Sunday, December 30, 2012

Curriculum Spring 2013

After lots of planning and thinking and tweaking, here is our curriculum schedule for the next semester.  Much of it continues on from the fall, with a few changes:

Lucy (age 7)

My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures - I will be adding in quite a bit from Expedition Earth.  We've been enjoying parts of ECC, but it is mostly over Lucy's head.  Expedition Earth will add in more projects and fun on her level and allow us to continue our journey around the world.

Rod and Staff English 2 - Lucy hates this!  We're continuing through the book, but have switched to doing the majority of it orally.

Rod and Staff Spelling - same as fall.  Lucy does well with spelling.

Lucy finished her Explode the Code (phonics) book.  We will be using a Wordly Wise (vocabulary) workbook next.

Reading - Lucy is eating up books as fast as I can throw them at her.  We do a combination of reading out loud (Josefina American Girl books, CLP Nature Readers), silent reading (anything she can get her hands on), and reading comprehension projects.  I purchased Sonlight's reading comprehension questions for grade 3 for this semester.  We'll borrow those books from the library and work through the questions, just to be sure she is understanding what she is reading.

Math Mammoth - same as fall.  I love Math Mammoth, it continues to be a great program.  I like that it approaches math from all angles and teaches concepts very thoroughly.  Lucy still struggles with concepts from time to time so we are trying to include more math computer game time, Flashmaster practice, and the Mathtacular DVDs from Sonlight.

REAL Science Odyssey - We started this in the spring last year and loved it.  In the fall we dropped it in order to use the science from ECC.  That is definitely not working for us, so I'm excited to pick this back up again.

A Reason for Handwriting T (transition to cursive) - Lucy has been asking to learn cursive.  I had held off in the fall, just giving her various things for handwriting practice.  She will enjoy working through this book.

Rosetta Stone - We are easing into this.  Lucy struggled with getting the computer to recognize her pronunciation of the words when we tried it.  (Julia couldn't do it at all.)  I have various Spanish learning CDs and things that I need to pull out and let the girls listen to.

I Can Do All Things - Lucy has picked this art book up again recently and likes to work in it from time to time.

Julia (age 5)

Julia listens to any reading we do for ECC, and usually joins art projects.

The Reading Lesson, Bob books - We read a few pages from one of these books several times a week. Julia is excited that she can read and enjoys practicing.  She got a beginning readers book for Christmas and wanted to read it with me right away.  :)

A Reason for Handwriting K - same as fall.

DK Math workbook - Julia is excellent at math and almost done with this book.  I ordered The Complete Book of Math for her to use next.

Explode the Code - same as fall.  She is working through Get Ready For the Code, Get Set For the Code, and Go For the Code.

Sonlight Core P4/5 - This is new!  I decided that too much of ECC was over Julia's head, so we are going to begin working through Sonlight's Core P 4/5.   It looks like some of the stories will go along with our world studies nicely.  I think Julia will also really enjoy the science books.

Esther (turning 3!) and Baby Isaac interrupt listen in on many of our lessons as well.  :)

Sneak peek: Where are we headed?
In the fall of 2013 I'm thinking of using Sonlight Core B for history, Bible, and read aloud stories.  We'll move to Abeka for English and Spelling.  I just ordered BraveWriter's The Writer's Jungle and Jot It Down.  I'm excited to learn more about her writing approach and implement it over time.

Overall, I think I have a good plan in place and like how things are working together.  It has taken some time to feel settled in various curriculums that we enjoy, but I think we're getting there.  Every now and then I panic and research curriculum like crazy, trying to be sure we are on the right track.  Tell me I'm not the only one?! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Nativity Story 2012

Yay, I can finally share this!  It was a Christmas present for the grandparents.  We dressed up and acted out the nativity story.  Be sure and pay attention to Esther Joseph's expressions.  Priceless.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snowflake Canvas

We had a blast making snowflake canvases the other day!

planning her design

cover the whole canvas

5 different blues to choose from

We found the idea via Pinterest here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Donuts (Paleo Indulgences Book Review)

Our gluten-free, dairy-free diet continues...  Many of my recipes have come from The Healthy Gluten Free Life.  I love the cookbook, so when I saw that the author had come out with a new book, Paleo Indulgences, I begged her to let me review a copy.  ;)

The Paleo diet is new to me, but it is gluten free and contains minimal dairy, so most of the recipes work for us.  Its actually grain free too; the baked goods are made with almond flour or coconut flour (much easier than the zillion different gf flours needed for some things).  Paleo Indulgences is not a Paleo guidebook, rather it tells you how to make those special treats you might be missing from time to time.  (Read: a mother's lifesaver!)

With Christmas coming up, and therefore all of the holiday recipes that we can't eat, I've been trying hard to come up with replacements.  I splurged on two donut pans and decided that would be our Christmas morning meal.  Of course we've had to test out a few recipes to be sure they work well...

This morning I used this recipe from Paleo Indulgences:

Chocolate Mini-Bundts

1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  
  2. Place the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the wet ingredients, except the coconut oil, to the dry and mix well with a hand mixer.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the coconut oil.  Mix well.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among a 6-cavity greased mini bundt pan.
  6. Bake 22-25 minutes, or until the center of the cakes spring back when pressed lightly.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.
I used two donut pans, and baked them for 15 minutes.  For the frosting I mixed some powdered sugar with a bit of coconut milk.  The donuts were cakey tasting, but my kids were completely thrilled!  We certainly didn't have any leftovers.

I'm sure I'll be using many more recipes from Paleo Indulgences.  Like The Healthy Gluten Free Life, there are full-page color photos for each recipe.  It is well written and easy to follow, with great information in the front of the book.  One thing to note is that recipes are sometimes small and need to be doubled for my family.  

Thanks, Tammy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Green Giant Seasoned Steamers Flash Giveaway

We recently received a fun package from Green Giant including a coupon for a free package of their new Seasoned Steamers, a cute apron, a serving spoon, and bowl.

I was interested in trying out the Seasoned Steamers because it looks like they have some fun flavorings.  Unfortunately I didn't read the ingredients closely enough and they all have either soy or dairy in them.  I can't have those foods right now, so we haven't eaten the veggies yet.

I have another package like this to give away, so one of you will have to try out the veggies and let me know how tasty they are! ;)  I'm going to do this quickly and close the giveaway tomorrow, Monday afternoon.  To enter, leave a comment and tell me what your favorite veggie is.  Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact a winner. Giveaway closed!  Congrats, Emily!

The coupons, information, and gift packs have been provided by Green Giant through My Blog Spark.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas

I'm almost done Christmas shopping this year.  My excuse is that I want to just enjoy December with the kids and not worry about gift buying.  In reality, its just that I love shopping and got an early start.

We have a small home that is quite full already with plenty of toys.  I'm continually picky about choosing non-toxic options, especially for the littlest ones.  For the big girls I mainly focus on reading reviews and being sure we are choosing quality items that will last.  Of course we end up with our fair share of Barbies too.  Who can resist a little girl who wants that?  It does help that my kids do not watch TV and therefore don't know what the hot new toy is this season.  Anyway, here are some fun gift ideas I've come across in my searching.  I'll keep the photos out of this post in case you have little eyes watching you like I do:

flannel sheets (twin size + matching toddler!)

pajamas (cotton, tight fitting = no toxic flame retardants)

mini trampoline (on sale + a 30% off coupon for new customers)

Jim Weiss CDs (one for each girl)

twilight ladybug (Lucy and Julia already have one; its Esther's turn.)

bath toys like this net, ring toss, or dunks

puzzles - (Crocodile Creek are made in the US to good standards.  Esther is quite the puzzle master.)

Green Toys sandwich shop (was $6 the other day so I snatched it up!)

doll house building blocks

ABC wallet cards (These look really fun!  I got an extra ring so that Esther and Isaac can share a set.)

Playmobil and Playmobil 123

items from American Girl (Lucy and Julia have Josefina and Julie to buy for, Esther is getting things for her Bitty Baby.)

books (I will do a separate post for this one.  We love books!)

panties with days of the week on them (Gap Outlet had some.)

and for Isaac:

Robeez shoes

Green Toys dump truck

Camden Rose wooden car

car play rug

North Star Express Train (Grandma and Grandpa got him this.  I'm so excited!)

What fun things will be under your tree this year?  Do you enjoy Christmas shopping?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Truth in the Tinsel

Are you Black Friday shopping?  I've been keeping an eye on the sales online, but haven't purchased much today.  Traditionally we go cut down our Christmas tree every year right after Thanksgiving and today was the perfect do for that.  I'm excited for Christmas with all my little ones, its always so much fun to see it through their eyes.  We are working hard at making things meaningful and conveying the truth behind all that we do during this season.  This year I am going to be using a super fun e-book full of ornament crafts:

Truth in the Tinsel is an advent experience for little ones.  You read a section of the Christmas story and then craft an ornament to go along with it.  Crafts are totally up my girl's alley, and this looks like it was written for their age level!  (I sometimes struggle with finding things that aren't too preschool, but not over their heads either.)  I'm so excited about this!!  There is a Facebook page where you can follow along with others.  Their blog also has some fun ideas on how to set everything up and get it ready to go.  So excited!

If you purchase today, the Black Friday special is that you get the printable ornaments for free.  (Yes, for those days that you don't have extra time to create an ornament, there are printable ones to color.  Awesome!)  :)  Can you tell I'm excited about this?

(I became an affiliate for this because I loved it so much!  If you purchase through my link I will receive a percentage.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


In years past, we've created a thankful tree.  This time we decided to go with a turkey.  I laminated the body and glued on wiggly eyes just for fun.

On the days leading up to Thanksgiving, each family member writes what they are thankful for on a feather.  Its fun to see the turkey fill out and remind ourselves of how much we have to be grateful for.  Its such a simple tradition, but one we look forward to each year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Paper Doll Obsession

This is what my kitchen table looks like all the time now:

My girls are currently obsessed with crafting paper dolls from  We print bodies, hair, and clothes in various themes.  The girls color, cut them out, and glue them together.  When they are finished, I laminate them so that they are sturdy for play.

This is only a small selection; we probably have fifty or so of these guys around:

In an effort to contain the mess a bit, I came up with a storage system: a folder with a page protector in the middle.  Full papers can be stored in the pockets, and little cut-outs go in the clear page.  Finished paper dolls are stored in a ziploc bag.  Each girl has her own folder and ziploc bag.

This has kept them happy for hours on end!  In fact, Lucy just came and asked me to, "Please print off a few more?"  :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Easy Sewing/ Service Project

Now that my girls have started sewing, we are always on the lookout for a fun easy project to do.  I had this on a Pinterest board for some time now, and it turned out to be a great idea.  We made pillowcases: one for each child, and one to give away.

Conkerr Cancer is an organization that gives bright cheery pillowcases to children in the hospital, many suffering from cancer or other terminal illnesses.  Anyone can sew pillowcases and send them to the volunteers who hand them out.  The website gives clear directions and information on how to go about the project.

Each girl selected a main fabric and a trim fabric.  We bought enough to make two pillowcases from each set of fabrics.  I sewed Esther's and Isaac's of course, but Lucy and Julia were able to do a good portion of the work themselves.  The sewing is easy straight lines.  I did learn how to do a French seam, which was new to me (but very simple).

The girls are very proud of their work, and excited to send pillowcases off to children who need them.  I love that they were able to practice their sewing skills and do a service project at the same time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I got a new sewing machine for my birthday!

My old machine belonged to my grandma.  I love it dearly, but it is starting to break.  The foot pedal gets burning hot after a bit of use, and the instruction manual is unclear and falling apart, making it hard to figure out anything new.  Costco had this Brother machine recently.  (I love shopping at Costco!)  After some research online and a visit to my local sewing machine dealer I decided this would be a good choice.  It was cheaper than the machines sold locally, but appeared to have similar functions.  So far, I am pleased with it.

I have already learned to do a few new things that I didn't know how to before.  (It came with an overlock stitch foot which makes almost like a serged edge, really nice.)  Mind you, I have only used two or three of the million stitch options - I have quite a bit to learn.  The best part about it though, are these buttons, and the sliding knob:

Call me old fashioned, but I did not realize that you could sew without a foot pedal!  These buttons (or the pedal) stop and start the machine.  The sliding bar is the speed control.  If it is all the way to the left, the machine will only stitch very slowly.  Is this all clicking in your mind yet?  Do you remember learning to sew as child and being yelled at for racing the machine?  :)  I can now teach my girls to sew!!!

Lucy and Julia were soooo excited to learn to sew!  I no longer had the problem of needing them to reach the foot pedal, or of being afraid they would make the machine sew too fast!  My mom was in town for a visit and helped the girls get started by sewing a Barbie blanket and pillow.

They both did very well and sewed carefully.  Without having to control the speed or foot pedal, they could concentrate on moving the fabric around and sewing a nice straight line.

Julia was jumping up and down and saying "I'm sewing!  I'm sewing!" ...while sewing.  I laughed and told her to pay attention.  They are both very proud of their Barbie blankets and pillows.  We've also been working on another fun project that I will share later.  :)  I love sewing!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Penguin In The Room

We have a new friend at our house!  A penguin!  He is actually an air purifier, made by Crane.  With the fall season of colds and sniffles upon us, it makes me feel good to know that I can do something to help keep our home healthy.

Mr Penguin contains 5 levels of filtration to eliminate all kinds of germs and dust:

It is very easy to open the back and find first a washable filter.  This helps the HEPA filter function more effectively by removing large visible particles from the air first.  Our is looking dusty after having been in use for a while.

This is the washable filter:

After you remove that piece, you see the HEPA filter.  This removes 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns.  It needs to be replaced every 3-6 months.

On the back of the HEPA filter is an odor absorbing active carbon filter.  Behind it you can see a photocatalyst filter that works in combination with a germicidal UV light.

The penguin has a simple control knob, as well as a shut off feature if he is tipped over.  It emits a white-noise sort of sound when running, but it is not obnoxious.  We have moved him from room to room and have gotten quite a bit of use from him already this fall.  Indoor air can actually be very polluted, so its great to have something to combat that.  If we are fighting colds I run the penguin often.  He does need to be in the center of a room for maximum air flow, so night time is a good time to do that.  (Otherwise Isaac attacks him.)  There are little red and blue lights that turn on when the penguin is functioning, so it makes a great night-light too.

Julia is currently enjoying learning about penguins, so its kind of fun to have our very own penguin friend.  Maybe we should name him though, hmm....

Crane USA sent us the penguin in exchange for review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Evenings At Our House

Ross has been reading the Little House on the Prairie books to the girls for some time now.  Once everyone is ready for bed, we all sit in their bedroom and listen to him read a chapter or two.  All of us look forward to this time of night.  When Ross is gone overnight for work, or arrives home late, things can be a bit hectic.  It can be hard for me to read when Isaac is wanting to nurse and snuggle to sleep.  I've started putting on a Jim Weiss story on CD for them to listen to.  The girls absolutely LOVE these!  We have Uncle Wiggly's Storybook, Animal Tales, and A Collection of Just So Stories.

Jim Weiss has such a great storytelling voice, and the stories are just plain fun!  I am not sure if I could even tell you the girls' favorites as they love them all.  They listen intently, giggle out loud, and chatter about the stories throughout the day.  The Tortoise and the Hare always makes them laugh when the Hare talks really fast.  Giggly Biggly (on Animal Tales) is often requested, but they love to listen to any of the stories over and over again.  I had an Uncle Wiggly book as a child, so its fun to hear those stories again.

Greathall Productions has recordings for little ones on up to adults.  I like that they are grouped by age on the website so that I can easily see what would appeal most to my sensitive girls.  Although I initially thought some of the stories might be scary (Uncle Wiggly and the Lion, The Three Billy Goats Gruff), they have all been fine, even for bedtime.   There is also a page on the website that lists the CD titles according to subject (Ancient History, Mythology, etc).  This is a great resource for adding the titles in to school studies.  We will be listening to Jim Weiss for many years to come.

I am ordering several CDs as Christmas gifts for the girls.  (no batteries needed, doesn't take up lots of space, provides plenty of entertainment, two thumbs up from mom!)  They are also available as digital downloads.

We received Animal Tales and Uncle Wiggly's Storybook free of charge for review, and we're hooked.  Thanks Greathall Productions!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Gluten Free Bread

I can hardly believe that I've survived six months of being gluten free and dairy free.  Up until the day that I started, I never thought it was something I would be able to do.  We've struggled to figure things out along the way, but so far it has been doable.  A friend recently shared her gluten free bread recipe with me.  I changed it just a bit, and have been making it regularly.  After searching hard for a good easy recipe I was thrilled to get this one!

2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch/ potato starch*
3 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs

1 1/4 cup warm water (Heat to between 100-110 degrees.)

*Use a mix of the two starches.  Lately I've been using 3/4 cup potato starch and 1/4 cup tapioca starch.

Place ingredients in bread machine in order given, with yeast being on the bottom.  Turn bread machine on and slowly pour in warm water.  Use a spatula and scrape down the sides, helping the machine mix for a minute or two.  Close the lid and let the machine do its work.  :)

Gluten free bread dough is more sticky and wet than a typical yeast dough.  It does not require as much mixing or baking time, so usually a rapid bake setting works best.  I use a setting called "Basic Light".

I love how easy this recipe is.  It uses minimal measuring utensils, and comes together quickly.  This is the basic sandwich bread that we keep on hand.  To save even more time, you can put together baggies of the brown rice flour, sorghum, starches, xanthan gum, and salt.  

Do you have a favorite gluten free recipe?  I bet this would make a good cinnamon swirl bread or other variation.  Let me know if you give it a try!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What About Heaven?

What About Heaven? by Kathleen Long Bostrom is a children's book about heaven and the questions that children ask.  The first several pages are full of questions a typical preschooler might ask.  The following pages answer those questions with statements.  On each page, the Bible reference that supports the fact is listed in the top corner.

I am leery of feeding my children too much information that I'm not certain of.  I'd much rather say "I don't know!" and talk about things from there, rather than give certain answers.  I appreciate that the books starts off by saying that some things we won't know until Jesus comes back.  A few comments concerned me though.  The book promises that "Jesus will give you a room of your own, with others nearby so you won't feel alone."  The scripture reference is John 14:2, which says God is preparing a place for us, not necessarily a "room of your own".  I just felt like that was a stretch and might actually scare my kids.  The other statement that I didn't like was about us wearing white clothes and not needing a washing machine in heaven.  I'd rather tell me kids that I don't know if there will be washing machines in heaven or not, I don't think the Bible addresses that fact!

Aside from these reservations, the book is adorable.  The illustrations are fun and I can see this being a great starting point for discussions with children.  The book talks about what heaven is like, with the only mention of how to get there being "The way is with Jesus, believing in Him."  I suppose you could elaborate on that as you read.

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for review from Tyndale House Publishing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nature Walk Bracelets

We went for a fun nature walk today!  I took a piece of tape and wrapped it around each child's arm.  As we walked, we found things to add to our bracelets and make them beautiful.  :)

Julia's was mostly dandelions. 

Lucy chose a variety of things and even got a rock to stay on. 

I love our big beautiful tree! 

sick baby snuggling mom

Esther kept putting things on and taking them back off again. 

one of the bracelets after we cut it off

This was a fun activity that we will probably do again sometime.  Do you have any creative ideas for making nature walks interesting?  Please share!  :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Today I am 32!  :)  In honor of ME, I'm sharing 32 fun facts about myself:

1 - Growing up, I always wanted "3 girls and a boy" and maybe more.  I love my family and am thrilled that I got my wish!

2 - After we were married, Ross and I lived in Northern Ireland for a year.

3 - My husband is a film producer.  I'm so proud of him!  He went back to school four years ago at age 29 with a young family at home.  He worked extremely hard and really enjoys the job that he has today.

4 - I always wanted to be a ballerina.  I took lessons off and on when I could and in college I even got to dance on pointe for a semester.

5 - I don't really have a bucket list, but one thing I've always wanted to do is to sew a quilt.  Maybe this winter?

6 - I'm addicted to Mommy Necklaces.  I have quite a few of them, they are my "fun" thing.  I don't buy shoes or purses or coffee... MNs are my indulgence of choice.  :)

7 - When I first got married, I had no idea how to cook.  I burned a pan trying to boil water and served mainly spaghetti and cream of chicken soup meals.

8 - I've since learned to cook, however I did set the kitchen on fire once a few years ago.  The smoke damage was so bad that we had to live with my in laws for a couple of weeks while the house was restored.

9 - I've been blogging regularly for three and a half years now.  Its hard to find time lately, but  its something I really enjoy and plan to continue.

10 - I enjoy browsing Amazon, reading reviews on items that I am interested in, and finding new things to add to my never ending wishlist.

11 - I have a big stack of books that I own and intend to read... someday.

Wow, 32 is a lot.  Maybe I'm not that interesting a person?  lol  Lets see...

12 - My birthday is sometimes on the first day of fall.  I LOVE the weather on my birthday.

13 - My favorite foods are strawberries and mashed potatoes, but not together.

14 - I don't like chocolate much.  Ok, chocolate on a cookie is delicious, but chocolate ice cream or fudge, blech!

15 - My favorite color is pink.

16 - I was homeschooled.  (and loved it!  I have so many fun memories of learning with my mom and brother.)

17 - Most days my hair is in a ponytail.

18 - I rarely wear make-up.  I put some on Lucy for her ballet recital this spring and she said "Mom!  I didn't even know you had make-up!"

19 - When I was growing up my mom let us have just about any pet we wanted.  If we got books from the library and learned how to take care of it, we could have it.  (ducks, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, lizards, snakes, crickets, parakeets, we had all kinds of things as pets)

20 - Yes, I once had a pet cricket that I kept in my room in his own little cage.

21 - I do not like swimming in lakes because you can't see the big fish under the water who might come up and chomp your toes.

22 - I like math.  I once proved the quadratic equation by myself, before anyone showed me how.  I can't remember it all now though!

23 - I speak a little bit of Spanish.  I wish I could speak it fluently!

24 - I know some sign language and am teaching it to my girls as part of their schoolwork.

Are you sick of random facts about me yet? Sheesh....

25 - I have had two of my children at home!  Its not something I ever really thought I would do.

26 - People sometimes mistake me as being Hispanic.  I'm not.  The nurse at the hospital when I was having Lucy had even written something on my chart about it before I told her I wasn't.  People will start speaking to me in Spanish... its kind of funny.

27 - My great-great-grandparents came over on a boat from Sweden.  Other than that, I'm a mix of English, French, Irish, etc.

28 - We have a chocolate lab, named Leia.

29 - Ross has already purchased Star Wars Legos for our six month old son.

30 - I grew up in TX, but always missed the snow.  (I was born in IL and have family there.)

Ahhh, umm.... hmm...

31- I love the seasons - apple picking in fall, cutting down a Christmas tree in the winter, seeing tulips come up in the spring - love it!

32 - I'm 5' 5 1/2" and my mom is 5' 6".  I'm 1/2" shorter than her, no matter how hard I try.

Phew, there you go!  All the random things you never always wanted to know about me.
Happy Birthday, me!

(#33 - I do not like having my picture taken and therefore could not find a good photo of myself to put with this post.  I'll have to fix that soon, my babies need photos with their mama!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Esther's Alphabet Photo Book

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Safari Toobs Review and Giveaway

Our continent boxes are coming together nicely.  I'm so excited about the idea of making our learning about other cultures as hands on as possible.  I have a plastic shoebox for each continent and we are collecting money, postcards, and more from each continent.  These animals are a great addition to our boxes.

Safari Ltd actually sent us four Toobs to get started with!  The Land Down Under and Coral Reef, (for our Australia box), Penguins (Antarctica), and Wild (Africa).  The girls had a blast opening them up and looking through them all.  The mom and baby koala and kangaroo were favorites of course.  They are adorable:

The Land Down Under:


Coral Reef:


Each Toob contains 10-12 different figures, each with their name printed on their underside.  In this photo, I think I am being attacked by an alligator:

We've already purchased several more sets to use when we study different continents.  I used 40% off coupons to get them at Michael's and Hobby Lobby.  I like that these are tested to strict European standards and are phthalate free.  I can see us collecting animals for the sandbox, to create a farm scene with, and more...

Would you like to win a Safari Ltd Toob?  Check out their website and leave a comment letting me know which Toob you like best.  I'll choose a winner sometime on Wednesday the 19th to receive the Toob they chose.  Be sure to include an email address so I can contact a winner.  If you follow or subscribe to my blog in some way, go ahead and leave a second comment for another entry.  :)

Thanks Safari Ltd!  *Closed, congrats Katy!*

Monday, September 10, 2012

September Stork Stack

Here is our Stork Stack for September:

Tickle Time by Sandra Boynton

Melissa and Doug linking monkey toy

Baberoo organic cotton socks

Baby Paper

Joe Jacket beverage wrap

Its always so much fun to open a Stork Stack and discover the contents!  This month Isaac's favorite is the Baby Paper.  I don't like him sucking on it because I'm not sure what is in it, but its sooo funny to watch him dive for it and crinkle it up.  The Joe Jacket is super cool and will be fun to put on my water bottle.  I think I'm going to save the Tickle Time book for when Esther needs a special treat some day.

We've enjoyed receiving Stork Stacks and think they would make a fun gift for yourself or someone else.  :)  Thanks Stork Stack!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Update

Oh... hello there, blog!

We just finished up our third week of school.  All four children are fed, clothed, alive, and mostly happy.  The dishes are tamed to a small mountain.  And that my friends, is my big accomplishment in life right now.

We are doing about 90% of the schoolwork so far.  We still need to add in a few things, but the routine is taking shape.  Rosetta Stone Spanish is not installed on my computer yet, I'm working on Lucy's reading curriculum, and there are a few other odds and ends we will add eventually.  (cursive, more art, etc)  Its been nice to start early enough that I feel like we can ease into things and take breaks later this fall when we need to.  The girls really enjoy the busy mornings.

Lucy and I are still mostly gluten and dairy free.  Actually I am soy free now too.  Once I had everything else cut out, it was very obvious that soy bothers Isaac.  We experimented with adding a bit of gluten to our diets, but are taking that slowly.  At times I get frustrated with our limited diet, but we've kept it up, which is more than I thought I would be able to do.  I have found a few great recipes that we enjoy.

Little Ones:
Isaac is almost six months old!  He's a happy little guy... as long as someone is holding him.  Lucy and Julia are great about sitting with him or singing songs to him when he gets crabby and I'm in the middle of cooking dinner, changing a diaper, etc.  Sometimes four kids seems overwhelming, but just as often I am amazed at how precious each one of them is.

.. and with that, I'm about out of time.  A precious little someone needs to be nursed back to sleep.  Goodnight!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crayola Back-to-School Giveaway

To help celebrate Back-To-School, Crayola sent us a package of goodies!  (and is giving one away to one of you)  My girls love art supplies, school supplies, and anything creative.

Lucy enjoyed using the Dry Erase board and crayons to write out her spelling words one day this week.  She worked very carefully and planned it out so that each crayon was used to write two words.

The next day Julia used window markers to practice writing lowercase letters.  Lucy got to write out her spelling words on the window.

Another day, we used the Wild Notes journal and special pen for a spelling test.  The pen was not as fluid or as colorful as we thought it might be.  The marks mostly ended up looking dark pink, but we could see hints of color in places.

Our favorite was probably the dry erase board; I can see using that often for handwriting and spelling practice.  We also have yet to use the fabric markers, but I'm sure those will make a great craft.  Thanks Crayola, for making spelling words fun this week!

Would you like to win a Crayola Back-to-School gift pack?  One person will receive a kit containing:

-Crayola Bright Fabric Markers
-Crayola Window Mega Markers
-Crystal Effects Window Markers
-Wild Notes Index Cards
-Wild Notes Sticky Notes
-Wild Notes 1 Subject Notebook

To enter, leave a comment and let me know: What Crayola item are you most excited to try out?  I will close the giveaway and pick a winner on Thursday, August 30th at 9pm EST.  :)  Check out the Crayola website for lots of fun ideas and products. *Now Closed.  Congrats, Kimberly!*

Disclosure: The information, products, and the additional Crayola Back-to-School gift pack was provided by Crayola through MyBlogSpark.