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The new home for hundreds of Deliciously Clean Reads, as well as picture book reviews, crafts, and other learning activities. Don't you hate when you get into a book and then have to put it down because you feel the content is inappropriate? After this happened to me several times in a row, I went searching on-line for a good resource for clean book recommendations. When I didn't find much, I started this blog where anyone can recommend books as long as they are free of sex, profanity, and graphic violence.
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1. Picture Books with Morals

I made a list today of some of our favorite picture books that teach morals, so I figured I might as well share it here, too.

Acceptance:

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
Chicken Big by Graves

Being Happy with what You Have:

Old Hat New Hat by the Berenstains

Bravery:

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
The Woods by Paul Hoppe
The Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark by Diesen

Creativity:

Fanny by Holly Hobbie
Not a Box by Portis
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Go to Bed, Monster by Wing

Friendship:

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt
Otis and Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever by Numeroff
A Visitor for Bear (and the rest of the series) by Bonnie Becker
You Will Be My Friend by Peter Brown
Fox Makes Friends by Adam Relf
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Enemy Pie by Munson

Obedience:

Strega Nona by dePaola

Positive Attitude:

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
Miss Rumphius by Cooney
The Pout Pout Fish by Diesen

Persistence:

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Fleming

Reading and Writing:

Henry and the Crazed Chicken Pirates by Crimi
Library Lion by Knudsen
More Bears by Nesbitt
Calvin Can't Fly by Berne
Max's Words by Banks
Interrupting Chicken by Stein

Service:

Little Blue Truck by Schertle
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Spinelli

Sibling Relationships:

Max and Ruby series
Flora and the Very Windy Day by Birdsall
A Birthday for Frances by Hoban






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2. The Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker



The 7 amazing tales of the frog princess are a series about a young princess named Emeralda. But everyone calls her Emma. Emma has a flair of magic inside her. These tales starring Emma are a very unique series. They are full of wonderful magic, romance, friendship, and everything amazing to you. Emma is a young princess in love with a funny, but serious prince with a huge appetite...Prince Eadric has a wonderful character like his love, Princess Emeralda. Emma makes lots of animal friends along the way, including a bat named Li'l. She also makes friends with a few mermaids, Pearl and her friends. A dragon named Ralf and his old grandfather are also befriended by the remarkable pair. These enchanting books will make you believe you are with Emma and her Prince Eadric, just as they have done for me. Emma discovers she is a witch. This makes the books a wonderful set of stories with Emma doing all kinds of magic experiments that will get you tangled up in this series whipped up by a wonderful author, E.D. Baker. Emma and her betrothed Prince Eadric fight all kinds of scary monsters and a few dragons together. But however hard Emma tries, it seems that she and Eadric will never marry. Finally, they get married. But wait...You're not done with the series, yet, they only get married at book three. Read this amazing series.           

Report by a 7 year old girl, who is choosing not to be named.   :)     

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3. Free Time for Homeschoolers

When people ask me how much time I spend homeschooling, it's hard to answer. Do you include family work? Do you want me to count music practice? What about time spent reading?

And what about free time? At first, I'm sure you'd say no, but free time is actually something I'm pretty passionate about. Kids need time to just play, create, explore, and be kids.

Today, for example, I was doing some dishes after lunch. Usually, I recruit help from all my little eaters, but I looked around and decided not to disrupt them.

Bubs was at the piano, picking out the Star Wars theme song by ear.

Welly was writing a retelling of Cinderella.

Why-Why was actually vacuuming for me.

OK...so I did ask Why to vacuum, but Bubs and Welly were using their free time for great creative pursuits that they chose to do.

There's so much power in choice, isn't there? When we choose to play an instrument, write a story, or whatever else we may choose to do, don't you think we get so much more out of it than if we were just fulfilling an assignment?

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4. The Cat of Bubastes by G. A. Henty


We read The Cat of Bubastes by G. A. Henty as part of Family School.

I've heard many homeschoolers recommend G. A. Henty's books, because they are well-researched historical novels. This was our first experience reading one.

The Cat of Bubastes takes place in Ancient Egypt in about 1200 BC.

Amuba is the prince of the Rebu, when Egypt comes and conquers his people. His father dies in battle, and his mother poisons herself in her despair. Amuba is taken to Egypt as a slave, where he serves a kind master, Ameres, the High Priest of Osiris.

In Egypt, he becomes friends with Chebron, the boy he is assigned to serve. When Chebron accidentally kills the sacred cat of Bubastes, the boys are forced to flee.

This story is full of adventure, morals, a tiny bit of romance, and intrigue.

This book made an entertaining read-aloud, but I think kids would have a hard time getting through it on their own. Bubs (9) and Welly (7) really enjoyed it, but one chapter per day was enough. Wy (4) sometimes felt like a chapter was more than he could handle.

We learned a lot from this book...a lot about Ancient Egyptian culture. It's also a fabulous coming-of-age type story.

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5. Happy Mother's Day!




I have the most wonderful mother on Earth. Love her!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

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6. Our Current Reading

I'm usually a One-Book-at-a-Time kinda girl, but at the moment I'm all over the place.

As much of a reader as I've been over the last decade, I feel like my eyes are just beginning to open, and I feel this thirst for more knowledge...and it feels good.

Right now, I'm making my way through...

Non-LDS Books


The Cat of Bubastes by G. A. Henty-There's so much to learn from his historical fiction. Wow! Makes a great read-aloud. Long at times, I admit, but it's quite the adventure. We're all enjoying it.


Les Miserables by Victor Hugo-So great when I read it, but I find myself drawn to other books first.


LDS Books


10 Critical Keys for Highly Effective Mormon Families by William Dyer and Philip Kunz-Interesting look at what successful families do.


The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister-Beautiful. Great insights.


The Temple Experience by Wendy Ulrich-Haven't read much yet, but I'm hoping that it will help me get more out of my temple experiences.

And while I'm at it....

Bubs is reading:



Welly is reading:




That's it at the moment. What are you reading?

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7. Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby


Here's another quick recommendation. As you know, I've been a bit of a slacker on the blogging front lately.  During my recess, I have read many books. Some turned out to be unworthy of Deliciously Clean Read status. Others were forgettable.

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
was one that stuck with me, and I wanted to make sure to mention here at Homespun Light.

Amazon has the following plot description:

Critically acclaimed author Matthew J. Kirby deftly weaves a stunning coming-of-age tale with chilling cleverness and subtle suspense that will leave readers racing breathlessly to the end.

Trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig--along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors--anxiously awaits news of her father's victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. Solveig must also embark on a journey to find her own path. Yet, a malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, as a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.

Those charged with protecting the king's children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father's watchful eye? Can Solveig survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he manages to destroy a kingdom?
Besides being a great page-turner, this book has some great themes. It talks about the importance of stories, what it is like to be a middle child, bravery, and selflessness.

This book kind of has a fantasy feel, but you certainly won't find any fairies or goblins in it.

I highly recommend it. If you enjoy books like The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (review here), check this one out!

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8. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson


It has been quite some time since I read (AND LOVED) Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson. I've recommended it to many friends, but I see that I never got around to recommending it to you!

From the publisher, Shadow Mountain:

"Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance.

Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.  From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke."

Shadow Mountain got me really excited when they announced that this book is the first in their "G-rated Proper Romance Line". I've been watching for news of more titles that fit this description. No news yet, I'm afraid. Where are the follow-ups, Shadow Mountain? We want more!

I found this book to be a tremendously enjoyable read. It was hard to put down, and I highly recommend this CLEAN, wonderful romance, especially to those readers who enjoy Jane Austen-era reads. You'll find the setting, playful banter, and romance you love....although this is certainly a quicker read than Austen's novels.

Enjoy! Everyone in my book club loved this one.

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9. LDS Homeschool Conference Notes


On Saturday, I went to the Latter-day Learning Conference at American Heritage School, and my cup is full. What a great day! I feel on fire with excitement.

The morning began with an inspiring keynote address by Nick Gentile. Here are some of my notes.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 29:34- All things are spiritual; God never gave us a law that was only temporal.
  • In the Doctrine and Covenants manual, it says that man makes the distinction between temporal and spiritual, not God.
  • Elder Wirthlin, at the October 2007 General Conference said that God sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.
  • Referenced the talk, An Education for Real Life, by President Henry B. Eyring.
  • Described the 4R-ing system to learning: Research, Reason, Relate, Record.
  • Make SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound.
For the first breakout sessions, I listened to Jane Mack and Nannette Wiggins, who spoke about how The Family School curriculum came to be. It has been a long and time-consuming process that is blessing the lives of many! They talked about "laying the Gospel as the foundation of every subject". It was an interesting class, but I didn't take many notes, I'm afraid.

During the second session, I heard from Lauri Updike, a teacher at American Heritage School. 
  • Peculiar people are His treasure.
  • Neil Flinders, author of Teach the Children: An Agency Approach to Education , said that true religion includes ALL the Lord has given us.
  • We should treat our kids as children of God. Assume the best of them. Have high expectations.
  • Use primary sources and prophetic quotes to find truth.
  • Study the meaning behind words. 1. Dictionary 2. Words of living Prophets 3. Scriptures 4. Reason out a personal definition relating it to your own life.
  • 4Rs help us self-govern.
  • We want Christ "written in the fleshy tables of our hearts".
After the second session, I went out to a delicious lunch with a couple friends. My friend, Liz, highly recommends the book, 10 critical keys for highly effective Mormon families.

After lunch, Ruel Haymond gave an incredible class, entitled Like it or Not, Likening is the Key.

  • The natural man in each of us wants to liken unto everyone except ourselves.
  • It's easy to read and think, "Those dumb Nephites. If they could only see!" We need to apply to our own lives instead.
  • We can overcome the natural man through hope in Christ.
  • Recommends the book, TO END ALL WARS
    by Ernest Gordon and the documentary, Miracle on the River Kwai.
Next, I heard Diann Jeppson speak about Family Devotionals.

  • Her family likes to "play missionary". Diann pretends to be an investigator and asks kids questions about the Church. They are supposed to incorporate an Article of Faith in their answer.
  • Possible Building Blocks of devotional include: prayer, song, memorizing scriptures, Our Heritage, Teaching the Topics of Themes (her personal favorite**), True to the Faith (older kids), scriptures, spelling, creative writing, inspiring quotes, locate a couple places on a map, recite family mission statement or a family cheer, Pledge of Allegiance, Monday Morning at the Movies (watch a conference talk), read a family history story, manners, etc.
  • Strategies: 1. Food is a great gatherer. 2. Give people something to do with their hands. (coloring, knitting, crochet, carving, fixing something...) 3. Be consistent, even when it has to be short. 4. Tell stories in your own words.
Lastly, I chose to listen to an experienced panel of homeschoolers.
1. To motivate your children:
  • Praise them.
  • Be sure your requirements are worthwhile.
  • Take a long-term view.
  • Set the stage with older kids.
  • Work and play WITH them.
  • Give stars or beans in a jar for every time they happily say, "Sure, Mom. I'd be glad to." Let them earn ice cream or field trips.
2. Favorite things about homeschooling:
  • Time spent together.
  • Great discussions because they learn to be good conversationalists.
  • Kids become your friends.
3. Take time for yourself. Even the Savior left the press of the multitude to go apart.

Those are my notes. I'm kind of a conference junkie. I love days like this, when I can go fill my cup to overflowing and come home refreshed and ready to stretch and grow.

Emily blogs at Homespun Light, where she talks about books, homeschool, books, religion, crafts, and books.

(I wrote this post for Latter-day Homeschooling. If you are an LDS homeschooler, you'll definitely want to check it out!)

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10. Like a Tulip


Aren't tulips happy? I'm telling you, they're the best thing about spring. I love them.

I want to be more like a tulip. Stretching, growing, leaning toward the light. Even when the world is cold. Bending and moving toward the light.

Happy Springing.

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11. Happiness


I recently started a new homeschool curriculum with my 4 kids. It's LDS-based and covers science, history, geography, art, literature, and music. We are enjoying it, and I plan to do a thorough review soon.

Until then, if you are an LDS homeschooler, find out more about it at www.latterdaylearning.org.

(If you are wondering what the heck LDS means, it's what we Mormons call ourselves. You can learn more here.)

Today we studied literature for Family School. Each lesson is based on Gospel Principles. As part of literature today, we read The Fisherman and His Wife and Rumplestiltskin. We talked about selfishness and greed and about what brings true happiness vs. what brings short-term pleasure.

Anyway, I've been thinking about that today.

Bubs, who is 9, has a talent for selflessness. He gets it. He thinks about others' happiness before his own. On Wednesday night, he had to get stitches. It was a first for our family.

He had been taking apart on old DVD player, and he left some pieces on the floor in his room. Well, he got startled, tripped, and cut deeply into one of his toes.

It was late by the time he got back from the ER. We were all tired.

The next morning, his sister (Welly, age 7) said that Bubs was sobbing during the night in pain. She told him she was going to wake me up, but he wouldn't let her. He told her to let me sleep because I was up so late.

So unselfish. That's the beauty of it, though. We find true happiness in seeking the happiness of others. When we put our own happiness first, it falls short.

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12. Beautiful Video: Having Children in Faith


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13. Thinking about Busy-ness



This morning, I posted at Latter-day Homeschooling about relaxing and enjoying life. Want to read it? Go here.

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14. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale


The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by (the amazing, hilarious, and wonderful) Shannon Hale

Review by Welly-Bell, Age 7

Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee is princess of Kildenree. She can talk to birds. She is traveling with fifty guards and the key-mistress' daughter, Selia. On the way to Bayern, Selia and most of the guards betray Ani.

They try to kill Ani, but she escapes. After a few days of wandering in the forest, Ani finds a little cottage.

Gilsa and Finn live in the cottage. Ani helps them with the chickens and goats in exchange for a bed and food. Ani goes to the city with Finn.

On market day, Ani goes to see the King. She realizes she is going to have to come back. The King gives her work in the geese pen with Conrad.

Conrad is grumpy most of the time. Enna and Razo and Beier and some others also work there.

Princess Selia tells the King that Kildenree is planning to attack Bayern.

Read the book and find out what happens to Ani. Some of the characters I really like are Enna, Gilsa, and Finn.

***Check out my interview with Shannon Hale here!

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15. Beyond Foo, Book 1: Geth and the Return of the Lithens by Obert Skye


Beyond Foo, Book 1: Geth and the Return of the Lithens by Obert Skye

Review by Bubs, Age 9 (who is apparently picking up on Daddy's sales skills.)


Join Geth and Clover on an exciting adventure in the hidden border of Foo. 

Geth and Clover, in search of adventure discover a secret passageway to another realm. They soon learn that the realm is controlled by an evil man named Payt. Geth also discovers that his thought-to-be-dead brother is in Payt's dungeons. 

As the two set out on a rescue mission for both Geth's brother and the realm, their very lives are in fate's hands.

I liked this book because of the good humor and awesome action. Obert Skye has a great sense of creativity too, creating a wonderful story.

This book is a middle-grade fantasy.



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16. A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker


A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse) by Bonny Becker is definitely a favorite around here, as are A Visitor for Bear (Bear and Mouse) and The Sniffles for Bear (Bear and Mouse). Somehow, we have missed A Birthday for Bear (Bear and Mouse), which will quickly be remedied. It's already in my Amazon cart.

My Welly-Girl, who is now 7, is a voracious reader. I'm running out of middle grade and young adult fairy tale romances to pass on to her! If I can't keep up with what my kids are reading, I don't know who can.

This review, which is more of a summary, is about a wonderful picture book...which she likes despite the lack of romance.

Anyway, it was written by her. I'm bribing my kids to write up reviews for the blog, so expect more.

A Bedtime for Bear (Bear and Mouse), written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Review by Welly-Bell, Age 7.

One evening Bear heard someone knock on his front door...it was Mouse. "I am here to spend the night," he said, so they played chess until it was bedtime.

When it was bedtime, Bear reminded Mouse he had to be absolutely quiet.

Mouse got ready for bed. Bear got ready for bed.

Mouse hummed. "My ears are highly sensitive!" cried Bear.

"Can you hear this?" said Mouse.

"WILL THIS TORMENT NEVER CEASE?" wailed Bear.

When Mouse finally went to sleep, Bear thought he still heard noises. He was scared. He woke up Mouse, who checked the room. Then Bear told Mouse a bedtime story about a scared, little mouse and a big, brave bear.

I like this book because Bear is funny.





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17. I Have A Dream for My Four Children


For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we watched the I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and wrote our own speeches.

I would like to share my dreams for my children...

I Have A Dream

I have a dream that my four children will grow up to love God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I have a dream that because of this love, they will love others and treat them as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have a dream that my four children will yearn for truth and righteousness, that they may be filled with knowledge and hunger for more. I hope that their knowledge will bring them success as they journey through life, that they may have the things they need for themselves and their families.

I have a dream that they will understand that truth is eternal, and that the Holy Spirit can and will guide their learning and deepen their understanding, that it may be a great blessing to them in this life, as well as in the life to come.

I have a dream that my four children will have fulfilling personal relationships, especially with their family members, and of course, with the Lord, for all of these relationships can last forever.

I have a dream that they will find happiness here on Earth and eternal joy in Heaven.

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18. Olympics: Activities for Families






Happy Opening Ceremonies Day!


I might be a little bit anti-TV in general. I'll be honest. 

BUT...when the Olympics are on? Bring on the popcorn, and let's hang out on the couch!

As homeschoolers, the Olympics provide the perfect opportunity to do some unconventional learning time. Here are a few (easy and stress-free) ideas:

  • Have a globe or world map in the room. Each time a new country is mentioned, find it! You could even go the extra mile and google a little info about the country. Today, my son and I spent some time looking up some of the less-known countries that will be participating.
  • Make flags. You can make flags to hang or ones to wave while cheering for your country. You could make a flag for England and learn about London. You could have a sketchbook handy and sketch flags of countries you look up.
  • Make a banner of world flags.
  • Make a chart with a few of the most prominent countries, and chart their medals each day.
  • If you feel ambitious, set up a mock-Olympic games in your backyard. Have you heard of the Modern Pentathlon? It would be fun to imitate. It involves shooting, swimming, running, fencing, and show jumping. Set up a course in the backyard where kids shoot a water gun at a target, cross through a kiddie pool, stab something with a foam sword, and jump over a hurdle on a hobby horse. Don't forget a stopwatch. You could keep this pretty simple or go all out and invite the neighborhood.
  • Read about some of the people (past or present) who have competed in the Olympics.
  • When watching a sporting event such as basketball or volleyball, get out a white-board or chalkboard and tally up each team's points.
  • Choose an event and eat food from the country that earned gold.
  • Make medals for each other. You could think of a strength for each member of the family and give them a gold medal for that quality.
  • Learn about decimals. How long is a tenth or hundredth of a second? Find the differences between scores and times of gold medalists vs. silver and bronze medalists.
  • Buy gold coin chocolates and win 'medals' for doing chores, good behavior, etc.
  • Have everyone guess how many gold medals your country will win during the entire summer Olympics. Whoever ends up closest gets a prize.
  • Discuss the degrees of a circle in association with diving. 
  • Learn about a sporting event you are unfamiliar with.
  • Learn about horses and watch the equestrian events.
  • Create a routine modeled after synchronized swimming or gymnastics.
  • Do tricks on a trampoline. Have someone keep score.
  • Watch sailing and make sailboats to float in the bathtub or race down a creek.
  • Watch weightlifting. Weigh various items around the house.
  • Watch cycling, and go for a bike ride.
  • Have a race.
  • Wrestle.
  • Play water balloon volleyball.
  • Make a small canoe.
  • Go swimming.
  • Make mini bows, arrows, and targets. Compete. Watch archery.
  • Do gymnastics. Practice somersaults, cartwheels, bridges, splits...
  • Pretend a piece of wood is a balance beam.
  • Race on hobby horses.
  • Draw your own mascots.
  • Get library books about the Olympics.
  • Or, just snuggle and watch your favorite events together.
I'm sure you have some great ideas for celebrating the 2012 Summer Games. Please share!

Enjoy!!! 

19. Car Bomb



Some days, everything goes as planned, albeit rarely. Today wasn't one of those days. 

It started out fine. Better than fine, actually. The house was clean. We read a lot. Baby was happy. We ran some errands we'd been planning for days. We visited with an aunt and cousin from out-of-state.

And then the day started to wind down. I was tired, but milk and diapers are pretty essential. One more stop. Good old Wally-Marto. 

The kids were angels in the store. Super helpful ones. Putting things in the cart, bringing them to the register, placing them back in the cart, unloading them into the back of the car, putting the cart away...

A gallon of milk was placed on the ledge next to the back seat of the Suburban. (We won't place the blame.)

I saw it there, but it looked secure.

I was way wrong.

A light turned red on me rather suddenly, launching said gallon of milk forward, splitting the container in half, and literally creating a car bomb of humongous proportions. I was in the front (driving obviously) when I felt the cold, sticky spray. 

I considered throwing the jug out the window. What else was I going to do as it continued to glug, glug, glug out the side? Instead, we wrapped it Y's blanket and held it in the safest position...upside down.

Y asked, "Why you using my ba-yanket?"

"Sorry, Honey. It's all we have."

It's going to stink to High Heavens.

But my angel boy, Bubs, sure did his best to help get the car clean.

And how do you think My Robby reacted to the news?

He laughed!

I said, "You're laughing about this?"

His answer: "Well, one of us has to."

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20. Motherhood: The Best Job

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21. Ask a Mormon


Great article about Mormon temples from an Episcopal Priest in the Huffington Post.

And there's an article about Mormon underwear here. But aren't undergarments kind of a personal matter, even if you are vying for President?

Do you have questions about some of the strange things you've heard about us? I'd be happy to answer them as best as I can.

I grew up in Southern California where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) weren't terribly scarce or plentiful.

I certainly heard my share of strange questions, though.

No. I'm not hiding horns under my hair. And yes. Mormons are allowed to dance.

The worst thing was always when someone from another faith told me that they had "an ex-mormon" come speak to their congregation. You can bet that those probably aren't people who want to share a positive (or even completely truthful) view of us.

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22. The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker



The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

I picked this one up on our last trip to the library, and I'm so glad I did. What a fun story! I'm going to add it right away to my list of clean fantasy romances for growing girls.

I don't know how I missed it until now, but the timing is right, because I just saw that a sequel is forthcoming this Fall.

Here's my Book Review: Princess Annabelle, known as Annie, is the younger sister of Gwendolyn (aka Sleeping Beauty). When the beautiful Gwendolyn pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, everyone in the castle falls asleep. Everyone except Annie, that is.

Annie isn't affected by magic. In fact, any magic near her grows increasingly weaker. The other royals despise her because their magical gifts of beauty and grace fade in her presence. Even her parents keep their distance.

Annie sets out on a quest to find Gwendolyn's true love, so she can wake her family. One adventure proceeds another as she travels through fairy tales.

Along the way, the meet a Hansel-and-Gretel-esk witch, an enchanted prince who is in the form of a bear, a swamp prince who used to be a frog, and a prince holding contests to find a bride.

Baker flips many fairy tales on their heads in this creative adventure.

I thought the witch mentioned above was kind of creepy. She was fattening up a couple children to eat them. Of course, Annie outwitted her, saving the children, and creating a pretty funny and entertaining scene.

As you can imagine, there is also quite a bit of talk about kissing. After all, it IS the only way to wake a sleeping princess.

I read this to my 8 and 6 year olds. They both loved it. We finished it a few days ago, and today my 6 year old girl, Welly, said, "I just keep thinking about The Wide-Awake Princess. I can't believe that..." Sorry. I can't tell you the rest. It would spoil the ending.  :)

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23. Plastic Easter Egg Caterpillar



Do you still have plastic Easter Eggs hanging around?

Look at this cute craft my Bubs came up with.

It's as easy as it looks. Just string up your egg-halves, keeping them all the same direction until the last one. (You may have to make some of the holes bigger with a pen.) We used a nylon cord that doesn't stretch. It allows some movement but it doesn't allow for separation of the segments.

Make a little knot on each end and trim the excess.

Don't forget the happy face.  :)

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24. Thoughts on the Meaning of Education


It's difficult for me to encapsulate my definition of education because education is everywhere in everything. It is life. It's growth. It's improvement. Education is so much more than school (or home school), which is merely one structure from which we aim to become educated.

Education, to me, is placing ourselves, and those we are responsible for, on the path of eternal progression, and moving forward. All light and knowledge are part of this. There is no division between temporal and spiritual. All truth is God's truth. In this way, there is no end to education. There is no graduation from eternal progression.

Part of our eternal path, is to gain success in our earthly life. I feel that my role as a mother is to help my kids obtain success here that will prepare them for this life, and in turn, for the eternities.

This includes, but is not limited to:

1. Building Christlike attributes and character.
2. Loving and understanding the Gospel.
3. Being exposed to a broad base of knowledge, with deep understanding of topics of interest, talent, and passion.
4. Realizing personal life mission.
5. Possessing skills that will enable them to support themselves and their families when/if necessary.
6. Embracing God-given gender roles.

When people ask me what we do for home school, it's difficult for me to explain. We don't structure it like public school. It's a life style of learning. I like to call it Life Education.

Happy Learning!

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25. Book Review: Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes

As you know, I've been a blog-slacker lately. Who knew that having four kids and a big house would be so time-consuming? Anyway, publishers have been asking me to review various titles, and I've been passing most of them by. Sad, but true.


However, when I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence, I didn't want to say no. I'm always looking for fun ways to teach my kids about important subjects. The founding of the United States of America is a very important subject to me.

Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence is a picture book narrated by a mouse named Liberty Lee. He takes us on a journey through the history of our beloved country.


The story is both informative and interesting. It is written in rhyme. Rhyming can be tricky, especially when trying to pack it full of facts, but the author/illustrator team, Peter and Cheryl Barnes, do a surprisingly good job combining the two.


On the first page, we meet Liberty Lee. Then he jumps into his "tail":


"To begin, let's go back more than 400 years
To meet the first settlers--the first pioneers.
Across the Atlantic from England they came
To seek opportunity, fortune, and fame!"

He then goes to the 13 colonies, the Boston Tea Party, the Revolution, and the Declaration of Independence. It's a great overview for children who are learning about our history.

After the story, there are 7 pages called "The Tail End" that describe the events mentioned in the book in more detail.

Although I enjoyed the character Liberty Lee, I think the book might be a more effective learning tool without mixing fantasy and history. When the mouse mentioned his fictitious ancestors, it threw me off for a minute. Here's an example:

"There were carpenters, shopkeepers, sailors at sea,
And farmers--like my uncle, Hamilton Lee.

At planting tobacco, you'd find no one better--
He worked any farm that would pay him in cheddar!"

In contrast, I love the section about the Continental Congress writing the Declaration. Here's part of it:

"They debated, and then on the 4th of July,
In 1776, they said, "Aye!"--
They voted together, with great dedication,
For liberty, freedom, and starting a nation.

Fifty-six patriots signed right below
The powerful words they decided would show
That these United States would forever be
One nation, under God, independent and free!"


PS. Happy Birthday to our Country (this month) and to me (today).  :)

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