Monday, July 10, 2017

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

BOOK Club–‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”

Originally Posted on Home & School Mosaics:
This month we are focusing on the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff.  Two of our writers took on the challenge of this book in their homes and they will be sharing their thoughts and some activities you can do.  The writer for this month is Carrie Cannon.

Did you enjoy the book? Why? Why not?
I LOVE this book. The charming illustrations combined with the innocent and silly series of cause and effect instances that happen when you give a Mouse a Cookie are amusing and entertaining for children.
How did the book compare to other books by the author (or other books in the same genre)?
The author has a series of books that follow the same lines of what happens when you do this. They are fun as well, but If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is by far my most favorite. She has several other books, but I have not read any of those yet.
What about the plot? Did it pull you in; or did you feel you had to force yourself to read the book?
The book is so fun and the illustrations are so wonderful, that you find yourself turning the pages to find out what happens next. I LOVE that it circles back to the beginning…you can see the whole thing happening again!
How realistic was the characterization? Would you want to meet any of the characters? Did you like them? Hate them?
I loved the characterization. I am not sure I would call it realistic, but the characters are sweet throughout the story. I love that the mouse seems to gather energy throughout the book, while the boy is continually cleaning up behind the mouse and looks pretty worn out by the end of the story. Many of the actions remind me of life at home with children. Their wonderful energy, never ending flow of ideas, their creativity, their boundless energy paired with my fatigue at the end of the day, the mouse wanting to sign his name on his picture with a pen, getting scotch tape…my children would have so much fun with a roll of scotch tape.
Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
Setting aside the fact that this is a mouse doing these things, I do believe the actions of the characters are plausible. One thing just leads to another all throughout the story. The mouse bounces from one activity to the next with enthusiasm, a little bit of drama and a sweetness that is irresistible to readers of all ages.
Did the book end the way you expected?
I can’t remember what I expected the first time I read it…it has been so long ago. Now, when we read it, it just seems like that is the way it HAS to be.
Would you recommend this book to other readers? To your close friend?
Absolutely YES! My family has all loved this book! It has a nice story with the BEST illustrations. A wonderful book for children!
The Title of this book is ” If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”. The Title is simply the name of the book.
Laura Joffe Numberoff is the Author of the book and her Website is here and you can read about the author here.
An Author is a person who writes a book.
Felicia Bond is the Illustrator and you can find out more about her here.
An Illustrator is the person who draws the pictures in a book.

Activities for “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”

My children are all a little too old to do many of the activities for this book, but I had my youngest do a couple of them so I would have pictures! We also took some cookies and a copy of the book to our neighbor for a treat!
Try walking through each step of the story. Have a cookie, ask for a glass of milk, see if you have a milk mustache, get a hair cut…and so on.
Make a bed…either your bed or make up a bed somewhere in the house out of something else….snuggle down and looks at books…or take a NAP!!!
Make a family portrait and sign it with a pen. Hang it on the fridge.
Have fun with scotch tape
Clean up after yourself
Start your own if you give a….. story…
Take cookies/the book to a neighbor or friend

Make “signs” of the nouns in the picture…tape them onto the item
Note the verbs…do the actions
Here is a couple of wonderful Chocolate Chip Cookie printables, which are also on my Pinterest board, but you can create all kinds of games with these…numbers, colors, letters, whatever you are working on in your home!
Talk with your child or children about when happens when we do this and introduce the idea of cause and effect. Here is a good article on that.
Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics

Monday, May 1, 2017

Raising Mission's Minded Children

Raising Missions-Minded Children

We have always had a soft spot in our hearts for Missions/Missionaries. We have been very blessed to create strong friendships with many missionaries because of this. We raised our children around Missionaries, with Missionary stories, etc. We know that not everyone can go to Africa, but we can all support Missions/Missionaries in a variety of ways. Here is a short list of some of the things we have done in our family that have helped instill a Missions-Minded Heart:
We began our adventure in being Missions Minded by writing to the Missionaries our church supported. It began before we had children and continued for many years. As more children came and homeschooling began, those letters really slowed down. I cannot tell you how humbling it was to hear that my letters were the only contact one missionary had while overseas. Especially when I had known I had not written much. Missionaries were always gracious in writing back. This was the best gift to us! Please be VERY careful when writing missionaries. Some countries are not very friendly to the gospel. Also, packages are not as helpful as you might think. Some are opened and things are stolen, but often times, the packages are given pretty heavy fees. More than you would pay for the items being sent. Some good friends of ours are in the process of becoming a missionary family. It will be so much fun for my children to write to them when they go into the field and those children will be blessed as well! Most of the missionary friends we had in the early days did not have children with them in the field.
Attend Missions Conferences if your church has them. Most of the missionaries we know come home once every four years. This is a very busy time for them as they are reporting in with supporting churches, seeing family, taking care of needs, preparing to go back, getting some continuing education, raising more support, and so many other things we all take for granted. These times of “furlough” or home assignment are often filled with more activity than being away. It is a sign of respect and love to attend these meetings. This is where they get to see that they are loved and not forgotten. Can you imagine what it would be like to be alone in a foreign country where you speak very little of the language? We have had missionaries stay in our homes while in town for these conferences, which has blessed us all. I will never forget my little girl crying out incredulously, “YOU WERE BORN IN A TOILET???” at the end of a story a missionary was telling us. We have all formed strong bonds with those who have stayed in our homes. Our children have seen that missionaries are just normal people with a passion to share the gospel with a particular part of the world.
If you can afford it at all, support missionaries. Our regular giving to our church supports several missionaries, we take up special offerings as needs arise, support missionaries independently of our church, and are sometimes led for a particular gift. Any amount helps, even if only $5 a month. Throw all your change in a jar and save that for a missionary need. You will never miss it, and I am sure it will greatly bless someone! I will never forget one day when one of my children was younger. A need for a missionary came up and we knew we were going to take up a collection for it. He took every bit of money he had and put it into the offering plate…every dollar, every coin (I am sure the treasurer LOVED that!)…as his momma, I was tempted to tell him he didn’t have to do that…but I didn’t. My child got so much joy in giving that gift. Children can often be such natural and generous givers. Let them know how important their gift is.
Read biographies of missionaries. YWAM has a great collection of children’s missionary biographies included in their Heroes of the Faith series. Not everyone of these are missionary stories, but they have several that are.   My children LOVED these books about Gladys Aylward, George Mueller, Eric Liddell, Nate Saint and more. We learned of their great faith and more about OUR GREAT GOD!   Often times, after reading the YWAM book, I would look for more books on that person to learn more about their life. These really are great books!
Study different countries and cultures, especially the ones you have missionary friends in. Learn about the country’s people, customs, environment, and culture. Try their food! It would be fun to make it for your missionary friends when they come to your neck of the woods.
If your child starts talking like they want to go to Africa, encourage that. Do not treat being a missionary like they are doing this because they couldn’t get a better job anywhere else. You might never say this to your child, but we sometimes communicate that when it comes to OUR child wanting to go into Missions. These missionaries have a heart for God and a passion for getting the gospel out to people who are perishing. A great missionary, Jim Elliot, once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” If God is calling your child into missions, let them go with your blessing and with great joy.

Be missionaries to those around you who do not know Christ. Speak truth, be loving and gracious, be involved in their lives, listen to them…this list is really endless. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” This essentially makes every one of us a missionary.
This is not a complete list by any means, and I am sure you can think of more ideas, maybe even better ideas. This is just a list of things we have done in our house to encourage and support missions and missionaries. We currently have a boy talking about going to Africa when he is older. I don’t know if that will happen or not, but I will trust God to lead each of us along the path He has for us!
Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics

Friday, March 24, 2017

For Love and Honor

For Love and Honor
Written by Jody Hedlund
Published by Zondervan Publishing
Ages: Young Adult
Cost: $12.99

I have had some HEAVY reading on my list recently, so when I finished my latest 425 page book on the cousin kings of World War I, I was so happy to have some easy reading to give my brain some pleasure.
For Love and Honor filled the gap beautifully.  A story of chivalry, adventure and love, with a historical context (WHICH I LOVE) was a quick and enjoyable read.  Both Lady Sabine and Sir Bennett have a secret that drives this book forward to its finish.  Will it be true love or a disaster?  I am sure you can figure it out, but there were some twists and turns I did not expect along the way, and there is a sweet resolution at the end.
For those concerned about the romantic element, it is all handled graphic descriptions, but you can feel the attraction.  If you are concerned about the material, an advanced read might be beneficial.
I personally enjoyed this book, ,but I am also careful not to read too much in the romantic genre as I don't find it helpful in real life.

* I received this product to help facilitate a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Promises for You Coloring Devotional

Promises for You Coloring Devotional
60 Days Discovering God's Hope and Love
ZonderKidz Publishing
Ages: 8-12
Cost: $12.99

This is a beautiful hard backed book filled with fun coloring pages and 60 devotions.  This would be a great way for young girls to begin the habit of a quiet time in a way they would enjoy.  There is a page that gives some direction in how to proceed with the book.  I LOVE THIS!
It has some great tips and do not have to start at the can look for a page that looks interesting or fun to color.  EVERY word of God is profitable!
 Some of the designs might be a little too detailed for younger or more active girls...
 Some of the devotions might be too simple or short for more advanced or mature readers. This is dependent on where they are in their faith too.

                                                   (aren't these butterflies LOVELY?)

I personally have some mixed feelings about the content of this devotional, but I do think girls would LOVE IT!  It could also be a great way to calm down for the day in preparation for bed or a gentle start to your morning.I wouldn't want this to be the only Bible contact my child had during the week though as it seems to be a little more like a commentary in substance than what we currently do in our family.
One other issue I had, was the book does not lay flat when open.  This would seem to be frustrating to girls trying to color.  The pages are thick and you could use a variety of art materials for the coloring pages.
It would make a sweet gift!

* I received this item to help facilitate a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Light Up New York

Light Up New York
Faith Girlz: Glimmer Girls series
Written by Natalie Grant
Illustrated by Cathi Mingus
ZonderKidz Publishing
Age: About 7-12
Cost: $8.99

Light Up New York is the latest Glimmer Girl story out on the market.  I have really enjoyed these sweet stories with issues young people deal with often, sometimes daily.  As the issue of homelessness is seen all around us where I live, I thought this was a timely story, showing what can be done to help out.  While most young people do not have a famous singing mother option for public concerts, television show spots and record deals, I still think that young people can take the principles from the book and perhaps see what they might be able to do.  I know finding ways to help the homeless is a tender spot for many people today.
I also really liked how the book dealt with a side issue of sibling relationships and give suggestions for how to handle conflict.  I won't give a lot of details, but I thought this was handled well.  These girls aren't perfect, but conflicts are resolved in healthy ways in all of the books and sets an excellent example for parents and children alike.
As I have said before, each book has a mystery to solve and this one is FUN!!!  I LOVE this mystery and it has a takeaway for all of us!  Again, no spoilers!!!
Illustrations are simple...not taking away from the story.
I would recommend this book!  I really enjoyed it!

*I received this product to help facilitate a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Easy Savings Ideas for the New Year

Easy Savings Ideas for the New Year

The New Year ushers in a rush of thoughts on what am I going to accomplish this year and what didn’t I accomplish last year and why. We feel the need to have a list of things we are going to pinky promise ourselves that we ARE going to do this year. Goals and resolutions come in all shapes and sizes…health, professional, spiritual, and personal are a few of the categories we focus on as the last days of a year tick by.   I think having some goals or things to work towards each year is a good thing. There are many things we all can do better; having a plan helps us get there!
One area we are developing a plan for in 2015 (Now 2017) is in the area of personal finance.   Having listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio for several years, we have learned many things about ways to handle money. I know everyone has an idea of how to do this; we just really like his Baby Steps program (which you can find listed here) as outlined in his book, The Total Money Makeover.
Dave talks pretty extensively about having an emergency fund and saving for the things you need. Personally, we have been through a couple of emergencies fairly stress free because of having an emergency fund. I saw a quote one time on the percentage of emergencies that were covered by a $1,000 starter emergency fund and I was stunned at how high it was. Unfortunately, I was unable to find that percentage when I went to look for it though. Certainly, I do know that not every emergency will be covered by this, but beginning is the key. Dave covers this quite a bit in all of his materials, much more eloquently than I can, but I want to share a couple of savings tips that we will be implementing in our home.
Emergency Fund – This is a great time to get that starter fund in place if you don’t have one already. Many people will be receiving the tax documents needed to file their returns and I am sure that some will be getting a refund. If you are one who is expecting a refund, set aside $1,000 for this purpose. It’s not as fun as a new television or camera, a vacation or a wardrobe update, but you will be thankful for it when needed. You can also sell some things or work extra jobs to get this as quickly as possible. I am not kidding…this saved our backsides at least two times this year.
Car Savings – My husband and I both drive cars that are over 17 years old.   We are grateful to have vehicles that get us to and fro, but as the miles stack up, we know it won’t last forever. We have been working our written budget for quite a while now, but are at a place where one of the paychecks is not NEEDED for our living expenses. Since this is the case, we have decided to set aside an amount to apply to a newer car. While this is not going to be the latest model of anything, it will be a step up from what we currently have. We do not have a target date to buy a new car, but are hoping to save for about 18 months or so.
Food – This is one area where I would ALWAYS love to save more money. We do not eat out often as it is terribly expensive, but even eating in is going up in price…have you seen the price of butter lately? While I am NOT an expert on this, ways I have been trying to save more money are by meal planning around what is on sale, limiting my trips out to the store to minimize any impulse items, shopping in the clearance areas of the stores, and trying to make more things from scratch than I currently buy…such as refried beans, granola bars and salad dressings. I have made flavored white sauces for years now as cream soups are not my favorite, but I keep trying to find ways to save at the grocery store. I know that couponing is an option, but I am not at a place in life where that would work for me. I have a good friend who gets some amazing deals, and I can rejoice with her.  I have also been trying a meal prep system that is new to me...this is pretty new for me, so I don't have much to say on it yet, but I LOVE how it has saved TIME AND MONEY so far.
At the Pump –Just kidding…no helps here. Actually gas prices all over the place right now, but have been down a bit from what we have experienced in recent years, which is a blessing for sure!  I also read somewhere something about getting more gas if you fill up when it is colder in the day versus when the day warms up. That could just be an Urban Legend; I never looked into it further.
Change Jar – This is one of those ways to save money that you really don’t recognize how effective it is until it has piled up a bit. We use an envelope system for most of our budget categories and have quite a bit of change that ends up on the bottom of my purse. Rather than deal with that change in each category, I toss it all into a jar every 2-4 days. At first, it didn’t seem like the jar would ever get full, but it is now almost full. I do not notice the money being gone, but as there is now over $160 in this jar, I sure notice that. We do not have a set category to use this for yet, but I am thinking dinner out with the family would be a great treat. We are all actively involved in this process…both with tossing change into the jar and counting it every once in a while. When this jar is full, it is time to find a bigger jar! (New for this year, I have started to throw $1 bills in too!  It is AMAZING how that adds up!)
Weekly Savings – This is, by far, my favorite tip…I found out about this challenge back in June of 2014 and it was so easy, I LOVED it! So, the premise of this is that you save up $1 for each week of the year. Week one you will save $1, week 30, $30, etc. and at the end of the year, you will have saved $1,378. The thing I LOVE about this challenge is that you are saving, but the most it costs you is $52. We never really missed the money we set aside. If you get paid every other week, then $103 is the highest, but you can switch around the numbers to work in your budget. I originally thought that we would use this money for Christmas, but we ended up leaving this set aside. This would be a great way to save for an event, put towards a vacation, or use to buy a particular item (CAMERA!). We jumped in more than halfway through the year, so we put in a percentage of our income each week, rather than just the amount for that week. I glued a chart to the front of an envelope and highlighted the amount we put into the fund that pay period. This year, I am planning on doing the weeks reversed. So, for the first week of January, we will save $52 instead of $1. I like the idea of the larger amounts not coinciding with the holiday weeks AND you see the total pile up more quickly that way. We do not have a plan for this money, so it might end up getting put into the car fund or emergency fund as it builds up, but like I said, we did not miss this money at all. If we were to get paid every other week, I would probably pair week one and week 52, rather than week one and two.
Well, these are a few suggestions to get you started to a greener 2015 (2017)! I hope these ideas get you thinking of the things you can do in your homes to stretch those dollars a bit further!
Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Fudge

Holiday Fudge

Did you ever have a recipe that was so good that you were able to brag about it?! Well, this fudge recipe is THAT GOOD! I got this recipe about 19 years ago or so from the mother of a good friend. She would give my family a small tin of it every year. When I asked for the recipe, she graciously gave it to me. Since getting the recipe, I have shared it with many friends. When I give out a recipe that was shared, I try to link it to the person who gave me it…so this was Fudge from the Lord’s. A friend interpreted that as Fudge from the Lord…if that was the case, I am convinced that it would be calorie free…
One Year, I brought this to co-op to bless the moms there that enrich my life. After co-op, many of the moms reported having super powers…the ability to finish all the laundry in one day, the ability to clean the entire house, the ability to check off every box on your to-do list, etc. This might not sound like much, but it was AFTER co-op! (If you have ever participated in a homeschool co-op, you understand that this is really something.) After detecting this cool side effect, this fudge has a new name among these moms…Magic Fudge.
The absolute beauty of this recipe is the amazing creaminess in texture. Try it! I hope you will agree that it is the best!
                                            (enough for a double batch of fudge!)
Here is what you need:
• 3 cups sugar
• 12 oz. can evaporated milk
• 18 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 lb. butter, plus more to grease pot/molds
• 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• Molds: Foil mini pie tins or foil muffin tins work best , but you can use a 9 x 13” pan
Now it’s time to get started:
Butter the sides of a heavy dutch oven or large pot.
Grease your container with butter. I prefer to use foil pans – it makes a good way to give it away and it is easy to get the finished fudge out. You can use a regular 9x13 pan.  I have  done that as well.  Recently, I have used those foil muffin liners and those worked beautifully without greasing them (which, with butter often near $5 a pound, is a good thing!)
                               (It helps to get all ingredients ready before you begin!)
Cut the butter into pieces and place into a large bowl with the chocolate chips and marshmallow cream. Set aside.
Put the sugar, evaporated milk, and 1/2 tsp. salt into the buttered pot. Mix and bring to a gentle boil over medium low heat. Stir constantly (this is the key to the creaminess). If you do not keep stirring, the sugar may crystallize.

Still stirring, boil gently for 8-10 minutes. I know that this will feel like 9 years, but it really is important.
Pour the hot sugar mixture into the bowl that you set aside earlier.
Stir gently to mix.
We used an immersion blender for this as I do not have a hand mixer anymore. A hand mixer would be a much better way of mixing this. The fudge will begin to thicken. Add vanilla.
Pour into buttered mold(s). Top with one pecan half if desired. It is normal for some of the butter from the molds to sit on the top of the fudge. I have not found it to affect the taste. If this bothers you, I would use the foil muffin cups without the butter.

Refrigerate overnight.
NOTE: Makes about 7-8 small pie tins or about 24 muffin cup sized portions. This can be frozen if you make it ahead. I poured my double batch into an 11x17 pan and another pan, probably about 10x10 or so.
Originally Posted at Home and School Mosaics