Friday, September 15, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 9/15/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week I'm thankful for family and friends who have provided meals as I continue to heal. Their love and generosity have made this experience easier. Even in unpleasant situations, there are always reasons to Smile.

1. Tyler, after Nicholas jumped on his back and they both fell off the couch: "That was the best . . . fall . . . ever!"

2. How almost every book Alyssa reads is "the best book ever!"

3. Leighton, after giving Tyler directions: "Ok?"
Tyler: {emphatically}"Ok! . . .{hesitantly} But I don't exactly know what you said."

4. Tyler: "I smile at you all the time because I love you."


6. Leighton brought up a load of laundry, but as I started folding it, I realized it was still damp. He took it to put it back in the dryer and brought up another basket of clean clothes.
Me, teasing: "What is this? I reject one, so you bring up another?"
Alyssa: "Kinda like the colonists and the taxes!"

7. Tyler: "Mama, I forgot, what's a mice called when it's only one?"

8. Nicholas, in bed, singing 'Jesus Loves Me': "Bible tell me He love meeeee!"

9. Jake: "I never met a cake I didn't like."

10. Jake: "Dee-ssert."
Tyler: "Dessert."
Jake: "It's dee-ssert."
Tyler: "Mommy, is it dee-ssert or dessert?"
Me: "You can pronounce it however you want."
Tyler: "Oh, good! I'm calling it bologna!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Carole P. Roman Books

* This post may contain affiliate links. 

We've reviewed multiple books this year alone, and each time I comment on the fact that our family loves to read. Picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction--we're not picky; just hand us a book or two. Or in this case, four.

We were given the opportunity to receive more books by Carole P. Roman. We own many of the books in her If You Were Me series and were excited to own more titles. In only 5 years, Carole has written over 35 books for children and received countless awards (no, really, there are so many I'm not going to count them all!) for her works. Not only is she an accomplished author, she's a generous one, as well. We were able to choose 2 of her titles; then she picked 2 more to send. We received the following books:

If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe was an easy choice. Because of my husband's Scandinavian roots and the vikings' pirate-esque qualities, my kids are fascinated with the people. This book, like the others in this series, is written in second person format. Each book places you, the reader, in that location during that time period. This book, which is part of the Introduction to Civilizations set, is so much more in depth and contains much more information than the Introduction to Cultures books. 

The 75-page paperback give a fantastic description of what it could have been like to live in Viking Europe in 870 AD. It teaches about the people and their classes. The Jarls were the wealthy people of government, the Karls were the free peasants or farmers, and the Thralls were the captured slaves who did all the hard labor. The book talks about food like cod, mussels, shrimp, whales, walruses, ducks, hazelnuts, cheese, berries, and more. It teaches in detail about the utensils and tools of the period, the clothing, and activities. There's information about their gods, marriage traditions, sagas, and poems.    

The back of the book contains a glossary of people, places, and things that are pertinent to that time and place. It also has a section about important or famous people and a description for each. These resources can be used as a spring board for further study.

As much as we love the If You Were Me books, I wanted to experience Carole's other writing styles, as well. Again, my choice was fairly easy: pirates. The Captain No Beard series is based on her grandchildren and teach a tender lesson while using  the imagination. I read through some of the descriptions in the series, but decided on starting at the beginning with volume 1, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life)

This silly book tells the story of Captain No Beard and his crew: Mongo the Monkey, Linus the lion, Fribbit the frog, and first mate Hallie. The crew learns important pirate lingo and how to perform pirate duties, all while No Beard laments that "being a captain is hard work." They braved the open seas, survived a storm, searched for treasure, met a mermaid . . . and ended up back on Alexander's (No Beard) bed with his cousin Hallie and stuffed animal friends.

It was exciting to receive 2 surprise books. The first was Rocket-Bye

This book is Carole's love letter to her grandsons. The story takes the reader to the stars, quite literally. The pages are covered in illustrations in the galaxy. Two boys (representing the grandsons) sit atop a rocket ship as they zoom page-by-page past stars, planets, moons, constellations, and other cosmic colors. The rhyming text weaves and curves through the pages as if it's traveling through the vast universe along with the rocket ship. This story is sure to inspire an out-of-this-world adventure.

Our second surprise book was Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?.

While the last book was written for the grandsons, this book is Carole's love letter to her granddaughters. Little kids dream of what they want to be when they grow up. This heartfelt lesson to little girls encourages them to follow their dreams--whether they want to be an explorer, nurse, chef, farmer, teacher, police officer, pilot, accountant, or anything else they can imagine. And no matter what they choose, they can still be princesses.

The kiddos and I sat and read these books together. The 3 are quick reads and typical picture books. If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe is a lot more educational and filled with facts.  I even found the kids reading these books on their own, too. Here's what they had to say:

I like the pirate one because I like being a pirate!

I liked Can a Princess Be a Firefighter because I like princesses. 

I liked Captain No Beard because I want to taste their treasure!

I liked the Viking book because I'd like to practice archery and spear throwing like them.

If you need some quality children's books, Carole P. Roman has many award-winning options for you.

You can connect with Carole P. Roman on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of many of the books written by Carole P. Roman on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer

* Some of the links in the content above are affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase an item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I recommend products or services that I have used personally and all the text and opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 225.
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Friday, September 8, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 9/8/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! I meant to mention this last week and completely forgot: Nicholas spent the night with my parents' for the first time! My mom took him to make things easier while I recover. I've mentioned a little before about how bad of a sleeper Nicholas has always been, but he did so well at their house that they kept him 2 nights. And he's even continued to do well at home! He still doesn't sleep much, but he's at least sleeping straight through most nights. That's a big reason to Smile.

1. Me, because Jake moved Nicholas' play kitchen to the living room: "Thank you."
Jake: "You're welcome. It was a piece of cake . . . Heh, it wasn't a good pun, but at least it was a pun."

2. Zac, after cutting 2 pieces of zucchini bread: "Which one do you want?"
Tyler: "I'll let you have the bigger one, because you're bigger than me. And I like being nice."


4. Tyler: "How long did you do it?"
Me: "One minute."
Tyler, pointing to the microwave: "Yeah, but a minute on there is a long time."

5. Alyssa, after opening a new jar of creamy peanut butter: "Look how peaceful it looks."

6. Alyssa, at least a dozen times, the night before our first day of the new school year: "I am so excited for tomorrow!"


8. Tyler, whining: "Zac's not playing nicely! I'm hitting him with lightning and he said it's not affecting him at all!"

9. Zac: "I like learning about fish."
Jake: "My favorite part about fish is that they're edible."

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 8/25/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! I am still recovering from my high ankle sprain, so this week was also spent on the couch being taken care of by my family. I experienced some secondary effects of the injury, like a pinched nerve that resulted in sciatica that traveled all the way to my toes. That pain was worse than the sprain itself. My dad came over multiple times during the week to adjust me. How many people can say that their chiropractor comes to their house? :) Everything is now back in place and I am continuing to heal, slowly but surely. 

1. Tyler: "I'm hungry, but I'm stuffed at the same time."

2. Jake, while listening to a Rush Revere audio book, in reference to a poop deck: "I thought it was called that because that's where seagulls go to the bathroom."

3. Zac made a LEGO putt-putt golf hole.

4. Me, at the end of the day: "Who picked out Tyler's clothes today?"
Tyler: "I did."
Me: "I just realized you're wearing Nicky's shorts."
Tyler: "No wonder they feel so weird!"

5. Tyler, about the multi-colored bruise across my foot and ankle: "That looks so cool! It's awesome!"

6. Zac, because Leighton and Nicholas were running errands for a couple hours: "Is Dad on his way home? I can't wait to see Nicky again."

7. Zac, playing hide 'n seek: "Nicky, where are you?"
Nicholas: "I under table!"


What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Greatest Inventors Review

I often to refer to my kiddos as little inventors. They love to create new things, whether they use Lego pieces or bits of odds and ends found around the house. We go through a lot of tape, string, and rubber bands, and I find various projects in different stages all across the house. They're always explaining new inventions to me. In that sense, they are so much like their daddy. Probably my favorite thing that he's created is a motorized wagon with benches that he designed from an old wheel chair. It's the perfect convenience when we spend a day trip at places like zoos and museums. It draws attention everywhere we go, and I feel so much pride when people stop to ask questions and praise his invention.

Because of that creative gene and their curiosity, I knew my kids would enjoy a study of The Greatest Inventors from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks.

A Journey Through Learning was started by two homeschooling moms. When they commented that there was a lack of quality, hands-on materials that covered fun topics, their husbands encouraged them to start their own business. Over the course of the last 10 years, they experienced some early struggles and a devastating event, created many products, won multiple awards, and have built a thriving company. While their passion is lapbooks, they also offer unit studies, notebooking pages, and copywork pages.

Lapbooks are a fun, hands-on way of learning and recording information. Each lapbook is focused on a topic of study and then filled with various mini-booklets of key information. They do require a little work, as there is printing, cutting, folding, gluing, writing, and whatnot involved, but the process is fun and helps to cement the information in the student's mind. Plus, it serves as a great refresher later on as the student flips through and remembers the information. These lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning are designed to be as simple to use as possible. They even have various videos that describe what they are and how to set them up.

The first many pages of the download are filled with the how-tos of the book. There's a list of supplies, the assembly of the book, tips and tricks, picture diagrams, and more. The rest of the 67-page book is the study guide and mini-booklet patterns. The format is such that there is a study guide page for an inventor, and then there is the accompanying pattern pages for that inventor for the lapbook immediately afterward. This setup makes it super easy to find what you need.

Another aspect of this book that makes it simple to use is that there are diagrams at the top of every pattern page to show you exactly where the mini-booklet is placed in the lapbook. There is also a full diagram of the whole lapbook in the beginning pages of the book, but these small diagrams throughout are very helpful as you're working your way through the material. I did find one mistake though. The mini diagram lists the Guglielmo/Marconi booklet as being in folder one, but the main diagram shows folder two. Since we already had another inventor in that spot in folder one, when we got to that, all we had to do was check the main diagram in the beginning of the book.

Just as I assumed, my kids enjoyed learning about the various inventors and their creations. The material is not a full-blown description of each person's life, but just a brief summary with an overview and tidbits of information. Some of the study guide feels a little disjointed. For instance, they list some of the events in Marconi's life, mention his death, and then immediately talk about when he was drafted in the Italian Army, his service there, and more of his life.

You can choose to use the study guide as a simple introduction to the inventors, or you can use it as a springboard for further study. Since we've been on a summer schedule, this was the perfect amount of work for a day. The kids and I would read the one-page description of an inventor, make the mini-booklet, and add it to our lapbook. There were a few times when we would look up more information, like a video of a working cotton gin or a picture of an ear phonautograph, but mostly we stuck to the material in the download.

The lapbook itself is more basic than other lapbooks we've created. There aren't spinning parts or detailed features. Instead, these are simple and can be created quickly. Everything is printed on plain, white printer paper, so there's no swapping paper for colored or cardstock. I think both versions have their advantages, but if you're looking for convenience and ease, A Journey Through Learning is the way to go. There are also easy-to-understand directions at the top of every pattern page that explain what needs to be done for the mini-booklets.

I think The Greatest Inventors was a perfect summer study and definitely plan to incorporate more lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning in our schooling.

You can connect with A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this lapbook an of some of the other products offered by A Journey Through Learning on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 8/18/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week, the kiddos painted, read books, and played with Legos. Things will be different around here for a while as I heal from a bad ankle sprain. The kids are helping out more, especially with meals, and my mom has come over to help some days, too. Of course, Leighton is picking up the majority of my responsibilities around the house in addition to his own daily tasks. The situation is not ideal, but it reminds me just how thankful I am for this family of mine. I am truly blessed and have numerous reasons to Smile. 

1. Tyler, getting tucked in at bedtime, dreamily: "I could hug you until morning."

2. Jake: "It is so weird how some cars have the engine in the back. It's like putting the cherry under your ice cream."

3. Jake: "Is the opposite of productive deductive?" Or antiductive? Or is it just ductive?"
Mae: "None of them, but good job with your prefixes. What's another prefix that means 'not'?"
Jake, thinking: ". . . Un! Unproductive!"


5. Alyssa, after I commented about something: "That's what Dad said."
Jake, because this type of situation happens often: "How many times are you and Dad going to say the same thing? For the rest of your days?"

6. Nicholas: "I wike you, Mama."

7. Me: "I'm hungry."
Jake: "From my experience, saying 'I'm hungry' doesn't make a hamburger appear in front of your face. Trust me, I've tried." 

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kids Cook: Southwest Cheesy Chicken & Rice

Ok, I'm going to be honest up front and say that this is not a pretty dish. What it lacks in appearance though, it makes up for in taste. 

I mean, my pickiest child asked for 4 helpings of it. 


He said, "This is way better than I thought it was going to be!"

I think that was a compliment. Ha. 

Leighton had planned to assemble this in the crock pot the night before, but with all the extra responsibilities and craziness around here because of my injury, it completely slipped his (and my) mind when it came time to do it. We realized it the next morning. 

Oops, I'll have to grab something on my way home.

Nah, don't worry about it. The kids can handle it.

It is really cool having kids who can cook. Jake got the first few ingredients cooking in the crock pot before he headed outside to play with his friend, and the last few were taken care of just before we ate. 

The recipe calls for 4 cups of rice, but the typical directions for jasmine rice produces only 3 cups. I could have explained how to increase it, but for simplicity's sake, we kept it as is. You could use white, brown, or long grain rice, too. Anything would work in this. 

We garnished ours with sour cream, extra cheese, and crushed tortilla chips, but other southwest flavors would be good too, like green chilies, jalapeños, cilantro, guacamole, or a squirt of lime. 

The whole family liked this dish, and it's an easy one for the kiddos to make. Just don't wait until you sprain your ankle to have them make it for you, ha. 

Southwest Cheesy Chicken & Rice
5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups cooked rice

1. In a 6-quart crock pot, add chicken breasts, taco seasoning, tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 5 hours.
2. Remove cooked chicken and cut into bit-size pieces.
3. Add Velveeta and cheddar cheeses to crock pot and cook on high for 15 minutes.
4. Stir crock pot to make sure cheeses have melted. Stir in chicken and rice. 

Recipe adapted.
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