December 18, 2014


There's so many fun art projects to do for Christmas that sometimes after all the hoopla, we feel a little, what do we do now?? With this move, my school plans that I put together at the beginning of the year have change a bit.  I wrote about our Art Class plans at the beginning of the school year, so if you're looking for ideas, you can look there too. But I put together a list of some fun art project ideas that would be great for after the holidays to get you inspired after the tinsel gets sucked up by the vacuum. 
*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog.*

1. Alisha Gratehouse's Winter Wonderland mix media course.
We are saving this one for after Christmas, although there are some Christmas projects in there, there's still so many that are just perfect for winter art.  Things like a winter birch forest on canvas, an art journal with all the beautiful nature finds in winter: evergreens and snowflakes, a mixed media snowman on canvas.  I am so excited to dig into this after Christmas.  Also, the great thing about this course is you have access to it for a whole year, so the fun Christmas projects can be saved for next year!

2. Deep Space Sparkle is one of my favorite resources for finding fun art ideas. I love how Patty uses a lot of great children's literature to inspire her art projects.  This one about the Perfect Day and snow angels looks so good.
3. The Kids' Outdoor Adventure book looks so awesome! I am so excited to do some of these nature projects with the kids this winter.  Over 400 projects to do in nature all through the year, but winter especially needs a little extra inspiration sometimes.

4. Some of my favorite art projects are Master Kitz.  I've talked about them a lot before.  These are great to stash away for the dreary winter months.  Check out a few books on the artist and make it an artist study too.  When we get settled in a new house, I plan on putting together a wall of their framed projects to display.  I can't tell you how great these kits are!
5. Wintery cardinals.  I love tying nature in with our art class and cardinals are so beautiful in the wintertime.  This project from Runde's Room looks like it would be easy enough but yet challenging enough for an array of ages.
6. My kids adore using chalk pastels in their art.  Winter would be a great time to dive into a new art medium if it's new to you.  If you're just starting out in chalk pastels, this book would be a great place to start.  Order a set of chalk pastels and you're good to go. 

A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels
7.  I have always loved That Artist Woman's art projects.  She has such unique ideas.  I love these clay snowmen.  My kids always love working with clay and it's a good change from regular art supplies. 
I hope this helps cure some of those winter blues that sometimes come after the busy Christmas season.  Art is healing.  Have fun this winter!

December 16, 2014


December rings true every time; the sights, the smells, the feelings.  It's been hard for me to get into the spirit, but I'm riding on the kids' merriment and their eye for all things magical.  "Can we frost cookies now," on repeat 40 times a day makes me smile, even though my heart is not in the mood.  This season for me has been unfortunately overshadowed somewhat by tying up loose ends in North Carolina, trying to be present in our temporary place, and looking ahead to find the house that we will make our own.  Past, present, future's a big deal.  I texted friends this week telling them my about my current unrest and got big dose of encouragement back.  This will come together.  I've said this before, but I'll say it again...times like these feel like two whipping ends of a frayed ribbon flapping in the wild breeze, waiting to come together to form a pretty bow.  But until that happens, it's still a wind-whipped knot until then.  But, and it's a big but...December is still December and they are limited in this life...I don't want to waste even one.  We will still frost the cookies, still wrap pretty gifts, still sing the songs...sometimes we just need to slap a smile on and wait for it to feel real...our families will thank us.  That's not to say we cover what needs to be resolved, but just to smile...knowing it really will all work out, if not on our own time, the universe's...and that's ok too.  The world will keep spinning, the Decembers will keep coming.  I just want to smile through it....

There is always a magic cloud that hangs above December, it's there, it's just need to look for it.  There are these simple pleasures every month, but here are my favorite simple pleasures in December....
1. twinkly white lights
2. reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
3. rolling out sugar cookings
4. going to the Post Office with an armload of packages to mail to friends and family
5. making handmade gifts

6. secret gift lists
7. finding just the right gift
8. Carol of the Bells
9. watching Christmas Vacation for the 2,645th time
10. the candlelight service

11. getting up early and journaling by the tree light
12. stringing cedar roping with lights outside
13. a house that smells like pine needles
14. delivering Christmas cookies to neighbors
15. the Polar Express on Christmas Eve

16. the Fort Sisseton historical Christmas day
17. a stack of Christmas cards to mail out
18. ornaments that hold memories
19. a pretty mantle
20. reading by the fire

21. Amy Grant's old Christmas albums
22. English toffee
23. party menu planning
24. cookie decorating with friends
25. planning a caroling party

There are great things behind, amazing things here, and so many wonders ahead.  Isn't this thing called life a great treasure? 
Happy Tuesday, friends and cheers to you that might be forcing a smile this year.  It is still magical...wait for it.

December 12, 2014

Taking Stock: December Edition

Once in a while when things get hectic, the only practical things to do is to write a list.  But really, I think this is good practice regardless of the stage in life, so I think this should be done more often.  Here's the December edition of what's up...
The winner.

Loved Vera's face in this one...Sophia's eyes? Bummer, dude.

Fastest Christmas pic session known to man...10 minutes. Literally.

Making : pretty packages for under the tree
Cooking : shrimp penne for dinner last night
Drinking : coffee...lots and lots of coffee
Reading: The Book Thief...just finished good
Wanting: to watch the Book Thief movie now
Looking: for a house...all. the. time.
Playing: CandyLand...I lost three times
Deciding: What to get Jack and Noah for Christmas...just need one more thing
Wishing: things were more settled right now
Enjoying: being with family for these holidays
Waiting: for the right house...
Liking: steamed coconut milk in my coffee
Wondering: when Vera won't be so cranky
Loving: Christmas lights at night + a fire = love
Pondering: who did it??!! Are you listening to this podcast?? So addicting.
Considering: joining the gym in my temporary living situation
Watching: Rehab Addict...Minneapolis girlfriend is inspiring me!
Hoping:  for more snow!!
Listening: Milky Chance...its super good.  Oh, and Christmas music of course.
Marveling: at my new found fire-building skills
Needing: gloves...all the gloves...where do they all go??
Smelling: the Christmas tree
Wearing: stretchy pants
Following: @etst on Instagram and trying to get some of her holiday cheer
Noticing: the frost on the early morning branches
Knowing: things will settle soon and all will be right in our world
Thinking: about the next semester of school
Admiring: other mamas that are so into the cheer of Christmas this year...I'm just not feeling it...I wish though...
Sorting: photos for our 2014 photo books
Buying: a gift for me
Getting: nervous about finding a house :-/
Bookmarking: THIS...I reallllly want to do this in 2015!
Disliking: rioting, violence, general's Christmastime, damnit!
Opening: the December issue of Wild + Free's bundle
Giggling: over the girls' shenanigans
Feeling: a little out of sorts...but enjoying the laid-backness of this season of our life
Snacking: chocolate covered almonds
Coveting: a long winter's nap
Wishing: for a white Christmas...did I say that already??
Helping: my boys to know how much is too much in the joke/prank category
Hearing:  the dishwasher, a whiney baby, kids playing.

December 8, 2014


    Happy Monday, folks!  Today I've got a huge list of history books to use in your homeschool or just for fun.  I split them up by Ancient History, Medieval History, Early American and Modern American History-but, within each category is kind of a free-for-all.  If you're looking for a specific subject in history, just look with in the time period--they're not in order. I'll be adding more too as we find more.  We have read or used about 98% of these and the others are on our list! I hope you get some good ideas for your history class here! 
    {this post contains affiliate links}

  1. Usborne's Book of World Religion
  2. World History Encyclopedia
  3. The Timetables of History
  4. Timelines of World History
  5. Ten Queens by Milton Metzler
  6. Ten Kings by Milton Metzler
  7. Story of the World vol. 1
  8. Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In your Home or Church by Martha Zimmerman
  9. Gladiators by Minna Lacey & Susanna Davidson
  10. Classic Starts: The Odyssey
  11. Classic Starts: Greek Myths
  12. Classic Starts: The Iliad
  13. The 5-Minute Iliad by Greg Nagan
  14. The Royal Diaries: Cleopatra VII
  15. What Was Pompeii?
  16. Galen and the Gateway to Medicine by Jeanne Bendick
  17. The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
  18. Literature Pockets: Greek & Roman Myths
  19. Literature Pockets: Ancient Civilizations
  20. Literature Pockets: Ancient Greece
  21. Literature Pockets: Ancient Egypt
  22. Literature Pockets: Ancient Rome
  23. Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide by Nancy Sanders
  24. Walk with Y'Shua Through the Jewish Year by Janie-Sue Wertheim
  25. The Passover Seder by Emily Sper
  26. Tomie dePaola's Book of Bible Stories
  27. Leonardo and the Flying Boy by Laurence Anholt
  28. Katie and the Mona Lisa by James Mayhew
  29. Shakespeare for Children (CD) by Jim Weiss
  30. Classical Kids by Laurie Carlson
  31. Ancient Greece by Susan Altman
  32. Cleopatra by Diane Stanley
  33. Kingfisher Atlas of the Ancient World
  34. The Usborne Internet-Linked Roman World
  35. A Child's Introduction to Greek Mythology
  36. The Story of the Ancient World
  37. Story of the World vol. II
  38. The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
  39. Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard
  40. Days of Knights and Damsels
  41. Saints Lives and Illuminations by Ruth Sanderson
  42. See Inside Castles
  43. Crispin by Avi
  44. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
  45. Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer
  46. The Story of King Arthur
  47. The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I
  48. Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson
  49. Famous Men of the Middle Ages
  50. A Medieval Feast by Aliki
  51. Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley
  52. Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz
  53. Castle by David Macaulay
  54. Johan Gutenberg and the Amazing Printing Press
  55. Columbus by Edgar Parin D'Aulaires
  56. William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki
  57. Brave Margaret by Robert D. San Souci
  58. Leif the Lucky by Edgar Paren D'Aulaires
  59. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  60. Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens
  61. The King Arthur Trilogy: Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff
  62. Usborne Book of Explorers by Felicity Everett
  63. Robinhood
  64. Story of the World vol. III
  65. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts
  66. The Buck Stops Here by Alice Provenson
  67. The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
  68. How Ben Stole the Lightning
  69. Who Was Sacagawea?
  70. Pocahontas by Ingrid and Edgar Parin D'Auilaire
  71. Fever 1793
  72. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  73. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
  74. The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
  75. The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz
  76. The Lost Colony of Roanoke by Jean Fritz
  77. Samuel Eaton's Day by Kate Waters
  78. Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters
  79. Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery
  80. The Book of America by William J. Bennett
  81. On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
  82. Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
  83. Lewis and Clark: Explorers of the American West by Steven Kroll
  84. Story of the World vol. IV
  85. Fields of Fury
  86. The Girls of Gettysburg
  87. Born and Bred in the Great Depression
  88. What was the Gold Rush?
  89. Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails
  90. Apples to Oregon
  91. A Pioneer Sampler
  92. The Little House Cookbook
  93. Laura Ingalls Wilder series
  94. Crow Call by Lois Lowry
  95. Rags Hero of WWI
  96. Shooting at the Stars by John Hendrix
  97. War Horse
  98. Where the Broken Heart Still Beats by Carolyn Meyer
  99. Number the Stars
  100. History Pockets: Native Americans
  101. The Royal Diaries: Anastasia
  102. The Diary of Anne Frank
  103. The Hiding Place
  104. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Thanks for hangin' in there! Go check out 100 other lists of 100 things on iHomeschool Network.

December 6, 2014


Tis the season for memories, right!?  Over these last few weeks I've been making a mega list of ways to preserve memories: photos, travel and school and baby mementoes, ways to use technology to save memories, and how to save the little bits and things that come with having kids and the need for saving those precious moments.  Enjoy!

  1. Print favorite photos to canvas--instant art!
  2. Print 4x6 photos of vacations or special occasions and create a good ol' photo album
  3. Use washi tape to hang groupings of IG photos on the wall
  4. Hang photos with a clipboard to the wall
  5. Frame photos
  6. Create snow globes with your kids' pics to give or keep.
  7. Create a photo pendant
  8. Create a pinboard with photos surrounding a map of your travels
  9. Make clay photo holders
  10. Dress your kids in some of their favorite costumes and do a fun photo shoot
  11. Make a family yearbook with the current year's best photos
  12. If your kids have a favorite time period, dress them up and photograph them!
  13. Do a generational photo
  14. Hang photos in a mobile-like hanging
  15. Create your own photo coasters
  16. Make a poster of your IG photos through Printstagram
  17. Use ledges to display some of your beautiful photos
  18. Everyday.Me
  19. Saving Memories Forever
  20. Momento
  21. My Wonderful Days
  22. Collect
  23. Just Family
  24. Artkive
  25. Gratitude 365
  26. Keepy
  27. (for saving photos)
  29. Instagram
  33. Timehop
  34. Create a tiny album in a box of all your travel photos
  35. Collect postcards and make a booklet.
  36. Collect postcards and use ModPodge to adhere to a vintage suitcase.
  37. Save fabric patches from camps and family vacations and sew onto a blank canvas bag to use often and remember your fun travels.
  38. Make a ring-bound memory book with maps from your travels.
  39. Make vacation memory jars with items collected on your vacations.
  40. Use blank books to have your kids make travel journals.
  41. Make scrapbooks with maps.
  42. Create a summer collection box with nature finds from nature walks.
  43. Shadowboxes are great to create with travel souvenirs.
  44. Have your kids make a booklet as you travel with postcards and memorabilia.
  45. Buy a Christmas ornament wherever you travel so when you pull out your Christmas decorations you can reminisce about your travels.
  46. Have your kids make a Flat Stanley paper doll and send him to friends and family around the States and read about his travels.  Save everything in a binder to look back on later.
  47. Collect pressed pennies from where you travel and save them all in a booklet.
  48. Participate in the Junior Ranger program when you travel to state parks.  Your kids will love this.  They get a patch and a little booklet for each place you visit.
  49. Use maps of your travels to matte framed photos from the same trip.
  50. If you homeschool, take your kids to JCPenney's for head and shoulder shots--just like at school
  51. Start a frame for their ping pong pictures with spaces for every year of school
  52. Interview your child on the first day of school
  53. Make a school yearbook of all your field trips and projects through
  54. Take a photo of each child on the first day of school.
  55. Take a photo of each child on the last day of school.
  56. Laminate some great tests or papers and make placemats to use at the family dinner table.
  57. Using a 3-ring binder and clear page protectors, save important school papers for each school year.
  58. Use bins to organize school work year-by-year.
  59. Scan or take photos of everything that they bring home and save it on a disc or a flash drive.
  60. Save some school papers in a recycling bin and use to wrap small packages on birthdays.
  61. Use clean pizza boxes as filing boxes for papers.  They're large enough for oversized projects and you can mark the sides and stack them up.
  62. Find an efficient way to organize art projects.
  63. Make a manila envelope booklet to store small art projects and memorabilia from the school year.
  64. Create planners for your child at the beginning of the school year.  Have them use the planners for recording assignments and writing little journal entries and doodles too.  I think this idea would be especially fun with your middle school and high schoolers.
  65. Use bins to organize all your school work for each year. 
  66. Scan your child's art into your hard drive and print on canvas--they will love it!
  67. Again, scanning your child's art into your hard drive, print cards for notes or thank you's using their art for the front of the card.
  68. Have your child's artwork made into a stuffed animal.
  69. Turn your child's artwork into a tea towel and give to grandparents for gifts.
  70. Create memory artwork with your child's old clothes.
  71. Make a shadowbox with some of your child's old toys: cars, action figures, marbles, etc.
  72. Keep a record of cute things your kids say in a journal.
  73. When you make your family photo yearbooks, add captions to the photos with cute little things your kids have said that year.  Type them into a note on your phone as soon as they say them so you don't forget and then add them in at the end of the year.
  74. Have some of your child's cute saying made into art.
  75. Make an annual time capsule, maybe on New Year's Eve.  Use a container like this one.
  76. Have your child's special drawing made into a keychain.
  77. Make a Smash book
  78. Try Project Life books
  79. Have a quilt made of your child's old baby clothes.  I love these.
  80. Save ticket stubs and event programs in a special book or folder.
  81. Make a special charm bracelet with parts of your kids' art. Tutorial in this book.
  82. Have custom silhouettes of your children made every few years.
  83. Make clay ornaments for Christmas with impressions of old house keys as a memento of where you've lived.
  84. Make a memory box of index cards to keep track of your daily, everyday memories.  Only 90 seconds per day to record these little memories.
  85. Have your sonogram photo blown up to hang on the wall.
  86. Make a keepsake for your baby's wall with a painted clipboard and her sonogram photo
  87. Bronze your baby's shoes.
  88. Create a shadow box of items from your hospital stay
  89. Make baby memory boxes
  90. Make a scrapbook of your baby's first year with just a photo of your baby and their milestones for that month on each page.
  91. Create a baby time capsule with those tiny baby things you need to keep.
  92. Make recordings of your baby's sweet laughs and noises, download them onto CD's and save to listen to later.
  93. Sew a baby memory quilt with her old blankets and clothes.
  94. Press your baby's hand into clay with the date.
  95. Write letters to your baby and save in a box or a book.
  96. Take lots and lots of photos and videos.  Keep organized in folders on your computer by date.
  97. Take a photo of your baby during their first year in the same spot and watch them grow.
  98. Make print art with your child's finger prints.
  99. Start a hope chest for your baby to take with her when she leaves home.
  100. Start buying an ornament to represent your child's likes when they're a baby.  When they leave home they'll have a whole box of 18 ornaments to take with them.

Happy Saturday...have so much fun making those memories this December :)
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