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Monday, December 30, 2013
What a whirlwind few weeks it has been! Actually, I can't believe that Christmas is already over. It seems like we spend so much time building up to that one day, and then it is gone before you know it. I think there was an extra level of excitement this year due to losing power and not getting it back until Christmas Eve. And here we are on the cusp of another big storm! One that is sure to provide another loss of power.
It has definitely made us start thinking more about what we have on hand, and what we really need in order to be comfortable *cough* wood stove *cough* I think that we are going to try and spend some time figuring out what we need in order to "be prepared."
Often people associate prepping with doomsday scenarios, zombies anyone? But, I think that losing power in the middle of a very cold winter also qualifies as a reason to prepare. The older I get, and I think having little kids, makes me think a lot more about these different problems that can come up and be a disruption to normal life.
I would love to know what you do to prepare? Do you work towards preparedness all year? Do you wait until the last minute, like we seem to be doing now, and run out hoping there is bread still on the shelves? What is an appropriate amount of preparedness where you are?
Monday, December 23, 2013
Saturday, December 21, 2013
The Offering by Kimberly Derting True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy. Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks. When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom. But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.
Author Kimberly Derting Kimberly Derting is the author of the BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING (coming April 2014 from HarperTeen). She lives in the Seattle area, with her husband and three children, who often find the outrageous things they say either in the pages of her books or posted on Twitter or Facebook for the entire world to see.
BookBlast $50 Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/18/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I am happy to report that one hat is done! OK, so I still have to weave in an end, and I definitely didn't make ear flaps for it. Actually, the ear flaps were vetoed by my son. I want him to wear the hat, which at three is a feat in and of itself. It fits, he likes it, yay all around! I really like how the stripes came out as well.
I just started Emma's hat, and hopefully it won't take too long to knit up. I think that if I can just sit and watch a movie with the kids, it will be a little easier to get it finished.
I have three more things I am supposed to finish up knitting before Christmas - three things that have yet to be started. I have high hopes that this other hat will be finished soon and I can concentrate on my other projects.
I'm not reading anything new this week. I am still searching for a really good series. Nothing seems to be holding my interest lately. I am not one of those who forces themselves through a book if I don't like it from the get go. I have too many other things vying for my attention to get stuck in a boring book. I am still reading Nancy Drew with the kids, and they are enjoying it. We are also making our way through the Little House series as well.
Do you have any book suggestions for me? Looking forward to what everyone else is working on this week!
Linking up with Ginny, Nicole, and Tami
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Last year I had the great idea to take the month of December off from homeschooling. OK, so technically it wasn't my idea personally. I had seen several homeschool bloggers talk about how they took the month of December off, and I thought that it made a lot of sense. Granted, last year Emma was not doing nearly as much in school as she is this year, but it was still a really great time for our family.
This year I decided to do the same thing. Actually, it started the day before Thanksgiving.
The freedom that homeschooling gives us as a family is one of the biggest reasons we decided to homeschool. We have chosen to homeschool all year 'round, so that when we want to take a longish break, we are able to.
Now, this does not mean that we stop learning, it just means that we change up what we are doing. Instead of spending time in our school room, we do a lot of baking and crafts. Emma is writing us all little notes every day, and compiling lists for Santa Claus. This time is allowing us to sit back a little bit more, read some books that are not in our regular curriculum, and spend time together as a family.
I absolutely love this break though. The Christmas season is my absolute favorite part of the year (despite the cold!) and being able to back off from school and spend a little more time thinking about why we have this very special holiday is a good idea in my book.
In preparing for this time we had a very busy November. I had certain places I wanted to be in Emma's math and reading, as well as some history I wanted to finish up before the break. With the promise of a long break, and everything else the holidays bring, Emma was incredibly diligent and worked hard to get it all done. We were down to the wire after a long November of colds passing between the kids every few days, but we did make it!
This long break also allows me the opportunity to get all of my ducks in a row for the new year. I find that with each change of season or calendar year, I get excited to start anew. I am able to switch up routines, and make loose plans for the coming months. I find that concentrating on three month increments works really well for us. It gives us the time to study things that are of interest to the kids at this moment. It is also easier to wrap my head around a few months rather than an entire year. Obviously when the kids are older it will be easier to do more long term planning, but for now this is working.
After all the holidays, it will be nice to get back into a normal school routine, for me and the kids. Do you take a longer break during the holidays?
linking up at hip homeschool hop and one project at a time
Monday, December 9, 2013
It is that time of year again...we are trying to keep our heating costs down. Honestly, every time I go to put oil in our tank, it hurts. I wish we were one of the lucky ones that had a wood stove installed in our home, alas that is not the case!
The first way that we keep our heating costs down is turning down the thermostat.
Several years ago I joined a challenge called the "freeze your buns challenge." It was mainly to reduce the temperature in your house as much as possible to also reduce our dependence on heating oil, or gas. Today we are so used to having perfect climate control. When we get in our cars we can boost the a/c or heat as much as we want, when we go shopping the stores are heated and cooled nicely. Schools, where we work (for the most part), are all a nice temperature. Our bodies are not used to acclimating to cold weather (or hot weather) anymore. I'm not saying we should all turn our thermostats off, but the body is able to deal with a lot more than we think.
We tend to keep our heat low. Now, that may sound cold, but we have learned to bundle. OK, I have learned to bundle (my kids tend to run around our house a lot more, therefore seem to require a lot less in the clothing department). Living in a very old house while I was growing up, drafts were inevitable, so wearing a scarf inside was not a big deal. Actually, I prefer to be bundled in the winter, and when our house is warm, (which it is on occasion) I am not comfortable. Crazy, I know!
Another way we keep heating costs down is by blocking off rooms in our home.
Now, not everyone has a home that this can work in, and others may prefer not to have blankets hanging up in doorways. For us, it works quite well. We have a lot of rooms in our home, and a lot of doorways. Last year was the first year we really blocked off all of our downstairs. I have to say that it was a genius idea. Our heat was rarely on, and our house was quite cozy. We mainly live in the downstairs during the winter anyways. At night, we all prefer to sleep in colder air rather than warmer air, so the upstairs isn't as big of an issue.
We do have an electric heater - and this works surprisingly well for keeping our heating costs down. We obviously spend more on electricity, but it isn't nearly as much as we would spend to keep the house warm with oil.
My final keep heating costs down strategy is to bake...a lot.
Baking is probably one of the easier ways to keep the house warm. Not only does baking help to keep the heating costs down, but you can also reduce your grocery bill. Baking your own bread, muffins, granola; roasting squash for soups, it all helps to reduce the amount of processed food you are buying and is cheaper overall. Plus it tastes better!
If heating oil were less expensive would I keep my house a bit warmer? Probably. But I also know that we have ways to keep ourselves warm, and we are lucky that we can heat our house at all, or that we even have a home we can heat!
Do you try to turn the heat down this time of year? Or if you are in a warmer climate, do you turn the a/c down during the hottest parts of the year?
Linking up at the Homestead Barn Hop and Clever Chicks
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Yes, I am still knitting Jack's hat. But, in my defense, I took last week off to focus on our Thanksgiving holiday and mini-vacation. It was really quite wonderful! We had a great time with family, and I was able to see a few old friends over the weekend as well. I know that I don't have a whole lot left to finish up this hat, so I hope to be done with it this week and get Emma's started. I have a couple other knitted things I was planning for Christmas, but I don't know if I will get those done...they may be January gifts instead. I didn't realize how quickly the end of November was going to go, and now, here we are halfway through the first week of December. It all goes so fast!
I was looking for a new book to start with the kids, so I decided to pull out the first Nancy Drew book that we have. They were my mom's, and I read them when I was younger. Obviously still a bit older for my kiddos, but they love a good mystery, and I think Nancy Drew definitely delivers in that aspect!
The other book I am looking through right now is one I have shared before, Feeding the Whole Family. During the Christmas season it seems like we eat a whole lot of unhealthy food, and I always seem to get sick right on Christmas (I seem to have the best luck!). So I am trying to keep everyone well nourished this year, and hopefully we can skip anymore sickness - especially since the kids had awful colds for most of November.
I am looking forward to everyone's projects!
Linking up with Ginny, Nicole, and Tami
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Last year I wanted to find something really exciting and fun for the kids to do during Advent. Growing up we always had the calendar, and my brother and I took turns opening the little door and getting the chocolate. It was something we enjoyed a lot. But, I wanted to take it up a notch. I decided to have the kids decorate some brown paper bags and use them as "Advent bags" instead of an Advent calendar.
When I decided to do this last year, we had about 3 days for the kids to each decorate 24 bags. It wasn't the best timing, but they decorated some of them, and then scribbled on the rest. So this year, I decided that I would make this a November activity. Instead of taking a few days to decorate all the bags, they had the entire month of November to decorate their bags. It worked quite well for a craft that they could work on whenever they were up for it. Jack mainly wanted to put his name on his and stickers, but he still had a good time doing it!
In every Advent bag goes a Bible verse (or a few Bible verses), a treat, and a little toy. These are not extravagant toys, they are mainly little party favors you might get at a birthday party. Little trinkets that the kids enjoy having and that they end up playing with for the whole day. It is fun to get a new little toy. Sometimes it is a matchbox car, sometimes it is playdoh. The first day they received their ornament for the Christmas tree.
This is such a fun tradition for us though. The kids love to come down in the morning and find their bag on the table to open. Plus, it is wonderful to be able to have that quiet time with the kids in the morning reading and talking about their Bible verse and the reason we celebrate Christmas.
Do you have any special Advent season traditions?
Linking up at One Project at a Time