Maine: Lighthouses

Our final Maine book, and our second lighthouse one was a fun true story of one girl keeping the lighthouse lit through a terrible storm, and encouraging her sick mother and her two sisters while waiting for their Dad to return with more supplies.
<a href=””> Widgets</a>

After reading the story, I gave them a bit of specific direction on how to draw a lighthouse.  We carefully drew out our pictures, and since I had rushed out of the house that day we didn’t have the watercolors to make it look dark and stormy.  But, they did enjoy drawing and coloring the lighthouses.

The instructions came to draw it came from Art Projects for Kids Lighthouse lesson

I loved how varied their results were:
I found Superman’s especially interesting because he had a definite plan in mind for his lighthouse, and after a while I realized he was trying to make one like in the book for the pattern.

Maine: The Treasure Chest

I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t find a whole lot of books on Maine.  Most of the ones I found were about light houses.  Apparently, there are a lot of light houses up in Maine.


This particular one isn’t exactly a true story, but it is based off a compilation of several true stories.

The Sea Chest is a story about a young girl and her family who live on an island tending the lighthouse.  One night a bad storm washes a sea chest up on their island, and what was found inside.


I previewed this book a couple of days beforehand, and fell in love with the story.  It’s so touching and is a great multi-generational story of love.  I don’t want to give away any of the details, but it was so sweet.




Before we read the book I had them guess what was going to be found in the book. 


As you can guess they mostly thought treasure, gold, shells.  Batman guessed a manta ray, just to be silly.


Afterwards they drew what was really in the chest.


Finally they drew what they would put in the chest.  This related to the key plot point of the story, but I figured you probably can’t guess what Princess drew.




It was a bittersweet day for us because one of the families in our group is moving to South Austin and so they won’t be joining us regularly.  I’m gonna miss getting together with them weekly, but we’re gonna still get together from time to time.


I’m sure God will bring another family to join our little group, that’s how we got the family that just moved.  I ran into her at the library while getting books for our geography group.

I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smilesShibley Smiles

Maine: Wakame Gatherers

I probalby wouldn’t have classified this as a Maine book because it takes place mainly in Japan, but I was VERY short on books about Maine.


VERY short.


But, it does do a comparison of Japan and Maine, and it’s an incredibly cute story.  CRAZY CUTE!



The Wakame Gatherers is a story about a girl from two cultures.  One of her parents is from Japan and one is from the United States.  She spends time with both grandmothers.


This particular time, the grandmother from Maine is visiting Japan and learning about how to harvest seaweed and the many different types and how it is used.


And there was my tie in……


In the book they compare different ways sea weed is used in the two countries.  The main thing my kids remember.  Sea weed is used in Miso soup and in ice cream.




After reading everyone drew/wrote 4 different ways sea weed is used by people.  Then they colored their favorite ways with their favorite color.  The boys expanded on this to also color their least favorite way with their least favorite color……  Hence the purple/pink monstrosity up above.


Most common favorite thing: ice cream.


There wasn’t a common least favorite.  My boys were all in favor of miso soup, another kid loved sushi.  It was a fun discussion.



Creating Little Worlds

The other day Princess happily entertained herself creating little play worlds sitting at the table.

She created a bedroom, complete with bed and some cups to drink from (though I wouldn’t recommend it).
And pets to play with and feed.

Do you ever just turn your kids loose to create their own worlds?  I loved listening to her play with them.

11 on the 11th

I actually, don’t think it’s the 11th now.  I think it’s the 13th…….  I kinda got busy hanging out with Princess and doing other stuff all day……..  Or maybe I’m gonna hit publish on the 14th……..


I have been tagged by Phyllis of All Things Beautiful…

The Rules:

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random facts about you.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.

4. Create 11 new questions and tag new people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.


11 Random Facts:

1. I’m hypoglycemic, which means I really shouldn’t have too much sugar, and I NEED to eat often, and a lot more than you would think.

2.  I love cotton candy, this is a problem, see #1.  When Jeff and I were first married we went to a baseball game and I ate a whole thing of cotton candy.  I couldn’t walk straight out of there and couldn’t see straight afterwards.  I act like I’m really drunk when I eat too much sugary stuff.

3.  I love s’mores and fudge, and chocolate fondue.

4.  I lose things, a lot.  For the first several years I had glasses, it was a toss up if I could find them.

5.  I also forget if I don’t have glasses on and try to push my glasses up.  Jeff teases me about this, mainly because my Mom does the same thing about her reading glasses.

6.  I hate cleaning the bathrooms.  As soon as I think the kids will be able to, I am turning that over to them.  I will pay them well to do that job.

7.  I love to dance, especially swing dancing.  Sadly the main place to go swing dancing is on the same night as our small group for church.

8.  I’m writing a children’s Bible/Bible study right now.  I’m up to 1 Samuel.  By the end of the year I’ll probably be through 2 Chronicles.  At some point I want to publish it, but have no clue how to do this.

9.  I have gone through 4 violet Prismacolor pencils in the past year.  I accidentally colored two major characters in that color, between the two of them they are in at least 20 stories.

10.  I currently have at least 20 books in my bedroom.  Okay, I’m wrong, if you count the stash of graphic novels and comic books it’s over 100.  I think I have 30 comics in my nightstand.

11.  I love Batman comics.  I am slowly but surely collecting all the Batman trades, and am not so slowly collecting all of the Nightwing ones.  Bonus point if you know who Nightwing is without googling him.

Phyllis’s Questions

1. What is your favorite blog post you have made?

These are hard questions, and I’m only on #1.  My favorite is not the most viewed or probably one any of you remember.  I thought long and hard about this, but every time I stop to think about it, my favorite was my post about my friend Sam.  He died over 2 years ago and I still miss him.  I had a whole long list of other ones I thought about putting up, but this was the first one to come to my mind.

2. Do you have a blog post that affected you, made you think, changed you in some way? Include what blog you saw it on, and a link, if you can.

Hmmmm…….. I cheated and check out what the answer was over at Almost Unschoolers and she had a good one, but the problem is I can’t think of one.  None that I just went, that’s the one!  I’m more of a holistic person in some things, so I think I’m gonna choose these types of posts that got me thinking about Bible story telling: Godly Play Creation and Creation story box.  There was a whole slew of them in that genre about a year or so ago that got me to thinking……..

3. Have you ever met in real life anyone that you knew through their blog?

Sigh, no.  I almost have twice, but things fell through.  There’s a group of Austin bloggers who are talking about getting together in June sometime.

4. What is your favorite subject to teach? Why?

History, I love history, it’s fun to make it come alive.

5. What is your least favorite subject to teach? Why?

Ironically enough, reading.  I love to read, but teaching my kids reading is like pulling teeth sometimes.

6. What type would you say your teaching style falls under? It can be more than one.

Eclectic?  Which is a cop out, because it’s a bunch in one.  I like the idea of Classical, but one of the big components of it is narration, and I’ve figured out that just doesn’t work for us.  So……….  We go through the history cycle of it and I agree with their theories on kids’ abilities to learn, but I’m very hands on.  I like to do and go, which doesn’t seem as present in classical.  I wrote a long babbling post about my teaching style a few years ago.

7. Is there some project in your homeschool that you would like to do, but haven’t been able to do it yet? Why do you want to do it and why haven’t you been able?

Hmmm………  I’m sure there is, and I’ll probably think about it as soon as I hit publish, but most things I haven’t done yet are because we haven’t covered the topic yet, or because it’s not age appropriate.  Though I do have a mystery I want to do with my kids, that I just need to clear the time for……

8. What do you consider the most important goal for your school?

To turn out kids who are life-long learners and are running hard after Christ.  I want them to be able to excel in society.  I want my boys to be leaders and gentlemen.  I want my daughter to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  I want to be that woman.

9. What is the favorite blog post (you have written) of your readers? Were you surprised?

My Phonics Reading Game, followed up by How to Make a Rapunzel Dress from scratch.  The phonics game does because It was a silly little thing, but the Rapunzel one doesn’t because it’s one of my most pinned posts.

10. What is something you have since learned that you wish you knew when you started homeschooling?

Get your hands on the curriculum and look at it in person with lots of time to look at it.  The two things I got that didn’t work for us were because I got into a “I must get this now,” and was sure it would work.  If I’d stopped and looked at them more thoroughly I would have seen where it wouldn’t have worked.  Or, I’d like to think so.  Either way, my philosophy now is to only buy things I have looked through myself.

11. Is there a blog that shows a homeschool that you are striving to be more like? What do you admire about their homeschool?

Hmmmm…….  I’d have to say Phyllis’ blog All Things Beautiful and Leah’s with Almost Unschoolers.  Both of them do a wonderful job of constantly bringing in hands on ways to teach.  I’ve used so many ideas from both of their blogs.


My Questions


1.  How did you meet your husband or fiancee (since I’m going to tag a friend who’s engaged)?

2.  What is the hardest thing about being a parent?

3.  Are any of your children just like you?  I swear at times Princess is a carbon copy and there are times Batman is really similar too. 

4.  What was your favorite subject as a kid?  If you’re homeschooling or teaching, is that your favorite subject to teach?

5.  When you travel what is the one thing you have to have or do?  I love to stop at Visitor’s Centers for different states.

6.  What one food do you absolutely love?  I must be hungry, because I swear I don’t think about food all the time.

7.  What type of books do you tend to read?

8.  What book were you required to read in school that you absolutely hated? cough Charles Dickens cough cough

9.  What is your favorite play by William Shakespeare?

10.  What book or play have you seen made into a really good movie?  Other than their butchering Puck’s monologues there was a great rendition of Midsummer Night’s Dream about 10 years ago.  I only had to be mildly restrained when they butchered it……

11.If practicality was not a problem, what kind of pet would you have?


Now who shall I tag…….  Many of the people I thought of had already been tagged and answered or are going to answer soon if they’re so inclined……….


I think I’ll tag:


Christy from Snacks and Stories

MaryAnne from Mama Smiles


And I’m honestly now drawing a blank on people who I read and comment on regularly who participate in these types of things who haven’t been tagged yet.  Oh wait, I was gonna tag my college roommate:

Dannie over at It’s You and Me Kid!


And if you like these types of things and you haven’t been tagged by someone yet, consider yourself tagged, let me know you’re answering and I’ll be sure to read it and comment with ridiculous comments.

Science Sunday: starfish



You remember how ages and ages ago I asked for recommendations about starfish, and then I lost my camera with the pictures of what we did?


Well I found it.  Or more accurately, when I made the kids clean out the dog’s toy box of all of their stuff they found it.  My guess, I had them clean and they put it all in the dog’s toy box.


Needless to say I was not a happy Mommy.



First we looked as the starfish my Mother-in-Law had given us from a trip she took and picked up for them.  I’ve been holding on to these for quite some time.  We noticed the little bumpy things on the bottom and talked about how those are little suction cups that let the starfish move around.


After we poked around and looked at them under a magnifying glass, I said we were going to try and see what it was like.  Then one at a time I ushered my unsuspecting kids into the bathroom and they got to play with the plunger in the toilet.


After I was suitably disgusted by their fascination (and they now think of the least excuse why the bathroom needs the plunger, racing downstairs to get it), and they managed to not cover my bathroom floor with water.  We continued on to the next part.



Then we cut out a starfish from sandpaper and recorded our observations of what it felt like to try and move like a starfish.  We did a similar craft before, a couple of years ago for our ocean animals book.


I’d like to thank: Fantastic Five, Alex Nguyen Portraits, Books 4 Learning, and Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for all coming up with some fun ideas to do.  Between all of their ideas, links, and suggestions I could have spent a couple of weeks on starfish, unfortunately my kids interest level was not as high as mine.


Does anyone else ever run into the problem of being more interested in a topic than their kids are?

Let’s see what others did this week:

Fantastic Five combined science and art for a fun astronomy lesson.

I loved the idea of using a rolling pin for a pulley from Quirky Momma.


Next Gen Homeschooler did a great job of trying to earthquake proof buildings.


Dottie’s Homeschool Universe shared about rocks and how they’re formed.


Science Sunday button Science Sunday


Don’t forget to have a link back here somewhere on your front page.


Oh, and one last request: If you have any posts, old or new, about land animals I’d love to see them linked up.  We’re going to be studying land animals next and my land animals pinterest board is rather sparse.

War of 1812

One thing that amused me when we were studying the states on the East Coast were the number of books I was able to find set during this war, and they all had amusing stories that the “family swore was true.”

It’s an interesting war, not many people remember it, because it didn’t change a whole lot.  It didn’t end because we were such amazing tacticians.  It ended more because some of the causes ended.

1.  Impressement of American soldiers onto British ships.  This also was happening with French, but the British were also causing other problems.

2.  Blockade of American shipping.

3.  British encouraging Natives to attack Americans.

Many of these were the result of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe.

We fought many battles, both at land and on sea.  At sea the American ships often did better against bigger and better armed forces because the ships were more maneuverable.

We did end up winning many impressive battles, but it was mostly because Britain was engaged fighting off Napoleon in France.  Come 1815, after Napoleon had been defeated we knew we had to end the war.

A peace treaty was signed and agreed to, basically leaving things as they were before the war started.

A British fleet came to attack New Orleans, they vastly outnumbered and outgunned the small American army led by General Jackson.

General Jackson assessed the situation and told the governor he was pardoning Jean Laffitte, a notorious pirate in the area and drafting him for the battle.  Next he armed the freed blacks in the city and they joined the army, and finally he drafted all of the Natives who were not with the British into the army, and gained a miraculous victory.

Shortly afterwards the British general sent him a letter congratulating him on the war they had already won.  Jackson opted to continue to “monitor” the general until they remembered they were not in their own waters.

Well, I have now covered this battle and another post about it (tangentially) all the times I’m planning on covering it.  I wasn’t going to go into such detail again with the kids, but they really like acting out battles.

Our next war to cover in a week or so: The Mexican American War, can you guess who fought in it and when?  True trivia here……..  And the Battle of the Alamo!
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway of Mom Connection!
I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smiles

Review and Giveaway: Mom Connection

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you have pre-schoolers you need to get in a MOPS group.


I’ve just been sent another one of their books to review and again I just have to say it was a wonderful experience.  The last book I reviewed, MOMsense, was all about finding who you are as a Mom, what makes you tick, and how to be the best Mom.


Mom Connection looks to something else we all are starved for.  How to grow and develop friendships.  I’m not a big extrovert, so developing friendships for me is always a dangerous river.  I enjoy people, but I have a quirky personality, that doesn’t always click well with people in real life, it’s not that they dislike me, but I’m not sought out as a friend.


And I’ve struggled with that at times, but I’ve found some great friends over the years, both online and offline.


This book talks about how to grow relationships, and how to make sure you’re becoming the person you want to be.


Things I’m taking away from it:



1.  I think we’re ready to find some volunteer work outside of our family.  There’s a chapter on making a difference in your community, and thinking about when is the right time.  If you’ve got 3 pre-schoolers and everyone’s in diapers, that might not be the time to “make a difference in the world.”  But, I was realizing my kids are now all old enough we can probably volunteer somewhere.


2.  I think God must really be hitting me over the head with this one, but we need to clear out and clean up our home.  It’s a big struggle for me, but one of the chapters talked about having the home everyone wants to hang out at.  I want that home, so I need to take steps to have that.  One is my continued drive to clean and purge and organize.  The other, figuring out snack foods to have available for kids to eat and drink.  I don’t tend to have lots of them, and I need to find a good balance on that.


0033.  Establish who we are as a family.  I think we already have a momentum started on that, but I want to firm it up and make sure it’s clear.  One thing that’s clear, we’re a little silly at times.


What will you find in this book:


1.  Each chapter ends with 5 suggestions for implementing it, and they’re five different suggestions, it’s not all “go out and do,” some are stop and think or evaluate.


2.  Each chapter ends with a here’s more section.  What I liked about that is it’s not all go buy this book.  Some of it is articles on the internet or videos or things to listen to.  I’m a big fan of listening to things while cleaning.  I learn a lot that way.


Who do I recommend this book for: Any Mom who is looking to form a connection with another person or better themselves.




I’m keeping it super simple, only two entries, you can do either one or both:


1.  Again look up your nearest MOPS group and tell me when and where it meets.


2.  Tell me what you’re doing to encourage strong relationships in your family or with friends.


Technical stuff:


1.  INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS, I can’t send it to you if I can’t contact you.  Very important.


2.  It’s open to international, and it’s open for 1 week.


3.  I wasn’t paid.  I really like MOPS, I think everyone should join it.  I joined it willingly and enjoyed it a lot.  GO JOIN NOW.  Okay, enough threatening, they did give me a review copy, but since I’m giving one away and will probably loan the other out, that doesn’t really count as payment.


And now I’m going to go investigate the thud coming from my supposedly sleeping child.

Alabama: Last Mule of Gee Bend


I learned something with this particular book, actually there are a couple of books about Gee’s Bend by this author/illustrator, but still I learned from them.


I learned there were many ways people were affected by the Civil Rights movements and how they worked to change how life was.


In Gee’s Bend they sewed quilts to support themselves after they lost their jobs for participating in the Civil Right movement.  That was the first book in the series, but I knew my mostly boys group wouldn’t want to hear about sewing.


022So, we went with the mules from there, they became known for standing up and being stubborn and when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, those mules pulled his coffin for the funeral procession.


I wanted something 3-D, since I saw Glittering Muffins’ Sweden craft, this had been on my mind.


I did a Google search and found a picture of a donkey I liked, then mirror imaged it.  The kids happily colored it and then cut it out and glued them onto clothes pins to be able to stand, or that was the theory……..


The only one that actually happened with was the one I glued for Princess, otherwise…..

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Russia

Welcome to “Around The World in 12 Dishes”. We will be taking you on a journey around the world, (loosely) following in Phileas Fogg’s footsteps, exploring 12 different countries with our children, by cooking 12 dishes with them. One for each country visited.

Adventures In Mommydom, Creative Family Fun, Glittering Muffins, Juggling with KidsKitchen Counter Chronicles, Make, Do & Friends, Mom 2 Posh Little Divas,Mummymummymum, Rainy Day Mum, Red Ted Art, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Outlaw Mom have come together to help you on your food journey and will each cook a dish with our children and post about it – to help inspire you to have a go! Then go out there, cook, blog, and join in the linky fun!

beef stroganoff

So, Jeff and I have different tastes in meals.  Usually if I absolutely love a meal, then he’s rather indifferent or dislikes it (spaghetti), and vice versa for me.  So, I’m always happy to find meals we can both like, beef stroganoff is one of those.


Now, I am quite sure that my way of making it has absolutely nothing to do with Russia, but it’s popular here, so that’s what counts for dinner.  Now for learning about other cultures………


Ingredients: 3 pounds or so of stew meat, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 2 cloves of minced garlic (1 teaspon of the pre-minced kind), 1 cup of sour cream, egg noodles


1.  Brown the stew meat, then pour it into your slow cooker.


1b.  Pose as a soldier, and explain to your Mom that you plan on being a soldier or a hero when you grow up.  This is a VERY IMPORTANT STEP.



2.  Add in 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, do not add in broth like we’re doing here.  This will lead to runny sauce, and help you remember to CHECK THE RECIPE, NOT MAKE IT FROM MEMORY.  my bad, it’s a wonder my kids don’t die of food poisoning sometimes.  Okay, not really, I’m not that bad of a cook, but there are times……


3.  Add in the garlic, and whatever other random spices you decide to add in.  This is where I drive Jeff nuts because it really is random.  My go to: basil, oregano, or thyme (not really appropriate for Russia, more Italian).



4.  TURN ON YOUR SLOW COOKER.  This is a very important step.  If you don’t do this you will come back at the end of the day and discover raw meat.  That doesn’t work so well………..  You think I’m kidding, dinner that night was going to the grocery store and picking up frozen food.  Low for 8 hours, high for 4.


5.  Shortly before serving add in the sour cream and stir.



6.  Serve over hot egg noodles.


It earned 3 thumbs up when I asked their opinion, and the boys went back for seconds.  Nothing left at the end.  Total win.