Friday, October 29, 2010

1st Grade

It’s time that Mr. Smackdown got some press.  The guy works hard at school, yet because I don’t have a meme to hold me accountable to post his school work weekly. . . I typically don’t catalogue his progress except in his binder – which is in our schoolroom.

Enough is enough. 

Mr. Smackdown shall have a 1st Grade blog post . . . weekly?  or bi-weekly?  and maybe I will start including a MckLinky with it.  Surely there are other bloggers with 1st graders.  Right?

Now if only I was creative enough to design a little logo and button.  Maybe I’ll fiddle with that another day. 

Anyhoodle, at a future date I will share with you what curriculum Mr. Smackdown uses on a regular basis because school is a little unusual for us this week. . . like ummm . . . we held school on my bed because I needed to rest.  Not many people have a teacher who reclines while teaching how to do subtraction.  And school was often dressed in pajamas.  Workboxes were done out of order, depending if I was nursing or not . . . or had my eyes closed for a brief interval. 

After this elaborate introduction, I sure hope I have enough pictures to provide some limelight to my eldest.

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The Stinker was trying to hide from me while I was taking pictures . . . so I tricked him and captured this fun shot.  Stringing beads teaches patience.  The reality is that at some point all of the beads will fall off of the string.  Subsequently, you have to show some self control and calmly pick them up off of the floor, only to start all over.  (Not that this scenario happened 3 times or anything.)

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Just because the Totally Tots website is named in honor of the toddlers in our lives, doesn’t mean there isn’t useful information for your first grader.  I used their Terrific Tot Sites to find safe websites for Mr. Smackdown to play and learn on.  As you can see, Smiley enjoyed this computer practice, too.

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1st grade

Smackdown has really enjoyed playing and building with our new Guidecraft Animal Train Sort and Match

He has spent a lot of time perfecting his biking skills.

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He has been reading up a storm and sounding out all kinds of words that he sees.  I can’t wait for the day I see him reading the Bible for himself . . . to draw closer to God.

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Speaking of reading, we are wrapping up the last of our Saxon Phonics K (yes, I know this is a 1st Grade post).  But I just HAVE to finish the entire book.  The Saxon Phonics 1 is in a box in the schoolroom, having arrived shortly before Sweet Pea.   This week we learned about the “sneaky e.”

Other learning: 

  • Saxon Math 1
  • finishing Little House on the Prairie
  • drawing
  • learning to take care of a baby
  • getting breakfast independently
  • sweeping the floors
  • folding napkins and towels
  • filling the role of physical therapist to Mussoorie
  • watercolors (not a big fan of this)
  • AWANA copywork

What did you do this week in First Grade?  No guidelines yet . . . sure would be great if some of you lovely people linked up.  Remember, I’m at home a lot these days.  Reach out . . . blog about my weekly 1st Grade Wrap-Up!

Preschool Corner

I don’t have many pictures to show regarding our school week . . . but we did resume school. 

School  simply works for us.  The boys and I function best on a good diet of maneuverable structure.

Sir Honey finished the last of the Letter C curriculum.  I also threw in some supplemental fun activities, like these mosaic magnetic tiles


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We have also read books, reviewed AWANA verses, and accomplished copy work, which surprisingly Sir Honey loves to do writing pages that he can trace. 

Sir Honey has played tons with the Guidecraft Animal Train Sort and Match that we are currently reviewing. 

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We, sadly, finished Little House on the Prairie, and are waiting for the next book to arrive from Paperback Swap

Sir Honey is adjusting very well to being a big brother to his little sister.  He helps fetch the Boppy pillow, a pacifier, or anything else related to his sister.  He also has been taking care of Mussie’s every need, and setting the table for dinner.

The below picture pretty much sums up Sir Honey.  This is why I love this kid!

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Next week:  Letter F

For more Preschool Corner posts, head on over to Homeschool Creations.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Within My Heart: More than JUST A Review

You might laugh at me when I tell you that this book hit a little too close to home for me. 


I know that I get made fun of by the Hottie when such books keep me up late at night reading.  He takes one look at these “Christian” historical fiction covers  with their somewhat fru-fru covers and flutters his eyes and fawns like a lovesick teenager. 

Within My Himageeart by Tamera Alexander is yet another book by Bethany House Publishers.  It takes place in colorful Colorado (which I suppose is redundant of me to say since Colorado means colorful).  Widow Rachel Boyd is raising two young boys and struggling to keep her ranch afloat, when she is forced by circumstances to interact with the town doctor, Rand Brookston.  In an attempt to save a friend’s life, they become medical partners and a friendship soon follows. 

Seemingly typical and harmless reading, right?  I enjoyed the book. I would recommend it as what I call “vacation reading.”

But the book hit close to home. 

Two huge events happened in this book that have happened or are happening in my life right now.

There is a birth. 

There is a death.

Granted the birth in this book is a cow; but hey, cows are miracles too.  Seriously, can you imagine giving birth to something that big with hooves? 

Likewise, I gave birth last week.  Amazing experience – thankfully no hooves.  But looking back, I  think to myself . . . I did that?!  God really was creative when He came up with how birth would all go down.

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I also mentioned that there was a death in Within My Heart.  The character that dies is one that we follow throughout the story.  The reader witnesses his beautiful relationship with his wife and the process he goes through to face death.  It is very real.  Tamera Alexander did a GREAT job truly capturing this experience that we all must face, should the Lord tarry.

Sadly, this week, our family is potentially looking at death.  Please don’t roll your eyes, but the death we may be watching before our eyes and played out in front of our children is our dog, Mussoorie.  This week has marked a dramatic change in whom we have always known as Mussie. 

Remember how this dog eats everything?  Butter, Friendship bread starter, cookies, whole loaves of bread, poop, diapers, sewing pins, essentially anything.

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But not this week.

We can drop food from the table ON PURPOSE and she leaves it there.  I have actually had to sweep the floor because my brown furry vacuum isn’t doing her job.

She won’t get up from bed.  I miss tripping over her and being followed from room to room by her clicking toenails.  She used to sneak into bed once Brian escaped its warm covers to get ready for work.  But not this week.

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She turned 8.)

Her ankle is swollen,  She has a fever of 103.  She limps when she does walk.  She barely has the strength to go to the bathroom.

My sons have become her personal physical therapists,  Three times a day they make a walking course for her.  With each step that she takes she gets rewarded with a doggie treat. 

So as I was reading Tamera’s book the other night and how the characters in it are facing death, I looked over to my dog that had to be carried up to our bedroom.  There she sat.  Eyes watering.  Nose dry.  Staring at me.  Limp.  Whimpering. 

This was the dog we bought to prepare us for children.  To help us become responsible adults.

We figured that if we could keep her alive, then we could take care of a child. (Glad I didn’t have to nurse her.)

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This was “our girl.”  We thought she would always be “our girl.”  And then the Lord provided Sweet Pea, of whom I am incredibly thankful for.  I’d gladly have two girls.

I still love my dog.  For the record, I love Sweet Pea more.

I’m not ready to give Mussie up, though. 

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It is just so fast.  We did the surgery to prolong her life and I almost feel as if it put her on the fast track. 


I don’t know what else to say. 

I am in love with my new daughter, yet grieving at the demise of my dog.  Such extremes.  The delight and happiness over a human life given to me is far more important and the focal point of my thoughts. 

But it does grieve me to see our faithful friend grow old so quickly before our very eyes. 

And to watch the Hottie dote over this silly brown mow hawk dog, whom he still calls, “Darling.”  I get weepy every time—which is only compounded by the fact I just had a baby. 



Thanks to Bethany House Publishing.  I am certain they never expected to receive a long review like this one.  But I suppose they should be proud of working with an author who was able to capture life’s experiences accurately.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions are mine. 

“Big Red” Holy Bible: A Review

When I was in college my Bible professor was very partimageicular about Bibles.  For our class, he gave us specific instructions on choosing a Bible.  For the most part, I agree with his specifications.  You want the Bible to invite you in.  It should readily stay open when you hold it in one had, like a tablecloth hangs over a table.  It needs to have a good binding.  Preferably, the cover should be leather.  The font must be easy to read, not too dark.  The smell – well, I added that one.  New Bibles even smell good. 

I find in myself a desire to collect Bibles. I’m not sure why, as I actually need to be giving them away more than I do. 

But you have to remember that I love books, especially Bibles.

So, I was anxious to see what this “Big Red” Holy Bible was all about.  It boasts of contemporary 3-D art.  I thought the boys would totally dig this Bible since they LOVED our review of THIS product.  However, I was sorely disappointed.  Not disappointed in God’s Word—certainly not.  Disappointed because the 3-D portion of this Bible is infrequent.  I was kind of expecting the Bible to resemble THIS product

Mr. Smackdown informed me that he just didn’t find the “red” Bible very interesting.  “But we could at least read it.”

To read it, you will find yourself using the International Children’s Bible translation.  Now, I’m a NASB girl and the Hottie likes NKJV, but I typically read NIV to the boys.  Talk about a diverse household.  Certainly, the ICB version is written at a very basic level, avoiding words such as “atonement.”  You could go into a deep discussion about whether it is good to change such meaningful words . . . but I’m not going there for this review. 

If you want an easy translation to read to your child, I like the the ICB Bible from Tommy Nelson.  But if you were planning on purchasing this Bible because of the graphics, I’d keep your money in your pocketbook.  The graphics are kind of cheesy, if not creepy, and you only get 16 of them spaced evenly throughout the Bible. 

I was not paid for this review, nor do I have to return the Bible to Tommy Nelson.  Thankfully, they encourage honest reviews of their products. 

I review for BookSneeze

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just a Spoonful of . . .

Though Mary Poppins thought that “just a spoonful of sugar, helps the medicine go down,” I wager that sugar might compound or worsen a sick situation.

Recently, I came across a rather unusual recipe from Cara, over at Health, Home, and Happiness.

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So when Sir Honey (aptly named) woke up for the second day in a row with a frog that did not like being disturbed from his slumber in Sir Honey’s throat, I decided it was time to try said unusual recipe.

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  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Usage:  3 times a day

Voila!  You are supposed to be well instantly.  Not really.  But the claim has been made that it does work quickly.

Just ask Sarah.  I think she felt better the next day. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Tot School: 29 Months


Mr. Smiley is currently 29 months old, and still smiling. 

School was more about learning how to adjust to having a new sister (who now has her own blog that will SLOWLY be developing into a living manual for Sweet Pea– my way of journaling about raising a homemaker). 

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It has taken him a while to figure out that the baby we always talked about and pointed to . . . is no longer in mommy’s belly.  She is the little pink bundle floating around from person to person. 

Smiley has spent a lot of time playing on his Plasma Car that we won over on Carisa’s site.  He doesn’t quite use it as it was intended, but he certainly can go just as fast, if not faster.

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He has had a lot of fun playing in the leaves.

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So, last week was all about adjusting, and learning to be one of the boys.  With the birth of Sweet Pea, it kind of marked Smiley’s end of hanging out with Mom, and entering Dad’s world. 

Smiley found himself helping Dad out in the garage, hanging pictures, taking bike rides, and working in the yard . . . in addition to playing smackdown, wrestling, and playing with Nerf Dart guns. 

Boy stuff.

To see what others did that was actually more Tot School related, head on over to Carisa’s blog, 1+1+1=1.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Mommy is my Photographer

When you are born in a hospital, a professional photographer takes your child’s newborn pictures.

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When you are born at home, Mommy is the professional photographer. 

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Pictures taken with the help of Willow Photography and Stubby

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Tomorrow’s photo shoot will be with Daddy.  She’s excited – can’t you tell?

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I am contemplating giving Sweet Pea her own blog . . . and then at the end of her first year, printing that as her “1st Year Photo Album” . . . which I have made (or am in the process of STILL making) for each of the boys. 

Except it would be slightly bent towards all things in raising a homemaker . . . a Proverbs 31 daughter . . . and, of course, all accomplishments Sweet Pea. 

I’ll keep mulling it over. 

This post made possible by the ample amounts of time that the Hottie Hubby has allowed me to rest and abstain from all things domestic.  (This man, by the way, has been incredible. Guess what he is doing for me?  His goal is to have ALL the laundry washed, folded, and put away before he returns to work on Monday.  He has also organized parts of the kitchen, cleaned the garage, entertained the boys, took the dog to the vet, shopped, cooked or got all of the meals prepared AND cleaned up.  The Hottie is going to put me out of a job!)  

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Vigilante’s Bride: A Review

The Vigilante’s Bride, by Yvonne Harris, is a great western historical fiction novel.  Main character, Emily McCarthy, is on her way to meet her future husband (who isn’t a kind man unbeknownst to her) for the first time, when she is abducted by Luke Sullivan.  Of course, our heroine is a feisty gal and doesn’t take kindly to her rescuer.  Though a predictable story line of two people diametrically opposed to each other who end up falling head over heals in love with each other, it was a delightful novel to be entertained by.
Great vacation read . . . if you are going on vacation OR you need a vacation!
Thank you to Bethany House for sending me this book to read and review.  I was not paid for this post, nor do I have to return the book.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Wordless Wednesday: Life with Sweet Pea

Yesterday,  my midwife (who is also my friend) and my birth assistant came for a visit . . . just to see how the Little Girl and I were doing . . .

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I’m pleased to say that I am feeling more human.   

I love being able to bend and hold my boys in my lap.

And they are enjoying sharing their laps . . .

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And learning how to change diapers . . .

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Just wanted to let you all know . . .

Thanks for your wonderful kind words and prayers both on the blog and on Facebook. 

And if I am slow to write back . . . (if ever) know that I read all of your comments! 

But I have come to a new reality . . . I am going to have to slow down in order to keep up with four kids.  And still randomly blog.  And homeschool.  And date my husband.  And nourish my family with wholesome foods. 

It will all come together.     I don’t have to do all of it at once right now.  I’m on a babymoon!  And we are having some great meals delivered. 


Toodles!!  Remember to send me your prayer requests!

Stayed tuned for a CSN review and giveaway . . . and another Tropical Traditions review and giveaway brought to you by Mr. Smackdown!  (He is very excited about his product he is testing for the Blog!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Fall Colors in the Neighborhood

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I am so enjoying our new neighborhood and all of the places to walk.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sweet Pea’s Debut

We would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, born early this morning.

Rather suddenly.  But with great joy and relief.  Never knew you could  basically skip the whole laboring part and go to birth!



Having had many practice starts, I was at first skeptical to announce that I was in labor.  But after waking up a 2:10 AM, with the realization that I had to move . . . I knew.

This baby was going to be born soon.

And she was.

3:21 AM, with only the Hottie, Mussie, and (of course) myself, present. 

My mom, Lynda (my midwife), and Blythe (Lynda’s assistant) were well on their way. 

Except Sweet Pea decided to travel a more direct and quicker route. 

Perhaps what brought joy to my heart most was being able to share Sweet Pea with her big brothers when they woke up..


They very much already adore her.






Well, I need another nap.  If you have any prayer requests, send them my way – I’ll be up a lot at night, with only God and Sweet Pea to talk to! 

Guidecraft Rainbow Blocks

Guidecraft Mom Blogger

We recently received a set of wooden blocks.  But not just any wooden blocks, mind you.  Rainbow blocks from Guidecraft.  They had actually been on my wish list for Mr. Smiley. 


His brothers have some wooden blocks that are fun . . . but they aren’t very exciting to a two-year old.  They lack color and well . . . size.

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Now, Smiley doesn’t do all the creative castles and flowers that his brothers make, but he loves to line all of the rainbow blocks up vertically.

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And I’m happy to let him explore gravity, create order, and have elementary concepts introduced to him in a fun way (i.e. colors and shapes).

I love the concentration and creativity that he displays when just allowed to have free play.

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Most often, though, you will find Mr. Smiley playing peek-a-boo with his new Rainbow Blocks.

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Meanwhile, his brothers like to stack the blocks,

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make flowers, 

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and sort.

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Toys like this (that are open-ended), I simply allow my children to play.  I don’t provide a structure for them or a specific learning “moment” per sea, though I could have.  I’ve had opportunity. 

We have so many structured learning times throughout the day that I try to give them breaks to allow them to learn and explore on their own. 

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I’m sure that some of the other Guidecraft Mom Bloggers will have some great ideas to share with you of other ways to play with the Rainbow Blocks, not to mention a giveaway over at Confessions of a Homeschooler starting today! 


You can purchase a 30 piece set (or larger) of rainbow blocks that feature the hardwood frame with soft, rounded edges and colored plexi interiors at Guidecraft for $60.   This toy is recommended for ages 3 and up, but as you can see, my two year old loved it!

Once again, a big thanks goes out to Guidecraft for allowing me to be a part of their Mom Bloggers Review Team.  I was not paid for this post nor do I have to return this colorful toy!  (My kids would be so upset at the mailman if I did!)