Puppets

For Seahawk’s birthday, we wanted to get him a “gift that would inspire” rather than just something else to clutter up the kids’ room (since they’re all 4 in one bedroom at the moment). So we found a puppet from a toy store, and we got some books on puppeteering from the library. He had loads of fun with that, and has continued to have fun for the 5 weeks since his birthday. So much fun, in fact, that the other kids wanted in on the fun. Exactly what we’d hoped to accomplish!

After that, Will went online and found a “make your own puppet” pattern, so he downloaded and printed it it, and the boys have been making these puppets for themselves quite a lot since then. It’s really neat to see their creativity flow and how many different puppets they can make from the same pattern. Even Dragonfly is getting in on the action – not of making puppets (since he’s only 2), but of playing with them. He just loves all of the puppets! Will even watched an episode of Sesame Street with him once since then, and he immediately recognized the characters as puppets. That’s something Will readily admits he didn’t understand until he was much older.

So today, I wanted to share a picture of Seahawk with one of the puppets he’s created. The nose is entirely his creation – the pattern didn’t include that.

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Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: Flash!

As you may know, Dragonfly isn’t much of a baby anymore. He turned 2 last month, and now when asked the question, “Are you a baby?” the answer is (almost) always, “No baby. Little boy.” Super cute.

Occasionally the answer changes a bit though. You see, the big kids have been watching the TV show Flash lately, and the little kids are sometimes caught up in the episodes with them. So sometimes, instead of saying, “No baby. Little boy,” Dragonfly will tell me, “No baby. Flash.” And then he runs away. 🙂

To aid in his love of all things Flash, Munchkin made him this little costume that he can wear over the top of his clothes, and then he really is the Flash. He absolutely loves it.

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Blessings,

 

Recipe: Angel Chicken Pasta

One of our favorite things to eat is pasta. It’s easy, cheap, and can feed a lot of people with not too much effort. Finding a good sauce to make is even better. I found this one from AllRecipes a while ago, but I’ve modified it to make it even easier (and quicker!) for my family. The first time I made it for my in-laws, they both raved about how good it was, so I decided I wanted to share my version of the recipe here. I hope you like it too.

These quantities are for my family of 8. Adjust accordingly for your family size.

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Angel Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

3-4 chicken breasts, diced

1/2 stick butter

2 packets dry Italian dressing mix

1 cup white wine (I use cooking wine since we don’t drink)

2 cans condensed Golden Mushroom soup (Campbell’s brand)

1 brick cream cheese (8 oz)

1 1/2 pounds angel hair pasta

Instructions:

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken in a touch of oil until no longer pink. Add the Italian dressing mix and white wine and stir to dissolve the dressing. Cook for a minute or two to evaporate the alcohol in the wine. Stir in the soup and butter; heat through. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted and heated all the way through.

Combine the pasta and sauce. Serve with your choice of sides (salad and bread).

Blessings,

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Book Club: Unbroken


Book Club with Lori

Lori offered me a list of books for book club this month, and I picked Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s the true story of Louis Zamperelli, an Olympic runner in the 1930s who then was drafted to fight in WWII.

I’d heard a bit about Zamperelli, but didn’t actually know anything about besides there was a YWAM book about his life. So I was interested in this book. The other thing it had going for it was that the audio book was available from Overdrive, so I didn’t have to wait to get my (virtual) hands on it. Also, the audio book was read by the late Edward Hermann, famous for his role as Richard Gilmore on Gilmore Girls (among other things). All of these things were wins in my book (pardon the pun), and I was not disappointed.

In the first several chapters, I was far from impressed of Mr. Zamperelli. In fact, as I listened (while knitting) I remember thinking on more than one occasion that he was a complete and total punk, someone who just made the “mom” in me really mad. His own mother must have been a saint to have put up with all of his shenanigans. But then his brother got him into running, and his entire life changed. He finally had something to put his focus into, and within just a few years of diving into that hobby, he was Olympics bound in the long-distance running events, handily beating out more experienced runners in his categories. In fact, his own category (the one mile) was full, so he trained hard to run the 5000-meter race – nearly 3 miles. I found all of these chapters to be fascinating.

Then WWII started. The 1940 Olympics were canceled (did you know that? I didn’t), and Zamperelli joined up as an air force bombadier. He’d been a pilot in the military previously, but left the service because he hated flying. What he didn’t know was that his contract upon leaving was that by re-enlisting to avoid being drafted, he was automatically enlisted as an air force soldier. Ironic, eh?

His time in the war was nothing short of amazing, and I don’t want to spoil the story here, as much as I’d love to talk more about it. Suffice it to say that his story is amazing enough that I’ve re-borrowed the audiobook and it’s going on the list of things the kids and I are going to do for homeschool this month. It was that good. Also, parts of the story reminded me a lot of the Jacob de Shazer book we read earlier this year (a YWAM book), and I think it will be good for them to make some comparisons between the two men.

Make sure to head over to Lori’s blog to read her thoughts as well.

Next time, we’ll be reading Waiting for Rachel, a lighthearted Christian romance novel. I read it earlier this month and really enjoyed it, and when I mentioned it to Lori she was amenable to reading it too. You can get he Kindle version for free on Amazon if you want to join us.

Blessings,

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Review and Giveaway: ESV Illuminated Bible #FlyBy #ESVIlluminatedBible

Happy Thanksgiving! In celebration today, I have a review and giveaway for one of the things we as Christians should be the most thankful for today: the Bible.

Bible reading is a super important part of the life of a Christian, and a lot of us feel like we “need” more than just text on a page to keep us going on that each day. If that’s you, then I have just the right Bible to tell you about today: the ESV Illuminated Bible.

94AA25A3-FCA5-4AFD-A3F4-9A91C049CE1CThis Bible is a super nice hardcover edition that comes in a box. The cover is dark blue with gold embossing all over. The cover itself is gorgeous, and once you open it up, it just gets better. The Bible (as you can tell from the title) is the English Standard Version, which is the one my family prefers. There’s a single column of text on each page (instead of the standard two columns most bibles have), plus lots of room for you to make your own notes and drawings. Some of the pages have specific verses written in decorated text in those margins, and many of the books (64 of them) have their own illuminated (fancy illustrated) opening page.

The Bible is printed in 9-point Lexicon black ink, and the illuminations are printed in gold, matching the cover. The two color printing is really nice together. In addition to the 64 Bible book opening pages, there are another 50 full page memory verse illustrations and over 250 small, in the margin, illustrations. All of the drawings are by American artist Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by companies such as the USPS and Target. 

BF411EF0-6F5E-49C1-88A5-30707F586EA6If you’re into the new craze of decorating your Bible with your own thoughts and colors, then this is absolutely the Bible for you. The wide margins give ample room for those notes and drawings that I’ve seen all over Instagram. The only downside I can think of to this Bible is that it’s quite big and heavy. It’s probably not the one you want to carry around with you every day for basic reading. But for studying and taking notes in your own home, it’s a great option. You can purchase a copy of the Bible on Amazon.

If you want to win a copy of this Bible for your very own, just fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below. The giveaway will run through Thursday, November 30 at 11:00 p.m. PST. Winner will be contacted via email and announced here on December 1st, 2017. Good luck!

Blessings,

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

5 Random Things: November 2017

Whew! I’ve been MIA for too long from this space. Here are a few things that have been going on in my life to kind of get you up to date.

1. Birthdays

CB797D4B-784A-4240-97FB-2A577278A9FASeahawk turned 14 almost a month ago. He’s growing up into such a fine young man, and I’m really proud of him.

B655F81B-A863-4D3E-9D96-329201757EC0Three weeks later, Dragonfly turned 2. He’s such a little doll, and we all love him loads. He’s definitely a joyful child – and all boy! For his birthday present, Will and I got him a foam sword and shield with yellow decorations on them (his favorite color is “lellow”), and he’s been spending the past couple of weeks clobbering his brothers, especially Small Fry, who has a matching sword and shield set (in blue).

2. Ballet

The big boys are participating in the local performance of The Nutcracker again this year. Hopefully I won’t neglect to write about it like I did last year. I’m super excited to see their performance – they’ve been rehearsing 2-3 times a week for about a month now.

3. Newspaper

Last January, Will took the plunge to start his own newspaper for his comic strip. It took a lot of work to get the first issue up off the ground (between finding advertisers with no sample to show them and figuring out where to circulate), and his first issue was passed out to every elementary and middle school (public school) student in our hometown last spring. The second issue followed up before school let out for the summer, and now that school is back in session, he’s released the third issue to schools. He’s busily working on the layout and artwork for the fourth issue, set to come out sometime in December, before the schools break for Christmas. In addition to creating the content for the paper, he’s working hard to sell more ad space and pick up additional schools for distribution. It’s a lot for just one guy to do, but he’s working it and doing a fabulous job. If you know a school district that might be interested in carrying the paper, contact my husband at paper@caseyandkyle.com.

4. Knitting

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EC40A5C5-896E-489D-86A1-E269F34F14ABI knit two adult sized sweaters for Christmas – one for my mom and one for my stepdad. I can’t wait to give them to them next month! In addition to the sweaters (which take about a month to do one that big), I also knit 7 pairs of mittens to give to my nieces and nephews for Christmas. I’m really glad to have all of my Christmas gifts prepped and ready before Thanksgiving (except for what we get for our own kids, that is).

5. Homeschool

The month of September found us floundering a bit in our homeschool, so I found something new for us to do curriculum-wise, and that is the Easy Peasy, All in One Homeschool. We’ve been working hard on that each day since October, and I’m much happier with what the boys are learning now. It’s nice to have a schedule so I don’t have to worry about “are they doing enough?” Following this schedule, I just know that they are doing enough.

Blessings,

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Learning by Hearing Yourself (Sound for Life review)

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For my final review of the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew year, I have a very interesting product to talk about. The Forbrain headset is from Sound for Life LTD, and its purpose is to help people age 4 and up to help improve attention, short term memory, concentration, and verbal working memory. They recommend this headset for people with attention difficulties, speech and language issues, and poor memory. 

No one in my family has any of those problems. 

That might make one wonder why I requested to review this product then, and that would be a fair question. In fact, I almost didn’t request simply because I didn’t think we were the right fit for the product. But then I got to thinking about a couple of things going on with us right now (one new and one not).

First, Seahawk. This is a bit of a delicate issue, growing more so as he ages. But as it pertains specifically to this review, I can’t really beat around the bush. He’s a terrible speller. I had a thought during the request period for this product that maybe if he wore it each day and recited spelling rules and words, maybe something would click in his brain and help him to retain the words he consistently misspells (that always becomes thate, for example). 

The second thing is that our Rosetta Stone microphone broke a few weeks ago, so it’s been a bit difficult for the kids to get a good handle on their foreign language (French) pronunciations. So we’ve been using the Forbrain headset to help them be able to hear themselves during their lessons. 

E9921E8E-FCCF-4AC5-B1B4-8BED9D3D4846Now that I’ve discussed what its intended uses are and how I’d planned for us to use it, let’s talk about what it is. Forbrain is a headset which has little pads that sit in front of your ears, a band that wraps around the back, and a microphone coming off a little box on the right side. The box contains a rechargeable battery (and all the mechanical stuff that make the product work, I’m sure). There’s also a power switch on the box. To use it, you first turn it on, then place the headset on your head properly. Then you start talking. It doesn’t matter what you say – if you (or your child) is studying, then say the things they need to remember. If you’re working with a child who has speech difficulties (ages 4 and up only), then they can just repeat what you say. If your goal is to help improve memory issues, then read a book out loud. The important thing is that the speaking happens. You see, when the person wearing the headset speaks aloud, they can hear their own voice. I’m not entirely sure how that happens considering there’s nothing that goes inside the ears, but it does. By wearing this headset while speaking, people can hear their speaking mistakes for themselves, thus prompting them to correct themselves over time. It’s really a remarkable tool.

8481DC51-2216-4734-9D30-1BBF37D23E72How did it work for us, a family of people who aren’t necessarily the intended audience for this product? I’m happy to say that I’ve been really pleased with our progress. I can hear the difference in my children’s French pronunciations after a few weeks of using Forbrain. Additionally, Seahawk doesn’t put that pesky silent E on words that shouldn’t have it anymore – at least not as often. He still has a long way to go to become a “good speller” (or even an adequate one), but I really think that his being able to hear the spellings of the words he struggles with the most will help him in the long run. He’s the most auditory learner of all my kids (so far), so listening to things – even his own voice – is a huge help for his learning. Consistent use of this product will help him over time. I’m sure of it.

Blessings,

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Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
disclaimer

Book Club: An Invisible Thread

Book Club with Lori

I’m so bummed out that I wasn’t able to read this book; it was on my “really want to read” list, and one that I suggested for Book Club. Unfortunately, the library didn’t have any copies available in time for me to get my hands on one – not even in the Overdrive Digital Library. Head on over to Lori’s blog, though, and read her thoughts.

This month we’re reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympian turned WWII soldier. I’ve already got the audio book downloaded to my phone, so it shouldn’t be a problem getting my post up in December. See you then!

Blessings,

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