Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Reviews on Roadside Assistance and Destination Unknown

I will admit most of my Kindle and bookcase are taken up with Amish Fiction or natural disaster stories and biographies(the latter ones are the hubs, I can't get into how nuclear reactors destroy the world, lol).  Fiction is solace and escape for me in a busy crazy upside down world.

I was so privileged to meet Amy Clipston a few weeks ago!  She also brought me books!!  And since I had a million hour car ride (at least it felt like that with two small kids!) I was able to burn through a few of them.  Since I had been lucky enough to have the third book in her ya series I decided the logical place to start was to go back and read the first two.  They were fantastic!  I felt really drawn in right from the get go.  Plus it really made a difference for me.  You can read them as stand alone books, but they really are better as a series.  You really can get a better appreciation of the characters in the book.   Both books did their job of telling a great story, character development, and a nice paced moving plot.

In Roadside Assistance Emily Curtis' life is turned upside down by her mother's passing and her father loosing everything they had. They are forced to move in with family that Emily isn't happy about. From the aunt that criticizes every last thing, the grandma that only seems excited about her cousin, the uber perfect blonde cheer leading cousin who has it all. Emily has lost a lot including her faith in God. The only place she finds solace is under the hood of a car repairing things. 

The story moves along at a good pace, the characters are really likeable. When Emily meets Zander and starts making friends in her new life she slowly learns that not everything is as it seems. I won't go too much more into it because I think you should read the book:). 

In Destination Unknown Whitney Richards seems to have it all on the surface. Blonde, cheerleader, popular, the right neighborhood, money, and dating a football player. 

But then her life starts to unravel. She gets a D in calculus and her mom goes in to panic mode and hires a tutor. Taylor enters the picture and life changes. 

Whitney starts to question who she is as a person and pushes hard against a mother that seems determined to control her every waking second. From what she eats to who she associates with. Whitney has to push back hard. And she does! This girl is no slouch and she shows that she is capable of fighting against what society expects and becoming what she is called to be. 

Both books will appeal to many different reader groups.  It's great for bookclubs because it has some awesome discussion questions that could spark some lively conversation.  Young adults will enjoy these books because the characters are so easy to relate to.  These are also fantastic vacation and unending car ride reads!  Grab them and enjoy!  Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pattern Blocks and Boards by Melissa and Doug

We are back after a week away in Florida.  It was great vacation but we were greeted by a really big (for Virginia) snow.  My son was supposed to go back to school today but with a whopping 4 inches the world sort of comes to an end.

So after a week away I wasn't going to have them sit around today.  I already had work on the docket for Cary Lynn but it was easy to include Marvin in many things.

One thing I think is an absolute necessity to have in a Montessori home school or school are materials that can be used in multiple ways and in multiple places in a classroom.  The more use the more bang for your buck.

One of my all time favorites is Melissa and Doug's Pattern Blocks.  I can't say enough good things about them!  They are beautiful, sturdy, and can be used in multiple ways in the classroom.

The shapes are lovely as are the boards.  They are nice, wooden, and very well loved in this home.

The ways you can use this are endless.  In Practical Life you could take two of the shapes and have the child sort them with tongs or tweezers and separate them.  In Sensorial you could use the boards and shapes for puzzles (or Practical Life).  You could just put out the shapes in an attractive basket and let the child make patterns.  I found by letting them have open ended activities in Sensorial that they used the tower of cubes and the broad stairs the appropriate ways.

Please ignore the mess we are still getting unpacked.  But as you can see Marvin enjoyed building them on and off of the boards.  

My daughter was exploring the yellow blocks sensory wise until she figured out I had a camera.  

In Math you can explore the names of shapes, count and pattern.  

In language you can play I spy to make sure the child understands the name of the shape.  

In the Culture area if you are studying a butterfly and you just want a simple extension exercise for your littles put out the butterfly board.  You are only limited to your creativity on this product.  

I was able to catch a good sale on Amazon and this will last for years!  Hope this gives you some ideas!  Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Miles From Nowhere

Reading in my house is a luxury.  I have two special needs kids and my days are never dull!  So when I do have those precious moments to kick back and read I want to have a book that I know I'm going to enjoy!

So when one of my very favorite writers comes along I am going to grab the book, hide where ever I can find a quite spot (I have been known to hide out in my closet with the door closed and a flashlight) and read.  Amy's book was no exception.  I had the book read in three days (it would have been two, but I do have to sleep sometimes!).

From the back of the book:

Chelsea Morris has always been responsible, dependable, and focused on her dreams of fashion design—a dream that will officially begin come fall, when she leaves for college in New York City. And as she settles into her role as the lead designer for the local summer stock theater group, she decides to make the most of her last summer in North Carolina. But with her best friend Emily busy working late and spending time with Zander, and tensions with Chelsea’s boyfriend, Todd, running high, the summer she envisioned seems to be falling flat.

Then Dylan joins the latest summer production. There’s something about the college boy that makes her feel free and alive, and soon she’s broken up with Todd, and is sneaking out late to meet Dylan at parties and breaking rules at the playhouse. But before she knows it, her exciting nights are interfering with her job, her role on the play, as well as her relationship with Emily and with her parents. Worse, Chelsea finds herself feeling more and more estranged from God.

As the summer becomes wilder than she ever dreamed, Chelsea must decide if her heart is leading her in the right direction after all.

This book will appeal to a wide variety of readers.  It will draw in young adults as many of them have either walked the proverbial mile in Chelsea's shoes or know someone who has.  It will also appeal to adult readers as well as they can sympathize with Chelsea's family or remember their own youth. This would make a fantastic book club book or one that a family could read together and discuss.

I really found myself identifying with Chelsea and reliving some of my own life path choices.  I don't want to put too much in and spoil the story.  But I really love the way that I was drawn in very quickly and how everything flowed together.

I did only have one real problem.
Ahem, someone didn't want to let me read my book!  You can't leave anything around sometimes:).  

Seriously, this is a fantastic book and I was very lucky to get an advanced copy.  The book comes out in April and it is a fantastic read!  Plan on picking up or downloading your copy, you won't be sorry! Happy Reading!

(I was provided this book in exchange for an honest and fair review)

Egg Muffin Cups

If you are anywhere near facebook or pinterest you get flooded with all kinds of recipes.  I love having so much information at my fingertips but it can be overwhelming!

So I kept seeing these egg muffins come up over and over again.  I decided to give them a try.  They are low FODMAP and very versatile.

The first thing I learned is that you need muffin liners for your muffin pan.  I know you probably see them straight in the muffin pan but many people who have tried them claim that they have ruined their pans because they can't get the egg out.  I only have one pan and I don't want it ruined!  So I put in muffin liners and lightly misted them with a little olive oil.

Here's the fun part!  You can put in whatever you want in the muffins.  You want veggies, pile them on!  Cheese?  Go for it!  There is no wrong way to fill them!

As for me I used some leftover rice (it sounds weird but the hubs and Marvin really like the combo), grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, and some sliced ham.
I piled them high, but you can stick less in.  Then I scrambled 12 eggs and 4 tablespoons of lactose free milk.  I put pepper in too. (Your family may like a dash of hot sauce, my tummy can't take it!). 

I filled up the cups with the egg batter.  Then all my feeds said to put it in a 200 degree Celsius oven. Ummm... yeah did the conversion on that and decided to make my life simple.  I put it in at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  They came out great!  
Now they aren't as pretty as the ones you see on line, but they are a first try and are so yummy!! They provided two dinners and two lunches.  You can refrigerate for a few days and they can be frozen and reheated (if they last, mine didn't).  Enjoy and Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What we are working on this month!

I wear lots of hats in this blog, but it was either that or write a ton of other blogs and I didn't really want to do that:).

We have been very busy in our Montessori home school.  Soon we will be on our way to Florida for a mid winter vacation so I'm trying to cram in as much learning as I can.

My son (who goes to school) had a snow day but by keeping a list on the fridge chalkboard he was able to choose his work and finish it at his own pace.  It worked really well and was a testament to all the early Montessori years.

For my daughter I do struggle more.  She is fairly non mobile, non verbal, and would happily sit in her beanbag chair in the sunshine every day.  But life doesn't work like that.  (Although she would like it to!).  I find that she isn't interested in the things that I painstakingly plan and lay out.  To follow this child is quite a bit more challenging!

I have manage to spark her interest in animals!  I attended a great conference once and the woman spoke on how we should just introduce the young child to biomes.  A biome is deserts, forests, grasslands, tundra, and several types of aquatic environments. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have adapted to the small differences in climate and the environment inside the biome. All living things are closely related to their environment.  Tah-Dah!  

So now I am busy!  I got rid of the current science and culture works on the shelves, raided the library and we are getting ready.  I will start in the ocean since I have tons of stuff on that! We have begun reading books, exploring wet and dry concepts, and I have some great ideas for Practical Life.  

I do have to temper things a bit.  Cary Lynn relies on technology to speak for her so I have to keep her IPad dry.  That is a whole other issue I'm grappling with.  How much is too much and how much is necessary.  

I will try to get some pics of things up and running and I am already looking into another contest when I get back from our vacation!  Happy Teaching!