The Liebster Award

Have you heard of this? It’s a blog award that one blogger can give to another one, and my friend Wren, who blogs with her sister at Finch ‘N Wren, has bestowed this honor upon my lowly little blog here. Wren and I were members on the Homeschool Review Crew for three years (she’s moved on to other things for 2017), and she is nothing short of a delight. I hope you’ll head over to her blog and check it out.

So what does it all mean? Just that Wren thought I was deserving to be recognized. That might not sound like a big deal, but it feels like quite the honor to me, and I truly appreciate being thought of for this award. As part of the award, I’m supposed to answer some questions here on my blog, and then I get to nominate other bloggers for the award. I’ll start with the questions and move on to the nominations at the end 🙂

Do you have pets?

No. Previously in our marriage, we’ve had cats, frogs, and fish, but never more than one at a time. For now, Will and I have decided that we’d rather have children than pets, though.

If you could do one thing over from your past, with the knowledge you have now, what would it be? 

This is hard because I feel like I’ve had a pretty good life. I can think of two things, one pretty serious and one that falls more into the “fun” category.

Fun: I wish I’d learned to knit long before I did. I only learned this craft 10 months ago, and it’s by far my very favorite thing to do, hobby-wise.

Serious: As a teenager, I would’ve been nicer to my dad. My parents divorced when I was small (5), and we did whole “visiting every other weekend” thing with my dad. As I aged, I started visiting him less and less often. Now that I’m an adult, I can see that the way he behaved was simply the only way he knew to show his love, and I didn’t fully appreciate it or him. Seeing him as a grandfather to my boys has been really rewarding, and I wish I’d had the wisdom to treat him better when I was younger.

What are your three favorite comfort foods?

Mashed potatoes, beef roast (not pot roast, though), and pizza

Do you prefer ebooks or regular books?

Ebooks, so long as I can read them on my Kindle. If they’re just PDFs that have to be read on the computer, then regular books. And I know that this is an unpopular choice, but allow me to explain. I do most of my reading while lying in bed at night or nursing a baby, so it’s easier to read if I can hold the book (or “book” as the case may be) in one hand rather than having the weight of a traditional book to deal with.

The exception is children’s books. Those should always be printed.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?

My wedding ring for what I hope are obvious reasons 😉

What is your number one tip to make the mornings easier?

Go to bed early enough that you can get up before your children. I find it ideal to have some kid-free time in the evening with my husband and some truly alone time in the morning while everyone else is still asleep.

Also: cereal for breakfast. We need to be fed, but that doesn’t mean a complicated meal every morning. Quick and easy keeps things moving smoothly.

How did you choose your blog name?

I wanted something that was more about “me” than about a specific genre of blog. I don’t fit into a mold – I write what’s on my mind. My blog is about my family, not a certain niche, so I didn’t want a name that would force me into writing things that I wasn’t passionate about. I spent months trying to come up with something, and the only thing I could I liked was “Ladybug Dreams.” That, however, was taken (though not be an active blogger), so I tried to come up with other things I liked as well and failed. I finally mentioned to my husband my “problem,” and he came up with making it Daydreams instead of Dreams. That was available, so we jumped on it.

Fun fact: if you type in “ladybugdaydream.com” or “ladybugdream.com” you’ll find me. My husband was insistent that we buy all the related URLs we could think of (that were available) to make it as easy as possible for people to find me.

What made you decide to homeschool? 

This was something my husband and I talked about way before we even had kids. Other choices were never an option for us; we knew that we were going to have kids, and we wanted to raise them ourselves, not send them away to day care or public school. We had them because we wanted to be around them, and homeschooling was the best way to assure that connection.

Do you do meal planning by the week or month? Or not at all?

Usually weekly, but sometimes I’ll do 10 days at a time. It all depends on how the budget is lining up. When I meal plan, though, I don’t do a “Monday we’ll eat this, and Tuesday it will be that.” I make a list of 7 lunches and 7 dinners, and buy the foods we’ll need to prepare those meals. Then when it’s meal time, I cook whatever sounds good from the list. This method works really well for us because I’m able to budget the food dollars, but we’re also not stuck in a “the menu says meatloaf but I’d really rather eat fried chicken” situation.

Do you have a favorite book or movie that you just can’t imagine never reading or seeing again?

Book, not that I can think of offhand. My favorite author is John Grisham. I never miss any of his books, but I don’t have a specific favorite. Movies, there are a couple. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one) and The Wizard of Oz come to mind. Also the Harry Potter series, but I don’t watch those very often anyway. I might miss them if they were gone, though. Same with Twilight.

5 Random Facts about Me

  • I don’t wear pants. In fact, I don’t even own any pants except for my pajamas (and I do wear those).
  • I’m surrounded by males. Besides my husband and four sons, I have two brothers (no sisters) and three father figures (dad, stepdad, and father-in-law).
  • My beverage of choice is distilled water. I buy it in one-gallon jugs. I’d consider tap water except our town has hard water and it’s gross to drink.
  • My preferred way of planning is with a monthly calendar. I have a regular sized one on the wall in the kitchen and a small one on my desk near the computer. This keeps me on track for things like reviews I have to write here on the blog and all of our family’s appointments.
  • I have small feet. My shoe size is 6.5.

Paying it Forward

As I mentioned earlier in this post, part of this award is to pass it on to other bloggers. I contacted several that I thought would be deserving, but it’s been several weeks and only one replied, so I’m going to move forward with just the one honor. I’m honoring my friend Annette, who blogs at A Net In Time. She’s on the Homeschool Review Crew with me, and is always very encouraging to the other homeschool moms on our private forum. She’s a fellow boy mom, but she has just one son. Her blog is a wonderful place full of reviews, faith based posts (hymn studies, poems, devotionals, and more), and their adventures in homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be able to honor her with this award.

Thanks again to Wren for thinking of me for this award. Please make sure to visit both her and Annette when you leave here.

Blessings,

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Pie Crust Cookies

Pie Crust Cookies Ladybug Daydreams

When I make pie crust from scratch, I always end up with scraps that aren’t really good for anything, but they seem like too much to just throw away. I came up with this easy treat to solve that problem, and my kids absolutely love these “cookies”! Simply cut the extra dough into pieces – you can use cookie cutters, but I don’t bother; I just run a pizza cutter over it to get unusually shaped squares. Then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and bake for about 10 minutes at 425.

Enjoy!

Blessings,

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Easy Knitted Teething Ring

When you have a baby, teething is just a fact of life. There are loads of commercial teething toys you can buy in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. You can get the kind that are filled with water and kept in the fridge, or just some that are textured for babies to chew on. When Dragonfly was teething as a young baby, I was in the middle of making cotton washcloths. The skeins of cotton yarn didn’t work out to all get used up evenly for the washcloths, so I decided to use some of the extra to make teething rings. It was really easy; here’s how I did it.

Teething Ring ~ Easy Knit Pattern

Make an “I-cord” (instructions to follow) in whatever width and length you like, then sew the two ends together to make a ring shape.

In case you’re not familiar with an “I-cord,” this is a technique developed by knitting master Elizabeth Zimmermann, and it creates a wonderful cord that you can use for a plethora of things – as a belt for a cardigan, as a drawstring inside any garment that requires one, or as I’m demonstrating today, as a teething ring for baby, among many other things.

The phrase I-cord is short for Idiot Cord because Mrs. Zimmermann thought that any “idiot” who knows how to knit would be able to make one. All you need is some yarn and two double pointed needles (DPNs). The technique is very easy: cast on your desired number of stitches, slide the stitches to the other end of the DPN, knit across, slide down, knit across, and repeat the sliding and knitting until your cord is the desired length. The sliding (rather than turning the work) requires you to pull the yarn across the back of the work, and as you continue to add to your cord, this pulls it closed into the cord shape. What you end up with is a round piece of knitting that is stockinette on all sides. It’s very attractive, and very easy to work.

For my teething rings, I used 100% cotton yarn. This is what I use for washcloths, and it works really well for the teething rings for a few reasons. First, cotton yarn has very little stretch. There’s virtually none, actually. This means that the ring maintains its shape. Second, it freezes and thaws well, which is really important for a teething ring. Finally, because it’s an all-natural fiber, you don’t have to worry about your baby putting it in his mouth. And if you use organic cotton yarn, even better.

So, what you do is create an I-cord using your desired number of stitches on whichever size needles you like. I used four stitches on a size 8 needle, but there’s really no right answer here. Find a size needle you’re comfortable with (remembering that bigger needles will make bigger stitches and vice versa) and make your I-cord any thickness you like by adjusting the number of stitches you cast on. Make your I-cord at least 8-10 inches long. Longer will give you a bigger circle; shorter, a smaller one. When it’s a length you like, bind off, knot your yarn leaving a long tail, and then use that tail to sew the two ends together. Wash your new teething ring, then get it nice and wet and stick it in the freezer. If you make several of these, you’ll always be ready to offer one to your baby when his poor gums need it. They thaw quickly, but even the texture seems to help babies, so that’s okay.

Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: Sweaters for Elephants

I came across this article earlier in the week, and it was something I definitely wanted to share because elephants are my absolute favorite animals. So for Picture of the Week this week, I’m sharing something that’s not about our family…

India is going through quite the cold snap, and one of the elephant refuges is concerned about their charges. To combat the cold, they’ve enlisted the help of some local ladies to knit giant sweaters for the elephants. What a cool thing to do!!

 

There are even more pictures, as well as good information, in the article I linked above. I encourage you to check it out.

Blessings,

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Knitted Christmas Sweaters

It’s a little deceiving to call them “Christmas sweaters,” because they’re not designed in a Christmas motif. But they are sweaters that I knitted for Christmas gifts, so I’ll stick with Christmas sweaters.

A lot of these pictures are straight from my Instagram account, so if you follow me there, you may have seen these already. But I want to share them here as well.

For almost all of them, I used the same basic pattern (Flax by Tin Can Knits). I made some changes to several of them, though, for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to add some interest for myself as the knitter. I didn’t want to knit the same exact pattern a billion times in just a few short weeks. Second, I wanted the siblings receiving the sweaters to not have them be identical (except for the color), so I made minor modifications so each one would be unique.

Here are my projects:

flax-for-dad

This brown one was made for my dad. It was the first one I made, so I followed the pattern exactly as written. It’s an adult size S/M, and I used 5 hanks of yarn, each one of which was 100 grams. I had a little bit left over, so it didn’t use up the full 500 grams. Because Seahawk is about the same size as my dad, I had him be my model and “tryer-onner.”

flax-green-fair-isle

This green sweater was my first foray into fair isle knitting. I’d knitted three of the sweaters “plain” by this point, so I was ready for something a bit more challenging. The size for this sweater (a 6/8, for my 6-year-old nephew) had the exact same stitch multiple as the Color My Cowl pattern from Very Pink Knits, so I decided to put that pattern into the middle of the sweater. I think this was a really good introduction to fair isle knitting, and I’m really pleased with the results. The colors in the actual sweater are better than the picture conveys – it’s a nice forest green for the main color and lime green for the embellishments.

Purple Sweater Flax Hack

The purple one was made for one of my nieces. I was nearly done with sweaters by the time I’d made this one, and I was very interested to see what the Flax design would look like with a garter stitch panel down the sides of the sweater as well as on the sleeves. While I won’t come right out and say I was disappointed with the result, it wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind. Also, in my naivete, I had no idea that garter stitch doesn’t line up properly when knit in the round, so I had to do some research and fiddling to get the side that was the “beginning of the round” to not look awful. I only moderately succeeded.

20161223_155455The orange one was the last sweater I did, and I was ready for something really challenging by this point. I find a knitted seed stitch to be rather beautiful, but it’s one of those things that always eludes me. I’ve done it before, but I always mess it up. There’s absolutely never been a time when I’m knitting seed stitch and I look back at my work and realize that several rows back, I’ve got some ribbing instead. I thought that perhaps my difficulty lay in the fact that I was knitting seed stitch flat (back and forth), and maybe it would be easier to work the pattern in the round. I was right. It wasn’t foolproof – I spent over an hour one day reconfiguring several rows of stitches to correct my mistake – but it was a lot better. And I learned that properly done seed stitch is very beautiful.

Apparently I don’t have pictures of the others, which is unfortunate. Here’s the lowdown on what I made that’s not pictured:

  • A Flax sweater as written made in lilac colored yarn (purple with a hint of blue) for my 8 year old niece
  • A Flax sweater in yellow without the sleeve texture and with a blue design around the bottom of the waist and sleeves for my 7 year old niece
  • A Simple Baby Pullover in dark blue (not quite navy) with “transportation” buttons and extended sleeves for length for my 2 year old nephew
  • A Flax sweater as written in Tide Pool colored yarn (blue with a hint of teal woven throughout) for my 4 year old nephew
  • A Flax sweater as written in white and brown variegated yarn for Small Fry
  • A Flax sweater as written in “bird’s egg” blue yarn with the edges (neck, waist, and wrists) made in leftover brown from my dad’s sweater for Dragonfly

And a few more that I found pictures for on my Ravelry page:

A Simple Baby Pullover as written in the same bird’s egg blue as his other sweater (also with transportation buttons) for Dragonfly – this one is his favorite! The picture was taken before I added the buttons.

A Dexter vest (sleeveless, v-neck) in orange for Small Fry. This was my very first sweater ever, and I chose it because I was terrified of the prospect of knitting in the round or adding sleeves to a sweater. I had no idea how that would work, so for my first time out, I just avoided it!

A Kangaroo Pocket sweater in charcoal for Munchkin. This is the one and only sweater of “mine” that’s been knit in pieces and sewn together. While I know that some patterns benefit from this technique, I do prefer the single piece, in the round style better.

Not all of those were made for (or around) Christmas, but that’s the complete list of all the sweaters I’ve made to date. I’m taking a bit of a break from sweaters for the time being, but I’m excited to get back into them soon. Next up, something with long sleeves and a v-neck for Seahawk. 🙂

Blessings,

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Spaghetti Carbonara ~ Recipe

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe at Ladybug DaydreamsThe first time I ever had Spaghetti Carbonara was when my mother-in-law passed away in 2007. All of the extended family was in town for her memorial service, and her brother was cooking lunch for everyone one day. I didn’t know at the time what the meal was, but I knew as I was eating it that it one of the very best things I’d ever tasted.

I’m not sure how I came to learn what it was that he’d cooked that day, but sometime much later, I did. And I tried again and again to find recipes that rivaled his from back then. I never did, though several of them were “fine.” But then about three weeks ago, I was making the dish and I decided to find another recipe for it to try. In addition to finding a new recipe that was a smidge different from what I’d done in the past, I came up with some slightly different techniques for the preparation. The result was the absolute best Spaghetti Carbonara I’ve ever prepared. I’m pretty sure it even came pretty close to my uncle-in-law’s from way back then. Today, I want to share that recipe with you.

~*~*~

Spaghetti Carbonara (Bacon and Eggs Pasta)

Serves 6-8

1 pound spaghetti
1 package (12-16 ounces) bacon
6 eggs
1/4 cup (give or take) white wine
1 onion, chopped
1/2-1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (fresh or “canned”)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions to your desired doneness. Before you drain it, ladle out about 1-2 cups of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander and let it cool for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pan fry the bacon.
  3. Pour off most of the bacon grease, leaving just a couple of tablespoons in which to saute the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the wine to deglaze the pan.
  4. Crack eggs in a large bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until they’re lemon-yellow and frothy. The electric mixer part is important; I’ve tried several times with a wire whisk and the results were never as good as when I used the hand mixer.
  5. Add 1/2 cup (approximately) cheese and the onions to the eggs.
  6. Put the pasta in the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Utilize the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to make a creamy sauce and help the eggs to cook (but not solidify).
  7. Chop the bacon and mix in with the pasta.
  8. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and your favorite salad and bread.

~*~*~

That’s it. It’s a little labor intensive due to the pan frying of the bacon, but I tried it with baked bacon and it didn’t work all that well, so I highly recommend frying it. Other than that, the two most important steps are to use an electric mixer on the eggs and let the pasta cool ever so slightly before adding it to the eggs. The electric mixer ensures that you break up the egg whites, which can be really stringy and gummy otherwise. The cooling of the pasta allows you to add it to the egg mixture without scrambling the eggs. The goal is a smooth, creamy sauce, not pasta with bits of scrambled egg on it.

Have you ever made Spaghetti Carbonara? What are your best tips for getting a creamy sauce? Let me know in the comments!

Blessings,

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Another Year with the Homeschool Review Crew! (SchoolhouseTeachers.com review)

One of the blessings of being a part of the Homeschool Review Crew (and there are many blessings!) is an ongoing Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I don’t use this subscription often, but when I’m stuck and feeling like our schooling needs a kick in the pants, it’s definitely my go-to site. Coming out of Christmas break this year, I had just this feeling, so I spent one late night browsing the site looking for fresh ideas for our homeschool. What I found was great: not only were there some great new history classes (more on those in a minute), but the whole site has been given a makeover since my review last year.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that a purchase using any of my links will result in a payment to me, but no extra cost for you. Thank you for support.

What is SchoolhouseTeachers.com?

Simply put, it’s the homeschool curriculum website run by The Old Schoolhouse (which is the parent company for the Homeschool Review Crew). There are dozens of classes available on the site, and they’re written in such a way as to allow the homeschooling parent a lot of flexibility. If you’re looking for a “do this on Monday and this on Tuesday,” then a lot of the courses on SchoolhouseTeachers.com might not appeal to you. (Some of them are laid out that way, though.) If you want something that allows you to decide when to do what and how much to add or supplement to a specific subject, though, then SchoolhouseTeachers.com just might be what you’re looking for.

It’s not just homeschool curriculum, however. SchoolhouseTeachers.com has printable planners for all ages, a transcript writing guide for those homeschooling high school students, videos, a monthly meal plan, and much more. And with the newly revamped site map, it’s easier than ever to find what you’re looking for.

How did we use SchoolhouseTeachers.com in our homeschool?

air-travelAs I mentioned before, I was looking for something fun and interesting to help ease the boys back into school after having taken a couple of weeks off for Christmas. It’s easy to find subjects by either subject or grade; I decided to try to find something that would be challenging enough for both of the older boys (7th and 5th grade), but also interesting enough that Small Fry (age 4) might enjoy listening in. Because we hadn’t done much in the history department yet this school year, I started there. I was pleasantly surprised to find several courses that fit the bill. I narrowed it down to two that I wanted us to try first – History of Air Travel and Bold Explorers – and let the boys decide which they wanted to do first. They chose Air Travel (which surprised me not at all).

To run this course, I had to log in to World Books (using the Schoolhouse Teachers member login, included with membership). I was able to read the required texts for the course (there are 5, but each one is pretty short) aloud to the boys, and then they answered questions provided by the course instructor on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. These questions came in the form of a series of printable worksheets. There are 5 books to read for this course (At Home in the Sky, Beyond the Sky, The Early Days of Flight, The First True Fliers, and War in the Air), and the questions provided cover a bit from each chapter of each book. At the end of each unit (e-book read), I printed off some relevant pages from my NotebookingPages.com membership and had them write a report based on that particular book. The books are short enough that we did 3-4 chapters per day and finished one book per week.

aardvarkIn addition to the Air Travel history class, Small Fry and I watched several episodes of From Aardvark to Zucchini. I’d never heard of this show before, but I knew upon reading the synopsis that it would be great for my 4-year-old. It’s a series of 22-minute episodes, each of which focuses on a single letter of the alphabet. What makes this show different from others like it, though, is that it focuses heavily on prayer. So not only are children learning about the alphabet, but they’re also learning that it’s okay – nay, good – to talk to God anywhere and everywhere! I loved this concept.

What did we think of SchoolhouseTeachers.com?

I’ve been a member of this site for over 3 years now, and I can honestly say that I’m more impressed with it now than ever before. With the recent redesign, it’s easier to find classes and videos, it’s easier to understand how to use and adapt the classes, and the selection of licensed videos to stream is excellent. I barely scratched the surface of the site in my review today, so make sure you head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find out how other families used the site. I bet they’ll come up with things I didn’t! I can’t wait to utilize this resource more in our homeschool.

How can you sign up for a membership?

That’s easy! Go to the Yearly Membership page, and it’s very self-explanatory. You can pay monthly ($12.95) or annually ($139). (Please note: These prices will increase sometime in the middle of the month this month.) If you’re not sure whether SchoolhouseTeachers.com is for you, use the code TRIAL to get your first month for just $1. That’s pretty low risk! And even better, if you purchase by January 15th, you can get a discount on the regular monthly or yearly prices. Use the code CHRISTMAS to get the monthly plan for just $9.95 a month or CHRISTMASYEAR to get the annual plan for $90. If you lock in at these new lower rates, you will be immune from price increases for as long as you keep an active subscription.

Oh, and one more thing: The price you pay is for your entire family. There are no per child fees; whatever plan you choose is good for every child in your home.

I highly encourage you to check out SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Blessings,

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High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {SchoolhouseTeachers.com}
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Book Club: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Book Club with Lori

For Book Club this month, Lori and I have been reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I suggested it after having seen the movie with my mom (on a “girl date”). The movie was enjoyable enough, so I was interested in the book. Because we borrowed the book from my mom instead of the library, Munchkin and Will also read it this month (we didn’t have to worry about late fees).

In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, here’s the synopsis from the publisher:

A mysterious island…. An abandoned orphanage…. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Before I dive into the questions, I want to give a short review of my thoughts on the book. Going in, I wanted to like it. I really did. My mom, husband, and son all read it before me and raved about it, so I thought it would be great. But I found it to be touch on the boring side. It took a really long time to get to the action, and by the time it was there, I wasn’t really sure I cared anymore. I understand that the author wanted to really build up the idea behind the island and the peculiar children (are they real or was Jacob’s grandfather making up stories?), but it was too much in my opinion. It would have been better served making things happen a bit quicker. That isn’t to say the book is bad, it was just slower moving than I’d expected based on the film adaptation.

Questions are from LitLovers. Spoiler alert is in effect.

What effect did the photographs have on how you experienced this novel? In fact, what was your reading experience of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? How did it make you feel? Were you disturbed…or fascinated…or something else?  Did the book hold your interest?

I enjoyed looking at the photographs, but I don’t think they really effected my experience of the novel. I thought they were rather interesting to see, but the novel wouldn’t have been worse without them. I did think it was a very interesting way of “illustrating” a book. However… I also thought they seemed forced sometimes. What I mean by that is that it seems that perhaps Mr. Riggs found a bunch of random pictures in an attic or estate sale or something and decided to use them as the basis for a story rather than the other way around. I also hated that some pages went unfilled in order to fit a photograph in. It would have been better to run some of the photographs smaller (rather than letting each one take up a full page on a background) and put them at the bottom of the text. It seemed lazy on the part of the book designer to just leave off in the middle of a page, even if it wasn’t at the end of a chapter. There had to have been a better way to lay out the book to include the pictures without compromising the beauty of the book. (Now I sound like the wife of a book designer… which I am.)

As far as whether the book held my interest… yes and no. As I mentioned earlier, it took a really long time to get going. Once it did, and Jacob made it into Miss Peregrine’s house, it was fine.

What about Abe Portman, what kind of character is he? What kind of a world does he create in his stories for young Jacob? Why do the stories intrigue Jacob so much?

Abe Portman (Jacob’s grandfather, who dies at the beginning of the book) was a pretty deep character, despite the fact that he didn’t even make it out of the first chapter. He was talked about by the other characters, and obviously loved by the other peculiar children (children with special “powers” and abilities) in the home, and they were devastated when he left to join the war effort in 1940. The stories he tells young Jacob are fascinating – who wouldn’t be interested in tales of a girl who floats or a boy living with bees inside of him?

The stories are intriguing to Jacob for a couple of reasons. First, they’re being told by his grandfather. He has a wonderful relationship with him, and he wants to trust him – he does trust  him. Secondly, there’s just so much going on in each one that they seem like fantastic adventures, and that’s enough to intrigue any little boy.

As he moves into adolescence, why does Jacob begin to doubt the veracity of his grandfather’s stories? In what way does he think they may be connected to Abe’s struggle under the Nazis?

Jacob’s not a very nice teenager (he’s 16 when the book takes place – the parts about him being a child listening to his grandfather’s stories are told in retrospect only). He’s very worldly and generally rotten. It’s not surprising that a child with that personality would suddenly doubt the truth in the stories his grandfather told. Simply put, he outgrows the stories.

As for the stories being connected to Abe’s struggle under the Nazis, that idea comes about as a way to justify Jacob’s own disbelief.

Talk about the house in Wales. When Jacob first lays eyes on it, he observes that it “was no refuge from monsters, but a monster itself.” Would you say the house serves as a setting to the story…or is its role something else—a character, perhaps?

It’s one of my pet peeves when people suggest that a place is a character in a story. Words have meanings, and “setting” and “character” are not interchangeable. So no, I don’t think the house was a character. It was a setting. Jacob considers it a “monster” because it was such a different kind of place from what he was used to. When he first sees it, he sees the bombed out version, not the lovely place that his grandfather and the other peculiar children know and love. Seeing the destroyed house, which no one in 70+ years bothered to restore or tear down, was a kind of confirmation to Jacob that his grandfather’s stories were nothing but tall tales.

Talk, of course, about the peculiar children. Which of their oddities and personalities do you find most intriguing?

I struggled a bit to keep the names straight among all the different peculiar children because so many of them are mentioned so briefly to be almost just in passing. Obviously Emma is an easy choice because she’s the main character after Jacob himself. I think my favorite is the girl who floats, though (in the movie, this was Emma, but it’s a different character in the book, and I can’t remember her name offhand). I thought it was really great how Mr. Riggs thought of seemingly everything in regards to this character – she wore lead shoes to walk around, she had to be seatbelted to her chair at mealtimes. Perhaps I found her the most intriguing because I’m so short. Being able to rise above things isn’t something I’ve ever experienced (excluding airplane trips, but even that’s been nearly 20 years for me). On a subconscious level, I think I liked the idea of getting to see things from a different, higher up, perspective.

In what way can this book be seen as a classic quest story—a young hero who undertakes a difficult journey and is transformed in the process? Do you see parallels with other fantasy works involving young people?

Definitely a “classic quest” story. Jacob has no idea what to expect – doesn’t even know if he should be expecting anything – and comes across something absolutely beyond what he could have seen in his wildest dreams. He moves from being pretty much a punk of a teenager in the beginning to being one who sees value in his grandfather’s life and stories.

From the very beginning, the book reminded me of the Percy Jackson series, so yes, I saw parallels with another fantasy series.

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Thanks for reading along with my thoughts on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Make sure to visit Lori’s blog as well to read her insights. I’m always fascinated how the two of us can read the same book and come up with such different answers to the same questions – that’s what makes this book club so fun!

Our next book is Beric the Briton by GA Henty, which is available for free on Amazon Kindle if you’d like to read along with us.

Did you read Miss Peregrine with us this month? Write about it on your blog? Have you read it before, and want to share your thoughts? Link up with us! Questions are from LitLovers, or you can write your post as more of a “review” style if you prefer.

Blessings,

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Year in Review: 2016

I’ve heard a lot of “2016 was terrible!” types of posts/broadcasts from different news sources over the past month or so, but that was not the experience our family had. I know there were a lot of celebrity deaths, most of the people who work in media were unhappy with the US presidential election results, and loads of other things that I’m sure made them feel like it was a rotten year, but in our home, we had a great year. Here’s just a glimpse.

In January, Will and I celebrated 15 years of marriage. This Friday, it’ll be 16 🙂

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In February, I learned to knit. This was an absolute game changer in my creative endeavors. Since then, I’ve made 13 sweaters, 2 hats, 10 washcloths, several baby teething rings, and a pair of mittens (maybe more stuff, but this is what I can remember of the top of my head).

In March, we missed out on all Easter celebrations because we were sick. The kids were sick about half a week before the holiday, and I spent most of Easter Sunday in bed, too exhausted to wake up. Fortunately, Will was feeling weak but not sick, so he stayed up with the kids and they watched movies all day. I woke up just often and long enough to nurse the baby.

In April, we had a nice time visiting with some old friends at our nephew’s birthday party. We also took the kids to a couple of concert band concerts at the local university.

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In May, the kids went to the eye doctor. Munchkin’s prescription got a little stronger (he has an astigmatism), but the others are still fine. We also went to the Elephant and Piggie party at our local library.

In June, Dragonfly had to have an ultrasound on his backside. He was born with a “dimple” in his bottom which can sometimes indicate incomplete closing of the spinal cord prior to birth. Fortunately his came back normal. Also, Munchkin and Small Fry attended the VBS (Vacation Bible School) at a local church we attend when we don’t go to my father-in-law’s church for whatever reason.

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In July, half of our family had birthdays – me, Will, and Small Fry. We had a cookout party for Small Fry (he loves doing that – good thing he was born in the summer!). For our immediate family’s celebration, we went to a theme park near here called Enchanted Forest. At the end of the month, Will and I went to the opera. This was the one and only time we’ve ever paid babysitters. Normally we just ask my mom, but it was going to be too late a night for this event.

In August, Will had a speaking engagement at the State Fair’s Author Day. While the event didn’t pay, it was a good time for him to get the word out about his books.

In September, Will and the three older boys, along with Will’s dad, went to one of the Comic Cons. Based on the pictures (which I promise I plan to share soon!), I know they had a fabulous time. Also, Munchkin turned 10 years old and Dragonfly turned 10 months old on the same day.

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In October, Munchkin, Small Fry, Dragonfly, and I went to see the Portland Opera To Go version of Hansel and Gretel, which was being performed at a library about half an hour from our home. That was the plan, anyway. What actually happened was that I took the boys to see it and Munchkin and Small Fry got to stay in the room and watch. I ended up having to take Dragonfly into the foyer because he wouldn’t hold still or be quiet. (My fault for taking an 11-month-old to the opera, I guess.) I was pretty bummed out about that, but there’ll probably be other events. Also, Seahawk became a teenager.

In November, Munchkin spent the first half of the month dealing with having a needle stuck in his foot. On October 21st, he was walking across our living room when he suddenly felt a sharp pain and discovered a sewing needle. However, the tip was nowhere to be found. Upon inspection, we were able to see a glimmer of “something” in his toe, but it was too deep to get out with tweezers. We took him to the emergency room that night, but the doctor was unable to get it out, even

Seahawk doing his toy soldier solo dance during dress rehearsal for The Nutcracker.

after x-rays, ultrasound, and cutting the toe open to the bone. After getting the runaround from several different doctors, we finally got him into a specialty clinic for feet and ankles, and that doctor was able to get the needle out in under ten minutes. Also, Dragonfly turned 1.

In December, the big boys got to dance in a local production of The Nutcracker. We all started taking ballet classes near the end of September, and the boys really took off in their love and skill of the dance, especially Seahawk. Because they were fairly new additions to the dance school (they’d only had one or two lessons by the time it was audition day for the recital), they didn’t have huge parts – Munchkin was an extra in the party scene and Seahawk played a toy soldier (he had a one-minute solo). They had a fabulous time, though, and are itching to get back to class (after the final performance, the school took the rest of December off for Christmas, but classes start again next week).

So as you can see, it really has been a great year for our family. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store!

Blessings,

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