Friday, August 31, 2012

Eric Carle week~

This has been a very fun week of homeschooling.  We've been doing a lot of art projects and probably not doing as much handwriting and math with Sophie...but we still have tomorrow : ).  Last Sunday I started things off with making some "Very Hungry Caterpillar" cupcakes.
 I put a few drops of food coloring in the batter and swirled it around.
 Here's how they turned out!  Fun!
 Then I mixed up some buttercream icing and decorated.  At the top we have the little white caterpillar egg. Then we have the caterpillar.  That bottom cupcake is showing the cocoon.
 And last, but not least...the butterfly!  You have to use your imagination a little bit...but that was all the cupcakes I had left : ).  We read the book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", discussed the life cycle of the butterfly, and then digged in!
 We read this book again on Monday and did some more activities.  I printed these caterpillars from this blog.  It's a free download and I thought they were fun.  It includes the caterpillar that you cut out and staple to a ziplock baggie as well as pictures of all the food the caterpillar eats in the story.  You can "feed" the paper caterpillar.  We didn't get to do as much with this as I wanted to as we were having a child meltdown at the time.  Oh, well.  You do what you can.  But they'll be there when we read the book again.
 On Tuesday we read, "From Head to Toe", which is another cute story.  I laid out our paper roll that I bought at Ikea a while back and it was perfect.  The kids laid on top of it and I traced their bodies...from head to toe : ).  Then I let them paint them and when it dried I cut their bodies out.  Isaac LOVES looking at his.
 I forgot to mention earlier that we also painted tissue paper on Monday.  I drew out some butterflies, caterpillars, and a leaf and the kids painted them.  When they dried the paper hardens a little and it's easy to cut out and glue to a piece of paper.
 On Wednesday we read, "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?"  I made homemade puffy paint using shaving cream and white school glue.  I just guessed on the amounts, but it turned out great!  When it dried it was spongy but not messy or wet.  So cool.  I got the idea from this site, which is the same one that I got the "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" ideas.

Since we had the shaving cream out, I just let the kids have some fun with it on the table : ).
 Here are the finished cut-outs.  I'm so glad I put them on the wall!  Isaac keeps going up to his and standing in front of it. : ) I planned for us to measure them.  Haven't gotten to that yet...but like I said, there's always tomorrow!
On Thursday we read, "The Very Clumsy Click Beetle" and made our own click beetles with clothespins and paper.  I didn't get any pics of those, but the last link I put up there will lead you to it.  We were kind of rushed with that activity, so the kids didn't get into it as much as I thought they would. 
Last, but not least, we wrote a letter to Eric Carle and sent it to him!  His web site has lots of fun pictures, information, and even a video of him reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".  That's where we got his address.  We'll see what happens!
One activity I wanted to do was make a butterfly feeder.  We didn't get to that, but here is the link for how to do it.  Maybe some other time!  There are SO many activities you can do with Eric Carle was hard to choose!  I'm not sure yet what we're doing next week, but I'm going to start working on it tomorrow.  I know in two weeks we're going to do a beach theme because September 15th we're finally going on vacation!  To the beach!  So I want the kids to experience the beach through some of our books the week before.  It'll be fun!  I've already got some art projects in mind.  I love making memories with my kiddos.
Hope these posts help you to make memories, too!
God bless~Stacey

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Hope Blossoms...a book review

Hi friends~
I just received this new book free from Bethany House to do an unbiased book review. 

This is the story of Amy, a Mennonite widow with three children who has moved to Weaverly, Kansas for a fresh start.  Shortly after she moves in she meets her new neighbor, Tim Roper, who owns and runs the apple orchard right next to her property.  Her children immediately like Tim, even though he has a brusque way about him.  As Amy and her children build a relationship with Tim, they are able to see into each others heartaches and how that has formed who they are.  Amy responds with kindness and patience, while Tim struggles to let go of the wall he's built up in his heart from past hurts.  Will Tim and Amy be able to move past these tragic circumstances and forge a bond of love?  (I love ending a synopsis with a question : ))

I was actually surprised by all the things that happened in this story.  I was expecting more of a love story, but I think this book actually focuses more on the journey two families are taking and how each are dealing with loss.  Amy is a widow of 3 years and she, along with each of her 3 children, are handling their loss differently.  Amy struggles with feeling closure and peace with the circumstances of her husband's death.  Her oldest daughter Bekah is slightly rebellious and curious about the world outside her Mennonite fellowship.  Her son, Parker, was injured in an accident and now has special needs.  This was an aspect of the book that I appreciated.  You don't find a lot of books that address the struggles and joys of having a child with special needs and I thought this family's story would be similar to those in real life.  The youngest daughter, Adrianna, is a happy go lucky little kid, oblivious to the conflicts around her.  All three of these children have abruptly entered into Tim Roper's life.  He enjoys his solitude...he uses it to hide from the world around him.  Since his wife and son, who happened to have Downs Syndrome, were tragically killed, Tim can't move on.  He is also rebellious against his own Mennonite roots, as his father was very strict on him when he was young.  A lot of elements in one story!  So there's a lot of resolution that needs to take place for the two main characters to even think about being interested in each other.  The attraction just kind of hovered over the story while they were dealing with everything else.  As one who loves a good love story, I kind of felt that aspect lacking a little.  But...I did like all of the other character development that was going on.  It was believable, dealt with a lot of sensitive issues and resolved itself in a satisfying way.  A little more love spark would've been nice, though.  Overall, I would say this book was a good read but if you're looking for a story centered around a love connection you might feel like something is missing.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Gifts of love...and a recipe : )

A sweet lady in our church brought us a little treat the other day.  She's the same lady that shared that delicious, moist cake with us after Seth was born and I put the recipe up here.  I just had to share her recipe for these biscuits.  I assure you...they're delicious! 

Deviled Biscuit
from Joyce Peacock

1 (12 oz) package of Pillsbury Grands Golden Layer Buttermilk Flaky Biscuits
1 (4 1/2 oz) can of deviled ham
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (Mrs. Joyce uses a little more)

Directions: Cut biscuits in quarters and arrange in two 8 in round pans that have been sprayed with Pam.  In a pot heat butter and deviled ham until well blended.  Pour mixture over biscuits.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Bake 12-15 min, uncovered, @ 400 degrees until browned.  Serve as a snack, with salad, or with a meal.
Enjoy the deliciousness : ).

I also wanted to briefly say how grateful I am for my friends, family, and church family.  We have received phone calls, sweet cards, texts, visits, prayers, food and even flowers since I found out that the nodule I had removed from my thyroid was cancerous.  My parents sent me these flowers last week and they have been so beautiful to look at.  I have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster lately.  After such a successful surgery the first time, I was really surprised to get the news that the nodule was cancerous and I would have to go through another surgery...this time to remove my whole thyroid.  I'm not really looking forward to this surgery and I am hoping that I won't have to go through any treatments afterwards.  But if I do, I am just going to trust the Lord.  It has been difficult to face the fact that I'm having health problems after living a life relatively free from them.  I am relying on what I know is true.  God is faithful, He is good, and I am taken care of by Him.  When I passed by these beautiful flowers the other day I was reminded that even the lillies of the field are taken care of and clothed by much more does He care for me!  I believe God put that reminder in my head that day because I needed it. 
I am so grateful to all of you who are lifting me and my family up in prayer.  We are so thankful!  Surgery is scheduled for October 10th.  Please keep myself, my family (especially my little ones), and the medical staff in your prayers.  My doctor is named Dr. Terris and he is an excellent surgeon.  Please lift him up as well.
Thank you and God bless!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM!

This is the song we've been singing this week!  The kids have been singing it a lot...and I think it's so fun!  I was not very familiar with this book, but now I'm interested in getting a copy of our own.  We borrowed the books, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" and "Chicka Chicka 1 2 3" from some friends.  I found some great ideas online to do with the kids this week and so far it's been a big success. 

 Monday we read the book and looked at a coconut (the book talks about the letters of the alphabet climbing up a coconut tree). We touched the outside, shook it (you could hear the water sloshing), and then I tried to crack it open.  I read about it on the internet and thought it was going to be no problem.  Well...several hammer hits later we still didn't have an open coconut.  So we went outside and sat on the carport steps and I said, "ok, kids, I'm just going to throw this down on the carport and see if it cracks."  Boom!  It cracked big time.  We lost the coconut water, which I really wanted to taste, but there was still a little in the bottom of the biggest piece.  We took it inside and I started scraping out some coconut to taste.
 We also smelled the inside. A few minutes later we were sampling.  Sophie loved it!  It's not as sweet as what you get in the bag at the store...well, I haven't tried the unsweetened...but still very tasty.  It was a great sensory activity.
Today we made little coconut trees (I called them Chicka trees) out of toilet paper rolls and construction paper.  It wasn't as neat as I would've liked it...but the kids thought it was great.  Isaac used letter stickers to decorate his and Sophie wanted to use a stencil I had to do hers.  Sophie suggested we put some coconuts on I cut out some coconuts : ).  She was especially excited about this and has been talking about her Chicka tree all night : )
Tomorrow and Thursday we're going to do some activities that I found online.  At this site (Hubbard's Cupboard) there are so many good ideas and links to free printables.  I printed out the number pages and an alphabet activity that I think will be good.
This blog also has some great ideas to use for a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom unit.
Some other fun things I thought of was to do something with the Chicka Chicka 123 book.  This is all about numbers and how they climb up the apple tree.  I thought we could have an apple snack...along with a cute idea for a coconut tree snack (a celery stalk, some peanut butter, and some Alphabits cereal!).  There are also some neat shapes being used for the bees that come and shoo away the numbers from the apple tree.  With Sophie's math curriculum this week we're studying shapes and one lesson is making animals out of shapes.  I thought I could tie in this book along with her math lesson.  Now to just be sure to prep all the shapes : ). 
This is a great beginning-of-the-year book to study.  It covers the alphabet and it's a lot of fun.  It also talks some about colors.  I'm doing some color sheets I found on this blog.  Check her "products" button out.  She's got some great site word sheets that are very inexpensive.  She also has several of her products on the site Teachers Pay Teachers (I think it's all one word on the url).  I'm just familiarizing myself with this site, but there are some things you can get that are free and some that you have to buy.  The ones I saw were reasonably priced but I definitely gravitated towards the free stuff ; ). 
I hope this will be a good resource to some of you!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our first week of school

We finished our first week of  It's been a crazy week!  My plan was to have school in the mornings, Monday through Thursday.  This is what we've done in the past and it has worked well.  Monday I had trouble waking we did school in the afternoon.  Tuesday went great...just like I wanted.  Wednesday I got the news that the nodule (sort of like a tumor) I had removed from my thyroid came back cancerous.  We didn't have school that day.  I wasn't up for it.  Thursday was an awesome day.  We all slept in, but we had school in the morning and that afternoon and everyone did great.  Since we skipped Wednesday, I thought we could do some school on Friday.  Well...didn't happen.  Today my Isaac was sick so the hubby took him to the dr this morning.  I got up when Sophie did and while the guys were gone we did some school.  I plan to complete the school day with making some muffins for "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" book.  It wasn't quite how I envisioned....but that's life, right?!  It's not always pretty and packaged...sometimes you have to ride some waves and go with the flow.  But we did do some fun things this week!  : )
Here's my Sophie painting an "M" picture.  She knows her letters, but I thought it would still be fun for her to do some of these activities with Isaac.  I put masking tape on some cardstock and let them paint.  When it dried we peeled the tape off.  They turned out really cute!
 Isaac loves to paint!
 This is the inside of the little booklets I printed out for the kids.  The front says "M is for..." then you can fill in the blank.  I put "moose, muffin, mouse, and milk" from our books this week.  Then I printed these inserts with the big square and the lines underneath.  It's also got a place at the top to write the date.  I saw this idea on Pinterest for the handprint monkey (they have a pin that shows a different handprint animal for each letter of the alphabet).  I think it's going to be neat to have a booklet for each letter of the alphabet and a handprint for each letter.  I can increase the difficulty for Sophie by letting her draw a picture and write something on the other page.  Isaac can do something on his level on the other page, too.
 Thursday I cut out some pictures from a magazine of things that started with letter m.  I let them glue the pictures into their journals.  Using glue of any kind is always fun for kids. I opted for the glue sticks for this activity...much less of a mess!
 Sophie enjoyed the glue, too : ).
I'm trying to learn to be flexible and adaptable in this new homeschool year.  I know it's not going to be just like it was last year.  I'm still loving it, though.  I've already started getting things together for next week.  We're going to do the book, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", which is a great way to talk about the alphabet.  There's a great video on Youtube that reads the book to a fun beat.  I've also bought a coconut for us to break open and I've gotten some craft ideas from Pinterest.  I think it'll be another fun week!

As for me personally, I also appreciate your prayers.  I will be having another surgery on October 10th to remove all of my thyroid.  I'm not real excited about it, but the good news is that this type of cancer is basically "cured" by removing the thyroid.  I do think that I need to make some healthy changes, though.  It's a wake-up call for me and there's several things I know we need to change to have a healthier lifestyle.  As the mom of the house, I feel like I have a lot of responsibility in this...because I'm here with the children most of the time, I plan most of the grocery shopping, I do the cooking, etc.  I have some ideas but I need to still do some recuperating before I begin implementing.  Prayers, advice, and encouragement are always welcome!
God bless!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Homeschool excitement

It's time to kick off a new year of homeschooling.  After having surgery about a week and a half ago, I really didn't think we would be able to swing starting up tomorrow.  After getting back home Friday night from being gone for a few weeks, I started browsing through some of my homeschool materials.  Then I went to Walmart and saw/bought school supplies and it was all over.  Yes, I am one of those people.  I love school supplies.  Saturday my homeschool juices were flowing and I was kicking the planning into high gear.  I knew in my mind what I wanted to do, but I had to sit down and do a lot of printing from the computer, a lot of coloring and cutting (I think half of my planning time when I was a teacher was spent coloring and cutting), and planning.  I looked back on a lot of those things I pinned on Pinterest that I thought would be good ideas.  Pinterest plug...I still think it's awesome.  Anyway, one of the things I wanted to also start doing was a chore chart with the kids (and, to be honest, I need to try and start some good habits myself).  I kind of combined a couple of ideas I saw on Pinterest and came up with this:
 I got my markers, stencils, and letter stickers out and tried to copy a design I saw.  I used old dvd cases and slid the paper I had fixed up in the front cover.  That way you can use a dry erase marker on the front of the chart (no laminating..or cutting out laminated paper!).  Nifty, huh?  I stole the idea from someone else...I wish I were that creative.
 Then...on the inside I put a cute little dry erase marker that I bought on a whim (I'm glad I did!) and a little incentive chart and stickers that I got on my Walmart trip.  Tax free!  : )  I told Sophie and Isaac that if they got all of their chores for the day checked off then they could get a sticker on their chart.  Once the chart was full, they would get...something.  Something awesome.  I haven't figured out what the "something" is...but for right now the kids thought it was pretty cool.
 Here's Isaac checking it out.  He's probably thinking about the box on his chores that says, "potty".  Yep.  Party is about to over, gotta at least try to potty to get a check on your chart or no sticker.  I hope this works.
Sophie was so excited about hers that she jumped up and started doing as many chores as she could...made her bed, brushed her teeth, and picked up her lunch dishes.  It made me smile to see her so excited about it!  Along with our new chores, we are also starting a new adventure with our homeschooling in that Isaac will be joining us.  He seems to be excited about it.  I wanted to plan something that would meet his learning needs and Sophie's, too.  So I decided that I would come up with a book theme/individual book/books by the same author each week with different activities to go with each book.  This week we're doing these books:
 I've always enjoyed those "If you..." books.  I found a great site that has tons of ideas of things to do with different children's books.  It included links to some free clothespin cards that I was able to print on some cardstock, color, and now they are cut....ready for laminating!
On the top cards you clip a clothespin to the letter that is missing on the food tray and on the bottom cards you clip one to the lowercase letter that matches the uppercase one on the top.  I also printed some other cards that have muffins on them and you pin the number that matches.  All of them with the baking and moose/muffin theme. 
Not only did I find this cute stuff, but I also found a link to some free printable alphabet books that are adorable!  They also have inserts that you can print off that have spaces for drawing or writing.  I printed off the "M" book because even though it's our first week, we're talking about a moose, mouse, and muffins.  Who says you have to go in order? : ) 
Since we're doing "m" for our alphabet book, I thought we could also memorize a Bible verse starting with the letter m.  Again, I went back to Pinterest to see what I could find.  I was so excited to find a link to a great blog from a family who homeschools.  The mom had designed verse sheets that emphasize/begin with a letter of the alphabet.  I love these and look forward to using them!
I still feel a little unprepared for this year, but I'm excited to see how it's going to go.  I think Sophie will do great, but Isaac and Seth are my two unknowns.  We'll take it one day at a time and enjoy the ride together.  I am so thankful that I am able to homeschool my kids and love it!  It is such a blessing!
And, as always, I know I'll need your prayers!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Short-Straw Bride...a book review

Not too long ago I did an author spotlight with Karen Witemeyer, who happens to be one of my favorite Christian fiction authors.  A week or two later, I received an email from Bethany House and Karen's new book, Short-Straw Bride, was one of the choices to review!  I was so excited that I was able to read it and now to do a review of it.  **I want to make sure you know that I received this book for free from Bethany House in order to give an unbiased book review**

I'm being totally unbiased when I say that I loved the book!  Here is a short synopsis....
The four Archer brothers have been on their own since their parents died when they were young.  They've had to defend themselves from those who wanted to take their land and protect each other from those who wanted to separate them.  Each brother has special talents, but Travis, the oldest Archer, has taken on the role of leader and father-figure to the other brothers.  Then one day, everything changes.  Meridith Hayes dares to enter the forbidden territory in order to warn the Archers about a plot she overheard that could endanger them and their home.  She couldn't resist...she had met Travis when she was a young girl and he rescued her.  From that moment on Travis was her knight in shining armor.  This would be a way to return the kindness he showed her.  Unfortunately, through a series of unplanned events, Meridith has to stay at the Archer house for a few days, ruining her reputation.  The Archer men are honorable, so they agree to draw straws and whoever gets the short straw will marry Meridith.  As the oldest Archer, Travis feels it's his responsibility to take care of Meri.  But will responsibility develop into something more? 

First of all...just looking at the cover makes me want to open this book and read.  All of Karen's books have great covers!  Another thing I love about her books is the plot development.  This book was 363 pages, but I felt like I read even more because there was so much depth to the plot.  The characters came alive, they seemed realistic and likeable, and their inner conflicts were believeable.  Even one of the overall conflicts in the book (good vs evil) had a good amount of intensity and resolved itself in a believeable way.  And, of course, it had a great love story!  I loved the characters of Travis and Meri.  They weren't too good to be true, either.  It gets on my nerves when you read about a character that is amazingly beautiful/handsome, is flawless or resolves their flaws too easily, and can do no wrong.  You won't find that in this book.  There is a great balance with each character's physical and emotional flaws and their strengths.  If you'd like to see a book trailer along with one of her favorite recipes check out Karen's interview.


Friday, August 3, 2012


When I wrote my last post, I thought I was having at the least half of my thyroid taken out...and possibly the whole thing.  Well...God does things we don't expect.  When I went for my pre-op in Augusta the day before my surgery, the surgeon met with me and wanted to do another sonogram.  As he was looking at the sonogram, he said that the nodule wasn't where they thought it was actually approaching the center of the thyroid from the left side instead of the right.  He said that where it was positioned might make it possible for him to remove it without having to remove either lobe of the thyroid.  This was a big surprise.  He also said that the nodule was sitting right on the trachea, which explains my discomfort, and that it's rare to see it like this.  Maybe 2 or 3 out of hundreds of surgeries have this type of placement. 

Just luck?  Not for me.  I don't believe in luck.  God does miracles...even when we never would've expected it.  I honestly didn't question the previous plans the doctors had for my surgery.  For them to see a totally different scenario the day before the surgery is pretty amazing.  There was still a chance that the left lobe would need to be removed.  The surgeon said he wouldn't know for sure until he got in there. 

I'm sitting here right now with both lobes of my thyroid still intact, only the nodule and the isthmus of my thyroid taken out.  I won't have to take medication for the rest of my least not right now.  God does things we could never imagine. 

I still have to wait on the pathology report on my nodule to make sure that it's not cancerous.  If it is, then I will have to have my thyroid removed.  I am trusting in God's best plan, but I am praying that it will not be cancerous and that I will not have to have further surgery.  I'd appreciate your praying with me!

God is good!