Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#5Fav: Cheap Books!!!

It's that time of year when I start planning for next school year and begin hunting for books for Christmas gifts.  I have hit on some tremendous deals and am so excited, although I keep telling myself that I must pace myself because there are months and months until the new school year and even more until Christmas and I always end up with too many books!  Are there really ever too many books?  There are never too many children, that is for sure, Mother Teresa reminds us of that.  I think books would come in second behind children, there are always more to read and explore!  I'm linking up with Ashley to bring you my Fave Five places to find good books, cheap!


Have you heard of Thriftbook ?(affiliate link)  Oh, you are in for a treat. I discovered it a couple weeks ago and it is now my number one pick.  Oh, the books!!!!  A mother on the Mater Amabilis Facebook group recommended the site and I am so happy she did.  I purchased fourteen high quality, beautiful books for only $52.  Shipping is free on all orders over $10 and for every $50 you spend, you earn a $5 off coupon.  I know, it just keeps getting better!  When it is time to shop for books, definitely hit them first.   The only down side that I can see with the site is that browsing is not as easy as on Amazon or other large book sellers.  However, that hasn't stopped me from buying a bunch of books and compliling a long wishlist.  Two of the new books arrived today and they are in fantastic shape, even though they were listed as "good condition."  Thriftbook is a keeper.

Christian Book Distributors (affiliate link) is not a discount book store, however they have fantastic sales.  There is always a homeschool sale over the summer, that is when I purchase my consumables like handwriting along with Christmas gifts.  Their regularly priced books are often discounted from the list price.  Be sure to sign up for the coupon alerts, there are some great ones that come along each year. I purchased some Adventures in Odyssey Cd's last summer to use as Christmas gifts, between their discounted prices and the 30% homeschool sale coupon, I got them for about half off the list price.

If you can get to a homeschool conference with a used book sale, you have hit pay dirt.  Honestly, you cannot believe what can be found and how much can be saved until you try it.  Since that isn't always possible, there are online mom to mom sales that are just as amazing.  Cathswap, Homeschool Market, and Mater B/S/T are three of my favorites.  These groups seem to be gaining popularity and new ones are always popping up. I like that I not only get a deal but get to help out another mom.

Speaking of buying online, this one deserves its own listing.  The Facebook group Operation Adoption has absolutely incredible books, most new or like new, for highly discounted prices.  Not only do your dollars go further, they help bring a child to a forever home.  I could not help but support the latest sale wholeheartedly.  I planned on buying two books and ended up with a whole stack, but I am so excited about them.  I can't wait to give them as gifts.  I really had to restrain myself, the books were that good.  Now, I must add that while I think there are never too many books, I also think that books need to be well written and good quality.  My favorite are beautiful picture books, the kind that don't even need words, the prints are so captivatig.  We are a book collecting family, but we are also discerning readers.  The books on Operation Adoption may be low in price, but they are all high in literary value.  Please check them out and help bring a waiting child home!

There is no link for this, you will need to search yourself.  The hands down best places for books are library sales and thrift stores.  Seriously, I spent $2 at the last library sale and walked away with ten books, most of which were like new.  There are lots of people who don't appreciate a good book, and children that outgrow books more quickly than expected.  These barely used treasures are often donated to thrift stores and libraries.  Your money helps with mission trips, charity works, and purchasing new books for a town library.  If you don't know where any thrift stores are, check out The Thrift Shopper for a nationwide directory.  There is also Book Sale Finder, although I have never actually used this site, so I cannot speak to their reliability for information.

Where do you like to book shop?

Friday, January 22, 2016

To Don't List in #7QT

Late last night, while I was up way past when I should have been catching up on blog posts across the world wide web, Kelly's post about her list of what she isn't doing this year popped up.  As usual it was a great source of comic relief, but it got me thinking that I could make a list, too.  So here is my "To Don't" list for the new year.

Fertility Interrupted
I have decided not to obsess over my fertility or lack there of.  For years, I have prayed that God would give me the chance to just roll with the punches and experience the spontaneity of just letting go After years of closely monitored charts and brain crunching sessions of deciding exactly which abbreviation and sticker was needed each day in order to perfectly aligning my blood work and future pregnancy, all I wanted to do was throw the chart out!  Well, careful what you wish for.  Everything is so crazy in that department I have had to just throw the chart aside because none of it made sense so why chart.  So I am flying by the seat of my pants and leaving it all in God's Hands.  My tests are all normal, and that's good enough for me.  I'm too tired to figure it out, I know God knows what he is doing!

For Everything there is a Season--Stop Planning!
Dovetailing with the above, I am going to stop planning my life ten months in advance every day.  All those calculations of, "If I were to get pregnant today, the baby would come _____," and "That activity for July looks interesting, but if I were to get pregnant next month then I would be eight months along.  How would I ever go on a ten mile hike!"  The preliminary planning of contingency plans for every long range calendar even if I were in the first, second, or third trimester--don't forget the newborn survival planning that must be done.  Really it is all insane!  If it happens, it will happen when it is supposed to and everything will work out.  All the worry in the world can change nothing!

Homeschool Convention Drop Out
I realized that I did not need to attend three homeschool conference, I don't even need to attend one.  I know the books I need and don't need to browse.  While Kelly and I had a standing salad date at the CHAPLET conference that conference is no more.  Hanging out with Kelly was motivation to travel over three hours, but alas the next closest conference with significant amounts of the books we need is almost eight hours away--and no Kelly!  So, I am taking a hiatus from the homschool conference circuit for this year.

One Woman Band
Since my husband was more than willing to pay for a hotel, food, and gas for us to go to the national conference, I decided to use that money instead to pay for some online courses for Cowgirl through Homeschool Connections and Online Hose College.  Yes, they will cost a bit more than a four day trip to Virginia, but it's close enough for me. Could I do it all? Sure, I have just realized that I don't have to.  When accessing that I'll have a seventh grader, third grader, pre-schooler, three learning styles, two learning disabilities, and a partridge in a pear tree; I decided it was time to hand over the reigns of some of the classes for everyone's sanity.

Why Reinvent the Wheel?
Our family moto this year is "Work smarter, not harder."  So I have really been embracing this idea.  I joined the Mater Amabilis Facebook page for the fellowship and the great resources.  I had been using the curriculum page as a reference for book selections and lesson ideas.  Then it dawned on me, why not just follow the program instead of reinventing the wheel.  Next year, I will be following the Level 1A year 2 outline for Buddy in religion, literature, language arts, and geography. Of course, I still needed to nip a little here, tuck a little there and add a bit to the end; however it was so much easier than starting form scratch for everything.  If you are looking for a wonderful program that is affordable and flexible, I highly recommend checking out Mater Amabilis.   

Good Enough 
I am letting go of the idea of having the entire house clean at all times.  With more space and after a huge purge, there is far less clutter and it is easier to clean.  However, I don't have the time or energy to get every inch cleaned every day.  I am focusing on the spots that need the most attention (kitchen, high traffic floors, laundry, dishes, and bathroom sink) and getting to the rest of it once a week.  I am still tidying here and there as I go, but everything is good enough, not magazine ready all day long.  I used to have a 30 minute to company rule.  If the house could be company ready in 30 minutes then we were right on track.  I abandoned that and tried to keep it company ready at all times like my mother did and failed miserably.  Now, I think that if with everyone pitching in, if we can be company ready in one hour then that is good enough.

The Vicious Cycle of Facebook 
I am cutting the allure of the Facebook chimes and new post alerts.  If I am not checking it or posting the tab is closed.  Otherwise I am constantly sucked in for no reason. I'm also thinning out my feed to eliminate the drama that gets my blood pressure going.  Its something I started a couple years ago but never finished, Melody's latest post encouraged me to continue.  No need to follow that which is not good, true, and beautiful.

**On the up side, it has been a little quiet over here because I have been working on some bigger projects for the year.  I will be posting about those soon and hope to have them available by spring! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

{p, h, f, r} The New House Edition

I have been wanting to post pictures for awhile, but it just hasn't happened.  Over the weekend, we finally got the house blessed and I took the opportunity to snap some shots as we walked through the house.  I am linking up with Auntie Leila.

 I really like my pretty bedroom that is now no longer the overflow storage room of the house.  In our old house, there was no storage so if there was anything that needed to be kept out of the way or away form little fingers, it got piled in our room.  Auntie Leila always encourages ladies to keep a pretty room, and that I am doing.  I especially like the pretty quilt that my grandmother had bought for my mother who never got to use it.  I think they would smile seeing it in this beautiful room.  

I am trying to figure out what color curtains I want for this room.  My mother in law purchased the ones up now just to cover the windows until I decide.  She picked them up dirt cheap at the Christmas Tree shop.  What do you think?  Green? White? Off white?  Taupe?  Another color?  I just can't seem to find the right fit.


We were very happy that Father J could come bless the house and spend a Sunday afternoon with us.  I set the table for coffee, tea, and apple cake fresh from the farm.  Some little person was very excited to have Father over, and a little impatient for that cake.  Can you tell?


Well, Hubby and the rest of the family find it funny that I like my 1950's bathroom so much.  My favorite color has always been pink and this reminds me so much of my grandmother's pink bathroom.  When we first moved in, we had some major plumbing issues to contend with, including the leaking fixtures in the bathroom.  The plumber suggested I replace the whole shower unit because, "after all this work, you'll still have a pink tub!"

I told him leave my pink tub alone. I like my pink tub!


Hubby requested the workshop be blessed since Buddy does some crazy projects in there, hence everyone just out of frame.

This is our family room/playroom/classroom.  It has been a Godsend.    It is still very much a work in progress.  We had to replace the flooring and all the trim. The trim still needs to be reinstalled.  Then we have to replace the ceiling tiles.  Once the trim is up, we can arrange our bookcases and unpack our 40+ boxes of books.  However, just for some REAL perspective, if you moved our 1950's bathroom downstairs and attached it to this room, it would be the same size as out entire old house.  What a difference it is in a larger home!


There are parts of the house that I didn't include in this mini-tour.  I left out the children's bedrooms for their privacy.  There are also those parts that are a little too real, if you know what I mean, to broadcast across the world wide web.  The two areas above, I posted to get some feedback.  The first  is the stairway down to the family room.  Before we moved in, we pulled up from the stairs a very old, very dirty carpeting that was full of all kinds of nastiness.  I'm not inclined to replace it with carpeting because there are no electrical outlets that would allow easy and thorough vacuuming of the stairs--hence why they were probably so dirty. However, with the amount of foot traffic the stairs receive, I don't see paint holding up well.  Any suggestions or ideas?

The second photo is our future mud area.  Once the door is replaced (It is covered with a curtain because Buddy knocking and glass don't mix, so you really don't want to see our little patch job.) with a door that has a keyed lock, it will become the main entrance for the children and I since it is just off the car port where I park.  It will help keep their shoes and belongings out of the living room--along with the mud and snow!  The gate leads to downstairs.  I am not sure if I want to keep it.  I'm trying to decide on a color to paint it that will brighten the area up but stand up to muddy shoes and children continually passing through.  I'm all ears!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 Fave: Reads from the Internet This Week

This is a quick list of my five a favorite posts or articles that I came across this week.  There is so much out there, but it is always nice when you discover something really worth reading.  Enjoy!

Linking up with Ashley.  Did you read anything worth sharing this week?  Please comment below.


We try very hard to limit the use of devices and games in our home. In fact we have no video games (only the exercise type games for the Wii that we play as a family every once in a great while).  I have a Kindle with games and apps for the kids and each one gets 30 minutes a day of "Freetime" they use it about once every other month.  Until we recently moved, the television was kept in a cabinet and was only opened for an hour of educational programming a day, some days we forgot, some weeks we forgot.  Now that the television is in plain sight, I find my boys in particular are constantly asking to watch a show.  However, when we first moved, there was no Internet here for a month, which meant no Netflix, which meant no shows.  For the first three weeks we did not have a television hooked up at all, there were no videos to watch, either.  Although my son protested, after the first couple days, they stopped asking about the television being hooked up.  They just played.  Not that they never played and created before, they did, but without the temptation of instant entertainment, they let their imaginations soar.  We almost didn't hook the TV up at all after that.
This article, which I saw posted multiple places on Facebook, is a startling look at what most young people experience when faced with the absence of their comfort items--music, phones, and the Internet.  While I question the fact that they could not have any personal contact of any kind, even face to face.  I think that it is a wake up call of why culture is going the way it is.  It is nearly impossible to listen to the whispers of God on your heart when you are continually surrounded by distraction and noise.  The need to be entertained crushes the prospect of creativity and ingenuity, it also makes us a very self-centered society.  I really encourage you to read the full article and share it around to family and friends.  


As a mom who has had a struggling reader, I truly appreciate Kelly's article about trusting that your child will learn to read. I only wish she wrote it about seven years ago.  Reading is fundamental as the old tag line goes, but it isn't innate.  It also isn't a race.  We, as a society, put such a premium on being the first and checking off our list.  Education is a journey not a to do list.  Just because your child starts reading at four and a half completely independently, like one of mine did, doesn't mean that you have all the answers and he is bound for a PHD from Harvard.  Likewise, a child who takes until ten with intense phonics instruction to really get it, as one of mine did, does not mean you are failing and your child will never amount to anything in life.   Reading is a process and a skill, it is also a key to adventure for the rest of your life.  Raising children that love to read is much more important and raising ones that read early or easily. 

We are at the point of the year where homeschooling gets hard.  Hang in there Mama!  If you need some encouragement or streamlining (Don't we all?), check out this post from Homeschool Creations and give you little school a face lift!
If you are like me, you are probably looking ahead to next year and beginning to plan.  The ever resourceful Auntie Leila has a wonderful post on how to organize a homeschool notebook in order to design your own curriculum and keep track of what you are accomplishing all year.  I highly recommend checking it out.  I must say that I follow a similar routine but am not very good at keeping consistent records, this post inspired me to do better.  Thanks, Auntie Leila!
I really like Simcha Fisher.  She has a way of writing that feels like you are her best friend and she invited you over for tea.  She is always funny, and always real; but more importantly she is always devoutly Catholic.  I discovered her article about confession on Debbie's Facebook page.  It is a lovely read and one that is so appropriate as we head into Lent in a few short weeks.  Never be afraid to seek God's Mercy.  He died for you, just the way you are.
In case you are wondering, you can follow me on Facebook here.  God bless!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Five Things that I Thought Would Be Our Favorites

It's January...oh, January!  Even though the snow hasn't made an appearance here, yet, it is still the doldrums of winter schooling.  Why is January so hard?  Every year I resolve that it won't be, but it always is.

As I am thinking of how our year is about half over, and starting to look ahead to next year.  I thought I would share the five things I planned that I thought would be our favorites but aren't.  Just being honest here!


States & Capitals  [Music Download] -     By: Twin Sisters Productions

I thought that these cassettes with catchy tunes would be all the rage.  However, instead of effortlessly learning amazing facts by  heart with easy, my children were just annoyed by the hokey toe-tapping songs.  I'm not saying these are bad, I'm just saying that they didn't work for our family.

Free Download Audiobooks

Okay, so maybe this doesn't belong on this list because the only reason they aren't our favorite is because we haven't been able to get them to work.  I have an MP3 player and set of speakers but try as I might, can't get the book to download.  So, I tried my Kindle, it has an audiobook tab after all.  Same problem!  I read that there is an app for Libravox (remember when things just worked and didn't need a special app?  Yeah, me, too!) However, every time I try to download it, it says it is sold out and will be back in stock soon???!!!??? (Shakes head)

Sigh, so we just unearthed the ipod from the boxes that remain to be unpacked, and I am going to try again.  Before you think all is lost in the car, we have been really enjoying the Music Masters Cd's and some audiobooks from the library.


You would think that a boy who thinks about Almanzo Wilder day and night and will do anything to get to watch something, anything on television would be wild about a documentary of the Almanzo's life.  Sadly, he wasn't.  It is well done but he said that he wished there were actual people acting out the history instead of a narrator just explaining what happened in each place.  You can't win them all.  I still think we learned something, but once was enough.
This is definitely a case of "it's not you, it's me".  This is a wonderful cookbook, but with so many food restrictions in our family, it seems impossible to use, even though I thought I could adapt it.  When we first tried it, there were several less dietary restrictions and I still had to skip recipes.  I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to do this again...oh, wait, I remember, it was those beautiful pictures of Jessica's lovely daughter cooking up the most scrumptious treats and learning about the states at the same time.  LOL.  I thought I could somehow capture the same spirit even if we had to eliminate at least 3 major food categories and members of a couple more.  Oh, well.  There are greater problems in the world for sure and I truly enjoyed traveling across the USA vicariously via blog posts with Jessica's beautiful, young ladies.  I have decided instead to just pick a recipe from each region and make it together.  Finding 5-6 recipes and adapting them is much more manageable than doing 50!  Best laid plans, right?

This book looked great when I first picked it up, but once we started to use it I just didn't like it at all.  It seemed kind of scattered and the lessons varied from above a second grader's head to just plain filler.  I tried adapting it and only doing part but the more I went through it the less I liked it.  It was quickly dropped, but our First Confession preparation was not harmed in the least.

As they say, you live and learn.  I am happy to see, as I revisited our original plans to see what I had altered along the way, that we are in better shape than I was fearing.  We have tackled a lot of what we set out to do.  We still have work to do, but that is what snow days are for.  Fortunately, my children don't know about lazy snow days when there's nothing to do but play in the snow and drink hot cocoa.  :)

How is your year going?  Any changes you've had to make?  New discoveries you wish to share?  Thanks for stopping by.

Linking up with Ashley for #FiveFavs

Friday, January 8, 2016

{p, h, f, r) Christmas 2015 Edition

This is a bit of a photo dump of a post.  We had a Pretty Happy Christmas.  It was Real-ly nice to have such a big and beautiful living room to decorate and enjoy.  We had a lovely Christmas breakfast, as always, and then attended Mass.  I'm happy that I finally got a picture of the kids in front of the Nativity this year, I always hope to do it and it just doesn't happen.  No family photo this year, though. It's Funny because when we got to Mass early and it was so warm, I thought it would be nice to get the entire fmaily in front of the Nativity, but didn't have anyone to take the photo for me.  As I was snapping the picture of the kids, Little Man's Godmother walked up and said, "Could I take a picture of the whole fmaliy for you?"

 I thought, "Yes!"

Hubby said, "No, we are early, let's keep it that way.  We can do it on the way out."  Little Man fell fast asleep mid way through Mass--oh well!

Hope everyone had a joyous and blessed Christmas day!

Linking up with Rosie who did a photo dump of her own.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

5 Faves: Communion Preparation

So, Buddy's First Communion is in four months--FOUR MONTHS!!!!!  That might as well be tomorrow as far as my uber planning personality is concerned.  Now that the distractions of moving and the holiday season has passed. It is time to get down to business.  I realized that I have not yet begun the Communion notebook that I was planning.  So here is my finalized plan for you, but also for me.  I will try to post pictures of sample pages, too.

Linking up with Ashley for #5Faves.

I am a Child of God Section-  These pages will be about Buddy and his life in the Church.  It will contain the following pages:
  1. My Name-- The pictures and names of his two patron saints. (You could also include a story of how the name was picked.)
  2. My Baptism--Pictures and details about his baptism including date, place, and Godparents. (I am also going to make a second page with his "Baptismal Garment" on it.)
  3. My Favorite Saints-- Pictures and descriptions of his two favorite saints. 

Salvation History Section- These pages will trace the plan of salvation from Genesis to the Gospels

  1.  God Makes the Earth--List the seven days of Creation and what happened on each day.  (Just a sentence for each at most, this should fit on one page.)
  2. Adam and Eve--Narration of the fall and entrance of original sin in Buddy's own words.  (I will have him tell me the story as I write so there isn't any pressure of spelling, etc.)
  3. Noah and the Covenant-- We will read the story of the flood and make a page with a rainbow and God's promise to Noah.
  4. Jesus is born--A decorative page where Buddy can draw the story of the first Christmas.
  5. Teachings of Jesus--I am using this book and having Buddy design a page with words and drawings to explain what he learned from the book.
  6. Jesus Redeems the World--A narration in his own words of how Jesus suffered, died, and rose to free us from our sins.


My First Reconciliation Section--These two pages as a way to remember and preserve the memory of this special day and how Buddy felt about it.

  1. Pictures of My Day--A scrapbook style page of the photos I took.
  2. My Memories from that Day--A narration of Buddy's memories and what reconciliation meant to him.


The Most Holy Eucharist Section--This will be an explanation of the Eucharist and why it is so special. 

  1. The Last Supper--A page of drawings and words by Buddy to show what happened on the last supper, which was the first Eucharistic sacrifice.
  2. Eat My Body, Drink My Blood--A narration of how Jesus' body and blood became the Holy Eucharist offered for all our sins.
  3. Patron Saint of First Communion--A scrapbook style page for Blessed Imelda.  (We will read her story and listen to the Holy Heroes version before creating this page.)

My First Holy Commuion Section--These pages, like the First Reconciliation section are a scrapbook of sorts to preserve the memories and pictures of this most special day.

  1. Pictures of My Day--Buddy will get to pick which pictures he wants to include and create page(s) to keep in his notebook.
  2. My Memories from that Day--A narration of Buddy's memories and what receiving Jesus for the first time meant to him.
  3. Family and Friends--A scrapbook of cards and notes from family and friends.
  4.  A Letter to Buddy--As I have for special events in all my children's lives, I am going to write and scrapbook a special letter to Buddy, if I can see the page through my tears.

For any information on the books we are using to prepare for First Communion, please check out my post in the Let's Get Planning Section on Fist Communion Preparation.

Any questions or recommendations?  Please leave a comment, I love to hear from you.