Rock on

Maybe I’m just a big weirdo, but I seriously LOVE rocks. I have since I was a little bitty girl. My mom always had to check my pockets for rocks before she washed my clothes. I’m still likely to pick up a rock I like and put it in my pocket. I have asked for rocks as gifts.

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This is petrified wood. A Christmas gift last year.

This trait must be genetic because my Granny loved rocks too. She hunted for them on her farm in Kentucky. I always remember looking at those rocks when I’d visit her. To me, they were like fancy jewels. She kept the prettiest ones in a curio cabinet. It made them seem even more special.

When she passed away I brought some of those rocks to my house.

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Just as I’ve written about it before, like the little chair she made,  I look at the rocks she found and imagine her searching for them.

My girls have the same love of these little gems as my Granny and me. They will search the yard or wherever we are out and about. Then they’ll come in and scrub or examine their rocks with magnifying glasses to see what treasures they’ve just discovered.

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This is part of a huge rock in our yard.

Yesterday, they broke open geodes for science. The excitement of what it was going to look like on the inside was real for each of us. The hard work (and small injury of a hit thumb) of cracking them open was so worth it when the interior was revealed. They are just beautiful. I am amazed at how something that looks so ordinary from the outside can be so stunningly beautiful on the inside.  However, this is not only true of rocks, is it?!

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I think that may be why we love them so much. There is something about looking for the special, beautiful, and wondrous in ordinary things. It’s a gift to be able to look beyond the outside and look inside or even to look at all.

Christmas Eve Countdown

Christmas Eve is one month from today.  What that means to me is that I need to kick it into high gear and get stuff done.

One of the subjects in our homeschool is Handicrafts. So, the girls and I will be working on some DIY projects that will double as gifts.

We will be working on several of the Handicraft projects I’ve pinned in Pinterest.

These little bow bracelets are so cute. The tutorial we are using is on the Polka Dot Chair website.

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Photo credit: Polka Dot Chair

Another craft we’re going to work on is a reusable cup sleeve. This tutorial  is on Crafty Staci

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Photo credit: Crafty Staci

Of course, there will be body scrubs in Mason jars. I have a true love with Mason jars. Don’t get me started…

Back to the body scrubs, there are lots of recipes online. I’ve always just made my own with coconut oil, sugar, and whatever essential oil I like best at the time.

I’m sure there will be many projects and crafts done between now and Christmas Eve.

It’s countdown time…Let the creating and crafting begin!

Understood Betsy {Great Books}

 

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Another great book that we discovered this year is Understood Betsy. This may be in my top ten favorite books of all time. The narrator is funny and sharp. The characters are so well developed that you will feel like you know them personally by the end of the book. The story couldn’t be better. I loved every page in this book. I told my husband about each chapter after we’d read it. Just hearing about it from us left him wanting to know how it all worked out in the end.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Understood Betsy

A warm and charming portrayal of life in the early 1900s. Sheltered 9 year old Elizabeth Ann has always heard her Aunt Frances talk about “those horrid Vermont cousins.” Now she is terrified. Aunt Frances can no longer take care of her, and she has been sent to stay with her New England relatives. “Betsy” gradually comes to enjoy the challenge of living with her country cousins, and she has a difficult choice to make. A delightful book.

This was a literature book for our homeschool. It didn’t feel like school at all. We all cried at certain chapters and my girls made me hold off with the final chapter for a week just because they could barely stand the thought of it being over.

This would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for a child.

 

 

Ancestry DNA

Two years ago for Father’s Day we got my dad the Ancestry DNA kit. It was what he wanted and specifically asked us to get him. Now, we all assumed that it would come back telling us that he was 90% German. What we knew from his family was that his father’s parents had come from Germany before they’d had children. We knew very little about his mother’s side and because her maiden name was German sounding we thought that she was also German.

After a few weeks, he got the results and they were a complete surprise.

That man is BRITISH. He has a little Western European in him, but way less than we thought. Once we got started on the website we were able to start making a family tree. It even links you up to cousins that match up with your DNA. It’s been a fun project..

I got my own kit and was shocked that I am 20% Irish. I didn’t know I was Irish at all. Now, both of my parents, in-laws, husband and lots of friends have done it too. It really is fun. The anticipation of waiting was even kind of fun. If you choose, it can be a lot of work too.

So after many hours of work I found out things I never would have dreamed. One thing that completely shocked me was that most of my family on both sides have been here for a long time. Many of my relatives were part of the Revolutionary War.

Some came over later and I’ve even seen their names on the passenger’s lists for the boats on which they arrived. Some seemed like nice people and others maybe not so much. You can’t pick your family.

Some of the coolest things I’ve discovered are the people way back in the past. 2108

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What this particular discovery had led to has been really fun and interesting. Our history lessons this year (we use Ambleside online) have been all about Medieval British history. It’s been neat to read and learn about these great grandfathers. The children have been far more excited to learn about British history because it’s related to them now.

If you’ve ever considered doing your Ancestry, I would highly recommend it. It’s been an amazing experience.

The Hundred Dresses

Yesterday was National Young Readers Day. It is suggested that on that day parents and adults read to the children in their lives. This book is a great book to do just that!

I homeschool my children with the exception of my high schooler. I have homeschooled them from the beginning and for our family it was a very good decision. Anyway, with all that I have going on I usually only have time to read the books my children are reading or that I am reading to them. One of these books is “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes. I read it aloud to my youngest two girls and then made my older two read it because it is just so good! I cried. I usually do at good stories and this one is so very good.

Goodreads says,
“Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.” This powerful, timeless story has been reissued with a new letter from the author’s daughter Helena Estes, and with the Caldecott artist Louis Slobodkin’s original artwork in beautifully restored color.”

This book was written over 70 years ago; but the message and the moral still ring true. Bullying is wrong. It hurts more deeply than we may ever realize. The bully is wrong, but the people who watch and do nothing are wrong too. One of the beautiful things in this story is the way that the girls who bullied feel remorse and have a true desire to make it right. The old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”  is proved WRONG in this book. The girls in the story come to learn that words have weight and they can hurt more than a stone. The best part of all is that Wanda is one of those people who doesn’t carry bitterness.There is much to take away from this little 90 page book!  I think this is a must read for all children and this parent loved it too!

Today is Veteran’s Day so to all those who have served and those who are currently serving
: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.