Books I want to read in 2016



All the Light We Cannot See

Writing Down the Bones

The Nature Principle

Signature of All Things

Writing Motherhood

The Book of Forgiving

The Places That Scare You


The Four Agreements

The Alchemist

What I Know For Sure

Adventures for Your Soul


Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better


Any books you would recommend? 

My favorite reads 2015




Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  This book was a game changer for me. It helped me figure out exactly why habit or goals weren't working and how to make them work for me. Game changer. 

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I love Anne Lamott. I have a friend who was always recommending her books to me, but I resisted until last year. And now I am catching up.

Rising Strong. Brene Brown. Read it. It will change you. Enough said.

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown. See above.

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert. I started reading this and an hour later I was ordering 4 copies for Christmas presents. Everyone who leans to the creative life needs to read this.

Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes.  As I said on Instagram, "Finished this gem this morning and ready to dance it out. I'm pretty sure in some other life Shonda and I were besties- I was the Meredith to her Christina- and this book was her telling me what I needed to hear, what no one else could or would say to me. So here is to 2016- a year of saying yes, being an awesome adult, and dancing it out."

Magical Journey, by Katrina Kenison. This book came along at the perfect time for me. The journey from being a parent with children at home to a parent with adult children moving out of the house and growing up can be a hard one. Redefining relationships, not having an active role in the daily parenting, and wondering who you are as a parent of an adult. This book held my hand on that change. It helped me know I was not alone. It showed me that it is never too late to find yourself, redefine yourself and grow into yourself. Great book as are all of her books.

Consider This- For the homeschool crowd. This was great as a homeschooler who wanted classical but yearned for Charlotte Mason. I loved this book. It took a few chapters for me to get hooked, but then I couldn't put it down.

 What were your favorite reads?

Storycatcher Christina Baldwin- Loved this book. Enjoyed the stories and the meaning.



The Hobbit book club meeting

This past week we had our book club get together to discuss The Hobbit. The general plan was to have the kids dress up if they wanted, have each child prepare a project based on their favorite part of the book, have each child tell everyone their favorite quote, and then move on to a Hobbit tea and discussion of the literary elements of the book.


First we had to set the stage. A quick quote on the chalkboard by the front door, excuse the sloppy writing, and The Hobbit soundtrack on Pandora.


Jack did some perler bead projects.  Bilbo's sword, the dragon's eye, Smaug, and a hobbit door. He also made a hobbit sign which I didn't get a picture of.


Here is sampling of projects from a few of the other kids.


A sample of the food for tea.  There was a lot more than this and like true hobbits they ate it all.


For our last book club, we introduced a simple plot map, for this one we introduced the hero's journey and talked about how it correlated with the plot map.  I know, why would we introduce the hero's journey to kids so young?  Because it's awesome and we think they can understand it if it is explained and we take the time to make sure they understand it.  And I think they all did learn something from it, even if it was only "without the trials and tests the book would have been boring and Bilbo wouldn't have changed" which was what they said when I asked them about taking out the middle part of the hero's journey.

After the discussion, the boy who made dragon's head also brought a bow and arrow to shoot it with, so they all took turns with that.


As everyone left, I gave them a small little treat bag with a ring pop, gold coins and a blue glow stick.


The outside of the treat bags.  The kids all loved the treats.

We also took a vote to decide our next book. The Black Stallion won.  I wonder what activities we will think up for that one.

What I'm reading


The Hobbit for the book club.

Rising Strong- has anyone else read this? I love Brene's work, but this one tops them all. It is so powerful. I am reading straight through right now, but will be going back through it slower and doing the activities she suggests.

What are you reading right now?

Explorer fair

Our homeschool group tries to have at least one fair each month. We give the fair a theme, but are somewhat open to how it is interpreted by the children. They can do any project they want, or no project at all. They can give an oral presentation along with it, or they can just put their project on the table for display.  We try to have these fairs at park day where it makes it more convenient for the members who live farther away to make the trip.

This past week, we had an Explorer Fair.  Jack chose to do his presentation on Teddy Roosevelt.  To prepare we read a couple of short biographies and also watched a documentary about Teddy;s younger years.


For his presentation, Jack first showed a teddy bear and explained the story behind the naming of the teddy bear. Then he gave an oral presentation about Teddy and some of his adventures, including his camping trip with John Muir in Yosemite.   Then he read the quote often referred  to as The Man in the Arena.

Other fairs we have had in the past include: biography, wonder of the world, literature, science, math, geography, history, and Christmas traditions around the world.


Two other children gave presentations on Neil Armstrong and Eric the Red.

Book Club

Recently I started a book club for the kids in our homeschool group. Well actually I started in hopes of getting my own son interested in reading harder, bigger, longer books than he usually did.  You see, Jack tends to get in ruts or jags as they call them. It happens with food, movies, clothes, and books.  He has book that he has read 20 times. He practically has them memorized. However, once he gets in a jag it's hard to get him out of it. I decided that maybe peer involvement would be a good way to help him stretch and go beyond.

I had him choose the first book. His older siblings had been trying for ages to get him to read one of Brandon Mull's books. He chose The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull.  It wasn't a classic, but it was a good size book and he was excited about the club.  

The kids were all excited about the book even though some had read it before. I chose to keep this club to ages 7 and up because I wanted to be able to have good literary type discussion and not have to worry so much about book content.

While everyone was arriving I had the kids start thinking up a name for the book club. After everyone was there, I passed around folders for everyone to keep their papers in and a simple plot diagram for them to fill in if they wanted.




First, we discussed what a protagonist is and who they thought the protagonist was in the story. Then we did the same for the antagonist.  I then explained how if you had a protagonist and an antagonist in a book there would be conflict.  



Next we discussed the  six different types of conflict. I had a big pad of paper and on it I wrote man vs. six times. Then I asked them to tell me what types of conflict there were. The first they came up with was man vs. man since I led them into it by explaining the protagonist vs. antagonist first.  Between the parents and the children we were able to come up with all six kinds. The only one they had trouble with was the man vs. machine so I gave some leading clues.


Next we discussed the climax of the book. I gave them the definition on my big chart first and then let them discuss and brainstorm on what part of the story was the climax. A few times I had to bring them back to the definition to see if their theory fit.



After they had discussed the climax and seem to come to an agreement, I introduced the theme.  I thought this would be better after discussing the basic plot so they would have a better idea of the theme. It was still hard for them to get on the right track. After a bit, one of the parents suggested good vs. evil as a theme and we discussed that to see if it fit. In this book there was a part where the kids were doing something wrong, but trying to do the right thing. So we also discussed that and maybe times when it would be appropriate. 

That was it for the discussion on this book. I didn't want to overwhelm them, a lot of them weren't aware that we were going to be discussing it in this way. The kids then decorated book marks and also filled out note cards suggesting names for the club and book suggestions for  future club picks.


Before the meeting I had chosen five books for the kids to vote on and choose a book for the meeting next month. I had: The Hobbit, The Birchbark House,  Captains Courageous,  From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Around the World in 80 Days.  The kids voted and chose The Hobbit.


The kids also brought their favorite candy, enough for everyone, labeled with the super power you gained from eating it. This was a major part of the book. Each child took a turn to tell us about their candy and pass it out. 

And they voted on a name...The Big Bull Riders. What can I say there are a lot of boys in the group.

What I have been reading lately


Magical Journey by Katrina Kenison. This one came long at just the right time for me. IN the past couple of years we have gone from four kids at home, down to one. This book was just what I needed to read after that transition. I laughed, I cried- well actually sobbed, and finished feeling like I wasn't the only one who had felt this way. Would highly recommend.


Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin. And emerging theme for me lately is that of story. This one is lovely.


Bird by Bird. Many friends have recommended this over the years and I finally took their advice. Love it!

Those are the main ones I have been reading. I have a few others that I have been taking slowly, reading a bit here and there. I will post about those once I am further along.

Literature fair

This week we had our homeschool group literature fair. The basics are to make a project, any kind of project about a book you have read. We had a fairly good turn out this year.



Originally we were going to do a project on a different book. Something that looked more like literature. But then you see your son chase down the UPS man, grab a box out of his hand, run inside and tear it open for the new book in his favorite series and you realize you are doing things wrong. I told him he needed to do his project on one of the books from his favorite series, Dragonbreath.  He made the bat cave from his favorite scene in the book.  He did awesome.


Some of the other projects were:

  • hand dipped candles for The Witch on Blackbird Pond
  • homemade bread and butter for the Little house series
  • a early American village diorama for Almost Home
  • A poster and toy examples for Spirit Animals
  • A collage drawing for Lord of the Rings
  • A drawing of a Dragon for Eragon
  • A homemade monster, monster pumpkin and cookies for That's Not My Monster.

As you see, we even get the youngest ones involved.  The kids all did great! I wish we could do one once a month, but we have so many other fun activities planned.

Weekly homeschooling wrap up


Language lessons-

  • 5 lessons including: narration, poems, and copywork


  • oy words


  • Rome
  • Horatius
  • Roman Republic
  • narration, coloring, and map work
  • peninsula 


  • types of lines
  • The Great Wave
  • movement in art


  • Saxon 2- 3 lessons
  • $- giving
  • math journal 2 days- I've added this in on Tues and Thurs
  • Monstermatics
  • baking- brownies, we started these late and his friend came over to play so he didn't help finish. Need to work on doing this earlier in the day.



  • Weather Forecasting
  • air pressure, wind, warm and cool fronts


  • 10 lessons in Powerspeak


  • hip-hop
  • acrobatics for dance


  • library visit
  • Doctor visit
  • park day


  • What is the worlds fastest car?



  • Lego
  • Zome creations
  • paper airplanes


  • Garfield
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • The Story of Cars
  • Basher- Physics, Oceans, Rocks and Minerals
  • Ferrari
  • Lego Ninjago


Watching and Listening to:

  • Lego Ninjago
  • The Spider and the Turtle
  • Men's team Gold Medal Fencing



The last week went really well. This week I want to work on actually getting our papers into the binders after they are done.  I also want to work on getting a project started. 


literature and language arts for 2nd grade

Here is our list for literature for 2nd grade this year.

Read alouds- these are books we will read from before bed :

  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
  • Redwall
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Wind in the Willows

After we finish those we will pick more from the list below.

The following are books we will choose from for literature during school:

  • The Burgess Bird Book
  • The Burgess Animal Book
  • King Arthur and His Knights
  • Just So Stories
  • Famous Legends
  • Farmer Boy
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • Treasure Island
  • The Story of Exploration
  • Illustrated Stories from Dickens
  • Parables From Nature

And on the Kindle:

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Boxcar Children
  • The Dragon and the Raven
  • Five Children and It
  • Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  • Gulliver's Travels
  • In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce
  • Little Lord Faunterloy
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins
  • Otto of the Silver Hand
  • Racketty-Packetty House
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Tanglewood Tales
  • Welsh Fairy Tales
  • A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls
  • White Fang

Audio books:

  • George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt
  • George's Secret Key to the Universe
  • Great Scientists and Their Discoveries
  • Our Island Story
  • Just So Stories
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Redwall
  • Wind in the Willows

We will be working on oral narrations this year and adding them to a binder to keep.  Also we do have some books on audio, on the kindle and in actual book form. That's good. Some of them like Redwall and Wind in the Willows, I will read aloud first before putting the audio on his mp3 player. That way he can revisit the story if he likes. Or we may use the audio for days when we really need them. You never know. I like the flexibility of homeschooling.

*ETA-  I printed off lists from Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Ambleside online for 2nd grade and or medieval studies.  Once I had those, I weeded out the religous ones (we don't share the same views as Sonlight or Veritas Press). Then I wrote down what books we had from previous homeschool years. Once I had that list,  I went through I local library catalog to see what they had- not much. Then I remembered I have Amazon prime and an extra kindle.  I went on Amazon and found everything I needed for free.  I'm so happy to have that option.  Also during this whole process I kept in mind what type of books Jack will like reading- he loves adventure, animals, and science.  There are a couple of my choices- i.e. Harry Potter, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, etc.   

For language arts we will be using:

Language Lessons for the Very Young, from Queen Homeschool Supply.

For spelling we will be using Spelling Though Copywork B, also from Queen Homeschool supply. ETA- we also have a few lessons in book A to finish up this coming year.

That's all for language arts and literature.


box day


Guess what came in the mail?  We have history, science, art and Spanish.  Language arts is on the way and we already have math.  Time for me to get some planning done.  I spent last night going over literature recommendations and downloading kindle books.   I found once again that our library system here was severely lacking.  It's sad when you can't even find one book out of thirty for 2nd grade literature. Seriously.  I hope to make progress on it all this weekend, especially if the rain continues.


project learning


Look what I got in the mail this week. I haven't been so excited to read a book since the last Harry Potter came out.  I have had it for two days and I am almost finished, but I know I will be reading this over and over as I strive to really get how to incorporate project-based learning into our homeschool.

We just happened upon one such project today.


Yesterday, Jack was a bit bored and I was busy getting some projects done. I remembered that I had this science kit stashed away and pulled it out for him to work on. He really enjoyed it, especially the pulley. So we talked about pulley for a bit and he said he would like one for the tree house.


I told him I would be more than happy to provide the materials if he came up with the plan.  He researched tree house pulleys on the internet, looked at a bunch of pictures and then drew his plan. We went out in search of supplies. He was very specific with what he needed. When he did act stumped I tried to remember to ask him questions instead of giving him the solution.  It will be a learning experience for me to step back that much. :)


When we got home, he went right to work.  I was impressed. this is a kid who just started tying his shoe two months ago and there he was tying knots.

Once he had the pulley tied up, he measured the rope.


Then it was time to tie the hook on the end and clip on the bucket.


And then it was time to try it out.


Sorry for the sideways view, I always forget that you can't turn videos after they are filmed.

I think the best part of all of it was him beaming and telling everyone that he made the whole thing by himself.  we also have a lot of rope left over and I see a few more projects in our future.

some goodies

Sorry for the lack of blog posts. We are headed in to the end of the year crunch. Throw in a few extra activities, changes and angst from all angles and you get a bit of chaos. I am hoping things find a flow soon. Real soon.

Anyways. Now for some fun stuff. A few weeks back I answered a question on a facebook post from PBS Learning Media and won a prize. Love it.



The book and dvd of Great Expectations.   Love surprises.


This week was the local Scholastic Warehouse sale.   Look at all those cool books. Love the River Monsters ones.  The rock book has fantastic pictures and info.

These are the other books I got. We love the Basher Science books.  The rest I am hoping will eventually interest Jack. To be truthful, he was only excited about he Ninjago one. The rest will be a bit of a challenge for his reading level, but we will either use them for read alouds or he will move in to them. There wasn't a whole lot of selection for his actual reading level this time. 




We are enjoying our little babies so much.  They hop around the cage all day following mama. My favorite is the little white runt. She's a sweetie.

That's all for today. I felt like posting here so you get a gratuitous piggy pic. :)


What is working...


We are loving the spelling and language lesson books that I bought at Queen Homeschool.  The lessons are short, don't require any prep,  don't require a ton of writing on his part and the best part is that he is learning a lot from them.  These are the type of books that I have been wanting for years. I wish I had found them when I was homeschooling my older kids, life may have been a little easier.   :) I highly recommend them!

The readin list.

Forgive the slow week on the blog. I have come to the conclusion that I deal with events in my  life by taking on projects and apparently having the bff's move away means painting the interior of the house we are renting. Ahh.. yes. We have wanted to do it from the day we moved in, it needed it badly.  Today I did a bathroom, the easiest room, and it looks great. Can I just say I hate flat paint. I have been living with it for 4 years and it's time for it to go.  Flat paint+kids= walls that never come clean.   Now to figure out the logistics of doing all the big rooms. 

Maybe I'll just stick with the bathrooms. :) Now on with my post.


My nightstand reading stack. Can you tel what is on my mind? Rhythm, parenting, seasons, learning.  It must be fall. :) Some I have read before and just want a refresher. Like Simplicity Parenting. I've read it before, and I'll read it again.  I find myself constantly turning to it to remind myself of one thing or another.  The "oh yeah, that is why I always thought this was a good idea" kind of reminder. I love that book. 

What's on your reading list?




December 13 2010


A whole lot of happy.

Today we spent doing Christmas stuff. reading books, making projects, and little gifts.  Zac and Jack planted the greenhouse today!


It was very hot in there.  We have a few things that we still need to get: potatoes, kale.  We can't wait to start harvesting. While they were planting I was running around getting last minute craft supplies and picking kids up.  I am hoping to have most of my projects done by Thursday-- it could happen.  :)


And we ended up with two very tired boys.