Summary Saturday: December

As my final post of 2011 I wanted to let everyone see what we've been doing the month of December.

One of our final days of school for the month, we learned about germs and the best way to get them off of our hands.

Glitter represented our germs. We tried dry paper towel, cold water, and warm water with soap. Of course the warm water with soap won, but it definitely made an impression. No more arguing about washing their hands!

The next thing on our agenda was the annual Nutcracker production that Chipette's dance studio puts on. This year Magpie got to join in the fun since this was her first year of dance.

This is Chipette after her performance still in her Christmas Angel costume. And since Magpie was in the littlest group of dancers (she was a Baby Snowflake) they got to change out of their costumes before coming out to get recognized.

Of course we had to make our usual batch of Christmas cookies during December. This year Monkey was big enough to join in on the fun.

Every year the youth in our church help make Christmas baskets for the older members of our congregation and then deliver them to their homes. My kids love it and look forward to it every year. Here's Chipette coloring a card for the baskets.

And Magpie helped to fill the baskets.

A week before Christmas we headed home for the holidays. The first stop was at Hubby's parents' house where we spent three days celebrating with them. The kids had to make sure that the ducks and geese got their Christmas dinner too.

Next stop was my parent's house where we were for Christmas Eve. That night Magpie accidentally broke a Christmas ornament, so when Chipette wrote her letter for Santa by his cookies there was only one thing on her mind.

I love her compassion and concern for others. It is so natural for her.

I'll finish up this post with shots of the kids from Christmas Day and their favorite toys that Santa brought.

Magpie with her Paper Jamz microphone.

Chipette with her American Girl doll that she promptly named "Sarah".

And Monkey at his Nana's (great-grandmother) house. This little rocking chair isn't his present, but this is the ONLY picture I got of him where he is facing the camera. He's turning 2 in three months, so being still is not happening right now!

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas!

Only two and a half hours until 2012 in the treehouse,



Tasty Tuesday: First Prize for the Holidays

While we were at my parent's house in October for a fall break vacation, I was looking through my mom's Southern Living magazines and saw a recipe for Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. I am not a pumpkin pie fan at all, but I don't mind little doses of pumpkin, like Pumpkin Roll. I knew that my family was coming to my house for Thanksgiving so I filed that recipe back in my head to try for the holiday.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving and I made the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake. It was sooooo good, but I thought that if I tweaked it a little bit then I could make it better. So last night I gave it the old college try for our ladies' ornament exchange party at church. The following recipe is the result of my tweaking to Southern Living's original recipe.

Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup pecans, cookie pieces size
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
4 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 small can of pumpkin
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Stir together graham crackers, pecans, brown sugar, and butter in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and halfway up the sides of a 13x9 inch baking dish.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until blended and smooth.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended.

Pour batter into crust.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed for 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from the oven and let stand on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.

This is how you make the basic cheesecake. But we don't do basic in my kitchen! Now it's time to make the praline topping. Make this immediately before serving the cheesecake.

Here is what you will need:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces, cookie size (optional)

Add the brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter to a saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

This is optional, but I added in 1 cup of cookie size pecan pieces.

Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Pour over the top of pumpkin cheesecake.

Serve immediately.

So there you have it, folks. My holiday cheesecake masterpiece without a springform pan in sight :)

It is so unbelievably delicious, I can't even describe it!

Disappointed there are no leftovers to enjoy of this cheesecake in the treehouse,


Mama Monday/Thoughful Thursday Combo: Tebowing

I'm not a NFL football fan, I'm not even a Tim Tebow fan when it comes to his football skills, but I am a fan of his moral character and his Christianity, and I'm most definitely not a fan of the media and the other NFL football players who think that bashing Tebow because of his blatant displays of his faith both on and off the field is funny or necessary.

What is it about Tim Tebow that gets everybody so riled up?

Why is it that I think having a few more people in this world like him would be a great thing?

What does any of this have to do with Mama Monday?

First, I believe the main issue that most people have with Tim Tebow is they think he is overrated as a quarterback. That's fair enough. I don't think that is an unfair assessment. It's a valid opinion that can be backed up with statistics. There are others who think that he is an amazing quarterback. That is also a valid opinion that can be backed up with opposing statistics. So how does an argument over whether Tim Tebow is a good quarterback turn into mocking him as a Christian?

I think the problem that most people have with Tim Tebow is that he makes people uncomfortable with themselves. He is unabashedly Christian. He doesn't throw out platitudes when he receives an award or is congratulated on a good game. How many times have we heard, "First of all I want to thank God for everything He's given me, blah, blah, blah?" I'm not saying those athletes who say that don't mean it, but considering some of their off field behavior they definitely don't act like it! Tebow on the other hand does live it. He volunteers, he gives, he takes the focus off of himself time and time again. He prays on national TV on the football field. He points out that football is just a game and his focus is on the eternal. He doesn't lash back at his critics or those who mock him. His response to the guy that "tebowed" after sacking him was that he was sure the guy only meant it to be funny, not a big deal. 

And to put it bluntly, it makes me uncomfortable. I'm a Christian, but the mindset and commitment to my faith in all circumstances, even the uncomfortable ones or confrontational ones, is something that I definitely struggle with. Getting rid of my pride and turning my focus to God alone, I'm not too good at that one either. Remembering that this world and everything in it (the bigger house, newer car, etc.) is only chasing after the wind, chalk me up as getting wrapped up in that as well. For me, and for most Christians, I think that we see Tim Tebow as a breath of fresh air in our society. But for those who don't believe in God at all or who claim to be "Christian" but don't really live it, Tebow is a nagging reminder, a pebble in their shoe, of a true believer. And they feel judged without Tebow even saying a word. Judged by their own shortcomings, then they get afraid (what if he's right!), and once they are afraid, they get angry, which leads to all the hate and mocking in the media and by other players of Tebow.

Second, I'd love for there to be more Tim Tebow's in the world. More people who lived loud for Jesus in a quiet way. More people who focused on the eternal than the external. More people who devoted their off time and their down time to the sick and downtrodden. More people who lived for Jesus 24/7 instead of one day a week (if that!) and lived for themselves the rest of the week. For just a minute, imagine a world like that. It would be a revolutionary, wonderful place. This dream will be realized in heaven, but I would love to see just a piece of it here on Earth, wouldn't you?

Third, people like Tim Tebow don't just happen. They are made. They are formed from a young age to have this mindset, this love for Jesus. They are formed by their parents, especially their mothers. If you know anything about Tim Tebow, then you know about his mom and the special relationship they have. She was told to abort him and she chose not to. She stayed home with him and his siblings and homeschooled them. She knew that she had only a short time to make her children into the people she wanted them to be, ones that love the Lord more than anything.

I think that she suceeded. I want to suceed at that goal as well. I want to raise children who demonstrate their love for the Lord in any situation that they find themselves. While the odds of any of my children ever finding themselves in the national spotlight like Tim Tebow are slim, they will find themselves living their lives day in and day out. The world might not be watching but their community will, their co-workers will, their neighbors will, their children will, and most importantly God will.

I hope my children live their faith so loudly that they make others uncomfortable, including their mom. And if they catch flack for it, I pray that they handle it as graciously as Tim Tebow does. But these things are not just chance or good luck, they are determined and purposed by the parents. I hope your purpose is to raise some children who are "tebowers," I know mine is.

Tebowing in the treehouse,


Summary Saturday: Pre-Plague Edition

Our family has been hit hard this weekend with severe colds which turned into an ear infection in Magpie. The main reason that my posts are so late, though, is because our computer got a malware virus in it as well which I still haven't had time to work on getting rid of it.

Thanks to the dear hubby for letting me borrow his laptop to update my blog!

Well, before the hacking and stuffy noses entered our home, here is what was happening.

Chipette added another page to her science notebook. We learned how some fish are able to float on top of the ocean using an air bladder. By filling the air bladder with water, they can sink. Then they expel the water to rise to the surface again.

Magpie is working with Cusinaire rods and an ABC Cuisinaire book, while Chipette is working through a free pre-Miquon activity book.

After Christmas we will be starting Miquon math on Fridays just for "fun." It's something that both the girls can do together and will be a nice break from our usual math curriculum.

Chipette loves language and words so grammar and writing are some of her favorite subjects. Here she is finding all the nouns in some sentences on our white board.

While there are quite a few subjects that Chipette likes, art time is sheer pleasure for her. This past week she learned how to mix the three primary colors and make the secondary colors of purple, orange, and green. Then she decided to paint a self-portrait using her new colors.

Of course Monkey and Magpie wanted to paint as well, so I gave them "magic paint" to use outside on the house.

They worked on their art project for about 30 minutes and our bricks were much cleaner as a result :)

Finally, as I was downloading these pictures for the weekly wrap-up, I found proof of what Hubby and Magpie do on Monday nights when I take Chipette to ballet lessons.

They sit in storage bins in the garage, eating organic Cheetos, drinking bottled water, and making silly faces at each other. This is why I love my life!

Hope all of you have had a great week and may the plague pass over your house!

Investing in Kleenex stock in the treehouse,



Wordless Wednesday: Heart on My Sleeve

Disclaimer: This is me with no makeup, so be kind :)

Blessed with three hearts to wear on my sleeve in the treehouse (Although, technically, one of my hearts is too heavy for me to put on my sleeve anymore, but you get the idea!),


Heart of Dakota: Bigger Book Basket

This year we are using Heart of Dakota's Bigger Hearts for His Glory for our main curriculum.  I have created a book list or "Book Basket" to go along with our studies. These books are geared for the 1st -3rd grade range, but you know your child. When dealing with issues like slavery or war, please use your judgment.

Unit 1:
·         Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky
·         Follow the Dream by Peter Sis
·         Where do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? By Jean Fritz
·         D’Aulaire’s Columbus by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire
·         Pedro’s Journal by Pam Conrad
·         Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World (movie, Netflix Instant)
Unit 2
·         Cabot: John Cabot and the Journey to Newfoundland by Robin S. Doak
·         The European Rediscovery of America: How European Explorers Like Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Pedro Alvarez Cabral, and the Corte-Real Brothers Sailed to the Continents They Would Call the New World by Kelly Wittmann
·         John Cabot and the Rediscovery of North America by Charles J. Shields
Unit 3
·         Why Did English Settlers Come to Virginia? By Candice Ransom
·         James Towne: Struggle for Survival by Marcia Sewall
·         Smith: John Smith and the Settlement of Jamestown by Robin S. Doak
·         Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla
·         Henry Hudson by Ruth Harley
·         Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Elizabeth Goodman
·         Hudson by Janice Weaver
Unit 4
·         Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire
·         Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla
·         The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucile Recht Penner
·         The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz
·         Pocahontas (2003, animated, not Disney, Netflix)
Unit 5
·         Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? By Jean Fritz
·         The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward
·         The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh
·         The Pilgrims of Plimouth by Marcia Sewall
·         A Plymouth Partnership: Pilgrims and Native Americans by Susan Whitehurst
·         Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
·         On the Mayflower by Kate Waters
·         Tapenum’s Day by Kate Waters
·         Sarah Morton’s Day by Kate Waters
·         Samuel Eaton’s Day by Kate Waters  

Unit 6
·         Colonial Times 1600-1700 by Joy Masoff
·         New Americans: Colonial Times, 1620-1689 by Betsy, Giulio Maestro
·         The Pennsylvania Colony by Jean Kinney Williams
·         The Boy Who Loved to Draw: Benjamin West by Barbara Brenner
             Unit 7
·         The South Carolina Colony by Susan E. Haberle
·         The South Carolina Colony by Jean F. Blashfield
            Unit 8
·         Thunder From a Clear Sky by Marcia Sewall
            Unit 9
·         Benjamin Franklin by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire
·         The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin by James Cross Giblin
·         A Picture Book of Benjamin Franklin by David Adler
·         The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin by Cheryl Harness
            Unit 10
·         Ben Franklin and His First Kite by Stephen Krensky
·         What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? By Jean Fritz
·         The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin by Aliki
·         How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer
             Unit 11
·         Fort Mose: And the Story of the Man Who Built the First Free Black Settlement in the Colonial America by Glenette Tilley Turner
·         If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anna Kamma
·         The Village That Vanished by Kadir Nelson
·         The African Slave Trade by Shirlee P. Newman
            Unit 12
·         The Iroquois by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve
·         Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
             Unit 13
·         Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian War, 1689-1763 by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
·         When Did George Washington Fight His First Military Battle? And other Questions about the French and Indian War by Francesca Davis DiPiazza
·         Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds

            Unit 14
·         The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh
·         George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen From Both Sides by Rosalyn Shanzer
·         Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? By Jean Fritz
·         The Boston Tea Party: A Level Three Reader by Cynthia Klingel
·         Paul Revere’s Ride by Shana Corey
·         The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
·         Let It Begin Here!: Lexington and Concord, First Battles of the American Revolution by Dennis Brindell
·         Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot by Anita Silvey
·         George Washington by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire
·         George Washington: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin
·         George Washington Crosses the Delaware: Would You Risk the Revolution? By Elaine Landau
·         Katie’s Trunk by Ann Turner
·         The 18 Penny Goose by Sally M. Walker
Liberty's Kids Episodes 1-14

           Unit 15
·         Songs and Stories from the American Revolution compiled by Jerry Silverman
·         George Washington and the General’s Dog by Frank Murphy
·         Battles of the Revolutionary War by Patrick Catel
·         Why Not, Lafayette? By Jean Fritz
Liberty's Kids Episodes 15-27
Unit 16
·         The Story of the Surrender at Yorktown by Zachary Kent
·         The Battle of Yorktown by Scott Ingram
·         Shhh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
·         We The People: The Story of Our Constitution by Lynne Cheney
·         From Thirteen Colonies to One Nation by John Micklos, Jr.
·         A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
·         The Legend of Sleepy Hollow retold and illustrated by Will Moses
·         Rip Van Winkle retold and illustrated by Will Moses
Liberty's Kids Episodes 28-40
Unit 17
·         Daniel Boone by David and Patricia Armentrout
·         Daniel Boone: Frontiersman by Judy Alter
·         Frontier Settlements by Raymond Bial
Unit 18
·         The Wilderness Road, 1775 by Laura Purdie Salas
·         A Head Full of Notions: A Story About Robert Fulton by Andy Russell Bowen
·         Robert Fulton’s Steamboat by Renee C. Rebman
·         Steeeeeeamboat A-Comin! By Jill Esbaum
·         Steamboat: The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers by Judith Heide Gilliland
Unit 19
·         Thomas Jefferson: A Life of Patriotism by Tonya Leslie
·         A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson by David Adler
·         The Back of Beyond: A Story About Lewis and Clark by Andy Russell Bowen
·         Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President by Shirley Rave Redmond
·         A Picture Book of Lewis and Clark by David Adler
·         A Picture Book of Sacajawea by David Adler
·         Sacajawea: Her True Story by Joyce Milton
·         Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West (movie, Netflix Instant)
Unit 20
·         William Henry Harrison: Ninth President, 1841 by Mike Venezia
·         Tecumseh: Chief of the Shawnee by C. Ann  Fitterer
·         The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier
·         The Battle for St. Michaels by Emily Arnold McCully
Unit 21
·         Andrew Jackson: Seventh President, 1829-1837 by Mike Venezia
·         Journey Through History: Modern Times by Gloria Verges
·         The War of 1812: Soldier at New Orleans by William R. Sanford and Carl R. Green
·         Andrew Jackson: A Photo-Illustrated Biography by Steve Potts
·         The History Channel Presents The War of 1812 (movie, Netflix)
Unit 22
·         Audubon: A Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier by Jennifer Armstrong
·         The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies
·         Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream by Robert Burleigh
·         Poetry for Young People by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
·         John James Audubon: Drawn from Nature (movie, Netflix Instant)
Unit 23
·         Read American poetry and writers
Unit 24
·         Quick, Annie, Give Me a Catchy Line!: A Story of Samuel F.B. Morse by Robert Quackenbush
·         Samuel  F.B. Morse: Inventor and Code Creator by Judy Alter
·         Biography for Beginners: Inventors by Laurie Lanzen Harris
Unit 25
·         The California Gold Rush by Dennis Brindell Fradin
·         Gold Fever! Tales from the California Gold Rush by Rosalyn Schanzer
·         Pioneers: Life as a Homesteader by Emily Raabe
·         Going West by Jean Van Leeuwen
·         Josephina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr
·         A Right Fine Life: Kit Carson on the Santa Fe Trail by Andrew Glass
·         Rachel’s Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl by Marissa Moss
·         Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails by Verla Kay
·         Abe Lincoln: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters
·         Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days by Cheryl Harness
·         Into the West (movie, Netflix)
Unit 26
·         Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire
·         Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner
·         Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington by Cheryl Harness
·         A Picture Book of Robert E. Lee by David Adler
·         The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F.N. Monjo
·         A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman by David Adler
·         Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kulling
·         DK Eyewitness Book Civil War by John Stanchak
·         Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
·         Clara Barton: I Want to Help! By Cathy East Dubowski
·         The Silent Witness: A True Story of the Civil War by Robin Friedman
·         B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet by Patricia Bauer
·         The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale by Trinka Hakes Noble
Unit 27
·         The Chisholm Trail by Andrew Santella
·         Squirrel and John Muir by Emily Arnold McCully
·         John Muir: America’s Naturalist by Thomas Locker
·         Coming to America: The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro
·         If Your Name was Changed at Ellis Island by Ellen Levine
·         Streets of Gold by Rosemary Wells
Units 28-32
·         Airborne: A Photobiography of Orville and Wilbur Wright by Mary Collins
·         The Wright Brothers: Inventors Who Really Took Flight by Mike Venezia
·         Eyewitness Books: Flying Machine by Andrew Nahum
·         Wright Brother: How They Invented the Airplane by Russell Freedman
·         The Wondrous Whirligig: The Wright Brothers’ First Flying Machine by Andrew Glass
·         Taking Flight: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Stephen Krensky
·         Into the Air: The Story of the Wright Brother’s First Flight
·         First to Fly: How Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the Airplane by Peter Busby
·         Up in the Air: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Philip S. Hart
·         Lindbergh by Chris L. DeMarest
·         Flight, The Journey of Charles Lindbergh by Robert Burleigh
·         Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan
·         Vanished! The Mysterious Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Monica Killing
·         Amelia Earhart: The Pioneering Pilot by Andrew Langley
·         Wright Brothers' Flying Machine (movie, Netflix Instant)

Unit 33
·         The Panama Canal by Elizabeth Mann
·         A Horn for Louis by Eric A. Kimmel
·         If I Only Had a Horn: A Young Louis Armstrong by Roxanne Orgill
Unit 34
·         Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
·         Amelia’s Road by Linda Jacobs Altman
·         Migrant Worker: A Boy From the Rio Grande Valley by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
·         Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers
·         The Wall by Eve Bunting
·         The Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Ted and Lola M. Schaefer
If any of you fellow Bigger users have found some resources that you are using feel free to let me know in the comments and I will add them to my list.

Getting the tree dwellers ready for a library run,