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Category Archives: Education

January 2017 Reads

Reading is a huge part of our family culture. As I type, the girls are sitting with stacks in the other room, flipping through books and either just looking at the pictures or attempting to recount the words read to them from the pages. {It’s really the cutest thing to listen to them!} I want to share more of our favorite pastime here on the blog to inspire you too!

In the past, I’ve shared snippets of books here and there throughout the year, and, then, done a compilation of everything read at the end of the year, but we’re going to change things up a bit. Starting with this post, I’m going to do a month recap {a little late here on January — I’ll try to be better about February}.

I’ll share what I’ve read, books I’ve read aloud with the girls, and some of our favorite picture books that month.

{I’m also participating in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge for the 3rd year in a row. This year, she has two lists — one for fun and one for growth — I’m attempting to do both. I’ll mention the category I’m reading it for if the book is for one of them.}

So without further adieu, here’s January’s reads!

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi — Moving through generations, this story follows the family lines of two girls descended from an African slave woman on the Gold Coast as it was being colonized by the British. It is fascinating to see the direction of each girl’s family tree and their subsequent progenies outlook on life as they are affected by cultural influences and circumstances.  To be honest, this is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but when researching for a book to read from the growth category of “A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author” for the MMD Challenge, this one stood out to me. I highly recommend.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom — A page-turner that had me neglecting my household duties one morning, this follows the story of an young immigrant orphan who ends up on a plantation in the South during the Civil War era. She’s neither slave, nor entirely free, so her relationship with the household folks and the slaves, whom she mostly lives with, is an interesting one that forces her to question her loyalty to and love for each. A huge hit for this historical fiction fan.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by Bill Lascher — This was my pick for “A juicy memoir” in the MMD Challenge book for fun. Memoirs and WWII history are always a happy combination for me. What I found fascinating about this book, however, was its American perspective of Asia during WWII. So much is written and said about the European conflict, but relatively hushed about Asia. {Although I can’t tell you how many WWII Navy seamen I know of who fought in the South Pacific, including my own grandfathers!} The story of these journalists sheds some light on the hidden history.

Five Love Languages for Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell — I’ve read the original Five Love Languages numerous times. This one is geared toward your children, but I didn’t glean too much more, other than a few practical examples, that I didn’t already know from reading the original.

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe — One of the best works of spiritual reading I’ve read in a long time. It forced me to sit with a journal to copy out passages and read only a few pages at a time to digest the wonderful meat in this gem of a book. I only wish I had picked it up sooner, per my husband’s recommendation.

 

Books Read with My Children

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White — This classic never grows old. White’s writing is poetic, seamless, and grand. I enjoyed this even more than when I read it as a child. And, of course, my girls latched onto all the favorite characters and talk about them often when they come to mind throughout the day.

Some Writer! : The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet — This was a beautifully done, work of art by the incredible illustrator Melissa Sweet {we also enjoyed her Balloons Over Broadway about a puppeteer in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade}. She lives in the town where White had his farm house and his granddaughter still lives, so she had direct access to many of the things he loved and which influenced his writing. She does an amazing job sharing the story of the man. {I even came to find out an interesting tidbit: He’s THE White of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style!} There’s an excellent interview with the author at the Read Aloud Revival podcast here if you want to learn more about her.

The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson — Lucie is obsessed with this adorable picture book that has a beautiful rhyme which the girls love to repeat. It was an excellent read during our month of talking about hibernation and migration.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner — This fun story looks at which animals stay awake and which ones sleep during the long winter months. Beautifully illustrated. I was happy flipping through it myself.

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel — The repetition could drive the reader batty, but the children love it. 😉 For those who live where it snows, they will understand well this peeling on and off of layers in order to go in and out of the snow.

 

{Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit this month.}

#write31days ~ day 3: BIG painting

big painting

With two little people who are super inquisitive, I decided to glean a little extra help with a structured, yet very loose, curriculum from The Homegrown Preschooler this school year. It’s called A Year of Playing Skillfully. I am very much into play-based learning, hands-on experiences, etc. and this curriculum fits that to a ‘T’.

big painting

big painting

Last year, I read The Homegrown Preschooler, written by the same authors of the curriculum, Kathy H. Lee and Lesli Richards. I appreciated their educational philosophy and incorporated some of the activities offered into our day. Between this and Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven {which we LOVED and are supplementing with again}, we had a great thing going last year.

big painting

big painting

But I could tell this year that Evelyn needed a little something extra. I was faced with the decision of, essentially, putting together my own curriculum or seeking a bit of help. I chose to do the latter because I was feeling a tad overwhelmed at the prospect this time around.

We’re a month in, and although we didn’t get to half the prescribed activities in September, we had a great time with the ones we did. It’s a great program because Lucie can easily get involved too, even though she is only a fresh two years old. {She’s much more interested in kinesthetic learning, so she truly has no problem diving into many of the activities!}

big painting

big painting

One of last month’s activities was BIG painting. We took out a large roll of paper, cut about 15 feet off, and got to work on it with paints, sponges, paintbrushes, and a few other natural items we found in the yard {Lucie really liked stamping with a large rock}. Evelyn surprised me by instigating the body painting, which she is usually hesitant to try.

big painting

big painting

They had the best time working together…and individually when they each needed a bit of space. It easily allowed for that.

big painting

big painting

Since we used washable paints, clean-up was relatively easy. Even mama got some on her shirt and it washed out. 🙂

painted

painted

Looking forward to sharing more of our projects with you as the year progresses!

What I Learned This Summer

I’ve enjoyed linking up with Emily for her monthly “What I’ve Learned” posts throughout the year. I’ve had this one sitting in my drafts for a while, adding a little as time went along because I haven’t seen a post up all summer. Well, turns out she decided to do an end-of-summer round up. Good thinking, lady. Here’s my summer’s worth:

  • My girls enjoying things that I once enjoyed as a young girl brings me even greater joy than the joy it brought me in my youth.

Evelyn and carrots

Toys, clothes, little tchotckes that brought me much joy — slowly, I pull these out for my children and witness a similar love. Evelyn, especially, has a sentimental heart just like here mama and takes great pleasure in knowing that something she is wearing or playing with once belonged to her mama when she was little.

  • A little water can make a big difference for growing a garden.

We’ve been in a terrible drought here the past couple of years. Last year, everyone was asked to kill their lawn for the summer, to reconfigure their landscaping to a more “drought-tolerant” scape. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that it would be difficult to grow a single thing in that parched soil.

I was close to throwing in the towel when it came to gardening because of this. As much as I suspected the lack of water was a huge culprit in the piddly garden I was producing, I still was feeling like it was my lack of green thumb.

But about a month into our plantings, and we had so many sprouts this year. I was a bit giddy with excitement.

We’ve had several rainfalls throughout the months of April and May and they greatly contributed to the health of the garden. I could tell as I was ripping out weeds, witnessing all the earthworms ranging around, that the soil was a million times healthier. And I was hopeful.

It seems I had reason to be.

Rapunzel tomato plant

munching strawberries

  • Tomatillos cannot cross-pollinate with other tomatoes. They need some of their own kind. {Same goes for squash varieties.}

On that same garden vein, we planted one tomatillo plant and waited. And waited. And waited. Watching tons of flowers pop out, but no tomatillos husks appear. I asked about this at our local nursery and, sure enough, was informed that we needed at least two to produce the little buggers.

It was a little late in the planting season when I realized this, so I had trouble locating others. I eventually found a few tiny seedlings that will likely be too late to help my first, but maybe we’ll get something from them later.

Surprisingly, the other day, a couple husks showed up on my plant! Maybe one of the neighbors has some too. Thank you, kind neighbor, for the good deed you have done unknowingly.

  • Short, but sweet, podcasts are my jam. 

Perhaps it’s because my occasion to listen is always in short spurts, but I’m really a fan of quick podcasts — ones that are 10 minutes or less. This one to inspire writers is one of my favorites right now.

  • Even a three-year old is capable of finding enjoyment in needlecraft.

Evey stitching

Evelyn has been begging me for months to teach her how to knit. I really want to but I’m afraid 1) she’ll find it too difficult and just get frustrated & 2) I feel completely incapable of such a feat. Someone suggested to me trying out finger knitting, which I will have to read up on. But, in the meantime, we found a little embroidery kit at the craft store that she is absolutely enjoying. I mean, she’s not doing the stitches the way that is shown on the box, but I figure, at this point, what is important is getting the hang of threading the needle in and out of the correct side each time. {Easier said than done, even for a seasoned crafter!} I’m so impressed by her desire and drive in working it out.

And last, but not least…

  • I am so happy we chose to live a quieter summer this year.

skipping rocks

All extra-curriculars were cancelled, spontaneous trips to the cabin occurred, many, many books were borrowed, purchased, read, countless hours were spent splashing in the water outside, and we spent a lot more time just being. {Plus, there were about a hundred hiccups/disappoints that needed dealing with and it always helps to have a tad more freedom to give those things the attention their due.}

 

What did you learn this summer??

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Height of the Summer

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

homegrown sunflowers

Outside my window: Heat. For one more day temperatures hovering around 100, and then we’re dropping down into the 80s for a little while. Looking forward to the reprieve.

relaxing with daddy in hammock

Listening To: The hum of the air conditioner and the squeaking ceiling fan above my head.

Clothing Myself In: Still in pjs at 2 in the afternoon. When we aren’t going out, I’m terrible about getting myself dressed.

relaxing at the cabin

Talking With My Children About These Books: A few favorites this week from the library:
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow by Wendell Minor — It may seem early for this, but the pumpkins in our garden are ripe so it’s a topic of conversation right now. I hope none of our pumpkins are as big as the ones suggested in this book, though! 😉

Bear in the Air by Susan Meyers — A super sweet story about a cute little bear that gets bumped out of his owner’s stroller and goes on quite the adventure. My children are especially taken with the illustrations.

My Garden by Kevin Henkes — Great for the imagination. If only our garden would grow

In My Own Reading: Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. Can you tell my mind is gravitating towards school days? I’m gaining great inspiration from these about a little “curriculum” to follow with Evelyn this year. Both are wonderful resources for reading to your children, too, even if you aren’t doing home education.

Also, anxiously awaiting The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera recommended highly by Christy. The Fountains of Carrots Facebook group will be discussing soon on their page so jump on in if this is up your alley!

socks and flip flops

ladybug backpack

Thinking and Thinking: About the Fall. Gardening, schooling, birthdays, cooler weather. It is just around the bend.

Pondering: These words of Pope Francis during World Youth Day last week, applicable to any age:

God expects something from you. God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to break down all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, our ways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants to make you see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different.

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: We’ve been rather lax with a schedule of any kind this summer, but I’m kind of looking forward to falling into a bit of one as we move into the autumn months. I need a bit more regularity to my days and I think they girls would benefit with a tad more routine. It’s been good, though, to relax some, though.

riding cars at state fair

sierra wildflowers

Creating By Hand: I finished a scarf and hat set for my brother who is headed off to Michigan in a few weeks for law school. Can’t have him freezing to death! This is my second Barley Hat and loved the formation of the Purl Ridge Scarf. Perfect for a double wrap and fittingly masculine. {But modeled here by Evelyn.} Oh, and can I tell you how in love I am with Malabrigo yarns?? <3

purl ridge scarf

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

barley hat

barley hat and purl ridge scarf model

Learning Lessons In: Home education. Nervous, but excited, about the prospect. Reading all the books I can, praying about the direction the Lord wants us to take with this, and trying not to be the perfectionist I have a tendency towards.

Encouraging Learning In: All. The. Things. Evelyn has hit the “why?” stage and I’m trying to be patient with the onslaught. The latest: What is electricity? Why do we need those black lines to carry it? Why does it zap us? etc. I wish my brother, who is an electrical engineer, was a little closer right now. 😉

walking in tandem at the beach

Crafting in the Kitchen: With tomatoes coming out of our ears and frequent trips to the farmers’ market for all sorts of seasonal finds, ratatouille was an easy choice last night. {Although it barely touched the plethora of tomatoes covering almost all the surface of my counter.} My recipe was from the Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook {what? you didn’t know I wrote a cookbook?? ;)} I substituted a red onion for a regular as that is what I had on hand, as well as tossing in fresh basil in lieu of the dry. I used white eggplant from my mother-in-law’s garden which I might just prefer to the traditional purple. Surprisingly, it turned browned when cooked, too!

To Be Fit and Happy: I’m not, and something’s gotta change. I did a 20 minute Pilates video with my girls this morning which was a good kickstart. I will be attempting to follow the exercises in Core Performance Essentials as soon as it makes its way to my house via the mail. I’ve got some serious work to do on my core which has never been this out of tune. It’s been difficult for me to know where to begin on this whole endeavor of reconstructing it, so I’m feeling sort of thrown for a loop, discouraged. Just need to commit and make it happen.

Lucie Little Tikes car

Evey running

Loving the Moments: My girls playing together. Watching their joy in interacting together makes all the difficulties of two toddlers just melt away…almost. 🙂

sisters in Hanna Andersson

sisters in the pool

sisters "scrubbing"

Living the Liturgy: Looking ahead to feast days this month….. We’ve got Lucie’s baptismal day on August 6th (Feast of the Transfiguration), St. Lawrence on August 10th (my patron), Assumption on August 15th (Holy Day of obligation), St. Rose of Lima on August 23rd (patron to both myself and Evelyn), and a few others in between. I’d like to get back into living a bit more liturgically and I think this month will be the one to ease back in.

Planning for the Week Ahead: Halfway through this one, so looking toward the weekend full of home projects and a pool/birthday party. Definitely can’t wait.

 

Linking up with this week’s Yarn Along over at Ginny’s. 

Floral Identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

The girls and I have been fortunate to spend some time in the mountains the past couple days, in the cooler air and away from the smoke. This morning, we went on a long walk and spent the time finding as many wildflower varieties as we could. We came back with quite the array.

The remainder of the morning we spent with the flower identification book attempting to figure out each flower. {And I had some fun photographing with my camera!} Here were our findings.

Flower #1 : Yarrow – achillea millefolium

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #2 : Couldn’t get this one — it appears to have small seed pots on the stem.

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #3 : Sierra Daisy – erigeron algidus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #4 : Checker Mallow – sidalcea oregana

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #6 : Sierra Gentian – gentianoposis holopetala

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #7 : Sierra Stickseed – hackelia nervosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #9 : Sticky Cinquefoil – potentilla glandulosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #10 : Spur Lupine – lupinus arbustus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #11: Sierra Penstemon – penstemon heterodoxus var. heterodoxus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #12 : Parish’s Yampah – perideridia parishii

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #13 : Mountain Dandelion – agoseris retrorsa 

flower identification

flower identification

Can you tell we’re in the Sierra Nevadas? 😉

 

Linking up with {pretty, funny, happy, real} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Gathering My Thoughts ~ Pausing

Outside my window: The clouds have rolled back in and we are waiting for another rain storm to hit this afternoon. The rain this season has been abundant and much-needed, but the cabin fever has been difficult to deal with. Fortunately, we escaped outside to the playground the other day when there was a break for a few days between rain showers, so the girls could get some of their wiggles out.

winter outdoor play

Listening To: Only the espresso machine at the coffee shop. A quiet morning to myself, SO much needed.

blue bottle espresso

Clothing Myself In: My favorite new blouse I picked up at Anthropologie last week during their sale on their sale {the only way I can afford their pieces}. It is a pale, blush pink with the sweetest lace work on the shoulders and front. {I found the link!}

spoon selfie

Talking With My Children About These Books: We are a little behind in our letter learning. This week we’re doubling up with ‘D’ and ‘Z’. The girls really love the song “Five Little Ducks” so we picked up a book at the library of the same title that has pictures of the song and it is on repeat. Our library frequently has a shelf with new picture books that have recently been published. One of our favorites lately is One Bear Extraordinaire. It tells the story of a traveling bear musician who picks up other musician friends along the way to form a band. The moral of the story is that we all have a way to contribute {although it may not always be easy to discover our talent}. Virginia Burton’s The Little House has sparked lots of conversation about why she is sad to live in the city {as Evey really likes to visit big cities}.

sitting together

In My Own Reading: I’ve recently started The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah after it was recommended by my friend, Megan, in her reading list from 2015. One of my favorite genres is historical fiction so I’m very much enthused to read this novel set in France during WWII. I also finished Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson which I’m hoping to share my thoughts on in a post soon. It was just too good to do justice to here (pun intended).

hotel hopping

Thinking and Thinking: I’ve been steeped in thought and emotion about the PRO-LIFE issues this past week. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade with the March for Life in D.C. {with prolonged suffering through this year’s snowstorm}, the Walk for Life in San Francisco, the charges against David for his undercover work while the true criminals are merely dismissed….lots to storm heaven about.

sf ferry building

Pondering: “A good journal entry–like a good song, or sketch, or photograph–ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.
Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience–buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello–become new all over again.”
~
from Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

Journaling has always been a must for me when I travel, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. I love to have my thoughts and experiences jotted down so I can return to them again years later. The memories soften and fade, but writing them down helps me keep them intact.

This author has an amazing ability to draw his reader right to the time and place he is experiencing. I hope someday my journaling is half as good.

Also, I want to begin keeping a journal for each of the girls with memories of their childhood. I should get something today.

hotel hanging

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Admittedly, rhythm hasn’t been our friend lately. We’ve been traveling a bit this month and it has thrown schedules out the window. Re-orienting in February.

shirley temple

Creating By Hand: I just finished knitting a hat for myself in a lovely shade of raspberry using the Barley pattern in the looser style. A trip to Carmel in early January allowed me to stop by one of my favorite yarn shops, Knitting By the Sea. The lady who owns the store introduced me to my first knitting pattern — a simple hat I knit for Evey when she was a few months old — and got me going on one of my favorite hobbies. I told her of her influence when we visited this time, which pleased her to hear. She helped me, this time, pick out a wonderful yarn for my own hat.

raspberry barley knit hat

Learning Lessons In: Slowing down. I’m not good at this, but my health and sanity require it.

doctor lu

Encouraging Learning In: Potty training. Still potty training. We’ve had more accidents in the past 24 hours than I care to think about, and this is after Evey has been doing great for almost a year now. She’s started waiting too long to make it the bathroom in time and is continually going on the floor. I guess we’re back to frequent reminders. I do hope this habit is broken quickly. I was thinking of getting Lucie started but this is quite discouraging.

lu at the playground

Crafting in the Kitchen: A set of delicious Morning Glory muffins found their way into our hands on Saturday morning. Evey and Lucie assisted me in their creation on Friday afternoon. We had a wonderful time working together. We hadn’t done much baking together in a while, and I realized I need to make it happen more often. Perhaps we’ll jump in again today.

hot chocolate morning

To Be Fit and Happy: I’m finally keeping my fitness commitment a bit better this month after making just the minimal–one 30 minute workout a week. And I usually get at least one more in. I’m also recovering with physical therapy from a shoulder injury I received from my dear daughter, Lu, who wrestles more than cuddles when she’s being held {and she loves being held}. I’m hoping to commit to another workout or two this coming month once this has cleared up.

fashionista

Loving the Moments: I celebrated my birthday this past Monday and felt so blessed with not just one, but TWO delicious meals prepared by my family. Sushi, then strawberry and red velvet ice cream with chocolate cookies. Lamb shepherd’s pie, then a homemade red velvet cake. Yum, yum, yum. So spoiled and loved.

taking over the bed

Living the Liturgy: Thinking of Lent which starts in two weeks{!!!!}. I’ll be following along with Blessed is She’s On the Way, including using the beautiful Station of the Cross cards. {The physical copies of the workbooks are sold out but I highly recommend grabbing a digital copy you can print yourself!}

carmel beach in january

Planning for the Week Ahead: Our 4th wedding anniversary lands this week. We’ll be postponing most of the celebration until Steve is done with his exam in late February, but I want to make a special dinner this week. Any recommendations?

School Beginnings

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

evey's-cow

It seems silly to even call it school but I’ve put enough thought and planning into it that it is instructional and semi-structured in a way.

Not too long ago, in an attempt to placate a restless child, Steve discovered an alphabet learning program on his iPad that involves our favorite characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. Evelyn loves sitting with Steve and tracing the letters that pop up on the screen alongside Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger.

Her interest in letters has evolved now to attempting them on paper with pencils and crayons. She knows “O” from her favorite Curious George episode where he learns the meaning of zeroes, and is beginning to replicate some of the letters she’s been practicing with Pooh Bear. Without any instruction, she learned to hold writing instruments from the get-go so has been practicing lines and curves and all those precursors to writing letters for a while now.

writing

Evey has also longtime loved to “read” and be read too, and will literally sit for an hour or more looking at books. She stacks them high and goes through the whole pile one by one. She has an especially strong interest in Bible stories and books of saints lives alongside an innocent, natural curiosity to learn more about her Faith.

sisters-reading

With all of her keen interest and strong curiosity, I decided to look into more projects that I could work on alongside her in order to keep her budding intellect absorbed {and not bored which translates often to misbehavior}.

I stumbled across an excellent, Catholic preschool curriculum called 26 Letters to Heaven that seems a perfect fit for what I was looking for. Something semi-structured, easy to pick and choose activities that fit her level and interests, and, above all, keeps it fun and playful! She will just be 3 in November, after all.

26-letters-to-heaven

The book breaks down each letter of the alphabet with activities that go with it. We are focusing on the letter {practicing with a manipulative}, the story of a saint who begins with that letter, children’s literature that corresponds with the letter of the week, art projects, cooking/baking projects, and an outing each week.

I’ve done some planning ahead of time with activities I would like to cover but I’m not stressing about when we will do each one or even worrying about that it absolutely happen. This is more just for having some ideas of activities to do with her as we go about our days but that will also slowly help her learn letters, math, religion, science, etc. but in a very casual way. Just easy exposure.

We are not covering the letters in order because I want to cover saints’ feasts that correspond with the letter of the week when I can. So, for instance, this week we are doing “R” as the saint this week is St. Rose. {A patron of both myself and Evelyn.} We celebrated the feast with root beer floats and read the story of the saint on Sunday. Yesterday, we learned how to paint a rainbow with watercolors {and then I allowed her to freestyle paint with the watercolors}. We will be making an “R” with raisins sometime and, perhaps, doing some counting with them as well. We have plans to take a picnic down by the river as our outing for the week.

letter-r-board

Our book list this week includes: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, Roll Over: A Counting Song illustrated by Merle Peek, Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky {great illustrations!}, Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle, and The Rooster Crows by Maud and Miska Petersham. The author of 26 Letters to Heaven has a great booklist for each letter. We’ve had a wonderful time being exposed to new children’s literature {or re-exposed, especially in my case}. I’ve also been adding some to the list in the book for future reference.

For fun, we also picked up the movie Tangled at the library as it is the story of Rapunzel, and had a family movie night.

The beautiful thing about this curriculum is that it can be used again and again over the years because you can choose more difficult activities the following year(s) as well as new activities. There is so much to do. {And keep writing new things as they come to mind!} When she is ready, there is the opportunity to learn more about certain virtues, memorize Bible verses, perform science experiments, etc.

We love to do arts and crafts around here so I’m also supplementing with Jean Van’t Hul’s The Artful Parent. She has a great website with tons of ideas too.

As I mentioned earlier, as a family we are trying to celebrate the Church’s liturgical year more fully, especially important feast days in our family. Some of my favorite resources for doing this include: The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by Leila Lawler and David Clayton, A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer, The Year and Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season by Mary Reed Newland, Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart, and Drinking with the Saints by Michael P. Foley {that last one is really for adults ;)}.

Just a bit of our “school year” plans…..

Truly, Fight On.

victory

This. ^^ This is the sign of victory.

It may be USC’s hand symbol for greeting fellow alums but, in this instance, it is far more than just a friendly gesture. Here: It is the symbol of triumph. Of accomplishment. Of overcoming. Of success. Of a job well done.

USC-graduation-2015

This walk elicited a flood of emotion that was difficult to hold back.

I have never been more proud of this man. Throughout the past three years {most of our marriage}, he has been working tirelessly.

First, to be accepted into grad school. And not just any, but the school 6th in the nation for the field he pursued.

He made it.

usc-public-policy-grad

Then, came the real work. In between a full-time job 40 miles from home and deepening his relationship with his wife and daughters, in the margins, he pursued his studies. He spent nearly every spare moment studying. Those hour-long train rides to and from work: studying. Those long holiday weekends: studying. Those nights after everyone went to bed: studying. Those weekend naps while everyone else was resting: studying.

And the day has come. He now holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

diploma-stephen

And did I mention he won an award for his final Capstone Project? Rockstar, that man of mine is.

He has put in more than his fair share and I do hope that the job that propels him forward in his career and provides stability for his family comes soon. He deserves it.

evey-daddy-graduation-day

We are looking forward to a summer of seeing more of his handsome face and enjoying some relaxation with him.

love-our-usc-grad

Well done, my Love, well done. #fighton <3

When the Well Runs Dry ~ ‘Capture the Moment’ {A Book Review}

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

The creative well can run dry. Any creative soul knows this. But true artists know that pushing through the dry spell is not only necessary, but can often result in a renewal of the fountain.

The intricacies of photography are not unknown to me {although I am constantly learning new skills and improving}, but where I really run into a wall sometimes is finding inspiration in my creativity. Finding new angles, new subjects, new sources of light.

photo 1-9

Sarah Wilkerson, the CEO of Clickin Moms, has a new book out which is helping me overcome that creative dry spell in leaps and bounds. Not only does she provide ample, novel technique suggestions in Capture the Moment {accompanied by exquisite example photographs from the Clickin Moms community}, but she also gives challenges at the end of each chapter to complete.

Maybe it’s my competitive nature, but it certainly helps get me motivated to get out there and get clickin’.

Photographing my every day is important to me. I love capturing what may seem like the mundane, but, in truth, is really the beauty and substance of life. Sure, it is wonderful to capture the once-in-a-lifetime moments — birth, weddings, etc. — but the day-to-day is equally special.

The interest of the viewer {and the photographer, really} is better captivated through a bit of creative license, rather than just an average snapshot. Wilkerson’s book helps one do just that.

With a wealth of ideas for photographing a variety of subjects, it would be hard to find one’s creative well run dry with her book in hand.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

My Favorite Childhood Books {7QT}

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}

I’ve been working through Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2015 Reading Challenge. She recently gave some great ideas for the category — “a book from your childhood”, so I thought I would share a few of my own.

I’m not sure when I get to it whether I will choose one I have already read and enjoyed or pick one that I meant to read as a child but never got around to it.

Here are the top 7 books from my childhood:

little women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Perhaps it was a lack of sisters that drew me to this book, but I always loved the stories of these lovely ladies relating to and leaning on one another. Beth was always my favorite. I even got to play the part of her in a short excerpt from the play I did in an acting workshop. Definitely a highlight of my childhood.

sideways stories from wayside school

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar – These silly stories were so entertaining for someone who didn’t spend much time inside the walls of a school (I was homeschooled). Perhaps it was the imagining of the somewhat unknown in this way that made it all the more fun.

TheBFG

The BFG by Roald Dahl – The character for whom this book is named seemed the giant who would defeat all the scary monsters of my imagination. And it is good to have one of these.

hailstones and halibut bones

Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill – I’ve never been one who was too hot on poetry but this one stuck by my side throughout childhood. I think it was the lyrical poems paired with the beautiful color drawings that captured my attention. I even attempted some of my own poem/drawing pairings inspired by this book.

Beezus_and_Ramona

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary – I’m not really sure why, but I always identified with Ramona from this book. Although I was the older sister and probably would have been a better fit with Beezus, I liked her antics and sassiness.

linnea in monet's garden

Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson – This book sparked my love for Monet and his paintings from a young age. I still love to look through this book and admire his waterlily paintings. It was a huge lifelong dream when I got to see many of his works at the Orangerie in Paris while I was studying there. Someday, I hope to go to his home and see his garden.

From-the-Mixed-Up-Files

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Koningsburg – Was this a favorite because it took place in the MET? I don’t know. 😉 There seems to be a common theme of art here in many of my favorites. I love the adventure she went on with her brother there and I secretly hoped to do something as adventurous in life.

 

I also had a serious thing for the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. I usually ended up going back to the beginning several times, trying out all the different options. But I don’t think I will be revisiting those at this time. 😉

 

What are some of your childhood favorites?

 

Linking up with Kelly from This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

 

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