Thursday, June 30, 2011

Copywork For The Younger Set

Jana said...

I know you've mentioned that Gavin does copywork on a daily basis. Do you do copywork with the younger crew (those just learning to read/write sentences)? If not, what do you do for writing practice?
We loosely do a Charlotte Mason-style of education.  (I say loosely because, though we do most of our learning with living books and do art study, nature study, narration, and copywork, I'm not a purist.) Charlotte recommended that copywork begin with learning the proper way to write letters and naturally  progress into short sentences.

I've found copywork to be tedious for my littler ones.  When we used Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, we always skipped the writing activity at the end of the lesson because my kids were not ready to begin writing at the same time they were ready to begin reading. 

When they were ready to write, they usually began on their own to write their name or other words on the pictures they were coloring.  One of our favorite resources was the ABC Preschool series by Rod and Staff which is actually on a kindergarten level. Each of these fun workbooks gave practice in coloring neatly, writing letters,  tracing lines, and writing the child's name.

We didn't begin formal copywork until Gavin was in second grade (age 6-7) and we didn't do it on a regular basis until he was in third grade (age 7-8).  We have used  the copybooks by Memoria Press. On each page, the child writes a scripture or poem (length depends on the level of the book) and draws a picture to  accompany it.   We have also used A Reason For Handwriting which is similar, but is also more colorful and probably more kid-friendly.  Now we simply use a copywork folder

Each child is different, but  if your child is bored with writing the alphabet and ready to move on to copywork, seize the opportunity to find something she will love to engage her mind in! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Inspired by Thoughts on a sunny Tuesday by Stacy...

~When Owen went to the ER on Sunday morning with a corneal abrasion, the biggest concern of the medical staff was that a scratch so large right in the middle of his eye could cause scarring and long-term vision problems.  When he went for a follow-up appointment Tuesday with the ophthalmologist, the scratch was totally healed. 

~In other medical news, I've had a pinched nerve in my shoulder this week. I'm pretty sure it was caused by carrying a too-heavy library bag.  Glamorous, huh?   It was the same kind of pain that you have when you hit your funny bone, only it didn't go away.  Ibuprofen didn't do much for it either.  The pain traveled all the way down my right arm and made my fingers tingly.  The best relief came when I laid down on my right side, but how often can a mother of five do that?! The pain and funny feeling is not gone, but it is certainly better than it was yesterday.

~We moved into our new house eight weeks ago and for eight weeks, we have struggled with a dishwasher that leaves all of our dishes dirty.  (Actually, we only struggled for only 2-3 weeks because then we gave up and went back to hand washing.)  We finally had a technician look at it today.  We need a new water valve and the part will be in early next week!  Yay for a working dishwasher. 

~ I've never believed in the whole terrible two (or terrible threes) thing, but boy is Benjamin giving me a run for my money!  He hides everything-- from the television remote to his brothers' toys.  He takes off his shoes every time we get in the van and he peels off his clothes any time he gets the chance.  When I put him down for a nap, he likes to get up and hide in the closet.  We attempted potty training last week, but I decided neither he nor I was ready.  I want to be ready, but I'm not. 

~We're going to put built-in bookshelves on our living room walls.  For the first time in years, we'll have a home for all of our books. 

~We are giving each of our older kids a "special night" where they can stay up later than their siblings .  Owen took his turn last night and he chose to play Wii games with Brian and me.  Gavin is taking his night next week.  He and Brian are going to a baseball game.  That same night, I am going to put the littles to bed and then Maddie and I are going to watch a movie together.  I think she has chosen Ramona and Beezus which we just watched at the $1 movie last week but that she wants to watch again anyway. 

~It was 91 degrees today, but the kids still enjoyed playing outside.  I'm a wimp, but I prefer staying inside when the temperature goes above 85.  Last week, we had friends over and ended up with *16* kids in our backyard! 

~Alaine is a very talky nine-month-old.  She can say "mama," "dada," "papa," bye-bye," and "hi."  She can also sniff like a bunny and say "bow-wow-wow" like a dog. 

What's on your mind today?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tri-Moms: Routine

This week the Tri-Moms decided to discuss routines.  Kathi announced on her blog yesterday that she is expecting Baby 8 so I suspect her routine will be doing some changing!  I've written about my routine several times in the past few years.  I am a schedule and routine oriented person, but I am working at being more flexible.  For the first time in years, I feel like we have the freedom to be more spontaneous without suffering from multiple meltdowns (the children's and my own!).  This current combination of ages and personalities has made for the easiest atmosphere since my before-kids days!   For a peek at my daily routine, click on the following links :

Updated 2011 Routine  

Admittedly, since we moved at the beginning of May and since we are currently on a break from school,  my daily routine has changed again, but rather than hash that out again, I'm going share what our yearly school routine looks like.  (I didn't want to bore anyone more than once a year with my daily routine, but if there is interest, I can be convinced {wink} to discuss it. )

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to homeschool my children.  I've never been big on the idea of preschool, but we began some fun school-ish activities when Gavin was three or four.  We colored and wrote and read most weekdays and slowed the pace on the weekends. I didn't give much thought to a schedule, but when it was time for kindergarten (and declaring our intent to the state Board of Education), I began to think more on our own plans for a school calendar.  I have friends who school year-round.  (In fact, I think both of the other Tri-Moms are year-rounders.)  I have friends who take 3 months off every summer.  I know of another who works her school days into trimesters, taking time off every three months. 

But what was going to work for me?

I knew we are out and about more than usual in the summer, making daily schoolwork tough, but I also knew that with Brian home for ten weeks every winter that we would appreciate time together without the demands of schooling.  So we compromised.  That first year we stated kindergarten at the beginning of August and worked through the week before Christmas.  Then we enjoyed an extended break until the beginning of February. Our second term last until the end of May.  

Okay, I thought, this schedule is going to be perfect for us

It was ...until Benjamin was born in the fall of 2008-- Gavin's 1st grade year.  Ben was born in October and we managed to pull through until our December break, but when we started our spring term and Brian went back to work, life dissolved.  I was thoroughly overwhelmed with schooling and caring for an infant and a very needy, sensitive, hands-on toddler (Owen).  By the time May rolled around, I was never so ready for a break...and when July rolled around, I was in tears thinking about beginning school again in a month with two now in school, plus the infant and very needy, sensitive, hands-on toddler.  I asked Brian what I should do.  I desperately wanted to postpone school until September so I could bide myself some more time, but I knew that would make us less flexible in the winter.  

He wisely reminded me  that one month wouldn't make much difference, but that he would support whatever decision I made.  He gave one more piece of advice, though:  choose a starting month and stick with it.  He said that leaving it up for discussion every year would be too agonizing and too much pressure.  And so reluctantly, I made the decision to stick with our August start date and I am glad we did.  When school resumed in August, it went far more smoothly that I could have imagined

We are currently on our 2-month summer break.  I laugh, though, at what it looks like to not be in school at our house.   Gavin is still doing a page of math every Monday (to keep the material  fresh). We are furiously reading through pleasure books.  Two of the kids are working their way through Alphaphonics together.   We keep our minds busy and honestly, I rarely hear any complaints of boredom. 

Come August, we'll be back at the dining room table plugging away again-- this year with three school-aged children!

So what does your yearly school schedule look like?  Do you school year-round or take scheduled breaks?   How did you decide how to schedule your year?

OR... what does your daily routine looks like?    

Discuss it in the comments or write your own post and come link it up here.  (Take a minute to grab the Tri-Moms button located on my sidebar.) The other Tri-Moms, Suzanne and Kathi, are talking routine today, too.   Let's all encourage one another! 

Up next: Tri-Moms talk Bulk Shopping
July 5
Linky Hostess: Suzanne

Coming Soon:
July 19: Worshiping at Home
August  2: Summer Fun on a Budget
August 16: Clothing a Bunch

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Dads

Yesterday was for the grad, but today was for the dads.  My children are blessed to have a father who loves the Lord.  We do not take that for granted.  I am blessed to have a husband who loves me and loves our children selflessly.  We do not take that for granted either. 

This is Brian's tenth Father's Day (counting the year I was pregnant with Gavin). This is the first Father's Day he celebrates with five children surrounding him.  Never-mind that the toddler is having a toddler moment involving a block and a scowl.  He loves them all anyway.

We began this Father's Day with homemade cards and hand-colored wrapping paper, housing gifts that each child picked out.  We fixed Brian's favorite breakfast and cranked up the tunes on Grooveshark while I washed the dishes and the kids played.  

Idyllic, huh?  Not so much. 

Somewhere in the course of little boy play, Owen got poked in the eye.  At first we assumed it was a normal uncomfortable accident and that within minutes, the playing would resume and the eye would be forgotten.  Again...not so much.  Owen kept complaining of a sore eye and an hour later, it was still watering and he could not keep it open.  So on a happy Father's Day morn, he and his daddy headed off to the ER.  You know, in our 8 1/2 years of parenting, we have only made four visits to the ER and three of them have been with this child!  The official diagnosis was a corneal abrasion (a fancy way of saying that he has a large scratch over the surface of his eye).  He is scheduled to see an ophthalmologist this week and in the meantime, he is wearing sunglasses, even in the house, to keep him from rubbing his eye and because he is sensitive to light with his injury.  

Lest you think we let a visit to the hospital ruin our Father's Day plans, you are sadly mistaken.  After stopping by Target for pain medication, we headed on to lunch at my parents' house with my dad.  (Brian's dad passed away almost seven years ago.)  

We ate fresh fruit and food from the grill, laughed at silly stories, and played games.  Even though my dad is not a game-playing person, he faithfully plays Apples to Apples or Mexican Trains with us every Sunday afternoon.  He may always root for the person who is in the lead (to ensure that the game is over sooner), but he is a good sport.  I'll always remember that about my dad.  When I was a young teenager, I used to beg my dad to take me roller skating with our church group a couple of times a year.  I knew he didn't like to go, but when those Monday nights would roll around, he would come home from work and get right back in the car to drive me there and drive me back home. 

 Today, we also made time for a few extras.  No one needed to be convinced to make time for homemade banana pudding, more presents and a Sunday afternoon nap.  My dad reads the newspaper every Sunday afternoon...and every Sunday afternoon he falls asleep while  reading it.  The kids giggle when they catch him dozing... or snoring.  They love to pretend to snooze like their Papa, too.

I love that my boys want to be like their Papa.  I love that my boys want to be like their Daddy.  Gavin says when he grows up he wants to be a father and cut grass, too.  

I love that I can trust that whoever he becomes when he grows up, he will be a man of God because the men he is imitating are daily striving to be like their Father in Heaven.

Happy Father's Day, Brian!
Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Grad

My sister, Kati, graduated from high school today.  She began her homeschool journey the fall after I graduated which means I've been out of school as many years as she's been in.  It makes me feel old and yet I still feel like a kid myself.  It's surreal.

I remember the day she was born.  I was thirteen years old and hoping for a little sister.  My brother, Ryan was born when I was two, and for eleven years, it had been just the two of us.  Now there was going to be a third.  Ryan and I waited all day at my grandparents'  house, anticipating news that the baby was finally here.  When we walked into the delivery room, no one had told us whether the baby was a boy or girl.  Someone asked me to guess and I guessed boy! 

Eight years later, the baby girl  had grown into a little girl and walked the aisle as the flower girl in my wedding.  She even caught the bouquet, a special memory for both of us.  She followed me though much of the pomp of my big day.  I have pictures of her leaning  on the table, gazing as Brian and I cut our wedding cake.

But today was her day, and she did it on her own.  I didn't need to trail behind and my gaze was from afar, as an observer on a church bench.  As she walked up the aisle today, it was to accept her diploma and when she walked back down, it was to officially enter the world as a graduate.  I wasn't prepared to be emotional.  I was so excited for her.  As we woke up early and prepared to leave for the ceremony, I tucked a tissue in my bag as a "just in case," but I truly didn't expect to do more than dab a tear from the corner of my eye.  Wrong. I was a crying mess, and my flimsy tissue had its work cut out for it.  (It failed miserably.)  I noticed she had a tissue tucked in her hand, too. 

I think my emotions go beyond the emotions of the day.  The older I get, the more aware I am of time slipping through my fingers.  Her school days were begun and gone in a flash.  As a mother of my own children, I feel that ache.  Brian and I were talking about it tonight after the hubbub of putting the kids to bed. Gavin will be nine this year.  He's halfway to eighteen.  He hasn't needed us to dress him for years.  He can brush his own teeth, fix his own drinks, take a shower, ride a bike, read books.  He doesn't want me to hold him in my lap anymore or to help him cross the street.  How did it happen that we blinked and we're halfway done our job of raising him?  How can it be that in nine more short years, it will be his turn to walk that aisle and our turn to release him to the adult world?  I think of when we are on a road trip and how the second half of the journey always goes by more quickly than the first half.  It is sobering.

Leftover graduation cake sits on the counter, a reminder of the day-- a reminder to seize this day and every day and make them count... and a reminder that this day and every day are from Him. 

We will not let the tears deter us from the celebration, though. Today the world gained a new adult, a woman who loves the Lord and shines His love about her always.  We pray that the Lord will guide her steps and guide ours, too, as we all continue in the work He has called us to do.

We love you, Kati!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Good Versus Good

The ink is barely dry on the old school year, but I'm busy planning the new one.  I love this time of year.  I love that we've finished the plans of the previous year.   It is so refreshing to compile work samples into binders and throw away the stacks of papers we don't need, but now that the old year feels final, I'm ready to open up a new one. 

I've been making a list of what I'd like to study and learn next year, and I've scoured Amazon and paper catalogs for the best book prices.  I even placed my first online order of the season last night.  I feel like a kid on Christmas morning!  

It is so hard to narrow down what to purchase.  It is even hard to decide what to study.  I want to do it all.  We plan to continue our study of American history, but I want to delve into geography, too.  I want to continue our nature studies that we all love,  but I wonder if Gavin is ready for a meatier study of science.  I want to learn about more missionaries and continue our study of Christian worldview, but there are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in the year.  I want to continue with copywork, but I struggle with thinking we need to spend more time on learning to write cursive.

Summer morning games

It is the good versus the good.  Spinach, carrots, and peas are all good foods, but we don't need to eat them all at the same meal.  Similarly, I'm reminding myself that just because the solar system, ancient history and Hudson Taylor are all good, it doesn't mean I have to it teach them all now.  (It is so tempting, though.)


Have you begun to think about the next school year yet? 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The 2-Hour School Day?

Inspired by my Tri-Mom's post about beginning to homeschool, I'm stuffing a few more tidbits into the cracks of my blog this summer in an effort to encourage and inspire the fledgling (or possibly even the veteran?). 

I've mentioned before (here and here) that our school days are short and (usually, though not always!) sweet.  We tend to dress and eat, and start school right at the breakfast table.  We begin with Bible reading and memory, take time to study either art or music or nature study together, proceed to independent table time (math, handwriting, phonics, etc.), and finish up with reading our history selection together in the living room before lunch.  All told, the school work is finished in 2-3 hours.  

So how do we reconcile that with the 6-7 hours our public school counterparts are spending in school each day?    If they jump on the bus at 7:30 in the morning and don't return home until 4 in the afternoon, how can my kids be learning just as much between the hours of 8 and 11?!  

First of all, we mentally concede that we don't need to compare ourselves to them...or anyone.  But then we remember that the public school day has a lunch break (we do that!), recess (we do that, too!), bathroom breaks, and periods of standing in line.  Then we remember that we take field trips on the weekends and we read books aloud in the afternoon and at night.  Suddenly, our skeleton 3 hours have stretched into many more! 


How long is your typical school day?  Or how long do you plan it to be?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Surviving the Grocery Aisles

As I mentioned
, grocery shopping is a new experience for me.  When Brian and I were first married, we used to grocery shop together.  We would go at night and roam the aisles together.  I worked days and he worked a lot of weekends so we typically went shopping late at night when all the crazies shop.  When Gavin was born, I quit my job and Brian started working days (at the lawn care job he has now) and as much as possible we still went shopping together in the evenings.  When Maddie was born twenty months later, we tried continuing to shop as a family and I took the kids shopping a couple of times alone, but Brian ended up taking over the job completely.  He would go every other Monday night after work.  I'd prepare the list and he would do the shopping.  It worked for us...until April. 

In the frenzy of the spring grass-cutting season and preparing to buy our house and move, Brian didn't have time to go to the store.  We still needed to eat, though, and so I reluctantly planned to take the kids shopping myself.  I planned a week's worth of meals (instead of the two weeks I usually do) and made a list.  We went in the morning while everyone was still fresh and I made sure everyone pottied and had a snack.  I secured Alaine (baby) in the ring sling on my hip.  I hefted Benjamin (2) into the front of the cart.  I gave Gavin (8) charge of the list and I asked Maddie (6) and Owen (4) to put the items I needed into the cart.

I was a nervous wreck that first time, but we had the most encouraging experience.  I had a conversations about kids and homeschooling in the frozen foods with a mama of four, and when I went through the check-out, our cashier told me all about how she was the youngest of ten children.  She told that she and her siblings were still extremely close-- that she was 59 and that her oldest brother was 89!  I was fascinated by her story and, until my mom pointed it out, I totally missed the fact that her mother must have had amazing fertility to have children for a span of 30 years!

After the success of our first daytime 6-person grocery run, we dared try again-- this time for the regular bi-monthly trip.  By this time we were in our new home and the store was no longer a hop, skip, and a jump from our front door.  We awoke on grocery day to a torrential downpour.  I reasoned that the rain would surely stop by the time we left for the store.  It didn't.  I don't know if the dreary day rubbed off on the other shoppers or if we were just destined to rub shoulders with rude people.  Though the kids were pleasant and we had no meltdowns or accidents, we got our share of stares and more than the usual number of "you have your hands full"- type of comments.  

As we neared the register, I had the 8-year-old engage the 2-year-old in a game of "What's Your Favorite...?" to stave off a meltdown that was sure to occur as they were both restless and ready to go home.  Nothing could prepare us for this week's cashier, though.  As we began unloading our cart, I could feel her eyes on us.  As the  kids slapped cheese and Teddy Grahams and grapes onto the belt, the cashier says, "These all yours?  Five kids!  What a mess."  I was taken aback by this comment.  Surely we are all subject to our opinions, but to voice it in front of the children to whom you are referring crosses the line.  She went on to tell me about a fellow cashier who had six children, but how she herself had only had one and that was enough for her.  As she continued to ramble on, I sensed that, more than anything, she was just clueless about the life of a big family.  It wasn't that she didn't approve.  It was that she didn't understand.  As we placed the last bag into our cart and she prepared to give us our total, she asked if I'd like to donate a dollar to charity.  I declined and she said, "Well, I certainly understand that you wouldn't be able to do that with all those mouths to feed."

During the whole soggy drive home, I felt defeated.  Did my children pick up on what the cashier thought of them?  Did I respond with the right attitude to her literal ignorance?  I posted about it on Facebook that afternoon and my friend Melanie (mama of four) said, "I love going to the store with all the kids. I am either blessed by others or we have the opportunity to bless others."   The words hit home.  Sometimes I am blessed (like by the elderly woman who stopped with a smile to tell me what wonderful helpers I had), but sometimes I'm in the position to do the blessing.

We've been on our bi-monthly shopping trip twice more since that mind- and attitude-altering day.  We've reveled in the blessings.  A few weeks ago, a lady handing out samples gave my kids a whole box of crackers to share.  Another time, an older couple stopped me and said that they had raised five kids, too-- two girls and three boys like me-- and that though the days were hard, the rewards were priceless.  They said, "It was all thanks to the Lord."  However, we've been more open to the chance to bless others, too.  Perhaps the man who grunts as he eyes the kids trailing behind me is hiding a hurting heart.  And though the passing shopper's words may sting, perhaps I'm the only one who is offering up a prayer for her.

Nonetheless, when we are home and thick in the task of unloading a car-full of groceries into the cabinets and pantry shelves, I've been known to pop open a Coke and breathe a sigh of relief that we're done for another two weeks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tri-Moms: Beginning Homeschooling

This week, the Tri-Moms want to discuss beginning homeschooling.   If you've read my blog long enough, you know I'm a big proponent of homeschooling.  I was even homeschooled myself from 6th through 12th grade. That experience helped immensely when it came to choosing curriculum for my own children.  I knew what I had personally enjoyed and if I got stuck, I knew lots of other moms I trusted  to ask advice.  

However, I was surprised at how inadequate I felt when I began homeschooling.   I think it could be better defined as unsure or vulnerable... and even though I gain more enthusiasm every year, there are still  many days when I feel that same inadequacy now.   I love curriculum talk, but I thought it could more beneficial to address the emotional and mental side of beginning to homeschool. 

5 Things To Remember When 
Beginning Homeschooling

1) You can do it!  This is not some feel-good pep talk.  That's just not my style.  But you really can do it.  I have so many women tell me that they can't homeschool because they don't have the patience or the money or the education to do it, but if you want to homeschool your children, you can do it!
I lose my cool sometimes...I don't have super-human coping skills.
My husband cuts grass for a living...we are far from rich.

I didn't graduate from college...

You can do it! 

2) There is no perfect curriculum.  Gavin will be entering fourth grade in August, and through trial and error, we have stumbled upon curriculum that fits our family.  I feel like we really hit our stride last year, but what works for me might not work for you.  What works for me today might not work for me tomorrow.  (We learned last year with our math curriculum.) 

You don't need lots of money to teach your children either.  When Maddie finished her first grade math and phonics programs early last year, I purchased a workbook from Target that she loved so much we plan to buy her the same workbook in the second grade level when our school resumes in August.  We also utilize our public library system.  Nothing beats free!

3) You know best for your own children.  One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling is that children do not have to conform to the timetable of the school system.  If your child can read chapter books, but is struggling with basic addition, that's okay.  If he can multiply three digit numbers, but has trouble writing his numbers correctly (or writing at all), that's okay, too.  As moms we have the ability to sense our children's abilities and adapt our teaching to their needs. 

Sometimes the academics are going smoothly, but you still wonder if you are teaching enough or teaching too much or teaching the right things.  You wonder if you are kind enough or firm enough or taking too many days off or pushing  too hard.  You wonder if possibly someone else could be doing a better job...someone who has a teaching degree, perhaps.  My husband went to public school for all 13 years of his grade-school education, but he is my biggest cheerleader.   He reminds me to look at the big picture,  focusing on how happy they are and all that they've learned and accomplished.

4) Life is learning.  Take the pressure off of yourself.  There will be seasons of rigorous learning and there will be periods of rest.  We've had a new baby every other school year.  We moved to a new home this year.  For you it could be a surgery or a trip or a death in the family.  Regardless of the circumstances, we've had to adjust our expectations accordingly and remember that even if we aren't picking up the pencils, we are most definitely learning-- learning life skills, learning to care, learning to live.
5) Reading Shakespeare or learning to count to a million means nothing if your children can't stand each other.   So you're not sure you have the confidence to teach chemistry... and you don't have money to buy the latest math program... and you wonder every day if you doing a good job.. and you haven't had a full school day in the past month?  It all pales in light of what is most important. Homeschooling is about relationships-- relationships with each other and ultimately a relationship with our Saviour.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  (I Corinthians 13:1-3)

If we remember that our most important job is raising people who love the Lord, the rest will fall into place.

Suzanne is this week's hostess.  Hop on over to her blog and read her take on beginning homeschooling.  She's a huge proponent, too!  And don't forget Kathi!   If you need a bit of encouragement, we're all in this together.  If you have something to add to the conversation, don't be shy about typing out a comment or a question or a whole blog post of your own.  We'd love to read what you have to say. 

Up next: Tri-Moms talk Routine
June 21
Linky Hostess: me

Coming Soon:
July 5: Bulk Shopping
July 19: Worshiping at Home
August  2: Summer Fun on a Budget

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Are You Reading? Summer Edition

We finished up our school year last Thursday.  We don't officially claim to be year-round schoolers, but who ever really stops learning?  Not us, for sure.  

This summer, I am teaching the kids to help clean.  Even though we've gained about 400 square feet of living space, having all of our living space on one floor has made the house infinitely easier to clean.  Since they were little, I've trained them to help around the house, but now we are delving into vacuuming, dusting, changing sheets, beating rugs and sweeping the kitchen and we do it all together which makes it more fun.  Each day this week we got the day's cleaning done by mid-morning and then settled in the (tidier) living room with snacks and books. We finished all of the cleaning today which means we are free to make a library run tomorrow morning.  (We have a smaller library in our new town and we love it!) 

We have big plans for reading this summer!  We finished the last chapters Caddie Woodlawn this week.  I had never read this book, even as a child, but I was enthralled.  Excellent, excellent reading for both boys and girls.  The sequel, Magical Melons, is a definite on our summer list.  

We started Beezus and Ramona yesterday.  I know some parents avoid this series of books because Ramona's mischievous behavior leaves something to be desired.  We are only two chapters in, but my kids are appalled and amazed that Ramona acts the way she does.  She is in no way their  role model, but she has incited more than a few giggles!  We have plans to go to the $1 movies in a few weeks and see the movie version, Ramona and Beezus so I thought it would be fun to read the book first.  This is also the first chapter book I've required Owen to sit and listen to.  He is always around while we read, but his attention span has been slower to develop than the other kids'.  I had a hunch he would enjoy this with us, though, so I reserve my lap for him during this book and he is loving it!  (Gavin's first chapter book was The Mouse and the Motorcycle so I'm thinking Beverly Cleary has a real knack for capturing the little ones.)  I'm guessing our summer shelf will hold the rest of the Ramona series. 

Once our super-busy June is over, we are going to read Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling and color a great big map to go along with it.  We did the same thing with Tree in the Trail in the fall.  (We use the Beautiful Feet maps.) 

I've suddenly been drawn back into reading more myself now that I'm using the computer less during the day.  On our first visit to our new library, I randomly grabbed a stack of books in an effort to find an author I liked.  I'm a Beverly Lewis fan...and a Lynn Austin fan...and a Jamie Langston Turner fan...but I've already read their newest books so I was in a rut.  I mentioned to my mom that with all the classics out there that I've never read, I feel too lazy to read one.  She reminded me that this, too, is a season.  With many little children in the house, by the time I have time to read (naptime or evenings), I'm tired and crave lighter reading.  (And lest I ever say that I'm not reading anything, I must remember children's classics I read aloud.)

I ended up trying a Brandilynn Collins murder mystery.  Other than a few jumpy, late-night moments, I really loved the suspense of her writing.  At the same time, I was finishing up One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Admittedly I had a hard time with this one, though once I got into it, it didn't take more than a few days to finish.  My library hold queue is quite the eclectic list: the latest Mary Higgins Clark mystery, Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line by  Abby Johnson, and Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables by Phil Vischer.  

Has anyone ever read the Shopaholic books?  Are they any good?

Brian and I also continue to read through the Bible, one chapter at a time (except for Psalms which we read in larger sections).  We began with the New Testament and have circled into the Old Testament.  We are thick into Isaiah

Brian plans to read a book or two with the kids this summer, too.  They read Thornton Burgess animal books for a long while and then a few Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown selections, too.  They are contemplating The Chronicles of Narnia, but I'm not sure if the kids are ready for such intense reading, especially since one of them scares easily. 

So...what are you reading?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


She is...

talking ("mama," "banana" "boo")
pulling up
eating  (everything!)

 She's 9 months!

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