A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Our Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Week

It's been almost 2 weeks since I posted.  My phone died, and we had to replace it, so I lost some photos between my last download and when it bit the dust.  But I'm happy with my new phone (it's my Christmas present), and I really love the case I got for it.  

While Jack and Katie had play practice after school last Thursday, Hannah and I started transforming the library from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  I had to go buy another garland.  Note to self:  just buy 2 every time.  I used Crikey for the letters and bought the garland at Hobby Lobby.  It's still a work in progress, I have to put up the paper ornaments that go with it.  

Christmas books on display with December notable events.  

At dinner one night, we noticed the ceiling bulging a little bit, so Paul started poking & peeling, and it was damp.  

This turned into A Thing.  

You know, right before that food holiday is the perfect time to have the dining room torn up.  

I maintained my sense of humor by playing with the letter board while Paul ripped out all the damp sheetrock.  

I'm kinda hoping we get new carpet out of this, but probably not.  We're currently "letting things dry out" before figuring out what to do next, so I'll have a coffin sized hole in the ceiling for a while, I'm assuming.  

In all the chaos, I decided we needed to put the tree up.  We gave the cats a few days to acclimate to it, and Fiona has decided we're Dreaming of a Calico Christmas, because she IS the ornament.  

I know I say this every year, but how can artificial trees shed so much??  Josiah taking a picture of Fee in the Tree.  Katie put lights on it, but we haven't added anything else at this point, since Fiona's still climbing it every day.  Grumman can't get her when she's in the tree.  He's too heavy to climb it.  (She's 6# and he's 12#.)  

Grumman discovered a garland and was having so much fun with it!  He was so cute, burrowing into it.  

School pictures are ready!  

The school used a new photographer this year, so we weren't sure what we were going to get, but I'm pretty happy with them.  

Some of the outtakes were hilarious--particularly of Katie, whose face will tell you if she's not impressed with you.  

I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be more eccentric than I realized, since I wore this bright book dress to school on picture day, and nobody even blinked.  

A mini-mural from Art Projects For Kids.  I'm thinking about doing a big Christmas one at school.  

Christmas books, mostly, in this week's library run.  

I had a little "shopping accident" at Kohl's, and the library now has some new plushes and books.  

Their $5 books and $5 stuffed animals in the Kohl's Cares program are quite nice.  I got the Rainbow Fish Christmas book to go with this.  Now I'm thinking I need some scale print scrapbook paper to Crikey up some fishies for a library craft project.  

I have a couple of book reviews coming up, that I'm excited to share with you, and I'm hoping to let the kids do lots of artsy creating in the library this month.  I got the Snowflake Bentley book, so we'll have to make snowflakes.  Maybe we'll hang those in the windows... 

The downside of seeing most of the adult kids in August is that none of them are coming home for the holidays.  So, while I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, I was a little blue at not getting to share the day with all my favorite people.  

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Our Week

First up, let's start with a STEM activity I somehow missed sharing last month.  

I told the middle schoolers if they could read silently for 12 minutes, they could have candy.  

I gave each table a plateful of gummy pumpkins and a pile of toothpicks and told them to create a structure.  

It was fun to watch them collaborate.  

In fact, it went so well that I did it again with the high school students.  

It was an easy, low prep activity that went over well with everyone.  

Jack's table did the pyramid.

I found this book interesting.  I ended up reading it in the middle of processing a batch of new books.  Travel at sea, interesting recipes (including dog and turtle), and a glimpse of history.  

We also participated in Read for the Record.  This was a cute story.  I added the author's other Amy Wu books to our library wish list.  

I fired up the laminator to do a mini display for Veterans Day.

Really, Fiona?  

And the finished seals of all our military branches.

It's a little blury, but Hannah and Jack are both on the field for the last MS/HS flag football game.

The instant their final game was over, Katie bounded up and asked if she could play basketball.  

While I had the laminator running anyway, I threw in some bookmarks.  I didn't want to waste all the extra laminating pouch that doing just the seals would leave behind, so I did a bookmark with each seal.  These bookmarks were cut from a map book that Paul was done with.  

I finally processed enough buckets to have room for another bookcase, so I brought in this little one.  I've been using it to display new books.  

Now the whole wall is bookcases.  Also, the orange strand on the board is Thankful Turkeys by our middle schoolers.  

I had an ornament idea.  I'm doing an example to work the kinks out.  

Miss Hannah, wearing pumpkins and sunflowers, standing in front of a display of pumpkins and sunflowers.  

I just love the autumn leaves.  It's the one time of year that makes me wish that I could paint.  The leaves are so beautiful.  I stopped and took this picture after dropping Jack off at a friend's house.  


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The Tin Whistle #giveaway

I mentioned that I read a lot more when the weather gets cold.  I have a book to share with you today.  Are you ready for a Christmas story?  

The Tin Whistle is a quick and inspiring read.  It takes place in two parts; first, when Jacob is a child in an orphanage, then later when he's a successful adult.  It's a story about persevering in the face of having very little, and about being a blessing to others.  A recent sermon I heard mentioned that you never have "enough" money, no matter how much you have.  Jacob Gusky was an exception.  He had enough for himself, and enough to give generously to others.  

The Tin Whistle is based on a true story.  I felt the characters made a couple of questionable decisions (haven't we all??), and I would love to know how much of the story was fact and how much was fiction.  I did find a couple of links:  Jewish Children's Home and a biography.  

This is not a romance, and there's nothing questionable in it.  In fact, it would make a good December read aloud, with it's 20 quick chapters.  (I couldn't read it aloud, of course, since I cry at everything, but a more stable person could probably do it.)  

Please note that my copy has a different cover than the one on Amazon does.  Also, the author, Kathleen Shoop, has another short Christmas story, The Christmas Coat, from a couple years ago.  

Inspired by a true story... 

Jacob Gusky wakes up hoping Santa has arrived. And he has... but not for Jacob, one of two Jewish boys living at the Boys’ Home of Manhattan. When a friend gifts him a tin whistle, Jacob learns the power of giving, the joy in receiving, and hears what he considers to be the sound of happiness. 

Recently widowed and completely out of options, Frannie takes her daughter Molly to the Home for the Friendless. “You’ll be back before Christmas?” Molly asks. Frannie gives Molly half a quilt square and keeps the other, choking on her reply. 

Now a happily married father of three, Jacob Gusky owns Gusky’s Grand Emporium, Pittsburgh’s first premier department store. After unearthing the tin whistle from the orphanage, he is reminded of what it felt like to have nothing, and decides to make a difference in the lives of others no matter their faith. But with so little time before Christmas morning, can he even begin to give the orphaned children of Pittsburgh what he knows they need? 

When giving is more important than receiving...


"This short novel is the MOST inspirational novel I have ever had the pleasure of reading."

"Beautiful, heartwarming story."

"A heartwarming and inspiring story. I highly recommend it."

"This is such a fantastic Christmas story with great characters and a very unique plot. There are also several wonderful messages on the importance of giving at this time of year. I am so glad I found this book."

"Terrific holiday story with well-defined characters and a setting that could have been any big city in the 19th century. Ms. Shoop’s novella reflects the good in human nature."
Above reviews from Amazon readers


"Writing this book was wonderful. Bringing aspects of the Guskys’ good works to life was more fun than I could have imagined!" ~ Kathleen Shoop

Also available...
Two days before Christmas, ornery Elliot Ebberts is tasked with school drop-off even though distracted by an important real estate transaction. In the holiday carpool chaos his extravagant, lucky coat goes missing. In a panic, he searches for his coat, tracing its path as it passes through the hands of good people in dire situations. Meanwhile, his plan to WOW his wife Libby with an ostentatious gift reveals Elliot’s shallowness to the world and mortifies his entire family. Is it too late for him to rediscover the meaning of Christmas, to remember who he is without all the trappings of the job that defines him? Can Libby and their children ever forgive him?


About Kathleen Shoop
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. Kathleen coordinates Mindful Writing Retreats and is a regular presenter at conferences for writers.

I adore writing historical fiction (The Letter series, After the Fog and Donora Stories) but am having a blast writing romance like Home Again, Return to Love and Tending Her Heart (Endless Love series). Thank you so much for the time you take to read.

Follow the author on the following sites...
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads   Amazon   Bookbub

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I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.


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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Our Week With An Injury

So, it's been more than a week.  Somehow, I didn't get around to blogging over the weekend.  Katie got hurt at school and was unable to wear her prosthetic for a couple days, so that put a crimp in things for a bit.  She's doing much better now, but still limping a little.  

Paul took Jack to Fall Concert while I stayed home with the girls.  The corpse on stage (light blue jeans, camo hoodie) is Jack.  

Thankful that Paul took a couple of pictures for me.  

Fiona, prancing on the railing.  Scares me, since there's a 15' drop to the first floor if she falls.  

One of the days that Miss Katie was home recuperating, I had her do this craft with me to test it out before doing it with the first graders at school.  

The first graders did a great job with it.  

And when the middle school girls came in and saw my leftover supplies, they used them up.  

I'm kind of in a slump.  The local Kiwanis did a map of decorated houses that you drive around and look at and then vote for your favorite.  There were 15 houses on the map.  We drove by 3 of them.  I don't begrudge the $10 bucks; I know it's for a good cause.  I'm disappointed in myself for not making memories with the kids.  

Also, I put several Trunk or Treat type events on the calendar, and promptly crossed them all off as they passed without me mustering the energy to actually go to any.  I've spent a lot of time reading in bed lately.  

My solitary Halloween craft this year.  Someone posted a picture of a cute kitten in a ribbon collar, and I thought, "That would be easy to make."  

I knew I'd get shredded if I subjected Grumman to such an indignity.  So I put it on Fiona, who gnawed on it for a minute or two while I took some pictures.  She was relieved when I immediately took it off.  

Grumman and Fifi sharing space in front of the heater.  

Matilda went in for a spa day (oil change).  I sat and read a book.  Fortunately, it went faster than the hour & 15 they predicted.  

I dropped off some clothes the girls grew out of at Goodwill.  As I was navigating the backside of the shopping center, it looked like an Easter egg hunt.  I'm assuming somebody spilled ball pit balls.  

I stopped at a Little Free Library near our neighborhood, and noticed the lovely trees.  I always wish that I could paint when the leaves change colors.  

I laughed when I caught sight of the cat being scared off by the herd of geese.  Geese are vicious.  

A small library pickup.  It's been a while!  

Katie got her AWANA shirt.  (She's wearing it over another shirt, hence the strange ruffle sleeves.)  AWANA has come full circle for us.  The first year my kids went, Zach was in T&T, Annaliese was in Sparks, and Josiah and Sam were Cubbies.  We used to sing, "Brianna piranha, too little for AWANA."  Over the years, we've participated in AWANA clubs at at least 3 different churches.  Now, Katie is in T&T.  My last child in the last age group.  How did this happen?