Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of 2015

I am going to combine my December end of the month with the my end of the year. It is my blog and so I can do that.

My word for 2015 was intentional. I wanted to be intentional in the things that I did. I think overall I would say that I was. It can be hard to remember that word and goal for the whole year. Some of my goals for 2015 included.

Publish my Book - Praying for the Heart
I have it done. I just need to get it edited. Anyone want to read it and comment before it is published?

I would love an idea for my next book
2015 - I have two ideas for books. I have begun outlining and writing. 

Practice hospitality by having people over to our house
This was also part of being more connected in the community. One of the ways to measure that was through hospitality. We had a number of people over this year -- some visitors from out of town, some from other countries and just people here for dinner. I feel more connected when I think of how we have gotten to know people this year either through small groups, through activities at church or other ways.

Blog regularly
I think I have done that. Some months I had more to say than other months. Some of my blogging is to share our life with family and friends. Some is to share my thoughts. 

Learn to use my camera - that was a goal 2 years ago
I can't say I did much in this area. Do I include this as a goal for 3 years in a row?

Have less stuff in the house at the end of the year
I did keep track of things for about half of the year, tracking what came in and what went out. I think overall I have less though there is still quite a bit of things in the house that could probably be gotten rid of. I am looking for some charity donation bags in the next few weeks.

Have less projects at the end of the year - I have 11 now
I was intentional in finishing unfinished projects. My goal was to have less unfinished projects at the end of the year. I had 12 at the beginning of the year. Now at the end of the year I have nine. I thought it was less until I counted them. I do think I worked on some of those nine but I need to keep working on finishing projects. In the next few weeks I am going to go through them and do a 2016 inventory.

Knit once a month mainly so I don't forget how to knit
I wanted to do some knitting this year and that did not happen. I love the idea of knitting. I love the idea of knitted socks but need to spend some time working on my knitting skills.

Plan some outings to explore our area
We had a number of outings this year. We went to Manchester, Chesterfield, Hull, York, Holy Island, London, and a number of other places. I still have a list of places I want to visit. 

Holy Island - one of our favourite outings this year

Hike once a month
We did some hiking but there are so many hiking/walking trails near our house. We would like to continue exploring and walking. 

One of our favourite places in the Peak District.

2015 was a great year. I think intentional was a good word for the year. I am ready and excited for 2016. I have a new word and I am ready to embrace it with no excuses.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day

I thought I would share a few photos from our Christmas day. Miss K was the first child up. The sun comes up around 8:00. Miss K ran up to her brother's room and woke him up probably the only day a year that she can do that. The pjs that Miss K is wearing are the Christmas pj's from a few years ago. 

Christmas Eve we did something different. We called it our Iceland Christmas Eve. Everyone was given a book and some chocolate to take to bed. 

Our tree this year. Earlier in the year a friend gave us the tree that had been her mum's. I have memories from my childhood of going to a friend's house that had a small tree farm and walking out to the field and selecting and then cutting our tree. I love the smell of a real tree but decided the fake tree is a better price.

Here are both children in front of the tree. I think this have to have photo. It is fun to see the changes from year to year.

The one thing that Miss K wanted was a Peppa Pig bundle. I didn't really know what that was but a few of the Peppa Pig figures was considered a Peppa Pig bundle.

Aunt Bea got Miss K a collection of miniature Swiss buildings.

We opened our stockings, then our other gifts. We had breakfast and got ready for church. We went to church for a 10:30 service. Then came home to lunch and an quiet afternoon at home. 

Someone and it wasn't me asked for dark chocolate. I purchased almost every dark chocolate that they sold at the supermarket. He also got a bit from Switzerland.

Christmas crackers was a fun Christmas lunch activity. Pulling them, hearing the pop, and then seeing who had the end with the toy, crown, and joke.

How do you communicate with fish?
You drop them a line

What did one eye say to the other?
Between you and me something smells

What did the sea say to the sand?
Nothing, it just waved

What lies at the bottom of the sea and shivers?
A nervous wreck

A traditional English Christmas meal is turkey with brussel sprouts. We weren't traditional and had leg of lamb, roasted potatoes which I did in goose fat, salad, carrots, and turnips. We were too full for dessert/pudding -- apple pie bars and pecan pie bars.

Here they are wearing their Christmas cracker crowns.

It was a fun day together as a family.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Preparations

We re taking a break from school and enjoying the holiday season as well as doing some things that we have not had time to do some deep cleaning and organising. 

I did take some time to make some cookies. I pulled out my Betty Crocker Cooky Book from when I was a child. I did notice the spelling of cookie. I guess that is how it was spelled when I was a kid. 

I made a batch of Russian Teacakes and then it was decided that one batch was not enough so another batch was made.

Today I made peanut butter blossoms.

The Hershey Kisses were special delivered all the way from PA. Thank you, Pastor Bob for bringing them when you came to visit. Thank you to my helper who unwrapped them and didn't eat any which is a miracle. That girls loves her chocolate.

I want to make some cutouts. Tomorrow I need to make my Swedish Tea ring and some desserts for Christmas Day.

We were given an artificial tree this year.

I enjoy ornaments from our travels. Two new ones that were added this year. The Scottish bag pipe player is from out trip to Scotland.

This was purchased at the shop near the York Minster. It is a great reminder of York and the York Minster one of our favourite places to visit.

The nativity reminds us of the true meaning of the season. I enjoyed listening to Miss K as she told the Christmas story with this set.

We are enjoying the season. Happy Christmas to you.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday

Happy 15th Birthday!

The birthday tradition continued with the pancake number. I have to say that I think 5 is a difficult number to make.

I discovered a wonderful yellow cake recipe that takes like a box cake. That has become our standard birthday cake. This time we just iced it with chocolate icing and added the happy birthday candles. Simple but pretty.

The birthday boy - it is hard to believe he is 15 already. I love watching him grow and develop. He has a very creative ability whether it is drawing or Legos he has a very creative ability. I love seeing his smile.

Happy birthday!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

British Children's Authors - Dick King-Smith

Recently I decided to read a bit more aloud and go back to the theme of finding British Children's authors and reading some their books. 

Dick King-Smith was not someone that I had heard of or so I thought. We were given Tell me about Dick King-Smith and Animal Stories by a friend.

Dick King-Smith was a farmer and a school teacher and then he wrote children's stories. I enjoyed how his writing came from what he loved, animals. He has written numerous stories. The book Animal Stories has a collection of eight different stories. The characters range from pigs to cats from hedgehogs to mice. I think my favourite story was Fat Lawrence the story of a cat that lives at four different houses and as a result gets fat.

I think his most famous story is The Sheep-Pig which was made into the movie Babe. I did know that movie but didn't know the author of the story.

These were short stories and easy to read and lunch. We all enjoyed them.

I have a few more author's that I have found and we will be reading some of their books together so check back for more classic authors.

Some of the other British Children's Authors that we have read about include:
Michael Bond
Beatrix Potter
A.A. Milne
Graham Oakley
C.S. Lewis
J.R.R. Toilken

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November Review

It is December 2 and I am reflecting on November. That is better than I have done the past few months.

Our hospitality this month was the Thanksgiving Dinner. I decided that if I am making Thanksgiving dinner we should have some friends over to enjoy it. It is not much more work to have others over. I think that was a record of people in our house for a meal -- there were 16 though 1 person was a lap baby. We did manage to have seating for everyone and there was plenty of food.

I had taken J's t-shirt quilt to someone to quilt it and I got that back this month. I then needed to sew the binding on. I have just a few inches of binding left and that project will be finished. Yeah for another finished project. I still have a few unfinished projects but less than the beginning of the year.

I think we have begun to hibernate a bit. We didn't have any outings this month unless you count the dentist as an outing.

I am continuing to try to get rid of things. I think overall I have gotten rid of things this year. As I was scrapbooking, I was looking at my supplies and asking what I was really going to use and if I didn't think I would use it, I got rid of it.

There are some areas that I think have not focused on this month, let's be honest this year -- like knitting. I still want to knit but need to practice.

November was a good month. Now it is on to December, enjoy the advent season, enjoy my family, and finish the year.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015


Thanksgiving is baking and desserts. This morning I made pumpkin pies. I only have two pie pans so I tried a pecan pie bars and apple pie bars. I thought both of those recipes were ones that I will make again. 

Thanksgiving is cooking. I made green bean casserole in the slow cooker. This year I found French's onion rings.

I made a large turkey, double recipe of corn casserole, stuffing, double recipes of green bean casserole, and both sweet potatoes with marshmallow as our guests were talking about how excited to have the opportunity to try that. I also made sweet potatoes with pecans.

Thanksgiving is a kids table. We stared our meal with three other families. Our dining room was full.

Thanksgiving if fun and laughs. I did a photo props.

We had a fun evening with our friends.

Thanksgiving is a full refrigerator. I was thrilled that I was able to get all the leftovers in there. We will be eating leftovers for the next few days.

We have so much to be thankful for.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brain Building Resources

One of the goals for this year was to add some brain building activities into our week. Brain building exercises are activities that help to increase our short-term memory or our thinking skills. (That is just my definition.)

A number of these are things that I have picked up over the years.

Daily Warm-Ups Logic -- Daily Warms-ups has books for a variety of subjects. I added the Logic book this year. There are 180 short exercises in this book.

                                "When you find something that you have lost,
                                 why is it that you always find it in the last place
                                 that you look?"

Another book that I have is Chinese Brain Twisters. These are activities involve toothpicks and making different shapes.

I have some Brain Puzzles from Usborne. Some of these are challenging for Miss K.

Another thing that I have are digit span cards. Each card has a number of digits. You show the card to the student for three seconds, put the card away and then ask the student to repeat the number back. I purchased these cards from Little Giant Steps. You can purchase sets of various numbers of digits. These can be done as either visual or audio.

Sometimes for Miss K I just give her some of the sequence strips and have her tell me what is hiding.

A few years ago I bought these books from someone. There are three books in this set.

These books are great for short term memory building activities. There are flaps and you cover the right page showing the left page. Then you cover the left page and reveal the right side. Then ask the student what was hidden.

ThinkFun has a number of games like Shape by Shape and Rush Hour. We have a few of these and have found some in thrift shops. Even playing memory can be a brain building activity.

I have also set up an account on Lumosity. Those are good activities for J and myself as well.

We have fun doing these together. I do think it helps in building short term memory and thinking skills. We usually try to do these on Wednesdays.

What are your favourite brain building resources?

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grapevine Studies - TOS Review

I am always looking for new ways to teach the Bible. I love ways that get the children involved in some way with the learning. I like when they can engage more than just listening. I was thrilled when we were recently given the opportunity to review Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob from Grapevine Studies.

Grapevine Studies Review

Grapevine Studies is both a Bible study method and curriculum. Grapevine Studies have both overview studies and topical studies. I think one of the things that makes Grapevine Studies unique is that students learn the major characters and events in the Bible while drawing stick figures (my children have some elaborate stick figures and do not always want to conform so we have rainbow snakes and other things).

Each study has a teacher's manual and then students manuals. Depending on the age and abilities of the child determines the student book level. The children might be working on a different level but the lesson is basically the same. This works great for multiple children at different levels. On the website there is a clear explanation of the different levels and appropriate age for the levels, here.

As I mentioned, we reviewed Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob which is 12 lessons. I was given a downloadable Teacher's Manual, Student Guide Level 1 and Student Guide Level 2. I printed each of these just in black and white. I probably should have printed the teacher's manual in colour so that it would show the colour of pencil that should be used. I could have used it on the computer but find that it is too distracting to have the computer on the table while we do school. That is just me knowing how we work or in this case don't work at times.

I originally thought Miss K and I would do this but J joined in. I should have had a higher level for him but he just worked on Level 2 since that was the extra we had.

The teacher's manual includes a daily and weekly schedule which helps to see how the lessons are structured and what do to each day. I was impressed with the reminder to the teacher of the need to pray and prepare before teaching the lesson.

The beginning of the timeline

We did this in place of our Bible curriculum. We began in Genesis 1 and began with an overview timeline of what we would study. As we got into each lesson, we read the passages, talked about it and then drew the picture or wrote a list that helped us to remember what we had just read about.

I like the fact that Job was considered in this timeline which fits with the dates of the book of Job. It was interesting to see what the children considered their favourite part of each lesson.

Adam and Eve getting married with an organ

I was impressed with Grapevine Studies. I felt that that as we did each lesson the children engaged with the passages and were able to reflect as we drew.

Miss K's timeline

Grapevine Studies has a number of studies and other Crew Members reviewed other studies so check their reviews for more information.

Grapevine Studies Review

Crew Disclaimer

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