Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

It's a holiday weekend, and it's also time to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad!  ;-)

I'll be in and out over the next week as we take a few field trips and spend lots of time with family and friends.  I'll be popping in a few times, though, and I have some great giveaways to share with you in the next few weeks, so be sure to come and check them out!

In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - Poetry is WHERE?

I'm not a poet.  Definitely.  I'm not a huge fan of poetry, either, at least not the classic kind or the super modern kind, but ....

I love poetry for kids.  The rhythm, the patterns, the excitement on their faces when they get it and see how fun words can be ... it's wonderful.

Of course, being the thematic-type person that I am, I love to match up poetry with our units.  Jack Prelutsky is one of my favorites.  He's the author of Ebenezer Bleezer, a fun poem about crazy ice cream flavors that I'll be using during our ice cream studies next month.

So imagine my delight when I realized that someone has animated it!  You can now WATCH and LISTEN TO Ebenezer Bleezer on YouTube!  Check it out!

So, immediately after watching Ebenezer a few times, I had to search for my other favorite poet, Shel Silverstein, and guess what?  


I don't look up things on YouTube very often, so perhaps you're not quite as shocked and amazed as I am, but this has great possibilities.

My Little Man's becoming a huge Silverstein fan, and now I can let him watch and listen to his heart's delight (while properly supervised, of course) because my man's watching poetry.

Wait'll his daddy hears about this.  wink.

What has amazed YOU this week?

Last week Kayla at Practicing Prudence shared a post about what submission really means in marriage.  This is not an easy concept to understand, but Kayla's clear words are inspiring.  To find out more, visit Practicing Prudence - and Kayla, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

Be sure to check out Stephanie's Inspired Wednesday post over at The Multi Taskin' Mom!

A Nest in the Rocks


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GratiTuesday - A Chocolate Cake Date

Way back at the beginning of our public school days, My Little Man and I were inseparable.  We did everything together - and we did a lot of baking.  He liked to make what he called 'earthways' out of the dry ingredients in the mixing bowls. He would push them around with a spoon, stirring and mixing until it was time to add the wet.

We still bake together, but it happens less frequently now - and My Big Helper usually wants in on the action, too.

This summer has been particularly, which caught us all off guard, and while we've spent lots of quality time as a family, it's been different from our usual routine.

So I wasn't too surprised one day last week when My Little Man asked to make a cake.  He was asking for dessert, I get that; but he was also asking for time just with me, time to push around the flour and sugar and do something together.

I couldn't wait.

My Little Man wanted to try a new recipe, so we pulled out a cookbook and found one that sounded good.  He chose a chocolate cake recipe and wanted it in round pans, so we worked together to read and measure. 

He was able to do more than ever before and was determined to run the mixer all by himself.

Hours later, after baking and cooling, we mixed up my grandmother's Peanut Butter Icing recipe and spread it on the cake.  The layers didn't want to come out of the pan and crumbled just a bit, but that didn't phase My Little Man in the least.  He popped a chunk in his mouth and just kept on spreading, eyes twinkling secretively.  Together we ate up the crumbles and pretended that the fanciest of cakes resided on the cake plate.

That night, it did.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - August 26th, 2013

We're back to being all over the place this week.  Between soccer practice, a soccer scrimmage, and heading away for a landmark birthday celebration, I don't think we'll be here much - and when we are, 'easy' will be the name of the game.

Just being honest.

My Big Helper did finally get to make dinner, though, and she did a fantastic job.  She chose to make tacos with refried beans and a salad, and it was fun to see how happy making dinner for everyone made her.  She was surprised by how easy it was to make, and when she was done, she declared herself a master chef and decided we should have tacos every night. 


The day before My Little Man decided we needed a chocolate cake and that he was the perfect man for the job.  Turned out he was, because he made a pretty amazing cake.  He tried out a new recipe that was a bit crumbly but tasted great - and he used this family favorite recipe for the icing:  Peanut Butter Icing.

This week, the weather looks great, and I don't think anybody's fighting over kitchen duties.  I might be on my own this week. 

Here's the {tentative} plan:


Cinnamon Almond Granola and fruit
- Scrambled eggs and bananas
- Chocolate chip muffins, fruit
Hearty Breakfast Casserole
- Leftover pancakes, see below


"Best Ever" Cheesy Grilled Potatoes with ham & broccoli, watermelon - still haven't made this!

- Pancakes, sausage, fruit
- Baked potatoes with cheese, ham, and veggies
Foil babies - sausages, potatoes, peppers, and onions grilled, fruit
- Leftovers

I'd like to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola Bars and maybe some Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (CCC), too.

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When There's Nothing Else to Do

Sometimes life is just not pretty.  Sometimes it's not happy or lovely or comfortable.  Sometimes it seems pretty depressing - as if there's just no hope of anything getting better.  We know the end of the story, of course - everyone who knows Jesus gets a happy ending. When that happy ending isn't in sight, though, sometimes it's difficult to remember.

We recently lost someone in my extended family, and it was very sad.  The circumstances were awful, and it's hard to know how to reconcile that.

While that person is gone, I want to do something for the family he left behind - but from 450 miles away, in this sort of situation, what do you do?

Baking something or sending flowers are great options normally.  They will at least let someone in need know that someone cares and perhaps even meet a physical need temporarily.

I'm too far away to do those things very easily, though.

This has been going around and around in my head for several days now, and I keep coming back to the story of Job.

When Job seemingly lost everything - his wealth, his family, his possessions, his reputation, even the support of his wife - only one friend stood by him.  While they eventually talked a bit, for the most part, faithful Elihu just sat there.

He didn't bake anything or bring anything or offer frustrating platitudes.  He was just there.  He offered his presence.

Again, I can't very easily span the 450 miles home, but I know Someone who can.  Rather than be the last thing we should do when we're full of excitement or sorrow, it should be the first.

We can pray.

And so I've been praying for this family, and as I've been doing so, another has popped into my radar.

An author whose books I've read is sick.  She has ovarian cancer.

While she hasn't tried to hide it, I've felt guilty as I've noticed people talking about it around the web and it's caught my attention.  I'm not sure I'd want to be the subject of chatter for this reason, and yet she's apparently okay with it - and I've realized that they're not gossiping, but asking for prayer.

Now it's become more urgent.

The doctors can do nothing else, and so DiAnn Hunt's time on earth is limited.  She remains faithful and full of praise, even in this season, but for her, there is something else we can do.

We can, of course, pray for her and her family - but her friends are also passing along cards on her behalf.

If you'd like to send a card, author Kim Vogel Sawyer will see that she gets them.  Just write 'DiAnn Hunt' on the outside of the envelope.

Send to:
Kim Vogel Sawyer Ministries
P.O. Box 304
Kingman, KS 67068

I think our family will be making cards this afternoon.  Who do you know who might benefit from one?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lilla Rose Is Having a Back-to-School Sale!

You can still enter our Lilla Rose giveaway here, but you should also know that ...

Lilla Rose is having a Back-to-School Sale!

It began this morning and is going on through Saturday night.  Many of the styles on sale will be retired when they sell out, so this could be your last chance to get them.  If you're one of those people who can match accessories to every outfit, this is your chance up your game a bit.  Most pieces are 20% off.

Items on sale have their prices listed in red, and so it's easy to scan the page and find the special deals.

My Big Helper and I went Christmas shopping this morning and snagged a few beautiful pieces for presents.  Honestly, I wondered what shipping would be for all of the pieces I found, but guess what? I ordered through my current online party and paid only $4 total.  That's a far better rate I've received from other similar companies!

So, sign up to win, and hurry over to order your own birthday presents/Christmas gifts/it's-a-beautiful-day-and-I'll-treat-myself gifts.  :-)

Which flexi will you order?

**This is not an affiliate or sponsored post.  While I may benefit from any orders you choose to place through my current online party linked above, I am not being directly compensated in any way for this post.  I just happen to be a big fan of my new Flexi-clip and thought you might like to know about this great sale, too! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Inspired Wednesday: Lilla Rose Review & Giveaway

I've always had a thing for jewelry.  Love the stuff - always have.  Doesn't matter if it's rings, necklaces, or bracelets, there's something about delicate decorations that fascinates me.

So when I first heard about jewelry for your hair a few months ago, I couldn't wait to try it out!

Lilla Rose is a company that produces just that.  With a huge line of clips in all sorts of colors, themes, and sizes, as well as decorative pins and bands, each Lilla Rose item is beautiful.

I recently received my Celtic Cross flexi-clip - well, about a month ago, and I've worn it every day since.  It looks delicate but is actually very strong.  It stays in my hair well, and there are many things I can do with it.

I've pulled the hair away from my face and clipped it in the back.

I've made a twist with my hair and fastened it all up with my flexi.

This picture came out a bit blurry, but My Big Helper can wear it as a low ponytail.

The absolute best thing about my flexi is that it's so versatile.  I used to leave the house for an all-day trip with a plastic clip in my hair and a band in my pocket, with usually another tucked in a bag somewhere, so I could be sure that I could tame my hair as needed.  With my flexi I don't need anything else.  I can pull some back or, with a bit of twisting, have all my hair up and out of my face - no bands or plastic clips necessary.

I must admit, though, that this didn't happen overnight.  The flexi-clip design is like nothing I've ever seen before, and for this hair-challenged girl, it posed a slight problem in the beginning.  It definitely took some practice to be able to manipulate both sides of the flexi while holding my hair in place, but after a day or two of practicing, I got it figured it out.  Which is not to say that I can do the fancy upsweeps yet, because I can't, but then again, I never could, so if the flexi somehow teaches me, that'll just be an extra happy bonus.  

I'm already dreaming of which flexi I'll choose next.  They come in different sizes so you can do different things with them, and I can't wait to try out some more fun hairstyles.  Besides, I'm about to get a haircut, and then I'll have less to work with, so I'm going to need a smaller one, right?  wink.

Sue Ellen is my Lilla Rose consultant, and she'd like to be yours, too.  She's generously giving one Flexi-Clip away to one of you!  I can't wait to hear which flexi you pick.  If you are already one of Sue Ellen's customers or you've not yet tried a Lilla Rose product, you are eligible for this giveaway!  Sign up with the widget below.

Or, if you're ready to try out your own Lilla Rose product now, click through to my party page.  If you'd like to browse first, this is a great place to get started.

Have you tried Lilla Rose?

Last week Nancy at There is Grace shared a guest post about why a certain family homeschools.  I love reading about why others embark on this journey!  To find out more, visit There is Grace - and Nancy, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

Be sure to check out Stephanie's Inspired Wednesday post over at The Multi Taskin' Mom!

A Nest in the Rocks


Monday, August 19, 2013

"Whispers on the Dock" by Evangeline Kelley

Three sisters. A charming inn. Hints of mystery and romance. And a gorgeous seaside setting. Escape to Misty Harbor Inn.

As Nantucket reaches the pinnacle of its summer glory, and the Marris sisters welcome guests at Misty Harbor Inn, youngest sister Sam Carter enters her mother's cobbler recipe in the Summerfest baking contest. But she faces a formidable opponent, a past winner who is determined to keep her title even if it means stooping to dirty tactics. Can Sam's newfound faith help her rise above the fray and reach out to this lonely woman? Meanwhile, an elderly guest arrives who knows the inn's history, and the sisters are stunned to learn that their late mother lived there as a child. But she told them she'd never been to Nantucket until her honeymoon! Through the woman's reminiscences and photos, the sisters make an intriguing discovery --- not only about the mysterious Hannah Montague, the young woman who disappeared from the house in 1880, but also about their own family history.

Readers will delight in the inviting Nantucket setting and be enthralled by the adventures of these sisters who reunite to bring their mother's Misty Harbor dreams to life.

This history mystery is the very best kind!  I love stories that involve modern-day people trying to figure out what happened with their ancestors, and in this story there are two!  The connection between characters and the distant time frames keep the story hopping.  

I had trouble getting into the story, though, and this was mainly because this is the third book in the series.  This story jumped right in and apparently picked up wherever the second one left off, and while I eventually was able to figure out most of what was going on, it was rather frustrating to be out of the loop for a while.  The addition of a 'catch-up' section before the first chapter would have been most helpful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the story once I figured out the main plot pieces and wish that I had understood the action from the beginning.

The cast of characters was fascinating.  Each sister had her own thing happening, and when combined with the two historical-style mysteries, Whispers on the Dock is chock-ful of suspenseful action.  The authors masterfully combine the drama and the mystery to keep the readers guessing, but they throw in some pretty great life lessons, too.  

All told, finishing this series made me want to read the beginning.  I may know the ending to the mystery, but I'm still in the dark about all the rest - and I don't want to be.  If you like dramatic historical mysteries, this is definitely a series worth checking out!

You can read other reviews in this blog hop here or click here to purchase your own copy now.

Evangeline Kelley is the pen name for the writing team of Patti Berg, Pam Hanson & Barbara Andrews, and Camy Tang, the four authors who collaborated to create Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn. Each of them has published novels individually, but this is their first series together. 

I received a free copy of Whispers on the Dock from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Menu Plan Monday - August 19, 2013

We totally missed out on last week's meal plan. 

We ended up being out more than in, and when we were here, there wasn't much time to cook.  We ended up doing whatever was simplest, resorting in sandwiches, scrambled eggs, and lots of salads.

We're going to try again this week, and since we have few commitments to be anywhere else, I'm hoping for a better success rate.  

Here's the {tentative} plan:


Cinnamon Almond Granola and fruit

Baked peanut butter oatmeal
- Scrambled eggs and bananas
- Chocolate chip muffins, fruit
Hearty Breakfast Casserole


"Best Ever" Cheesy Grilled Potatoes with ham & broccoli, watermelon

- Grilled barbecue chicken salad, Sweet Strawberry-Watermelon Smoothies (CCC)
- Dinner by the Big Helper, still to be determined
- Hamburgers, baked beans, salad, watermelon, cookies
Foil babies - sausages, potatoes, peppers, and onions grilled, fruit
- Sesame ginger chicken stir fry over brown rice, egg rolls
- Leftovers

I'm going to try my hand at grape jelly making this week.  I've made many kinds of jelly, but never grape!  I'm not sure what else we'll be creating ....

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"On Distant Shores" by Sarah Sundin

Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace---and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

Continuing with the wide cast of characters created in With Every Letter, On Distant Shores returns you to the drama unfolding within the military during World War II.  As if fighting Hitler, Mussolini, hunger, heat, and disease weren't enough, Hutch also fights inequality within our very own military.  I've never before heard of the pharmacists' fight to become recognized as officers, and it's fascinating.  Who would've thought that such a respected and important profession would have faced such barriers?  I didn't - but because of Sundin's creative story, I enjoyed expanding my education!

Hutch and Georgie make colorful characters who complement each other well, and yet their differences in rank and those waiting for them at home make for a romantic story.  Sundin's push beyond the typical romance - making the story not just about finally finding a happy ending for their love but instead learning to grow as God's children and follow His will - make this a deep and enduring kind of story.  

Well written and full of historical detail, Sarah Sundin is rapidly moving up on my 'favorite author' list.  This has always been a period in history that is fascinating to me, but Sundin's On Distant Shores shines a spotlight on a little-known corner of it - and it shows us just how important these hardworking men and women were during this war.

Sundin reminds us that our lives are really not about us - not necessarily about our plans or our wants but instead what God wants us to do and how we can help others.  

What a fun way for God to deliver that reminder. 

You can read other reviews in this blog hop here or visit this page to purchase our own copy.

Sarah Sundin is the author of "With Every Letter" and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A "Memory Between Us" was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. 

Visit for more information.

I received a free copy of On Distant Shores from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - A New Game for the Whole Family {Typecrush Review}

* I received a free copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.

My Big Helper could not wait to open our new game of Typecrush.  She eagerly opened the can and read the directions on a Sunday afternoon, refusing to let anyone enjoy a Sunday nap.  She set it all up and called us in to play.

Typecrush couldn't be easier.  Essentially, one person spells a word using the provided letter tiles, and the objective is for everyone else is to guess it.  Whomever guesses correctly first wins that round and gets to choose the next word.  

There aren't any other rules.  Everything else is up to you to create.  You could have bonuses based on how many rounds you win, a limit to how many times you can guess incorrectly, or anything else you can think of.  

To make it easier to determine letter patterns, the letter tiles are color coded into five categories based on how often the letters are used in the English language.  For example, the blue tiles contain 'a,' 'e,' and 'n.'  Letters like 'z' and 'x' are a different color.  Several cards are included with the game that show exactly which letters are which color.  This would make it much easier for beginning readers - or those who understand phonetic patterns - to correctly guess each letter, and, therefore, the whole word.

Typecrush would be a fun game to play during reading time.  You could use it to work with words following specific patterns, like the -CVC pattern, or use common phonemes.  Because it would be difficult to play without being able to read at least a little, Typecrush is recommended for people 7 and up.

While we'll enjoy playing it in this straightforward way, it was not quite as exciting as I'd expected, but I think that was because there were only three of us playing.  I'm looking forward to a bigger family get-together coming up in a few weeks.  The open-ended nature of this game lends itself naturally for families-gone-wild, and I'm thinking that we could put some fun rules in place for this - like cookie bonuses for those who correctly guess a word or phrase.  Maybe we'll see how many 'over-the-hill' phrases we can think of to roast the birthday boy.  Maybe we'll play in teams.  However we play, Typecrush provides the basis for a very entertaining evening - one that everyone can enjoy.

  • Few rules allow for flexible play.
  • Color-coded letter tiles provide important scaffolding so that even early readers can play.
  • The many letter tiles allow for phrases to be incorporated into play.
  • Allows your own creativity to guide the game.
  • Can easily be used during learning time.
  • Simple enough for kids to play but challenging enough for adults.
  • Proudly made in the USA!
  • Creativity is required.  Lumps on logs will have issues.
Other important stuff to know:
  • Typecrush sells for $25 from
  • You can purchase Typecrush here with free shipping every day.  Family fun is guaranteed - your money will be returned if you don't love this game!
You can find Typecrush around the web here:
Want to read more reviews in this hop?  Check them out here!

What kind of games do you like to play as a family?

Last week Susan at Homeschool with Love shared free copywork pages to go with the hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful."  I love when creative moms share their ideas!  To find out more, visit Homeschool with Love - and Susan, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

GratiTuesday - The Very Best Thing

It's been a busy summer for us, and I haven't seen my friends as much as usual.  I did have the chance to see two during the past week, though, and our conversations were as different as night and day.

Both friends have more children than me.  Both are teachers by trade.  Both are strong Christians, and both have husbands with jobs that keep them very busy - and have a rather unusual schedule.

The first sounded sad and wistful.  She's had a rough summer and has been trying to make the most of every second of family time that she can.  Her schooling months are hectic, busy, and stressful, and in the midst of the busyness, she misses her children.  

The conversation with my second friend went quite differently.  She sounded peaceful and thankful for the busy times they have, just as she's thankful for being able to say 'no' when the schedule is too packed.  She is happy to be able to spend each day with her children completely.

Two years ago I felt like that first friend.  Our public school schedule and the hours of homework was overwhelming, and I felt as if I didn't get to spend much quality time with my children.

This past year was busy, and at times I felt hectic-ness creeping up on me - but there was a difference:  I never missed the kids.  No matter how crazy or busy I was, we were together.  We ate together, studied together, baked together, traveled together.  Every day after lunch we snuggled together on the couch and read.  We took field trips and stayed in by turn, but whatever we were doing, we were together.

I've felt a bit overwhelmed by turn this summer.  We've had way more going on than usual, and I'm picking up several new responsibilities for this next school year - but I have had less planning time than usual.  It has been easy to complain mentally about that, but then again ...

There's no law that says that I have to plan the whole year before beginning.

We can start whenever and wherever we'd like - and so we've already begun, even though I'm not fully planned.  Gasp!

Whatever our days look like, busy or not, wherever we go, we're all together.

For this homeschooling mom, that's the very best thing.

We can take fun field trips with our friends.

We can learn math and gain entrepreneurial experience by starting our own mini family business.

What better way to learn about another culture than by experiencing it?

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - August 12, 2013

You know that being-at-home thing I was so happy about last week?

We're not doing that this week.  

There's a lot going on and we'll be in and out, so I'm shooting for simple meals that don't take a lot of prep time.  

Here's the {tentative} plan:


- Cinnamon Almond Granola and fruit

- Baked peanut butter oatmeal
- Scrambled eggs and bananas
- Chocolate chip muffins, fruit
Hearty Breakfast Casserole

- Baked potato bar, salad
- Dinner out
- Dinner by the Big Helper, still to be determined
- Hamburgers, salad, watermelon, cookies
- Foil babies - sausages, potatoes, peppers, and onions grilled, fruit
- Sesame ginger chicken stir fry over brown rice, egg rolls
- Leftovers

Towards the end of the week I have to bake things for a charity bake sale.  I haven't decided what to make yet, but I've been told that smaller items sell better at this particular event.  What do you recommend??

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

An English Tea Party with Winter Promise {Review}

Earlier this year I received a copy of the full-year curriculum called Children Around the World from Winter Promise.  My daughter chose this particular one because of her complete fascination with the way that people live in other countries.  It was very hard to choose because so many looked exciting, but ...

I think she chose perfectly for our family.

Total, this curriculum consists of over 30 downloads, which might seem overwhelming at first glance; but upon closer inspection I could see that a few digital books are meant to be used by either the teacher or the students and will be used throughout the year, while others are country specific.  That will make it much easier to work with as time goes on.  Instead of sorting through a 300-page book to find the section on China, we can just open that file!  With thirty countries included in this curriculum, ease of finding information will prove to be very important as time goes on.

Our school days are short right now as the weather outside has been beautiful and we've been making the most of the remaining summer days.  We chose to kick off our Winter Promise year in the United Kingdom, home of the Pevensie children, since we're currently reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

We started with a book called Touring the United Kingdom.  The photography used throughout this book was fabulous.  Although we read it together, clustered around my laptop, it viewed like a coffee table book - with big, colorful pictures and text that combined fun information and historic facts.

The best part of this book for me was having it all done.  There were lots of famous places all throughout the UK in this book, and the most important reference information was included on each page.  There were even links to a few virtual tours that we could take online for more information, if we so chose.  Finding all of that information on my own would have been very time consuming, and as any homeschooling mom knows, time is valuable!  

Next we moved on to a book called Fun and Traditions from Many Lands.  This is a fabulous reference for anyone who's planning to study various parts of the world in a hands-on way.  The book's information is sorted by continent.  It contains information about holidays, crafts, traditions, famous people, places to find more information online, and recipes.  I'm excited to use this hefty volume going forward.  Again, there's lots of  research contained in these pages about cultures all over the world, and it's all in one place, ready to go.  I feel like I struck a gold mine!

In our story, Lucy has already had tea with Mr. Tumnus, the fawn, and so we decided to have our own tea party.  Tea is a very English tradition, you know!  This piece of curriculum contains a recipe for scones, which we will make, but with our time constraints on this day, we chose to keep it simple.

My Little Man prepared the sandwiches.

My Big Helper prepared the table.  She even made place cards for each of us with a personalized tea cup on each one!  Since the weather has been so beautiful, we decided to have tea outside.

After much trial and error, we discovered that none of us can pour without dribbling.  Although sticky, it made our tea party festive!

As we munched, we talked about a list of British-English words I found in the Fun and Traditions book.  I named English terms and the kids tried to guess what they meant in England.  They loved this activity!  We giggled over the unfamiliar words for quite some time, and they happily explained many to their daddy that night at dinner.

In the days since, My Little Man exclaims, "and Bob's your uncle*!" each time there's a lull - and surprisingly, it's always appropriate.  My husband, upon seeing the platter of American biscuits that My Big Helper had baked to go with dinner, yelled, "Yay!  We're having cookies for dinner!" to which both kids squealed with glee.

We have only just begun to scratch the exciting surface that makes up our Winter Promise curriculum.  We're all excited to dig into it some more, especially after this memorable first lesson - and I'm not exaggerating.  The kids have really retained the information that we discussed a few days ago and they're incorporating it correctly into their everyday world.

I can't wait to see what's next.

Want to check out Winter Promise for yourself?  You can download lots of fun freebies here!

*""And Bob's your uncle!" means well, then in England.

**I received a free copy of the curriculum Children Around the World from Winter Promise in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inspired Wednesday - "A Matter of Trust" by Liz Wiehl

What do you do when your children are growing up and are ready for suspenseful literature?  Maybe they're into detectives, solving crimes, learning about forensics, but they've moved beyond Encyclopedia Brown or Nancy Drew.

I've found a great option.

Liz Wiehl's A Matter of Trust is written in the true-crime style - though it's not. A story about attorney Mia Quinn just returning to work after years of staying home with her children, she's forced to venture back into the workforce after the death of her husband.  Dire financial straits and trouble at home keep enough stress on her plate, but when she hears a friend's murder over the phone, she signs up to head the murder investigation and find the killer.

One aspect that makes this book great for teens ready to amp up the suspense factor is the cleanliness.  Mia's husband handled their finances and apparently didn't do a good job, as their piles of debt come to light after his death, and although I kept expecting a more sinister reason for this to come slithering out of the corners, one never did.  While the murder itself was bloody, the descriptions are well done.  Painted clearly, but not overly gruesome.   

Although the main character is a mother and widow, roles that teens and young adults may not be able to identify with, she is presented first and foremost as a woman.  She has friends, both male and female, she has issues with her dad and her son, she's forgetful.  While I could definitely identify with some of her parenting struggles, I could also relate to her personhood.  Mia comes across as a friendly, kind, stressed out person who's doing the best she can in a very tough situation - the kind of person you'd want to know, befriend, and help out.

I really enjoyed reading A Matter of Trust.  Then again, I've enjoyed all of her books.  Suspenseful, faithful, and realistic, it's a great read for the murder mystery fan.

What kind of books do your teens read?

I received a free copy of A Matter of Trust from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Last week Chris at Campfires & Cleats shared a delicious looking recipe called 'Berried Treasure.' To find out more, visit Campfires & Cleats - and Chris, please visit our Inspired Wednesday page and take the "I was featured on Washed Up Inspired Wednesdays' button back with you.  

A Nest in the Rocks