Thursday, February 23, 2012

Drowning in Paper? Try Taking Some Pictures!

Tonight I decided to undertake the dreaded task of going through all of the paper that has been slowly accumulating throughout our house. I tend to hang on to paper "in the event that it might someday come in handy." But, I am discovering that this time rarely, if ever, comes. For example, I had a whole file box overflowing with worksheets and workbooks that Autumn has already outgrown or that she didn't enjoy doing. It has been sitting untouched in a corner of our work room for almost 2 years now!!! The reason...we are relying more and more on technology for school work. By the time Alaina is ready to use all of that paper I am sure we will have moved even further out of the world of paper and deeper into the world of technology.

The other big problem is that since we homeschool there are always projects scattered around the house. Now, I know you parents who send your children to public school will argue that you have a ton of paper to deal with as well, and I agree. But there is one big difference, your daily stack of papers comes wrapped up in a nice neat folder all tucked into your child's backpack. The globs of glue, confetti clippings, glitter, string, hole punches etc. all remain at the school! Come over to our house after a day of lap-booking or "art" and you'll think we're running a recycling center in the middle of our living room.

So, tonight I decided to commit myself to utilizing my digital camera to keep my paper clutter from building up again. (If I had a scanner that would be even better). Currently I use our camera to keep track of the books that we read. I used to write the book title, author, etc. down in a notebook. But, we read so much, that this became really tedious and I found myself skipping the task too often. Then I came up with the idea of taking a digital picture of the cover of each book and placing the pictures into labeled files on our computer. It works wonderfully! It is much quicker that recording them by hand, and seeing the cover of the books jogs our memory quicker if we are searching for a specific title that we have previously recorded.

  It is soooo hard to recycle the adorable pictures that the girls draw each day. It can be emotionally challenging to separate with their first letter A, or their first drawing of a human with arms and legs coming out of the jagged circle that is the head. Their drawings and writing are like timelines and they hold so many precious memories. Tonight I had a large stack that I just couldn't bare to part with, so I decided to just take a photo of each to preserve the memory of them, which would then allow me to emotionally let go of the actual paper. I now feel free to use those drawings to send to grandparents or friends or even recycle, because I know I can still see them whenever I want.

I am going to start trying this method with other types of clutter that can accumulate in our house....lists, memos, phone numbers, etc. Everyone in our family also has the bad habit of grabbing flyers for upcoming events. I am going to try encouraging everyone to just photograph the flyer or information wherever it is posted. For these items, which tend to be needed for only a short time period, I was thinking I could keep a constantly renewing slide show of them running on my desktop until they become obsolete, and then I can just delete them! And this seems to be the most exciting aspect of this new idea.....with one click of my mouse I will be able to "clean my house"!

Well, I am really going to do my best to utilize this method to decrease our paper clutter at home, and I'll let you know what I think after a few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few photos I took tonight from the "paper clutter" lying around our house. I put that in quotations, because in this case I would prefer to call the items below art. :)

I love this one by Alaina....the girl's large hands and body position makes me feeling like throwing my arms out with her in joy! 
Another Alaina creation.

Heart girl riding a horse, by Autumn. I just can't help but laugh every time I look at this one, because Autumn's hearts have caused some strange consequences in the chest area!

Heart Monkey by Autumn.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday and the Beginning of Lent

Yesterday the girls and I made a run to the library to look for books on Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Lent. The pickings were slim. But, I did find this lovely book that I am now in the middle of reading through. It is titled: "The Meaning and Message of Lent: How an Understanding of Lent Can Deepen the Life of the Church and of the Individual Christian." The Author is Eugene R. Fairweather, and this a 1st edition copy published in 1962. I am enjoying this read so far because I am learning a lot about the history behind this religious custom, how it came to be, and why believers should still practice it today. Most importantly I have discovered that the observance of Lent through fasting or self denial is not only for Catholics as I had originally believed. As I delve deeper into this book I am inspired more and more to observe Lent in my family. Below I will quote just a few things that I have found interesting in my reading so far.

                                                    " Give us the self-control that springs
                                                     From discipline of outward things,
                                                      That fasting inward secretly
                                                     The soul may purely dwell with thee."
                                                                         -Attributed to Gregory the Great
  • (pg 10) "The Lenten observance is linked to the solemn and joyful proclamation of the very heart of the Gospel in the Easter festival. The supreme fact of Christianity, to which Easter testifies, is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Lent is designed to help Christians grow closer to that fact."
  • (pg. 11) "The cornerstone of Lent is the climactic truth of the Gospel, the good news of the divine victory in the dying and the rising again of Jesus Christ. Lent exists to make this story more real to our minds and hearts and more powerful in our lives."
  • (pg.117) " the Roman liturgy the symbolic imposition of ashes on "Ash Wednesday," which had originated as part of the symbolic "expulsion" of the penitents as the outset of their Lenten discipline, became a solemn consecration of the whole community at the beginning of the Lenten fast.
  • (pg. 119) "Lent is still the time when Christians as a body renew their baptismal union with the crucified and risen Christ. Lent is still the time when we learn to die more completely to sin so that we may live more completely for God."
  • (pg. 123) "Christian fasting obviously has a solid basis in the biblical teaching about God and his creatures. As we might expect, it also has deep roots in the biblical history. The supreme example, of course, was provided by Jesus Christ himself in the long fast that followed his baptism by John in the Jordan. We are told:"
           - The spirit immediately drove him out into the desert. And he remained in the desert for forty days,    and Satan tried to tempt him there; and he was among the wild animals; but the angels waited on him. Mark 1:12-13
  • (pg. 120. This has been ascribed to St. Gregory the Great)
"The glory of these forty days
We celebrate with songs of praise;
For Christ, by whom all things were made
Himself has fasted and has prayed.

Alone and fasting Moses saw
The loving God who gave the law;
And to Elijah, fasting, came
The steeds and chariots of flame.

So Daniel trained his mystic sight,
Delivered from the lion's might;
And John, the Bridegroom's friend, became
The herald of Messiah's name.

Then grant us, Lord, like them to be
Full oft in fast and prayer with thee;
Our spirits strengthen with thy grace,
And give us joy to see thy face."

-Ascribed to St. Gregory the Great

Well, I hope that this information might inspire you to do a little more reading on this topic for yourself. Or, maybe even to contemplate adopting the practice of Lent in your own life. Autumn and Alaina and I decided that we would each refrain from certain foods or practices for the next 40 days, and we are very excited that we are taking this new step in our walk with Christ.

Continue to be Curious, 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paczkis and Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday. Since I am not Catholic, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday have been days that have long been shrouded in mystery to me. I remember seeing paczkis  (pronounced poonch-keys) at the grocery stores as a child, and even partaking of them in college, but I didn't know for sure why they existed (other than that they are delicious and fattening). On Ash Wednesday I would see my Catholic friends come to class with ash smudges on their foreheads and full of conversation about what they had given up for lent, but I had no idea what these really symbolized. All I know is that I felt like I was missing out on something.

So, today and tomorrow I decided to lift this veil once and for all and do a little research on the Net (maybe we'll head to the library as well) and learn all about these holidays and customs. I find as an adult that at times I need to force myself to be more curious, and today is one of those days where I have grown so accustomed to not knowing for sure, that it would be easy to just let the days pass by again. Not today, I feel like I have been missing out too long, and there must be something in these days for my family to enjoy as well! I want the girls to understand what these things represent, and maybe even adopt some new family traditions along the way.


The following information on Fat Tuesday was taken from:

"Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras, the festival New Orleans, Louisiana, is famous for. "Gras" is French for fat and "Mardi" is French for Tuesday.
The annual festivities start on January 6, the Twelfth Night Feast of the Epiphany, when the three kings are supposed to have visited the Christ Child, and build to a climax on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, which always occurs on the day before Ash Wednesday. The parties and parades will continue until Lent begins at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday.
Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in New Orleans. It is scheduled to occur 46 days before Easter. Since the actual date Easter occurs on changes yearly, Mardi Gras can happen on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9.
For two centuries it has been an annual event in New Orleans, except during the two World Wars."
(from: )


A little research for a fun recipe to make tonight turned up King Cake. I think I will attempt to make this tonight for dessert to celebrate Fat Tuesday at our house.

The recipe along with information about its tradition is found at one of our favorite places to go for ideas: Family Fun Magazine


How do you celebrate Fat Tuesday? Do you have stories, games, fun traditions to share? I would be excited to learn more about this holiday from you!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Field Trip To The Black Lagoon

This weekend our family did a lot of cross country skiing because it was so warm here, (in the 30's). So, we didn't read as much as usual, but we did read a lot of books from one series that I just have to share with you, and that is: "The Black Lagoon Adventures Series," by Mike Thaler and illustrated by Jared Lee. We think this series is wonderful for kids of ALL AGES. Here are a few reasons why.
  • First of all they are FUNNY in an intelligent way! 
  • Second, they are FULL of wordplay and so they make great tools for teaching puns and word play and developing a healthy sense of humor.
  •  Third, they each have a moral or character lesson to teach hidden amongst all of the humor.
  • Fourth, they are enjoyable for ADULTS! This is VERY important... I laugh just as much, if not more, than my girls do.
  • Fifth, the illustrations are FANTASTIC AND IMAGINATIVE!
  • Sixth, after reading these books we walk away feeling INSPIRED TO BE MORE CREATIVE AND PLAYFUL!
 Our only complaints (which aren't really complaints): The books are addictive and so easy and fun to read that you could read the entire series in one day! (And then you are left longing for more.) The references and wordplay can be somewhat "sophisticated" at times, and without some extra learning (which we think is AWESOME) might not be fully appreciated and enjoyed by the age/reading level that they are recommended for, (most of the books recommend themselves from 1st to 3rd grade reading level). We think that kids at this age would eat these books up, but to really appreciate all of the puns and plays on words readers at this age should be assisted with the difficult ones to develop the background knowledge needed to truly appreciate the jokes. For example:

  • "Penny is excited to lip-sync Beethoven's 9th Symphony!" ( pg. 12 from "The Talent Show from the Black Lagoon" by Mike Thaler, # 2 in The Black Lagoon Adventures Series.)
--- In this quote from the book the readers need to have heard Beethoven's 9th Symphony in order to understand why this is funny. Well, you can quickly YouTube it, listen to it, and then watch as your child goes "Ohhhhhh! You can't LipSync to that! HAHA"

  • "Then there was Abraham Lincoln. He didn't lie, either. Mrs. Beamster says that he walked ten miles just to return an overdue book. He lived in Gettysburg because they said he had a Gettysburg Address!" ( pg. 20 from "The Class Election from the Black Lagoon," by Mike Thaler, # 3 in the Black Lagoon Adventures Series)
--- Here is an example of a play on words and a need for some prior history education on Abraham Lincoln to fully appreciate it. Since these books are peppered with all sorts of fun and informational facts that are true, followed by plays on words or facts that are not true, it is important that the reader can identify which statements are in fact true and which are meant to be humorous. If a young reader didn't have any knowledge of the Gettysburg Address then they might not find the humor in this passage and could even walk away from it thinking that Abraham Lincoln actually did live in Gettysburg! Of course, eventually they would learn otherwise, and so we don't think any harm is ever done from not understanding these passages, but it doesn't hurt to read ahead as a parent and provide your child with the background info on any sections that you think might trip them up before they read the book. What a GREAT motivation to squeeze in some reading for History or Science or for reading a Biography! For example, if you take a moment to scan this book before your child reads it (which takes no time at all and is actually quite enjoyable) and you find this phrase is going to "fly right over their head," then you could have them read "The Gettysburg Address," and a short biography on Abraham Lincoln early in the day and then reward them for their work by handing them "The Class Election from the Black Lagoon," by Mike Thaler. You will find that they will get to this section of the book and alarm bells will go ringing in their head like crazy. Most likely they will come running to you to point out the passage and the strange coincidence of it all and how they really think it's funny since they just read all about Abraham Lincoln etc. I have played this trick on Autumn numerous times and she always comes running to me full of excitement. Why I like to do it: it shows her that the knowledge she learns from reading about history and geography and famous people really is referenced in "real books and real life," and does come in handy when you have a good understanding of it. Yes, it takes a brief amount of forethought and planning, but with the Internet it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to take a trip to the library or have all the materials prepped days in advance to pull this trick off. You could do it anytime

  • One more example of a passage that you could utilize to sneak some history reading in prior to rewarding your child with a fun read in order to get an "AHA!" moment
 "I'm betrayed in the cafeteria. I feel like that ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar Salad. Jabbed in the back with a dessert spoon. I feel desserted." ( pg. 47 from "The Class Election from the Black Lagoon," by Mike Thaler, book # 3 from The Black Lagoon Adventure Series.)

----Sneak in a quick read on Julius Caesar before handing over Mike Thaler's book to your child, and all of a sudden they discover that reading about Julius came in handy.

Well, below I have shared a few videos on Mike Thaler and his work if you would also like to take "A Field Trip to The Black Lagoon." Autumn and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this series to you, but we suggest that it shouldn't be looked at as a series just for new readers. We think it should be enjoyed by readers of all ages, and can even be enjoyed by adults! We would love to hear what you think about the books after you have read them.

                                                                  Happy Reading!

                                           Mike Thaler reads from "Tales From The Back Pew"

                                           Studio From The Black Lagoon ( A Sneak Peek into Mike Thaler's Studio)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why we like Khan Academy

Our family only recently decided to get Internet. So, on our first full day with the service I woke up early and scoured the web for free educational websites that might be useful supplements for what we were already doing with our home school subjects. Khan Academy was one of the only sites that I immediately decided we would adopt into our curriculum. Why we like it:
1. It is free! We cannot believe this wealth of knowledge is offered to us for free in such a high quality package!
2. It is fun! As soon as we discovered the knowledge map, which is a graphic representation of where we have been on the website and which exercises we have completed or attempted, all set amongst a backdrop of outer space, we were hooked. When an exercise is completed Autumn earns points, but she can also earn "Earth Badges", "Sun Badges" and meteorite awards for being persistent or mastering a certain topic.
3. It recommends review! Whenever Autumn logs onto her knowledge map she is presented with topics that are highlighted that she needs to do review exercises for. This ensures that she isn't just learning material to get through the section and then forgetting it.
4. It works because it is motivating and extremely helpful to Autumn and myself! Autumn is 8 and already doing lots of problems in the algebra playlist. She likes being able to move at her own pace and to play a video over and over again if she doesn't understand a concept.(The video doesn't become frustrated or impatient like I could eventually become) Of course, we still use a math textbook, and I still do plenty of the teaching, but since I am also raising a 3 year old and need to do housekeeping, Khan Academy can become a blessing when I am feeling like there is no time to sit and patiently explain a concept for the 10th time. Also, the way Sal Khan teaches the concept is often different than the way I would teach it and this can often be the final bit of information Autumn needs for the light bulb to go off!

If you haven't checked out Khan Academy our family highly recommends it!

Here is one of the videos Autumn watched today:

What's Happening in the Sault?


What:                       Green Fire Movie (Aldo Leopold biography)
Where:                     Bayliss Public Library, Sault Ste Marie
When:                      Tuesday, February 28 at 7:00

About Green Fire

The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.  Watch the trailer at:
Green Fire was produced in partnership between the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Center for Humans and Nature, and the US Forest Service. The film provocatively examines Leopold’s thinking, renewing his idea of a land ethic for a population facing 21st century ecological challenges. Leopold's biographer, conservation biologist Dr. Curt Meine, serves as the film's on-screen guide.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pumpkin Pudding

Since I shared with you our "Picky Eater" struggles, I thought I would share this very easy, yummy, and healthy recipe that we have been using at home to get some vitamin A and fiber into our tummies. It is called Pumpkin Pudding.
1.  Open a can of pumpkin (plain) and empty it into a bowl.
2. Open a package of vanilla pudding (we have also tried butterscotch) and empty it into the bowl. You can use sugar free pudding mix if you don't want the added sugar.
3. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a sprinkle of nutmeg and ginger.
 4. Stir

And.........Voila! You are done. Of course everybody likes their food seasoned a bit differently, so you might need to add more cinnamon etc. But, we have found that this is such an easy way to eat this very healthy food. In fact, below is the nutritional info for canned pumpkin. Check out the whopping amount of vitamin A and fiber!

                                                                            Bon Apetit!

"The Truth About Stone Hollow" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

This evening Autumn finished "The Truth About Stone Hollow" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. This was a chapter book (211 pgs.) that she and I both enjoyed, but that we wouldn't recommend for certain readers. The story takes place in Taylor Springs, California in 1938 and is about a girl named Amy who befriends a strange new boy named Jason. The two sixth grade students explore a mysterious place called Stone Hollow that is rumored to be haunted and maybe even supernatural.
This book requires the reader to think about a few important issues such as bullying, the idea of Truth, and The Great Depression. But, there are a few reasons that I would not recommend letting your child read this book without parental guidance. First of all, it has a very mysterious, almost foreboding tone to it, which makes it a little scary at times. Secondly, within the first two chapters there are four uses of profanity that need to be discussed. Third, bullying is a very important topic throughout the book, and the views on bullying expressed by Amy's teacher and her father are not the views that you want your child to adopt. Of course, if they are reading this material they are probably old enough to reason that these adult's reactions to bullying are not appropriate. However, I still think it would be a good idea to discuss this topic with your child while reading these sections together. Fourth, there are plenty of references to spirits, ghosts, other religions etc. and I think that reading this material alongside your child so as to help answer questions or explain certain references is very important when reading material that delves into other religions, or philosophies. I try not to censor Autumn's books when it comes to being exposed to different belief systems, because I think it is important that she understands other people's view points, but when she reads about them I like to accompany her as much as I can so that I can point out how certain beliefs might not be wise to adopt, or might go against what the Bible says.

Below I have created a study guide for this book. It is an example of some the questions we encountered throughout this reading, and how we use our own curiosity to learn about a variety of subjects along the way. Feel free to utilize it during your own reading of this book. Let us know what you think!

THE TRUTH ABOUT STONE HOLLOW by: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Edition used: 1974

BOOK STUDY GUIDE: The study questions, vocabulary and reading or research suggestions below are just that: suggestions. They can be answered verbally or written. Obviously if you already know the answer to a question, or if you believe the question won’t help you to better understand the story or visualize it, then you should skip it. Of course, you should also write down your own comments/notes while reading.


  1. (pgs 1-7) What did you think of Miss McMillan’s reaction to Amy tattling on Gordie? How would you have reacted if you were the teacher?
  2. Do you think bullying should be reported or kept a secret? If you were being bullied would you want someone to tell? If you saw someone else being bullied would you tell?
  3. Could Amy have done anything else to stop Gordie from beating up Jason?
  4. Why is it never okay to use the Lord’s name in vain? If possible, use your Bible to quote scripture defending this opinion.
  5. (pg.10) Discover the differences between an insect eater vs. a seed eater’s beak. You can use the Internet or books. Draw the main differences.
  6. What does a Eucalyptus tree look like?
  7. (pg 12) Where did the saying “Mad as a March hare” come from?
  8. (pg. 14) Quickly locate Athens, Greece, Barcelona, Spain, England, and San Francisco on a world map.
  9. (pg. 23) The Great Depression is introduced. Fill one page of paper with as much information as you can find on this time period. When was it? Why did it happen? Etc.
  10.  (pg. 26) Write definitions for the following words:
-         Buddhist
-         agnostic
-         heathen
  1. (pg. 28) Take a few minutes to contemplate this quote from Aunt Abigail:
“You can hear anything if you’ve a mind to listen.”
  1. (pg.30) If you don’t know much about the following religions look them up briefly and determine how they are different from your own religion:
-         Catholic
-         Unitarian


  1. (pg. 37) Research the Prohibition and bootleggers.
  2. (pg. 43) Amy says, “Like in the Bible where Jesus made the evil spirits go into the herd of swine.” Can you find this story in your Bible?


  1. (pg. 46) What do Pepper Trees look like?
  2. (pg. 49) Locate Des Moines, Iowa on a map of the USA.


  1. (pg. 67) Do you know as much about Pioneers as Jason and Amy. They have read about the “Jumping-Off Place” the “Santa Fe Trail” and the “Donner Party.” If you want to know as much as they do make an effort to research these or get some books on these topics.


  1. (pg. 74) Read “Gulliver’s Travels” to better understand the Lilliputions that Amy uses as “wool-gathering material.”


  1. (pg. 95) What is lockjaw?


  1. (pg. 107) What is blood poisoning?


  1. (pg. 120)  Take some time to think about this quote from Jason: “Because believing is not something you can be told to do. Believing is something you have to find out for yourself. I don’t see how other people can tell you what to believe.”
  2. (pg. 128) Should you withhold a prayer to God because you are in a situation where you have been deceitful or disobedient?


  1. (pg. 130) What does a Model A look like?
  2. (pg. 132) What does “crosses to bear” mean?
  3. (pg. 136) What is truth? How would you define it? What does Jason say about truth? Is there absolute truth? Where can you find it? How do you know truth when you see it/hear it/experience it?


  1. (pg. 150) Why do you think Gordie is a bully? What do you think about Jason’s idea for why Gordie beats him up?


  1. What does a Model T look like?
  2. (pg. 155) Amy’s Mom gives her Camomile tea to drink. If you have never tried this before then get some and make a cup and try it for yourself. What is Camomile? What is Camomile tea supposed to be good for?


  1. (pg. 169) Read “The Prince and the Pauper” by: Mark Twain.
  2. Listen to Charlie McCarthy (Radio)

  1. What do you think happened to the stone that Jason gave Amy?
  2. Why do you think Aunt Abigail didn’t want to move?
  3. What could have been written on the letter that Aunt Abigail’s father gave to her mother to make her dislike her father so much?
  4. Why do you think Amy liked to run?
  5. Do you think Jason was lying, imagining, or telling the truth about the stone?
  6. How important is knowing your family history to you and your future? Do you know many family stories or much about your family’s history? If not, you should consider asking your Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, brothers, sisters or family friends to tell you something interesting about your past.
  7. What do you imagine will happen in Jason’s future?
  8. What do you imagine will happen in Amy’s future?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Our oldest daughter Autumn is a picky eater. Up until 4 days ago it has been next to impossible to get her to willingly try a new fruit or vegetable. My husband and I thought we had tried everything. We've bribed, cajoled, threatened, withheld, rewarded, punished, disguised, battled, cried, worried, waited, backed off and leaned in. Plenty of friends and strangers have given us advice on ways we might encourage Autumn to try eating veggies and fruits. "Blend it up and mix it with other foods so she can't tell she is eating it." "Just don't offer anything else....she'll eventually get hungry." "Make the food into fun shapes." "Just wait and don't worry, she'll eventually grow out of it."

Well, nothing has worked, and so the other night I had a new idea. It is called "No one in the family gets their main course of the meal until they have eaten their serving of vegetables." As supper approached I reminded myself that I would not back down. I would remain strong and firm and I would apply the rule to all of us. When my husband Steve arrived home from work I quickly filled him in on the battle plan. He hopped on board, and we approached the battle field together as a team. The weapons (4 broccoli heads and 5 carrot sticks) were dispersed amongst each of our plates. And the battle ensued. But, to our HUGE surprise and great delight the enemies quickly surrendered.

Now let me tell you that Autumn has NEVER eaten an entire raw carrot stick before...she just would gag and cry and say she couldn't. Broccoli never went much better. But, on this night, with the realization that she would not get anything until her veggies were eaten, and with the fact that we were all inflicting the same challenge upon ourselves something CLICKED! It still took her longer to eat the items, but SHE DID IT!

The next day at lunch I presented the girls with a bowl full of cooked mixed veggies. I made two peanut butter sandwiches and placed them on plates within their view but out of their reach. My directions: "You can have your peanut butter sandwich after you have finished your vegetables." Unbelievably they both scarfed down their bowls....and more surprising, Autumn said "that wasn't bad!" Wow! I was speechless!

We have been using this method for four days now on everyone in the family and we are all noticing that we eat much less of the main course than we normally would, that veggies and fruit are starting to taste better (I almost feel like I'm craving them more) and that there have been no battles about food. If you don't want to eat your small portion of veggies before your meal than you just don't get your meal. The girls are learning that the decision is pretty easy. Best of all, I don't feel at all guilty about implementing this new habit. If we ever eat too many veggies before our meal and are too full to finish all of the main course I will be delighted! I figure we can't go wrong with veggies!

What a wonderful blessing this new method has brought to our family dining experience. Try it out if you have a picky eater and it just might work for you too! Just remember, don't back down. Serve ONLY the vegetables first, but allow everyone to see the main course so that they know it actually exists :)  If they won't eat their veggies first then don't give them the main course (or anything else)....after sitting at the table and watching everyone else receive their meal I think they will quickly learn to choose the veggies and maybe even begin to like them! (And we are praying someday Autumn might even use the word below)

The Value of Valentines


Autumn and Alaina working hard on their Valentines.
Getting ready to head out the door with our loot of Valentines and cookies!
 Yesterday was such a wonderful home school day. I was educated in the public school system and on certain holidays (like Valentines Day) I can't help but remember how fun it was to have class parties at school (I think most of us can agree that these were the only days at public school that we truly looked forward to). So, every year we do our best to ensure that we celebrate these holidays with gusto. This year we spent a few days making homemade Valentines to hand out to special people in our lives. The girls made cards for Mom and Dad of course, but they also made cards for our neighbors, friends, the public librarians, employees at their Dad's office, dance teachers,  tutors etc. They put a lot of time into them to make them special for each person. The night before Valentines they decorated a hoard of sugar cookies (and sampled some candies while they were at it). On Valentines morning they put the finishing touches on their cards and then we spent a large portion of our day playing "mailman.". We delivered some to Lake Superior State University's Library where their Dad works. The girls thought it was great fun, and got so into it that they even went out onto the main floor of the library and started offering cookies to college students that were studying. Then we delivered cookies and cards to our public library. We had also made Shrinky Dink necklaces with the Valentine John 3:16 verse on them and had them ready to hand out to anybody that caught our eye. I told the girls that instead of the day being about what we were going to get, lets go out and brighten the day for other people. I think we accomplished that goal. (And, making all of those cards counted as spelling, writing for the day)

Autumn's Valentine to her math tutor Jacob. She really used creativity to incorporate math concepts into his card.

Autumn wrote a Valentine themed story problem.
Math Cupid

This is Autumn's card to the librarians at our public library. It was very cute. 1. "Excuse me, are you a librarian?" 2. "Yes. Do you need something?" 3. "Yes. Do you know who wrote The Book of Love?" 4. "No. But I'll look it up in my computer." 5. "Can I help you find anything else?" 6. "Yes. A book on Archery please."