Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

Now blogging at THIS SIMPLE HOME.

At This Simple Home

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Book of Narnians

A Book of Narnians: The Lion, the Witch and the Others A Book of Narnians: The Lion, the Witch, and the Others is a fabulous book for a quick overview of the creatures of Narnia.  It's not meant to be read as a novel; instead, it is a reference guide featuring original quotes (paragraphs at a time) about the featured Narnians from the original books.  Personally, I prefer to skim A Book of Narnians instead of just reading through it.

Having read through the entire Chronicles of Narnia only once and going through a second time oh-so-slowly, there are plenty of creatures that I do not remember, and others that I do.  This is a terrific point of reference for our family as my husband and I are both Narnia fans.  (He actually gave me the big Narnia volume when we were engaged...and read it when I was finished.)  Slowly, we will expose our children to Narnia, too!  A Book of Narnians is great for any Narnia fan.  The illustrations by Pauline Baynes are well over 50 years old and bring Narnia and the Narnians to life.

Though I do like the bulk of the book dedicated to the illustrations and descriptions from the original books, I really appreciate the Cast of Characters quick reference at the back of the book.  C.S. Lewis's Narnia timeline is also included, as well as a map of Narnia and surrounding countries.  The Narnian timeline parallels English years from 1888 (when Digory Kirke is born) to 1949 when there is a serious accident on British Railways.

Chronicles of Narnia Reading ChallengeA Book of Narnians, along with a picture book from Chick-Fil-A called Aslan were some of my favorite finds at a used book sale this summer!  They came in perfect time for the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge at Reading to Know with Carrie.  As part of the challenge, we also listened to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on audio CD.  My daughter was interested, but the witch really scared her.  At one point she requested that we turn off the book.  We did, though Aslan's triumph had just taken place.  (Oh, the suspense!)  We talked about the book.  Within a few hours, M requested that we listen again, and we finished the book!  She did enjoy it, as did her parents!

Carrie has been having a blast exploring Narnia with her boys and enjoying it for herself, too, all through the month of July.  If you are a Narnia fan, be sure to go visit this month!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christian Chapter Books for Young Ones

In our efforts to read lots of chapter books to my four year old, I have been looking into a variety of books.  We began with easy readers from the library.  Some were not even true chapter books, but they were still lengthy and divided into shorter stories...and a good beginning!  (A favorite was Owl at Home.  Some other, lengthier books we enjoyed early on were Raggedy Ann and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.  Linked to reviews.)  We still enjoy easy chapter books, especially the Level 1 readers that M can help read, but she has a good attention span and also enjoys longer books.  (Currently we are reading Cricket in Times Square.)  Unless a book has specifically recommended by a trusted source (Reading to Know and  Hope is the Word come to mind) I tend to preview in advance since my daughter is only 4, and may not be ready for what 6 year olds are reading. I've recently been exploring some Christian chapter books, with young readers in mind.

Susan K Marlow wrote the Circle C Beginnings series for ages 6-8, sprinkled with cute illustrations throughout the books.  Andi is a young girl growing up in the 1870's out west.  I've read Andi's Pony Trouble and Andi's Indian Summer and look forward to sharing these with my daughter.  Though Andi and her friend Riley have more independence than children these days, it's realistic and appropriate.  Of course, they also have many more responsibilities.  I especially liked Andi's Indian Summer.  Andi learns the consequences of not obeying when she has nightmares and gets scared when she meets some friendly Indians.  I found Andi's attitude in Pony Trouble a bit annoying.  She was so focused on getting a horse and proving that she was ready for it, that her attitude was often disrespectful.  We'll wait a bit longer to share that one, but I do think it would be appropriate for the target age range of 6-8.

There are other books in the Circle C Beginnings series that I hope to get soon, too!  Not only that, but Andi grows up!  For 9-14 year olds, Circle C Adventures will be exciting!  Author Susan K. Marlow has some well-written, enjoyable books here!  The Christian message is rather subtle but there.  It's perfect for sharing with non-Christian readers, too.  Thank you, Kregel Publications for sending these books to me for review!  They'll be long enjoyed, first as a read aloud, and then as independent reading.  I highly recommend Circle C Beginnings!

Lori Z. Scott has written the Meghan Rose books.  Though it's been years since I read the Junie B. Jones books, I think the same audience would enjoy them.  (One thing I definitely want to point out is that the Meghan Rose books use appropriate grammar and mean words are not used, unlike Junie B!  I know that has been an issue for many parents-and teachers- with the Junie B. Jones series.)  Meghan Rose is a typical first grader.  She has opinions and is happy to share them.  She's smart-sometimes too smart.  Sometimes she makes poor choices (typical first grader!!), but she comes around to see the error of her ways.  The Christian message is there, but not "in-your-face."

Meghan Rose Knows it All
We have several of the Meghan Rose books.  (I won them over at a great site called Christian Children's Book Review.)  Then I bought a couple for my church's library, too.  I think they're great!  To preview the books before sharing them with my daughter, I read Meghan Rose Takes the Cake and Meghan Rose Knows It All.  I really enjoyed both books and the mistakes, mishaps, and even Meghan's misdirected thoughts and actions.  Through these books, she learns her lessons and figures out what God would have her do.  I also like how Meghan Rose has to deal with a mean girl.  There are plenty of illustrations to keep young readers happy, too.  The books are short (less than 100 pages), but the final pages are filled with questions (with Bible application suggestions!) and extension activities.  Since Meghan Rose Knows It All shows how much Meghan knows about rocks, there are lots of rock-related activities.  (The best part is that Meghan Rose learns the difference between knowledge and wisdom!)  In Meghan Rose Takes the Cake, Meghan and her classmates learn to be generous and creative as they earn money for their school's penny wars.
Meghan Rose Takes the Cake
I really love the Meghan Rose series.  However, I do have a complaint...I not going to  share them with my daughter yet!  Since the main setting is Meghan's first grade classroom, I feel that there is too much school "stuff" (spelling tests, principal's office, penny wars, announcements) to have them be a great read-aloud now, though they are appropriate for ages 4-8.  If my daughter was in kindergarten now, I'd share them, but we have another full year before that happens.  Isn't that a funny complaint?  Regardless, this is another great series, and I highly recommend Meghan Rose and think school-aged kids will love them!

You might be interested in the Meghan Rose website or the Circle C Beginnings website to get a better idea of the books.  Then, go out and buy some of these books or request them at your library!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Butterfly Cake (Or How to Thrill Your Daughter)

My intention was to make this banana butterfly cake with my daughter, but as it turned out, she spent a very long (contented) time in her room cleaning it while I made the cake without her.  However, she did help me frost it.

I got the idea for the cake and the recipe from Superheros and Princesses.  Christy's banana cake recipe was awesome.  In my opinion it doesn't even need frosting, but that is my opinion about every cake, so you may not want to listen to me.

The gummy worm antennae have been saved since Easter for this very project.  Yes, that's right.  My kids got gummy worms at an Easter egg hunt, and I saved them for months.  (Should I admit now that other Easter candy can be found in our house?  We're pathetic.)

M was excited to see the circle cake turn into a butterfly.  She helped me make the frosting and decorate it.

Today I have a guest post over at Milk 'n' Honey Learn and Grown.  Check it out, if you wish!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Handwriting Practice

Though M is nearly 5 (October!), her handwriting is still difficult to read, even when traced.  She has another year before kindergarten, but it is still important to practice writing on occasion.  Though she does like workbooks, real-life application is best for practicing.

M has a special little notebook.  One day she asked to make a list (similar to lists I've made for her to read at the grocery store) of some suggested words.  I wrote the list in yellow.  She traced the list using a blue marker.  It was fun for her to see the colors mix together to create green.

We also made a list in a similar manner when we were preparing for NYC.  This time, the list contained family members' names and special things about NYC that we already knew about.

Now I'm curious about other lists we can make.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Kids in the Kitchen: Chocolate Eclair Cake

I made an eclair cake with just vanilla filling years ago...long before children.  Since I wasn't sure what recipe I used then, though it was good, I went looking for another recipe when I had a lot of milk to use.  This one came from my friend as part of a collection of recipes for a bridal shower gift.

Chocolate Eclair Cake (or any eclair cake) is a simple dessert to make and makes a good* choice for Kids in the Kitchen!

Chocolate Eclair Cake
Small box instant vanilla pudding
Small box instant chocolate pudding
4 cups of milk, separated
8 ounces whipped topping (more if you want to add it to the top for serving)
graham crackers (LOTS)
chocolate icing (I used this recipe, but you could buy a can of it.)

Mix vanilla and chocolate puddings, separately, with 2 cups of milk each.  Then mix vanilla pudding with approximately 4 ounces of whipped topping and the chocolate pudding with 4 ounces of whipped topping.

Arrange graham crackers to cover bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Pour chocolate mixture on top.  Arrange graham crackers on top of chocolate pudding to cover.  Cover graham crackers with vanilla pudding and then another layer of graham crackers.  Spread icing on top.  Refrigerate overnight (or at least 3 hours, but more is preferred). Serve cold.

Kid Tasks: (for ages 2 and 4)
Mix puddings.  Layer graham crackers (depending on age, adult may want to do layers on pudding).  Mix whipped topping and pudding.

Mom Tasks: 
I completed all the mixing, making sure each was mixed thoroughly.  I also helped my daughter pour the pudding mixtures and spread them.  The icing was also spread by me.

I knew I didn't want to make a 9x13 pan of the chocolate eclair cake for our family of four.  Instead of just making a half batch with leftover pudding, we filled two 8x8 pans and sent one to work with my husband.  If I had not split it into two pans, the layers of pudding mixture would have been thicker in the photo.

This was delicious!  I suspect the regular eclair cake recipe I made was this one from Kraft.  I suspect we'll add this to our dessert line-up for our family on a regular basis.

*This would have been a much better Kids in the Kitchen activity if I had two whisks.  My son didn't like giving it up to make the chocolate pudding!  He's two years old though.

See our other Kids in the Kitchen post, too.  I'm linking up to Adventures in Mommydom's Kid Friendly Recipes!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Little House Traveler, by Laura Ingals Wilder

 I am a big fan Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series.  Though it took a few months, this past year I shared the books with my four year old daughter in the car with our library's audio books.   She thoroughly enjoyed the books, and someday when she has a CD player in her room, I look forward to her listening to the books during her rest time.  We will also read our set together.  I can't get enough.  Having enjoyed the books as a child, when expecting (and not knowing the sex of our child) I purchased the set.  No regrets!

This summer when I was cleaning our basement, I found two books that will be a great treasure once I get to read them.  They are two books about Laura's daughter, Rose.  Written by a family friend, Roger Lea MacBride, they are Little House on Rocky Ridge and Little Farm in the Ozarks.  Not only that, but Friday night I found a Laura biography that is appropriate for younger children!

In the meantime, I was able to get a wonderful look into the adult Laura Ingalls Wilder's life.  A Little House Traveler is for any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan who wants to know the adult Laura (along with husband Almanzo and daughter Rose) better.  I appreciated so much about this book!  I found myself enjoying the black and white photos and reading every footnote to better understand Laura.

A Little House Traveler is based on the writings (letters and diaries) of Laura.  It's divided into three parts.  In part one, we read of Laura, Almanzo, and Rose's journey by wagon from South Dakota to their new home in Mansfield, Missouri from Laura's diary.  (This portion's reading was a bit slow.)

Laura's daughter, Rose, wrote to her parents asking them to come to San Francisco to visit.  Though Almanzo (Manly) could not leave the farm for such a long time, Laura went at the age of 48 to see her 29 year old daughter and Rose's husband, Gillette.  Laura traveled by train.  She arrived in the late summer of 1915 and stayed on through the fall.  Rose was a working woman-a writer- and part of the visit was dedicated to helping Laura polish her writing so that she may one day write about her childhood and be published.  (HA!)  She also had the privilege of visiting during the World's Fair (Exposition) many times during her visit.  She wrote about it and was published in her newspaper back in Missouri upon her arrival home.  The letters were written to Almanzo.  A few letters from Rose to Almanzo were also included since they would have been mailed with Laura's letters.

"You know I have never cared for cities but San Francisco is simply the most beautiful thing.  Set on the hills as it is with glimpses of the bay here and there and at night with the lights shining up and down the hills and the lights of ships on the water, it is like fairyland.  I have not seen any of the Exposition yet.  San Francisco itself would be wonderful enough for a year, but we will begin this week to go to the fair.  You must not expect me to see it all for it has been figured out that it would cost $500 just to see the five-cent, ten-cent and twenty-five-cent attractions." ~ August 29, 1915, a portion from Laura's first letter to Manly from San Francisco

The letters to Manly from Laura are rich in history, too.  World War I was at that time, and the bay was an open area.  Some of the letters are amazingly long.

Many years pass before the next portion of the book.  Part three is Laura's journals from Mansfield, Missouri to De Smet, South Dakota.  It's 1931, so once again, we get a personal glimpse into history; this time it's the Great Depression.  Laura is 64 and Manly is 74 years old.  (Did anyone else think there was less of an age difference?  In The Long Winter, I knew Manly lied about his age to get the land...and I thought it was much less than 10 years difference.  Anyway...)

The drought's contribution to hard times during the Great Depression are quite apparent through Laura's journal entries.  Laura also kept records of the cost of most of the trip to see her sisters  Grace and Carrie.  She wrote down the gas, meals, snacks, cabins, and other miscellaneous expenses, including what their dog ate and car repairs.  Amazingly, the four weeks and 2,530 miles only cost $120 for round trip!

This was a fabulous book.  I loved so much about it and highly recommend it for Little House fans.  However, I will say that I'm not sure that children (even pre-teens) would love it so much, but it would certainly be great to include it in a classroom or homeschool study of any of the time periods mentioned above.  Laura was always a writer, even when exhausted in the covered wagon.  By the way, did you know Manly and even Rose called her Bess (or Mama Bess) so as not to confuse her with Almanzo's sister?

My only complaint about A Little House Traveler is that I believe credit should have been given (on the cover, not just within the book) to Rose Wilder Lane and Roger Lea MacBride for writing introductions to the different parts.  Their contributions were very important (and lengthy) for the reader to understand the right setting.  Obviously, this is minor, and it's a fabulous book giving great insight to Laura's adult life.

Big thanks to Harper Collins for providing this book for review purposes.

New York City

We were able to visit New York City recently.  M loves the Statue of Liberty.  We introduced her to the Lady a couple years ago with books.  She has told us she wants to go since she could talk about it!  Of course, it helps that we have relatives in the City, too, so she always wanted to visit them.

We only visited for a weekend, arriving in Brooklyn Heights Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday afternoon.  Most of our site-seeing was completed on Saturday, which was exhausting...especially for this pregnant lady!

We began our big day with M and E's first subway ride.  (M understood about a subway because we've been reading Cricket in Times Square.)  We first went to the top of the Empire State Building.  Below is the view of the top of the ESB from the 86th floor's observatory.
 From there we went to Times Square and then we took the free Staten Island Ferry so we could view the Statue of Liberty.  (I'm leaving out that we had expensive hot dogs for lunch and three bathroom stops between the ESB and Times Square.  Seriously!)
 On the return trip the children were both happy to watch out the window.  It worked out much better than trying to be outside trying to "fight" for a spot to see with two small children.
 We went to the local (from our relatives' home in Brooklyn) park a couple of times.  The playground was great, and the views were awesome.
 It was a really good trip, though very tiring for all of us.  Naps were skipped, and bedtime tended to be late...not to mention all the walking around that we did!

M and E are still talking about the trip.  Since seeing Lady Liberty in person, E is also fascinated with her and still talking about her.  It was a great trip.  I'm sure we'll return in a couple more years to see the Statue of Liberty in person.  Obviously, we didn't do MANY things that we could have, but that's part of vacation with little ones.  We had a great time with Derek's aunt, uncle, and cousins, and that was a huge part of our trip!

You can also see how we prepared the kids for the NYC trip, too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

New York City Preparations

Our preparations for our recent visit to New York City probably began a couple years ago when I began reading to M about the Statue of Liberty.  Since we have family there, it was time for a visit!

1. First I wrote a few sentences for M to read.  Even if she was not reading, I may have still done this and read it to her.  She loved learning about the trip in this fashion.

Though M pretended to think about where we were going, I think she knew immediately!

2. Using handwriting paper, we made a list of who and what we wanted to see in NYC.  M then traced the letters.  Later I told her about how NYC is called the Big Apple.  She added to word apple to the her list...and spelled it correctly!

The Cricket in Times Square (Chester Cricket and His Friends)3. We began reading Cricket in Times Square before she knew of our visit.  It's a great book for preschoolers because most of the characters are animals, though intended for much older children.  The chapters are short, and include a full page illustration in each.  And of course, it introduces things about NYC!  (FYI, I recently learned this is part of a series!)

4. We read our favorite Statue of Liberty book.

connect_the_dots_game5. I found some great printables about the Statue of Liberty.  The dot-to-dot may have been M's favorite.  Here and here are some that are pretty awesome.

6.  Though not part of our preparations, the day after we returned home as part of our "recovery/rest" we watched The Muppets Take Manhattan.  We really like the Muppets around here!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Over the Edge, by Brandilyn Collins

In Brandilyn Collin's newest suspense book, Over the Edge: A Novel she gives the reader a very close look at Lyme Disease.  Collins has personal experience with the dreaded, and often misunderstood, disease.  She uses her own experience and the huge medical debates concerning treatments and diagnosis to write a great book.

Dr. Brock McNeil, a leading researcher and professor for Lyme, has always insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease does not exist.  One man wants to change his mind by making Dr. McNeil's wife, Janessa, suffer through Lyme.  He enters their home during the night and places an infected tick upon Janessa.  Since she doesn't know she needs treatment, by time she has symptoms, they are intense.  She cannot care for her daughter or herself.

Yet, the man who infected Janessa demands that she convince her husband that Chronic Lyme is real.  The only problem is that his ego is too big...and he has too much at stake within his career.  He thinks Janessa has made up all of her symptoms to save their marriage.

The information Brandilyn Collins included about Lyme, including how few actually get the bull's eye rash, was amazing.  (Think about it...without that rash, many infected Lyme patients go too long without diagnosis, and then need intensive therapy...and without it become a Chronic Lyme patient.)  She really packed a lot of information into this suspense book.

Over the Edge had my attention, though I did "figure it out" very early on.  Despite being able to guess the villain, there was still plenty of unanswered questions and good suspense to keep my attention.  I was excited to complete the book.  If you know of anyone who has Lyme Disease, I would definitely recommend reading this book to better understand all the problems someone with Lyme may face, but I enjoyed it without having any Lyme patient in mind though I just learned my cousin's young son was just diagnosed.

Thank you, B&H Publishing for sending me Over the Edge for review purposes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

35 Things about Me

It's my birthday thirty-fifth to be exact.  I thought to celebrate I'd share 35 things about me.  (If I were 20 this would be much easier!  Should I tell you I began this months ago?)
  1. I just celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary to Derek.
  2. Cooking dinner is something I either plan well for, or, more typically, forget until it's nearly dinner time.  (Pancakes, waffles, or spaghetti those nights!)
  3. I thought I'd have children much earlier than I did.  Since I didn't marry until 27, I'm glad it worked out that I was 30 when we had our first child.  I always wanted to be a mom.  
  4. We don't learn the sex of our babies.  Nor do we share names in advance.  I don't want to hear negative opinions of a name I love.  But the reality is we are usually still deciding on the way to the hospital or at the hospital, even though M and E were both a full week late.  I am not the particularly fussy one.  :)
  5. I used to teach elementary school.  And junior high.  And environmental education (in a camp-like environment during the school year).  I don't miss it horribly, probably because I get to teach my own kids daily!  I do know I will not be returning to work any time soon, Lord willing.
  6. My fourth grade teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows and Anne of Green Gables  to us.  Thank you, Mrs. Schoonover.  Mrs. Schoonover was also my first grade teacher.  Mrs. Schoonover and Mrs. Maryott (grade 5) both inspired me to be a teacher.  But really, I probably chose to be a teacher because I wasn't familiar with other professions.  School was familiar and comfortable to me.  It was a good fit for me, I think.  
  7. When I was in kindergarten I had hair down to my bottom.  Then I gave myself bangs by bending over my desk in Miss Cook's classroom.  Then I had ugly, awful bangs for years.  No photo evidence shown here- on purpose-it was awful.
  8. I got glasses at the end of first grade to go with my bad hair.  In eighth grade I was allowed to get contacts.  I wore contacts until approximately 2005 when an eye doctor talked me out of sleeping in the contact lenses.  Since putting in and taking out contacts is a form of torture for me, I accept my glasses and am thankful for them.  Otherwise I wouldn't even be able to use this laptop on my lap or read a page in a book.  (If you think putting in and taking out contacts as torture is pathetic, you can laugh now because I need help putting in eye drops.  Even my eye doctor commented on it.)
  9. When I met my husband he was 19 and a sophomore in college.  I was 23 and teaching junior high.  (He turned 20 two weeks later.)  We didn't begin dating until about 9 months later.
  10. I was not popular in high school.  However, I was well-liked, apparently.  Somehow I was voted to homecoming and prom court...and eventually prom princess and homecoming queen.  No campaign, just the dance attenders voted for someone...anyone.  It really was not a big deal at our school.   (I hope sharing this does not sound vain.  Let's just say that I am no where near any stereotype for I said, I was part of the popular crowd.)
  11. My public high school did not have a football team.  (So homecoming was just another dance.  Nothing exciting.)   I graduated with 61 kids.  Getting to know Derek was a bit of a reality check since I was clueless about football, and he is HUGE Penn State fan (and college football in general).
  12. I am in touch with a few friends from high school and even less from college.  
  13. When I was in college I found out that I have a competitive spirit.  One of my college professors enlightened about humbling!  We had played a review game during class, and afterward I asked a question regarding something about the game...probably related to my team losing.
  14. My favorite movies for years have been While You Were Sleeping and Return to Me.  My favorite movies based on books are Anne of Green Gables (1 and 2) and To Kill a Mockingbird.  (I don't own either AoGG or TKAM...they've been on my wish list for a while though.)
  15. I used to listen to a lot of music.  Now I prefer audio books and rarely listen to music, unless you count children's music, which I do not.
  16. I am a homebody.  Before M began attending preschool, I was really content to be home all week-only leaving the house (in the car) on Sunday for church.  Of course, that rarely happened, but I didn't mind if it did.
  17. I have gained a lot of fashion sense in recent years though no one would know it.  Comfortable shoes are a must for me.  In the winter I live in my Crocs.   I also like slip-on sneakers.  (For years I wore Birkenstocks year round.  Yes, I know they look ridiculous with socks.  Like I said, I have little fashion sense.)  Derek knew how I dressed before we began dating...bandannas and all.
  18. When I was in sixth grade I moved in with my single dad and lived with him until I was about 24 or 25.
  19. I became a Christian when I was a teen, but really let Jesus be the Lord of my life during my last year of college.
  20. Before I lived with Dad, I lived on a farm for a few years with my mom and her second husband.
  21. I'm one of five kids.  I have three sisters and a brother. Amy, Annette, Erin, Ray, Erica.  (My mom had two "families".)  The age difference is about 13 years between myself and my youngest sister.  I babysat my next youngest sister when she was a newborn baby and my mom was in the barn (across the road, no phone...those were the days!)  Amy is my older sister, though no one usually guesses that.  We went to the same college, and it was the same thing even back can call me the "practical" one.  
  22. I love homebaked sweets, but can pass up a candy bar most any day.  M&M's are NOT candy bars!)
  23. I like to eat M&M's one at a time.  It makes it hard to share, since I can eat five in the time that someone else likes to eat 5 ounces.
  24. My kitchen island is almost ALWAYS covered with stuff.  Some dishes, lots of papers, and I have no idea what else!  I knew I needed a mud room when we built our home, but the mortgage payment wouldn't allow it.
  25. georgiarose's 1969 AMC Javelin
    Not my Javelin, but same color and similar stripe.  No spoiler above the rear window on my car.
  26. My first car was a 1969 AMC Javelin.  My dad pulled it out of the barn and we painted it together.  Smurf blue.  (The official color was Big Bad Blue.)  I should probably explain that my dad collects cars.  Seriously, when I was in college he had over 30.  Since then he has sold a lot (and bought others), but still has close to that number.  When I was about to go to college, a friend asked if I was interested in selling it.  (Though I say it was "my" car, it was still 100% my dad's.  I just got to drive it, which was a huge deal, and I knew it.)  My dad and I knew it wouldn't be a decent car for college, so it was sold the next week.  No regrets.  It was still fun though even if the heat didn't work, it was not allowed on snow (wide tires don't work well on snow), and once my friend had to hold the passenger door's window on her lap on the way home on a cold winter day.  Oh, and I still remember the license plate of that car.  AJZ-5539.  I knew my driver's license number too, and when we moved back to PA, I was excited to get it back again since I still knew it.  However, don't ask me for my current license plate.  I have NO idea what it is though I've had it since 2008.
  27. For years (grown-up years) I only wore my wedding band and engagement ring unless I had a reason to be dressed up.  Derek gave me a beautiful flower necklace for Christmas, and now I wear that daily.  I actually don't take it off at all...because that would require putting it back on.  Earrings are still rare and need an occasion.  (Though recently the stylist cut an extra 1 1/2 inches off my ears...showing my earlobes...ick.  So I have been wearing earrings a couple times a month recently.)  Bracelets are totally not my style.  (As a teen I actually wore a lot of jewelry.)
  28. I am a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain things...well, maybe just two.  I prefer to only eat homemade applesauce.  It's a bit of work (because I make so much at one time and can it), but it is so worth it.  Real maple syrup is a must, too.  Even as a teenager, I would purchase the good real stuff from a local maple farm.  (I am willing to eat fake syrup in a restaurant, but I do not prefer it, nor would I buy it.  I would rather just use butter and brown sugar.)
  29. Our family drinks a lot of milk.  We purchase four gallons at a time, truly averaging about a gallon a person.  Whole milk for E, 2% for M and Derek, and 1% for me.  A cold glass of milk is always satisfying!  It is served with every dinner, and often lunch.  (Actually now that it is summer, I try to serve water with lunch for better hydration.)
  30. I basically can't swim.  During my senior year of high school I took swimming lessons because I knew the college I would be attending required you to pass a swim test.  I can swim the length of a pool (which means I passed), but I cannot put my head under water.
  31. I don't like berries.  Not strawberries, blueberries, or any other berry.  It's a texture thing.  I eat berries in smoothies and like the flavor.  I will even bake with them, and that is fine.  I just try to avoid eating them "raw."  (When picking berries, you will not catch me putting a berry in my mouth as a treat.)
  32. Really, it's not just berries I don't like.  I really don't care for fruits and veggies.  But I eat them.  Maybe not a wide variety, but I do eat them and serve them to my family.  (Though there are some that I just serve and choose not to eat.)
  33. I rarely snack.  Before this pregnancy, I rarely snacked.  However, my dear husband keeps bringing me these awesome snacks just because I want them.  At Easter, his mom gave us some "singles" cans of Pringles.  I couldn't get enough of them.  Since then he has gotten me a few canisters of Pringles.  Once at the grocery store I saw Keebler's Fudge Grahams on sale.  Derek didn't even know that I loved them before that because we just don't buy stuff like that.  Since then he's gotten me others, and even introduced me to other Keebler snacks like their striped shortbread cookies.  YUM.  Oh, we don't share these snacks with the kids.  They are purely for our adult enjoyment in our house.  
  34. At one point (mostly during my days teaching at Nature's Classroom and the year after) I wore bandannas often.  I wore it in the triangle style (that I hated when my mom wore when I was a kid) and as a hair band.  The first Christmas that Derek and I were dating he gave me a Penn State bandanna.  Isn't he sweet?  Now that my hair is short and off my neck, I rarely wear one.  If you are concerned about my fashion, see #17 above.
  35. I made it through college without coffee, and doubt I'll ever drink a cup...or even a half cup.  Anything that requires getting used to the flavor is not for me.  This includes coffee ice cream, lattes, and other fancy coffee drinks.
  36. Today is my birthday.  That's enough, huh?!  Thanks for reading such a lengthy list.  (I started it very early this year!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Narnia Challenge 2011

July is the Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge over at Reading to Know!  I'm joining up again this year.  For me, this reading challenge really helps me to make sure that I will read (or listen to) CS Lewis before watching the latest movie.
Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge
Unfortunately, I haven't figured out which movie will be next to be produced.  I assumed it would be The Silver Chair, since it is the next book in the series, however, looking around on-line, there is talk that it may be The Magician's Nephew, which tells the reader of the origins of Narnia.  It's considered to be the book before the first written The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  If you haven't read the books yet, I would suggest reading The Lion first.  (If it was Star Wars, would you want to know who Luke's father initially?  NO!  Some of the magic may be missed if you were to read The Magician's Nephew first, too.)

So I think I will attempt to read (maybe listen to) The Silver Chair sometime this month.  On our trip to NYC, we also introduced our daughter to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  We began listening to the book, though we haven't finished it yet.  At one point (about 3/4 the way through), M asked us to turn it off because the witch was too scary.  We did.  We talked a bit more about the book.  Later on she asked to listen again, so that was encouraging.  Despite introducing M (age 4.5) to the book, we will not be showing her the movie yet.  It is just too much for her.  I may screen a cartoon version of it to see how violent they are.  (Any recommendations?  I know there are several versions out there.)

Even if you aren't able to read a Narnia book this month, I hope you'll visit Reading to Know because Carrie will be talking about Narnia all month!  She already offered a great giveaway.  (Who knows...there may be more later!?)

Where Did They Go?

In early July I went to a used book sale.  The cost was just $5 a bag.  I had two overflowing bags.  The loot is mostly (not all since some books I had already separated to share with others) pictured in the photo above.  I think  I had at least 75 picture and chapter books...maybe 100.

I had already set aside a few of the books in our "read sometime soon pile" on the bookcase.  I found the holiday (Christmas and Thanksgiving) books in the basement.  A few books were special to me were set on the bookshelf.  These were the Narnia (linked to post about them), Maud Hart Lovelace, Laura Ingalls Wilder-related, and a couple of others.  Well, what happened to the others?  I just can't find them!!  My house is not so big that this should be a problem.

Click the picture above to see it in a larger format.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Guess where our family went this weekend!
(Up close and personal)
( A different view near our relative's home)

Today we are home.  To make Independence Day a bit of a celebration, yet still low-key, we made lemonade, enjoyed the sprinkler, and intend catch fireflies and enjoy the fireworks from our backyard tonight.

May your day be full of appreciation for our independence and a great country!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence and Liberty Preschool Crafts

Last year we made an American flag preschool craft to celebrate Independence Day.  It turned out great, and my daughter still loves to show us American flags!  (Click link to read the details.)

Image from
This July we will be focusing more on the Statue of Liberty.  We love to read books about her and learn about the SoL.  This summer we will also be visiting some family in NYC and seeing the Statue of Liberty (though probably from a distance).  I found some fabulous printables for preschoolers.  See the dot to dot, information, and more (especially for older children) and the Statue of Liberty coloring page.  

For books, we recommend The Story of the Statue of Liberty, but our favorite book of our own is The Statue of Liberty (Step into Reading Step 1).  I would like to add L is for Liberty to our collection, too.

Do you have any tips for a short visit to NYC?  Any crafts to reinforce what we'll see and do?  Any book recommendations?

This Simple Home (The New Blog)

  • Homemade Magic Shell - I remember having Magic Shell once as a child. The chocolate syrup drizzled over my ice cream magically turned crispy hard. Mmm... So I was rather excited t...

Follow This Simple Home

Best Blogger Tips

sitemeter 2.16.10