His First Chapter Book

Small Fry is 5 years old now (5 1/2, actually). He’s still learning to read, but he’s definitely getting stronger at it each time we practice. To help encourage his continued maturing in this skill, I decided to take the plunge with him into reading a chapter book instead of just a picture book at bedtime (nothing wrong with picture books, but for my own sanity, we needed something a bit longer and less repetitive). I chose James and the Giant Peach, knowing that would be a great choice for a little boy, and I was right. He absolutely loved it! He had no problems remembering what had happened from session to session, and ever since we finished, he’s been begging for another chapter book.

Will assigned him a little drawing assignment when we’d finished the book, and Small Fry really liked that, too. He had so much fun drawing James, his buggy friends, and the giant peach being carried overseas by a flock of seagulls. 🙂

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Our next one will be Charlotte’s Web. I’m super excited to read it to him after the success of James.

Blessings,

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Quick Update

So sorry I’ve been a bit MIA lately. Late last week, Will got quite sick. I ended up driving him to the hospital (30 minutes away),  it he talked to the nurse advice line while we were driving who recommended he not go in after all, but instead had the on call doctor send in a prescription for flu medicine to Walgreens. They insisted that we go to the one that was an hour from where we were (half an hour back to the house, then another half hour to the pharmacy) because she was “positive” it was open 24 hours. So we hustled to the Walgreens, arriving at 10:05 p.m. only to discover that they’d closed at 10. Quite the opposite of being open 24 hours, and especially ironic since we’d passed two other Walgreens on the way there that were also open until 10 and could have filled the prescription that night. This all happened on Friday evening.

On Saturday morning, I had his prescription transferred to the Walgreens near us and got it picked up. He stayed in bed all day, and Seahawk babysat while I went to a baby shower for my sister in law that afternoon. By Saturday night, I was feeling a little wheezy, but not bad otherwise, so I didn’t worry.

Sunday morning, I still felt decent and Will felt better but we decided to stay back from church just to be safe. It was a good thing we did! By 3pm, my temperature had spiked to over 99. I know this isn’t super high, but I tend to run low normally, so we took it pretty seriously (Will’s had peaked at 102.9) and went to Urgent Care. By the time we got there, my temp was up to 101 – while at the height of fever reducing medicine. The PA diagnosed me with Bronchitis and gave me some prescriptions. We were able to pick them up that night (at the actual 24-hour Walgreens), and now, after almost 2 days in bed an one more taking it very easy, I’m running at about 85-90% today.

All that to say, I’ll be spending some time this weekend getting some posts prepared for the blog, and it should hopefully be a little more active again. 🙂

Blessings,

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Pictures of the Week: Christmas Sweaters

I was so excited to give my parents the sweaters that I’d hand knit for them for them for Christmas. I was not disappointed in their reactions! It was so rewarding to hear them gush about how much they  loved them and had been thinking about getting new outerwear anyway since theirs was wearing out. And when they both put them on immediately, and both sweaters fit, my heart swelled.

Here are my mom and Dragonfly in their matching sweaters. (The pattern is the same, but the colors are different, obviously.)

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And here’s my stepdad in his.

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He was happier about the sweater than he looks in this picture, I promise 🙂

Blessings,

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Book Club: Waiting for Rachel

Book Club with Lori

Lori and I read a fun, easy book for December called Waiting for Rachel. It’s book one in the “Those Karlsson Boys” series by Kimberly Rae Jordan, and one I’ve had sitting on my Kindle for a long time. When circumstances pushed me to read instead of watching YouTube videos (lol) back in November, this is the one I picked. It was a delightful read!

66D90916-4A8B-494E-B97C-0FACC5F8545APastor Damian Karlsson is ready to start a family, and he’s been interested in Rachel Perkins for months. The only problem is that she, while interested in Damian too, is unwilling to start a relationship with him because of demons from her past. She’s convinced herself that she can never be the woman Damian really wants, no matter what he says. Will Rachel ever be able to make peace with her past? Can she tell Damian the truth about why she can’t be in a relationship with him? Will that truth change his mind, or will Damian and Rachel find a way to be together after all?

As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed this book. It was the first time in a long time that I found myself reading during the daytime instead of just in bed before falling asleep. I enjoyed the banter between Rachel and Damian, and I was definitely surprised by part of Rachel’s secret (though not all of it – the main part was obvious without needing to be said, but the cause behind it was unexpected). The final catalyst that pushed Rachel to finally share her secret was heartbreaking, and never fully resolved in this book. I definitely plan to get the two sequels to this novel in the coming weeks.

I will admit that Rachel’s stubbornness in not offering the truth sooner was a bit annoying, but not enough to keep me from reading the book, and I did enjoy it despite that.

Make sure to head over to Lori’s blog and read her thoughts on this book. And if you want to get your very own copy (which I highly recommend doing), it’s available as a free Kindle book on Amazon.

Blessings,

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The Nutcracker

This was the second year my older boys have participated in a local production of The Nutcracker. Seahawk had a solo as the Toy Soldier during the party scene, and both boys were part of the Russian dance pack during the Kingdom of Sweets in the second act. Here are some pictures of the highlights, including videos of the Seahawk’s dance. (For some reason, the computer isn’t finding the pictures from the second act to allow me to upload them. They still show up on my phone, but aren’t in the folder on when I open it on the computer, so I only have the earlier pictures.)

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Dragonfly was enthralled!

 

Gingerbread Cookies

Will and I talked about doing a gingerbread house with the boys this year, but then thought back to how hard those are to build if you make them from scratch, and how bad they taste if you buy the premade ones that you just decorate. So we decided to do gingerbread cookies instead. I cheated a bit and bought the pouch of cookie mix (just add butter and eggs), and Will picked up a pouch of royal icing and some red and green candies (like M&Ms, except Hershey brand). We also used some gummy bears that we had on hand already, and everyone had a really fun time decorating the cookies.

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Small Fry got help with the frosting, but added the candies all by himself.

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I decorated Dragonfly’s for him, and it was about all he could handle to not eat it before I took a picture!

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Blessings,

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Recipe: Artichoke Pasta

Will was recently at a restaurant by himself, and he ordered something he normally wouldn’t – a pasta dish from a burger place. But he really liked it and decided to have us try to replicate it on our own. Here’s what we came up; he says it’s pretty close, and even if it wasn’t, it’s totally delicious. And the best part is that it works two ways: as a hot dish on its own (it’s a fantastic lunch), and as chilled leftovers in a pasta-salad type of way. The quantities I give will make a huge batch – enough for lunch one day and a side dish the next.

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Artichoke Pasta

2 pounds rotini pasta (or your favorite bite-size)
Approximately 3 cups pesto-Alfredo sauce (we use 2 jars of Classico basil Alfredo)
1 bunch kale
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped (but not too finely)
3-4 diced Roma tomatoes, or equivalent grape or cherry tomatoes

Bring a large pot of water to boil. While you’re waiting, get the kale ready by removing the leaves from the stems and chopping it roughly.

Add the pasta and kale to the pot together. Cook according to pasta box directions. Drain. (Don’t do what I did on picture day and forget the kale. It’s really much better if you cook it long enough.)

To the same pot, add the sauce, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes to heat the sauce and gently cook the vegetables.

Add the pasta-kale mixture to the sauce mixture and stir well to combine. Serve hot or chill and serve cold later.

Blessings,

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New Magic Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

IMG_1041We have been blessed to work with The Pencil Grip, Inc. on many occasions, and we love all of their products. Today, I’m here to tell you about something new in their arsenal: Magic Stix markers. My kids (particularly the two younger ones) have had the pleasure of drawing all sorts of different things over the past week or so using these markers, and they love them! They’ve definitely become the medium of choice for the kids in their neverending quest to create more artwork.

Magic Stix aren’t so different from other markers. They come in a variety of colors (packs of 12 or 24). They’re odorless. They’re washable.

But where they really shine is in their endurance. See, they’re guaranteed not to dry out for up to 7 days – with the cap off. That’s remarkable, and something I had a hard time bringing myself to test prior to writing up this post. Finally, I knew that my deadline was approaching and I had to test out that claim. Due to my hesitation, I didn’t let the markers sit for 7 days without their caps, but I did let one of the sit out with no cap for 3 days (well, more like 36 hours over the course of 3 calendar days). And guess what? It worked just as well at the end of that time as it did at the beginning. Check it out:

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I won’t exactly say I was shocked, because I know that The Pencil Grip wouldn’t make the claim if it wasn’t true, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there wasn’t even any difference in the quality of the line. A normal marker would have to have been tossed in the garbage by the time I wrote the first “Day 2” on my test paper. I’m definitely impressed by these!

IMG_1042My only issue with them is that they bleed quite a bit. When your children use them, make sure to have plenty of extra paper underneath the one they’re writing on to save your tables.

You can buy Magic Stix for $9.95 (for the 12 pack) or $19.95 (for the 24 pack) on Amazon – and the 12-pack is on Prime, so if you hurry, you can get them in time for Christmas!

Blessings,

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