My Christmas Village started off being visited by spiders from Lego... Harry Potter and various others.
But over time, those visitors left. A boy child played, the cats came to visit and my village settled into it's daily life.
Next our tree went up. It was actually fun this year. Normally I put it up by myself but this year I had a willing helper in my nine year old. we had to wear gloves with this tree as it liked to bite back. (boy, those needles were sharp!)
We had our annual Christmas open house at the beginning of November. It was fun. I tad difficult to pull out in some regards, but overall it was a good time.
Gingerbread house! Can it be Christmas without one?
I'll close off this post with two of my delights from our Christmas celebration. My son snuggling in a new to him snuggly blanket (his request) and the family watching one of the Christmas movies that we always put on. :) Fun times.
Thunder, written by Bonnie S. Calhoun, is an interesting book to read. By the end of the book I found myself wishing for a sequel so I could continue to read of the adventures of Selah and Bodhi and the rest of the Landers. I received this book to review in exchange for my fair and honest review. This is book one of the Stone Braide Chronicles.
A post-apocalyptic book, Selah belongs to a family that makes a fair living hunting Landers. The folks in the mountain will pay a pretty penny to have them, so catching Landers is the name of the game. Selah, catches one! But it is stolen from her by her brothers, and in the process she develops the sign of a Lander on her own body. Now Selah becomes one of the hunted and gains assistance from the Lander Bodhi by stealing him back.
The rest of the tale involves some romance, danger, scientific discovery, death, slavery, and freedom. It's a tale that moves quickly and leaves you wondering how things will ultimately turn out. The time of sorrows has passed. It had brought about people living "in the mountain" (where the Company dwells that buys the Landers) or on the land .. needing to learn what is safe to eat and what is poison on four legs (some rabbits are deadly to eat, others are safe).
As a Canadian I found it funny that some of the freed folks choose to seek freedom in “the north”because of the snow. (We aren't just a land of snow you know). :) Just made me smile is all. They really ended up in the former Atlantic City.
I have to admit to be curious about what it is about the Landers that causes them to be able to do things differently. They appear to be human, and can have children with humans and yet they are something more. The answer to this was not given at this point in the story.
I have to admit, that parts of the book seemed a bit contrived and just put there to increase the body count and blood factor, but overall the book was well-written and compelling enough to make me read it quickly. By the end of it I was hooked and wanting to know what happens next. Perfect set up for a sequel.
About the author (from book cover):
Bonnie S. Calhoun loves to write, but it doesn't make her happy unless there are the three Bs: body count, blood, and blowing things up. She also mad skills at coding HTML and website design. Bonnie lives in a log cabin in the woods with fifteen acres and a pond full or bass, though she'd rather buy fish at the grocery store. She shares her domain with a husband, a dog, and two cats, all of who think she is waitstaff.
Reviewed for : Nuts about Books.
Author: Bonnie S. Calhoun
Type: YA fiction
Review: Minecraft Unit Studies.
I was contacted by Erin of Educents a while back about doing a review for the Minecraft Unit studies they have available and I jumped at the chance. I have a lad who LOVES playing minecraft. All I can say is if you have a child who enjoys minecraft, these unit studies will be eagerly received. :)
When I told my son i had some minecraft unit studies he was quiet excited. Can we do them now mom? What are they? Do you think I will like them? Which one can I do first? He was not disappointed.
We started off with Area and perimeter. He had a great deal of fun buiding different pens/fields in the game to demonstrate his understanding. I was GOING to get a picture of what he accomplished but "oops, sorry mom! I deleted it already..." What can I say.. he's learned to build TNT launch pads and he thought they'd make a great target. :)
We next moved on to the types of angles. It took a bit for for him to understand it as "Acute" angles and not A "cute" angle. :) but he got the hang of it nicely. It's good to have some motivation, and finding angles around the house was easy to do and it was great to have that hands on practice. Though I must say.... having the motivation of "if you complete your written work you can do the building on minecraft" was a huge motivator for him to focus on the material at hand. :)
The third unit we did contained a list of ideas that students could write on. My son read over the list several times before narrowing it down to the couple he thought he wanted to do.
He decided that he would write out an instructional piece on what to do when you first start playing a new "seed". He chose not to add a lot of grammar and punctuation at this point. He is doing that in the story he is writing.
"Your first day in Minecraft you you shod mine 20 dirt than make a house than you shod mine 2 small threes than make 12 wood planks and than make crafting table than place the crafting table in the house than use the crafting table to make 4 sticks than use 2 of the sticks and 3 wood planks to make 1 wood pickaxe and mine 8 stone and go back to the house and use the crafting table to make 1 furnace place the furnace beside the crafting table than mine 1 more three put 1wood in the top and 1in the bottom wait until charcoal appears in the third slot than take the charcoal than use the crafting table to make 4 torches with 1stik and the charcoal put the torches in the house make enough wood planks to make 1 wood door place the door at the entrance to the house if you still have time make a sword and kill three Shep and make a bed than play the game."
Here is an extract from the book my son is writing on minecraft (with a touch of other elements as well).
"It all began in the small town of Mooshroom. Mooshroom was beside a small lake. The town had a library, a blacksmith, a mine, a brewing shop, a farm, a general store, a food store and a small barracks with twenty guards and a first and second command.
It was a cloudless summer day with a slight breeze, the sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing happily. The lake had little waves going from side to side of the lake, the reeds were swaying gently in the breeze as fish jumped in and out of the water.
The town was located on a small grassland in the middle of a forest with a jungle and mountains in the distance and a lake on the right side of the town. At the entrance to the town on the right beside the lake was Beatles and Brewing. It was a tall building with glass panes on the front and back of the store it had oak wood stars on the roof and three blocks up cobblestone from the ground and two oak wood support beams going from front to back and the rest of the house was oak wood as well. Beatles and Brewing sold potions and brewing ingredients of all kinds.
Justin was the owner of Beatles and Brewing. Justin was a tall man with white skin, brown hair and his eyes were blow. He normally wore pitch black robes. he had one secret he knew magic and he kept a wand in one of his pockets at all times."
These unit studies kept my son happily engaged in learning during the early part of the holidays. it was nice to be able to gift him with totally fun homeschooling over this Christmas season. Perhaps it is something you can gift your minecraft loving children with as well?
What do you get?
Worksheets that teach the concept such as area/perimeter, types of angles, and language arts.
Practical exercises: figure out the perimeter find the angle etc
Type on Minecraft: make a building with "x" number of right angles etc.
What does it cost?
Where can you get it?
Right here on Educents. It's on sale for the next five days. Neat eh?
Educents is a site where you can get a variety of curriculum for a discount. Go there today to get the minecraft unit studies for your children. You won't regret it. :)
Review and Giveaway: A love Letter From God
A cute little picture book God sending a love letter to his children. The beautifully illustrated pages come complete with cut outs to make the pages interesting. I received this book from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my written opinion. :)
The book started in a way that gave me some hesitation “I love my children, what more can I say? To me, you are perfect in every way.”
I had to stop and think on this as right off the cuff it tells children that they are perfect...and no one is perfect except for God. Does God love us perfectly? For sure. BUT we are NOT perfect. It fits the rhyme well, but it's not an accurate statement. And one that a wise parent would explain to a child what that means, and how God does really see us.
The rest of the book was simply just a fun read. It showed us how much God loves us and delights in us as the pinnacle of his creation. He delights in us as parents delight in their children. I really liked this line “your goodness and mercy help others to see your heart is a partial reflection of me”. Isn't that what we are called to be? A reflection of our Lord and Saviour?
The book ends with a reminder that God will love us forever. It is so good to be reminded there is so much more to this life than just living, as children of God we are loved forever and nothing can separate us from him.
I loved the work of Laura Watson in the book. She did such a lovely job at illustrating. I can well imagine myself sitting down with a young child and talking together about the images on the pages. Saying things like.. Did you know that God loves you even when you are on a swing? How about when you are the beach.. what kind of things do you think you could find on a beach? Can you think of somewhere else you can go or do that shows how God loves you?
About the author
P. K. Hallinan has been creating books for children since his wife first asked him to write for their two boys more than 30 years ago. Today Hallinan writes uplifting stories about holidays, relationships, and life values. “When I started this project, I felt that God told me to ‘Just let children know how much I love them.’ So I asked Him to speak the words Himself, through my heart, and I would put them to paper. And I believe He did this. This book’s message reinforces the presence of God in a child’s life by showing how God manifests Himself at every moment of every day,” said Hallinan.
Available at Ideals Books for $12.99
Hardcover with thick pages.
Preschool, early elementary.
Christian based literature.
Author: P. K. Hallinan
Illustrator: Laura Watson
Imagining that YOU will want to enjoy this book as much as I did, here's your chance to win a copy for yourself. First the disclaimer, and then you can use rafflecopter below for your entries. Giveaway open to USA and Canada only please.
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
ingredients: this recipe originally from here.
6 cups diced zucchini
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream (I did half sour cream, half greek yogurt)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots
1 (6 ounce) package dry bread stuffing mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook zucchini in lightly salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, and place in a large bowl. Stir in the condensed soup, sour cream, onion, and carrots.
3. In a small bowl, mix together stuffing and melted butter. Spread half of the stuffing mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish, add a layer of the zucchini mixture, and top with remaining stuffing mixture.
4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown.
Son.. "Mom, do I have to have some?" .. no complaints after eating it.
Our Student: "is good".. had seconds
Me: I liked it
Hubby: "it's not bad, might be missing something though."
Field Trip: Crock A Doodle
Today we had the delight of attending a pottery class at Crock A Doodle with KICK. We had a good time. Some of the pieces painted where done quiet nicely. The children all seemed to enjoy themselves. Afterwards we headed to Mary's house for a lunch, snacks, movie and a chat/playtime. It was a wonderful day.
So let's just to more pictures and less typing. (ouch, silly broken thumb). When the children arrived they had the opportunity to check out the shelves for what they wanted to make. Some children knew immediately what they wanted to do, others had quite the decision to make. Much discussion happened in those instances. But smiles were already beginning.
From looking at available pieces on-line my son quickly decided that a cocoa mug was what he wanted to do. I much appreciated that this option was available to us.
After pottery decisions were made, it was time to take in some basic instruction from Kim.
A simple slide show of the fun had.
Using a blackout to teach history
Isn't it neat that bloggers can help out bloggers? Here's a post from Kemi, isn't she sweet to help me out?
Using a blackout to teach History.
As a small child we lived overseas where blackouts and lack of drinkable water were just regular parts of every day. That was over 30 years ago and a "no big deal", in my bank of childhood memories.
Just recently my daughter experienced her first blackout in our usually mild Northwest weather. We had high winds, downed trees, and blackouts all throughout the city.
Our weather is usually not too extreme one way or another. Except for all the rain. We get a lot of that but we're used to it.
So it's no surprise that we tend to get really relaxed about being prepared for inclement weather and things my take us unawares.
As a child my mother was always overly prepared because these things came so often. We had tons of candle and matches. A little burner to heat things on. We kept lots of dried foods and we also kept our bathtub filled with water because water shortages were just as common. We took baths with buckets of water that had been heated on the stove.
Blackouts were no big deal for me but for my daughter it was a nerve wracking event. Everything was dark as it happened at night and there was not a light in the sky! She’s heard of blackouts, read about them, and seen them on the news but she had never experienced one. She was nervous, scared, and excited all in one.
To help her relax a little bit about the ordeal I didn't choose to discuss blackouts themselves but instead, as I lit candles and rummaged in the pantry for edibles, I figured it was the perfect time to talk about one of her favorite time periods.
The Pioneer Days
I led her through the house carrying a candle as we grabbed crank flashlights (love that invention) and battery operated radios. I prepared a dinner of corn chips and guacamole while we gathered around the dining table with more lit candles to set the mood…
Now although my cellphone was working I pretended it didn't as I began to talk about what life might have been like back in the day before electricity was common place.
Lighting and Heat
I talked about how there was no thermostat to adjust for a more comfortable living room. How a hearth or a fire would be the heat to heat a home. And you had to be careful with fire just as you have to be today.
How candles and oil lamps would be used for light at night.
Most windows did not come with glass as the pioneers were just getting settled. Instead they put up grease paper to let a smidgen of light through.
As you can imagine the insides of cabins were pretty dark.
We talked about what the pioneers might do in the evenings with so little light. Since we had limited light we knew that reading was difficult or maybe if a family member could read they would read aloud to the rest of the family member.
We talked about how food was not as plentiful and as varied as we have today. No sir! You ate what didn’t spoil and what you were able to grow, catch, and preserve.
Food was cooked over a fireplace and the fire was lit from a coal or by “borrowing” some fire from a neighbor. Matches were not known back then.
Food Want to know more about Pioneer life? Pioneer Children’s Games History of Oil Lamps Nancy "Mary Ann" Davis Wisner's Recollections of Pioneer Life Pioneer Life Pioneer Life in America Little House in the Big Woods Literature Study
Kemi Quinn is a wife, mother, church musician, and amateur cook. She loves to read about how women kept home in time’s past (aka Vintage Homemaking). She blogs over at Homemaking Organized.
My hand is now in a lovely red cast. Quite festive. :) But typing remains difficult. so Carol has consented to write a blog post for me. I have to admit, it's kinda fun seeing what others come up with for Blog posts. :)
A long, long time ago, before the world-wide web, when cameras still used film, when travelers didn’t need passports in North America, and when merchants still readily accepted Traveler’s Cheques, my parents took our family of four on a two week trip to Canada. My parents got travel guides from AAA, and mailed away requesting brochures from many places I had never heard of. My Mom packed an activity bag for me, and one for my brother, with crayons, coloring books, and a travel pillow. There were evening discussions around maps, and talk of ferries. I was only about seven, so most of the pre-trip activity was a mystery to me.
Though it was decades ago, many memories still remain from that trip. My parents took us to all sorts of places, both big and small. We took my Dad’s little car, and sometimes he would even let Mom drive . . . that let us kids know we were going to be gone for a LONG time. I remember telling my Mom that I would take a nap on our trip.
We visited so many interesting places, many of which I can now look up on the web. Yet nothing on those websites can replicate the wonder of leaving the Midwestern cornfields and traveling through such a vast area that was so very different than home. We visited Casa Loma in Ontario, Chateau de Frontenac in Quebec, and Saint John, New Brunswick where we witnessed the reversing rapids (and ate lobster-yuk!) We traveled through Nova Scotia, and drove the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island.
The first memorable ferry was to Prince Edward Island. . . land of Anne, and pink roads. I’ll admit that I do not actually remember being at Green Gables, but I do still have the postcard from there. . . and somewhere my Mom still has pictures (probably slides!)
The second quite memorable ferry ride was to Newfoundland. Nine hours there, and nine hours back. On the way we learned that reclining chairs are not as comfy as a bed, and that both my brother and I could be seasick in choppy waves. I remember getting an orange from the cafeteria on the ferry. I remember seeing great cliffs turned on their sides, with stripes going almost vertically, and my parents talking to us about how that probably happened during Noah’s flood. I remember wondering why my Mom was driving 63, until I learned that it was kph instead of mph.
There are other memories that lurk in the recesses of my brain from that trip. Ontario was a big, yet old city. The Chateau de Frontenac was too big in my small world to be a hotel, surely you would get lost inside. The manager at the Dairy Queen in Quebec City was the only person there who spoke English . . . and that not fluently. I remember the first (and only) time my Mom let me throw away food. We were eating breakfast at a little Mom and Pop store connected to a gas station, and the French lady cooking simply could not understand that I needed my fried eggs cooked all the way through. To her, over-easy was “cooked.” I ate the white, the yellow soup went into the trash can when Dad was busy putting gas in the car.
I remember sleeping upstairs in a house that was the tiniest bed and breakfast (2 extra bedrooms.) My parents so enjoyed our hosts that they exchanged Christmas cards for years and years afterward. I remember the sense of wonder at the hills and mountains, and at the vastness of the might St. Lawrence river.
My parents saved for a long time to take us on that trip. Yet, it’s not the money they spent that makes it so memorable, even more than 30 years later. The memories come from the time they spent with my brother and I, and the planning they did in advance so everyone could enjoy our vacation. There were big places to visit, and little side stops along the way so we wouldn’t get too bored, or too stiff, from riding in the car. There was the day that it drizzled, yet we still stopped at this village of miniature houses. Somewhere there is picture of my brother and I in our yellow raincoats, looking at Anne Hathaway’s house, or standing inside the miniature castle wall. There were pretend stocks there too. When I grew older and read about Puritan New England, I had an idea of just how awful it would have been to be placed in the stocks and have rotten vegetables thrown in your face.
That family vacation taught me a lot about parenting. The memories have guided me when we plan our own vacations with our girls. So what were some of the valuable lessons I learned? Plan ahead, get maps, choose attractions with a wide range of interesting activities, take snacks, find a laundromat along the way, take pictures, and slow down and enjoy your children and each day you have been given. I learned that Mom and Pop places usually have the best food (if you speak the same language,) and that one black and white picture taken on a camera borrowed from your Mom can bring back a flood of memories.
My parents taught us that experiences are more valuable than things, and that family memories can last a lifetime. You can go far away, or stay close to home, and still make memories. Some day, I would love to take another trip to Canada and make memories to share with my husband and daughters.
What about you, what memories do you treasure from your childhood that help you in parenting your own children? Whether you step out into your backyard, or travel thousands of miles away to make those memories, cherish each day.
Homeschool through the Holidays.
So, I broke my thumb. Leah has been so gracious to write a post for me as typing is rather difficult. To that end, let us enjoy Leah's post. :)
As the holidays approach, I begin to hear the question over and over again. "When are we going to take off school for Christmas?" In my mind I'm weighing the options. Do I plug along trying to finish our required number of days sooner and have more summer time off? Or do we take time off now when the kids- and I- am tired and need a break. Over the years of homeschooling, I've learned to do a little of both. We usually continue to doing learning things (that can count as "official" school days), but we break from our regular structure and bring in some fun things. Of course we do take some time fully off- mainly when Daddy is home to have fun with us. But we also do some fun learning things that help to bring a little structure and learning to our days but still allow us to celebrate the season.
Christmas unit studies
Christmas is a wonderful time to do unit studies. You can study countries and culture with a Christmas Around the World themed unit. You can study literature by doing a unit study or lapbook with a Christmas book. You can study weather by looking at the weather in different locations at Christmas time. All of these can be fun and holiday themed, but you're still learning. There are many free unit studies available all around the web. A good place to start is Homeschool Share.
Crafting seems like a fun activity but isn't often thought of as educational. However, there are quite a few learning tasks that happen while creating crafts. Learning measurements as you prepare materials, reading directions, critical thinking when something doesn't seem to be working, learning how different materials react with each other- all of these are educational components of making crafts. If you google "Christmas crafts for kids" you'll find many ideas. Here are a few to get you started.
Christmas is a great time to give your child time for writing. Have your child write a creative story about a family Christmas celebration or what the "perfect" holiday would be. Have him write a persuasive essay about why he should get that one thing he really, really wants. How about doing some research on several charities that could be helped throughout the season and writing a paragraph about what each one does.
Like crafting, cooking has many "hidden" educational benefits. Learn how to read a recipe, measure ingredients, and why different ingredients are important. Do some critical thinking when something doesn't work just right and figure out what happened or what you can change. (Some cooking- like cookie baking- is more fun with friends. So you can have a little social time too.)
Many charities or mission organizations need help throughout the holidays. From making meals to wrapping gifts, there are usually many things to be done throughout the holiday season. Consider your child's age and pick a charity that you can help. A service project can have educational benefits, but there are also spiritual benefits as kids learn the importance of serving others and reflect on the real meaning of the season.
It's possible to keep doing a little "school" throughout the holiday season while still having a break and a lot of fun.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She was a school teacher in her former life and now loves homeschooling her children. Recently she began the adventure of homeschooling a high schooler. She loves reading and reviewing and blogging about life and homeschooling. You can visit her at As We Walk Along the Road.
Five Minute Friday: Dear
Can you believe I missed two five minute Fridays with Kate? Life has been rather busy so I was determined this week to follow through on this Friday's word. The word today is dear. You know the rules right? You find the word of the day, write on it for five minutes, no need to stress on being perfect.. just writing what comes naturally. Then you go link up and MOST IMPORTANTLY!!! Go back and encourage the person who linked up before. Easy peasy, a five minute moment out of life eh? :)
This blue-eyed handsome boy is my son. He is DEAR to me. Dear to my heart and life and body. He's a bit of a momma's boy (which is okay). He's kind, caring, compassionate, smart, creative, so not sporty, into minecraft and using words and talking a person's ear off. He is not a quiet lad (takes after his aunt that way).
When he was younger he had a hard time being able to vent his frustration so we taught him to issue an ARGH!!! as loud as possible. Just once. Just release that angst, just let it go and then move on. This helped him, but I THINK may lead to the current problem we are having with this bright, articulate (when he wants to be) lad in that he is still venting his frustration.. and that's what is it.. it's frustration not anger.. but he's lately been venting it in my face. Loud yelling at me.
I don't do loud yelling well and so have been shutting down when he does it but that has not been helpful. Either to me or to him and just gets dad vexed so we end up with a household of unhappy people. NOT a good scene.
So I've been talking more clearly and demonstrating better behaviour for what to do when frustrated.. such as taking time away from others, getting out, doing something different and other such things.. I've always done this but have become more intentional about TELLING my boy what I am doing. AND to motivate him to change his behaviour we have introduced the fine art of writing lines. If he is yelling for no good reason (when simply talking to me quietly would suffice) he writes out lines such as "a soft answer turns away wrath", "son don't despise your mother's teaching" and such helpful phrases rather than focusing on the negatives.
AND if his loud outbursts take away from our homeschooling time (yes I am now timing them), he loses time doing something he enjoys doing (like playing on the xbox).
It's interesting.. in two weeks he's learning to talk quieter and to explain his thought processes better AND i haven't had to take time from the xbox!
God is gracious to me in this parenting venture. He reminds me all the time of how he forgives me, how I am dear to him and how he works in and through me... and now I can use that to teach me boy.
T'is a good thing yes? :)
Who Am I?
2013 TOS Reviews
if you were me
Family Hope Center
Bible Study Guide for all ages
Bird Cage Press
Homeschool in the woods
Wet, Dry, Try App
Essentials in Writing
In the Hands of a Child
A journey through learning
2014 TOS Reviews
Philippians in 28 weeks.
The Brinkman Adventures.
Logic of English.
Go Science DVD's
Happy Kids Songs
Wizzy Gizmo: In his image
Essential Skills Advantage:
My Beloved ..
Don't Miss the Boat
Tokens of Promise
Biff and Becka's ....
A Child's Geography
Homeless at Harvard
30 Days of Bible Study...
Topaz and the Evil Wizard
Alone yet not alone
Lead me Home
I am Second
Can't wait Willow
This is Our Time
What I wish I knew at 18
Raising boys by design.
The Ruby Ring.
Knowing God By name.
The Jesus Bible, NIV.
One Realm Beyond.