Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Card

Sending this quick post to say,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Prayers and blessings for 2013 from the tree house,



Scripture Sunday: The Gift

Last Sunday I heard a wonderful sermon in church. But it wasn't Preacher Man who gave it. It was Monkey.

He didn’t use words, but he said a lot with one little action.

At least to this mom it was a lot.

Monkey has a Lovey. Lovey has been with us since Monkey’s birth. Lovey goes everywhere and Lovey generally looks like he’s been everywhere and in everything.
He has been cut with scissors. He has stains that will not come out. He is well loved.

He is Monkey’s prize possession.

When I went to pick Monkey up from Bible class last week, he had a tiny baby doll that his teacher had put in a box with some hay in it. They had learned the story of the birth of Jesus.

Monkey was so proud of that baby.

He put it on the pew next to us during worship services and as things were winding down I look over and see this:

He had placed Lovey on his baby Jesus. He had given Jesus the one possession that means more to him than anything else.

The wise men did this when they traveled so far to give the newborn King the most expensive gifts of that time.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John do this when they leave a prosperous fishing business to follow the Messiah.

Mary does this when she uses a jar of expensive perfume to wash the feet of the Teacher.

And so I looked at that Lovey so tenderly placed on Jesus.

And I asked myself,

What have I given to Jesus that means the most to me?

Have I given Him my marriage so it will be what He wants it to be and not what I think it ought to be?

Have I given Him my children so that they will fulfill His call and not what my mother heart wishes for them?

Have I given Him my time so that it is used for His work and not my selfish pursuits?

Have I given Him my dreams so that my life is for His glory?

Have I given Him me?

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…(Romans 12:1)

During this holiday season many people talk about Jesus, about His miraculous birth, about the shepherds who raced into Bethlehem to see Immanuel, the wisemen who travel so far to give so much, and Simon and Anna in the temple who receive their promise from God when they see the Christ before they die.

The most important thing to remember about His birth though is that Jesus doesn’t want you to think of Him once or twice a year.
He wants all of you to belong to Him, all year long, all the time.

You are the gift that He wants.

Learning the most powerful lessons from my children in the tree house,



Summary Saturday: Randomness

It’s been a while since I've done a Summary Saturday post. Not because there has not been anything to summarize, but because I've been trying to figure out the balance between blogging and, well, everything else. It seems that if I keep up with the blog like I want, then school and home suffer. If I keep up with school and home, then the blog suffers. My priority planning has helped, but I still feel that something gets short changed. Maybe that’s just life, though. You never have enough time to do everything.

Anyway, with a new year coming up (since the Mayans were wrong), I am cleaning out some random pictures that I’d saved for Summary Saturday posts that never happened.

Chipette’s spelling (Apples and Pears) assignment on this day was to take two prefixes, three base words, and two suffixes, and then combine them to make eight words.

She did a great job and really enjoyed playing with words this way.

On election night, Chipette was glued to the TV coloring in states and adding up electoral votes.

She and Magpie had gone voting with me earlier that day, so they got to see the process from our local polls to the national news!

We also played a Spanish color and number review game using math manipulatives and construction paper circles.

Cuatro cubos verdes.  Muy bien!

Chipette finished learning all her letters in her New American Cursive workbook from Memoria Press. Here is her first cursive sentence:

Not bad for her first time, in my opinion.

We have quite a few guests that show up to do school with us. In the past couple of months, both Sarah (Chipette’s American Girl doll)…

Frog Boy…

and The Fashinonista (aka Magpie)

have made appearances.

And just to prove that we’re not all school work and no play:

When the leaves fell off our pecan tree in the backyard, the girls had a blast!

When we were finally able to have Chipette’s birthday sleepover, everyone had a good time staying up late and watching movies.

Such a great group of girls!

As for the present, I’m busy working on our World Geography and Animals and their Habitats study for the new year.

 Very excited about what’s coming up and even more excited about being able to share it with all of you.

Because I WILL figure out how to balance my life!

And then I will write a book and make millions of dollars J

Hoping all of you are having fun this holiday season because I know we are in the tree house,


Final Analysis Friday: Week of 12/16/2012

Around the House

Christmas tree is up and decorations are out! Every evening I’ve been cuddling on the couch with the kids enjoying the soft glow from the tree. I love this time of year!

From the Kitchen

Christmas baking is happening around here. We made cookies for our local librarians yesterday: German Butter Cookies decorated with icing and sprinkles and McKay House Cookies (combination of cream cheese, cake mix, coconut, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips). We are making these same cookies for our trash collectors as well.

Today we are making Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins, Banana Chunk Muffins, and Applesauce Muffins for our neighbors and the elders at church. The house will be full of delicious smells today!


Chipette finished her Math in Focus textbook, so we’re moving on to the next book. In January everyone is starting their new books and our new study: World Geography along with a study of animals and habitats for science. I almost have all of the planning and aligning of resources finished. Whew!

On the Blog

Still working on my Math in Focus review and How to Plan a Subject. I’ve got the pictures I want and a rough draft written out. Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to get it all typed up and on the blog. Maybe while I’m on Christmas vacation with extra hands to help with the littles, I can squeeze in some blog writing time!


A brand new 24-hour workout facility just opened in our town. I have asked for a membership for Christmas since I’m pretty sure I can get to the gym if I have 24 hours to fit it into my schedule instead of pockets of time here and there when the stars align correctly that Preacher Man can watch the kids, I’m not cooking or homeschooling, it’s not too dark in the morning or the night. I’m one of these weird people who likes to work out; eat right, not so much.


After the Sandy Hook school shooting, I’ve become a little focused on this horrific phenomenon, so I started reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. It’s definitely a heavy read, but interesting. I am also reading Enna Burning by Shannon Hale for something more light-hearted when Columbine gets too intense.


Since discovering the wonderfulness that is Pinterest, I am busier than ever finding fun things for school, the home, and to cook. Feel free to follow me on Pinterest using the button in the sidebar. I wanted to share some of my favorite finds this past week:

Plans and Schemes

Obviously we’re preparing for Christmas with a vengeance. I’ve still got some last minute gifts to purchase and I still have no idea what to make for our Christmas Day meal. It’s the first time we’ve been at our house on Christmas, so I’m planning this one by myself.

A Memory

We had our yearly family Christmas outing last night: hot chocolate and Christmas lights. I found a Christmas light scavenger hunt checklist on Pinterest and we had so much fun trying to find the things on our list. Even Magpie was on the lookout!

Wishing all of you a very blessed, safe, and joyous Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the tree house,



Thrifty Thursday: Holiday Mama Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared our combination of fun and school for Christmas. We are using different Christmas children’s books and making crafts based on each book using the Book and Craft Advent ideas from Bella Dia. Today I’m sharing three more books and crafts.

Book #3

The Baker’s Dozen  by Aaron Shephard
Activity: Make cookie ornaments

This book tells a wonderful story about a baker who has a booming business until he gets a magical visitor and learns that generosity is the best way to succeed in life. The original activity for this book was to make Christmas cookies. Well, we do that every year so I wanted to try something different…cookie ornaments.

The recipe I used for our dough is:

2 cups flour
½ cup salt
¾ cup water

You will also need Christmas cookie cutters, acrylic craft paint, and something to use as a clear protective coating such as thin shellac or clear nail polish.

Combine the flour and salt. Add the water gradually until the mixture has the texture of putty. Knead the dough for about five minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Skewer a hole in the top of each ornament so you can hang it. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

After the ornaments have cooled off, use a nail file or fine sandpaper to smooth any rough edges. Paint the ornaments, front, back and sides (this takes a couple of days so the coats can dry and you can add details). 

When the paint is dry, coat with a clear protective coating.

Book #4

Petunia’s Christmas by Roger Duvoisin
Activity: Pipe Cleaner Wreaths

Your kids will love this book and activity! I promise. Petunia saves her true love from becoming the Christmas goose by making wreaths and other ornaments to sell in town.
The instructions for this craft can be found at Bella Dia here, but it’s pretty simple. Cut out a wreath template from cardboard (a cereal box works fine), wrap the pipe cleaners around the wreath until it is covered. Add embellishments like ribbon, bows, tiny flowers, etc.

Of course my girls wanted the sparkly pipe cleaners!

Book #5

The Christmas Hat by A.J. Wood
Activity: Peppermint Stick Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

When a snowy owl is adopted by a family, they soon discover that he is easily lost in the winter. Mom comes up with a brilliant idea to make him a bright red hat for Christmas so they can keep track of him. After a close run in with a fox, the family realizes that maybe a red hat isn’t such a good idea.

Okay, the craft for this book is not the original craft because it’s not a craft at all. It’s food! We are looking at Christmas lights tonight and these little treats are for putting in our hot cocoa. They are super easy to make and wonderfully delicious on their own!

You will need:

Candy canes
Semi-sweet chocolate chips for melting
Christmas sprinkles or crushed up peppermint

Melt the chocolate in your microwave. I added a drizzle of oil to mine so that it would be smooth. Break the crook end off of the candy cane so you just have a stick. Poke the candy cane stick into a marshmallow. Dip marshmallow into chocolate. Let excess drip off, and then roll in sprinkles or some crushed up peppermint. 

Serve alone or put in a cup of hot cocoa and let the marshmallow chocolate goodness melt into your cup!

Extra Craft:

As a bonus, I’m sharing this ornament that I made with Chipette and some friends a few years ago. Rudolph is made out of popsicle sticks, googly eyes, and a red pom-pom ball.

Paint the craft sticks brown, glue them in the shape of a triangle with some overhang for the antlers, glue on googly eyes and the red pom-pom. Loop some fun Christmas ribbon around the top craft stick and hang on your tree. Even better if you read a book about Rudolph before you make it!

Ornaments are cheaper and the memories are priceless when you make them together as a family in the treehouse,



Wordless Wednesday: Back to the Future

For Chipette’s big birthday present this year Preacher Man and I bought her tickets to see The Nutcracker at the Houston Ballet. With help from the grandparents we were able to score backstage passes as well, so Chipette and I made the long drive to the big city.

Chipette and the Sugar Plum Fairy

Chipette and the Nutcracker Prince

Chipette and Clara

We got to see the props and sets backstage.

Chipette's first ballet pose on the stage of the Houston Ballet. She's going to rule this stage one day!

This past weekend my beautiful dancer girls participated in their ballet studio’s production of The Nutcracker here in our little town.

Chipette and Magpie backstage before their performance.

Chipette performed Waltz of the Flowers.

Magpie was a Polichenelle.

Glimpsing the future filled with bright lights and beautiful ballerinas in the tree house,



Mama Monday: Holiday Mama

My new found love of Pinterest has proven to be bad. (I have so many craft and around the house projects to do that I’m going to need three lifetimes to complete them all!) And good.  

Today I’m sharing with you some of the good things that I have found.

I decided the month of December would be crazy make up for lost time month in our homeschool. So Chipette is doing double math lessons this month, while Magpie is blazing through her preschool curriculum doing one letter a day instead of spending a week on it. Since I accelerated the skill subjects, I decided to drop all of our extra subjects (aka the fun ones). This did not go over well with the girls.

That same day what to my wandering eye should appear on Pinterest but a pin to a website that tied holiday themed books with cute and easy crafts. With such fun at my fingertips, I knew in a moment my girls would be thrilled.

So this week we've read two of the books and completed their corresponding crafts. While this book/craft project is supposed to be for Advent (I confess I did not know what that was until I looked it up. And, yes, my husband is a preacher.), what I love about it is that you can totally pick and choose which books you want to do. I chose the books we would do based upon the craft that went with it and availability at my local libraries. I didn't want anything too time consuming or that I had to be permanent assistant, nor did I want to be hunting down books.

I must say that our first two books and projects turned out very, very well and the girls had a blast!!!

Book #1

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Activity: Make paper snowflakes

After reading the book about this amazing man who took pictures of snowflakes, the obvious craft is to make paper snowflakes. The not-so-obvious craft is to use another pin that I found on Pinterest to make snowflake ballerinas. When you have two dancers in the house, one of whom (Chipette) says that she will one day be the prima ballerina for the New York City ballet, then making this craft was perfect!

We got our ballerina template from here.

And I used the Usborne book, which had a couple of pages devoted to paper cutting, to show the girls how to cut pretty snowflakes.

I pulled out some fun scrapbook paper to use as our snowflakes/skirts.

We hung our icy dancers from the light above the dining room table.

I must admit that the girls did a really wonderful job and have continued to make snowflake after snowflake for days now!

Book #2

TheTrees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco
Activity: Make tissue paper ornament silhouettes

After reading this book which is a true story from the author’s childhood about her Jewish family helping the Christian families in the neighborhood after they all get scarlet fever (Have tissues handy. It’s like a Hallmark commercial in a book.), we made Christmas ornaments that resemble the wooden figures the grandfather carves in the book.

We used black, bright blue, and red paper for our ornaments.

I had two star punches in my scrapbook bag and also a single hole punch to use. There was a Christmas tree punch somewhere in the girls room, but of course no one could find it.

The templates for the ornaments can be found here.

Cut out the template and trace onto the paper of your choice.

Punch holes into the ornaments, a few or a lot!

Glue tissue paper on the back so that it shows through the holes.

Loop string through the top to hang.

I laminated ours so they would last because the girls really loved the story and I knew that they would want to keep them.

Plus, they turned out really well!

Next week, I’ll share some more of our book/craft activities, but definitely check out the Bella Dia website (This link takes you to the first eight books. Just click on the Christmas Book and Activity Advent tag at the bottom of the post to find the rest.) to peruse all the book and craft options. Pick a few to do with your kids too!

Enjoying being the fun, Christmas mom in the tree house,


Mama Monday: A Traditional Christmas

Back in 2009 when Magpie is 2 and Chipette is 6
We have no tree. We have no decorations. We haven’t played much Christmas music. My children are starting to wonder…what’s happened to Mom?

Nothing’s happened to Mom and all of those things are going to happen at some point this week because of this:

Chipette: Why don’t we have our tree up yet?

Me: Well, you and sister have been sick since we got back from Thanksgiving.

Chipette: But don’t we always put the Christmas stuff up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Me: Yes, but we weren’t home that weekend. Remember?

Chipette: I guess so. So are we going to decorate for Christmas?

Well of course we are, sweet girl, but we haven’t followed our family tradition this year.

Which got me to thinking about Christmas traditions…

In our family, we don’t have many. Just one in fact.

It actually started with my family growing up.

Every year each member of my family would pick out an ornament for the tree. It could represent something that happened during the year. It could be one that caught our eye. But each year all of us added one more ornament to the tree. And every year when we put the tree up, we loved talking about the memories everyone had of buying their ornaments in previous years. And when I left home, I took my ornament collection with me to put on my own Christmas tree.

Monkey's First Christmas (9 months old)
So when I got married, our first Christmas together, I bought an ornament.

Each child has their Baby’s First Christmas ornament.

And on a Saturday evening a week or two before Christmas, you can find our family loading into the car in our comfiest clothes with a thermos of hot chocolate, driving thirty miles away to Hobby Lobby, each picking out an ornament, then driving through neighborhoods looking at Christmas light and listening to Christmas music.

And it’s perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I hope that when my children get grown, they say to their children, “This ornament is one of my favorites. I picked it out when I was about your age. We had so much fun choosing ornaments, drinking hot chocolate, and looking at Christmas lights. I loved Christmastime!”

That’s what traditions are all about anyway, building memories that can be shared and passed on because it’s so much fun.

Please share one of your family’s Christmas traditions in the comments. I’m always looking for more memory-making stuff to do!

Making memories through Christmas traditions in the tree house,



Final Analysis Friday: Copy Cat

I decided to copy my friend Pam from Everyday Snapshots. On Mondays she does a neat post where she gives a quick overview of her week and calls it Monday Musings. Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I’m doing the same thing, but putting it on Fridays.

Around the House

I've been working on teaching the kids more chores. This week they learned how to clean out the refrigerator. I despise, loathe, abhor cleaning out the shelves and bins in the fridge. However, my children love it! <insert happy dance>

I also managed to get the Master bedroom under control. With Thanksgiving travel and having way too much stuff in too small of a room, it had gotten pretty bad, but I was able to finish that room up today.

Christmas decorations are still not up however, so that must become priority number one this next week.

From the Kitchen

So far this week, I've made pot roast which I brown on the stove in some oil, remove from the pan, pour in some red cooking wine (about ½ cup) to loosen all of the cooked on bits, add a packet of dry onion soup mix, put the roast back in the pot, surround it with carrots and potatoes, cover it, and bake it at 325 degrees for three hours. The smell is indescribably good!

Tomorrow I’m making a pork roast rubbed with spices (What can I say? Roasts were on sale at the grocery store this week!) with celery, carrots, and potatoes all cooked in apple juice in the crock pot.


We started out with a bang, but fizzled badly when the girls got sick with stomach viruses on Friday. Plus our minivan’s ignition went out so we missed our home school group’s field trip to the state capitol on Friday as well, but since I wound up cleaning vomit for most of the day that was definitely a blessing in disguise. I would have hated to have been on the road or at the capitol with that happening!

Up this week we will be studying leprechauns and finishing Encyclopedia Brown (Chipette), doing extension activites with Corduroy and continuing our reading lessons using the beta version of Logic of English’s Foundations Kindergarten program (Magpie).

On the Blog

Hoping to get something published every day this week and finish up a review on Chipette’s main math program, Math in Focus. There have been quite a few people that have asked me about it, so I need to respond.  If I get super inspired (and have time!) I will finish my planning series, by finally publishing the How to Plan a Subject.


HA! HA! HA! *gasping for air* HA! HA! HA! *snorting*

We’ll see how it goes next week.


I just finished up The Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck. It was a very action-packed, fantasy YA series. Pretty much all I read anymore is YA fiction…I just enjoy it more. Up next, the first book in the Trylle trilogy by Amanda Hocking that my friend Stephanie recommended to me.

Plans and Schemes

Well, Chipette was supposed to have a sleepover this Friday for her birthday, but with the stomach virus in our house, it was postponed for a week. This is the second time we've had to cancel it because someone in our house was sick. We’re hoping the third time’s the charm! She’s already informed me of the menu: Chicken Parmesan with salad and garlic bread and blackberry cheesecake for dessert. No problem, your majesty! ;)

A Memory

Aunt Lydia gave Monkey a Shrek ‘do when we went out to eat after the wedding. He loved it and wouldn't let anyone even touch it until we got back to the apartment.

Wrapping our week up in Pam-style in the tree house,