Beds for Orphans in Ukraine

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As of 10/7/14, we have raised $3,224!!!  Only $1,976 left to go until we hit our goal!!!  

34 children will have beds this winter!  21 to go!

Thank you so much to the Hollers, Schwartzs, Bentleys, and Tuckers!!! 



OK, ladies and gentlemen.  Here’s a post straight from the bottom of my heart.  Y’all have been seeing what’s going on in Ukraine right now.  It’s a nightmare.  Two of the orphanages that one of my favorite charities, Life 2 Orphans, works with, are in Donetsk.  If you don’t know where that is, that’s in Eastern Ukraine.  That’s where the airliner was shot down.  That’s some of the nastiest of the nasty right there.  One of the orphanages was even bombed.  (Blessedly, none of the special-needs adults or children were hurt.   Unfortunately, some of the caretakers were, but not too badly, it seems.)

The two orphanages were able to get out of Donetsk to a safe place, another orphanage called Druzhkovka.  Megan at Life 2 Orphans shares it better than I could.


We all know what is going on in Ukraine. It’s a scary, scary situation. People are terrified and panicked, running from their homes.

Now, can you imagine trying to move 145 children out of their home?  Many of whom are special needs? Some of whom are Bedridden?  Along with caregivers? Me either, but that’s exactly what’s happened in Donetsk.

The kids from the Shakhtyorskiy orphanage had to evacuate. They had to leave because the fighting in Donetsk was too dangerous.

Many of these Bedridden orphans came from the Torez orphanage. A few weeks ago the Torez orphanage was bombed.  Blessedly, none of the children and adult orphans with special needs who live there were hurt (although, a few of the caregivers were). They did survive, though, Thank God!

But war does nott know boundaries, and there are a lot of people in a lot of trouble. I received this e-mail from Life2Orphans: STATE OF EMERGENCY AT THE DRUZHKOVKA ORPHANAGE, DONETSK, UKRAINE, Druzhkovka orphanage is now overwhelmed with 375 orphans in an orphanage that did house ONLY 230.  The Shakhtyorskiy orphanage had to leave the area of fighting and evacuate their 145 orphans and caregivers to the Druzhkovka orphanage. They are now bursting at the seams and need our help immediately!!

After transferring the orphans from Shakhtyorskiy the children are now sleeping on the floors on mattresses side by side.  They had no additional beds, but they have found enough mattresses for all the orphans. The caregivers are sleeping wherever they can in the orphanage.

Please note these are the former Bedridden boys and girls from Torez, and they are now together at Druzhkovka.  So happy to say, The Individual Orphan Caregivers are still with their children

This is a SEVERE need. This is serious.  These are orphans with mild to very severe special needs.  Some of them are bedridden.  With no beds.  Seriously.  So, the first fundraiser we’re going to work on is to get cots and mattresses to these kids.  Winter is coming.  Can you imagine sleeping on the floor, no cot, no mattress, no nothing, full time, all winter long?  In Ukraine?  Seriously?  Let’s get this done.

Christmas Cheer

Megan tells me we need 55 cots with mattresses.  The set costs $93.50 ($34.25/cot, $59.25/mattress).  That equals out to just under $5,200 (considering wire transfer fees and the like).  I say we set that as our goal.  These kids deserve better than a winter sleeping on the floor, because of a war that is completely beyond their control.

To donate to this fundraiser, please go to the Life2Orphans Make a Monetary Donation page.  You’ll see chat box, and in there, please put DRUZHKOVA FUND.  That’s where the money is going to buy the cots and mattresses.

How fast can we do this?  The need is so great, this is the first fundraiser we’ll be having, but not the last.  These kids deserve so much better than this.

Here are some new pictures I’ve gotten of the kids!!  These are the very kids that we are helping sleep well this winter.  The very kids who are sleeping on floors now.  We can do this!!

DFAB~1 DSCN9865 _18A4D~1

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

~Matthew 25:40

Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery Visit

Holy Protection Trip gates


This weekend I was incredibly blessed to take a trip with the ladies of my parish, Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary Church in Clarksville, TN, to the Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery in White Haven, PA.  We’re very new on our journey into Orthodoxy, and this is the first time I’ve ever been to a monastery.  I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!!  The Abbess granted us permission to take some pictures, and I thought I’d share my blessed weekend with you!

The first thing we did was attend Saturday Liturgy, which we arrived a bit late for, but were nonetheless incredibly blessed by.  Our church is a small mission church, and we’ve just finished our chapel.  It’s beautiful!  And I love it!  (You can see pictures on the website.)  But I had never really seen the inside of a larger, more established Orthodox church.  It. was. breathtaking.  I wasn’t able to get pictures of the chapel at Holy Protection, but… oh, just breathtaking.  The services were entirely in Greek (with the exception of an English Gospel reading on Sunday), which I was initially worried about.  And I wasn’t able to follow along as well as I’d liked (break out that Greek curriculum I bought y’all, kids, we’re getting that done!), but, the order of the Liturgy was still the same, and so I wasn’t too lost.

HP 1

After Liturgy we took a nap.  Driving all night is exhausting!!  Then, a friend and I ran into town, and we missed dinner at the monastery, but I hear it was delicious.  We got back just in time for Vespers.  They did Hours, then Vespers, then Compline… we didn’t stay for Compline.  We were still rather sore from our drive.  We were able to eat dinner in the lovely guesthouse.  Then, R., my priest’s sweet daughter took me for a walk around the monastery.

HP 2

The monastery has about 26 nuns right now, and is self-sustaining.  They have the most beautiful gardens, goats, chickens, and bees.  (Based off of the baklava we were gifted with on the way home, the bees make AWESOME honey!!)  They also have a bookstore, a workshop, an icon-writer’s shop, and make candles.  You can read about the history of the monastery at the Holy Protection Website.  It’s really fascinating!


HP 5HP 4HP 3

R. helps with the animals.  From what I understand, she’s wonderful with them!

We also looked at some of the other lovely things on the monastery grounds.  This (below) is a beautiful chapel in front of a little graveyard.  The chapel is dedicated to St. Seraphim, and R. tells me it holds relics.  We looked inside and venerated, but it was too dark for pictures.  St. Seraphim

Don’t worry, we’ll definitely be heading back. ;)  There’s also this beautiful little house, that was used as a house for the ill many, many years ago.  It is dedicated to Saint Paraskevi.  There’s a little shrine across from it dedicated to Saint Oerozele.  Absolutely beautiful.



The grounds of the monastery were absolutely gorgeous.  I’d love to go back in Spring to see them again.  Sunday morning, we went to Liturgy.  Again, an awesome, ethereal experience.  The combination of the nuns chanting and singing (those in attendance didn’t sing, in our church we do, so I had to ask Matuska about this… things you learn when you travel!), so you could hear the choir beautifully.  And it was just… ((sigh))  It was like angels.  I can’t explain it.  It did my soul good.

After Liturgy, we went to coffee hour, and Matuska realized that the Icon streaming myrrh that we though was going to be out of town was actually back in Pennsylvania!!  We had hoped to see it, then thought it would be gone, and we would miss it.  What a HUGE blessing this was!!  So, we headed out to Taylor to St. George’s Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, and saw the Icon.  SUCH an INCREDIBLE and MIRACULOUS blessing!!  The story is incredible.  I highly encourage anyone to head up to see it.  We were able to get pieces of cotton with the myrrh on it (by the way, if you’ve never smelled this… oh. my. Heavenly.  Literally), and an icon card with myrrh.  We were also able to place our crosses and prayer ropes on the box holding the Icon (which is also covered in myrrh, amazing!).  I was so happy.  We haven’t had crosses, but I had bought Prince Charming and I each one the night before just before Vespers, and me a prayer rope, at the monastery bookstore!  I’ll be giving them to our priest to bless tonight.  So so so happy for this!

St. Georges

After we left St. George’s, we ate lunch back in White Haven at this AWESOME little Greek family restaurant called Fork’s.  Awesome, awesome food, and really friendly service, and right near the monastery.  Believe me, we’ll be going back there.  Then, up to gather our bags and off we went, back to Tennessee!!

It was a whirlwind weekend, but I was so incredibly blessed.  I just can’t tell you how blessed I was.  I reflected a lot on my own spiritual life, and monastic life, and… a lot of things.  I can see the attraction of the monastic life.  It’s so peaceful, and beautiful.  Not easy, never easy, but worth it.  When I saw the kids this morning, Kaitlyn asked right away to go next time.  She wants to go to Holy Protection for her birthday.  I can’t think of a better birthday trip!!

Thank you so much to R. and the beautiful nuns at Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery for hosting us this weekend.  I could not have asked for a better first-time-ever pilgrimage!

Thanksgiving Bundle Giveaway!!

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I am so excited to bring my awesome readers a wonderful giveaway just in time for the holiday baking season!  As the holiday season approaches, it is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and reflect on the blessings that we’ve been given this year.  Inspired Bloggers Network is bringing you these two giveaways, just to help you do that.

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway

During this season of Thanksgiving, the Inspired Bloggers Network is full of gratitude for our readers. Without the faithful support of those who follow us on our blogs and social media, we would be unable to do what we love. So, thank you!

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway 2

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway Bundle #1

1 – Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cherry

1 – $100 Walmart Gift Card

To enter both giveaways, please complete the Rafflecopter information below and then click on over to enter for a chance to win Bundle #2: KitchenAid Stand Mixer and $100 Walmart Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. US only. Giveaway is open from October 19, 2014 through November 2, 2014 11:59 PM PST. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or forfeit the prize to another winner. Prizes will be shipped directly from the vendor to the winner no later than one week after the winner’s verification.

Compass Classroom’s Word Up! Review

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There are a few organizations that if they ask me to do a review for them, I literally jump at the prospect.  Compass Classroom is definitely one of them!  Right now, we have their Everyday Economics program, Dave Raymond’s American History Curriculum, and recently I was asked to review their brand new Word Up! The Vocab Show program.  Yep, I jumped, and I’m SO glad I did!
Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom
Word Up! The Vocab Show is simple and easy to use.  Watch the video, and quiz the words with online vocabulary cards.  Compass Classroom even has online vocabulary cards sets already done for you.  That’s easy.  (The link is included in the program.)  The program consists of 10 videos (downloaded to your computer, so you’re not streaming, although they will take up memory.  You can also opt for a DVD) and a PDF file on how to use the program, which is 1 page long.  Because this program is SO easy to use.  Watch. Quiz. Review as needed.

Dwane Thomas, the host of Word Up! (and Visual Latin) is funny and engaging with the kids.  Right now, I have Kaitlyn (13), Danny (11) and Sean (7) watching it.  Sean really probably doesn’t need a vocab study now, but the big kids loved it so much, I just let him watch along, and he really, really likes it.  Word Up! covers Latin and Greek roots, so the students are getting a full vocab program with this.  The program covers 20 Greek and Latin roots, which translates into over 200 English words.

For our family, we let our kids watch the program together (each lesson is more or less 15 minutes long), and then review on their own.  Since the review cards are online, it’s really easy to do in their down time, in the car, wherever.   We’re able to simply access the cards on our tablets, the kids know how, and it’s really easy, and go!  This is a great compliment to the Latin and Greek they’re already studying, and can be a fun, welcome break if we need to take a bit off.  It’s also something that we’ve already discovered they’ll watch over and over, without getting bored.  Dwane Thomas is really funny, and the kids love watching him. You can see a trailer for the Word Up! The Vocab Show below:

Word Up! The Vocab Show – Official Trailer from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.

Word Up! The Vocab Show is available for $9.99 (DVD or download) AT THE TIME OF THIS POST (10/14) from Compass Classroom.  This is a $5.01 savings, for a special PRE-ORDER price!  Compass Classroom will begin shipping on 10/25.  I would highly recommend jumping on this.  Your kids will really enjoy it.  This is only the first set of Word Up! The Vocab Show.  Multiple sets are planned, and my kids will be so excited to get them all.  I hope you enjoy this series as much as we have!  And be sure to check out everything that Compass Classroom has to offer.  We’ve found every product we’ve used of theirs engaging, fun, and really easy to use!



The Phonics Road

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The Phonics Road

This year, Sean has started on The Phonics Road to Reading and Spelling Level 1.  TPR is the precursor to The Latin Road to English Grammar, which is what the big kids use for their Latin and grammar curriculum, which we ADORE.  Although Sean is already reading, The Phonics Road is an awesome refresher in the basic sounds, blends, dipthongs, and other phonetic studies.  Plus, it teaches him outstanding spelling skills.  Because he’s already reading well, we’re taking an accelerated pace through it (2 days at once), and we’re hoping to be done with Level 2 by the end of the school year.

The Phonics Road has a few main components.  When you order The Phonics Road, you’ll get:

  • The Foreman’s Guide (this is what the teacher uses, and includes DVDs to help you with lesson planning and understanding.  WATCH THE DVDS)
  • The Apprentice’s Building Manual (the student’s binder, already set up for him to fill out)
  • A Handy-Dandy Clipboard
  • A Pencil and a Wet Erase Marker
  • Student Tool Cards
  • Tool Drill Cards

Also available is a Rule Tunes MP3 download, which we got.  That’s optional, though, as she sings the tunes on the DVD, and they’re simple melodies that you probably already know (like London Bridge).

The Foreman’s Guide and Apprentice Manual (both are 3 ring binders) both contain Building Codes and Blueprints (forms to learn the spelling words), and the Manual includes First Readers and Composition sheets.  This is really complete!
First, you take your child through the writing and sounds of the English language.  This takes about 4 weeks, but since Sean was already reading, we just worked hard on letter formation and was able to get through this in about a week.  Then, you start the spelling.  Daily, you drill the sounds the child needs to remember.  There are multiple sounds for some cards (for example, “th” has a soft and a hard sound), and it’s important for marking that the child say each sound, in order.  Each week, the child is given a list of words.  You go through the list, using the cards given, and the child builds the words.  You can see Sean doing that here:


As you can see, the blends and letters are color coded.  Red are vowels, and blue are consonants. The little lines and such you see at the bottom are the marking cards.  They have lines to mark their blends, long vowel sounds, and numbers to remember which tune and sound they’re using.  Here is Sean with a built word, “this”.  You can see that he has the “th” sound underlined, and the number “2” on top, indicating that he’s using the 2nd sound of “th”.



They’ll also sing rule tunes whenever they spell a word.  The rule tunes are simple, and easy to remember.  After they’ve built the word successfully, the child practices writing each word on their handy dandy clipboard.  The clipboard comes with a plastic overlay, so they can lay their paper right on the board, cover it with the overlay, and practice just as if they were writing it in their binders.  When they are ready, the last step is to properly write and mark the words in their binder.

This curriculum takes the student through the process of truly learning to spell step by step.  Yes, there are weekly spelling words, but this is FAR more than just a list of words type of curriculum.  This really breaks down and explains the rules, and exceptions, so that children learn them deeply.  Constant review is included in the curriculum, and is essential to it.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with The Phonics Road.  It’s expensive, yes.  But it’s absolutely worth every single penny.  I can wholeheartedly recommend it for the grammar stage.

Do you have a phonics, reading, and spelling curriculum you adore?  What is it?  Let me know!

Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God

On October 1, the Orthodox Church celebrated the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God.  Because this is a special day to our congregation (the Holy Protection of the Theotokos Orthodox Church), we had a beautiful festival for the whole church on Saturday.  We had a cook out and wonderful meal, games, hay rides, a baking contest, and a talent show.  Kaitlyn, Danny, and Sean each participated in the talent show, along with many other wonderful members of our congregation.

They also participated in a baking contest.  We went on Pinterest to find awesome fall recipes.  Kaitlyn made a Snickerdoodle Apple Cobbler which won a prize for best tasting (and a gift card from WalMart)!

Kaitlyn's Snickerdoodle Cobbler


It was really good.  You can get the recipe here.  It was an awesome cobbler.  Danny made Nutella Pumpkin Bread.  Because there is nothing that is not made better by Nutella!!

Nutella Pumpkin Bread

It was awesome, too, and you can find that recipe here.


Sean Sack Race  Caeleigh Sean piano

Liam hands


We had an awesome time!  We had to leave early (someone got sick, and some others got just TOO tired to stay anymore, lots of running around!), but afterwards, I know they had Vespers in our beautiful new chapel, and a bonfire with s’mores.  Next year, maybe!!

5 on the FIFTH

5 on the 5th September


I’m part of this awesome new project put together by Marcy at Ben and Me called 5 on the FIFTH.  Every month, on the 5th of the month, we’re going to showcase some of our favorite posts from around the blog-o-sphere.  We’ll also be posting to the 5 on the FIFTH Pinterest Board, so make sure you head over there, follow it, and see what everyone else was loving for the month.  And now, 5 of my favorite posts from September!


1.  This Is What Brave Means by Glennon at Momastary.  Seriously, I can’t love this enough.  MUST READ.

2.  Don’t Give Up Homeschooling Mama by Tara at This Sweet Life of Mine.  So much encouragement!

3.  Yes!  My Homeschool Kids are Sheltered! by Nichole at Some Call It Natural.  Lots to think about here…

4.  Confessions of This Homeschool Mom by Lexi at Lextin Academy.  Soooooooo me!

5.  Introducing Middle School Monday by Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break.  There’s not nearly enough stuff just for middle schoolers out there.  LOVE this link up!


So, those are my 5 for the month of September!  Make sure you’re checking out the 5 on the FIFTH Pinterest Board (and search for #5onthefifth )  to see what everyone else has been loving this month, and check back here on November 5 to see what I adored for October!

5 on the Fifth

Dreams and Realities

Dreams and Reality

I get caught up in dreams.  Dreams are awesome.  They let us enter a realm of fantasy that our imaginations can take off in.  They can give us new possibilities that we never thought were possible.  Dreams can change lives.  I love dreams.  I love dreaming.


Or dreams can paralyze you.  It’s that kind of dream I want to talk about today.  Here’s what my dream looks like:

I wake up at 5 am to a full coffee pot (because my darling 13 year old had remembered to make it and set the timer the night before, when she cleaned the kitchen) and a clean house (because chores were actually done).  First, I pray and spend time in the Word.  After connecting with God, I work out, shower, and dress.  If there’s time left over, I spend it checking my email and Facebook, working on my handwork, or practicing skills like block crayon drawing.  While I’m doing that, my three big kids quietly get up and shower, then spend time in morning prayers, straightening up their rooms, and keeping the little ones quiet until 7:30, at which time everyone is released to start the day.  The littles are now dressed, because my big kids are that responsible and loving.

At 7:30, we all get up, and at 8 we have breakfast, followed by a short chore time (because really, it’s all clean from the night before) and prayers.  After prayers we have a circle time, where everyone connects during the morning and we work on our memory work.  Then, the big kids go to work on their own independent work, while I finish circle time with the littles, who are oh! so attentive!  I send the twins and Liam to play with their toys while I monitor them and work on Sean’s phonics and math with him.

At noon, we meet back up for prayers and lunch.  After lunch, we all straighten up, then the littles take a book and go lay down while I work on independent work with the big kids, who have all of their supplies and books ready to go in the not-so-cheap bins I got them just for that purpose.  Sean listens in while he works on handwork, draws, or reads.  When the littles wake up, the big kids’ school is mostly done, so we head outside for the afternoon. We explore, climb trees, and have a picnic snack.  With everyone appropriately worn out, we head inside for supper, followed by evening prayers, bathtimes for the littles (assisted by my big kids), chores, and quiet play until bedtime.  At bedtime, they fall asleep listening to lullabies or beautiful stories on iTunes.  I spend the evening working on my college classes, reading, and spending time with Prince Charming.  Sometimes, my big kids need me, and we talk, watch a TV show, or just hang out together for a while.  The day is unhurried, restful, and complete.

That’s my dream.

Then there’s reality.

I wake up, usually to the alarm of my boys waging World War 3 in my living room over something ridiculous.  Pulling myself out of bed, I ask the 13 year old to start a pot of coffee, which elicits extreme eye rolls, because apparently, I treat her like a slave for asking for coffee every morning.  It doesn’t matter anyway, because the first thing the 7 year old did this morning was drink the entire bottle of coffee creamer.  That’s what World War 3 was about.  Explaining very loudly and in no uncertain terms that my coffee creamer is OFF LIMITS, I make it upstairs just in time to see the 3 year old streak down the hallway with a full jar of brand new, organic peanut butter that I paid way too much for in the attempt to eat healthy.  The twins are right behind him, not to stop him, but because they want some too.  They are highly offended when I find the three of them hiding in a closet eating the peanut butter, and I am not happy.  I head to the kitchen to dish out breakfast (Prince Charming puts oatmeal in the crockpot to cook all night.  Bless that man), and everyone complains loudly that it’s oatmeal.  Again.  I point out that we have coconut, fruit, honey, maple syrup to put in it.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s oatmeal.  I glance at the clock.  9:00.  Wonderful, I overslept, again, probably because I was up till 2 am working on assignments I’m behind on.  It takes us an hour to eat.  Another hour to not do chores.  At 11 they are asking what lunch is.  Not because they’re hungry, they just know that most people eat between 11-1.  I tell them we need to do prayers and circle time first.  The 11 year old takes severe offense at being made to participate in “circle time” because “circle time” is for babies.  It matters not what we actually do in circle time, or if we’re in a circle, or sprawled out all over the living room.  Circle time is for babies.  He pouts and growls at us the entire time.

Then, it’s lunchtime.

It’s sort of downhill from there.

Here’s the thing.  With a morning like that, I could easily spend the rest of the afternoon and evening pouting and crying and wondering what went wrong.  It’s days like those (and, um, those are most days) that I get lost in Pinterest looking for the latest greatest rhythm idea, something to make breakfast more interesting… ANYTHING to make my days to better.  The thing is, if I’m lost on Pinterest and the blog-o-sphere… I’m not working on our rhythm.  Or on the chaos.  Or on… anything.  My dream of perfection has paralyzed me.  I don’t spend time in the minute to minute, because I’m always playing catch-up and put-out-the-fire.

I’m not sure exactly how to fix this.  I do know, however, that I can’t continue this.  I know I have to get off the ride of expecting my days to be just so.  I need to lower my expectations.  I need to relax some.  Today, I saw some pictures of a family being silly at IKEA.  They did a “family photo shoot” in the different displays.  It was cute, goofy, and fun.  It’s what memories were made of.  I thought about how much I’d love to do that with my family.  And then… all of the negativity came shooting that down.  In that moment, I realized some things.

  1. Dreams can be negative as well as positive.  We have this image of dreams as sparkly, wonderful things that spur us on.  But they can be negative as well, especially if your dreams are completely unrealistic.
  2. Perfectionism is not a dream.  It’s a nightmare.  If I’m waiting to do anything until everything is perfect… I’ll never live.  I’ll just continue to run from fire to fire.  I’ll never enjoy my life and…
  3. My family will be miserable.  My kids will remember their childhood as one always striving to be better–better students, better at their chores, better at looking the right way, behaving the right way.  Just better.  Which will mean that whatever the ARE, isn’t good enough.  That’s unacceptable to me.

I’ve fallen into this trap this year. And now, I’m making a conscious effort to pull myself out.  It’s hard to do.  There are so many images, people, telling us we’re not good enough. We have to do more, be more… it’s not enough.

My dream of perfection is interfering with my reality of perfection.  In reality, my daughter does make me coffee every morning, eye rolls and all.  But she does it. Because she loves me.  World War 3 happens every morning because my 11 yo knows how much I love my morning coffee with creamer, and he’s trying to help.  My littles hiding in the closet with the peanut butter?  That’s memories they’ll laugh about and carry with them long after I’m gone.  It bonds them.  They love each other.

Dreams are good.   Dreams can move us forward.  Dreams can give us hope.  But don’t let dreams rob you of the perfection of the moment.  You’ll lose so much if you do.

Autumn Nature Table

Last year, I totally intended on making a nature table for each season. It’s even in our curriculum (Waldorf Essentials/A Journey Through Waldorf). I had bought gnomes, and we did, for like a minute. But the kids got into the gnomes and now a few of them are missing hats and… life.  SO, I had to come up with a plan be. And somewhere in the wonderful blog-o-sphere (and I don’t remember where, or else I would TOTALLY link, so if this was your idea or you know whose it was, LET ME KNOW!!) I saw this great idea to put the nature table inside an aquarium for little hands who can’t manage to look and not… destroy.  And I finally did it!  And here is the result…. our Autumn Nature Table!!


OK, so what do we have going on here??  Let’s see… I got a cheap, smallish aquarium with a top (not that the kids can’t get the top off, but it’s a physical barrier saying not to.  More or less). I think it cost me $20 total.  I put it on top of a wooden TV tray table that we have, and put a beautiful tie-dye silk on top.  Then, I placed the aquarium on top of the silk.  That’s our “tablecloth”.  For summer, I just put a blue silk on the back of it, for the sky.  BUT, as I was cleaning my room, I found this swatch of crochet that I had made when I was first learning (don’t judge me).  It’s hard to see here, but it’s beautiful autumn colors.  The silk on the bottom is one that we dyed at our Dying Playsilks Day with our playgroup.  The triangle shelf in the back I scored at the Waldorf Tag Sale group on Facebook, along with the two gnomes with the big hats.  Awesome group, you should totally look it up.  There’s also a little gnome I won in a giveaway, and Elsa is sitting on the shelf in the triangle (totally not my choice… Anna is MIA).  We also have a felted acorn in there, a few leaves, and a pinecone. I anticipate adding many more leaves and acorns, at least, this fall. :)

Do you have pics of your nature table?  Let me see them!  Leave links in the comments!

Whovian Wednesdays–Week 2 Queen Victoria

Whovian Wednesdays Week 2


This week with Traveling Through History with Doctor Who, we watched Tooth and Claw–the episode with Rose and Ten where they met Queen Victoria and Torchwood was first established.  ((Disclaimer:  Torchwood the series is NOT child-appropriate.  Although it might be tempting to watch it after watching this episode, don’t do it with your children around.))  This episode features a werewolf, so in addition to learning about Queen Victoria, we also learned quite a bit about werewolf folklore.

Danny did this week pretty much on his own.  Kaitlyn is a bit swamped with her online courses, more so than we thought she would be, and, while Sean watched the episode with us and didn’t get freaked out or anything, he wasn’t all that into it, either.  SO, we decided this was a “light” week, and Danny self directed most of his research.

He read multiple articles on Queen Victoria, and figured out on his own what the Royal Disease was (alluded to in Tooth and Claw).  In addition, he made a family tree, wrote an essay getting in detail about the multiple assisnation attempts on Queen Victoria, researched the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, made a salt map of Great Britain and did a self portrait.  Here’s some of his work:

Queen Victoria's Family Tree along with Crest

Queen Victoria’s Family Tree along with Crest

Slt_dough_map_england (1)

Salt Map of Great Britain. More or less…

Danny’s so funny, one of the assignments was to make a self portrait. Queen Victoria was a wonderful artist, and did an absolutely beautiful self portrait that you can read about here.  So, we were trying our hands at self-portraits this week.  This was my son’s “first try” that he sent me via email:


Sorry… not feeling it kid. ;)  Here is his final portrait:



I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else did for Week 2!  Come and link up, and let us know!