Thursday, July 17, 2014

Best Birthday Gift

I am just gonna go on and on about these Magna Tiles I got my daughter for her birthday from Amazon. I had seen my kids play them once at the Children's Museum while back and never thought of them again. Then a month or so ago I saw some kids playing with them in my seven year old's Sunday School class. I asked the teacher about them and tolId me the kids were nuts for them. Well knowing I'm going to be home with my kids 24/7 with homeschooling I am on the look out for lots of activities to keep them occupied and thinking.

     I looked around on different educational websites for them and to be honest was shocked when I saw the hefty price tag. My first thought was to go with one of the other brands. I researched them and didn't really find any negative reviews. I also searched for different prices. In the end I did go with the name brand because it wasn't so much cheaper to go with another brand and for the cost I liked that I wasn't reading negative reviews. I went with the 100 pieces from Amazon (the best price I could find). My husband ordered them the next time he made a book order.

     Once we got them, we started playing with them. I thought gee maybe if they were younger, but I couldn't imagine my kids would love them. Well, the day after my daughters fifth birthday party I found out what they thought of them...they got up to play with them. My son lead the charge (he knew what they were). All over the floor they went. Within minutes he was building rocket ships. My daughter building a city. Hours later...they were still playing. Never have my kids sat and played anything for hours. They barely look at legos or any type of block toy ( I had reservations about the Megna Tiles for this reason, but I did find a few ideas to incorporate them with homeschooling--my pinterest board for them). 

     It's been a few weeks and they are still enjoying them. It's a great toy for using their imaginations and I couldn't be more thrilled with the purchase. I wish I had bought them when they were even younger :)

Here is my affiliate link to them, but I was not asked to review this product. 

Here is also a link to the other set if you are interested, but don't want to spend as much. Like I said I don't recall reading any negative reviews.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Midwife by Jolina Petersheim

The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past — Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy — and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.

The Present — As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda’s heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

"Jolina's lyrical storytelling absolutely sings--but it's her quick-paced plot, complex characters, and insights into the Plain world that made it impossible for me to put The Midwife down." ~Leslie Gould, #1 bestselling author of The Amish Midwife

My thoughts...The Midwife is an absolute outstanding read. Jolina didn't just write Beth breathed life into Beth. Beth is a young girl trying to do something good to help someone else by becoming a surrogate at a time when it was relatively new. Things get over her head when the doctors believe the baby has abnormalities and the parents want to terminate the pregnancy. A mother's hedge of protection surround this tiny soul within her womb and Beth runs to protect her. As I read Beth, I felt for her I cheered for her. I couldn't believe the people around her and what she was seeing. She wanted to give this little baby a chance.

Over time, Rhoda a Midwife in a Mennonite community becomes cold and a little distant from those around her. Her past she keeps hidden until her past shows up on her doorstep. I honestly wasn't sure how all these stories were going to come together and one piece had me completely thrown off (I won't give more of a clue than that), but as the novel closes I was dumbfounded by the last piece of the puzzle.

The Midwife is one I had a hard time putting down. The story is told with alternating voices of past Beth, current Rhoda and Amelia. I love when I can't put everything together just right and The Midwife offers that. My heart broke for Beth and Rhoda...I wanted them to find peace and happiness. Sometimes there is no greater punishment, than the punishment we inflict upon ourselves and this was evident in The Midwife.

Do not label this book as Christian, or Amish/Mennonite fiction--labels are limiting. A stunning story of healing, of walking through our past, and coming out in-the-end a better person because of it and understanding who we are.

A book I will highly be recommending to all my friends. Jolina Petersheim is fast becoming a favorite author of mine.


Jolina Petersheim

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Eating our own food!

It's so exciting! I've planted blackberries last year and again this year. I have finally seen some of the literal fruits of my labor! I was able to pick two handfuls of blackberries. Some of them were tart, but most of them were so sweet! The kids enjoyed most of them for breakfast.

When I started putting together their plates it was exciting to realize they were eating both eggs and blackberries from our backyard!

I need to start backing my own bread. I tried a bread machine, but that didn't work out to well. Not sure if it was operator error or a faulty machine. I've been pinning recipes to make breads, but haven't made it a priority. I think I'll try to make a loaf this week. I figure I will follow the recipes and use as many organic products as possible.
Then last night I made some of the chicken we raised for meat for dinner. I made a baked chicken (I know it was too hot). I would really love some recipes for making my own breading. I really see the need to be more organized about menu planning. I want to make things using better choices, but it's so easy to use store bought...then I feel badly. I keep telling myself we are making small changes. If I can buy it organic or non gmo I do.

Please feel free to comment below with great sites or recipes!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Getting it together

For the last few months I've been buying and setting up what will be our homeschool classroom. I've bought full curriculum from Abeka. I went ahead and bought all the teacher additions as well. I believe this will work best for us, especially the first year. I've also started going through and planning out our school year. It is so much work! Even with all the work I'm really excited. I talked to my neighbor who teaches and there seemed to only be one gap that I would fill in. I'm also excited because we will be able to spend so much time on subjects the kids are interested in. I'm looking forward to doing some things like making journals about our time outdoors, charting egg production from our backyard chickens, and lots of artwork!

The classroom cubbies. Everything is organized here. The giant white board will go on this wall.

This easel will work for my oldest son for art, as well as hold my class paper to show the kids how to write manuscript and cursive. 

Desk center! Where the kids will do their seatwork. 

Reading center. All the books are separated by chapter books I will read, school books, and the different level readers. The kids are already using the area! I think I may have to buy a second bean bag chair (and I stuffed it with old stuffed animals the kids want to keep, but don't play with). 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review of: Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century written by Jane O'Connor

Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century written by Jane O'Connor and Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by HarperCollins (first published March 4th 2014)
ISBN 0062083198 (ISBN13: 9780062083197)


Fancy Nancy is back in New York Times bestselling team Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser's tenth picture book, Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century—all about weddings. Not only does Nancy help out the bride in this wonderful story, she also gets to attend a fabulous party reception! Fans of Fancy Nancy and weddings alike will laugh along with Nancy as she discovers how truly special even the simplest wedding can be. Little girls will delight in learning about bridal traditions with their favorite fancy girl, and as in all Fancy Nancy books, Nancy's wisdom and creativity shine through to spark the joy of imagination in young readers.

My daughter (4 almost 5) and I went to the library the other day and near the front was a display of new books for kids. She saw the beautiful cover for Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century and she knew we had to check it out! Within the first few days we read it a dozen times. The illustrations are beautiful-bright and fun! We also loved the story. Nancy has high expectations of the wedding she is going to and is disappointed when it isn't her dream wedding. Nancy doesn't spend too much time being upset when there is so much fun to be had! Plus she can add a bit of tradition is a not-so-traditional ceremony.

I will definitely check out and buy more Fancy Nancy books! My daughter says, "the best thing about Fancy Nancy books is Fancy Nancy!" that says it all!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Backyard Chickens Meat, Eggs, and Fun

My chicken journey started in 2013. I was experimenting with gardening, and learned from a library book that chicken manure is prized as a fertilizer. As I investigated further, I learned more about the conditions in which chickens are raised on industrial farms and was very surprised. Partly in protest, partly for the fertilizer, partly in the spirit of experimentation, I decided to try raising a small flock.

The reasons people raise chickens at home are varied, and the trend is growing. No one tracks chicken ownership statistics, but my own experience suggests that the trend is exponential. When I bought my first set of chicks, no one I knew in my suburban community was raising backyard chickens. Twelve months later, five families in our immediate area have started small flocks. Before joining the trend, prospective chicken owners should consider the following points: Click on the link for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Present for 40th Birthday: 40 Pounds of Flesh Gone

When I wrote my piece for Yahoo I didn't add a before and after picture. I honestly didn't think the change in my size was overly dramatic. Then I got to thinking it wouldn't hurt to just see what a side by side would look like. So I went through some photos---harder than you may think as I delete most that showed my lower half. I put the side by side together and even I was shocked!

Writing about losing weight wasn't easy. It's not easy to share about losing so much weight, it's embarrassing. Now that I've written the article, I've got some encouraging feedback. Even looking at the pictures reignites my desire to get to my target weight.

If you haven't read my article please do! Best Present for 40th Birthday: 40 Pounds of Flesh Gone.