Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well, hello, world!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. We sure did. It was filled with the kind of sparkle that I want it to be for my children. I hope yours was too!

The day after Christmas the flu hit us! We are under quarantine here until further notice and all New Years Eve plans with my unlinkable best friend and family are not happening. This is a disappointment, but we would much rather ring in the new year not "blessing" someone else with our sickness, right? :+) I honestly feel thankful that we are as recovered as we are. It is a nasty bug and I am grateful for the health I know is right around the corner.

It is times like these that I start thinking - oh, I miss doing school! I miss reading Mystery of History together, I miss reading Exploring Creation with Zoology 2, I even miss doing math! I think I just miss learning. I hope that we are well enough to begin again next week. It would be so fantastic to get back to business. :+)

I love the Christmas holidays - I love almost everything about them. I love the focus on the advent of our Savior. I love knowing every year that He came. It is a beautiful thing to celebrate. But. I am ready for regular life again. I am ready to read books together on the couch. I am ready to learn together. I am ready to walk our neighborhood and enjoy our winter days. I am ready for the next season.

And you? :+)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tick Tock, Busy! Busy!

Just a few days from the Big Day and we are excited and happy and hoping no one gets sick. Grin. Our son had a fever yesterday, but it seems to have abated. He is normal today so go figure. I just hope it stays that way for our family events of excitement this weekend. :+) I love Christmas!


Do you enjoy the holidays? We sure do. I love the music, the lights, the advent books we read, the expectation of the children, the baking, the treats--all of it! We have been very busy and thus no blogging. I thought I would share some of the fun things we have had going on.


There is no way to see all the food in this picture, but we had a Redwall Feast in honor of our dear friends' birthdays. Twins it was and twins they still are and celebrate we all did. It was so wonderful! All the kinds of food a mouse could desire were there with the mouse mother, Tamara, at the cooking helm. We contributed only a few things and she slaved away for us! What a mouse mother!


We have also been fantabulously busy with our dear co-op gals. We had our Christmas crafty day with cookies, ornaments, fellowship and lots of loud beautiful children. :+) It is amazing how many small people will fit into one's kitchen when one tries to fit them. :+) Who knew co-ops could be so fun? Here some of us are after our ornamenting. I love our co-op!


This past weekend we had our early Christmas with my mother. She gifted us a wonderful day at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. WHAT a place! It is the ultimate in hands-on for the children. Every single child, from age 5 to 13, loved it! My little ones were saying, "This is a really fun museum, Mama!" I love hearing that - it is like music to my ears. :+) This  picture is SO great. I just love it. They were having so much fun.


Afterwards we walked through the Palace of Fine Arts.

What a lovely lovely area. It is no wonder we saw a wedding party taking their pictures in front of it!


Oh, and remember that wonderful birthday surprise I wrote about before? Well, here are the astoundingly fantastic ladies.



And here are a few of us up close, Mrs. Circle of Quiet on the left and my dear friend Nancy on the right. I am the cheeseball in the middle.  :+)


And last but not least, is our Christmas picture. As always, I don't like it of me, but I never like pictures of me so why start now? :+)


Now you may understand why I feel SO blessed. I truly am and I am so grateful!

Enjoy the beautiful children in your life. Enjoy the season. Give thanks! For we have so very much to be thankful for! God bless your Christmas.



Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This and That

This landed in my inbox today and I thought it was worth mentioning for those of you with aspiring writers of high school age!

Sylvan Dell Publishing Announces
2008 Picture Book Writing Competition

for Homeschooled Students


Sylvan Dell Publishing is proud to announce its 2nd annual Picture Book Writing Competition for Homeschooled Students. The winning author will receive a $200 prize, and the manuscript will be seriously considered for publication.

Sylvan Dell owners, Lee and Donna German, homeschooled their three daughters for five years. The couple admits to a warm spot for homeschooling families, and they hope that this competition will encourage teens to research and write.

Students wishing to submit manuscripts should follow the submission guidelines posted on the Sylvan Dell Web site,

A brief summary of the guidelines is provided below:
Eligibility: Homeschooled students working at a high school level.

Manuscripts should subtly convey an educational theme through warm, engaging story. Sylvan Dell’s current catalog focuses on teaching science and math through literature.

Manuscripts should be written for one of the following age ranges: 3 to 7, 4 to 8, 5 to 9, or 6 to 10. Authors should be mindful of age-appropriate words.

Microsoft Word’s “readability statistics” can be used to estimate themanuscript’s reading level. Manuscripts should not exceed 1,500 words. Picture books are typically less than 1,000 words, so novels and short stories will not be considered.

As this is a writing competition, illustrations will not be accepted.

Electronic submission only. Manuscripts must be attached to an e-mail message as a Word document. Submission e-mails should be sent only to
MaggieStuart@SylvanDellPublishing.com between March 1 and March 31, 2008, with “Homeschool Writing Contest Submission” and the manuscript title in the subject line.

Students must include their name, date of birth and contact information in the e-mail. The winning manuscript will be announced via a post to Sylvan Dell Publishing’s Web site,
www.SylvanDellPublishing.com, in late April 2008.

Questions about the competition should be directed to Homeschool Market Liaison Maggie Stuart by e-mailing
MaggieStuart@SylvanDellPublishing.com. For complete rules and guidelines as well as frequently asked questions, please visit www.sylvandellpublishing.com/HomeschoolingComp.htm.


If any of your students enter, do let me know!

Here is a little something a sweet friend gave me a long time ago. It is the *best* caramel popcorn I have ever had.

Caramel Corn

2 C brown sugar
2 cubes butter
½ C White Karo Syrup
½ t cream of Tartar
1 t baking soda
5 quarts unsalted popcorn (popped) :+

Boil first four ingredients, stirring all the while, for five minutes. Remove from heat and add soda. It will bubble up and become foamy. Pour over popped corn and mix well to coat. Put into buttered baking pan. Bake at 250 F for an hour stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Break apart when cool.



Friday, December 07, 2007


Joy is a splendid thing when it is found amidst a difficult week. We have had a tough time living. Do you ever have those times? Those periods where you think -  am I doing *anything* right at all? I felt so discouraged by the end of yesterday. Then God gave me, just at the time I needed it, a "Mom's Night Out." The ladies in my co-op are four of the dearest people. Three are relatively new friends and one is golden - we have been friends now for quite a while. Our husbands work together and we know a lot about each other and one another's lives. It is nice to be able to say something and hear her giggle and know she knows what I am talking about. She is a dear treasure and I am grateful to God for her.

The other three are wonderful ladies - put in my life at just the time God knew I would need them. That sounds selfish of me, like it is somehow all about *me*, but I don't mean it that way. I feel honored to know them and honored that God chose me to be the beneficiary of such friendships. I need these ladies. I need their friendships. I don't know that I ever realized just how blessed a woman I am. When I feel overwhelmed and in a tight spot--they are there. I see them almost every week and it has enriched my life. I have learned so much from each of them and I am truly grateful. Who knew that a co-op would offer so much to *me* at the same time it offers so much to my family? What a God of blessing we serve! It is joy amidst the daily to do.

Tonight was another blessing of joy. Joy with my daughters and in their pleasure. My husband and son are Cub Scouting tonight in the belly of a WWII submarine. Sleeping there and making merry with a loud group of fellows. They will likely have little sleep, but overflow with memories. I am so happy for them!

This left me at home with my beauties. We decided to celebrate the season with the rest of the locals and headed out with gloves and coats to watch the city light the Christmas tree. Not only did they do that, but the city provided a bounty of excitement for us. From making ornaments to frosting cookies to bounce houses to rock walls to bubble snow falling from the sky. It was all free and a complete surprise to the girls. To watch their faces as three of them successfully climbed to the top of the rock wall--on the first try! To see the utter joy and happiness emanate from them as the "snow" falls from the sky while listening to the Christmas carols being played - it was joy out of a movie scene. I cannot describe it adequately because we were filled with laughter and there is no way to convey that here. It was just a wonderful night.

And then to come home and have the pleasure and honor of my two eldest daughter's company as we discuss some of the weighty issues on their hearts. It is joy to me to know I hold this place for them. I do not have the words to express the feelings in my heart. It is joy to know that God is *this* good to me.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." I am so thankful tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

If I had a million dollars...

I am so happy with what we purchased for Christmas, but then I discover that other really wonderful thing - do we need that too? Oh. My. Goodness. It is easy to spend money on things that are high quality even when you don't need them! Why is this so easy? It just IS. Do you find that? Here are some things I really *wanted* to get, but I am NOT getting. I am NOT. :+) 

Some of them are not available to ship until after Christmas, but these are exceptionally good prices and may be perfect for the future for a birthday or other gift occasion. We really love books on CD or tape here and that is just what these are. I hope you find something you like. It is hard for me not to like them all. :+)

A Christmas Carol: Focus on the Family Radio Theatre-Audiodrama on CD
By Tyndale Entertainment

It wouldn't be Christmas without Mr. Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim---and that's no humbug! Vividly bringing Dickens's characters to life, this family radio drama highlights the timeless struggle between earthly gain and eternal treasure, and challenges you to examine your own heart to re-evaluate where your treasure lies. Two CDs, 90 minutes total.

Mozart's Magnificent Voyage - Audiobook on CD
By Classical Kids / Children's Book Store Dist.

The Story: The Dream Children are about to be written out of Mozart's most famous opera. In the hopes of changing their fate, they enlist the help of the composer's young son Karl. Together the children embark on an incredible journey that takes them back in time to Mozart's childhood and ahead to the future. Along the way, Karl comes to understand his father's legacy of timeless music. The Music: More than 2 dozen excerpts of Mozart's music, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the Clarinet Quartet, Flute Quartet, Horn Concerto, Symphony No. 1, Ave Verum Corpus, Piano Sonatas, Concerto k.467 and "twinkle" Variations, plus several excerpts from Mozart's best loved operas.

Classic Children's Tales Volume #8 - Audiobook on Cassette
By Edcon Publishing Group

A delightful excursion into the wonderful world of make-believe, where fairy tales and old favorite stories come vividly to life. Children will be inspired by expert narrators using dramatic dialogue, music, and exciting sound effects. This volume includes Penny's Travels, Puss in Boots, and Mother Hulda, Epaminondas, Br'er Rabbit's Laffin' Place, and the Little Red Hen. 1 Cassette.

Great Stories Volume #1 - Audiobook on CD
By Your Story Hour

Your Story Hour is proud to prsent this great new collection of dramtized stories. The role models in these wonderful stories will inspire and teach important values so necessary in the development of good character traits for today's youth. Kids of all ages will enjoy listening to these recordings over and over again. 6 CDs.

Ben Hur - Focus on the Family Radio Theatre audiodrama on CD
By Lew Wallace / Tyndale Entertainment

An unforgettable account of betrayal, revenge, redemption, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre’s production of Ben-Hur tells the tale of a nobleman who fell from Roman favor and was sentenced to live as a slave--all at the hands of his childhood friend, Messala. Once nearly brothers, any hope of reconciliation is dashed after Messala is seriously injured during a vicious chariot race won by the vindictive Ben-Hur. But what makes this adaptation of Lew Wallace’s best-selling story unforgettable is the changed man Ben-Hur becomes after seeing Christ on the cross. Recorded in London with film-style sound, this action-packed production shares that compassion is the true path to redemption.

Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie Series #2 (Audio book on CD)
By Laura Ingalls Wilder / Harperchildrensaudio

As a young man, Almanzo Wilder will meet a brown-eyed, brown-haired girl named Laura Ingalls and fall in love. But as a young boy, Almanzo has no time for girls! His life is about farming and chores, and most of all, about wanting his own horse. Before his dreams can come true, Almanzo must prove to his father that he is ready to take on more responsibilities--and this is harder than he ever imagined. Unabridged. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Read by Cherry Jones. 6 hours. 6 CDs.

At the Back of the North Wind- Focus On The Family, 2 CD Set
By George MacDonald / Tyndale Entertainment

In this Radio Theatre audio drama adaptation of George MacDonald’s classic story, a beautiful woman known as the North Wind blows through a small village in Victorian London, and everyday lives are mysteriously enveloped by a power and a glory. Along the way, she visits a poor stable boy named Diamond and takes him with her on her journeys. At the Back of the North Wind explores the place of death in our lives, social injustice, and our deep need for love and forgiveness.

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter Audiobook on CD
By Beatrix Potter / Tantor Media Inc.

Hear Peter Rabbit outwit old Mr. McGregor and Squirrel Nutkin come within a tail's length of being an owl's dinner. Listen as a family of mice save the kind tailor of Glouster and how Peter and Benjamin Bunny battle a barn cat. Learn how two bad mice and one fierce rabbit are set on the road to honesty. Beatrix Potter's amazing universe of animals dressed in human clothing has taught and entertained children for nearly a century. Her love of animals and children is apparent in each of these twenty-one tales. 3 CDs. 3 hours, 31 minutes. Unabridged.

Adventures in Life, Your Story Hour Volume 8, Audiobook on CD
By Your Story Hour

These fully-dramatized, true-to-life, character-building adventures exemplify the high moral values so necessary for successful living. Your child will not easily forget the impression made and the lesson learned as they listen to these exciting stories. Complete with sound effects and music, enacted by a professional cast. Exciting, educational, and entertaining! 12 CDs.

Classic Stories for a Girl's Heart: Focus on the Family Radio Theatre--CDs
By Tyndale Entertainment

From the award-winning Radio Theatre team comes a trio of beloved stories for young girls! Featuring soaring musical scores and riveting performances from world-class actors including Gemma Jones, Mae Whitman, and Joan Plowright, these productions of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, and The Secret Garden will captivate your entire family. Nine slipcased CDs, approx. 10.5 hours total.

Jonathan Park Volume 2: No Looking Back, Audio CD
By The Vision Forum, Inc

Tune in to listen to the continuing adventures of the Park and Brenan families. Captivating for listeners of all ages while it teaches the truth of biblical, 6-day creation. Each adventure is based on real places and scientific discoveries! Each episode is approximately 26 minutes, plus a free study guide is included! 4 CDs; 312 minutes total run time.