Wife, Mummy, Nurse: April 2016

29 April 2016

Y: You Can Do It, Sam #atozchallenge

Written By: Amy Hest

One of my favorite memories of Christmases in Iowa was baking cinnamon bread with my mum. After the loaves came out of the oven, we would go into town and deliver the freshly baked bread to my teachers-1 to my Sunday school teacher and 1 to my public school teacher. Afterwards we would come home and eat slices from an extra loaf.

In You Can Do It, Sam, Sam and his mother are baking cakes for their friends on Plum Street. Sam and Mrs. Bear wait for the cakes to be finished. Once they are completely baked, they tuck the cakes into twelve red bags to deliver to their friends. They go driving on Plum Street and stop at houses to deliver the cakes. Mrs. Bear tells Sam to take the cake. Surprised Sam says, "All by myself?" His mother gently encourages him to go; that he can do it. At each house, Sam took the cake and left it at the door. When the deliveries are made, Sam discovers there are two red bags leftover for he and his mom to eat. They sit by the fire eating their cakes on that winter day on Plum Street.

What's your favorite memory as a child from winter time?

28 April 2016

X: Except the Color Grey #atozchallenge

Written By: Arlene Alda

I was NOT looking forward to "X". So few book titles started with this letter, and the one or two I found, I had NO desire to read. Thankfully, in the children's section of the library I found Except the Color Grey. I picked it up just because "X" is the second letter in the title, and it looked safe.

If you are looking for a basic book to teach a toddler colors, Except the Color Grey would be a good option. The illustrations are photographs and clearly demonstrate the colors the author is trying to point out. That being said, Except the Color Grey is just so-so. It rhymes, but sometimes the rhyming seems forced. Plus the author seems to be contradicting herself, at the beginning of the book she says she likes most colors that she sees, except the color grey. But at the end, her favorite color is grey.

What's your favorite book that teaches the names of colors?

27 April 2016

W: When Washington Crossed the Delaware #atozchallenge

Written By: Lynne Cheney

One of my pet peeves with teaching history is that it is easy to fall into the trap of having students memorize the facts and spew it back out for testing purposes, only to have it immediately forgotten. This is what my history teacher did in high school, and as a result, I don't know as much as I would like, but one of the beauties about homeschooling is I can hopefully learn what I should have learned in high school.

When Washington Crossed the Delaware is written by Lynne Cheney. (Yes, that's Dick Cheney's wife.) I had no clue she wrote children's history books, but I'm glad I discovered this gem. When Washington Crossed the Delaware goes back to Christmas 1776. George Washington led 2400 men across the cold, icy Delaware River. On December 26, General Washington and the army surprised the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey. The Americans won the battle after the Hessians surrendered.
Many of Washington's men had the right to go home at the end of the year, but Washington needed them to stay... He could see that they were cold. Many marched without shoes and left bloddy footprints in the snow... he [Washington] appealed to their love for their country. This was an hour of destiny, he told one regiment, a time that would decide America's fate. If they wanted their country to be free, they had to keep fighting.
Washington's men stayed at his side. Washington knew there were British and Hessian troops in Princeton, N.J. Wanting to surprise the British again, Washington organized his men to leave in the wee hours of the morning on January 3. Once again (in less than 10 days), Washington and his men surprised the British, this time in Princeton. The Americans won the battle.

I plan on purchasing this book for our family and reading it every winter to my children. It's wonderful and weaves the story of the battles of Trenton and Princeton throughout the book in an understandable way.

What's your favorite book about the Revolutionary War?

26 April 2016

V: The Very Hungry Caterpillar #atozchallenge

Written By: Eric Carle

When I was five years old, one of my favorite books was The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and it's still a favorite). The illustrations are captivating; they are bright. The text is predictable. Plus, it's educational; The Very Hungry Caterpillar teaches different foods (mostly fruits and junk foods), the days of the week, how to count to five, and how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The only thing I dislike about this book is a butterfly comes from a chrysalis (NOT a cocoon), and yes, I usually change the word to chrysalis when reading it to my children.

Reading about the caterpillar tonight before bed.
What is your favorite book from your childhood?

25 April 2016

U: U.S. Presidents #atozchallenge

Written By: Dan Green

With the primary elections going on, I realized that Charis knows very little about who have been the Presidents of the United States. I want my children to have a better knowledge of history than I do. In high school, my history teacher, from 10th-12th grade, had us write down outlines verbatim. The day before testing us, he would give us a "review" with all the test questions and answers. I'd regurgitate the answers on paper and immediately forget what I learned. I wanted a book that is simple for Charis to understand, and yet memorable.

U.S. Presidents: The Oval Office All-Stars includes all 44 Presidents of the United States. Each President is given one page with 6 bulleted facts and a 2 paragraphs written in first person. Each President has a cartoon depiction on the opposite page. I plan on reading a different President each school day to my daughter, enough to help introduce her to the names.

What books do you like about the U.S. Presidents? Who is your favorite President?

23 April 2016

T: Tea Cakes for Tosh #atozchallenge

Written By: Kelly Starling Lyons

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother is her baking in the kitchen. When she baked a cake, it was not just one cake; she baked a dozen. When she make loaves of gingerbread, at least 6-10 would be made that day. I loved watching her. She knew the recipes from memory.

Tea Cakes for Tosh is about a boy (Tosh) who loves spending time with his grandma, especially the times she baked tea cakes. She often told him their family history about their people being enslaved. Tosh's great-great-great-great-grandma (Ida) was a slave and baked biscuits for her master. Sometimes Ida would pocket a few tea cakes to give to the children. Over time, Tosh started noticing his grandmother forgetting things-where the car was parked, her sister's phone number, and how to make tea cakes. (Side note: this is where I lost it. I worked as a nursing assistant in an Alzheimer's-Dementia unit at a nursing home, and that's how I became interested it becoming a nurse. Let's just say the tears started flowing at this part of the book.) Tosh helps jog his grandmother's memory, and she finishes the recipe. Later that night, Tosh asked his mother to help him make tea cakes.

This is a heartwarming story about families passing traditions on to future generations.

Do you have memories of your grandmother making family recipes?

22 April 2016

S: The Story of the World Activity Book One #atozchallenge

Edited By: Susan Wise Bauer

I am 99.9% sure that next year we'll be using The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 1 as part of Charis's education. I'm thankful our library system has the different volumes and activity books because I've been able to go through it in depth and come to a decision. I was on the fence about purchasing the activity book, but I will.

The maps. Charis LOVES maps; So much so, that I've printed out a map of the USA and as the different states have their primary elections, we've been coloring in the state for either Clinton or Sanders for the Democrats and Trump, Cruz, or for the Republicans.

The read aloud suggestions. One thing I have hope to do for a long time in being a mother is reading aloud to my children. I grew up with a mother who believed reading aloud to us was beneficial (even in high school). Eventually, I viewed myself as being too old to be read aloud to... but a little secret (or not so little secret), when I was in high school, I would often stop outside my mother's class room and listen to her read to her students.

The activity projects. Often I am unimaginative, but my daughter enjoys painting and art. She is a hands on learner.

For those wondering. No, I have not drunk the Kool-Aid and gone full force into Classical education (there are some issues that Drew and I have with Classical education). Even though we disagree with a few things does not mean we need to throw out everything and try to come up with something new.

Do you homeschool your children? What curriculum do you use?

21 April 2016

R: The Rag Coat #atozchallenge

Written By: Lauren Mills

The Rag Coat is the most recent "row" we're doing with FIAR. It's about Minna, a girl who lives in the Appalachia region. She wants to go to school, but at first she's not able to go because she has to help her mom at home, since her father is dying. (Yes, he dies in the book, so don't read if you do not want to cry.) When Minna is able to go to school, but she wants a winter coat. (Her family is not able to afford one.) The quilting mothers gather together and provide quilting scraps so that Minna can have a coat. Minna finally gets the quilted coat, but when she goes to school, her classmates taunt her, calling her "Rag-Coat." Minna points out that the pieces of fabric are their stories: "Don't you see? These are your rags... Look Shane, here is that blanket of yours that your mama's sister gave her the night you were born."

20 April 2016

Q: Q is for Duck #atozchallenge

Written By: Mary Etling &
Michael Folsom

Since having children and reading alphabet books to my daughter, I noticed there is usually not a whole lot of creativity. Many books list A for apple, alligator, or something else completely obvious. Charis recently said, "Yes. I know a is for apple. Why do all the books say that?"

When I found Q is for Duck, my interest was piqued. Q is for Duck because a duck goes quack. "A is for Zoo. Why? Because... Animals live in the zoo." The authors go through the alphabet mentioning different animals and have children guess why the animal is that letter. I like how the authors bring the circle to completion at the end of the book. "Z is for animals. Why? Because animals live in the zoo."

This book is good for children who want interaction, have a firm grasp on phonics, and basic understanding of animals (where they live, sounds they make, size). I would NOT use this book on a child who is just learning the alphabet, because it may cause confusion. It worked well for my kindergartner; anytime she got one correct, she started clapping.

What alphabet books do you like?

19 April 2016

P: Pluto's Secret #atozchallenge

Written By: Margaret Weitecamp

In February, Charis learned about the solar system. As we've been going over the different planets, I remembered the Pluto is no longer considered a planet (and heard various explanations from people-most of whom were slightly sarcastic or indignant. Because of their bias, I was never satisfied with there answers). Pluto's Secret helped me better understand the uncertainty as to why Pluto is no longer a planet.

Charis memorized the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. In order to help her memorize the planets better, I told my daughter, "When mama was a little girl, she learned that Pluto was a planet! But is Pluto a planet? No, here's why..." Then we read Pluto's Secret.

Pluto's Secret is from the viewpoint of Pluto (as if it were a real person). We learn who: discovered Pluto and named Pluto. We also learned why it is no longer classified as a planet. I laughed when the author wrote that scientists realized they never came up with a consensual definition of a planet. (I thought, "That's crazy?!?!?!" So what makes a planet? 1. It has to be round. (Check. Pluto's okay.) 2. It has orbit around the sun. (Check. Pluto's okay there too.) 3. It has to be alone in orbit around the sun. (That's why Pluto is no longer considered a planet. Pluto has friends in the Kuiper belt.)

18 April 2016

O: 150 Blocks for Baby Quilts #atozchallenge

Written By: Susan Briscoe

When I was pregnant with my son, my goal was to sew him a quilt. Let's just say, that NEVER happened. Charis has one serged fleece blanket, one quilt, two hand knit blankets, and one crocheted blanket, but Justin only has one serged fleece blanket. Finally I decided that I wanted to sew him a quilt.

One book I recently borrowed from the library was 150 Blocks for Baby Quilts. As you may have guessed, this book has 150 blocks to pick from. I like that I can pick what: interests me and is at my skill level. The author tells the reader whether the block is easy, intermediate, and advanced. Currently, I'm just picking the easy blocks, and as I get better, I'll go from there.
My first plan since I never made a quilt was to cut 4.5 inch X 4.5 inch squares (for seam allowances) and sew them together into a quilt. But as I looked through 150 Blocks for Baby Quilts, I realized I don't have to have uniform blocks throughout the whole quilt. I could have one row with 4 inch squares, another row with 6, 8, or 12 inch squares. I can choose how I want the quilt to look. This book also has a lot of applique ideas, which I love and want to try, but 36 of the applique patterns are just numbers and letters. If you are just starting to quilt and are looking for ideas, look into 150 Blocks for Baby Quilts.

The first (and only) quilt block I made was the "Four Patch" (Number 40. Found on page 55.)

Have you ever sewn a quilt for someone? Were you gifted a handmade quilt?

16 April 2016

N: N is for Navidad #atozchallenge

Written By:
Susan Middleton Elya &
Merry Banks

Charis is learning the Spanish alphabet. Instead of reciting the Spanish alphabet every single day, I decided to borrow CDs and books from the library to incorporate into the curriculum. The first book I borrowed was about Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead); let's just say, I took that book back to the library without reading it to Charis. 

The next book I borrowed was N is for Navidad (much better than the previous book). I like that it not only includes Spanish words, but weaves in many traditions that are in Latino cultures (primarily those occurring in Mexico). Good news!! For those who need help with pronunciations, there are translations, along with pronunciations, in the back of the book.

Do you know a child who is learning the Spanish alphabet? If so, look into this book.

15 April 2016

M: Molly Learns a Lesson #atozchallenge

By: Valerie Tripp

Another book I read for the 26 books with Bringing Up Burns challenge this year: Molly Learns a Lesson. It's another childhood favorite. My dad would buy my sister and me American Girl books and read them to us; my brother also joined in and listened. I introduced Charis to Molly back in December when we were learning a little bit about World War II.

Molly Learns a Lesson is set in 1944. Molly is in 3rd grade. Her teacher, Miss Campbell, tells the 3rd grade class that the class was invited to participate in a contest: Lend-a-Hand, to help with the war effort. Being true 3rd graders, the class decided to divide up into boys vs. girls. The girls decide to knit socks, but Molly hates this idea. She thought that socks take "a long time. They were complicated." Later that day, Molly and her two friends (Linda and Susan) decided they would NOT participate with the rest of the 3rd grade girls; instead, they decided to collect bottletops (and to keep it a secret from the rest of the 3rd grade girls).

The next day Molly, Susan, and Linda tried to collect bottletops, but it was not going well. The 3 muskateers (Molly, Linda, and Susan) decided to spy on the knitting bee the third grade girls were having, but they were caught by Alison's mother. They discovered there was not much forward movement knitting socks. Finally, Molly suggested that the girls knit squares and make a blanket with those squares. One of the other girls suggested going to her apartment building to ask the tenants for bottletops. In the end, the third grade girls won the Lend-a-Hand contest. Molly learned that some secrets are worth sharing to help each other work together.

This book moved me to tears. Yes, I know it's fiction, but when it talks about families having loved ones away at war, I started crying. Charis was concerned for her mother and wanted to make sure everything was okay. I said, "Yes. War is very sad."

What is your favorite American girl book? Have you read any of the Molly books?

14 April 2016

L: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe #atozchallenge

By: C.S. Lewis

One of my favorite books is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I will find any excuse to read it; this year, I threw it in as a read aloud for the daughter for school in March when we were focusing on Ireland, since C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Another reason I read it was because of Bring Up Burns reading challenge; we're to read a book about siblings. In this book there are four siblings-two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve. These siblings go into a wardrobe and find themselves in Narnia-a land that has been under the curse of the White Witch. But, the curse slowly breaks.

A few things I did with my daughter while reading this book:

Replicated one of the scenes with my daughter. When Lucy first went to Mr. Tumnus's house and had tea with him:
And really it was a wonderful tea. There was a nice brown egg, lightly boiled, for each of them, and then sardines on toast, and then buttered toast, and then toast with honey, and then a sugar-topped cake... p. 15
Printed off some coloring pages from the internet, and Charis and I colored them in. (Take a guess which one is my daughter's page.)

When were you first introduced to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? 

13 April 2016

K: Knitting America #atozchallenge

Written By: Susan M. Strawn

One of my favorite hobbies is knitting. Another hobby is reading. Recently at the library, I thought I'd have a "marriage" of the two and borrow-Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art.

At this point, I have not read the whole book. The pictures alone seem to draw me into this book. There are 19 vintage patterns included. (My favorite is the historical pattern 1920s baby bunting set.) Since I have been reading books about World War II recently, I found myself turning to the section about WWII-Chapter 9: An Army of Knitters. I learned that:
Two notable patents for innovative knitting needles were intended to enhance the knitter's efficiency. In 1944, Samuel Shapiro of Brooklyn, New York, received a patent for his illuminated knitting needle intended for use during black-outs or in dim light. The light from a tiny bulb housed in a special unit at the blunt end of the needle was transmitted through a Lucite shaft and out the tapered working tip. In 1945 Henrietta Fosse, Jean Palou, and Louis Lacombe of France patented a transparent knitting needle marked with gauge measurements.
I laughed out loud when I read the knitting etiquette rules section; the rules were either common sense Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art.
or over the top ridiculous. If you want to learn more about the history of knitting in America or another knitting book for your coffee table, I recommend you look at

Knitting wise, I have cast off two projects this week, but I still need to weave the ends in. (My least favorite part!)

What are you reading or knitting? Join me at Ginny's Yarn Along.

12 April 2016

J: Jam #atozchallenge

Written By: Lisa Owings

Yes, this might be cheating, since the title does not start with the letter "J". But I don't care if it's cheating, I'm going with it. One of my children's favorite foods is bread with butter and jam/jelly. Charis recently asked, "How do you make jelly?" Off to the library we went to learn how jam is made.

If you want a basic, clear, concise way to teach you or your child how jam is made, read From Strawberry to Jam. First you pick strawberries. (Can May get here any sooner? I will not go any further to list the steps.) I wish the author discussed how to make strawberry freezer jam, since that's most likely the type of jam we'll make this summer.

Have you made strawberry jam? What tips can you give me?

11 April 2016

I: Ireland #atozchallenge

In March, I put our regular home school curriculum on hold and focused on Ireland. Why? 1. I love Ireland. 2. I have many happy memories of traveling over to Ireland and Northern Ireland. 3. My mum was born and raised just outside Londonderry, Northern Ireland. 4. I wanted to introduce Charis to Irish history.

I used Ireland: Enchantment of the World as one of the books to teach Irish history, published by Scholastic. It was a little advanced for my kindergartner, but I wanted to introduce her to this geography and history. I only read 2-4 pages at a time and would ask her questions about what we read. If she did not remember, I'd go back and read one or two sentences to help her answer the questions. I recommend this book to anyone who does not know a whole lot about Irish history and wants a brief introduction to the history, government, people, and culture. This book is sure to further interest you in Irish history and can be a springboard before diving off into other more specific books about Irish history. The author is pro united Ireland, but shows the history fairly. Thankfully, she does not appear to be pro IRA. The pictures are very vivid and colorful.

Do you have a favorite book about Ireland? If so, what is it?
Be sure to check out Ireland: Enchantment of the World.

09 April 2016

H: Help! We Need a Title! #atozchallenge

Written By: Herve Tullet

One of favorite children's authors is Herve Tullet. I was first introduced to him with his book Press Here. The last book (Help! We Need a Title) that I borrowed from the library did not disappoint.

Summary: A pig and princess play together when they notice someone (AKA the reader) is watching them. The pig and the princess surprised, call in the other story characters. They realize we are expecting a story. They scramble together and try to make a visually appealing landscape. Still there's no story. Then they add in a bad guy, who is not able to scare his audience. Finally, they call in the author and illustrator of the book-Herve Tullet. He too is not ready and asks us to come back at a later time. His story lasted a total of 8 pages. The characters criticize the story. Herve pretends to be offended and tells the reader, "Look, if you're not happy, you can go and look for a story somewhere else. There are lots of other books, you know! And
before you leave, could you do me a little favor, dear reader? Press here, please?" (Woohoo, a reference to the book that introduced me to all his other books!) Lights turn off. After Herve leaves, the characters ask us to turn the lights back on. They then tell us, "Ciao!" Then they go back to play.

My family's thoughts:
Drew, "This is FANTASTIC!"
Mine, "Great!" The illustrations are childlike with vivid colors.
Charis, "They're being silly!"
Justin, "Yuh." (with laughter in between)

While my family enjoyed this book, it's NOT for everyone. You need to have a childlike sense of humor, and since everyday is a laughter day in our house, we definitely think things are easily amusing.

Have you heard of Herve Tullet? What's your favorite book of his?

08 April 2016

G: The Glorious Flight #atozchallenge

By: Alice and Martin Provensen

Earlier this year, I blogged about what curriculum I decided to use for kindergarten-Five in a Row. This week, we rowed through The Glorious Flight and studied various subjects that naturally flow out of that book. One of the wonderful things about using Five in a Row is that my daughter and I have been introduced to literature that I never read. Before March 2016, when I was preparing lesson plans, I had never heard of The Glorious Flight or Louis Bleriot.

The Glorious Flight introduces readers to Louis Bleriot, French aviation pioneer. Despite his many mistakes with designing airplanes, he persevered and became the first person to fly across the English Channel. This book is perfect for introducing children to early aviation history.

Have you heard of Louis Bleriot or The Glorious Flight?

07 April 2016

F: Fox in Socks #atozchallenge

Written By: Dr. Seuss

Yes, I had to include a book written by Dr. Seuss. I have always enjoyed his books, especially Green Eggs and Ham. I liked them so much that I put them on my Christmas list the first Christmas Drew and I were married. My wonderful MIL bought me this set. Little did I know that less than a year later I would be reading the books to my newborn daughter.

I may as well include the title I am most likely to make a fool of myself to my children: Fox in Socks. This book starts out simply enough with just four rhyming words: "Fox Socks Box Knox." But it quickly turns into a tongue twisting book where this mama messes up. My daughter often tries to guess where I'll mess up, and I try my best not to mess up before or on that page. Once I've made many mistakes, I make strange sounds with my mouth.

Warning: If you take yourself too seriously, don't buy this book.

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

06 April 2016

E: Extending the Table #atozchallenge

After graduating from nursing school June 2006, I went over to Uganda for about 6 weeks. Our team leader (Heather) was a missionary in South Sudan at the time, and one of my other team mates brought some items from the states that Heather's mom had sent her. Included in the package was Extending the Table. I browsed through it and used the cook book many times that summer. (If you like More with Less, you will enjoy Extending the Table, which is published by the same Mennonite Central Committee.)

When I arrived back in the states, I bought this cookbook. If you're on a tight budget, it's perfect since most of the recipes use small amounts of meat.  Plus, it will help open your eyes to different cultures. This book helped me realize that I don't need a recipe to make a meal (yes, I still enjoy recipes, but don't need one to serve my family food). I often throw meat in a pan and cook it, then add and make a stir fry. Or I cook meat and serve with rice and roasted vegetables. I included last week's meal plan with an ingredient list.


Cinnamon Coffee p. 34: usually I just drink mine with half and half, but the cinnamon adds a nice touch.

Hearty wheat bread p. 69 (Used this to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)
Egg drop soup p. 82 (My daughter LOVES this soup, just don't tell her it has eggs. We serve over rice.)

Barley soup p. 90
Spicy lentil soup p. 98
Belizean potato salad p. 113 (I was very interested in trying this potato salad, especially since it has carrots. I decided to make this for the church dinner last Sunday, but with all the other salads there was SO MUCH leftover. Happily, both my husband and I liked this salad. I added garlic powder to the potato salad.)
Green bean hash (Costa Rica), serves 4-5, p. 177 (I also added garlic powder to this recipe): serve over rice
Summer corn gravy (United States) p. 178, serves 4, (I use milk-not water-to make the white sauce. I served it over roasted potatoes. I also added 1 lb. ground turkey to this for some protein.): to be served over tortillas, toasted bread, or cooked potatoes

Shopping List

Groceries to buy:

4 green onions
7 large onions
14 carrots
1 bunch celery
1 green pepper
1 cabbage
10 cloves garlic
4 cups green or yellow squash
1 bunch cilantro
1 sprig fresh parsley
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
16 oz. frozen green beans
5 lbs. red potatoes


Half and half

Stewing beef, 2 lbs.
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground turkey

8 oz. tomato sauce

Pantry staples: These are items I always have on hand, but I'm listing them here in case you need to buy them.

Sugar (if you like it in your coffee). I usually drink mine with half and half.
Active dry yeast
Ground cumin (2 tsp.)
Garlic powder
Ground ginger
Ground tumeric
Cinnamon sticks
White flour
Whole wheat four
Pearl barley (1/4 cup)
Red lentils (1 1/2 cups)
Vinegar (need 1 Tbsp.)
Mayonaise (1 cup-or less)
Better than bouillon, beef base
Better than bouillon, chicken base

Have you heard of Extending the Table or More with Less? 
If not, definitely check them out.
Linking up at Menu Plan Monday.

05 April 2016

D: Dangerous Journey #atozchallenge

Dangerous Journey
By: Oliver Hunkin
(The Story of Pilgrim's Progress
For Children)

When I was 9 and lived in Iowa, my dad bought me Pilgrim's Progress, and it was NOT the revised version. He handed it to me and said, "This is a book you should read." I tried, but after 10 pages, the old English was hard to understand, so I put it down and never picked it up again. My dad had better success with my brother, but he tried giving it to Robbie, my brother, later in life. (Robbie read it the one year he was homeschooled-around 13 years old.)

A few years ago we were at the M. family's house. As always one of my favorite things to do there is browse their bookshelves. I spotted Dangerous Journey and saw it was the story of Pilgrim's Progress for Children. I remarked, "I wish I had this at 9 years old-not the unabridged version that John Bunyan wrote in the 17th century." Mrs. M. said, "We used to give it as a standard baby gift. Do you have it?" I replied, "No." "Do you want one?" "Yes, please." She pulled one of at least 4 copies off the shelf."

Drew started reading it to Charis when she was 3 1/2 years old. She loved it, especially when Christian lost the burden on his back. She yelled, "Daddy, he lost his burden!!!! Mama, did you hear? He lost his burden?" I read it to Charis as well, and while some may be bothered by some pictures, she was not. The illustrations are beautifully done. After reading this, I now want to read the unabridged version.

Have you read Dangerous Journey or Pilgrim's Progress?
If so, what did you think of it.

04 April 2016

C: Collage this Journal #atozchallenge

By: Eleanor Shakespeare

When I was in high school, I enjoyed making scrapbook and collages (and still do). There were a lot of times where I should have been cleaning my room, but instead I was pulling out pictures I liked from magazines and gluing them onto paper. With scrapbooking, I often wanted to completely redo the boring white background. Now, I don't have time to sit down and sort through my pictures in chronological order and make scrapbooks. 

If you're like me, you will want to check out Collage This Journal designed by Eleanor Shakespeare.

About the Author: 
ELEANOR SHAKESPEARE is an illustrator and designer based in London known for her photomontage imagery. She combines found ephemera with hand-lettering and texture with color to create unique illustrations. She has illustrated for The Telegraph Magazine, Therapy TodayTimes Higher EducationThe BafflerBoneshakerMagazine, and Noble Rot Magazine.
My thoughts: Collage This Journal is very similar to the popular Smash Books, except it does not have the bright colors that Smash Books have. At first I was not a fan of the boring colors, but I as I added a few photographs to it, I changed my mind. Once you add pictures from magazines and personal photographs, the background will not compete with what you put in the book. There are 52 prompts; if you wanted to, you could make this a year long project and do one prompt a week. Since I'm definitely not a Type A personality, I opened the middle of the book and started from there. I love that there are no rules with this book. You can make it your own! 

The one drawback I have found is the binding. I wish it was spiral bound. When I glued in pictures, I had to find an object to hold the book open for the night (which is not cool). Plus I'm worried that once a lot of pictures are added to it, it won't be big enough to hold everything.

 Going to fill the page up with PINK!!!!

So far, I've only added two pictures on these two pages:
1. Left picture: Taken August 13, 2005. Me with my siblings after one of my friends was married. I was her maid of honor in a friend's wedding.
2. Right picture: Black and white picture of my husband and me on our wedding day.

I received this book from Blogging for Books. 
All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated in any way.

Do you enjoy scrapbooking or making collages? 
If so, check out Collage This Journal.
C of the A to Z Challenge.

02 April 2016

B: Bella and Harry: Let's Visit Maui! #atozchallenge

Written by: 
Lisa Manzione
Illustrated by: 
Kristine Lucco

The beauty of reading books to your children is that it takes them to many different places. My daughter loves learning about different cultures. (I blame both Drew and myself for this. Drew studied Spanish and French in college, plus he's in a comparative politics program for his PhD. I grew up going to visit my grandparents in Northern Ireland, plus I spent a summer in Uganda.)

At least once a month, my daughter borrows various Bella & Harry books out on her card. It was no different in March. She decided to go to Maui with Bella and Harry and checked out Bella and Harry: Let's Visit Maui! You may be wondering: Who are Bella and Harry? They are two chihuahuas, a brother and sister, who travel with their family to different countries and states. Harry is often found getting into mischief, and Bella being the older sibling is often correcting her younger brother. At least once during each book, Harry often shows some knowledge of the culture they are in.

In Bella and Harry: Let's Visit Maui!, some of the places we traveled to were: Wailua Falls, Haleakala National Park, Honokalani Black Sand Beach, and the East Maui Volcano. I butchered all the Hawaiian pronunciations and told my daughter, "Mommy's probably not saying this correctly." Afterwards, found the location of Maui on a map and colored in a page of the Hawaiian islands. This is the page we used for Maui.

Have you read any Bella and Harry books? What did you think of them?

01 April 2016

A: and then it's spring #atozchallenge

and then it's spring
Written by: Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by: Erin E. Stead

Back in February, it seemed that spring would never come. When March 20 came and went, I thought, "How did that happen? It was just January." I know I'm not alone in my thinking.

And then it's spring perfectly describes what I often feel like in winter: "First you have brown, all around you have brown." A boy goes out to plant some seeds. He wishes for rain; it rains. It's still brown. Time goes on. He plants some more seeds and worries. Why aren't plants coming up? Did the birds or bears do something with the seeds? Finally after a few weeks and some rain, there's green!

The illustrations are wonderful. The brown pages are just the right amount of drabness, without being depressing. As soon as it's green, all the colors seem to pop, and the only color that was added was green. And then it's spring helps teach children the virtue of patience in an instantaneous society we live in.

What's your favorite children's book about spring? 
Have you read and then it's spring?
A of the A to Z Challenge.

Happy April Fools' Day (Or Not)

Before I married Drew, I LOVED playing pranks on people, but my husband always hated pranks and practical jokes and often quoted Proverbs 26:18-19. Looking back, I now realize that some of them were hurt or annoyed people.

On this day, many women post pictures of pregnancy tests or ultrasounds. People start congratulating them, but the next day, they post, "I'm joking! April Fools'!" I have always hated "jokes" like this (even when single and newly married), because it is lying. A few years ago when I was wanting a second child, false announcements tore the wounds open some more.

While you may think, "It's just for fun. It's only a joke." No, it's a lie. Again, you are lying and trying to bring all the attention on yourself.
Like a madman who throws firebands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I am only joking." ~Proverbs 26:18-19
What do you think of the false pregnancy announcements women often make today?
BlogHer Writing Lab April 2016 Prompts.