Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

All I Want for Christmas

Surprise! I’m back.  Sorry about the recent break from blogging.  Between schoolwork and housework and prepping for holiday fun, I haven’t even thought about my blog lately.  But when I woke up bright-eyed at 4:30 this morning, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to sneak in a post.

I’m still doing a terrible job of taking pictures of the monkeys.   But there was no way I would miss capturing a few shots of Lucy pulling her first front tooth a couple of weeks ago.

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Now believe me when I tell you that it was high time for this tooth to come out!  Lucy’s front teeth had begun to spread apart, and this tooth had migrated to front and center.  Not only had it centered itself up, but it insisted on protruding from between her lips.  Lucy loved to close her mouth with only that tooth sticking out past her lips.  More than one person told her that she looked like Nanny McPhee.  (By the way, we’ve never seen than movie, but I hear it’s a good one.)

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After a few unsuccessful attempts to pull the tooth with her fingers, the Tool Man decided to give the old floss trick a try.

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Despite our best attempts to get the big moment on video, Lucy snatched out the tooth a split second before the Tool Man could push record.

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Good ol’ Tacy Mae was there by Lucy’s side, cheering her along.  She’s such a funny girl.

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Now that looks much better.  No more wayward, hillbilly tooth!  Lucy is super excited that she can now drink from a straw without actually having to open her mouth. Oh, the perks of missing teeth!

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Lucy’s second front tooth will be ready to come out soon I think.  Who knows?  She may indeed be needing those “two front teeth” for Christmas this year.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn Touches

As promised, today I have pictures of my fall decorating for y’all.

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My goal this year was to keep things simple.  I’m starting to realize that I really appreciate clean, simple, uncluttered décor (although you’d probably never guess it by looking around my house), so a bunch of Halloween doodads are not for me.  Just give me a few dried leaves, some acorns, and a white pumpkin or two and I’m happy.

I’ve been inspired lately by a blog I recently discovered called Farmhouse 5540.  I love everything about this lady’s style.  Everything!  I wish I could bring her home with me and let her work her magic in my house.  There’s something about her simple, farmhouse style that makes me happy.  So as I was adding autumn touches to my house this year, I was trying to keep her rustic style mind.

It is going to take some practice before I’m able to replicate this style, and I find myself changing and rearranging things every day.  So what you see in these photos today may not be the way things look in my home tomorrow.

First I’ll show you our breakfast room.  I guess a more accurate name for this area would be school room, since we always do school here and never eat breakfast here.  But that’s another story.

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I’m a big fan of the nontraditional pumpkins, particularly the white ones.  Like I mentioned the other day, orange is not my favorite color, and orange pumpkins just scream Halloween to me (which is not the look I was going for).

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I love to decorate with pieces that can easily be used year round – like this lantern. I can pop it open and fill it with whatever seasonal item I want.  Right now it’s filled with green raffia and a ceramic pumpkin that I bought at the dollar store.  I also added a brown, silk ribbon to warm it up a bit.  In a few, short weeks I’m sure I will be stuffing this lantern with some shiny glass ornaments.

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I’ve had this metal watering can for more than a decade.  It’s lived in various places over the years, mostly on my back porch, but I decided to move it to the breakfast room for now and fill it with dried cornhusks and artificial wheat stems.

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Ah, mantel!  I always have such a hard time deciding what to do with you.  Since the mantel is the focal point of the living room, and quite possibly of the whole house, I always feel a lot of pressure to get it right.  Honestly, I was not entirely satisfied with the way the mantel looked in this picture.  This area always feels too dark to me.  To help brighten up the space, I recently commissioned Lucy to find a few sticks in our yard and paint them white.  Then I laid the sticks, somewhat haphazardly, across the top of the mantel, and they do help brighten up the dark wood.

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This wooden sign was a clearance item from Hobby Lobby.  Originally it was reddish, pink and said something about “lake living.” Not my style, per se, but at less than $5, I couldn’t pass it up.  I painted the sign white as soon as I got it home, but I never could decide what to write on it.  It’s been stuck in a drawer for about 5 years (no exaggeration) until last week, when I finally pulled it out and added the word, “Gather.”

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These white pumpkins and Indian corn are certainly my favorite part of the mantel scape.

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Behind the living room couch, I replaced a vase of flowers with these preserved leaves.  Oh, how I wish I had some lovely, natural fall foliage in my backyard that I could cut and bring inside, but alas!  What few leaves in my yard aren’t brown and crunchy with drought are still bright green.   (By the way, maybe the 8” of rain we got yesterday will solve the drought problem!)

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The bright fall colors are lovely, but I do find them a little too intense for my taste.

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The last stop for the day is our console table.  Here lies a beautiful, two-toned pumpkin, and even though it’s not white, I absolutely love it!

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At the other end of the console I stuffed a metal crown with a few pinecones, and I also added another natural element with the tree slice.

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And here’s my only official Halloween decoration.  It’s a jack-o-lantern I made probably 10 years ago from an old paperback book.  I know I said I wasn’t into using Halloween decorations this year, but this one is so subtle I’m ok with it.  (If you’re observant, you may have noticed that I actually have one more of these book pumpkins on my mantel.)

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That’s all the photos I have today.  I’m going to try get a picture of our backdoor all dressed for fall and maybe a few of our dining room table.  Hope y’all enjoyed the little tour!

Fall Blessings,


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Terrific to be Two

Two weeks ago our little pumpkin, Tacy Mae, turned two years old.  My, how the time flies!

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Due to conflicting schedules, I came pretty close to not throwing a birthday party this time around.  After all, Tacy did get an all-expense-paid trip to Canton’s First Monday Trade Days and Great Wolf Lodge on her birthday.  What more could a girl ask for, right?  But due to the whining and nagging from Tacy’s grandmothers, I threw together a very impromptu dinner to appease my mother and mother-in-law celebrate Tacy’s second birthday.

The great thing about October birthdays, is that pumpkins and other autumnal decor can easily double as party decorations.  Just paint a glittery “2’' on a pumpkin and you’re good to go.

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I also added touches of tulle and a little gold ribbon here and there for some extra special, celebratory sparkle.

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I was pleased with the outcome of this tulle-wrapped pumpkin because the sheer covering helped tone down the intensity of the orange.  I realize orange is a fall staple, but I’m not fan of the color.  I would love to fill this bowl with tiny white pumpkins, but I haven’t been able to locate any yet.

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Since my children don’t really care for traditional cake I decided to bake Tacy a cookie cake instead.

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Tacy was a little unsure of what to do with her birthday candles.  It was only her second birthday, you know.  Mostly Tacy just wanted to touch the flames.  Luckily, the Tool Man was standing close by to grab her hand before she got too close to the fire.

While Dad was trying to coach Tacy on blowing out candles, Lucy “accidentally” puffed them out for her.  When all of the party guests instinctively gasped, Lucy ran out of the room red-faced and crying.  It was no biggie, really.  We just relit the candles and Tacy gave it another go.  But Lucy was totally embarrassed by the whole ordeal, and it took some coaxing to get her to rejoin the festivities.

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So much for making a birthday cake my kids would actually eat.  As you can see Tacy was content to feed her piece to the Tool Man, who was more than willing to gobble it up.

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A few gifts Tacy received were two, snazzy, fall outfits, her very first Barbie, some princess shoes and accessories, a tiny tricycle, a small slide with a jumbo bag of balls for diving into, some shape matching manipulatives (y’all know I have to give at least one educational toy), and this puppy pal.

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I guess that does it for birthday parties around here for the next eight months.  Now it’s time to get serious about holiday decorating.  I’ve just about got my autumn touches in place, but I’m still on the look out for those mini, white pumpkins.  It’s hard to believe than in six weeks I will be putting up a Christmas tree.

I.  Can’t.  Wait.

I’ve already decided we are going back to a real tree this year.  You just can’t beat the look, feel, and smell of fresh cut tree.  But enough about Christmas.  I think now I will go take a few pictures of my autumn décor to share with y’all. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

History Snapshots

Since the monkeys and I started school nine weeks ago, I have done a poor job documenting our year in pictures.  And by “poor” I mean I think I’ve pulled out my camera only 3 days this year.  So when it comes to choosing pictures to share on the blog, it’s slim pickin’s.  However, I did manage to find a handful of shots that I took of some recent history lessons.

Our first 20 or so history lessons this year have not been fun reads.  You see, volume II of the Mystery of History begins with the ascension of Jesus and the 300 years of horrific Christian persecution that follows.   Throw a catastrophic volcanic eruption into the mix and you have a very somber few weeks of history lessons.

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The monkeys have had some difficult questions about why God would allow such horrible persecution to happen to His children.  I certainly don’t have a definitive answer for them, but I do try to stress to them that God was, is, and always will be in control of world leaders and events, and that He can even utilize evil for His glory.  We also have discussed that our purpose on this earth is not that we live a life of ease and comfort but that we offer up ourselves to be used for His glory and trust our lives to Him.  And throughout our studies of the persecution of the early church we were encouraged to see that all the tortures and murders didn’t stifle the Gospel one bit.  Quite the contrary!  The Christian community grew from just a handful believers to nearly half of the population of the Roman empire!  Now if that doesn’t bring God glory, I don’t know what does.

Every now and then I try to include some hands-on activities to supplement our history lectures.  I really think it helps the monkeys retain the information we’ve covered when we have some sort of physical activity to tie our lessons to.  For instance, the monkeys may not remember when I ask them who invented the first written language, but when I ask them what we were learning about when they wrote with sticks in clay tablets, the monkeys quickly tell me all about the Sumerians and cuneiform.

So during our lesson on the Dead Sea Scrolls, I let the monkeys make salt crystals much like the ones that litter the landscape around the Dead Sea.

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Basically all we had to do was mix up some Epsom salt and water, pour it over black paper, and set it in the sun to dry.  After a couple of days, the monkeys were thrilled to find jagged, glittering crystals covering the paper.

It just so happened (thank you, Jesus) that this Dead Sea history lesson coincided with our science lessons on density and buoyancy.  It was the perfect opportunity for us to experiment with various objects sinking and floating in fresh vs. salt water.

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As I alluded to earlier, the monkeys have also studied the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and the devastation of Pompeii.  We were intrigued to learn how modern-day archaeologists were able to cast molds of humans and animals whose lifeless forms had been trapped for centuries, under piles of ash of rock.

To help her understand a little more about the excavation process, I had Lucy experiment with making molds using Play-Doh. 

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Any excuse to use Play-Doh is a winner with Lucy. Tacy observed big sister’s studies from nearby, while nibbling on a slice pizza.

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That’s really the only school pictures I have taken this year.  I guess I’ve just really been more focused on sticking to our schedule than on snapping pictures, which is good for our studies, but bad for the blog, I know.

It’s not always school, school, school around here.  In between teaching and housework, I’ve been busy adding autumn touches to our home, both inside and out.  I’ve spent a lot of my free time lately scouring Pinterest, filling my mind with fall décor inspiration.  I hope to post a few pictures of my autumn decorating soon, so keep your eyes peeled.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fun with Chickens

Hello, y’all.  After a four-day weekend at a flea market and a water park (it’s a weird combination, I know) we are home again and getting back to our routine.  School continues to run smoothly for us this year, and we are right on schedule in our 9th week.  Wow! Has it really been nine weeks already?  I feel like the year is flying by.

But no boring talk about schoolwork today.  Nope, today I have nothing but the cutest pictures of Tacy Mae to share with y’all.  Last week, Tacy turned the big “2,” so I decided to get out my camera and take a few pictures of the birthday girl. 

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With the cool, fall temperatures we’ve been having lately (if you can call 85 degrees “cool”) the monkeys have been spending lots of time outdoors, riding scooters, wandering in the woods, and playing with the dogs.  Tacy’s favorite thing to do outside is to follow our chickens around and feed them their favorite treat of dried worms.

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This is the first year we’ve had any white chickens – Leghorns, to be exact.  Honestly, they are not my favorite.  They look a little too “commercial” for my taste.  Not to mention they are pretty flighty and they lay boring, white eggs.  But at least they lay, right?

I know this next picture is not the greatest, but I love the way Tacy’s hair is flying about.  It sort of looks like a chicken comb in this picture.  Tacy has the softest, most wispy hair.  I’m trying my hardest to let her bangs grow out, but it’s killing me!  I can’t stand to see her hair down in her eyes, and she refuses to leave a barrette in for any length of time.  I keep threatening to pull out my scissors and start whacking.

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When she’s not chasing chickens, Tacy loves to swing.  And for goodness sakes, don’t put her in a baby swing!  Big girl swings only, please!

Recently, Tacy has begun posing for the camera.  Check out her cheesy grin.

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Sometimes the best pictures are the ones they aren’t aware you’re taking.

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To keep Tacy from dumping out an entire bag of chicken treats (those things are expensive, by the way) I gave Tacy a bucket with just a few worms.

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Tacy is getting to be quite the little boss.  You can see below how she’s got that finger pointed, trying to tell the chickens what to do.  I’ve heard that Tacy rules the roost in the church nursery too (pun intended).

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Happy birthday, you little mischievous monkey!  Mama loves you.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rice Rice Baby

Boy, I really need to do a better job of taking pictures!  That’s the main reason why my blogging has been sparse lately.  I have no new pictures.  This morning I decided to look through my computer to see if I could find any pictures for y’all, and I ran across of few of Tacy.

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Several weeks ago I put together this sensory bin of dyed rice for Tacy to dig around in.  I added puff balls, spoons, cups, foam numbers, plastic eggs, and a few other odds and ends for Tacy to play with. 

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Tacy thoroughly enjoys digging and pillaging through the rice.  Her favorite activity is to spoon rice into her cup then pour it back into the bin…over and over and over.  Don’t tell her, but this is actually her toddler form of “school work.”  It’s good exercise for those little fingers to grip the spoon, and pouring the rice back and forth is an excellent activity for improving her hand-eye coordination.

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I spread a vinyl tablecloth on the floor to keep the inevitable mess contained.  When she’s done playing, all I have to do to clean up is dump the tablecloth back into the bin.

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It won’t be long before Tacy is ready to join us at the big school table.  She’s already expressed interest in coloring, writing, painting, and counting.  I may be biased, but I think she’s a pretty smart girl.

Maybe I can get my booty into gear soon and take some pictures.  Fall will be rearing its head in a few weeks, I hope, and that always gets me in the mood to take pictures of the monkeys.  Ty and Lucy are looking forward to the cooler temperatures and autumn fun.  I love chasing them around the yard with my camera as they busy themselves chasing chickens, gathering sticks for campfires, and raking leaves. 


Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to the Books

Hello y’all.  After a hot, busy summer, it’s time to begin another school year at Arrow Academy.  (In case you are new to my blog, Arrow Academy is the name of our homeschool here on the creek.)

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Like most kids, my monkeys weren’t thrilled about getting back to the books.  Honestly I wasn’t jumping up and down to start school either.  I’ve really been enjoying my summer vacation, completing lots of sewing projects over the last few weeks.  But due to the fact that we have a couple of out-of-town trips planned in the next month or so, we really needed to get a jump on our schoolwork.

This school year, I am totally changing the way we do things.  Some of you may remember that last spring I became very interested in Miss Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy.  I spent most of my summer reading everything I could regarding her teaching methods and techniques.  Then I was lucky enough to find an awesome website with detailed lesson and curriculum guides (at no cost!) based on the Charlotte Mason (CM) method.  This website, Ambleside Online (AO), has been such a blessing, with wonderful advice for people like me who are new to the CM method.  Through AO, I was directed to yet another incredible site with access to over 400 classic children’s titles.  Finding this collection of free, Charlotte Mason-worthy literature has probably saved me hundreds of dollars on books this year.

So, armed with new knowledge, a detailed curriculum guide, and an online library of free books, I set to work this summer planning a much different, yet exciting school year.

My first challenge was to create a daily and weekly schedule for us.  I think a well-planned schedule is a vital part of the CM classroom, since her method hinges on concise, meaningful lessons and the development of good habits.  It probably took me three weeks of wiggling and finagling time slots and books and lessons, but I finally came up with a schedule I think will work for us.

Here’s the simplified version of our weekly schedule.  I tried to color coordinate subjects that correlate.

  M T W T F
9:00 Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible
9:20 Copywork Copywork Copywork Copywork Copywork
9:30 Math Math Math Math Math
10:00 History Science History Science History
10:30 Break Break Break Break Break
10:50 Literature Literature Literature Literature Literature
11:10 Shakes-peare Artist/ Composer Study Geography The Story of the Romans Timeline
11:30 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1:00 Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry Poetry
1:05 Spelling/ Vocabulary Spelling/ Vocabulary Spelling/ Vocabulary Spelling/
Spelling/ Vocabulary
1:20 Grammar/ Phonics Latin Grammar/ Phonics Latin Dictation
1:40 Nature Study Handi- crafts Science Extras Art 50Famous Stories Retold
Other Free Reading        

Since our school year will be divided in the three terms of 12 weeks, I also decided to plan the first twelve weeks of lessons for Ty and Lucy.  AO had the bulk of this work already done, but, like I mentioned earlier, I still needed to merge a first grader’s work with a sixth grader’s work.  There’s just no way I can teach two separate lessons for each subject in school, so it was essential for me to combine as many of Ty’s and Lucy’s lessons as possible.  Of course the monkeys work separately in subjects like spelling, grammar, and math, but for things like history, science, Bible, and nature study we do joint lessons.  Then the monkeys do age-appropriate work to supplement the lessons.

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As far as curriculum goes, I didn’t have to change as much of it as I expected.  For science, history, and math we are using the same publishers as last year.  The biggest curriculum changes for us have been in literature, spelling, and grammar.  I’ll bore you with the details of these on another day, but for now I will say that the new books are working quite well for us.

Now that we are two weeks into our first term, you may be wondering how it’s going.

Well, I am happy, nay thrilled, to report that things are going splendidly. It’s probably been our best first two weeks ever!  The weekly schedule has been worth every painstaking minute I spent making it.  What has surprised me most about the schedule is how much the monkeys like it.

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I printed a schedule for each of them to keep in the front of their binders, and they love being able to flip to it to see how much they’ve accomplished and what’s coming up next.  It really helps the monkeys to have a visual image of what is expected of them every day.  Ty even said that being able to turn to the schedule makes the day go by faster for him.  Heaven help me though if I try to do a lesson out of order, because Lucy gets me back in line lickety-split.  She’s the schedule police.

I think the biggest adjustment we’ve had to make this year is getting used to our new literature selections.  CM was BIG on choosing quality, classic, “living books” for her students to read.  One could write an entire essay on what CM meant by “living books,” but suffice it to say that instead of choosing meaningless “twaddle” for her students to read, Charlotte opted for timeless classics that taught valuable lessons and brought school subjects to life.  In other words, she would have chosen Robinson Crusoe over Harry Potter any day.  (No offense, HP fans.)  For us, this means that the books we are reading may sometimes be a little over the monkeys’ heads, but the idea is that they will glean whatever they are ready for whenever they are ready for it.  Feeding their minds with carefully selected literature will force them to stretch and grow in their vocabulary, knowledge, and comprehension.  It’s not always the fun and easy path, but I do believe the results will be worth it.  The process kind of reminds me of exercise.  If I don’t push them to strain their mental muscles, then they will never grow stronger.

So here’s a list of books we are reading the first semester.  The books were selected based largely on what we are studying in history this year – the early Christian Church and the Middle Ages.  Don’t freak out when you see the list.  Although it looks like an awful lot of books for 12 weeks, let me assure you that we are taking this very slowly – like one chapter from each book a week.  And at that pace it will take the entire school year or longer to complete some of these books.

For Lucy:

Aesop’s Fables
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall
Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children
A Child’s Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
The Story of the Romans by Helene Guerber

For Ty:

Age of Fable by Thomas Bullfinch
Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall
Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children by H. E. Marshall
Railway Children by Edith Nesbit
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
Beowulf, a New Verse Translation
 by Seamus Heaney
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall
Robert Frost Poems
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
The Story of the Romans by Helene Guerber

I know you must be terribly tired of reading by now, so I will wrap it up here.  Sorry I didn’t have more pictures to share.  I know that pictures of the monkeys are the best part of this blog.  I guess I have been so caught up in teaching that the idea of taking pictures hasn’t really crossed my mind.  But that’s how it should be I guess.