Friday, May 9, 2014

Asheville: I love you

My first impressions of Asheville were that it rained all the time, the hippies were just as pretentious as the hipsters of Nashville, and that it was expensive. It didn't take long for my views to change though. It did rain all the time, but that's because it was January of the rainiest year Asheville had experienced in years. Sure, I had a Portlandia like experience when I forgot to bring my own back to Greenlife once and I got glared at every now and then for having my baby in a stroller rather than an ergo, but for the most part, those hippies turned out to be pretty awesome. Maybe a little low on iron, which could make anyone grumpy. But really, for the most part, the people of Asheville are kind, interesting, and generous. The people here want to be here and that results in a really cool sense of community awareness and pride. 
Our time here has been full of adventure, beautiful friendships, amazing food, and so much fun. I feel like I have learned so much about myself here and really found a focus of how we want to raise our children. 
I'm getting sentimental about leaving this place, so I have a feeling there will be a few entries about this place over the next week until we leave. For now, I leave you with these- a few pictures that sum up what I will think of when I think back on our time in AVL (if only I had a picture of 12 Bones or 9 Mile...).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thankfulness and sorrow

Today I am thankful for sunshine and for life. For the way my boys' hair gets super curly after a bath and the fact that we have plenty of warm water to bathe them in. I'm thankful for friends whom I fully trust to watch my children. I'm thankful for my littlest son's naptime and for coffee. I am thankful for school days with my eldest that go smoothly and happily and that I get to be such a big part of his educational experience. I'm thankful for a husband that makes me laugh on a daily basis and keeps life fun and bright. I'm thankful for so many things this week and it comes at a time when I have friends who are deeply mourning the loss of loved ones. It's so hard to keep in mind that our life here is temporary. That our souls go on and we leave people behind. It's easy for me to get so heavy hearted when loved ones are hurting that I cannot allow myself to celebrate the good that still is here. But certainly we must have balance... Right? I mean, if we spend our days mourning only the injustices and hardships, then isn't it a bit of a waste? There is a season for everything, to be sure. Right now, I am working on loving those around me and having compassion and sorrow for their pain, but also to remember why we are here and to love and rejoice. Trying to celebrate this life and each day we have with each other is not always easy, but I do think it is necessary. Thoughts?

Monday, March 10, 2014


Well, I did not succeed in my goal of documenting our kindergarten homeschool experience, nor did I succeed in doing so for first grade as we are now in the final months. But, I blame a lot of that on not having the blogger app on my phone... So I am determined to kick start it back up! 

In a nut shell, homeschooling has been great. The two biggest challenges have been trying to figure out how to provide a calm and quiet place for my 6 year old to learn with my 2 year old around... Who is neither calm not quiet! The other has been teaching reading. I do feel like we are in a much better place for both of those than we were 6 months ago and that gives me hope for the future :0)
My favorite things have been learning my son's learning style. The things that I can do to help him want to learn and the things that only frustrate him more- it's fascinating! I also love learning alongside him. So many things that we are studying have been long forgotten in my brain and it has been so fun to learn about Ancient Egypt and Greek myths together. I had also forgotten how complex learning to read is! All the rules and then things that break the rules are so overwhelming at first. I know I was pushing him to fast last summer and he absolutely hated school to the point if years because if reading. So we took a break for weeks and only did silly sight words. It was refreshing and a good lesson for me to learn about why I am homeschooling and that the spectrum for learning to read is a big one. I want him to have a love for reading, not just a basic understanding of it. 
I am so thankful that I get to stay home with my boys and teach them. I am also thankful that my husband is supportive and encouraging in this journey. 
So, I am determined to keep this going and document the rest of first grade and beyond! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giveaway time!!

I have been a big fan of Usborne books ever since I was about 6 years old sitting on my bed and searching for the duck on each page in the "find the duck" First Words in Spanish book. Usborne books were created out of the desire to have quality educational books that were interactive and interesting enough to compete with video games and magazines. Over 20 year later, I am even more in love with them and the richness they bring to my home. We use them in school, we use them for bedtime stories, my 6 year old uses the doodle and activity books during road trips and quiet time and my toddler loves all the touchy feely pages of the board books. I recently started selling them and couldn't be more excited! I love these books and I love sharing my love for them with new people! I have decided to do a quick little giveaway this week! Everyone who orders through THIS LINK before Thanksgiving will be entered to win a free product! The winner will be notified and given a variety of products to choose from, which I will have shipped directly to you! This is an excellent time to buy Christmas presents for the children in your life and possibly get a free item to go with it! I am also linking to a few of my very favorite products that we sell! Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

My top 5 choices for Christmas gifts:
"That's not my..." board books. These are touch & feel books perfect for babies and toddlers. Subjects range from puppy to princess to car and right now the tractor one is on sale for under $4! $4-$9
1001 Things to Spot books- subjects vary from bugs to fairies to pirates! Ages 3+  for only $9.99!
"Big Book of..."-subjects vary from big machines to big monsters to sea creatures! Ages 4+ for $15.99
Doodle books! So many fun activities in these books! From $5.99-$14.99
Sticker books! These are SO much fun and there are so many to choose from! Fashion, history, warriors, fairies, cars, trains, heroes, pirates, you name it! These are one of my favorite products hands down! And they range from $6.99-$9.99 making them a truly affordable gift that your kids will love!

My top 5 choices homeschool supplements:

Children's Encyclopedia's- These books are outstanding! One of the best resources I have found for home schooling across the board, but are excellent for homework and research for children in a classroom setting as well. Not only are they interesting for kids to just flip through with their beautiful illustrations, but the information inside is extremely well written and distributed in a manner that keeps it from feeling overwhelming. $15-$20
Illustrated Dictionaries- These are excellent resources for math and science. So many concepts can be easy to understand, but difficult to explain. These books help break it down in a way that kids can see and understand, without ever talking down to them. I love them!
Beginners books- These come in a wide variety of subjects and are packed with just the right amount of information. Great for early readers and as a general resource for common subjects and interests. Age 6+  only $4.99
My Very First Art Book- This is basically a full art curriculum in one great book. Awesome! $12.99
Famous Paintings- This is my favorite book in that it also makes an excellent gift for anyone interested in art and it makes a beautiful coffee table book. Do yourself a favor and buy a couple :o) $16.99

So get some Christmas shopping done AND get entered into the free giveaway!
*Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Creative Gift Ideas for Kids (All are $25 or under!)

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” - Neil Gaiman

I love books. I have always loved the escape a good book can provide when you are stuck in one spot. Growing up we did a lot of road trips and, along with my gameboy, books were always a favorite activity to bring on the road. And to have in bed after lights out. And to have at all times in my backpack, then purse, and now diaper bag just incase I get a few minutes of waiting that can be better spent delving into the adventure awaiting me between those pages. Books make my heart so happy. Now that I am a mom and a homeschooler, I have found an even deeper love for books. I love the interests that the right books can create in my children. I love fiction as well as non-fiction. I love anything that sparks creativity, curiosity in the world and people around us, and a desire for more knowledge. My absolute favorite books are Usborne books. Hands down the best books out there for kids. They range from great baby board books to fabulous young adult fiction. The company was created out of a desire to create books that were interesting and interactive enough to compete with video games and magazines and they have done an awesome job of keeping up with this. I am a big fan of giving books as gifts, but am aware that many kids are not a fan of receiving them. I think this is so sad and a clear sign that they haven't been given the right opportunities to fall in love with books. So, out of my love for them, I have decided to compile a list of books, both fiction and non fiction, that make excellent gifts for kids! I have divided the lists by age and provided a link for each book for details, as well as the opportunity to purchase it for the kids on your list! Enjoy!

Babies (from $5-$20)

~Animal Hide and Seek (My personal favorite!) 

~That's Not My... (This series is SO cute! That's Not My Puppy is my favorite, but there are many cute ones to choose based on the interests of the parents/child) 
~Very First Words: On the Farm 
~Animal Noises 
~Touchy Feely Cars 
~Find the Duck (There is also Find the Kitten and Find the Puppy)  
~Hop, Skip, and Jump with CD 
~ Baby Scrapbook 

Toddlers (From $5-$25)

~Construction Sites Lift and Look 

~Cuddle Bear book plus a huggable Cuddle Bear toy (This is such a sweet book and a portion of the proceeds go to the Scott Carter Foundation to help end childhood cancer) 
~Flippy Floppy Jungle Animals 
~Mini Machines Box Set 
~Planes Lift and Look (Especially great if you will be traveling!) 
~The Holes in Your Nose (Because what toddler isn't fascinated by their nostils?)  
~Trains Lift and Look 
~Under the Sea Chunky Board Book 

Preschoolers (From $5-$25)

~Complete Book of Farmyard Tales with CD (One of my personal favorites and a very popular Usborne product. This is perfect for something to keep little ones entertained on road trips or for quiet times in bed listening to the CD as they following along looking at the pictures.)  
~Big Book of Playtime Activities (Tons of ideas for things to make and do- perfect for those blustery days indoors!) 
~Big Book of Big Animals 
~Asia Box Set (Retail value of over $60 if sold separately, but altogether in this set it is just $15!)  
~Book of Fairytales 
~Little Book of Train Stories with CD 
~Book of Princess Stories 
~A Squirrel's Tales (Another favorite of mine! My 18month old AND my six year old love this book and taking turns having the squirrel follow the path through the pages.) 
~Wipe Clean Doodles with pen

School Age Kids (From $4-$20)

~Big Book of Know How (My favorite! This book is so fun and I cannot wait to give it to my son!) 
~Illustrated Classics for Girls 
~Illustrated Stories for Boys 
~The Story of Spying 
~True Escape Stories 
~Improve Your Survival Skills 
~Extreme Adventures Series 
~ Phoenix Files Series (Great  suspenseful young adult fiction) 

--Activity Books-- (All under $20)

~ 50 Science Things to Make and Do 

~ Recycling Things to Make and Do 
~Face Painting 
~Fairy Things to Stitch and Sew 
~100 Paper Planes to Fold and Fly
~Write Your Own Story Book 
~Monsters Coloring Book 
~Doodle Pad for Boys 
~Art Deco Patterns to Color 
~50 Rainy Day Activities 
~Big Doodling Book 

These Things to Spot (similar to I Spy) books are so much fun! My eldest son has loved them since he was 3 years old and still spends time looking at them in bed with the flashlight. They have many themes ranging from Bugs to Spot to Things to Spot in Fairyland to 1001 Pirate Things to Spot and at only $10 each, they make a great gift! 

Activity Cards (All of these are ($10!)

~100 Things to Spot in the Sky 
~50 Horses and Ponies to Spot 
~50 Optical Illusions 
~ Hundreds of Silly Jokes 
~Monster Doodles (Wipe clean with pen) 
~ Travel Doodles (Wipe clean with pen) 

Sticker Books (All are under $10!)

Under the Sea
First book of Fairies 
1920's Fashion (My favorite!) 
Build Your Own Car 

... What are your favorite books to gift to the children in your life?  *Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Usborne Book Suggestions

I have had a number of friends ask about using Usborne Books to supplement Classical Conversations. I decided to go ahead and make a list of books that tie in nicely with what Classical Conversations is learning this year (cycle 2). These books are great for all students, whether they are in a classroom setting or in home school of any kind. I have only included those that fit alongside the CC Cycle 2 subjects. I plan to have a list for cycle 3 out before too long for those who want to prepare for next year. This list is NOT an official list from Usborne nor from Classical Conversations. Please feel free to share this and to let me know if you find Usborne books you feel should be added. 

Encyclopedia of the Ancient World ("From the first farmers of the Middle East to the rise of mighty empires in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome") -
Encyclopedia of World History ("Find out about dinosaurs, the first humans, Ancient Egypt, the Aztec Empire, Medieval Europe, the First World War and many more fascinating subjects.")
Medieval World ("Follow the Crusades to the Holy Land, explore China with Marco Polo and visit a Mayan ball game. Find out how a knight trained for battle, who invented fireworks and who the Vandals were.")-
Living Long Ago: Everyday Life Through the Ages
Castles (Level 1)
Sticker Dressing: Knights
Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare
World of Shakespeare
Sticker Dressing: Explorers
Story of Exploration
A Tale of Two Cities (Set during the French Revolution)
The Story of Inventions
See Inside Inventions
The World Wars
Introduction to the First World War
True Stories of the First World War
Story of the Second World War
Second World War Cards
True Stories of the Second World War
See Inside the Second World War
Sticker Dressing: Second World War
Fighter Planes

Impressionist Sticker Book
Impressionist Paintings Cards
Famous Paintings
Children's Book of Art
Art Sticker Book

First Encyclopedia of Science
Illustrated Dictionary of Science
Science Encyclopedia
Living World Encyclopedia ("To emphasize how living things interact with each other and their ever-changing natural world, this informative first reference book is arranged by environments and habitats. Every page is packed with wonderful full-color illustrations and fascinating information about plants and animals and the way they live.")
Science with Water
World of Animals
Big Book of Animals
Mysteries & Marvels of Nature
The Great Animal Search
First Encyclopedia of Space
Look Inside Space
Discovery: Space
Discovery: Astronomy
Living in Space (Level 2)
100 Things to Spot in the Night Sky
Astronomy and Space Sticker Book

Geography -
World History Sticker Atlas
Children's Picture Atlas
Geography Encyclopedia with Complete World Atlas-

First Illustrated Math Dictionary
Math Puzzles
Wipe Clean First Math

*Usborne Publishing Ltd. has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dd is for Dinosaur

Elijah started asking when we were going to do the dinosaur unit ever since he found out there was one, which was before we even started kindergarten. It came at a good time, too. We finally were unpacked and starting to get into the groove of our life in Asheville. Homeschooling had been less exciting since the move and this was a good way to bring back the fun of it all. We started the unit with evidence of dinosaurs in the living room...

I used these footprints for a number of activities. Some were movement ones, having him jump from one to the next. I also wrote a large letter on each one and we used them for man words he knows like man, cat, sun, etc. 
We talked about measurements and how you can use almost anything for measuring. We traced and cut out an elijah foot print and hand print then made a graph. He helped pick things to measure and chart. I thought this would be super fun, but in all honesty, it took ALL day and was more like pulling teeth. He just wasn't in the mood for it I guess. Oh well, you can't win them all :o)

I saw these two ideas on pinterest, too (seriously, my homeschooling would be so much less fun without pinterest!) We made some cute little dino feet for Yohan, too, but I never got a picture. I used craft foam sheets for them so the are more durable. Paper would work, too.

We both love Bill Nye the Science Guy. Between him and The Magic School Bus, I have at least one fun episode for most every unit. Learning about dinosaurs seemed like a good time to learn about volcanos, too so I threw that in on one of the days I added to the unit's curriculum. Most of the units we do are 6 days, but we went ahead and did 8 or 9 for this one cos there was just so much cool stuff to do.

And of course, you can't learn about volcanos without making one! I had wanted to do it outside on the grass, but it was too cold and wet out, so we tried to make it look as outdoorsy as we could...using legos. Lij covered a plastic water bottle with play dough. we poured in some baking soda with a little bit of dish soap then poured in the vinegar and food coloring and watched the eruption. Many people pointed out on my instagram picture that it looks like a pig head with a bloody snout. Gross! I assure you it is not! haha

Another favorite was making dinosaur eggs. We made them one day and then cracked them open and turned them into dinosaur egg salad sandwiches for lunch the next day. Yum!

I got the idea for this cute dino craft from here. He is still hanging out on our fridge.

This pasta and coffee grounds craft (whyyyy is it upside down??) was so cute and fun! and I got the printable for making the skeleton puzzle here.

Elijah is learning so much with letters and reading and it just thrills my heart! 

There were so many great books for this unit, but these were our favorites :o)