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My Review: Blue Sky Teacher's Planner

Teacher planner 1

Hello my friends and Happy Thursday! I hope your week is going well! :-)

Today I'd like to share a review of The Blue Sky Teacher's Weekly Plan Book, the planner I'll be using for our homeschooling next year (as well as throughout the summer). I've shared a couple of peeks over at Instagram and Facebook, but I thought I'd go into deeper detail here, since many of us are currently "in the market" for helpful homeschooling tools!

But first, a full (Thursday) disclosure! I sort of used last year's version of this planner, but abandoned it after a few weeks. Unfortunately, as much as I loved that planner, it just didn't fit the bill for me. It was (and is) an excellent planner, but I really didn't need so much structure this past year. Not only is Little Bear's prek-at-home VERY low key, but I really can't plan out nitty-gritty daily details for Earlybird. (He's more a "big picture" kind of kid - so I plan lots of "potentials" and then choose what works day-by-day.) Meanwhile, Crackerjack is doing all of his studies outside the home this year. (Save for math - and who needs to plan math? Lol, not me. We use Teaching Textbooks.)

All that said, I have a different PLAN in mind for how I PLAN to organize this year!

Ok. Here we go ...

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I bought this pretty planner at Staples a couple of weeks ago. Funnily enough, I didn't stop at Staples for a planner, but one look at those new Blue Sky displays and I was a goner. This is the time of year when academic year planners are available as well as those dedicated to lesson planning. Most are made for professional teachers but I find many can be easily adapted to a homeschooling mom's needs. 

Now, there were several versions of this particular planner available - identical layouts, varied designs - but the "Ditsy Dapple Floral" cover really caught my eye. I'm partial to florals anyway, but couldn't help noticing how nicely it matched my new Day Designer personal planner!


The planner cover is protected by a "frosted" plastic sheet, under which the colors appear a little less vibrant (a bit more pastel). As someone who lives in a house with four not-always-careful-or-neat boys, I am very appreciative of that protective cover! The cover itself is made of a thick cardstock material.

(If you can't tell in these pictures, the word "teach" is done in a metallic gold. Sparkly and fun!)

The spiral "twin-wire" binding is very sturdy ...


A spiral binding is a MUST for me. I need to lay my planner flat when I write in it or prop it up on display! And since my planners get knocked around a good bit, I need them to be well-made and forgiving - and reasonably priced!

Just before the title page there is a double-sided, clear plastic pocket ...

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I plan to file school correspondence here, including submitted education plans. The title page, like the cover, is made of a heavier cardstock.

After the title page shown above, there are dated calendars for 2018 and 2019, followed by a page for recording contact numbers and emergency information ...

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I'll mark these dated calendars with highlighters to indicate time on and off throughout the year - aka vacation days and such.

Next comes a spread for organizing monthly holidays and special dates:

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As you can see, there are lots of suggestions listed here for fun, random things to celebrate such as "Tell a Joke Day" (August 16th), "Make a Friend Day" (February 11th) and "Children's Good Manners Month" (September). There is also plenty of space for recording your own ideas!

The next spread is set up for recording "Class Birthdays," but as you can see, I'm using it for listing our seasonal homeschooling themes:

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This is the only planner page I have filled out so far! I'll admit setting up these themes is my favorite aspect of annual lesson planning!

The right hand page is for organizing a weekly schedule. I will use this for listing out ABA times and our homeschooling rhythm. (For example, storytelling day, crafting day, nature walk day, etc.)

And now we get to the meat of the planner - the monthly and weekly spreads!

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Soft green and white shades, and a lovely and neutral design. I like my covers bright, but my planning pages soft on the eye!

And I love, love, LOVE a lined monthly grid! It really helps keep the handwriting neat. This month-at-a-glance has generously-sized blocks which are another must for me. (I write small, but I write A LOT!)

Now the thing I perhaps love best about this planner is that it provides a FULL year of planning! There are 14 monthly calendars (12 are tabbed), beginning with May 2018 and ending with June 2019. There are weekly planning spreads for EVERY week of the academic year, June 25th, 2018 through June 28th, 2019. So if you homeschool year-round this is pretty perfect for you!:

And here is that weekly spread:

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A closer look ...



Nice tabs, too. I tend to use paper clips and/or binder clips with my planners for marking my page and/or attaching notes and lists.

My strategy for this two-page spread is to use the left side for our routine/rhythm (first, green column) and then notes for each of my younger boys (2 columns each). The right side will be for "big picture" planning and notes. (That probably sounds confusing, so I'll share more details on my plans for this spread in a future post!)

At the very end of the planner, after the last weekly spread (June 24-28, 2019) there are a few note pages ...

Teacher planner 2

My "plan" at this time is to use these three pages for trimester reviews (in November, March and June).

The very last page is a listing of official holidays for each of the next four years (including 2018).

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And finally we have a very pretty back cover!

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(Also protected by a frosted plastic cover.)

I also bought a matching wall calendar for the learning room wall, since the one we have now runs out of pages after June!

Teacher planner 2

And there you have it! A full tour of my new lesson planner ... with more nitty-gritty details to come soon!

Are you thinking about next year yet? Do you have a teacher's planner in mind (or in hand)? If so I'd love to hear about it!

I'm off for now, but take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ...

See you here again very soon!

How I use the Day Designer Weekly Planner


Hello my friends and Happy Wednesday! I hope your week is going well! Last month I promised a peek at how I'm using my Day Designer for Blue Sky Weekly & Monthly Planner - and here it is at last! :)

I've been using this planner since January, and have found it very helpful. I use a few planners (and most of you well know!) and each one addresses a specific planning need. This particular planner is primarily for viewing my whole week at a glance in such a way that I can really see how busy I (we) will be. I like to keep it on display on my kitchen counter (open to the current week, not closed as shown above) so the whole family can see what's going on just as easily as I can. Well, in theory anyway ... I still have to remind them to check the planner when they ask something like, "are we busy on Thursday?" But usually the boys just want to know: what are we having for supper?!

Ok, let's start with a look at the weekly spread itself:

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One thing I really appreciate about the Day Designer planners (including the Day Designer for Blue Sky line) is the subtle and elegant design. This color scheme (white with soft green) really appeals to me, as does the classic black-and-white stripe of the cover shown at the top of my post! And I really like this kind of weekly format - the columns are generously sized but there are still many areas for extra notes.

I'll start by showing you how I filled out this week's spread and then will discuss each section in a little more detail ...

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As you can see, I really use every space on this spread! I also use post-it notes and highlighter pens for further organization. As I've mentioned before, my small handwriting is helpful when it comes to filling in planners - I can really fit a lot of text in those tighter spaces!

Let's start with the To-Do column on the far left edge of the spread ... 


Here I list the things I need to get done THIS week (not just say, sometime soon). To the left of the check-box I add an initial if the task is someone else's responsibility - I call myself the "family secretary" since it's my job to be sure everyone knows what they're doing and when! - and I also place a dot in the check-box if a task has been started. (Changing it to a check once it's completed, or an arrow if it's being moved forward.)

By they way, both of these "hacks" I learned long ago while using my very first "serious" planner. I haven't used a Franklin planner in many years but I still remember the lessons that system taught me! Of course I completely disregard their first and most important rule: ONLY USE ONE CALENDAR! 😳

I also have a post-it note here with errands I need to run this week. This note helps me plan ABA outings with my special needs son and his therapist. (Building community skills is a big part of our therapy!)

(How do I come up with this weekly to-do list? Well, most of what's listed here are things that are pertinent to upcoming events and/or tied to a time-sensitive situation. Some weeks I mine tasks from our master to-do list (things that need doing soon, but not necessarily now), but this week is pretty busy as is. We're just coming off the Easter holiday AND this is our last pre-college decision week, so I'm keeping my to-dos as streamlined as possible!)

Next section: the daily columns.


The lined daily column runs from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m. with a generous, open space at the bottom designated as "tonight" and a lined box at the top (just beneath the date) for listing the day's "top three" things. I use highlighters to indicate type of activity (green for someplace I need to go, blue for someplace the boys and/or Bill need to go, yellow for hosting at home, pink for self-care). I like looking at the week and seeing where the green is because that tells me when I'll need to be out and about. 

I don't record as much information here as I do in my daily planner - this is more for seeing the week in one glance. It really helps me manage our time, resources and energy!

In the "top three" section, just as in my daily planner, I list any events of note, as well as a little weather information ...


... and at the bottom of each daily column I write in the night's proposed supper:


Now, the far right column of this spread is for "gratitude," "notes" and "next week." Here's how I use those spaces ...


In the top space I list our seasonal theme, which is "April Showers" this week. (I have an upcoming post with ALL 52 themes for our next academic year!)

In the notes section I list the "crafts and comforts" I envision to go along with that seasonal theme. These include nature awareness activities, science experiments, readalouds, recipes, crafts, etc.

And finally, at the bottom of this column, I use the "next week" space just as it is intended:


A post-it note makes it easy to move this information elsewhere when I'm working on our weekend plans. 

(Also shown in these photos is the bright yellow, flower-shaped post-it note I use for blog ideas. I move that along with me week-to-week.)

A quick tip for keeping your place in this planner ...


The ever-handy binder clip makes it super easy to flip right to the current week!


What I love best of all about this planner is its size and feel. It's beautiful, inside and out. It's sturdy and substantial, yet light and extremely totable. The paper is smooth, the palate eye-pleasing and it's comfortable to write in thanks to those firm front and back covers.

(Because I'm often asked, I'll also mention that I use Frixion Erasable pens in my planners - exclusively!)

Well, there you have it then - a peek at my week, and another detailed description of how I use my planner(s) to the best of my ability! Once again, I am just so impressed by the quality and versatility of the Day Designer product line. I am so pleased with the two I use (as well as the monthly "scheduler" I use for habit tracking). And of course I just love the overall look and style of my planners ... so much so that how could I resist this cute little matching mug I spotted at Michaels the other day?


It was on sale AND I had a coupon so it ended up costing me all of about $4.00. (A pin money purchase!) It has that really nice mug feel, too. (Do you know what I mean? How some mugs are more comfortable than others?) Anyhoo, it's rare to find a "D" monogram - not that Dawn is a common name, but D-names in general are! - so I snatched that baby up right quick! ;)

Ok my friends, I will wrap up now, but as always, I thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this post and please let me know if you have any questions. As you can see from that bright yellow post-it note, I have lots of posts percolating - thanks, in part, to all of your wonderful suggestions! For now though, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

Spiderwick ~ a Review by Bookworm

"Today I went with my friends to see the movie, The Spiderwick Chronicles. It was a great movie, as were the books. I will say this though, the movie was verySpiderwick different from the books. I'd also say that it was very interesting the way the movie used regular things that you find in the real world, to explain magic. Like throwing salt over your shoulder - in the movie, making a ring of salt protected the characters from monsters. I would advise that you not plan on taking kids 8 or younger to this movie in theaters. If you really think they should see it you should probably wait until it comes out on DVD as it is a pretty scary movie, especially near the end. There is a giant snake, a troll, an ogre, and a thrilling battle on a rooftop - all things that make a very good movie if you are old enough not to be scared by it all. I wasn't very scared, but then again, I'm 12. The average 8 year old would be closing their eyes and covering their ears. I liked how the characters were smart and worked best when they were able to work together. All the characters had really good reflexes too! For example, when the mom first finds out about the goblins, she immediately starts grabbing weapons. I would say this was a very brave family. In their regular life, this family had problems with anger and trust but I think after all this happened they will handle it all better.

I'd rate this movie 9 out of 10 stars."

Now it's Mum's turn. ;)

I too liked this movie very much, but I must admit, I'm glad my Crackerjack opted to stay at home! Because truth be told, the movie was pretty scary, especially considering it was rated PG. And further truth be told, I looked back at Bookworm more than once to see how he was doing, lol!

It was a good story, most importantly. The plot got going pretty quickly, and it had plenty ofFieldguide  twists and lots (lots!) of action. And since I have not read any of the books, I didn't miss the things that apparently were left out. (Bookworm has read them all but he liked the movie enough to excuse the oversights.) Visually, the movie was very appealling as well. It was filmed in Canada I was told by a young friend, and the autumnal backdrop lent just the right light-against-shadow mood. Most of the action took place in the family's big old Victorian house, and the enchanted woods all around. (Boy wouldn't I love a tour of that place!) And the field guide itself (around which the movie revolved) was so intriguing! It made both Bookworm and I want to create a field journal like that ourselves (about real creatures of nature, obviously).

Since we've come home, Bookworm has been telling Crackerjack, frame by frame, all about the movie, so that "when Crackerjack does see it, it won't seem so scary to him." Lol, you've got to love brothers. :)

Well, I'm off till tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone!

A Book Review (& Giveaway!)

One of my favorite ways to prepare for Christmas ~ sometimes even months in advance ~ is to read things that get me excited about the holiday season. There are so many resources out there ~ books, magazines and blogs! ~ and I am always on the lookout for something that imparts good ideas along with gentle inspiration, and I'm happy to tell you I have found just such a thing ...

I had the incredible honor of a sneek peek at A Recipe for Christmas Joy, an e-book written by Marybeth Whalen. A little over a week ago, Marybeth sent a copy my way, and at once (after a quick and excited look-through) I set it aside to enjoy after Thanksgiving.

Well, yesterday I sat down in my Christmas corner, with a cup of that delicious holiday tea I've told you all about (at least once!), carols were playing on the radio, and I just soaked in Marybeth's lovely words ...

There's just so much in here! You can find out more about ordering A Recipe for Christmas Joy by following the button on Marybeth's sidebar, but let me give you a peek as to what you'll find inside:

  • Keeping Christ at the center of the season.
  • Organizing tips and thoughtful to-do's week-by-week.
  • Activities for family fun and personal renewal.
  • Decorating and table-setting ideas.
  • Budget-saving strategies.
  • All kinds of homemade gift ideas.
  • Lots and lots of fabulous recipes!
  • Ways to make the holidays Holy days.
  • A New Year's celebration too!

Truly there is something for everyone in here! And though I've been reading Marybeth's book on my computer, I have just printed off all 73 pages to keep in a binder so I may return to it year after year. It is a keepsake, for sure. :)

Oh, this was such a treat! And as the sun went down, and the lights on the tree began to twinkle, I was left feeling refreshed and renewed. Knowing Marybeth from her blog, I have a feeling this is what she hoped to impart to her readers ~ and she does so with a generous heart and a graceful spirit.

And speaking of treats, I have one for you, too! Marybeth has generously donated a copy of A Recipe for Christmas Joy for me to raffle off too one of my blog visitors!! How fun!

Let's see, how about ~ if you would like a chance to win a copy of A Recipe for Christmas Joy, please leave me a comment below. This evening I'll put all the names in a basket and have the boys draw the winning name. I'll post the winner here before 9 p.m.!

Good Luck, everyone, and Happy Monday!

Good, Clean, Fun

You might have noticed that we really enjoy going to the movies (case in point here, here, here and here). There's just something special about catching an afternoon matinee, especially in the summer - the popcorn, the previews, the big screen - the AC! Good clean (cool) fun.

The tricky thing is, though, finding movies that are good (funny, exciting, worth the $$) but still appropriate for family viewing. G movies are almost a thing of the past, and many PG movies sneak in a lot of stuff that is, I feel anyway, rather bothersome - adult innuendo, poor or even foul language, and even over-the-top violence. It can make for slim pickings sometimes.

So it was with great interest that I read a review of the new movie Evan Almighty, posted recently by the lovely Margaret in Minnesota. I've seen the preview once or twice and we even watched the HBO First Look recently (you can view it on YouTube, just do a google search). It looks cute, and I really like Steve Carrell, so I was glad to read that Margaret's gang enjoyed it, because I am sure we will too. Leah Rozen of People Magazine did not particularly care for it, but I hardly ever agree with her anyway. With Margaret, however - well, I like to flatter myself that we are on the same wavelength - so her opinion counts. :)

According to Margaret:

"Evan Almighty is both biblical and family-centered, which is why it annoys the secular media. There is nothing offensive at all in the film - no swearing, no sex, no disrespect - although there is a splatter or two of bird poo."

Family-centered? Nothing offensive? Bird poo? Yup, right up our alley! :)

And speaking of good clean fun, here are some cute jokes from my parish bulletin this week:

Q. Who was the greatest financier in the Bible? A. Noah. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Q. Why didn't they play cards on the Ark? A. Because Noah was standing on the deck.

Q. Who was te 2nd greatest financier in the Bible? A. Moses' mother. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.

Q. What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in Eden? A. Your mother ate us out of house and home.

Q. Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker? A. Moses. He broke all 10 commandments at once.

And now I'm afraid I really must tear myself away from the computer and attend to the laundry situation which is currently reaching alarming levels. Have a great day, and if you live in the northeast (or anywhere else experiencing a heat wave this week) keep cool!

Eight Thumbs Up! (A Movie Review)

Bill, Bookworm, Crackerjack and I went to see Night at the Museum this afternoon Night_in_the_museum_1(Nana  stayed home with Earlybird). I am so happy to say it was a terrific movie! We all agreed it had a great cast of characters, a great storyline, lots of action and humor - an excellent family film all around.

I asked the boys to review the movie here at my blog; of course they were happy to comply. These reviews might contain a smidgen of a spoiler (though nothing you wouldn't learn from the trailer), so proceed with caution!

From Crackerjack:

"This movie was about a man who got a job at the museum and everything comes to life at night. A monkey steals the keys and even the skeleton of a dinosaur comes to life! I would describe this movie as exciting, scary - no, not scary - silly and ... did I say exciting?"

From Bookworm:

"Today we went to the Imax theater to see a movie called Night at the Musuem. Imax is a type of theater that features a large 3-D screen. (This movie was not shown in 3-D but was really great on the big screen!)

"In the movie a man called Larry Daley gets a job as a night gaurd at a natural history musuem - however, it turns out that the job is not as easy as it seems for everything comes to life at the musuem and it is very difficult to make sure nothing goes wrong! For example, the monkey named Dexter is prone to steal keys or rip up the instruction manual. Attila the Hun is terrible and known by all of the museum creatures as someone who might rip their limbs off. And the railworkers and the Roman Empire figures are often waging war on each other no matter how many times Larry tells them to get along.

"I liked the amount of humor in the movie. If I told you my favorite part it would probably give the movie away so I will just tell you that it is when Atilla is begging Daley to let him rip someone's limbs off - just a little!

"I'd say that this movie is very appropriate for all kinds of children and that it is a great family movie. I give this movie 5 stars."

What I liked about this movie, (Dawn speaking here) was that, on top of it's fine entertainment value, it really got us excited to visit a museum! There's a message in this movie, one revealed by museum guide Rebecca as she explains to her tour group (and Larry):

"This museum was originally dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelt ... He had a passion for history and believed that the more you knew about the past, the better prepared you were for the present."

A great point to remember. And in closing, here is one more Teddy Roosevelt quote I found online, this one not about history but about children and family life:

"For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."
~ Teddy Roosevelt, An Autobiography, 1913

Well said, Mr. President!

Saturdays are for Coffee and Books!

Or at least, once in a while they are - but especially when your pocket is positivey on fire with the incredibly generous Barnes & Noble gift card you received from your parents at Christmas! And today was the day - I could hold out no longer, especially since I received a "Take an additional 20% off any purchase" sticker in the mail. So, as I left this morning to run my usual Saturday morning errands, I casually informed my husband that I'd be gone a bit longer than he might otherwise expect - I had book money to spend. :)

So I thought you might like to know what I got! (I'm being a little silly about all this - and I think by now you all know to expect a little silliness from me now and again - but honestly, this was a huge treat for me, and I thank my mum and dad from the bottom of my heart for this generous and thoughtful gift.)

OK. First I must tell you, as I headed out on this very dark and wind-whipped Saturday, the skies looking like they might burst open with snow squalls any moment - I decided I must have some coffee to start the whole adventure off right. I usually try not to do this as we always have perfectly good and downright delicious coffee at home in the mornings as well as a wide variety of travel mugs to choose from ... but two things conspired to make take-out coffee a necessary treat for me today. A. we had no fresh coffee left in the house this morning (other than some woefully undrinkable "Vanilla Creme" blend stuck way back in the freezer that we drank out of pure need of caffeine) and B. I had a Dunkin Donuts gift card to spend (my Cookie Bake-Off winnings)!

Now, have you been to a Dunkin Donuts lately? Have you tried their newest winter beverage - White Hot Chocolate? Yes, I'm happy to report it is as delicious as it sounds. Creamy, buttery, vanilla coziness in a cup - its one failing is it contains not an ounce of caffeine. So naturally, I got a small coffee on the side for good measure.

By the time I got to Barnes & Noble's I was warm and toasty inside and out and ready for some serious browsing. I spent a good 45 minutes there - no kids, no rushing and not much of a crowd either. Here's what I came home with, in no particular order.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ~ Sure, I've read this once, twice or ten times before. But it's been a good long while, and I'm due. I may even read it aloud to Bookworm, who thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie over the Christmas holiday with me.


The Happy Side of Me: Mary Engelbreit's 2007 Page-a-Day Calendar~ I have one of these every year (and have had for years!). I love ME's artwork (not to mention her magazine) and I love being treated to a cheerful scene and happy thought each day. Plus, the torn-off pages are the perfect size for daily to-do lists. This was on sale, 50% btw! (All the calendars were, in fact.)


The Herb Companion ~ Nothing beats garden planning when the snow is a-flyin'. I love the herbal craft ideas and recipes in this magazine, though I only pick it up once in a great while. The January issue has an article on stocking your own herbal remedy kit that looks very intriguing. All the articles look good, really!


The Last Straw ~ I have had my eye on this book for some time. I saw it way back before Christmas, and I immediately recognized it as a Catholic Mosaic title. Well, I'm glad I waited because today it happened to have a large green sticker on it which meant it was $5 off the cover price! This will be perfect for next week's lessons leading up to Epiphany.


Season of the Sandstorms ~ Back when Bookworm was younger we collected all the Magic Tree House Books. He was an early reader and just devoured these fun, historical stories. Then at some point the publisher started making them only available in hardcover, and therefore much more expensive. We halted our collection and started taking them out of the library, only we never remember to check them out for some reason so we're several books out-of-the-loop. Well, today I saw this newer title in paperback! I think we'll be taking a good look at camels and deserts this week!


A Night in the Museum ~ Thanks to Cay, who gave this movie a good review, we are going to see it tomorrow! (Already bought the tickets and everything!) When I saw the junior novel, I could not pass it up. Bookworm read the whole thing already and loved it! (He keeps trying to share bits with me, but I don't like to ruin the surprise!) I think after the movie I will have him read it aloud to Crackerjack - it will be fun, I'm sure, to "see" the movie all over again at home.


Miss Potter: The Novel ~ And speaking of movie novels ... As you know from my post the other day, I'm a bit giddy about the new movie coming out next month about Beatrix Potter. The bookstore had a whole display of new and familiar Peter Rabbit books ... including a few about the movie! I held back from buying The Making of Miss Potter because it was filled with wonderful pictures and far too tempting to peruse before I see the movie. I'd like to be surprised as much as possible. I will save this novel for after we see it, another read-aloud perhaps.


The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter ~ OK, so I was on a Beatrix roll, lol! Seriously, though, this book is gorgeous. It's done by Dorling Kindersley, my all-time favorite publisher. (Nobody makes books as fine as they do.) It's a huge hardcover, filled with all kinds of delicious Beatrix Potter information, pictures, history, illustrations - the works! I used my 20% sticker on it and with my member discount on top of that, it was really quite a bargain for such a beautiful, informational book. You will probably not be surprised to see a rather lengthy Beatrix Potter unit study in the works over the next few months!

So there's a peek into my shopping bag today! Thanks for letting me share all my goodies with you, and thanks again, Mum and Dad, for making this all possible!

Flushed Away: The Reviews are In!

Flushed_awayYesterday the boys and I met friends for an afternoon matinee, the newly released Flushed Away. We were also joined by what seemed like thousands of other kids who had no school due to Veteran's Day, LOL!

At supper last night, as the boys filled Daddy in on the movie, I whipped out my laptop so as to capture their "narration" in a post.

Crackerjack got things rolling ...

"This movie was about a pet mouse who got flushed away ..."

"Wait," I interrupted, fingers paused over the keys. "Wasn't he a rat?"

"No, he was a mouse," CJ said. He turned to his brother for confirmation. "Bookworm, wasn't Roddy a mouse, not a rat?"

"Right, he and Rita were mice," Bookworm replied.

"Guys, I'm pretty sure Roddy was a pet rat ..."

"But you said people aren't allowed to keep rats as pets." CJ challenged.

"Well, you know, this is the movies," I said quickly. "And besides, they're from Ratropolis. Don't you think if they're from a city called Ratropolis it would mean that they're rats?"


"And what about Sid?" I reminded them. "He was a rat, right?"

"Yes, he was definitely a rat." BW agreed.

"I think Sid was wearing a wig," CJ felt compelled to add.

We had come to a standstill in the rat/mouse debate, when I decided to play hardball - I went to Google. We found the definitive answer not at the official Flushed Away site but at, of all places, The National Catholic Register.

Rodney was indeed a rat.

So with that small, but rather important detail cleared up, it was on to our reviews:


"This movie was about a mouse rat that lived in New York London in a fancy house as a pet. I didn't know that was London! The people that owned the house left on vacation, I think - (I don't really remember) - and a sewer rat came to their house. He got there when their sink backed up. Like the same thing that happened to our sink, except a rat didn't come flying up at our house. The rat exploded out of their sink and ate some of their hot dogs. Then he flushed Roddy down the toilet. Roddy ended up underground in a place called Ratropolis. He was in a weird city, a different city, a city full of rats and mice, and slugs and frogs and flies. He ended up involved in a "grande" adventure with a girl mouse rat named Rita. They were trying to escape from the Toad who was thinking up a plan that would have been very, very, very bad for the rats of Ratropolis. Roddy had to figure out: live down there forever or go home. Can I say what he decided? No, I probably shouldn't.

I give this movie 50 STARS!!"


"This is a movie called Flushed Away, and in it, a pompous pet mouse - I mean rat - named Roddy, encounters a sewer rat who gets launched into his house during a back up in the sink. Since Roddy's owners are away it's up to him to get the rat out, but when he tries to convince him that the toilet is a jacuzzi and that the flush will make bubbles come out, Sid the sewer rat pushes him in instead and pulls the lever. Now Roddy's stuck underground in the sewers of London which is a lot like the London above except completely different and mouse size. I mean rat size. And his only chance of getting out is a female rat, Rita, who is running away from an evil toad who wants her for stealing a gem. I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you that near the end, Roddy discovers that his objective is not to get back to the upper world but to stop the toad from doing something terrible.

I give this movie 9 out of 10 stars."

We were very excited Daddy brought home McDonalds last night for supper, especially Flushed_away_1because this week's theme is none other than Flushed Away! We even made this cute little craft as instructed on the side of the Happy Meal box - a "Jammy Dodger" boat made out of a straw, a chicken McNuggets carton and a sail we punched out of the box.

My take on the movie? Very cute, with some potty humor (a given it seems these days), all in all very fun. Loved the slugs, the surroundings and Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet and Andy Sirkis were great. You know how I love anything British. :) If you see this movie, I have to tell you - the part where Spike says to Whitey "Keep your legs straight when you hit the water!" (in full cockney accent) - a scene which is actually shown in all the commercials - had me laughing to tears.

Have a great weekend everyone! And if you have time, please consider sending me a post, picture or e-mail for the Loveliness of Homemade Gifs Fair on Monday!

Faith & Family: A Quick Review

I promised a while back that I would do a review of my favorite "faith and family" resources - and I will - though I find I'm not very good at reviews. I think I'm too easy to please, LOL!  The truth is, I Faith_family_1find them all useful in different ways; it's hard to hold one book above the other. But it is good to know what kinds of information and ideas a book offers before purchasing it.

As I am in the process of gathering ideas for next month, I thought I might write a post describing what each book says about (and the ideas it presents for) one particular feast day - for instance, All Saints Day. But, while I work on that post, I wanted to mention a fabulous monthly resource for living the liturgical year in our homes and in our hearts ...

Faith & Family: The Magazine of Catholic Living. As you can see above, it its absolutely beautiful in is presentation. Let me assure you, the content is equally beautiful - Catholic faith, reviews and information, as well as an exciting layout to rival the likes of Martha Stewart! (And I love MS!)

I have never seen this magazine in the bookstore, but you can order it online. (And you can order a free sample, btw.) I would also mention there are lovely people in the Customer Service Deparment ... I spent a good 20 minutes on the phone with them yesterday.

You see, I was in a mild state of panic that I might have missed out on the Advent/Christmas issue; I had heard others talking about it and yet, mine had not arrived. I feared I had somehow overlooked renewing my subscription, so I placed a call to customer service and was told that my subscription was valid through the Winter issue and that I should have received my Advent/Christmas copy last week. When I explained my distress at the apparently missing issue, the kind young lady immediately put in a request for a replacement issue to be mailed out. Only - she warned - the issue was on backorder and could take some time to arrive.

Of course, as these things happen, I found my copy waiting in my mailbox yesterday afternoon! I can hardly wait to carve out an hour of time when I can sit and peruse the issue, cup of hot tea by my side. :)

To give you a better idea of the magazine's substance, I thought you might like a quick rundown of this month's table of contents:

  • 10 Ways to Transform Your Home from Mundane to Merry
  • The Best Catholic Christmas Gifts
  • Pirate Party Ideas
  • Video Game Addiction
  • A Kid's Christmas Craft Party
  • A Bride's First Tree
  • Nurturing Children's Talents
  • When Holly Met Ivy (an article on author Rumer Godden)
  • A Calendar of Feasts and Traditions
  • Book excerpt: A Fairy Tale Christmas
  • Arabian Coffee and Sugar Plums (recipes)
  • Interview with Jon Voight
  • Christmas Dinner Menu
  • Entertainment Reviews
  • Fun and Faith-filled Stocking Stuffers

Perhaps you've known this magazine for years, or maybe this is the first you've heard of it. It is still relatively new to me, but with each issue that arrives, I love it more and more. :)

Of Mice and Homeschoolers

As in, two wonderful books about mice - and two groups of wonderful kids to discuss them!

On tap for the older group (9-13) was Redwall; while the younger group (7-10) tackled Poppy. Both of my older boys really enjoyed taking part in these groups. The last time we attended Book Group was last March; this was the first month since then our schedule has allowed us to attend. After so many months away, I was happily surprised to see how much Book Group had grown! Crackerjack's group had 10 children, while Bookworm's group had about a dozen! This is one of those things I love about homeschooling ~ if you have a wish - in this case, your child loves to read and loves to talk about books - all you have to do is reach out and there are many, many other homeschoolers waiting to jump right in with you!

The 7-10 yos sat around a large table and talked about Poppy (which if you remember we finished just in the nick of time). Led by my friend Lisa, the kids really enjoyed talking about the different aspects of this popular book by Avi. After their discussion they colored owl pictures and made bookmarks. Crackerjack's owl was, naturally, red.


CJ also brought with him his stuffed porcupine (from here onward known only as Ereth) and his Rescue Heroes Eagle who was just mean enough looking to be Mr. Ocax (our stuffed owl finger puppet was deemed too friendly to play the part). We have a small mouse finger puppet somewhere around here too, but our "Poppy" seems to be MIA. We also brought maps of Dimwood Forest that the boys had made earlier in the day. The group thought they were neat and a few of the kids - including our own dear little friend, Abby, shown below - made maps of their own right there on the spot!


Here are the boys' maps ...


Bookworm's map is above, and Crackerjack's is below. (Click on images to see better.)


Per Crackerjack's request, I stayed with his group for most of the discussion - but I managed to sneak away for a few minutes to check in on the older group (and snap a few pictures while I was at it). Before I even entered the room, I could hear their discussion was quite lively! The delicious aroma of a few dozen chocolate chip cookies (by then mostly crumbs) hung in the air. Nothing like a little chocolate to really bring out that tween chattiness! ;) The nice thing about this group is these kids all know each other well and they're all voracious readers. They simply love to "talk books." Their tastes are fairly similar too, so books that are mentioned (other than the one being discussed at the meeting) are generally ones they all have some experience with.

Just as I snapped my last picture, I was not too surprised to see Bookworm stand up, and excitedly ask the group the following question about Redwall:

"Does anyone think that hares are worth the extra food for their skill in battle?"

I had no idea what he meant, but the resounding answer from these loyal Redwall fans was - Yes!


Now, Redwall I have not actually read, so I cannot tell you too much about it. Bookworm has read up to book 12 in the series so I'd wager he'd give it a glowing review. I'll have to ask him to write something up about that!

In the meantime, I can tell you a bit about Poppy. We read it (as previously mentioned once, twice, a thousand times now!) all in one day. And let me tell you it was no hardship. It was a very charming and exciting story.

Poppy is the second in a series of books by Avi, collectively titled Tales of Dimwood Forest. Other books in this series include Ragweed, Poppy and Rye and Ereth's Birthday and Poppy's return. The books follow the adventures of a collection of animals, mostly mice, in and around a farming and woodland area.

As for age range - well, Amazon says 9-12. Seven yo Crackerjack loved it as did my 11 yo Bookworm. I will say there are a couple of parts that are seriously gripping and even a bit violent. They are necessary to the story, however, and not done in a tasteless manner. Both my boys handled those scenes without a problem. Though after the first scene, (the sudden death of a character), Bookworm turned to me, eyebrows raised and said, "This is a children's book?" (LOL!)

A quick synopsis - a food shortage makes it necessary for a large family of mice to relocate from their abandoned farmhouse across a creek, field and forest to a newly inhabited corn farm. One thing stands in their way - approval from Mr. Ocax, a great horned owl. These mice live under his dubious "protection" and, with his "permission" he generally allows them to move about Dimwood Forest. This new request to move to New House, he vehemently denies, however. The mice are devastated and left to a certain bleak future. Poppy mouse is suspicious though - and takes it upon herself to prove Mr. Ocax has something to hide. Her ultimate aim is to find her family a new home.

It is her journey we follow through the dangerous forest as she finds her strength and bravery and along the way a rather prickly (in more ways than one) friend.

I won't give away any more than that, but I will say that my boys (reading over my shoulder just now) are in complete agreement with my review and say they would definitely recommend it to a friend.

Three thumbs up, then!

Lost: The Morning Review

So, what did you think?Lost_season_3

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the season premiere last night - I wanted to "know" a little more and "wonder" a little less. But I think that's mainly due to my (admittedly irrational) expectation that they can somehow cover it all in one hour. I think for true Lost fans such as myself, however, a two or even three hour show would not be overkill.

Am I right? :)

But you know, we waited five long months for this show to come back - and not enough questions were answered in that flash of an hour! What about the hatch? Did Eko, Locke and Desmond make it? What about that foot? Where are Sun, Jin and Sayid? Did Michael and Walt escape?

In this episode we just saw Jack, Kate and Sawyer and the Others. Jack irritates me, Kate bores me, but Sawyer - Sawyer, I just love. I know he's a rascal, but they give that actor all the best lines! ;) And his obvious love for Kate makes him vulnerable and, well, more likable than when he's cursing someone out or poking fun at Hurley.

But speaking of the others - that first scene - the little neighborhood book club scene - that one blew my socks off. That was interesting to say the least. Who are these people?

Might they be recruiting? Might they be seeking to make Jack, Kate and Sawyer into Others?

Only 158 hours until we find out more ... :)

(Review of Poppy to come later today!)