Valentine's Day 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Valentine's Day snuck up on me this year.  Maybe it is because it is summer here in Chile.  I know, that's not a great excuse because it was summer all year long in Thailand, but that is the excuse I am going with.

We started off our morning with what was supposed to be chocolate donuts, but they stuck terrible to the pan and came out all broken.  I ended up mixing the glaze in with the donut crumbles, forming them into balls, and making donut holes out of them.  I made some more glaze, colored it red and said it was good enough.  The boys were also surprised with Tootsie pops and a box of chocolates from their Gigi (my mom.)  They loved that they got their own box of chocolates!

For snack time, the boys decorated heart sugar cookies and we did this hilarious Valentine mad lib.

Lunch was homemade heart pizzas, with this super easy pizza crust I found.

And I didn't take a picture of dinner, but we had Million Dollar Spaghetti ( a favorite in this house), homemade french bread, and a delicious red velvet poke cake. I made whipped cream frosting for the cake instead of the cream cheese frosting.  So, lots of sweets and love on this Valentine's Day.

Next up on the holiday list is Ben's & Britton's birthdays, which are 3 days apart.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Inspirations: My Valentine's Day Pinterest page

Check our how we celebrated our past Valentine's day. Meals, snacks, crafts, & parties.
Valentine's Day 2014
Valentine's Day 2015
Valentine's Day 2016

What we are reading this week

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It's a new week and a new set of read alouds for us.  This week is much more manageable with only 3 read alouds to tackle.  We have a great group of books this week.

After Lunch Read Aloud

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

This is a sweet story about two little girls who become best friends and it is all about the adventures, real & imaginative, that they go on together.  We just started this books and have just met Betsy & Tacy.  I love reading the boys stories that have lead female characters because it gives them a perspective they are not familiar with.  We will only read this first book in the series, but there are 9 others books that follow them as they grow up.

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Nighttime Read Aloud- Britton

Double Fudge by Judy Blume

Britton and I are finishing up the Fudge series this week with Double Fudge.  We have really enjoyed reading these books together.  Fudge is always up to something.  Fudge and Peter's relationship remind me of my boys.  Peter complains about Fudge, but when it really comes down to it, he loves his brother and is always there to look out for him.  I'm looking for suggestions for another great series that Britton and I can start after this book, so if you have any for me I would love to hear them.

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Nighttime Read Aloud- Greyson and Lincoln

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

I have had a couple friends recommend this book and had no idea what it was about before I picked it up from the library. The book is based on a true story about a group of Japanese fisherman in the mid- 1800's that get shipwrecked.   They are rescued by an American ship and start heading towards America. Manjiro is our main character and he is really torn between staying with his group of fisherman and heading back to Japan or staying with the ship and seeing what America is like.  I can relate to parts of the book because Manjiro's perspective about the world is changing and he is realizing what he has been told his whole life might not actually be true.  It's so good.  I cannot wait to see where Manjiro will go.

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What is everyone reading this week?  Happy Reading!

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My 10 Favorite Read Alouds

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I have shared many times over the years that our family loves to read.  Well, not everyone loves to read but they all love read alouds.  We have been working our way through a book list of 100 Books you should read with your kids and we finally hit our goal of 100 books!!  We still have a few more books to complete on the list because we added some in along the way, but we are so proud of reaching our goal.  I found my original list from Chasing Supermom.  It's a great list to go by when deciding what books to read with your kids.  There are a few I would delete from the list and a few I would definitely add to the list, but overall it is a really great book list.

My boys are now almost 12, 9 & 7 (next week!) but I still believe in reading to them everyday.  A couple of years ago I picked up the book The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma and it just reaffirmed why reading aloud to your kids is so important. I honestly feel like if I have done nothing else right with this parenting thing, at least I have read to them everyday.  I highly recommend this book.  You will be so happy you have read it.

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I was looking through our list and decided to choose my top 10 favorite books from our past three years.  This was a tough task.  But there were 10 books that stuck out to me.  I plan on asking each of the boys what their favorites have been too.  Here they are, my top 10:

Three Tales of my Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

I had never heard of this book until I started the reading challenge, but it has become a favorite in our house.  This book is a wonderful book if you are just starting to read aloud to your kids.  It is hard not to get wrapped up in Elmer's journey to save the baby dragon and help the dragons of Blueland.  My boys kept asking for another chapter. They just could not get enough of this story and we were all very sad when it ended. We were also fascinated by the fact that Elmer went on this journey alone.
Recommended for ages 4-8.

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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

This book is a classic survival/adventure story.  Brian Robeson is a thirteen year old that is flying on a bush plane to visit his father when the pilot suddenly dies and he crashes in the wilderness in Canada. He is alone and needs to figure out how to eat and find shelter in order to survive.  Having an almost 12 year old, this book really tugged at my heart.  It brought up amazing discussions between me and the boys about what to do if you were stranded alone.  It also made me realize we all need a wilderness survival class and now that we live in Chile, it may be something we plan to do.
Recommended for 9+

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The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Gilly Hopkins is in the foster care system and has been shuffled from house to house.  She knows not to let her guard down and have any feelings towards the families she is sent to live with because it won't be a forever home.   This book is tough because it is not the normal happy book.  This book brought up the topic of foster homes and adoption and gave the boys insight to what an older child living in foster care would be feeling.  Gilly can be hard to like in this book, but the boys were able to understand why she behaved the way she did.  I love reading books that cover tough topics with the boys because it is the perfect platform to open up discussions about topics that may be tough to tackle on your own.

Recommended for 9+

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Loser by Jerry Spinelli

Oh, sweet Donald Zinkoff.  What a character,  This book tackled the tough topic of bullying and how just getting to know someone could introduce you to an amazing friend.  You cannot help but fall in love with Donald and his pure heart.  I honestly loved this book.  The boys and I discussed how we should treat others who might seem different from us, about bullying, and about being a good friend. Thinking of this book makes me well up.  Read this book with your kids, you will be glad you did.
Recommended for ages 8-12

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My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

15 year old Sam decides to run away from his house in New York City to the wilderness of the Catskill mountains.  He was tired of living in a cramped apartment with ten other people and  decides it is best to be on his own.  Sam has to start from the very beginning and learn to make fire in order to survive in the wild.  This book was interesting because Sam chose to leave his family.  He knew he always had a place to return to, but was determined to live in solitude.  This was a beautiful story of survival and the need for companionship.

Recommended for 10+

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Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

If you ask everyone in our family, I think we would all come up with this book as one of our top 5 books.  This book is also a book about a child who is an orphan and has been living in an orphanage. 10 year old Bud was placed with a foster family who treats him terribly and he runs away.  Another book with tough topics, death, abuse, & bullying but also a story about determination and overcoming difficult life situations.  We discussed  the depression and segregation while we were reading this book too.   Christopher Paul Curtis is becoming one of our favorite authors.  One of our favorites.
Recommended for 10+ ( although I read this to my 8 year old)

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Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I honestly cannot believe I am saying this. I have been anti-Harry Potter for many years.  Of course I have seen it on many books lists, but I have a thing about popular books and my stubbornness will not allow me to read them.  I am so glad I gave this one a chance.  Really, I recommend the whole series. I'm only putting this one on the list because it is the first in the series, not because it is the best in the series.  Every time I open a Harry Potter book I am sucked into the world of Hogwarts and feel like I am a spectator in their lives.  It is such a great story and I cannot wait to see how the whole thing turns out.  We are currently reading the 6th book and cannot wait to get to book 7.
Recommended for 7+

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This book took me by surprise.  I'm not particularly an animal person, so I was surprised the feelings I had during this book.  Ivan is a gorilla that has lived in a small mall his whole life.  He is joined by a few other retired circus animals.  Seeing the world through Ivan's eyes and the sadness he still felt when he thought about his family he was taken from, the determination he had to help a friend, and his selflessness was enough to make me want to fight for animal rights.  Seeing this all through an animal's eyes really changed my perspective on animals living in captivity.  And though it sounds like this is an animal rights book, it really is just a beautiful story of friendship.

Recommended for 8-12 years

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A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin

This is another book I had never heard of before until we started the book challenge.  Talk about pulling at your heartstrings.  This book was incredibly personal to me.  11 year old Hattie finds out about  her uncle she never knew about.  Adam has been at a special school and is coming to live back at his home.  I adore Hattie and Adam's relationship.  While some members of their family are ashamed of Adam, Hattie learns some of life's greatest lessons from him.  She is very protective of him and is always trying to make Adam as happy as she can.  This is a beautiful story about family and acceptance.

Recommended for 10+

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Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Minli is the daughter of a poor farmers and decides she wants to meet the Old Man of the Moon to find out how to change her family's fortune. Minli goes on an incredible journey and meets magical creatures and helpful people that guide her to the Old Man.  She even meets a dragon that becomes her friend.  I was not sure if the boys would like this book at all, but as we started reading I noticed they were enchanted by the story.  They hung on to every word that I was reading.  Grace Lin's writing is magical.  I highly recommend reading this book aloud.

Recommended for ages 8-12

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Here are my top 10 books from the past 3 years of reading aloud.  We have been to so many magical places and met some pretty incredible characters that felt like friends over the years.  I'm excited to see where we will travel this year.

If you want to see the whole list of everything we have read click HERE.

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