Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wrapping Up . . . I Don't Even Know . . .

Whew! Needless to say, moving makes life busy and chaotic! . . . But we're still here. And pretty much still consumed in moving . . .

Sometime last week we got beds for everyone in the new house, and internet in the new house, so we started sleeping here. Whew! That was a huge step of progress, to not feel like we're living both places.

I don't even remember what's happened when . . . I think I'm just going to go through and post pictures and make comments under them . . .

From early in the process . . .
Little Bit photo bombing a picture I was taking of the kitchen/dining area before there was furniture there :)
Our very large tub! Rather dated, but huge. Now to find time to use it . . . There's also a massive walk-in closet that's a part of the master bathroom, I should have taken pictures before I started filling it with stuff, but such an awesome catch-all storage spot :) 

Shifting gears. . . one week at church, Little Bit's class learned about the story of the angels rescuing Peter from prison, by acting it out. This was Little Bit's turn to be Peter, in prison :) 

 I snapped this picture driving home (to the old house) from the new house one afternoon! Gotta love living near Amish country!

Ashlyn has gotten lots of experience painting furniture these last couple weeks. She sanded and painted her desk and dresser! This was early in the process.

Meanwhile, Little Bit and Mama (& Papa) were busy painting the various components of her loft bed.

On Oct 31, our church had a bonfire at the pastor's house. My friend Amy is always cold, and amazed at how Little Bit is NEVER cold. That point was rather well illustrated by the difference in their choices of outerwear (or lack thereof) at the bonfire :) 

From the moment we started coming to the new house, the girls have loved sitting in the wide windowsills in the living room and dining room, so I couldn't resist turning one of them into a cozier seat :) 

Meanwhile Little Bit confiscated some of the old baby gear we found while packing and was having fun being a "Mommy" in the other corner of the living room.

Ashlyn's room, coming along nicely!

Our bed is done! I desperately wanted a king size bed, but didn't want to buy one! So we begged some pallets from my brother (who gets them from work), and created our bed that way. So far it's working great!

Way back when we first got married, we bought a living room set that included this "chair and a half" I LOVED it, but since moving to PA, neither of our houses had a place for it, so it's been stored in my parents' garage. Now it's perfect in the sunroom and Lexie and Ashlyn have claimed it as a favorite reading spot! 

Little Bit's loft bed is done! Now we can start sleeping in the new house :)

And Mama and Papa brought a couple old recliners from their house to add to our furniture collection, so Little Bit and Daddy are checking one of them out :) 

One of our first nights here. Lexie loves having her own bed (she and Little Bit have shared since Little Bit was a toddler, of course, I think many, if not most, nights, Little Bit ends up in bed with Lexie before morning) with a reading light on it!

Lexie snuggling with a friend's dog :) 

Our first Friday night "Shabbat" meal in the new house! 

And finally, the finished sunroom! When we went to IKEA last week to get bookcases for the basement, I found that sofa on sale for a price I couldn't refuse. I'd planned to watch for a used love seat or small sofa for that space, but didn't expect to get anything right away, but this is perfect! It even folds down flat to use as a bed, if we ever have multiple guests at the same time!  The cedar chest was made by my great grandfather :) 

And the other side of the sunroom. I had originally figured the easel would either go in the basement or be folded out of the way unless a kid specifically wanted to use it, but nothing begs you to do art like a bright sunny room! So we found a space for it. Weather permitting it can easily move out onto the deck through the sliding doors (or with a bit more effort, we can carry it through the house to the front porch).  And for the moment I'm humoring Little Bit and letting her keep her huge stuffed giraffe in the sunroom. Hopefully in the not TOO distant future it will move to the basement or her room :) 

I didn't take a picture of the interior wall of the sunroom, I have low bookcases along it, that are rather jumbled random toys/puzzles & games. Long term I hope to sort through and keep a selection of toys, puzzles and games on the shelves that are good for sharing when company comes, as well as things for Little Bit to play with while we do school in there. 

And that's a brief overview of what we've been up to. As of this afternoon, thanks to the awesome help of our friend Brian, all the big furniture has moved from the old house to the new (there are still a few biggish pieces at my parents' house waiting for their next trip up here).  There's still lots to do, but I'm feeling good about the progress we've made. And sooo blessed to have family and friends willing to help us! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Book Review: When Lighting Struck: The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley

As you've probably noticed, if you've spent any time with us, or read much on my blog, my older girls and I are obsessed with history. We love reading biographies, true stories, and historical fiction, as long as it's well written (if it's not, we'll probably notice, and complain about, the inaccuracies).

This year our focus is Early American history, but when we got the opportunity to review a brand new book about Martin Luther, we were more than happy to jump back to the reformation!

Danika Cooley is already a favorite of ours as we wrap up our third year using her Bible Road Trip curriculum for Bible (our "years" are a bit off since we school year round).

And now she's written an exciting new book, When Lightening Struck: The Story of Martin Luther. This book tells the story of Martin Luther for teens and tweens to read on their own, or families to read aloud together to children in 3rd grade and up.

I opted to read this book aloud to my two twelve year olds, so that we'd all get a chance to hear it, and give our opinion, during the review period.

All three of us enjoyed the book.  Some specific things we liked:

  • The author draws from letters and historical documents in such a way that she shares much of the story in his own words.
  • The book gives a balanced picture of Martin Luther. He wasn't perfect, he had a quick temper and could be arrogant when crossed. We appreciated that the book didn't hide or gloss over these aspects of the man.
  • There are themes to the imagery used throughout the book. As you might guess, from the title, one such theme is lightening. The book begins with Martin Luther's fateful close call with a lightning bolt during a storm on his way to school, at which time, he vowed to change course and become a monk. The book comes full circle and near the end of the book, quotes someone comparing him to a lightning bolt that struck the organized religion of the day .
  • Another imagery that I especially loved, was the image of Satan as a dragon. Throughout Martin Luther's life, he imagines he hears dragons' wings beating, and feels the hot fiery breath of the dragon in moments when he is engaged in spiritual warfare of some sort. I appreciated this imagery for myself, and think it is also an effective imagery to help young people see that we truly are in a fight, not against flesh and blood. For homeschoolers who, like us, tend to approach history chronologically, the dragon imagery will fit nicely with the middle ages/reformation time period that this book falls into. 

I honestly don't think we had any complaints about the book, and that's saying something. The book was easy to understand, and read, without being overly simplified. It was well-researched and we didn't find any discrepancies with what we learned about Martin Luther and this time period when we studied it last spring.

I am thrilled to have this book in our library and have no doubt that we will read it again next time we cycle around to this time period in history. If you're looking for a great family read aloud, I'd highly recommend When Lightening Struck: The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley.

Good to know:
Danika is having a HUGE SALE right now, check it out!!!!

Don't forget to enter the $500+ Reformation Giveaway, including When Lighting Struck!

Be sure to attend When Lighting Struck's FACEBOOK RELEASE PARTY on Tuesday, November 10 at 9pm EST.

Danika is generously offering a FREE Discussion Guide AND a FREE 12-week Unit study on Martin Luther (for subscribers to her blog)!! Information on both can be found here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Mini Tour of the House

This will be short, because I should be packing . . . but we closed on the house on Tuesday, and have been working on stuff all week. Here's a mini-tour comprised of a few pictures I took yesterday & today :)

Walking up the sidewalk from the driveway. LOVE the nice big front porch with a SWING!!!

My view when I was sitting on the swing enjoying a break from unpacking :)

The front door goes into an entry hall. Living room is on the left, kitchen (& powder room) is straight ahead, stairs go up on the right. 

(I have pictures of the living room & kitchen on my phone, but they haven't uploaded to dropbox yet, I'll add them in (here or a new post) when I get them. Off the kitchen is a sunroom. It's functioning as a playroom for Little Bit while we're in transition. Once we get furniture moved, the big toy-stuff will be put away or move to the basement, and it will be more of a sitting space (and soaking up nature space!!! Little Bit commented "it's like being outside, but you can stay nice and cozy!" great description. The long wall is ALL windows (3 of those big ones), and each end of the room is a sliding glass door, one onto a deck, the other with a path to the garage). with some games and toys. for now Little Bit's enjoying the room to play with the tunnel . . .

 And, Lexie made her a "house" out of the box our washing machine came in, so she's having a BLAST with it :)

The only picture I took upstairs is Ashlyn's room. She (and Daddy) painted it yesterday, did touch-ups this morning, and she "moved in" this afternoon. She chose a light grayish lavender paint and a gray comforter for her bed. Bed frame still needs to come from my parents' house but we moved the mattress & boxspring in there so she could "make" her bed.  The curtains that were in there work ok, so for now she's leaving them. She'll also have a dresser, desk, night stand and book case in the room eventually but for not it's the minimalist look :) 

Lexie & Little Bit (and Daddy) painted their room today, so I'll take pictures after the tape is off. Our bedroom just has boxes stacked in it at the moment. Then there's a hall bath for the girls to share and a master bath with large jacuzzi tub, separate shower, and a huge walk-in closet. Right now those areas are all cluttered with the process of figuring out what I want where . . . :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Reformation Day GIVEAWAY!

October 31 commemorates what has become known as "Reformation Day." Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to a church door on October 31, 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany, provoked a debate that resulted in what we now call the Protestant Reformation. As the “Father of the Reformation”, Martin Luther is a vital figure in Church history. His sacrifice and willingness to wage battle against the spiritual, religious, and political powers of his medieval world allowed Christians throughout time to embrace the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as explained by Scripture alone. Author Danika Cooley has written Luther's story for young people in her new book, When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther. Reformation Day Giveaway

To celebrate Reformation Day and the release of When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther, I've joined together with a team of blogger friends to host this wonderful giveaway, valued at over $500! One person will win ALL of the following: $100 Amazon Gift Card Fire 7-inch Tablet, WiFi 8GB ($49.99)  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther (hardcover $16.99) From, a $50 Gift Certificate From Nuremberg Tourist Board, a Playmobil Martin Luther figure ($9.99) From Thinking Kids Press, a curriculum bundle from When Lightning Struck! author, Danika Cooley:
From Fortress Press, a book bundle by author, Tim Dowley:
  1. Christian Music: A Global History  ($35)
  2. Introduction to the History of Christianity: Second Edition ($55) 
  3. The Student Bible Atlas: Revised Edition  ($12.99) 
  4. Atlas of the European Reformations ($24)
From Home School Adventure Co.:
  1. Philosophy Adventure: Pre-Socratics (digital $39.95)
  2. Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal (digital $18.95)
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below.

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Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Thinking Kids Press email list. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Wrapping Up the Week of October 4

Ummm . . . combination of not taking any pictures last week, and being very firmly in "hurry up and wait" land with the new house . . . I have NO idea what we did last week. . . 

We had a playdate with friends on Tuesday afternoon. the kids had fun playing outside and putting on a play for us. 

My parents were here working on painting the garage roof. 

I started packing. . . I love open floor plans, but the downside is, there's no good place to stack boxes that I've packed. . . so our house is even more cluttered and chaotic feeling than usual now, but much as it doesn't look like it, I AM making progress.

We had co-op on Wednesday. Little Bit continues to enjoy it. She was singing songs from Musik Garden the rest of the week. 

Sabbath was "Jean Sabbath", when we do various projects to help others in the afternoon. We went with a group to the Boys & Girls Club downtown and did a craft with the kids and played games in the gym. The turnout was great, and the kids were well-behaved but loud (made worse by the fact that the room where we do the craft is all hard surfaces so the acoustics are horrible (or maybe they're great, however you want to look at it . . . it magnifies the sound dramatically!). Little Bit struggled some with the craft and was in tears over it, which isn't like her. Thinking about it later, I think the volume was too much for her . . . the organizers were talking about possibly splitting the group in half next time, do craft with half the kids while the other half does games in the gym, then switch. Which will help, but I think I'll also talk to her before next month and suggest that if it's too loud and overwhelming she can go up to the gym with Daddy, and we can do the craft later at home. Or, see if she'd rather pass out lunches downtown instead. Other than that minor hiccup, it was great to see such an awesome turnout and the kids seemed to have fun. 

I have to admit, by the time we got home from that, I was more than peopled out. Little Bit wanted to go for a walk in the afternoon, and the weather was GORGEOUS so we did that. I think getting out in the quiet was good for both of us :) 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wrapping Up the First Week of October

And now, fall is here! We had a wet (off and on), weird weather kind of week. The first few days, it was hot again, to the point that I grudgingly shut the windows and turned the a/c back on. And then, just like that, it went from hot to COLD! Grumble, grumble . . . I wanted more open-window time! Maybe we'll still get some, I hope!

This week was our first week of our new co-op. I have to admit, I wasn't sure how it would play out. I knew Lexie and Ashlyn would have great fun being helpers. But I wasn't sure how Little Bit would do. Our age range is 2-6, with her being the only 6 year old. Naturally, things need to be geared more toward the younger kids since she can do easier things but they can't do older-kid things. Some days she loves being the "big kid" other days, she doesn't. . . This time, at least, things went well!
The music part of our co-op is Musik Garden (similar to the Kindermusik my older girls did when they were preschoolers, but with more of a Montessori feel). Given the age span, the program she's using is the 4 year old program. Which I kind of liked getting to listen in on, since it reminded me most of the program the older girls were in :) Lexie and Ashlyn, being the awesome helpers they are, joined in as 2 of the "kids" so that the littler kids would have other kids to mimic. And Little Bit participated better than she usually does with singing in her class at church (interestingly, she also seemed to sing better in church this week, so maybe the combination will encourage participation both places, or maybe it was all a fluke, who knows . . . Later in the week she was telling my mom how much fun Musik Garden was, so it was a hit :)  (on a side note, one of the things she loves about going to Miss Sonya's house is all the baby stuff. The "baby" you see in the swing in the background of this picture is actually her (well, technically Ashlyn's, but Little Bit's kind of adopted him) doll, Marco. Whenever we're over there she happily moves him (or whichever doll(s) she brings) between the swing, pack-n-play, bouncy seat . . . ).

Then the kids had "PE" time. Lexie and Ashlyn tried to get them to play tag, but most weren't interested. The 2 year olds didn't like the wet grass (it wasn't raining, but had been earlier), and came back inside to play with toys. Little Bit and N (4) decided swinging was more fun. Ashlyn pushed them on the swings while Lexie played tag with D (4). But at least they got some wiggles out. We'll play with various ideas over the next few weeks, but I'm wondering if, at this age, they'll do better with unstructured outside time after the structure of music time. We shall see. 

Next came art/craft time. Little Bit is always happy when she gets to use paint, so she was happy as a clam, and again told Mama all about how fun it was. So the day was a success :) I'm definitely getting the easy deal out of this whole co-op thing, since Lexie and Ashlyn happily plan the PE part that is supposed to be my contribution. I got to cuddle the baby and just hang out :) 

Thursday, after much debating back and forth, and constant watching of the ever-changing weather reports, we decided to chance the rain and head to Longwood Gardens as planned.  The weather reports actually gave a very low chance of rain, but it did kind of drizzle all afternoon. Our friend Denise came with us and, in the world of tweens, Denise is much cooler than mom and grandparents, so Lexie and Ashlyn happily headed off to do their own thing with her. Which worked well, since it meant we could go at Little Bit pace. I have no idea what Denise and the big girls did, we spent most of our time inside, but Little Bit and Mama did have fun checking out the giant lily pads. 

We went out for pizza and then came back to Longwood for their lights display. By then it had stopped raining though it was still kind of drizzly. The lights display was really cool, and the bad weather meant there weren't any crowds. It made for a late night for the kiddos, but was a great day, despite the rain!

Sabbath was a busy, but fun day. In addition to all the normal stuff, I walked into church with Little Bit and a friend we hadn't seen in several years was there with her little girl we'd never met! Little Bit didn't remember her, but we had great fun surprising the big girls :) 

Sabbath afternoon a friend texted me and invited us to go geocaching. It was kind of cold, and the ground was saturated, but it was nice to get outside after all the rain. And the kids had fun finding geocaches that had stuff in them to trade :)

So a busy, fun, fall week!

In other news, things continue to move forward with the new house. In between all the fun stuff, I've been attempting to get some packing done. I have to admit, it's challenging. There are just no "corners" in this house for me to stack boxes in that they won't be completely in our way, and there's nowhere to stack boxes in the garage that won't be in Dad's way. So, I'm packing some stuff, but think to a large extent I'll just be REALLY busy once we do close on the house and I can start moving stuff straight from this house to the new house. If all goes as planned we'll be closing on it on the 20th. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wrapping Up . . . However Long It's Been

I think I'm behind again.  Week before last was a pretty normal (for us) week. School, gardening, my Dad mostly finished the deck on the back of the garage (I think there are still a couple of boards he needs to add to the railing, but it works (just in time for me to be able to easily get to the big pile of collapsed boxes that are up there so I can start packing). And then, of course, on Friday we bought a house!

Sabbath after church, the girls and I headed to my parents' house.  My friend, Vicki was up to visit her dad, so we went down to see her, and of course while we were down there, spent time with various other MD/WV friends. Spent most of Sunday with Vicki and family. The kids and dogs had fun playing with the kids and dogs. I think Ashlyn had at least one dog on her lap at all times (Vicki has 2, and her dad has 1, so there were 3 to choose from). Little Bit really likes "Mr Wiggles" because he's small enough, and tolerant enough, for her to carry around :)

After we left Vicki's, we went to see another friend. The big girls and her boys were close friends when they were all toddlers, but then we moved away, and they started school, and the kids haven't really kept in contact at all. But last spring, she told me they had goats, so Ashlyn kept asking when we could go see the goats, so we invited ourselves over while we were in the area :)

It took the kids a little bit to get re-acquainted, but goats and go-carts are great "ice breakers", so they warmed up pretty quickly. The big kids spent most of the time riding the go-cart. Once the girls were comfortable with it, Lexie took Little Bit for a ride. She LOVED it!

Monday we ran some errands and hung out at Mama Papa's house, figuring out what of the extra furniture they have stored in their basement, we'll want to use in our new house.

Tuesday we went to another friend's house. The kids all had fun fishing and running around in the woods. Playing with the chickens, and then, they got out the zipline. They spent the rest of the day on the zipline. I can't begin to imagine how many miles they ran, all up hill LOL.  It was a little too fast for Little Bit, but she did go down a couple times, with someone holding onto the rope and running along behind her, to keep the speed down. Then she came back inside to play.

Wednesday we headed home, but that morning before we left, I went out to the playhouse to ask Mama and Little Bit a question and as I reached for the doorknob to go back in the house, THIS is what I saw.

Needless to say, I jumped, and yelled . . . and chose to walk around to the front door to call Dad, rather than going through this door! The big girls came outside along with Papa, and we all had a nice little nature lesson for the day.  Dad said it's a baby black snake (which, apparently, aren't plain black as babies), probably only a few days old. None of us realized they could climb brick walls like that.  As Ashlyn leaned forward to get a better look, it fell (jumped?) off the wall onto the deck. She and Little Bit jumped LOL. Once we stopped staring at it, it crawled BACK up the brick wall. I'm wondering if it lives on the roof.

To continue our nature day, we stopped by my parents' former office before heading home, and, while it's hard to see in the picture, we saw a groundhog climbing a tree! Didn't know they could do that! Ashlyn and Little Bit also think it's pretty cool that a groundhog (whom they named Chocolate Chip Cookie) had dug a hole RIGHT NEXT to the big full length windows in the breezeway between the buildings. They enjoyed watching him sit within "touching" distance, if there wasn't glass there.
After our nature-y morning, we headed home, and had a quiet rest-of-our-week. I'm starting to try to figure out packing . . . and feeling a bit gridlocked. There is NO WHERE in our house here to stack boxes and have them not be very much in the way. And with Dad still doing fix-it projects (so his table saw etc needs to be in our garage), there's really no space in the garage either. I think I've figured out a plan of attack, stacking the boxes in front of some lightweight shelves that I can wait and pack up/move AFTER we've moved the furniture and boxes out. Also trying to menu plan from the freezer and pantry to reduce the food we have to move, though eating DOWN on our stores of food in the fall, feels . . . wrong LOL. 

Sabbath afternoon, some friends invited us to go geocaching with them. It's been a long time since we've gone geocaching, I need to get more intentional about doing it, especially now that Little Bit is old enough to really get into it too. We had a nice hike, and fun figuring out a very clever geocache.