Saturday, August 30, 2014


Return to the golden beauty of Minnesota’s Butternut Lake in this emotional story that vividly captures the joy and pain of first love, as a mother and daughter each come to terms with the desires of her heart.

Summer at Butternut Lake—a season full of surprises . . . and life-changing choices.

Preparing for her final year of college, Daisy is crazy busy now that she’s back at Butternut Lake. She’s helping her mother, Caroline, run their coffee shop and trying to build a relationship with the absentee father who’s suddenly reappeared. She never expected to fall in love with Will, the bad-boy from high school who works at the local garage. With every passing day she and Will grow closer to each other . . . and closer to the day they will have to say goodbye. As summer’s end looms, Will and Daisy face heartbreaking choices that might tear them apart.

Caroline already has her hands full trying to make ends meet at the coffee shop without having her no-good ex suddenly show up. Now that Jack is back, he’s determined to reconnect with the family he walked out on twenty years ago. But with the bank pounding on her door and Jack’s presence reminding her of the passion they once shared, Caroline’s resolve begins to crumble. As Daisy’s departure looms and her financial worries grow, Caroline just may discover the support she needs . . . in the last place she ever imagined.

My thoughts. I absolutely loved the first book in the Butternut Lake Trilogy, Up At Butternut Lake. I was so disappointed when the book ended and had thought this would make a good series, so I was thrilled when I found out it was going to be. Now that is a lot of excitement for a book to live up too. That said, I'm sure you wanna know what I thought of book two! Well two fold. I was disappointed when didn't I read more about Allie and Jax. I loved these two characters and in the second book there was a bit of a cameo, but that was it. I really felt they easily could have made a few more appearances to help us with what Caroline was going through. It wasn't like they were needed to move the story, but I think girlfriends being there for her would have been nice. Plus they were such a part of book one.

I overall enjoyed Butternut Summer, but not nearly as much as Up At Butternut Lake. I want to add the book really pulled me in near the end. I felt the story moved at a believable speed and loved getting to know Caroline and her daughter Daisy more. I feel the book was very good, but like I said I loved the first one so much, the second one had almost too much to live up to. On the positive, you could read this as a stand alone, but don't! These are really wonderful characters I really recommend you read them in order! Now I will say I am hopeful the third book will really come back and focus on all four ladies! I'm a fan of Mary McNear and this series (I'm actually bummed it is only a trilogy)! I could see how you could add more characters and stories making a number of books, hint hint to the author! I am recommending Butternut Summer! Make sure to grab a copy for a great read this Labor Day weekend!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

A few weeks in

We are now beginning our fourth week of homeschooling. I wouldn't say its been all fun and games, but I wouldn't say its awful either. It is work. Lots of work. I found teaching cursive to be very difficult with the curriculum I was using. C felt stressed. It was disappointing because I've seen a marked improvement with his handwriting in general. His cursive is much cleaner than his print and even his print has improved with me able to remind him to hold his pencil correctly. I was at my breaking point. I have a curriculum to get through. I suppose I'm a bit of a type A personality. I follow the rules. We have to get it done...wait a minute...wait...I'm homeschooling. I can set the rules.
outside play

I made a trip to the store and picked up a few cursive writing workbooks and I've decided to do one lower case letter at a time and move on once he has mastered it. This instead of both upper and lower case at the same time and moving to a new letter (or two) everyday. C is feeling more relaxed and so am I.

I've also really enjoyed how much C has been reading on his own. Today I introduced a sheet he will fill out with each book, so I can tell how much he is comprehending. He tells me the characters, the setting, the problem and the solution. I hope in a few weeks to start having him fill out the same sheet for creative writing. I'm super excited!

M has been a bit of a challenge. She has significantly less work than C, so it's harder to keep her engaged. I can't really send her off to play otherwise C will have a harder time focusing. She is pretty good most of the day, but I've picked up extra workbooks for her to do. She also has learning toys in the school room she can play with when I work with C.

Last week, we began a week long study of stars. I decided I want part of our homeschool experience to include some child lead studies. For our first week the kids wanted to learn about stars. We read a number of both fiction and non-fiction books, watched a Magic School Bus episode (thank-you Netflix) and a few star art projects. The kids loved the study and were excited to pick the next two studies.

We are planning a trip to the Planetarium before we begin our next study on a few Ocean animals (Whales, Dolphins and Jellyfish). I wish we had an aquarium here in Memphis!

The kids are also meeting with daddy one night a week. He is working on music lessons. C is learning the recorder and M is playing on the keyboard. They also practice for 10 mins each day. C has also began practice for the Christmas church musical. He practices one night a week. They've also had three karate classes (they both love) and C has started soccer.

Keeping busy at the library, while mom looks for books
Next week Cub Scouts start back up for him, and M will be starting Heritage Girls in a few weeks. We are also looking into starting horse riding lessons or tumbling for her, as well.

I'm very excited with how things are going! It's a lot of work, but the rewards have been amazing! I've seen improvement with C. He was a good student last year, but struggled with handwriting and his spelling. I can see improvement with holding his pencil, his handwritting is more clear and he did fantastic on his first spelling test! Have I mentioned I'm using phonics to teach and it is amazing! So many neat rules to help him! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

IT IS DONE! The first week of homeschool is in the books!

What a week! I will be honest in saying I was prepared for the worst and I am excited to admit it went much smoother than expected. As I say this, I will continue to be ready for the inevitable melt down of, "I don't want to do school." Overall a very good week.

As we began, the first thing I noticed was for as organized as I felt I was, I wasn't. I had all (most) of the worksheets pulled and placed in day of the week folders for the kids (I also made copies for M for when she is in second grade). This part of it was fine, but it was all the little prep work I fumbled with. The four different types of flashcards, the little counting objects, and constantly trying to remember what book I was teaching from. By the end of the week (today) it ran a little smoother, I believe Laura has found her groove.

On Monday, we went to a local church who has a Karate ministry for homeschool kids. It was the first Karate class the kids have ever taken and they really enjoyed it. M cracked me up because she is so loud when they yell. When we got home it was snacks, change clothes and right to the school work. I was pleased with how easily the kids transitioned.

M has less work being she is only in Kindergarten. I did try to find things for her to play/learn/work with when she completed her tasks. Her favorite was playing puzzles.

Each day the kids have their tasks of updating the daily calendar, feeding the fish, collecting and charting eggs, and adding a bee to our 100 day sun poster (count down till our 100 day party).

What concerned me most about homeschooling was the moving back and forth between the kids. I have to say there was very little issue.  I just had to help M with her wanting to talk and talk and talk. Sometimes I was even able to take a moment if they were both working...

When C (2nd grade) found himself done with his work and I was still working with M, he would grab a book and start reading. He has always enjoyed books--but it has been with a bit of a push towards them.

On Tuesday, we ventured out to the library where those amazing ladies were holding two large stacks of books on hold for us. I also allowed the kids to use their cards to get some books they wanted. They each grabbed a number of books and broke in their cards. Between having the time and feeling big getting to check out his own books it seemed to encourage his reading time. Oh and we are charting all his books. I told him after every ten he reads I'd buy him a new book---ummm gonna have to make that a higher number or I'll go broke!

 Another discovery this week was learning M can't sit still while learning. The girl is on the go! Every time we did seatwork she was either standing or fidgeting. I made sure to give her plenty of work she could do on the whiteboard where she was able to stand up. This seemed to help keep her focused.
I also just had to get over the idea of her sitting still and working. Let her learn and move about the way that works for her. She enjoyed learning the more she was able to move around. Even when I just sit and read to the kids, she is rolling around or hopping about. I told my husband I couldn't imagine how she would do in a traditional classroom. I'm sure she would end up fine, but it would be counter to her personality.

I found most of our days lasted between 3 to 3.5 hours. It's funny how that really doesn't seem that long, but when you are teaching it seemed much longer! We did have a set start time and break time. If the kids were hungry or thirsty they could of course get something, but at break time I had them go play out in the back yard just to recharge and get some fresh air.

We finished the week off with no clips being moved to red, so they both got to dip into the treasure box. I have to admit I am excited for next week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

First day of homeschool--ever!

Today is the day. Today we begin our adventure into homeschooling. I'd be lying if I said I'm not nervous...I am very nervous. I am also very excited to be able to explore learning with my youngest two children (C and M). We will start the day by heading out to a homeschool karate class, so I am feeling pretty confident about that, hahahaha. When we get home we will have snack and start lessons. Thankfully the curriculum has our first week pretty easy learning week. If I was being honest I am most nervous about teaching two at a time. How does that work? I have my expectations pretty low to begin. I've read enough out there to just try and relax and allow ourselves time to find our groove. Let's be honest the first week kids are in elementary school have a slow start too.

Here are some final pictures of our classroom. There are a few changes, but overall I'm pretty happy with the way it all turned out.