15 June 2016

Summer Reading--it's the BEST!

Well, summer is in full swing around here.



School work is completed for 5th and 7th grades, VBS prep has more-than-commenced, vacation anticipation is growing, and there is LOTS of reading happening.

This is our 3rd summer to do our own family reading program.  Yes, we do partake a little in library programs and even some store-sponsored ones, but my kids' favorite (and biggest reading motivator) is the one I put together using internet resources.

You can read all about the basic program here.  This is still the main plan that we follow--hey, it works!



However, this summer, in an effort to help my kids choose more different types of books (thus not spending the entire summer on one single series--not that it's a terrible thing, just trying to add variety) I have also incorporated this reading 'map' found here.  We aren't using this entire program, just the map which has all different genres and types of books suggested.

I like to shake things up :)

And so far, so good.



I also have my own reading goals for the summer.  I love to read and summertime is my time to get lots of it in!

I am loosely following Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge.  So far I have 3 boxes checked off.   Not too bad.

We also have a current family read-aloud (we really enjoy those) which is Pollyanna.  While I am very familiar with the story via Disney, I have never read the book.  So far it's a hit with all of us!


Before I go, I just have to tell you about my favorite book that I've read lately.  I'm still in amazement that I never heard of this book until recently.  It is utterly charming and I absolutely ADORE it: Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster.  My daughter and I have both fallen in love with it and we must share our new love with all of our fellow book-lovers!  Let me put it this way, if you love Anne of Green Gables you will also love this book.





I'd love to hear what you're reading this summer!

07 June 2016

Planning, Sorting, Purging, Organizing


It's summertime!  And for our family that means a break from schooling for the kids and lots of planning for the next year for me.

Of course, for me, that is something of a domino effect.  Planning means sorting curriculum and books that I already have.  Then I have to purge books we no longer need or want to keep.  And finally comes the organizing of what's being kept (which is always too much).  


So that's what I've been working on for the past few days.  Cleaning off shelves, making piles of books to sell, piles of books and resources to give away, and since I've put this off for so long ...a piles of my kiddos' used-up books that I need to take samples from for their portfolios then dispose of the rest.  

So a lot of piles.  


I am trying to be a bit more ruthless this year with the purging.  I have such a tendency to collect lots of great resources, only to put them on a shelf and forget about them all together.  And that helps no one, right?  I've already found several resources I could have used this past school year but had forgotten that I had them.  Bummer.  Oh well.


This summer I also continue the oh-so-belated project that I began last year: school scrapbooks for each of my kids.  Thankfully there are only two of them!  ha!  I figure if I keep plugging away at this rate I can give them as their wedding presents.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  



I'm not only busy planning for our family's homeschool for the upcoming year but also for our homeschool group.  This will be my second year to serve as the co-op director--a job I really enjoyed last year (at least, most of the time...lol).  So planning sessions for that and for our homeschool group in general begin this month!  Oh, yeah--I have a pile or two of things for those meetings as well ;)  

In the midst of all of this is some summer FUN though!  I've written a few reminder words for us on our chalkboard (probably more for me than for the kids).  Summer vacation is a good thing!


03 June 2016

Expect the Unexpected


This past weekend we were in Fort Smith, Arkansas--the city where I was born and where our children were born.  Even though we no longer live there we have lots and lots of extended family and friends in the area and were in town for a couple of family reunions.  


While there we just had to check out the latest project that Fort Smith is doing as part of the revitalization of the downtown riverfront area: The Unexpected Project.  This project is a celebration of street art and they have placed it beautifully all over the downtown area.  


My sister, my daughter, and I had fun on our scavenger hunt of sorts looking for all of these amazing murals!  They are just so beautiful and creative!  





The Fort is such an interesting area anyway.  It was the border to Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state in 1907--so not that long ago really.  And it was one wild west town back then!  If you've seen any version of the movie True Grit ...well, that story takes place in Fort Smith and bordering modern-day Oklahoma and is most likely quite true to how life was at that time.  




If you're near the River Valley area of western Arkansas, a visit to Fort Smith is totally worth it!  Of course, we're biased because it's our former hometown, but there are some interesting sites to see there.   



Our top 5 things to recommend to first timers would be:
  1. the Fort Smith National Historic Site (Judge Parker's courthouse & more)
  2. the park at West End (ride a vintage carousel and farris wheel)
  3. the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
  4. the Fort Smith Museum of History (don't miss the soda fountain!)
  5. Wild Things Farm
(After they get the US Marshal's museum built, that will be a great attraction, too!).  



Oh--and just for fun, some of our fave restaurants there are:
  • Green Papaya (Vietnamese food--best egg rolls ever!  Also, try the #18 with beef!)
  • Las Americas Too (for amazing tacos!)
  • George's (great burgers and gyros)
  • Joe's Cantina (great Tex-Mex)
  • Taliano's (classic Italian--get the manicotti!)
  • Geno's pizza-by-the-slice (dip your slice in their yummy ranch dressing!)
  • R Landry's (delicious Cajun food + live music!)
(Did I mention that we like to eat?)


(I think this is my fave mural of them all.  
It just fits the western spirit of the Fort.)

25 May 2016

Hello, It's Me Again ...and Welcome, Summer!


Hello, sweet blog friends!

Are you excited that summer is here?  I sure am!  Our family is ready for our annual, long break from regular schooling and is looking forward to lots of fun over the next few months.  

I am also happy to be back in blogland!  I've missed it a lot and hope to find a better rhythm over the summer--one that is more sustainable for me in this season of life.  

Some things that we have planned for this summer are family reunions, summer reading programs, a birthday celebration, vacation Bible school, a Great American Road Trip, maybe even camping--if I can talk my husband into it!

What do you have planned for the summer months?  I'd love to hear about your plans!


04 January 2016

Could your home use more gratitude?


In case you haven't heard yet about this amazing new book that is about to launch...

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch (of We are THAT Family) is a must-read for parents who are looking for encouragement, inspiration, and creative ideas on how to bring more gratitude into their homes.  I know I am one of those parents and I was so excited to be chosen for the launch team for this book.  

This book is being such a blessing to me, my husband, and, ultimately, our children!  Each chapter is filled with godly principles and Scripture and ends with practical application ideas for you to begin putting in place with your family immediately.  

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World 'hits the shelves' on January 26th ...but if you pre-order by January 25th you get an amazing Global Family Kit with your book--plus free (domestic) shipping!  Head over here to read more about it.

sporting my gratitude bracelet from Mercy House

01 January 2016

Happy New Year 2016!


I'm excited about this new year!  I'm so ready to put last year behind me.

2015 was just a tough year with lots of challenges.  Not that I don't expect challenges in this new year but I am just planning to face them with more grace, more patience, more of reliance on God.  Basically just more of God.  Without Him I can do nothing!

My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.
II Corinthians 12:9

Some ways I am taking on the new year's challenges are:

  • daily Bible reading ...I'm going back to one of my fave reading plans: the chronological one with the YouVersion Bible app
  • reading a new-to-be but old devotional for the first time: My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
  • beginning my mornings with prayer and coffee--the best way!
How are you beginning  your new year?


21 December 2015

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas



Merry Christmas from our house to yours!


mini trees

the kiddos' trees

I just realized this morning that I haven't posted here all month!  It's been so busy:(  
This week I am slowing it down and focusing on baking Christmas goodies with my kiddos.
I hope that your Christmas season is lovely and that you are finding time to slow down and enjoy it as well. 
Here are a few pictures of our home~it's all decked out for the holidays!  I was happy to get it all done early on in the season since I was hosting a couple of parties at our home and have been able to not stress about that but just enjoy.


our Dickens' village

the learning room

Christmas around the house

our master bedroom

Happy Holidays to you and yours!