Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Beauty So Rare

I don't know about all of you, but I love starting a new book! Especially when the cover practically jumps out at me and just begs me to open it up.  That's how I felt when I received a copy of "A Beauty So Rare" by Tamera Alexander.  It's her newest book, set in one of my favorite places, Nashville, TN, in the 1880s.  I haven't finished the book...just getting started, really...but I wanted to share with you the book trailer.


If that didn't pique your interest, click here to read a sample of the book.  This peek into Eleanor's world will be worth your time!  

I'll be posting more about this book for the next couple of weeks, so be on the lookout : ).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Homeschool week: letter T activities and CC week 20

I didn't get around to posting last week, but I wanted to mention some fun letter S activities we did last week.  First of all...Dr. Seuss!  We didn't do much with it, but the possibilities are endless.  We went another route on our school day.  I bought some soil and some seed packs and we planted some little seeds!  I had saved some of my K cups from my Keurig, emptied out the coffee grounds and cleaned them a little and used them as seed planters.  It was perfect!  You can even write on the outside with a sharpie...their name and what type of seed they planted.  The kids loved it!  I also let them pick 4 different seeds and glue them on their paper and label them.  It was a great way to talk about different types of seeds and different types of plants.

I also wanted to remind you that on Friday of this week I'm having a giveaway of the book Must-Have Marvin.  Look here to get more info!

We started off the week today with letter T in our preK class.  We had such a great time today!  I thought a fun way to teach this letter was to have a tea party : ).  I made some hot chocolate and gave it time to cool, some drop biscuits this morning, took some jelly, and we had some powdered donuts to top it all off.  I brought my daughter's little tea set and a plastic turned out great!  I also brought our little fold up tents, we read "The Little Engine That Could" and "Thomas the Tank Engine". I also had "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," but the kids' interest was fading quickly!  : )  They had a great time.

We also had a gentleman come share with us this morning about his stepfather who had just recently passed away.  He was 100 years old when he died and he had served in WWII.  He earned two purple hearts and three bronze stars.  He was truly a man who showed so much bravery, courage, and patriotism.  We have so many men and women who have served our country that we need to honor.  In light of all of the wars we've been studying, I thought it would be a good idea to not only learn about some of our soldiers, but to minister to them as well.  I put it out there on facebook and got a good response.  Some ideas:
*contact the local VA and ask how you can minister to veterans
*wounded warrior project
*get connected with a serviceman/woman and see if they know how to minister to some of the troops
* WW Getaway in San Antonio, Apr 24-27, sponsored by Joni and Friends...they would love hand-written notes. Send to: Joni & Friends Texas/SanAntonio, 6351 Rittiman, Suite 3, San Antonio, TX 78232. Or phone 210-481-5664.  This idea was sent to me by Debbie of several military novels and Georgia resident.  She really loves to minister to the troops and this is a great way that any of you could be a part...and very soon!  I'm encouraging our little homeschool group to participate in this.

Now for our Classical Conversations material for the week...
History: Vietnam War
*This video is a great summary.  We love Tim and Moby on BrainPop.

Science: Second Law of Thermodynamics

*I thought this was a good experiment idea.  From this site

Geography: South Central Asia
*We'll probably try out some of our Asia geography songs from the book/cd Geography Songs by Kathy Troxel.

And yay!  We're talking about Thailand!  <3 live="" p="" there="" to="" used="">
English: appositives

Fine Arts: Beethoven

*Beethoven color sheet and info. 
That's all for now!  : )  Hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Must-Have Marvin" by Christy and GIVEAWAY! *winner announced!*

Written by Christy Ziglar
Illustrated by Luanne Marten
ages 4 to 8
**And the WINNER IS: Kelly Kitchens!  Congratulations!!**

Marvin is a little boy who just "has to HAVE" things.  He just got a new shirt, but when he saw his friend with the same shirt AND matching glow-in-the-dark shoes...he just HAD to have them.  Soon his "have to haves" are all he thinks about.  He neglects his friends, his brother, his soccer team, and his neighbor.  All of them want to spend time with Marvin, but he's too busy daydreaming about the stuff he wants.  When he finally gets a new robot, he realizes that it's not as much fun as he thought it would be...and so he starts seeking out people to do things with--but they're busy.  It causes Marvin to realize that people...not things...are more important.
Here's my girl right before we sat down to all read the book together this afternoon.  This book was perfect for my kids!  Honestly, I try to keep the "stuff" to a minimum, going through the kids' toy chests a couple of times a year and donating or selling the things that they never play with or have outgrown.  But that still doesn't keep us from dealing with all the times we go to Walmart or play with other kids and I hear, "I want that!"  They really got the message of this book.  I am also reinforcing it by asking them questions and reminding them about times we've had when the Kindle Fire, computer, and tv have become more important than interacting with others.  This story did not have a reference to the Bible or Christian beliefs, but you could easily relate Biblical principles to the story line if you wanted to. Here's some more info you might like...
Visit the official website: 
Tag in your posts:  #ShareAMoment 

Author Bio
Christy Ziglar, financial planner, mother of twins and niece of legendary motivator and the world’s original optimist, Zig Ziglar, is bringing the same timeless wisdom and ageless advice to an entirely new, younger audience through her new Shine Bright Kids picture book series.

About Shine Bright Kids:
Choose Right. Shine Bright.
The Shine Bright Kids series provides children and their families with a framework to teach the importance of making good choices. The principles that will be explored include: using good judgment, taking responsibility, having a positive attitude, and demonstrating perseverance.

Illustrator Bio
Thanks to her first-grade teacher, who recognized her superior skills in drawing a robin, Luanne Marten  has been drawing, painting, and sketching ever since. She is a great experimenter and has a fresh, whimsical approach that brings her characters to life. 

I think anyone who is around children can relate to this story!  If you would like to have your own copy of "Must-Have Marvin"....I'm giving one away!  All you need to do is leave me a comment here or on my facebook link and your name will be put in the drawing.  I'll pick a name on Friday, March 28th and post the winner here.  I'll probably post something else in the meantime, so don't forget to check back...or leave me your email address.  I know you'll love this book!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Book Three in the Edge of Freedom series

*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in order to give an unbiased book review*

I'm going to preface this book by saying that I didn't read the first two books in this series, so I was going into it unfamiliar with the characters, setting, and plot.  I can happily say that this didn't prevent me from following the story line and enjoying the book.  However, if I would've read them it probably would've given me more insight and some good background info.

Tillie McGrath left Ireland with her fiance, Braeden, for America.  They were fleeing corruption and hardship in Ireland in hopes for a better life.  Unfortunately, as they traveled Braeden fell ill and died on the ship before they even reached freedom's shores.  Tillie is understandably devastated and taken by the ship's captain, Keondric Morgan, to a boarding house to start a new life.  And Tillie does just that.  Her new dream is to save enough to buy a house she can convert into an orphanage.  Two years after Captain Morgan drops her off, she is surprised to see him show up at the boarding house steps, concerned for her welfare.

Tillie McGrath made an impression on Captain Morgan during their short acquaintance.  What especially sticks out in his mind is how heartbroken she was when he left her alone two years before.  When a crew member confesses on his deathbed that he was bribed to kill Tillie's fiance, Morgan knows he has to make sure Tillie is's his responsibility.  He takes it upon himself to not only check on Tillie personally, but to put himself in a position to protect her.  As he and his brother, Cass, find a way to stay at the boarding house with Tillie to keep an eye on her, it becomes obvious that the danger they fear is very real...and deadly.

This book has so many great elements: romance, tension, danger, intrigue, and intensity.  At the beginning of the story, because I had not read the previous two books to get background info, I was trying to figure out who the players were.  I liked the tough, Irish sea captain.  He was loyal and determined to provide for those he loved, which included protecting them (I think it has to be some kind of oldest child trait : )).  His younger brother, Cass, is the handsome playboy that is courageous but knows how to lighten the mood.  Tillie is a broken woman, but she is slowly building her confidence and strength when we meet her.  Then there are the bad guys...and the Irish rebels...and there's a lot of them, particularly one head baddie nicknamed "The Celt." 
This story revolves around the killing of a prominent leader in the Irish rebellion against England's rule.  Tillie and several others are involved in knowing who murdered this leader but they don't know who is behind all of the killing and plotting.  Enter suspense and intensity.  This is what I really like about the book.  I didn't know what was going to happen next, if Tillie would be safe (and, of course, she's always taking unwise risks), and if Morgan or Cass would be there to rescue her. At the end of the story I got a little confused with all the names being thrown at me and it was kind of hard to keep good guy names/bad guy names straight in my mind.  Other than that, I thought the suspense was a nice element to the story and kept my heart pumping and pages turning! 
The only thing that kind of irritated me (spoiler warning) is the constant miscommunication between our guy and girl.  It's obvious they're head over heels, but their thoughts about what the other one wants, or reading into their actions too much, constantly put each one into a state of heartbreak.  I know that can happen in real life....but I kind of wished I could jump into that book and shake them sometimes!  It's like...enough already! : )  I also thought the cover art was beautiful but I didn't really connect how it all fit with the story.  I'm guessing the guy on the front is the captain, but that's not really how I pictured him.

I would definitely recommend this book.  I thought it was interesting, had the romantic element I like, gave me a good dose of suspense and didn't spare our lead characters from getting attacked from the bad guys.  Hope you enjoy!  Happy reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Random thoughts, cute St. Patrick's cupcakes, and school this week (letter R, CC week 18)

I'm sorry to all of you who have no interest in what I'm doing for our homeschooling week! : )  I'm actually going to be doing a book review before the week is out on a book that is keeping me on the edge of my will post something other than our homeschooling adventures!  I will also be receiving a children's book in the mail soon that I will be reviewing and having a giveaway (!!) before the month is out.  Stick with me!
 Honestly, during the school year I'm SO busy with teaching the kids, church activities, and just normal, everyday life, typing out these weekly blog posts is the only thing keeping me on track with school during the week! I know...I'm not a super-organized-have-it-all-together-Mom.  That image...that I'd love to dying a slow death!  I'd love to have a clean house and all the laundry caught up...but with three little people 7 and under, two adults, and about 1400 square feet of just isn't going to happen.  My house may never be as clean and organized as I want it to be.  Just keepin' it real.  But that's ok.  I love my life!  Anyone is welcome to come by our house as long as you don't mind me apologizing (I always do that...can't help it) for the messy state of affairs, making some kind of excuse as to why it's not clean this week (it rarely is...let's just be honest), and then once we're through those formalities we can get on with the fellowship.

I do manage a few Pinterest sessions during the week to, you know, boost my confidence in my cleaning, DIY-ing, and sewing abilities (ha!).  Actually, it is kind of therapeutic and helps me dream dreams.  My newest dream is to make some cool cupcakes for our school time next Monday, which happens to be St. Patrick's Day.  That also happens to be the day after my baby boy's birthday, so I thought cupcakes would be a fun way to celebrate both.  Here are some Pinterest-inspired ideas...

st patrick's day cupcakes                 Pot of Gold St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes via @Wilton Cake Decorating                     St. Patricks Day Cupcakes #cupcake #holiday #StPatricksDay |
I think they're all SO CUTE!  I think what I would really love to do is cut out the middle of the cupcake when it's cool and fill it with the M&M's...that way it would be a cool surprise.  Then I could do the rainbow thing on the top or do the Lucky Charms.  Fun!  I would also make the cupcakes egg free for my little guy.  I'm excited already!  I know it'll be time consuming, but worth it for little man and for the other kids in our group...hoping I can manage it! : )

Now on to school this week.  We are on letter R for my PreK-ers so today at our homeschool group we did these crafts....

I LOVE how they turned out!  I got the ideas from Pinterest, of course, but they were super easy...especially since I had all the stuff.  I drew out the R cut them out for the kids.  Then I let them glue it onto a half sheet of construction paper. Then I let them glue the yellow road dashes on...they did a great job!  I had the car/train/motorcycle/plane stickers that I got in a pack from the dollar store.  We've used them three times now...they've definitely been worth the $1 I paid!  For the rain picture we glued cotton balls on the top, used my blue Bingo stamper (from the dollar store) to make the rain drops.  Then I took a mini cupcake paper, folded it and turned it upside down for the top of the umbrella and cut part of a pipe cleaner and formed it to make the handle.  Easy and fun.  Other ideas I'd like to do for this week:
Rr is for...

I also got a great book at the Goodwill called "Rain".  It fit perfectly into the crafts and things we did for letter R.

On to week 18...only 6 more weeks to go! (I'm going to try and put just a few good resources for each...I need sleep! : ))
*This blog post by Classical Conversations at Home on week 18 is a great resource!

History--United Nations
*Apparently my video is having trouble embedding here....I'm even having trouble pulling it up on YouTube.  If you search "United Nations for Kids" it should show a cartoon-like video explaining the UN.
*There's also an "episode 2" after this one
*Another video: The UN Explained

Geography--More Central Europe

*map of central Europe

Science--Newton's Third Law
*Click here to find an explanation of the third law, but it would be too hard for my littles to understand.  Better for older kids.
*I'm pretty sure I posted a video with Newton's Second Law that demonstrated this law.  I wasn't able to find a good one for this week yet!  If I do find one I'll come back and post it.
*Science blog entries with some free printables.  I really wanted to print their Laws of Motion booklet, but had trouble with the images centering correctly.  Technology...arggg!
*Laws of motions with matchbox cars

Fine Arts--Morisot
A great printable is available through the link I put above to Classical Conversations at Home

Geometry--area of a triangle

Ok..that's all I can handle for one night! : )  Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Q activities and CC week 17

Last week I was wiped out...therefore, no blog post.  The week didn't go nearly as smoothly.  I'm back in the game this week despite the fact that I'm still kind of tired.  I've been doing a new crossfit-style workout at 6am three days a week...and it's doing exactly what it's supposed to.  Wearing me out, strengthening muscles that haven't been used in quite a while, and helping me lose some weight.  Yay!  My kids have also started jujitsu classes three nights a week and are enjoying it.  I'm just thankful that God has provided a way for our whole family to get some much needed exercise for FREE!  Amazing.  Only God could orchestrate that!

Last week I did Letter P with the preschoolers, so I wanted to briefly recap what we did.  We all liked the activity.  I let "P" stand for prince and princesses, so we got some free Burger King crowns and decorated them with stickers that I bought at the dollar store.  The kids loved it.  Then I wrote "P is for prince/princess" on the inside.  We also read the story, "The Princess and the Pea".  I really wanted to bring some Barbies or some other dolls and act it out for the kids...but I didn't get it together in time.  That would've been fun, though.  Another great book is "The Princess and the Kiss"...a treasure for little girls.

This week I taught letter Q.  We read a little story about Queen Esther that was right on the kids' level.  I also had a coloring sheet that I got for free from It's a great place for free worksheets.  I brought a small quilt for the kids to sit on during our class time and they just loved it.  We also had a "picnic" for snack time on the quilt.  We talked about question marks, quiver (of arrows), quail, and you could also talk about the quarter. At first I didn't know if there would be much other than queen for the letter Q, so it was nice to find some other fun activities.

Week 17
History--WWII leaders
*Free coloring page of Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt.
*Dressing up with Sola Gratia Mom group and doing some experiments with Newton's Second Law
*Every day of WWII...sped through and showing on the map which power controlled different parts of the world
*Horrible Histories!

*Four WWII Horrible History videos
*Winston Churchill biography

*Tojo of Japan biography
*Hitler biography (shows brief images towards the end of dead bodies from the Holocaust)
*Stalin biography (also shows very brief images of dead bodies from a distance)
*History Sentences video for weeks 13-24 (LOVE THIS!!)
Moving on...
Geography--Central Europe

Geometry--area of a square 
*This video also includes the area of a rectangle

Science--Newton's second law
*Make Me Genius video
*I like this one better:

*First grade "Noun Town" worksheets from (free!)

Fine Arts--Degas
*Dancers at the Barre free coloring sheet (also from
*Ballerina free color sheet and short Degas bio
*Nice 3D Monet and Degas art projects from Sola Gratia Mom

And there we have it!  Plenty to keep us busy this week!  : )  Hope you all have a blessed one~