a reading adventure

Mar 4, 2014 by

Annesley and I are starting a new adventure together – learning to read! She has been playing with our moveable alphabet, writing her letters, and playing alphabet games like the Bob Books and the lovely Montessorium apps on the iPad for quite some time, but last week she decided she was ready to put in the time to learn to read. I decided to start out with the I See Sam app and see how she responded to it. I have dozens of reading curricula here in my house and different programs have worked with different children, so I thought we would just try it out and then adjust as necessary.

Well, she loved it! Each book starts out with a few sounds to master. Then the next page lists the new words that are in the book. Then the story with those very few words. By the end of the 17-20 page story, those words are pretty darn cemented in the child’s mind.

So, we started out with /I/, /s/, /S/, /long e/, /a/, and /m/. Her words were I, see, and Sam. The first time was pretty challenging for her to put those sounds together and she wanted to look at pictures and tell her own story. But then she made all her words with the movable alphabet and wrote them down and they started to make it into her mind.

Yesterday we opened up I See Sam and this time it clicked! She could put the sounds together and make sense of them. She read all of Book 1 to me. Then she read it to her grandma. Then she begged me to allow her to read Book 2. To my great surprise, she read the whole thing with a giant smile on her face, high fives after each page, and a big hug for me at the end.

We have used Jolly Phonics, Happy Phonics, Reading Without Tears, Learning to Read with the Book of Mormon, The Writing Road to Reading, Bob Books, Phonics Games, Explode the Code, and several others I can’t remember now and while I think they all have their merits, I really love the I See Sam app. I love how simple the books start out with just five sounds and three words. It builds success quickly for the child and focuses on mastery of just those few components before moving on. There are not any sounds in the words that you haven’t been taught. So many early reading programs expect sight words to be known right from the get go and that has always frustrated my children. Annesley’s favorite part is the microphone. You can hit the mic button and record yourself reading a page or the whole book. Last night after she completed reading Book 2 for her papa, she went back and recorded herself reading it and then giggled herself silly while listening to herself. Then she added in all sorts of emotion and shouting to bring the story to life and recorded it again. So fun!

Then we made Annesley’s Reading Book, a notebook with all the words she knows. We are putting one word on each page and then she can practice writing that word all over the rest of the page.

Today we will be writing her known words on index cards, hanging them up on the wall, and letting her throw a ball at the word I say. Along with our moveable alphabet, we are also making up a little activity box with magnetized Bananagram letters and a small cookie sheet.

I am convinced that helping a child learn to read can be magical. I am really hoping that with this fourth child of mine I can take all the lessons from the past three and put them to good use so it is magical. So far so good!

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potw: that really matters

Jan 20, 2014 by

This week our children are participating in the first annual iFamily Speech Festival. They participated for many years in the Cre-Act Speech Festival and when that wonderful school closed a few years ago, we really missed the fun and inspiration of the speech festival.

They have been busy memorizing their poems the past few weeks. Annesley is doing one of my favorite poems. Both her older sisters competed with this one when they were about her age and now it is her turn!

That Really Matters
Author Unknown

My mother says she doesn’t care
About the color of my hair
Or if my eyes are blue or brown
Or if my nose turns up or down.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

My mother says she doesn’t care
If I’m dark or if I’m fair
Or if I’m thin or if I’m fat.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

But if I cheat or tell a lie
Or do mean things to make folks cry,
Or if I’m rude or impolite
And do not try to do what’s right,
Then that really does matter.

It isn’t looks that makes one great.
It’s character that seals your fate.
It’s what you are within your heart you see,
That makes or mars your destiny.
And that really does matter.

When she does it in full-on-Annesley performance mode it is adorable. We’ll have to see if she puts all heart into it on Wednesday or not.

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potw: that really matters

Jan 20, 2014 by

This week our children are participating in the first annual iFamily Speech Festival. They participated for many years in the Cre-Act Speech Festival and when that wonderful school closed a few years ago, we really missed the fun and inspiration of the speech festival.

They have been busy memorizing their poems the past few weeks. Annesley is doing one of my favorite poems. Both her older sisters competed with this one when they were about her age and now it is her turn!

That Really Matters
Author Unknown

My mother says she doesn’t care
About the color of my hair
Or if my eyes are blue or brown
Or if my nose turns up or down.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

My mother says she doesn’t care
If I’m dark or if I’m fair
Or if I’m thin or if I’m fat.
She says she doesn’t care for things like that.
It really doesn’t matter.

But if I cheat or tell a lie
Or do mean things to make folks cry,
Or if I’m rude or impolite
And do not try to do what’s right,
Then that really does matter.

It isn’t looks that makes one great.
It’s character that seals your fate.
It’s what you are within your heart you see,
That makes or mars your destiny.
And that really does matter.

When she does it in full-on-Annesley performance mode it is adorable. We’ll have to see if she puts all heart into it on Wednesday or not.

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that ice is slippery

Jan 15, 2014 by

We are in the midst of a minor setback (Knock on wood. It WILL be minor. It WILL be minor!) and have had a more painful week than normal. On the way to church on Sunday I slipped on the ice. I didn’t fall and hit my head or anything serious. My legs just slid apart. Further and further and further.

And there was not a thing I could to stop them.

Richard finally came and rescued me when I was nearly in the splits and I thought I was okay, but I really wasn’t. We continued to church and my legs started doing all sorts of wonky things like jerking around and feeling like electricity was shooting up and down them. He brought me home and put me to bed for the rest of the day with my rice packs and I whimpered through the afternoon and night at the nerve freakouts shooting all over my body.

Monday I was still pretty sore, but I was able to be up and functioning with my children. Tuesday was more of the same…sore, but okayish. This morning was physical therapy. Jeremy took one look at me and knew something was wrong. He spent 45 minutes helping my adductors, psoas, IT band, and inguinal ligament calm down and get back to their correct locations. I have several torn muscles and it is going to take a bit before I can do my exercises again.

But the tingling is all gone and I think I’m going to continue on my seizure-free streak. Tomorrow will be the real test…a trip to Utah taking 80 of my favorite young people to see a play at HCT. Don’t worry…Sheri, Jen, and Heather will be with me and they are old pros at the whole passing out thing. Soooo, if it does happen, I will be in good hands. And in case you are wondering, I am not driving. I will be reclining in Jen’s fancy van in relative comfort while enjoying her brilliant mind and stimulating conversation.

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fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Jan 14, 2014 by

fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Annes and I started our FIAR adventure again this week. We took December off and just got into the swing of things with FIAR again. I wanted to read All The Places To Love, one of my all-time favorite books, but she chose Humphrey The Lost Whale

51LYLTyIZQL

This is the endearing, true story of a humpback whale who made a mistake and traveled under the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco Bay, and up the the Sacramento River in 1985. Scientists, the U.S. Coast Guard, and people from all over the world worked together to help Humphrey get back out to the deep waters of the ocean.

23179338_640

Miss Annes thoroughly enjoying this book. The whole time we were reading it she kept asking, “He doesn’t die does he? He makes it back to the ocean, right?” Today we talked about salt water vs. fresh water, the Golden Gate Bridge, blowholes, different types of bridges, whale sounds, and the maps in the book.

Great times with my little one – so grateful I have this time with her.

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fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Jan 14, 2014 by

fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Annes and I started our FIAR adventure again this week. We took December off and just got into the swing of things with FIAR again. I wanted to read All The Places To Love, one of my all-time favorite books, but she chose Humphrey The Lost Whale

51LYLTyIZQL

This is the endearing, true story of a humpback whale who made a mistake and traveled under the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco Bay, and up the the Sacramento River in 1985. Scientists, the U.S. Coast Guard, and people from all over the world worked together to help Humphrey get back out to the deep waters of the ocean.

23179338_640

Miss Annes thoroughly enjoying this book. The whole time we were reading it she kept asking, “He doesn’t die does he? He makes it back to the ocean, right?” Today we talked about salt water vs. fresh water, the Golden Gate Bridge, blowholes, different types of bridges, whale sounds, and the maps in the book.

Great times with my little one – so grateful I have this time with her.

read more

Related Posts

fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Jan 14, 2014 by

fiar: humphrey the lost whale

Annes and I started our FIAR adventure again this week. We took December off and just got into the swing of things with FIAR again. I wanted to read All The Places To Love, one of my all-time favorite books, but she chose Humphrey The Lost Whale

51LYLTyIZQL

This is the endearing, true story of a humpback whale who made a mistake and traveled under the Golden Gate Bridge, into San Francisco Bay, and up the the Sacramento River in 1985. Scientists, the U.S. Coast Guard, and people from all over the world worked together to help Humphrey get back out to the deep waters of the ocean.

23179338_640

Miss Annes thoroughly enjoying this book. The whole time we were reading it she kept asking, “He doesn’t die does he? He makes it back to the ocean, right?” Today we talked about salt water vs. fresh water, the Golden Gate Bridge, blowholes, different types of bridges, whale sounds, and the maps in the book.

Great times with my little one – so grateful I have this time with her.

read more

Related Posts

a new year of books

Jan 7, 2014 by

It is a new year which means more books on my nightstand to read, write, and discuss with my family, students, and book discussion group. I am swooning over all of these books and can’t wait to read them and gain all sorts of new insights into myself, human nature, courage, and how this world works.

Colloquia Books

January

I wanted to spend the month of December contemplating the life of the Savior and his role in my life so I selected The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for our first discussion of the year. My soul is hungry for the Savior and I want to spend this entire year (and the rest of my life!) drawing closer to Him. I especially love this music video because it demonstrates the real life changes that can occur when we follow the teachings of Jesus.

February

I am teaching a class for youth at iFamily and we will be reading, writing, and growing at breakneck speeds. We are reading nine books for Wake Up and Be AWESOME! and I decided to make my life easier by doing some of my WUBA books for my adult discussion group as well. A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. is one of those doubled-up books. I am thoroughly excited to learn more about this man who stood so boldly against the strongest organization on earth in his time.

March

Resolved: 13 Resolutions For LIFE by Orrin Woodward looks FANTASTIC! It is a personal manifesto to change, keep your word, do hard things, and make a difference in the world. I can’t wait till my copy comes so I can devour it! I need all the help I can get to make even the smallest changes in my life.

April

I am a huge Ender fan and have read both the Ender series and the Shadow series in the past. Our youth are reading Ender’s Shadow for WUBA and now the adults will read it as well. I am not a huge sci-fi reader, but some authors in that genre really tickle my fancy and Orson Scott Card is one of them. I also want to read Pastwatch, but it will have to wait for another year (or be read in all my spare time, haha!). If you do decide to buy Ender’s Shadow, you might want to check out the Shadow and Ender’s Game box sets because I don’t think you will be able to stop with just the first book in the series!

May

We are studying William Wilberforce in WUBA, so this is another double-up month. Statesman and Saint: The Principled Politics of William Wilberforce is full of inspiration to tenaciously hold on to our ideals and do whatever it takes to implement them in our lives. The last time I studied Wilberforce was when I was pregnant with Annesley and I fell so head over heels in love with him I wanted to name our child after him. Instead, I named her Annesley after Susannah Annesley Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, another one of my heroes. Wilberforce’s passionate fight for the ending of the British slave trade gives me hope for humanity.

June

One of the statesman we are studying in WUBA is C.S. Lewis, my favorite author of all time. His words have deeply impacted my life and have helped guide me as a disciple of Christ. We are going to read “Why I Am Not a Pacifist” in my youth class and read the entire Weight of Glory with the adults.

July

When I read an interview with Muhammed Awal Momen about his conversion to Christianity, I couldn’t wait to learn more about him. We are reading his book My Name Used To Be Muhammed with the hope of learning more about both Islam and Christianity and most importantly, the courage it takes to live according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

August

A few years ago we read Rolf and the Viking Bow and it was a huge hit with our adult readers and many of their children. Our family loved, loved, loved it and waited eagerly every night for family read-aloud time. This year we are reading another book by Allen French, The Red Keep, and I hope families will take the summer to savor a bit of history and adventure together.

September

My friend Becky told me about A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman (not the same Emily Freeman who wrote Written On Our Hearts) and it looks so delicious! It goes right along with my several years long theme to discover how I am a creator and become a purposeful creator who blesses the lives of others.

October

Becky also tipped me off to this gem of a book, Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. This review convinced me we needed to read it and learn the lessons of courage, teamwork, and inner reserve these men have to teach us.

I have never rowed. I have never read a rowing book that I can remember. If all stories about rowing were written like Daniel Brown’s fabulous multi-level biography, I would read every one of them. This is a wonderful account, told with such detail and precision that I sometimes felt as if I were in this tale. Mr. Brown totally sucked me into his adventure. These young men who rowed for the USA in the 1936 Olympics faced huge obstacles. It was the Depression. Many were dirt-poor. They came from a small (then) and nondescript town of Seattle. They could not have had more difficult problems thrown their way. But by taking every sliver of hope, and mixing in superb craftsmanship (from George Pocock), excellent coaching (Al Ulbrickson), and these nine perfectly attuned young men learning together……..the result was perfection. This is a true Team sport. I learned that. It is nice to learn something you never knew, but is common knowledge to an entire set of other people. If you want to read a great, true story of success, this will fit the bill in spades…..and you will understand rowing to boot.

The research is mostly based on primary resources, including interviews with some members who were still living as the book was pulled together. Family members did supply additional information to make this undertaking feel solid and well thought out.

Concepts from Daniel Brown to consider that are mixed into the story to teach all of us: 1) One of the fundamental challenges in rowing is that when any one member of a crew goes into a slump the entire crew goes with him. 2) There are certain laws of physics by which all crew coaches live and die. The speed of a racing shell is determined primarily by two factors: the power produced by the combined strokes of the oars, and the stroke rate, the number of strokes the crew takes each minute. 3) To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasn’t necessarily enough just to give your all from start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did not – that down in your core you still had something in reserve, something you had not yet shown. 4) The things that held them together–trust in one another, mutual respect, humility, fair play, watching out for one another–those were also part of what America meant to all of them. There are other great ideas to ponder in this epic almost 400 page, could-not-put-down story.

I am not giving away anything by telling you that they DO win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. It is HOW they did it that is so darn exciting. Even knowing the end result does not diminish this bigger than life adventure. This is a must read, period.

By Wayne Crenwelge VINE VOICE on May 5, 2013

November

How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence has been on my to-read list for a long time. Growing up in Wyoming, I often heard tales of Gerry Spence’s effective courtroom tactics and have been curious as to how he has been so successful in presenting his arguments. This book breaks down the art and science of communication into small skill sets that if implemented will help each of us learn to communicate more clearly, with less offense and more influence.

December

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a new book to me…another one of Becky’s recommendations. It is about a disfigured boy and how he learns to interact with the world and the world with him. On a more global level, it is about how each of us choose to interact with one another, how we choose to connect or disconnect with those who are different from ourselves. I can’t wait to take these lessons into my heart and become a more giving, loving, connected person.

Don’t those seem fun and inspiring! Over the past many months of injury and exhaustion I have often considered if I should give up my colloquia group, but after much pondering throughout the month of December I decided I need the intellectual stimulation these books provide and the subsequent discussions feed my soul in immeasurable ways. The relationships I have with the books we have read in the past eleven years are precious to me and have shaped and formed me in ways that I will always be grateful for. Just as precious are the dear friendships that have developed between members as we have discussed, debated, and grown together.

WUBA

My Wake Up and Be AWESOME class is also studying Patrick Henry, Abigail Adams, and John Brown. We are reading Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry by David J. Vaughan and studying his famous speech at the Virginia Convention in 1775. I wanted to read My Dearest Friend: The Letters of Abigail and John, but we decided it was too long for our youth to read when they already have so much on their plate and I decided I couldn’t squeeze any more reading time into my life to do it for the adult group, so we are going to read Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie Bober. Maybe next year I will get their letters read. Our John Brown book is Fiery Vision: The Life and Death of John Brown. I studied his Harper’s Ferry raid in detail in my AP History class 20+ years ago, but I never learned about his life as a father or community leader and I am excited to delve into those aspects of his life and how his abolitionist viewpoints developed into the guiding force of his life.

Our C.S. Lewis biograpy is from the same Leaders In Action series as the Luther, Henry, and Wilberforce books. Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry W. Glaspey will give us a broad overview of Lewis’ life and impact. We will finish out our semester with the Chaim Potok favorite, The Chosen. I am silly excited to tackle these books with some of my favorite youth!

Personal Reads

Our scripture study this year at church is the Old Testament and I am reading several books to go along with it. Written On Our Hearts by Emily Freeman is so, so good. I am savoring it and reading little bits of it each night before bed. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

“People often ask me why I love the Old Testament so fiercely. I always respond with the same answer. There will come a moment in your life when you or someone you love will struggle with a challenge so great you will wonder how you will make it through. In that moment you will long to better understand the Savior’s role as the Deliverer, and to do that you must go to the book of scripture that describes that role the best – the Old Testament…We live in a world that pleads for deliverance. We may not be called upon to cross the Red Sea, find ourselves thrown into a pit and left for dead, or face armies whose strength is far greater than ours. We may not be led into captivity, be compassed on every side by the enemy, or be called upon to testify knowing it might lead to our death. However, there will be days when we face danger, oppression, and injustice. There will be great obstacles in our way and times when we feel surrounded by those who are intent on destroying us. We will face evil, overwhelming health challenges or perhaps the captivity of sin. In these moments we must remember that, just as The Lord delivered the children of Israel, He has the power to deliver us from any trouble we must overcome in our life. He is, after all, the Great Deliverer.”

Doesn’t that make you want to read not only this book, but the Old Testament as well? Oh, how I love the lessons from Old Testament. They have connected all the dots for me in God’s great plan and have been a foundation of hope for me throughout my life. The stories of Enoch, Isaac, Gideon, Abigail, Jacob, Joseph, the Children of Israel, Jericho, David, and many others have taught me deep down in my soul that the God I believe in is more powerful than any other force and that with God all things, ALL THINGS are possible.

I am also reading 400 Questions and Answers about the Old Testament by Susan Easton Black and so far it is quite interesting. I love stocking my mind full of information, but right now my mind is full with my focus on healing. I knew I wasn’t up to doing a deep, detailed verse-by-verse study of the Old Testament right now and this book is the perfect way to fill my need for information without overwhelming me with hours and hours of study. Once again, by reading little tidbits once or twice a day and by the end of the year I will have learned quite a bit more about the ancient world.

I believe pretty firmly in reading the actual words of scripture to my children and we usually do, but I didn’t feel right about reading the Old Testament to Fisher and Annes. The thought of it overwhelmed me and I knew I wouldn’t last more than a few days in the effort. I wanted to bring the stories of the Old Testament alive for them and to help them love it as much as I do. So, instead of reading the OT to them, we are reading Illustrated Bible Stories for Latter-day Saints and the kids are eating it up. I promised them we would read two stories each morning, but inevitably we end up reading more – we are already past Noah & the Ark and we only started yesterday!

Fisher and Annesley were given Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims for Christmas from their grandparents and we are thoroughly enjoying it! I had never heard of this book as I don’t often (ever?) listen to Rush Limbaugh and I wasn’t quite sure what to think about reading a book from him to my children, but it is fabulous. Fisher and Annes beg for it every day and we are having wonderful discussions about the Church of England, having the courage to follow your own beliefs, leaving all you know to go to a new place, and what price is freedom worth. The time-travel aspect is super fun is bringing this time period alive for my little ones. Snuggling up with my boy with his head on my shoulder is the best part.

I hope some of these book pique your interest and you read them and share your thoughts with me! Also, what books are on your nightstand? What are you excited to read/study this year?

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a new year of books

Jan 7, 2014 by

It is a new year which means more books on my nightstand to read, write, and discuss with my family, students, and book discussion group. I am swooning over all of these books and can’t wait to read them and gain all sorts of new insights into myself, human nature, courage, and how this world works.

Colloquia Books

January

I wanted to spend the month of December contemplating the life of the Savior and his role in my life so I selected The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for our first discussion of the year. My soul is hungry for the Savior and I want to spend this entire year (and the rest of my life!) drawing closer to Him. I especially love this music video because it demonstrates the real life changes that can occur when we follow the teachings of Jesus.

February

I am teaching a class for youth at iFamily and we will be reading, writing, and growing at breakneck speeds. We are reading nine books for Wake Up and Be AWESOME! and I decided to make my life easier by doing some of my WUBA books for my adult discussion group as well. A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. is one of those doubled-up books. I am thoroughly excited to learn more about this man who stood so boldly against the strongest organization on earth in his time.

March

Resolved: 13 Resolutions For LIFE by Orrin Woodward looks FANTASTIC! It is a personal manifesto to change, keep your word, do hard things, and make a difference in the world. I can’t wait till my copy comes so I can devour it! I need all the help I can get to make even the smallest changes in my life.

April

I am a huge Ender fan and have read both the Ender series and the Shadow series in the past. Our youth are reading Ender’s Shadow for WUBA and now the adults will read it as well. I am not a huge sci-fi reader, but some authors in that genre really tickle my fancy and Orson Scott Card is one of them. I also want to read Pastwatch, but it will have to wait for another year (or be read in all my spare time, haha!). If you do decide to buy Ender’s Shadow, you might want to check out the Shadow and Ender’s Game box sets because I don’t think you will be able to stop with just the first book in the series!

May

We are studying William Wilberforce in WUBA, so this is another double-up month. Statesman and Saint: The Principled Politics of William Wilberforce is full of inspiration to tenaciously hold on to our ideals and do whatever it takes to implement them in our lives. The last time I studied Wilberforce was when I was pregnant with Annesley and I fell so head over heels in love with him I wanted to name our child after him. Instead, I named her Annesley after Susannah Annesley Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, another one of my heroes. Wilberforce’s passionate fight for the ending of the British slave trade gives me hope for humanity.

June

One of the statesman we are studying in WUBA is C.S. Lewis, my favorite author of all time. His words have deeply impacted my life and have helped guide me as a disciple of Christ. We are going to read “Why I Am Not a Pacifist” in my youth class and read the entire Weight of Glory with the adults.

July

When I read an interview with Muhammed Awal Momen about his conversion to Christianity, I couldn’t wait to learn more about him. We are reading his book My Name Used To Be Muhammed with the hope of learning more about both Islam and Christianity and most importantly, the courage it takes to live according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

August

A few years ago we read Rolf and the Viking Bow and it was a huge hit with our adult readers and many of their children. Our family loved, loved, loved it and waited eagerly every night for family read-aloud time. This year we are reading another book by Allen French, The Red Keep, and I hope families will take the summer to savor a bit of history and adventure together.

September

My friend Becky told me about A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman (not the same Emily Freeman who wrote Written On Our Hearts) and it looks so delicious! It goes right along with my several years long theme to discover how I am a creator and become a purposeful creator who blesses the lives of others.

October

Becky also tipped me off to this gem of a book, Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. This review convinced me we needed to read it and learn the lessons of courage, teamwork, and inner reserve these men have to teach us.

I have never rowed. I have never read a rowing book that I can remember. If all stories about rowing were written like Daniel Brown’s fabulous multi-level biography, I would read every one of them. This is a wonderful account, told with such detail and precision that I sometimes felt as if I were in this tale. Mr. Brown totally sucked me into his adventure. These young men who rowed for the USA in the 1936 Olympics faced huge obstacles. It was the Depression. Many were dirt-poor. They came from a small (then) and nondescript town of Seattle. They could not have had more difficult problems thrown their way. But by taking every sliver of hope, and mixing in superb craftsmanship (from George Pocock), excellent coaching (Al Ulbrickson), and these nine perfectly attuned young men learning together……..the result was perfection. This is a true Team sport. I learned that. It is nice to learn something you never knew, but is common knowledge to an entire set of other people. If you want to read a great, true story of success, this will fit the bill in spades…..and you will understand rowing to boot.

The research is mostly based on primary resources, including interviews with some members who were still living as the book was pulled together. Family members did supply additional information to make this undertaking feel solid and well thought out.

Concepts from Daniel Brown to consider that are mixed into the story to teach all of us: 1) One of the fundamental challenges in rowing is that when any one member of a crew goes into a slump the entire crew goes with him. 2) There are certain laws of physics by which all crew coaches live and die. The speed of a racing shell is determined primarily by two factors: the power produced by the combined strokes of the oars, and the stroke rate, the number of strokes the crew takes each minute. 3) To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasn’t necessarily enough just to give your all from start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did not – that down in your core you still had something in reserve, something you had not yet shown. 4) The things that held them together–trust in one another, mutual respect, humility, fair play, watching out for one another–those were also part of what America meant to all of them. There are other great ideas to ponder in this epic almost 400 page, could-not-put-down story.

I am not giving away anything by telling you that they DO win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. It is HOW they did it that is so darn exciting. Even knowing the end result does not diminish this bigger than life adventure. This is a must read, period.

By Wayne Crenwelge VINE VOICE on May 5, 2013

November

How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence has been on my to-read list for a long time. Growing up in Wyoming, I often heard tales of Gerry Spence’s effective courtroom tactics and have been curious as to how he has been so successful in presenting his arguments. This book breaks down the art and science of communication into small skill sets that if implemented will help each of us learn to communicate more clearly, with less offense and more influence.

December

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a new book to me…another one of Becky’s recommendations. It is about a disfigured boy and how he learns to interact with the world and the world with him. On a more global level, it is about how each of us choose to interact with one another, how we choose to connect or disconnect with those who are different from ourselves. I can’t wait to take these lessons into my heart and become a more giving, loving, connected person.

Don’t those seem fun and inspiring! Over the past many months of injury and exhaustion I have often considered if I should give up my colloquia group, but after much pondering throughout the month of December I decided I need the intellectual stimulation these books provide and the subsequent discussions feed my soul in immeasurable ways. The relationships I have with the books we have read in the past eleven years are precious to me and have shaped and formed me in ways that I will always be grateful for. Just as precious are the dear friendships that have developed between members as we have discussed, debated, and grown together.

WUBA

My Wake Up and Be AWESOME class is also studying Patrick Henry, Abigail Adams, and John Brown. We are reading Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry by David J. Vaughan and studying his famous speech at the Virginia Convention in 1775. I wanted to read My Dearest Friend: The Letters of Abigail and John, but we decided it was too long for our youth to read when they already have so much on their plate and I decided I couldn’t squeeze any more reading time into my life to do it for the adult group, so we are going to read Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie Bober. Maybe next year I will get their letters read. Our John Brown book is Fiery Vision: The Life and Death of John Brown. I studied his Harper’s Ferry raid in detail in my AP History class 20+ years ago, but I never learned about his life as a father or community leader and I am excited to delve into those aspects of his life and how his abolitionist viewpoints developed into the guiding force of his life.

Our C.S. Lewis biograpy is from the same Leaders In Action series as the Luther, Henry, and Wilberforce books. Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry W. Glaspey will give us a broad overview of Lewis’ life and impact. We will finish out our semester with the Chaim Potok favorite, The Chosen. I am silly excited to tackle these books with some of my favorite youth!

Personal Reads

Our scripture study this year at church is the Old Testament and I am reading several books to go along with it. Written On Our Hearts by Emily Freeman is so, so good. I am savoring it and reading little bits of it each night before bed. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

“People often ask me why I love the Old Testament so fiercely. I always respond with the same answer. There will come a moment in your life when you or someone you love will struggle with a challenge so great you will wonder how you will make it through. In that moment you will long to better understand the Savior’s role as the Deliverer, and to do that you must go to the book of scripture that describes that role the best – the Old Testament…We live in a world that pleads for deliverance. We may not be called upon to cross the Red Sea, find ourselves thrown into a pit and left for dead, or face armies whose strength is far greater than ours. We may not be led into captivity, be compassed on every side by the enemy, or be called upon to testify knowing it might lead to our death. However, there will be days when we face danger, oppression, and injustice. There will be great obstacles in our way and times when we feel surrounded by those who are intent on destroying us. We will face evil, overwhelming health challenges or perhaps the captivity of sin. In these moments we must remember that, just as The Lord delivered the children of Israel, He has the power to deliver us from any trouble we must overcome in our life. He is, after all, the Great Deliverer.”

Doesn’t that make you want to read not only this book, but the Old Testament as well? Oh, how I love the lessons from Old Testament. They have connected all the dots for me in God’s great plan and have been a foundation of hope for me throughout my life. The stories of Enoch, Isaac, Gideon, Abigail, Jacob, Joseph, the Children of Israel, Jericho, David, and many others have taught me deep down in my soul that the God I believe in is more powerful than any other force and that with God all things, ALL THINGS are possible.

I am also reading 400 Questions and Answers about the Old Testament by Susan Easton Black and so far it is quite interesting. I love stocking my mind full of information, but right now my mind is full with my focus on healing. I knew I wasn’t up to doing a deep, detailed verse-by-verse study of the Old Testament right now and this book is the perfect way to fill my need for information without overwhelming me with hours and hours of study. Once again, by reading little tidbits once or twice a day and by the end of the year I will have learned quite a bit more about the ancient world.

I believe pretty firmly in reading the actual words of scripture to my children and we usually do, but I didn’t feel right about reading the Old Testament to Fisher and Annes. The thought of it overwhelmed me and I knew I wouldn’t last more than a few days in the effort. I wanted to bring the stories of the Old Testament alive for them and to help them love it as much as I do. So, instead of reading the OT to them, we are reading Illustrated Bible Stories for Latter-day Saints and the kids are eating it up. I promised them we would read two stories each morning, but inevitably we end up reading more – we are already past Noah & the Ark and we only started yesterday!

Fisher and Annesley were given Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims for Christmas from their grandparents and we are thoroughly enjoying it! I had never heard of this book as I don’t often (ever?) listen to Rush Limbaugh and I wasn’t quite sure what to think about reading a book from him to my children, but it is fabulous. Fisher and Annes beg for it every day and we are having wonderful discussions about the Church of England, having the courage to follow your own beliefs, leaving all you know to go to a new place, and what price is freedom worth. The time-travel aspect is super fun is bringing this time period alive for my little ones. Snuggling up with my boy with his head on my shoulder is the best part.

I hope some of these book pique your interest and you read them and share your thoughts with me! Also, what books are on your nightstand? What are you excited to read/study this year?

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some new favorite books

Nov 12, 2013 by

some new favorite books

Enough hip, connective tissue, and passing out talk! Let’s talk books! Anyone who knows me at all knows I am book lover. We have found some fabulous gems at the library recently. Annesley and I are loving our FIAR books and yet, I haven’t taken the time to blog our adventures. Along with all the reading with the children, I am in the middle of choosing books for next year’s colloquia group and trying to make them all dovetail with the books I am reading for the scholar class I will be mentoring at iFamily next semester.

Here are some of our recent library finds. Alphasaurs is absolutely delightful! Each page sports a dinosaur made up of the first letter of its name.

Alphasaur-1

Scattered around the page are facts about the dinosaur’s size, weight, eating habits, and other behaviors. Fisher and Annesley love, love, love this book.

Alphasaur-11-444x500

It is definitely going to be one we purchase and we added the author’s other books, Bugs By The Numbers, and Alphabeasties to our wish list as well.

Fisher and Annes love this cute little book, Little Owl Lost.

9780763650223

It is a similar story to Are You My Mother, but the illustrations are much more adorable and have my kids giggling the whole way through.

5269667982_b23bfc42ac_z

The Circus Ship is super cute as well.

The-Circus-Ship

It is a rhyming story about a mean circus owner and his animals that escape his violent temper in a storm off the coast of Maine. They find refuge in the town and the townfolk hide the animals when he comes looking for them. The finding of the disguised animals is fun, especially for Annesley. She cracks up every time she sees the monkey in the baby carriage.

the-circus-ship-hidden-animals

I have been mentoring a WWII class this fall. It has been loads of work and loads of fun. Some of the fun has been learning more about the stories of men and women who did what had to be done. We Die Alone is fabulous!

WeDieAlone

I am not done with it yet, but I am amazed at the human spirit. We have more courage than we know.

My co-mentor, Jenn, read Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon in preparation for her lecture on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and she has been raving about it. It is definitely on my must-read list.

Bomb

Last night we discussed the story of Tito Momen, a man who was imprisoned for 15 years in Cairo for converting from Islam to Christianity. We read this fascinating news article and are looking forward to reading his book, My Name Used To Be Mohammed.

tito_detail

We discussed taking Christ’s name upon us and how that doesn’t always look the same in different parts of the world and different eras of time. We talked about having enough conviction of your Savior to be willing to give up your whole world and even your life if state publicly that you believe in Him. Doesn’t the book sound amazing? I definitely want to read this one in my adult book discussion group.

In my scholar class next semester we are studying John Brown, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, and we would like to study a great woman, but don’t have her selected yet. We need to read one biography and study one document about each of these people. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for my adult group? I have an eensy-weensy amount of time to get all twelve books selected for next year and I want them to be powerful, inspiring, though-provoking reads.

read more

Related Posts

some new favorite books

Nov 12, 2013 by

some new favorite books

Enough hip, connective tissue, and passing out talk! Let’s talk books! Anyone who knows me at all knows I am book lover. We have found some fabulous gems at the library recently. Annesley and I are loving our FIAR books and yet, I haven’t taken the time to blog our adventures. Along with all the reading with the children, I am in the middle of choosing books for next year’s colloquia group and trying to make them all dovetail with the books I am reading for the scholar class I will be mentoring at iFamily next semester.

Here are some of our recent library finds. Alphasaurs is absolutely delightful! Each page sports a dinosaur made up of the first letter of its name.

Alphasaur-1

Scattered around the page are facts about the dinosaur’s size, weight, eating habits, and other behaviors. Fisher and Annesley love, love, love this book.

Alphasaur-11-444x500

It is definitely going to be one we purchase and we added the author’s other books, Bugs By The Numbers, and Alphabeasties to our wish list as well.

Fisher and Annes love this cute little book, Little Owl Lost.

9780763650223

It is a similar story to Are You My Mother, but the illustrations are much more adorable and have my kids giggling the whole way through.

5269667982_b23bfc42ac_z

The Circus Ship is super cute as well.

The-Circus-Ship

It is a rhyming story about a mean circus owner and his animals that escape his violent temper in a storm off the coast of Maine. They find refuge in the town and the townfolk hide the animals when he comes looking for them. The finding of the disguised animals is fun, especially for Annesley. She cracks up every time she sees the monkey in the baby carriage.

the-circus-ship-hidden-animals

I have been mentoring a WWII class this fall. It has been loads of work and loads of fun. Some of the fun has been learning more about the stories of men and women who did what had to be done. We Die Alone is fabulous!

WeDieAlone

I am not done with it yet, but I am amazed at the human spirit. We have more courage than we know.

My co-mentor, Jenn, read Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon in preparation for her lecture on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and she has been raving about it. It is definitely on my must-read list.

Bomb

Last night we discussed the story of Tito Momen, a man who was imprisoned for 15 years in Cairo for converting from Islam to Christianity. We read this fascinating news article and are looking forward to reading his book, My Name Used To Be Mohammed.

tito_detail

We discussed taking Christ’s name upon us and how that doesn’t always look the same in different parts of the world and different eras of time. We talked about having enough conviction of your Savior to be willing to give up your whole world and even your life if state publicly that you believe in Him. Doesn’t the book sound amazing? I definitely want to read this one in my adult book discussion group.

In my scholar class next semester we are studying John Brown, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, and we would like to study a great woman, but don’t have her selected yet. We need to read one biography and study one document about each of these people. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for my adult group? I have an eensy-weensy amount of time to get all twelve books selected for next year and I want them to be powerful, inspiring, though-provoking reads.

read more

Related Posts

some new favorite books

Nov 12, 2013 by

some new favorite books

Enough hip, connective tissue, and passing out talk! Let’s talk books! Anyone who knows me at all knows I am book lover. We have found some fabulous gems at the library recently. Annesley and I are loving our FIAR books and yet, I haven’t taken the time to blog our adventures. Along with all the reading with the children, I am in the middle of choosing books for next year’s colloquia group and trying to make them all dovetail with the books I am reading for the scholar class I will be mentoring at iFamily next semester.

Here are some of our recent library finds. Alphasaurs is absolutely delightful! Each page sports a dinosaur made up of the first letter of its name.

Alphasaur-1

Scattered around the page are facts about the dinosaur’s size, weight, eating habits, and other behaviors. Fisher and Annesley love, love, love this book.

Alphasaur-11-444x500

It is definitely going to be one we purchase and we added the author’s other books, Bugs By The Numbers, and Alphabeasties to our wish list as well.

Fisher and Annes love this cute little book, Little Owl Lost.

9780763650223

It is a similar story to Are You My Mother, but the illustrations are much more adorable and have my kids giggling the whole way through.

5269667982_b23bfc42ac_z

The Circus Ship is super cute as well.

The-Circus-Ship

It is a rhyming story about a mean circus owner and his animals that escape his violent temper in a storm off the coast of Maine. They find refuge in the town and the townfolk hide the animals when he comes looking for them. The finding of the disguised animals is fun, especially for Annesley. She cracks up every time she sees the monkey in the baby carriage.

the-circus-ship-hidden-animals

I have been mentoring a WWII class this fall. It has been loads of work and loads of fun. Some of the fun has been learning more about the stories of men and women who did what had to be done. We Die Alone is fabulous!

WeDieAlone

I am not done with it yet, but I am amazed at the human spirit. We have more courage than we know.

My co-mentor, Jenn, read Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon in preparation for her lecture on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and she has been raving about it. It is definitely on my must-read list.

Bomb

Last night we discussed the story of Tito Momen, a man who was imprisoned for 15 years in Cairo for converting from Islam to Christianity. We read this fascinating news article and are looking forward to reading his book, My Name Used To Be Mohammed.

tito_detail

We discussed taking Christ’s name upon us and how that doesn’t always look the same in different parts of the world and different eras of time. We talked about having enough conviction of your Savior to be willing to give up your whole world and even your life if state publicly that you believe in Him. Doesn’t the book sound amazing? I definitely want to read this one in my adult book discussion group.

In my scholar class next semester we are studying John Brown, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, and we would like to study a great woman, but don’t have her selected yet. We need to read one biography and study one document about each of these people. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for my adult group? I have an eensy-weensy amount of time to get all twelve books selected for next year and I want them to be powerful, inspiring, though-provoking reads.

read more

Related Posts

some new favorite books

Nov 12, 2013 by

some new favorite books

Enough hip, connective tissue, and passing out talk! Let’s talk books! Anyone who knows me at all knows I am book lover. We have found some fabulous gems at the library recently. Annesley and I are loving our FIAR books and yet, I haven’t taken the time to blog our adventures. Along with all the reading with the children, I am in the middle of choosing books for next year’s colloquia group and trying to make them all dovetail with the books I am reading for the scholar class I will be mentoring at iFamily next semester.

Here are some of our recent library finds. Alphasaurs is absolutely delightful! Each page sports a dinosaur made up of the first letter of its name.

Alphasaur-1

Scattered around the page are facts about the dinosaur’s size, weight, eating habits, and other behaviors. Fisher and Annesley love, love, love this book.

Alphasaur-11-444x500

It is definitely going to be one we purchase and we added the author’s other books, Bugs By The Numbers, and Alphabeasties to our wish list as well.

Fisher and Annes love this cute little book, Little Owl Lost.

9780763650223

It is a similar story to Are You My Mother, but the illustrations are much more adorable and have my kids giggling the whole way through.

5269667982_b23bfc42ac_z

The Circus Ship is super cute as well.

The-Circus-Ship

It is a rhyming story about a mean circus owner and his animals that escape his violent temper in a storm off the coast of Maine. They find refuge in the town and the townfolk hide the animals when he comes looking for them. The finding of the disguised animals is fun, especially for Annesley. She cracks up every time she sees the monkey in the baby carriage.

the-circus-ship-hidden-animals

I have been mentoring a WWII class this fall. It has been loads of work and loads of fun. Some of the fun has been learning more about the stories of men and women who did what had to be done. We Die Alone is fabulous!

WeDieAlone

I am not done with it yet, but I am amazed at the human spirit. We have more courage than we know.

My co-mentor, Jenn, read Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon in preparation for her lecture on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and she has been raving about it. It is definitely on my must-read list.

Bomb

Last night we discussed the story of Tito Momen, a man who was imprisoned for 15 years in Cairo for converting from Islam to Christianity. We read this fascinating news article and are looking forward to reading his book, My Name Used To Be Mohammed.

tito_detail

We discussed taking Christ’s name upon us and how that doesn’t always look the same in different parts of the world and different eras of time. We talked about having enough conviction of your Savior to be willing to give up your whole world and even your life if state publicly that you believe in Him. Doesn’t the book sound amazing? I definitely want to read this one in my adult book discussion group.

In my scholar class next semester we are studying John Brown, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, and we would like to study a great woman, but don’t have her selected yet. We need to read one biography and study one document about each of these people. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Any suggestions for my adult group? I have an eensy-weensy amount of time to get all twelve books selected for next year and I want them to be powerful, inspiring, though-provoking reads.

read more

Related Posts

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Sep 16, 2013 by

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Perfect-Square We checked this book out from the library and love it! The Perfect Square is a delightful little book full clever captions, and lovely artwork by Michael Hall. It is about a square who is taken apart in a different way each day of the week. After he is cut up, ripped apart, or shattered, he makes himself into something new. So fun! This week we are going to cut up our own squares and make them into the objects in the book and probably some objects of our own creations as well.

Perfect Square 07a

“But on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn’t perfectly square anymore.”

On the next page, these pieces are turned into a fountain with all the holes making the bubbles. So, so darling. One day the pieces make a river, another a bridge, another a mountain. It is brilliant and has got the wheels turning in my two little ones minds. I can’t wait to see what they create!

read more

Related Posts

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Sep 16, 2013 by

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Perfect-Square We checked this book out from the library and love it! The Perfect Square is a delightful little book full clever captions, and lovely artwork by Michael Hall. It is about a square who is taken apart in a different way each day of the week. After he is cut up, ripped apart, or shattered, he makes himself into something new. So fun! This week we are going to cut up our own squares and make them into the objects in the book and probably some objects of our own creations as well.

Perfect Square 07a

“But on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn’t perfectly square anymore.”

On the next page, these pieces are turned into a fountain with all the holes making the bubbles. So, so darling. One day the pieces make a river, another a bridge, another a mountain. It is brilliant and has got the wheels turning in my two little ones minds. I can’t wait to see what they create!

read more

Related Posts

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Sep 16, 2013 by

book bonanzas: the perfect square

Perfect-Square We checked this book out from the library and love it! The Perfect Square is a delightful little book full clever captions, and lovely artwork by Michael Hall. It is about a square who is taken apart in a different way each day of the week. After he is cut up, ripped apart, or shattered, he makes himself into something new. So fun! This week we are going to cut up our own squares and make them into the objects in the book and probably some objects of our own creations as well.

Perfect Square 07a

“But on Monday, the square was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn’t perfectly square anymore.”

On the next page, these pieces are turned into a fountain with all the holes making the bubbles. So, so darling. One day the pieces make a river, another a bridge, another a mountain. It is brilliant and has got the wheels turning in my two little ones minds. I can’t wait to see what they create!

read more

Related Posts

first day success

Sep 9, 2013 by

Oh my goodness! May I just shout Hallelujah!! For the past several months I have been tossing ideas around in my mind for our homeschool journey this year. I haven’t known how to schedule myself to meet the needs of my children, how to coordinate all our activities, and most importantly, how to make this year come alive with inspiration. The last two years of homeschooling have been bare minimum affairs. I have been struggling so much with my health that our days have been stuck in survival mode – doctor’s appointments, lots of resting, no extra funds, simple meals, and simple homeschooling days with math, reading, history, spelling, and religious studies…not a whole lot of fun and not a whole lot of my passion was shared with my babies.

But I am ready to thrive again. I am ready to inspire my children and reignite their passion for learning. So I have pondered. A lot. But the answers haven’t really come.

Until now.

Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon finalizing (ha-ha, is anything ever really final?) our schedule of learning, housework, and activities and came up with a pretty good routine. I presented everything at family council last night and we made a commitment to be up bright and early today to get our first day of school off on the right foot.

And we did.

Keziah did a wonderful job in her new role as breakfast maker and then we cleaned from 8:00 – 9:00 and started our learning time just a few minutes late at 9:07. Pretty good, eh? We had prayer and then I dismissed Blythe and Kez to their studies.

As soon as singing time started, I had a burst of inspiration hit me! This is what I need to shout Hallelujah about. Annesley chose the song “Holding Hands Around The World” and as we sang the first verse my mind was flooded with ideas…we could use this song as our theme for the year! We could focus on the ideas of being heroes for Christ, of joining with other people to make a difference in the world, of being willing to testify of truth at all times and in all places, of learning about people all over the world who have lived, and possibly died, for their beliefs. We can tie in the people we are learning about in World War II for my scholar class at iFamily and the people during the Revolution that Keziah is studying in Key of Liberty. We can bring out my long neglected Hero Tales about people all over the world who have heroically lived for the cause of Christianity. We could focus on the idea of building bridges with others through kindness, respect, listening, and serving so they will want to hold hands with us. I could help my children see they are not alone. There are people, millions of people of many different cultures and religious beliefs who are doing good things in this world and we can be part of that group. We can develop our talents to make a difference in this world. We can live and love and serve. We can be courageous heroes holding hands with others across the earth in living for truth. So many ideas!

As soon as our song was over I jumped up and my New Testament art kit and shared the story of The Ten Lepers. We talked about how Christ has the power to heal. We talked about character and what it means to stand for something. We talked about gratitude and how important it is to thank those who help us and especially to thank God for his blessings on us individually and as a family. Then I grabbed Hero Tales volume 1 and read the first story to them. It happened to be about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my favorite men, from World War II. I told them about Hitler and Nazism and the goal of taking over the world. Then I shared the story of Dietrich and how he stood up to Hitler and was imprisoned and eventually hung for teaching that following Hitler was evil and idolatrous. What a wonderful discussion! Fisher and Annesley didn’t know about Hitler and I made it super simple and not horribly frightening to them and they were enthralled with Dietrich’s story of courage.

Then I shared our poem for the week…already picked out AND it went perfectly with this new flood of ideas.

Then I read My Side of The Mountain to them. Fisher and I had started it months ago and then put it down for awhile. The other day he saw it and asked for me to finish it with him, so we restarted it again today while Annesley played on the floor with her Balancing Moon. Then I worked with Kez on her math while Fisher and Annes continued with the moon game.

When I was done working with Keziah, I asked Fisher to read to me. Sometimes he hates reading to me and it looked like this would be one of those days. He was begging to only read four pages, but he fell in love with his newest early reading book and read all the way to page 49! Then we did our Life of Fred chapter and several pages in his Miquon book. By this point he insisted he was done with math for the day and was ready to play a game with me. What did he pick? A math game! Sequence Numbers is one of his favorite games, so we got to drill math facts for another twenty minutes without him even batting an eye. He cracks me up. If learning looks even remotely like a game, he is all over it. If it looks like study, he is super resistant. It reminds me of Andrew Pudewa’s talk Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Build Forts All Day. Then Annesley wanted to pick a game and she chose a math game as well…Add to Ten Memory Match. After the games were done we read some books from the library bin. Then they went outside and husked corn for lunch.

Great first day!

After lunch I was able to study for a solid 90 minutes before I had to run children to their afternoon activities. Now I need to run and make dinner…and get my wheels spinning for this new theme idea. I am SO excited about it!

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porcupine quills

Aug 29, 2013 by

After a long week of repeatedly feeling irritated, grumptastic, and lashing out at people, I have decided a few things. I am a giant ball of crabbiness. I am not morbidly depressed, I am not even a little depressed – no, I am up to my eyeballs in AAAARRRRGGGHHHH. I need Jessica’s porcupine to illustrate this post. Maybe I should order a hundred of them and hand them out to all my loved ones who are getting poked with my quills.

This morning as my dear sweetie listened to me apologize yet again for my grumpiness, he gave me his cute little smile, a kiss on my nose, and these words of wisdom.

“Trace, it is okay. You cannot do what you want to do. You cannot do what you feel you need to be doing to run this home and mother our children. You are in pain and it is wearing you down. It is okay. I love you. Our children love you. God loves you. I think you are doing great. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have a long list of things to do and not be able to do them because your foot hurts too badly. I don’t see how you have kept your chin up for so long. You have been in pain for a long, long time and it is okay if you are grumpy.”

Pretty darn sweet, eh? Also pretty undeserved because really I am one prickly pear lately. But his words have been swirling around in my head today, replaying, being torn apart and put back together, and I have realized a few things.

I have been in significant amounts of pain since mid-April 2011. We are almost at 2 1/2 years of pain. There is one small window from about December 2011 – February 2012 where I was feeling great. The breast lump pain was finally gone and the hip pain hadn’t started. I took up running and early morning strength training. I had a fairly clean house and a fairly good system for keeping it that way. I felt on top of things. And then my hip was injured and it has all been downhill since then.

Sure, I can beat myself up (and believe me, I have been giving myself some good undercuts to the chin) every time I feel irritated with one of my precious children or impatiently respond to them. But this afternoon, I am trying to give myself some love. I am trying to let my logical mind convince my guilt-ridden heart that I am dealing with a lot and I should give myself a break.

I can’t umph my way through this. The pain is too much. I can’t stay on my foot for very long and when it is done for the day, I have to stay completely off it till it is rested. I can’t heal it and I can’t overcome it. I have to live with it. I have to modify my life to cater to my body’s needs. And that is hard. On the days my hip is flared up, I can’t walk hardly at all. It is almost too much to just go to the bathroom. But people don’t see that part of it. They only see me when I am up. When I am dressed. When the pain is manageable. So, it seems I am doing okay. And some days I am okay, not great, but okay. But often, I am not okay. Often I am covered in ice packs and moaning in bed. Often I cannot think straight enough to find the right words (Kat says she always knows when I am hurting a lot because I cannot utilize my normal vocabulary). Often I cannot sleep because my shoulder or elbow or ribs are dislocated. Often I want to scream.

I am an exuberant, joyful person and I have a huge smile on my face most of the time, but truth be told, it is getting harder and harder for that smile to stay there. It doesn’t leap to my face like it used to – drawing the world in and radiating my love. There is a reticence that I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I look at the wrinkles etched deep into my face and I think, “those are from the last 18 months of pain” – for I have aged over the course of this injury. I no longer look like a young lass. I have a plethora of white hairs. I am worn out. I feel beaten down. It is hard to stay positive when I am continually wincing. How did my grandmother do it? How did she keep smiling and loving and laughing when she was in pain?

I have decided to reimmerse myself in my core books of scripture and my relationship with God. I need to spend time every day drinking in truth and hope and love from my Savior. I need to spend more time listening to Him and learning from Him. So, on tap for me is morning scripture study and a dedicated prayer session. All alone. Well, not all alone, just me and God talking together without the distractions of people.

Another decision is to focus on really giving my children my heart during our learning time and not letting myself be distracted by my to-do list. As we are getting ready to start our fall schedule in a few days, I have been pondering how I want our days to flow. A big part of the flowing is my fully-present heart and the softness in my eyes and the gentle excitement in my voice and the magic of a mom and child learning together.

Pain is wearing me down, but it hasn’t beat me. I still have trust. I still have hope. I still have love…all mushed together with some grumpiness…but that is okay, I am going to try to increase the love I am sending out, the gratitude I let my thoughts marinate in, and the words of truth I take in from The Lord. Maybe then the grumpiness will dissipate?

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trying to get ready for fall

Aug 22, 2013 by

trying to get ready for fall

Miss Cutie-Patootie went to a birthday party last week and wanted to wear something super-cute from her new stack of hand-me-down clothes. Then she asked me to take pictures…she is so funny! She loves her picture being taken.

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Are you all busy with back-to-school shopping? We sure have been. My Fisher has grown like a weed this summer and all his pants are 2-4 inches too short. A few days ago I hit the thrift store in town and got him a whole new wardrobe of shirts for about $2 a piece, some new gym pants, and two lovely sweaters. I still need to find him some jeans, khakis, and a new church suit, but it seems the thrift store pants for boys are pretty worn out by the time they get there.

We are also stocking up on our favorite composition notebooks, pens & pencils, our FIAR (Five-In-A-Row) books for the year, lots of WWII books for my upcoming Hero Project class, Shakespeare stuff for Keziah, and getting the school room ready for our learning adventures. It is a lot of work, but oh, so much fun to get everything organized for a new year and to watch my children pour over their supplies.

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book bonanza: the giraffe that walked to paris

Jul 2, 2013 by

book bonanza: the giraffe that walked to paris

Oh my goodness! Guess what just arrived at my house?

The Giraffe That Walked To Paris!

Yes! You heard (read?) me right! It is back in print! After years and years and years of being out-of-print and being impossible to find for under $100, it was reissued on June 21 and is now available for a mere $13! This is one of our favorite books and is used in the FIAR Vokume 2 Literature Guide that I am using this next school year with Annesley. Miss Annes and I are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves!

If you have not heard of this delightful book, here is a review:

In an attempt to improve relations between Egypt and France, who were on opposite sides of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, the pasha of Egypt presented King Charles X with a giraffe, the first in Europe in over three centuries. But in the days before aircraft, how do you send a large, ungainly animal such a long way? The answer is depicted in this book–a sea : voyage to Marseilles, and then a six-week march to Paris. The brief text is written in a chatty style that deals effectively with the logistics of the move and its historical underpinnings. It also includes details that will appeal to young readers: the custom-made giraffe raincoat necessitated by France’s cooler climate, the need for a cow in the entourage to provide La Girafe’s daily rations, the unusual way a giraffe moves its legs in walking. The illustrations are attractive pastel cartoons and one full-color photograph of the giraffe’s stuffed remains, still on display at La Rochelle. The book concludes with a historical note briefly outlining the background of the story. A charming illumination of one of history’s more obscure footnotes. –Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada

We love checking books out from the library as it is always an adventure to go and find new treasures, but for our FIAR books I really like to own them and be able to pick them up at any time without having to make a library trip. This year I am attempting to collect all the Volume 2 books and put them on our kitchen bookshelf so Annesley can keep them all together all year long on her very own special shelf.

I am also considering doing Beyond FIAR with Fisher this fall. Have any of you used this? If so, what was your experience like?

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book bonanza: the giraffe that walked to paris

Jul 2, 2013 by

book bonanza: the giraffe that walked to paris

Oh my goodness! Guess what just arrived at my house?

The Giraffe That Walked To Paris!

Yes! You heard (read?) me right! It is back in print! After years and years and years of being out-of-print and being impossible to find for under $100, it was reissued on June 21 and is now available for a mere $13! This is one of our favorite books and is used in the FIAR Vokume 2 Literature Guide that I am using this next school year with Annesley. Miss Annes and I are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves!

If you have not heard of this delightful book, here is a review:

In an attempt to improve relations between Egypt and France, who were on opposite sides of the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, the pasha of Egypt presented King Charles X with a giraffe, the first in Europe in over three centuries. But in the days before aircraft, how do you send a large, ungainly animal such a long way? The answer is depicted in this book–a sea : voyage to Marseilles, and then a six-week march to Paris. The brief text is written in a chatty style that deals effectively with the logistics of the move and its historical underpinnings. It also includes details that will appeal to young readers: the custom-made giraffe raincoat necessitated by France’s cooler climate, the need for a cow in the entourage to provide La Girafe’s daily rations, the unusual way a giraffe moves its legs in walking. The illustrations are attractive pastel cartoons and one full-color photograph of the giraffe’s stuffed remains, still on display at La Rochelle. The book concludes with a historical note briefly outlining the background of the story. A charming illumination of one of history’s more obscure footnotes. –Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada

We love checking books out from the library as it is always an adventure to go and find new treasures, but for our FIAR books I really like to own them and be able to pick them up at any time without having to make a library trip. This year I am attempting to collect all the Volume 2 books and put them on our kitchen bookshelf so Annesley can keep them all together all year long on her very own special shelf.

I am also considering doing Beyond FIAR with Fisher this fall. Have any of you used this? If so, what was your experience like?

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june’s book gems

Jun 11, 2013 by

Ack! I still haven’t posted about Annesley’s first lost tooth, our hike at Cress Creek, or our swimming adventure and now it is time for me to be off again. Tomorrow I am taking Blythe to Present Yourself, a class on learning impactful public speaking and mastering one’s body language. She earned a free ticket back in November by writing an awesome essay about her mission in life.

Before I go though, I wanted to share a few of our newest book finds!

The Serpent Came To Gloucester is so fun! The entire book is written as a poem and reading it out loud to Fisher this morning was a treat. I could read it all day! It is a long, meandering poem told from the perspective of a little boy who wants the sea serpent to live and frolic while his fellow townsfolk hunted it across the sea. Fisher identified immediately with the little boy and kept hoping the sea serpent would escape.

By the way, after his itsy-bitsy snake he adopted at Swim Camp escaped, he found a new one in our yard a few days ago. It is about five times as big and he loves it with all his bug-loving heart. We even found him sleeping with it in his sleeping bag! Thank goodness he was outside! I don’t think this boy is scared of any creature out there. He is sure he can tame them and make them his friend.

We are huge Anno fans over here and Anno’s Alphabet is one of our latest delights. If you are looking for a new spin on the old alphabet book, here are some we are reading with Annes right now. The City ABC Book is full of pictures of big city objects that have letter shapes in them. It is super fun to see my little one’s eyes light up when they spot the elusive letters. ABC Bunny is a treasure from 1933! It looks just like a vintage book should and is written in a sing-songy prose that is quite lovely. My children love the nature pictures and I love the unique story they tell.

Last but not least, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket is a gem. I am not a Series of Unfortunate Events fan, but The Conductor is Dead and now 13 Words has made me rethink my first impression of this author. This book is built on the foundation of thirteen words (bird, despondent, cake, dog, busy, convertible, goat, hat, haberdashy, scarlet, baby, panache, and mezzo-soprano) and the magic is in how they are brought together to develop an entire story. The vocabulary and humor are simply delectable!

As for our family read-aloud we are still plugging away on Freckles. Papa, Mama, Blythe, and Fisher are loving it. Keziah and Annes, not so much. I am on the lookout for our next read-aloud. Please share your suggestions for a great story sure to be loved by children from 17 – 5.

Richard and I are on a World War II kick. I am reading The Longest Day and have to force myself to stop reading and get some sleep each night. The story of D-Day has always fascinated me and this collection of eyewitness accounts is superb. If you have any interest in WWII, pick this one up! Richard is reading Unexplained Mysteries of World War II and is always surprising me with amazing anecdotes and little-known facts.

I think I need to hook up a hammock so I can spend the hot afternoons lazing around in the shade of my yard reading a book and napping. That, my friends, is something I dream of often – I think it is time to make it happen.

Happy Reading!

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june’s book gems

Jun 11, 2013 by

Ack! I still haven’t posted about Annesley’s first lost tooth, our hike at Cress Creek, or our swimming adventure and now it is time for me to be off again. Tomorrow I am taking Blythe to Present Yourself, a class on learning impactful public speaking and mastering one’s body language. She earned a free ticket back in November by writing an awesome essay about her mission in life.

Before I go though, I wanted to share a few of our newest book finds!

The Serpent Came To Gloucester is so fun! The entire book is written as a poem and reading it out loud to Fisher this morning was a treat. I could read it all day! It is a long, meandering poem told from the perspective of a little boy who wants the sea serpent to live and frolic while his fellow townsfolk hunted it across the sea. Fisher identified immediately with the little boy and kept hoping the sea serpent would escape.

By the way, after his itsy-bitsy snake he adopted at Swim Camp escaped, he found a new one in our yard a few days ago. It is about five times as big and he loves it with all his bug-loving heart. We even found him sleeping with it in his sleeping bag! Thank goodness he was outside! I don’t think this boy is scared of any creature out there. He is sure he can tame them and make them his friend.

We are huge Anno fans over here and Anno’s Alphabet is one of our latest delights. If you are looking for a new spin on the old alphabet book, here are some we are reading with Annes right now. The City ABC Book is full of pictures of big city objects that have letter shapes in them. It is super fun to see my little one’s eyes light up when they spot the elusive letters. ABC Bunny is a treasure from 1933! It looks just like a vintage book should and is written in a sing-songy prose that is quite lovely. My children love the nature pictures and I love the unique story they tell.

Last but not least, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket is a gem. I am not a Series of Unfortunate Events fan, but The Conductor is Dead and now 13 Words has made me rethink my first impression of this author. This book is built on the foundation of thirteen words (bird, despondent, cake, dog, busy, convertible, goat, hat, haberdashy, scarlet, baby, panache, and mezzo-soprano) and the magic is in how they are brought together to develop an entire story. The vocabulary and humor are simply delectable!

As for our family read-aloud we are still plugging away on Freckles. Papa, Mama, Blythe, and Fisher are loving it. Keziah and Annes, not so much. I am on the lookout for our next read-aloud. Please share your suggestions for a great story sure to be loved by children from 17 – 5.

Richard and I are on a World War II kick. I am reading The Longest Day and have to force myself to stop reading and get some sleep each night. The story of D-Day has always fascinated me and this collection of eyewitness accounts is superb. If you have any interest in WWII, pick this one up! Richard is reading Unexplained Mysteries of World War II and is always surprising me with amazing anecdotes and little-known facts.

I think I need to hook up a hammock so I can spend the hot afternoons lazing around in the shade of my yard reading a book and napping. That, my friends, is something I dream of often – I think it is time to make it happen.

Happy Reading!

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june’s book gems

Jun 11, 2013 by

Ack! I still haven’t posted about Annesley’s first lost tooth, our hike at Cress Creek, or our swimming adventure and now it is time for me to be off again. Tomorrow I am taking Blythe to Present Yourself, a class on learning impactful public speaking and mastering one’s body language. She earned a free ticket back in November by writing an awesome essay about her mission in life.

Before I go though, I wanted to share a few of our newest book finds!

The Serpent Came To Gloucester is so fun! The entire book is written as a poem and reading it out loud to Fisher this morning was a treat. I could read it all day! It is a long, meandering poem told from the perspective of a little boy who wants the sea serpent to live and frolic while his fellow townsfolk hunted it across the sea. Fisher identified immediately with the little boy and kept hoping the sea serpent would escape.

By the way, after his itsy-bitsy snake he adopted at Swim Camp escaped, he found a new one in our yard a few days ago. It is about five times as big and he loves it with all his bug-loving heart. We even found him sleeping with it in his sleeping bag! Thank goodness he was outside! I don’t think this boy is scared of any creature out there. He is sure he can tame them and make them his friend.

We are huge Anno fans over here and Anno’s Alphabet is one of our latest delights. If you are looking for a new spin on the old alphabet book, here are some we are reading with Annes right now. The City ABC Book is full of pictures of big city objects that have letter shapes in them. It is super fun to see my little one’s eyes light up when they spot the elusive letters. ABC Bunny is a treasure from 1933! It looks just like a vintage book should and is written in a sing-songy prose that is quite lovely. My children love the nature pictures and I love the unique story they tell.

Last but not least, 13 Words by Lemony Snicket is a gem. I am not a Series of Unfortunate Events fan, but The Conductor is Dead and now 13 Words has made me rethink my first impression of this author. This book is built on the foundation of thirteen words (bird, despondent, cake, dog, busy, convertible, goat, hat, haberdashy, scarlet, baby, panache, and mezzo-soprano) and the magic is in how they are brought together to develop an entire story. The vocabulary and humor are simply delectable!

As for our family read-aloud we are still plugging away on Freckles. Papa, Mama, Blythe, and Fisher are loving it. Keziah and Annes, not so much. I am on the lookout for our next read-aloud. Please share your suggestions for a great story sure to be loved by children from 17 – 5.

Richard and I are on a World War II kick. I am reading The Longest Day and have to force myself to stop reading and get some sleep each night. The story of D-Day has always fascinated me and this collection of eyewitness accounts is superb. If you have any interest in WWII, pick this one up! Richard is reading Unexplained Mysteries of World War II and is always surprising me with amazing anecdotes and little-known facts.

I think I need to hook up a hammock so I can spend the hot afternoons lazing around in the shade of my yard reading a book and napping. That, my friends, is something I dream of often – I think it is time to make it happen.

Happy Reading!

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swim camp 2013

Jun 6, 2013 by

swim camp 2013

Last week was our 10th Annual Homeschool Swim Camp. Ten years! I can’t believe a small spur-of-the-moment camp-out when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Fisher has turned into such a wonderful (and huge!) gathering of family and friends.

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This year we endured three days of nearly constant rain, freezing cold nights, and flooded tents and enjoyed three days of sunshine, good conversations, big leaps in swimming skills, delicious food, a hilarious skit night emceed by Jennifer, endless Capture The Flag games, hours of sitting at the pool while Annesley swam her little heart out, lots of cousins, a snuggly snake that Fisher quickly made into his best friend, s’mores made with Reeses (um, can you say yummo?), an adorable song about happiness written by Boo for all the children, massage night, birthday party for Marcus, and loads of laughter.

Unfortunately, I misplaced my camera at the beginning of the week and didn’t find it until the last day, so I missed lots of great moments. Thank goodness that Jessica and Melissa took a ton of photos!

This year was like a family reunion for me! Camille, my first cousin and bestie since the age of five came with six of her children. Three of my second cousins, Tami (with six of her eight), Melissa (with three of her four), and Nikki (with three of her five) joined us. Then Tami’s friend from high school, KeeNan, came with her five children and her husband (lucky girl, the rest of us were husbandless) and Tami’s best friend, Boo, came with her four children. Every day was a party over in my section of the campground. On Friday we celebrated Camille’s son’s 16th Birthday complete with cake and ice cream. I will always remember the day he was born and how brave and resilient Camille was during his birth.

Checking people in always takes me hours and hours and this year was no different. I think I helped people for about ten hours straight on Monday and about six hours on Tuesday. After that I was able to relax and enjoy being with everyone. We had about 40 families join us this year with 89 children in swimming lessons and lots of babies and teens who are either to young or have graduated out of lessons. People went on hikes, rode bikes, huddled under shade shelters, explored the woods, played Capture the Flag (a Swim Camp tradition) and spent lots of time in the water. Speaking of spending lots of time in the water, my Annesley got in everyday at nine in the morning and didn’t get out until six or seven at night. She is a fish!

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Thanks to Miracle Salve from Butterfly Express her skin didn’t fall off and amazingly didn’t even turn all red and dried out looking like all the other years. I think I need to buy gallons of the stuff!

I spent almost all of my time at the pool with Annesley. So most of the time I only got to visit with people who came to sit by me. Tami brought a magical zero-gravity chair to camp and I CAN SIT IN IT! Hallelujah! It is so stinkin’ exciting to sit down. I sat in it at the pool, at the fire, and we even took it to church on Sunday so I could sit through the meetings. Oh my goodness, it is wonderful! She left it at my house and insists it is my birthday present so now I get to sit in it all the time. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

Fisher was super easy to spot in his lessons in his bright, green swim attire. He spent almost as much time in the pool as Annesley, but he also had plenty of time to hunt bugs and other creatures.

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One day during the rain a group of us moms spent the morning playing Heads Up, an app that is a combination of Taboo and Charades. We laughed hard, flailed our bodies in every direction, and made utter fools of ourselves. It took me back to our days of teenage-hood when we played games for hours and hours at family reunions. I have to say Jessica’s scootering imitation had all of us snorting.

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Here is Camille who I can’t imagine my life without. We met when we were five years old and have been more like sisters than cousins ever since. She helped my through childhood, my parent’s divorce, teenage angst, early marriage, mothering toddlers, learning how to be a homemaker, and everything in between. I love her to the moon and back and am so glad she came to join us. I haven’t seen her for awhile and I miss our girl time together.

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Tami came all the way from Australia just for Swim Camp (just kidding, she is in the States visiting for seven weeks while her oldest graduates from high school and gets ready to leave on his mission for the LDS church).

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She gives wonderful massages and I was able to be spoiled with two of them although anytime she or Boo got near my IT Band I went through the roof. As soon as my hip is all better I will enjoy a massage without jumping in pain. We also laughed our heads off, ate lots of yummy food, and she helped me through the one and only passing out episode of the week.

Jessica was my camping partner and together with Jen and Kat we had pretty fancy lodgings. Kat’s parents came up to set up their double canopy shelters so we could have shade and protection from the ever present rain. It was so cold we only ate a few meals under them though, the rest of the time we hauled our food up to the warm pool house.

Jennifer, aka Captain Literally, knocked our socks off at Skit Night. Wish she would have had time to complete her superhero costume with tights, shorts, and cape. (Thanks for the photo, Jess.) She also was our emcee and shared hilarious jokes in between all the skits – “What does the shy pebble wish for? To be a little bolder!”

My 2nd cousin (our grandmothers are sisters), Melissa, came up with her three adorable children. Her goal was to spend lots of time talking to the experienced homeschooling mothers and figure out how to do this whole homeschooling gig. After talking to her, I think she has it down…lots of wonderful ideas, a solid foundation, and excellent mothering skills – she has it made in spades. I wish she would move up here and join our community of awesome families.

Melissa’s sister, Nikki, joined us on Friday (she missed all the bad weather, lucky girl!) and what fun is she! These two girls are from one of my favorite cousin families. I envied them while we were growing up. They all (nine children and two amazing parents) seemed so happy and put together while I felt my family was falling apart on a regular basis. Now that we are grown up, I love them even more and am thrilled to pieces they decided to come and join in our fun.

Melissa and Nikki with some of their children.

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Here are Melissa, Tami, me, and Nikki trying to get one decent photo, but Boo was dancing around behind us pinching our bottoms and none of the photos turned out that great. What is it with my squinty and/or closed eyes???

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Finally a halfway decent one, just ignore my squinty eyes with giant bags under them!

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Before we went to Swim Camp, my mom helped me (who am I kidding, she made them, the kids and I slightly assisted…someday I’m sure I will become proficient in the kitchen!) make 14 dozen chocolate mint cookies. They were greatly enjoyed at camp and I used them as payment every time I asked a youth to do a favor for me…like move a gazillion tables to our canopy area.

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Fisher and Jared, two bug-catching soulmates, spent much of their time hunting creatures. On Friday they found a snake and it lived in their arms for the next 48 hours or so. Unfortunately it escaped on Sunday afternoon and rivers of tears were shed (thankfully it escaped while it was outside, otherwise I would be having snake-attack-nightmares).

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Melissa and Jen

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Boo teaching the children the “I’m Happy” song. We performed it at skit night and I’m sure made everyone’s night full of sunshine and smiles.

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Melissa and me…finally I have my eyes open!

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Friday night was the first night it was nice enough to do campfire singing and my annual storytime. Thanks to Tami’s chair I was able to sit at the fire and read Just Rewards, Or, Who is That Man in the Moon and What’s He Doing Up There Anyway? . We sang lots of songs, learned some more, and then closed with a reading of Loud Emily. I only made it a paragraph in when an ember from the fire shot down Annesley’s suit and burned her, so Jessica took over with me and did a fine rendition of Emily’s very loud voice.

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Boo and Tami, so glad these two found each other a few years back when they lived in the same neighborhood in Colorado. I love both of them to pieces. Boo wrote a song about friendship…I want to share the words…can I? Or are you going to publish this song somewhere. I cried my little eyes out when she sang it at Skit Night.

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Annesley was our lucky child to get David for a teacher this year. He is THE BEST swim teacher and he makes sure to get one of my children in his class each year. Fisher has had him for the past three years, so it was Annesley’s turn for David’s teach-children-to-swim magic.

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Good friends from years of attending swim camp together. Here are Derek, Kayden, Blythe, Keziah, and Eve.

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Keziah and her swim pass wristbands. Every year she and a whole group of her friends keep their Swim Camp wristbands on for as long as possible. Keziah’s 2012 band just fell off in April, so it looks like these ones will be part of our life for months to come.

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We always camp in spot #34, right next to the tree. It is the one perk of spending hours organizing Swim Camp. I get to choose my spot and every year we are right here next to the one and only tree in the campground.

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Darci, one of our awesome swim instructors, and Kat.

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The besties, Morgan (Boo’s daughter) and Teryn, (Tami’s daughter) hanging out while we pack up camp.

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My Annes – always full of spunk.

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Making s’mores with friends and cousins – a favorite nightly tradition.

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I am so glad Cami and I started this event clear back in 2004. It has brought our homeschool community together and built friendships among children, youth, and families. It is so much fun – even with all the rain, soaking wet towels, freezing cold nights, diarrhea, puking, chlorine-burned faces, and all the work to make it happen – it is totally worth it. My children love it and that is enough for me to continue to make it happen every year.

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we love music

Jun 6, 2013 by

we love music

Blythe and Keziah play the violin and recently started taking piano lessons as well. Right now we have an awesome teacher who comes to our home (can you shout, YAZOO!) and teaches both of them on both instruments. I am in love with the set-up as it requires no driving for me and no entertaining of my little ones while the older ones have lessons. We just hole up in my room and do math and reading and games while the girls have their two hour lesson. Two weeks ago they had their Spring recital and played beautifully.

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Yes, she is wearing ponytails all over her arm. She always has ponytails around her wrist, but I can’t believe I didn’t notice she had them on for the recital. If I had she would have been reminded to take them off.

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Blythe just started piano lessons in February. I am amazed at how much progress she has made in just a few short months.

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Here she is with her beloved violin, Niphredil (yes, she named her violin after a flower in Middle Earth, you LOTR fans can shout hurrah). She loves to create beautiful pieces and spends her free time dancing in the yard while she plays – now that is talent, don’t you think?

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Getting a picture of these two smiling without the silliness is nigh on impossible…

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Refreshments were enjoyed by all the little brothers and sisters.

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I will sure miss these days of music bursting out the walls of our home when these two girls leave home. They play constantly and I often wake up to their music. I am so grateful Blythe set us on this path so many years ago.

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we love music

Jun 6, 2013 by

we love music

Blythe and Keziah play the violin and recently started taking piano lessons as well. Right now we have an awesome teacher who comes to our home (can you shout, YAZOO!) and teaches both of them on both instruments. I am in love with the set-up as it requires no driving for me and no entertaining of my little ones while the older ones have lessons. We just hole up in my room and do math and reading and games while the girls have their two hour lesson. Two weeks ago they had their Spring recital and played beautifully.

IMG_0665

Yes, she is wearing ponytails all over her arm. She always has ponytails around her wrist, but I can’t believe I didn’t notice she had them on for the recital. If I had she would have been reminded to take them off.

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Blythe just started piano lessons in February. I am amazed at how much progress she has made in just a few short months.

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Here she is with her beloved violin, Niphredil (yes, she named her violin after a flower in Middle Earth, you LOTR fans can shout hurrah). She loves to create beautiful pieces and spends her free time dancing in the yard while she plays – now that is talent, don’t you think?

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Getting a picture of these two smiling without the silliness is nigh on impossible…

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Refreshments were enjoyed by all the little brothers and sisters.

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I will sure miss these days of music bursting out the walls of our home when these two girls leave home. They play constantly and I often wake up to their music. I am so grateful Blythe set us on this path so many years ago.

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narration with peter spier

May 14, 2013 by

My Annesley cracks me up. She is so stinkin’ hilarious. Yesterday I had to make a DI run to dump off the stuff from the garage clean-out on Saturday (Did I tell you I cleaned the garage out? Well, yes, I did. It was a long, filthy day, but now we can walk through there without breaking a leg.) Since I was going into town, I decided I might as well return the huge pile of library books that were due last Friday and pay my $26 fine so our renewal and checkout privileges would be restored.

I was tempted by a few books and just had to bring them home for my children. One of them was Rain by Peter Sprier. I llllooovvveee Peter Sprier’s other books, Noah’s Ark and People and decided Annesley would love Rain. Peter’s books are illustrations only – there are no words. Last night I showed it to Annesley and asked her if she would like to tell me the story. She was so excited and pored over the book until bedtime. This morning she asked me if I was ready for her story. I quickly hit record on the iPad (she didn’t know what I was doing) and she proceeded to tell me her creation for the next ten minutes. She told her story in a rhyming, sing-songy voice, but her words didn’t rhyme at all. She repeated the phrase “Oh, No! What will we do?” on almost every page. She talked about all the animals and the umbrella and the brother and sister and how the sister had to protect her brother because she was six and he was four. Her whole story cracked me up, but I was able to keep a straight face and listen while she turned the pages. When she finished her adventurous narration, I hit play and her face lit up as she realized she had been recorded. She listened to her story and giggled the whole time saying things like “Did I really say that?” and “That was FUNNY!”

I love learning with my children. I love being part of their discoveries and creations. I especially love sharing books with them while we snuggle up together.

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narration with peter spier

May 14, 2013 by

My Annesley cracks me up. She is so stinkin’ hilarious. Yesterday I had to make a DI run to dump off the stuff from the garage clean-out on Saturday (Did I tell you I cleaned the garage out? Well, yes, I did. It was a long, filthy day, but now we can walk through there without breaking a leg.) Since I was going into town, I decided I might as well return the huge pile of library books that were due last Friday and pay my $26 fine so our renewal and checkout privileges would be restored.

I was tempted by a few books and just had to bring them home for my children. One of them was Rain by Peter Sprier. I llllooovvveee Peter Sprier’s other books, Noah’s Ark and People and decided Annesley would love Rain. Peter’s books are illustrations only – there are no words. Last night I showed it to Annesley and asked her if she would like to tell me the story. She was so excited and pored over the book until bedtime. This morning she asked me if I was ready for her story. I quickly hit record on the iPad (she didn’t know what I was doing) and she proceeded to tell me her creation for the next ten minutes. She told her story in a rhyming, sing-songy voice, but her words didn’t rhyme at all. She repeated the phrase “Oh, No! What will we do?” on almost every page. She talked about all the animals and the umbrella and the brother and sister and how the sister had to protect her brother because she was six and he was four. Her whole story cracked me up, but I was able to keep a straight face and listen while she turned the pages. When she finished her adventurous narration, I hit play and her face lit up as she realized she had been recorded. She listened to her story and giggled the whole time saying things like “Did I really say that?” and “That was FUNNY!”

I love learning with my children. I love being part of their discoveries and creations. I especially love sharing books with them while we snuggle up together.

read more

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some recent book treasures

May 9, 2013 by

some recent book treasures

My mom recently surprised Fisher with There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed A Flea and he can’t put it down. He reads it over and over and giggles the whole time. It is written in the same style as There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly, but it is much more hilarious. Fisher’s favorite parts are when the coyote swallows the cactus…sideways…and when he swallows the moon. Every single time he gets to those pages he curls up in a ball and shakes uncontrollably in fits of laughter.

I taught a class this semester on Jewish Festivals and loved sharing my passion for all things Jewish-y. I checked out gobs of books from the library and found a few gems. Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook is SO fun. Not only are the stories charming, the illustrations are delightful and the recipes look delicious.

The book is constructed to share a folk tale type of story and then teach how to make one of the traditional festival foods, like challah, hamantaschen, latkes, or noodle kugel. I think any family interested in different cultures would swoon over this book. I can’t wait to buy it for myself!

We had a road trip last week and listened to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Anne Hathaway reading. Oh my. What a delight. Her voices for each character were phenomenal and we loved it so much we listened to it two times all the way through! I guess my little ones are ready for a journey into Oz. The last time I visited was when Blythe was about six and we read all the Oz books over the course of a year. Here is a really fun YouTube video of Anne discussing this performance…so fun to see her reading the story!

I am currently reading Frankenstein for my colloquia group. My dear friend, Kate, recommended it to me several years ago and I am finally taking her up on the suggestion and having my whole discussion group read it. I thought I knew the story, but I totally didn’t. It is SO much more thought provoking than I ever imagined. I cannot stop thinking about creation and my responsibilities as a creator, treating people as children of God vs. treating them as irritants or even worse as monsters, the power of the atonement to make things right, judging a person by their outward appearance, and good vs. evil.

What are you reading right now?

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some recent book treasures

May 9, 2013 by

some recent book treasures

My mom recently surprised Fisher with There Was A Coyote Who Swallowed A Flea and he can’t put it down. He reads it over and over and giggles the whole time. It is written in the same style as There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly, but it is much more hilarious. Fisher’s favorite parts are when the coyote swallows the cactus…sideways…and when he swallows the moon. Every single time he gets to those pages he curls up in a ball and shakes uncontrollably in fits of laughter.

I taught a class this semester on Jewish Festivals and loved sharing my passion for all things Jewish-y. I checked out gobs of books from the library and found a few gems. Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook is SO fun. Not only are the stories charming, the illustrations are delightful and the recipes look delicious.

The book is constructed to share a folk tale type of story and then teach how to make one of the traditional festival foods, like challah, hamantaschen, latkes, or noodle kugel. I think any family interested in different cultures would swoon over this book. I can’t wait to buy it for myself!

We had a road trip last week and listened to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with Anne Hathaway reading. Oh my. What a delight. Her voices for each character were phenomenal and we loved it so much we listened to it two times all the way through! I guess my little ones are ready for a journey into Oz. The last time I visited was when Blythe was about six and we read all the Oz books over the course of a year. Here is a really fun YouTube video of Anne discussing this performance…so fun to see her reading the story!

I am currently reading Frankenstein for my colloquia group. My dear friend, Kate, recommended it to me several years ago and I am finally taking her up on the suggestion and having my whole discussion group read it. I thought I knew the story, but I totally didn’t. It is SO much more thought provoking than I ever imagined. I cannot stop thinking about creation and my responsibilities as a creator, treating people as children of God vs. treating them as irritants or even worse as monsters, the power of the atonement to make things right, judging a person by their outward appearance, and good vs. evil.

What are you reading right now?

read more

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moving things around

Apr 29, 2013 by

Our learning room and sewing room have been in disaster mode for the past few weeks and today was the day to get everything back in order and make some rearrangements so we can start our new learning routine without iFamily classes on Wednesdays.

First up was to put all my math supplies away from the past many weeks of teaching Math Alive! – I tell you the amount of blocks, games, Polydrons, papers, books, and other manipulatives I haul back and forth to that class each week would blow your mind. Unfortunately we haven’t been putting it all away each week, so it has been building up in piles all over the school room. Today we got all my math stuff put away on our Expedit life-changing shelves, put the school room bookshelves back in order, the dress-ups put away, the fort-making blankets folded up, everything vacuumed and dusted, and then we started rearranging. My favorite part!

Since Passover the downstairs has been full to bursting with the dining room table taking up almost every inch of walking space. We decided to keep the couches in the dining room (where they have been since Passover) and moved the dining room table upstairs into the family room. We finally put the world map and vinyl on the table to up our geography time and moved my bike downstairs. We moved the Duplo table away from my computer desk and over near the wall maps and timelines. Then we put Keziah’s new (great used find from a family in our ward!) treadmill and set my bike up on my new (great used find on KSL classifieds!) trainer where the Duplo table was. We moved the chess table upstairs in the hopes that people will play more frequently. Next we pulled out the big red barn that has been put away for a few years since Keziah stopped playing with it and made a horse play area for Annesley. We put the couches into a traditional ninety degree angle arrangement instead of the diagonal coziness they have been in for several months to enable more room in front of the TV so Richard and Blythe have enough space to exercise while they do DDP Yoga. We moved my green table down the hallway to my bedroom and our little red nightstand/scripture holder to the corner of the kitchen.

I am thrilled with the changes. I am so excited for Keziah to have a place to run every day and a place for my bike so I can start riding as soon as my physical therapist gives me the go-ahead. I am ready to settle into our new learning groove without iFamily classes influencing how we spend our time. This is the time of year I get to teach my children with the most freedom because they don’t have other commitments to other teachers. I love it! Don’t get me wrong, I love their iFamily classes also, but it is nice to shake things up a bit every few months.

Fisher begged me to pull out the Story of The World CDs this morning to listen to while we cleaned. I love Jim Weiss’ voice and how he draws my children right into the story. Today we learned about the fertile crescent, how nomadic people lived, early farming efforts, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph and the coat of many colors, his brothers selling him as a slave, Potipher’s house, prison, the Pharoah’s dreams, the seven-year famine, and the reunification of Jacob’s family. Fisher knows the Israelite stories inside and out, but it was fun to listen to them from a different perspective. I think we will continue on with listening for the next few weeks during art time.

Now that everything is clean and orderly all my children want to do is get things out and explore! It cracks me up how that works. When everything is in its place the school room is far more interesting than when everything is in chaos.

p.s. If you have been eyeing my Polydrons, now is a great time to get some. The sale prices this month are the best I have seen for over a year. They often go on sale for 25% – 40% off, but this month is in the 75% off range.

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hurrah for chalkboard markers

Apr 9, 2013 by

hurrah for chalkboard markers

Remember last week when I posted about my new chalkboard? Well, luckily for me (and you too, right?) I found my camera cord this morning in a batch of towels I have been meaning to fold for quite some time now and now I can show you the pics of its cuteness.

The original frame.

The original UGLY picture.

Mom starting the transformation process – she sanded it with two different kinds of sandpaper that I somehow found in Richard’s stash (I think one of the kinds was his super-fine car buffing sandpaper, eek!), then primed it, let it dry completely, and then started painting it red.

In all its red glory.

Mikelle and I trying to solve the brightness problem.

Success! Notice how the black smudges fix everything!

In its place on my green table and ready for some of Blythe’s doodling amazingness.

And now, all decorated with Blythe’s quick lunchtime artwork. I have asked her to create a new piece of inspiration every week.

Love it!

I was nervous about the chalkboard markers not coming off the chalkboard and ruining it because of some negative Amazon reviews, but after we tested them out on a scrap piece of wood over night and having them wash off perfectly with a damp rag, we are confident we made the right choice. There are lots of brands of chalkboard markers out there and these Chalk Ink ones seem to consistently have the best reviews in terms of durability and removability, so we went with them. Now that we have played with them I can say they are worth the price and I can’t wait to see what Blythe comes up with next week!

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hurrah for chalkboard markers

Apr 9, 2013 by

hurrah for chalkboard markers

Remember last week when I posted about my new chalkboard? Well, luckily for me (and you too, right?) I found my camera cord this morning in a batch of towels I have been meaning to fold for quite some time now and now I can show you the pics of its cuteness.

The original frame.

The original UGLY picture.

Mom starting the transformation process – she sanded it with two different kinds of sandpaper that I somehow found in Richard’s stash (I think one of the kinds was his super-fine car buffing sandpaper, eek!), then primed it, let it dry completely, and then started painting it red.

In all its red glory.

Mikelle and I trying to solve the brightness problem.

Success! Notice how the black smudges fix everything!

In its place on my green table and ready for some of Blythe’s doodling amazingness.

And now, all decorated with Blythe’s quick lunchtime artwork. I have asked her to create a new piece of inspiration every week.

Love it!

I was nervous about the chalkboard markers not coming off the chalkboard and ruining it because of some negative Amazon reviews, but after we tested them out on a scrap piece of wood over night and having them wash off perfectly with a damp rag, we are confident we made the right choice. There are lots of brands of chalkboard markers out there and these Chalk Ink ones seem to consistently have the best reviews in terms of durability and removability, so we went with them. Now that we have played with them I can say they are worth the price and I can’t wait to see what Blythe comes up with next week!

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potw: windy nights

Apr 9, 2013 by

Oy, the wind. It has been blowing and gusting and wheezing. I heard it blew the power right out a little bit south of us and it is still shaking our trees and rattling our home more than 24 hours after it started. In honor of these gusts, we are memorizing Mr. Stevenson’s ode to the man in wind.

Windy Nights

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Whenver the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

Does the wind sound like a horse to you?

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potw: windy nights

Apr 9, 2013 by

Oy, the wind. It has been blowing and gusting and wheezing. I heard it blew the power right out a little bit south of us and it is still shaking our trees and rattling our home more than 24 hours after it started. In honor of these gusts, we are memorizing Mr. Stevenson’s ode to the man in wind.

Windy Nights

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Whenver the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

Does the wind sound like a horse to you?

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potw: cats

Apr 1, 2013 by

We started a new poem today. We haven’t done very many poems these last several months, but I decided to pull out our new poetry book, The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, and let Keziah select a poem for us to memorize. Having a poem to memorize all together brings some fun and unity to our weeks. Everyone is learning different things, doing different projects, and a weekly poem for each of us to learn gives us one thing to all learn together. It also brings some beauty into my soul…and today I need all the beauty I can get.

By the way, the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems is oh, so lovely. I am love with the illustrations, the text layout, and the wide variety of poems. We have a lot of wonderful poetry books and this one is one of my favorites. I am so glad I got it on Jessica’s book co-op last fall and now that we have pulled it out of our secret box of book surprises, I can’t wait to delve into it every week!

Cats

by Eleanor Farjeon

Cats sleep
Anywhere,
Any table,
Any chair,
Top of piano,
Window-ledge,
In the middle,
On the edge,
Open drawer,
Empty shoe,
Anybody’s
Lap will do.
Fitted in a
Cardboard box,
In a cupboard
With your frocks –
Anywhere.
They don’t care!
Cats sleep
Anywhere.

Isn’t that cute? We used to have a cat like that. Her name was Sarah and we got when Blythe was about six. She gave us many litters of kittens and loved on that girl more than I thought possible. She died about 18 months ago and Blythe’s poor heart still hasn’t recovered.

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potw: cats

Apr 1, 2013 by

We started a new poem today. We haven’t done very many poems these last several months, but I decided to pull out our new poetry book, The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, and let Keziah select a poem for us to memorize. Having a poem to memorize all together brings some fun and unity to our weeks. Everyone is learning different things, doing different projects, and a weekly poem for each of us to learn gives us one thing to all learn together. It also brings some beauty into my soul…and today I need all the beauty I can get.

By the way, the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems is oh, so lovely. I am love with the illustrations, the text layout, and the wide variety of poems. We have a lot of wonderful poetry books and this one is one of my favorites. I am so glad I got it on Jessica’s book co-op last fall and now that we have pulled it out of our secret box of book surprises, I can’t wait to delve into it every week!

Cats

by Eleanor Farjeon

Cats sleep
Anywhere,
Any table,
Any chair,
Top of piano,
Window-ledge,
In the middle,
On the edge,
Open drawer,
Empty shoe,
Anybody’s
Lap will do.
Fitted in a
Cardboard box,
In a cupboard
With your frocks –
Anywhere.
They don’t care!
Cats sleep
Anywhere.

Isn’t that cute? We used to have a cat like that. Her name was Sarah and we got when Blythe was about six. She gave us many litters of kittens and loved on that girl more than I thought possible. She died about 18 months ago and Blythe’s poor heart still hasn’t recovered.

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here come the bugs

Mar 16, 2013 by

I have two avid bug collectors in my home. They crack me up.

Here are some comments from today.

Annesley: Oh MY goodness! Signs of bugs! (I totally thought she was going to say “signs of spring,” but I was wrong.

Me: Hmmm, what do you have? (Seeing a whole pile of bugs in her hand right above my head.)

Annesley: Look, mom! Look! I have found bugs! Look at my worms and my big, fat slug! Ahhh, I am SO happy it is bug time again!

Me: Yes, that is exciting.

Then she put her cheek next to the bugs and sighs the way you would over a new baby.

She runs back outside to find more bugs…thirty minutes later she and Fisher are back with more bugs to show me.

Fisher: We are the only ones that love bugs. We are the only ones who find bugs. The rest of our family don’t really like bugs. Look at our giant pile of worms!

Annesley: Mom! Do you see our bugs? I am so excited to find bugs. I love my little wormies. Do you want to see my big, fat slug? Here it is! Look!

It seems the days of having my little ones inside with me for the winter are about to be over. We are back to exploring nature, digging in the dirt, playing in the mud, and housing hundreds of bugs in jars all over the house.

Welcome spring.

p.s. If you or your children like watching nature films, this one is really good. Annesley can’t stop talking about it after she watched it in her Where The Wild Things Are class at iFamily on Wednesday.

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here come the bugs

Mar 16, 2013 by

I have two avid bug collectors in my home. They crack me up.

Here are some comments from today.

Annesley: Oh MY goodness! Signs of bugs! (I totally thought she was going to say “signs of spring,” but I was wrong.

Me: Hmmm, what do you have? (Seeing a whole pile of bugs in her hand right above my head.)

Annesley: Look, mom! Look! I have found bugs! Look at my worms and my big, fat slug! Ahhh, I am SO happy it is bug time again!

Me: Yes, that is exciting.

Then she put her cheek next to the bugs and sighs the way you would over a new baby.

She runs back outside to find more bugs…thirty minutes later she and Fisher are back with more bugs to show me.

Fisher: We are the only ones that love bugs. We are the only ones who find bugs. The rest of our family don’t really like bugs. Look at our giant pile of worms!

Annesley: Mom! Do you see our bugs? I am so excited to find bugs. I love my little wormies. Do you want to see my big, fat slug? Here it is! Look!

It seems the days of having my little ones inside with me for the winter are about to be over. We are back to exploring nature, digging in the dirt, playing in the mud, and housing hundreds of bugs in jars all over the house.

Welcome spring.

p.s. If you or your children like watching nature films, this one is really good. Annesley can’t stop talking about it after she watched it in her Where The Wild Things Are class at iFamily on Wednesday.

read more

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