Exciting changes abound for kids of all ages to experience, so why not take all of their pent-up excitement and enthusiasm and put it to good use as they dive right into learning about summer and all that it holds?

It's time to watch the trees grow and enjoy their shade, feel the hot temperatures, take a plunge in the water, and enjoy a slower pace of life as summer spreads through the neighborhood.

There's an additional Learning Links page, and all lapbook components are ready to print and go!

Want to read more about Summer Sensations? Go here


How to win a copy of this study for your family ....

1. Leave a comment on this blog post (making sure to leave an email so I can contact you ... no email, no win).

2. For a second entry, tweet about this giveaway. You can cut and paste the following, and then come back and leave me a comment that you have tweeted it.

@stephanieshep is giving away a copy of Download N Go's Summer Sensations lapbook! http://bit.ly/bPowXN

3. And for a bonus third entry, if you are subscribed to my blog's feed or a follower, then leave a comment for a third entry.

I'll close comments and draw a winner next Friday, August 20.

Summer Sensations isn't available to purchase individually ... only as a bonus when you purchase a DNG bundle. You can find more information about some of current specials below:

Back-to-Homeschool Sale, July 30 – August 15:
  • Autumn Treasures 50% off
  • Summer Sensations free with every bundle purchase
  • 20% off every bundle purchase
Also Expedition China will be offered at 50% off regular price August 6 – 13 http://downloadngo.com/ExpeditionChina.php

Good luck!

Comments are now closed.

I was provided a copy of this unit study in exchange for an honest review of our experience with it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Read Aloud Thursday ::: Summer Favorites

This week we've been spending time with another Download N Go lapbook as we ease back into our school routine - Summer Sensations. (Come back tomorrow for a chance to win a copy of this unit study!) We have spent our days in the air conditioning, reading about the hot weather outside and truthfully, in my case, trying to avoid it. : ) All that to say, here are a few favorite books we've stumbled upon, but by no means a complete list.

The Year At Maple Hill Farm

The Year at Maple Hill Farm is one that I have seen on multiple book lists, but have never picked up before now. Love the beautiful drawings through out the book as you get a glimpse of how the animals live throughout the different months of the year. I'll be looking for more books by the Provensens to read with the girls. (Amy @ Hope is the Word just reviewed The Glorious Flight by the Provensens and it's one that we "rowed" last year with FIAR and Homeschool Share).

The Relatives Came

The Relatives Came is a sweet story by Cynthia Rylant. The relatives from Virginia drive all day and all night to come for a summer visit. The house is crowded, there are people sleeping on top of each other but they wouldn't want it any other way. It's family and the visit is over all too soon.

When Lightning Comes in a Jar

When Lightning Comes in a Jar explores the fun and memories of a summer family reunion and the childlike delight of catching fireflies on a summer evening. Loved this one. It really captured the beauty of family and the heritage of passing on traditions and stories and memories of those gone before.

I'm hoping that next week I'll be able to share that we've finished our current chapter book read-aloud and what we thought of it. I'll admit I'm ready to move on, but we'll save more than that for another time.

For more Read-Aloud Thursday, visit Amy at Hope is the Word.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Noelle

The last of the garden ... pulling up all the plants and getting ready for fall.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Children's Classics ::: A Gathering of Days, A Midwife's Apprentice & Lon Po Po

For this month's Children's Classics I picked up three new to me books - two were winners of the Newberry Award and one was a Caldecott Medal winner. All interesting in their own way and VERY different from one another as you will see below!

First up is the winner of the 1980 Newberry Award. A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos was a quick and very interesting book and one that I was glad to try out.

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32Catherine Hall is a young girl that lived in the 1800's. A few months before her fourteenth birthday, she is given a journal and decides to chronicle her days. Some entries are brief and some are lengthly, but I definitely feel like I got a glimpse of what life would have been like for a young girl back then. (To put this is perspective, Catherine's teen years were almost 40 years before Laura Ingalls Wilder was born). These days have the beginnings of anti-slavery rumblings and it affects even Catherine's life in New Hampshire as she and her friends assist a runaway slave.

Life wasn't easy for Catherine, but it was good. She went to school with her best friend Cassie, helped take care of her father's house (her mother died when she was younger), and spent time with her little sister. They lived a simple life on a farm and I thought the descriptions of winter in New Hampshire during this era was very interesting. There was a lot of preparation to get through a winter and survive; and still they were busy all winter long preparing for spring.

I am definitely adding this book to our library. This will be a great read-along for my girls when we study this period in American History. I think it would be suitable for any reader, from about age 8 and up. (i.e., I think my almost 7 year old could read the words just fine, but she doesn't have the knowledge of slavery and that period of time for it to impact her as much as if we waited a bit.) Well worth getting your hands on a copy and checking it out for yourself. :

The Midwife's ApprenticeI also read The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, which was the 1996 Newberry Medal Winner. This book was a little tougher to read but didn't make it any less interesting. This is the story of a young girl, abandoned and alone, and found sleeping in a dung pile by the local midwife. I wouldn't say it was out of pity, but the midwife takes her home and gives her odd jobs here and there to do in exchange for a small bit of food and a place to sleep. However, that doesn't mean her life gets any easier. The midwife is fairly abusive and, in fact, this girl doesn't even have a name (or is given one) until about halfway through the book. Apparently she's not deemed important enough to have one or to even find out what it is.

This book is the story of this young girl learning about herself and finding an identity for herself out of nothing. When asked what she wants she says, "A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world." Thankfully, by the end of the story, she is headed down that path and has grown in self-confidence and can now stand up for herself a bit more.

I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone under twelve, I don't think. There are a couple bad words (nothing that would earn it more than a PG rating if it were a movie) but the girl is treated harshly by the midwife and others, and there are a few scenes that would be better for a middle school student.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from ChinaLastly, I read my first Caldecott Medal Winner this month - Lon Po Po by Ed Young. Lon Po Po is the story of Red Riding Hood, told using Chinese children and using Chinese panel art to illustrate the story. In this version, instead of Red Riding Hood heading out to meet the wolf on her way to grandmother's house, the wolf comes to three sisters, Shang, Tao, and Paotze. Against the stern warning of their mother, they let the wolf into their house and eventually realize that it isn't their grandmother come to visit but a wolf! The children are able to escape the wolf's clutches and he meets an unfortuate end and all ends well.

However, what won this book it's medal was the artwork. The story is told through different panels (2-3 per page) in a blurry medium to my untrained eye. According to Amazon.com: "Like ancient Oriental paintings, the illustrations are frequently grouped in panels. When the girls meet the wolf, e.g., the left panel focuses on their wary faces peering out from the darkness, the middle enlarges the evil wolf's eye and teeth, and the third is a vivid swirl of the blue clothes in which the wolf is disguised. The juxtaposition of abstract and realistic representations, the complicated play of color and shadow, and the depth of the artist's vision all help transform this simple fairy tale into an extraordinary and powerful book." While I think I prefer my illustrations a little bit more straightforward, there is no question that the art isn't beautifully done and this was a great book to read alongside our China unit that we completed last week.

This post is linked up with Five Minutes for Books Children's Classics Award Winners Challenge.

One of my goals this year has been to diversify my reading. As I've spent the last 17 years homeschooling anywhere from 1-4 kids, I woul...