01 September 2014

Welcome, September!

Yes, I already have fall decor on my front door!  

Isn't this handmade, wooden "leaf" absolutely gorgeous?!  My amazing husband whipped this together for me after I saw one I liked in the new Lowe's magazine.  It's even more beautiful in person--I wish you could see it!

And it's the perfect way to welcome a new season: fall.  My favorite season!

So, Happy September!  And Happy Labor Day!

31 August 2014

A Summer Reading Wrap-Up

I don't know about you, but Labor Day weekend always marks the end of summer to me.  Even though the actual first day of fall comes a few weeks later, it just seems like the beginning of September really makes it feel like fall.

And with fall here I thought I would do a little Summer Reading Wrap-Up!

The kiddos have been busy reading and earning $$ all summer with our very own custom summer reading program.  They've kept me on my toes making up coupons and coming up with prizes!  As the summer began to come to an end, I resorted to recycling coupons and then finally just saying "if you bingo, I'll give you a dollar" (just so I didn't have to make more coupons...haha).  

The Princess ended up earning $47.81 and Mr. B earned $20.27.  That was at a penny a page.  You can tell who loves to read the most:)

I'm just glad they were motivated to read though.  The Princess was definitely more motivated than Mr. B was but they both got some books read and that makes it worth it.  

The Princess even participated in a relaxed book club with friends each week this summer.  It was really fun!  The girls would discuss the book they were reading that week, eat snacks, and work on crafts together.  And we mamas got to sit around for a couple of hours, snacking and chatting it up ourselves:)  

As for my personal reading...

I got a few books in.  I mostly did a little review reading of some youth books we'd received but that I didn't know anything about--best way to find out was to read them so I did.

This is what I got finished:
  • A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille: an excellent read for any parent--homeschooler or not--or educator!
  •  The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: a re-read for me, but I was 12 the last time I read it.  Loved it just as much the 2nd time around.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan: a wonderful story of a Mexican family who immigrates to California during the 1930's.
  • The Wonder of Charlie Anne by Kimberly Newton Fusco: a sweet story of two young friends standing against racism during the 1930's
  • One Came Home by Amy Timberlake: a good mystery story set in the 1800's--not great, but good
  • Doll Bones by Holly Black: didn't like this one particularly
  • Shadow by Michael Morpurgo: a heart-warming story drawn from true events.

We always have a family read-aloud going, too.  This summer we read (some for the 2nd time) through the books by Beverly Cleary about Henry, Ribsy, Beezus, and Ramona ...some of our faves!  We did a lot of laughing!  Now we're in the middle of The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict.  We love this series of books, too!

And that pretty much wraps up our reading this summer!  

What have you been reading lately?  I'd love to hear!

28 August 2014

Back-to-{home}school: our learning room spruce up

Now, right off the bat I want to say that not all--or even most--of our schooling happens in this room.  Our Learning Room (a converted dining room) is where our family computer and printer is, our art supplies can be found, wall maps and chalkboard are hanging, a large portion of our family library is (although every room in our house has bookcases!), and our educational resources are.

It's pretty much the organizational hub for our homeschool.  But learning happens all over our house ...and yard ...and often other places, too.

Each fall I like to do some cleaning (and cleaning out!), hang a new thing or two on the walls, and just spruce it up in general.

This year I've put our reproduction historical US documents back on the wall since we're studying US history.  I've add a few cool printable infographics from Kids Discover about how our bodies work since we're studying human anatomy.  A new map of the apostle Paul's world is on the wall since it coordinates with Mr. B's reading.  And, just for fun, I made (completely from scraps around the house) a fabric pennant to hang at the top of the room to add some color and general festiveness.  :)

It always feels so good to get the room all tidied up and ready to start back!

You can see what we've done other years in our various learning spaces at these links:

And, now to get busy planning...

26 August 2014

Tasty Tuesday {roasted marinara sauce}

Welcome back to Tasty Tuesday!!  

Recently, as in: the-month-of-August-which-has-been-one-of-the-busiest-months-of-my-life-ever, I decided it was time to can some tomatoes.  And after hearing of a great local place to buy some, proceeded to purchase a ridiculous amount of those lovely home-grown beauties.  

So....canning tomatoes has been happening at my house.  Yes, it has.  

However, after canning lots of tomatoes in this way I decided it was time to branch out.  I just wanted to try something that was different--and maybe something a little less time consuming.

So when a friend shared this super easy and oh-so-delicious recipe with me, I had to try it.  

I was NOT disappointed!  

Roasted Marinara Sauce
(from my friend Beverly Wilson)

1. Quarter (or smaller) the tomatoes and place them 
cut-side-down on a baking sheet with edges.
2.  Quarter a large onion and spread around on top of tomatoes.
3.  Add 2-4 cloves of garlic on top of onions/tomatoes
(I used minced garlic and it worked just fine).
4.  Drizzle veggies with olive oil.
5.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, to taste.
6.  Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes.
7.  Cool.
8.  Slip off the tomato skins using your fingers and discard
(roasting the tomatoes cut-side-down makes this easy)
9.  Scoop up mixture with a spoon into your food processor
or blender.
10.  Add some fresh basil and oregano, to taste
(I only had dried and it worked fine, too).
11.  You can add some sugar at this point, but my tomatoes
were so sweet I skipped this step.
12.  Blend to desired consistency.
13.  Use immediately, can in jars, or freeze in jars or bags
(I froze mine in jars of various sizes--if you do freeze 
in jars, be sure to leave a little room a the top for expansion).

This sauce was amazing!  I can't wait to use it on pizza, pasta, 
stromboli, and anything else I decide to dip in it!!

P.S.  I am officially out of canning jars.  :)

25 August 2014

'Best Friends and Mean Girls': a Review

Up until recently I have only been vaguely familiar with the Secret Keeper Girl organization.  This is a wonderful ministry devoted to teaching girls ages 8-12 about purity, modesty, and about "keeping the deepest secrets of their beauty for just one man".  Having an 11-year-old daughter, this definitely strikes a cord with me.

So I was very excited to have the opportunity to review a copy of Secret Keeper Girl's newest book for moms, 8 Great Dates: Best Friends and Mean Girls by Dannah Gresh.

This book is all about relationships.  Your relationships as a mother, your relationship with your daughter, and--primarily--your daughters relationships with God, her parents, her siblings, her BFF, her neighbors, mean girls, and boys.  

There are three short introductory chapters, then you dive into '8 Great Date' ideas designed to help you discuss all of the above relationships with your daughter.  
For each date idea there is:
  • a challenge for mom as she prepares for the date with her daughter
  • an audio recording or two to listen to with your daughter
  • a fun date challenge (think: sleepover, shopping, etc.)
  • a "gab" time, which may or may not include scrapbooking
  • prayer time with your daughter
How awesome is that?! 

There are also devotionals to do with your daughter and even perforated pull-outs for 'girl gab' time.  There is also a special section just-for-moms full of FAQ's from other moms that may help to navigate many of your questions about helping your daughter navigate these sometimes-tricky tween waters.  

I don't know about you, but I sincerely appreciate quality, Bible-based resources such as this to help me as a parent.  

I also received the companion book for girls: A Girl's Guide to Best Friends and Mean Girls.

This book is a great Bible study guide that digs deeper into God's Word on the topic of relationships.  It will get your daughter looking up Scripture, meditating on Scripture, journaling, and doing fun exercises included in the chapters.  

I love these books and am looking forward to continuing through them with my daughter.  I even hope to share them with a class I teach on Sundays at our church for girls in 4th-6th grades using some of the small group options they offer.  

8 Great Dates: Best Friends and Mean Girls is available for $12 and the Girl's Guide is available for $10.  Find out how to purchase your copies here.


Disclaimer: I was given a copy of each of these books in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.  No other compensation was received.  

22 August 2014

Homeschool Day at Cheekwood Gardens

This week felt almost like our school year had started back again.  We took a fun field trip with several other families from our homeschool group to Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville.  Each year Cheekwood hosts a special homeschool day, usually developed around their summer theme.  This year the main theme was Big Bugs, along with emphasis on Andy Warhol's Flowers and a couple more smaller-but-just-as-beautiful exhibits.  We really enjoyed it (even if there was a heat advisory and I thought at one point we might truly melt...ha!)!  

Here are some highlights from our day:   

David Rogers' Big Bugs 

Patrick Dougherty: Little Bitty Pretty One twig sculpture

On the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail

More of the Carell Woodland Sculpture Trail

If you live near Nashville or are passing through, this is a great spot for enjoying nature, strolling through gardens, taking a leisurely "hike" on the sculpture trail, browsing the art museum, or having a picnic on the grounds.  

aahhemmm....I recommend going on a day when there isn't 100% humidity though. ;) 

A big thanks to my sister for sharing her photos with me ...since I forgot my camera.

19 August 2014

Back-to-{home}School: Curriculum Choices

It's that time of the year again!!  I love getting all organized and prepared for the start of our homeschool year.  It hardly seems possible that this is our 7th year of homeschool and I now have a 4th grader and a 6th grader.  This year it seems we have more subjects and books than ever!  We'll be starting back in just two weeks.

Here's my 6th grader's personal lineup:

What's worked in the past that she's continuing with:

What's new this year: 

Here's the 4th grader's personal lineup:

What's worked in the past that he's continuing with: 

What's new this year: 
  • Supplemental Math: Life of Fred
  • Reading: Rod & Staff
  • Piano lessons

The subjects we do together: 

Whew!  I think that's all.  

Well, other than some various workbooks that we'll use occasionally.  

And LOTS of literature books that we'll read.

It seems like there is so much more on my schedule and plan for this year!  I hope I can keep up;)

What do you have planned for your homeschool curriculum this year?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!