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Story Time: Guess How Much I Love You

Story Time: Guess How Much I Love You - Valentine crafts and activities to go with the picture book

Isn’t that just about the best Valentine sentiment you can think of?

Guess How Much I love you is such a sweet, lyrical book.  I imagine we’ve all read it to our littles at some point, and if you haven’t, do so immediately.  It is hard to express the unending amount of love we have for our children.  Even they can never understand the truth behind the way we would lay down in traffic for them, take a bullet for them, stand between them and anything that could hurt them.  Because of that love.  The kind that goes all the way to the moon and back.

Maybe this book can give them a sense of it.  Maybe the antics of Little Nutbrown Hare will make them giggle.  Maybe the gorgeous watercolors by Anita Jeram will give them that sense of wonder and peace only a good picture book can.  Whatever their response, they will be sure to enjoy this beautiful book.  Here are some activities for them to enjoy along with it.

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14 Fabulous Sites for Free Homeschooling

14 fabulous sites for free homeschooling

Sometimes, life hands you a blog post.  I had intended to write about something very different today, but last night a woman I like very much pm’d me on Facebook.  Her daughter is about to start homeschooling her own littles, and she wondered if I could advise them where to go to get free curriculum.  I started getting the list together for her, and I realized this list might benefit a whole lot of people, even veterans looking to spruce up their schooling plans.  So rather than pm her back and keep all this yummy goodness between us, I thought it might be a good idea to share it with you, too.  I’m cool like that.

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5 Ways to Love Your Library!

Image from bettefetter.com

Image from bettefetter.com

I remember it well.  The town where I grew up was right in the center of three towns that hugged the riverbank and each other.  My town was the smallest back then, though we had the only mall.  What we didn’t have was a library.

I would hop on my bike and ride more than three miles in the sweltering summer sun, the blustery winter day, and all the days in between, just to reach the nearest library.  Opening the doors was like entering a fairy land.  Stepping into the cool rooms after the hot sunshine was like slipping on an invisibility cloak.  Noise ceased.  Self-consciousness abandoned me.  I didn’t have to speak if I didn’t want and no one spoke to me unless invited.

And it smelled of old books.  Worn, turned pages, forever ink, cloth covers.  I would inhale and feel whatever worries had followed me slip away.  Straight to the fiction stacks.  All the authors, all the stories, the thousands of places I could go, and all I had to do was pick one.

I never picked just one.  I picked 10 and hoped I could read them all before they were due back.  I picked 20 because all that knowledge was so interesting and surely I could fit them all in?  Once I’d picked my fiction, I would head to nonfiction and pick something to read while I was there.  Sit down at one of the long, cool tables all by myself and learn as much as I could in the time I had.

Once I’d glutted myself, I would put all my fiction into a bag, sling the bag over a handlebar, and bike back home, content.

Did you love your library like that?  Do your littles?

February is here and while that means hearts and valentines, it is also a time to celebrate that other love–your love of books.  More specifically, your love of that place you can go to borrow books For Free, to sit and enjoy a book in a quiet atmosphere For Free, away from consumerism and noisy salespeople and hot sunshine and cold wind…

Book stores are exciting, but they are not the same.

There’s something about the library.  It holds so many secrets.  When you pick a book, you are picking up the history of all the people who have read it before you and all the places that book has been.  It’s a story within a story.

There are things you can do to show appreciation for your local library.

  1. Donate $20 to their children’s activities fund. Besides buying books, organizing and implementing story times, book clubs, and other children’s activities is one of the biggest costs a library has.  I’ve had times in my library career when I only had $5 a week to spend.  I am not exaggerating.  Lots of donation letters were written.  It is hard to have quality library activities on $5 a week.  Donating a little money to the cause may lessen your children’s librarian’s load and ensure your children are getting the quality time they need at the library.
  2. Go through your books at home and donate those you no longer read.  One of the most exciting things that happens for librarians is being given a box or two of books to add to the shelves.  Especially if you live in a rural area where money is always tight, this is a super helpful way to support your library.
  3. Offer to Volunteer.  You’d be amazed at how much help a library needs.  Whether it’s shelving books or helping corral kids at story time, your volunteer work will make a big difference.
  4. Host a library visit.  Have any friends who don’t have library cards?  Pile them into the car and introduce them to that wonderful world.  A lot of techies these days think the library is archaic. Not so.  They’ve just forgotten or never learned the Truth About the Library (see above for that truth).
  5. Join your local Friends of the Library The Friends usually do things like assist the library physically and hold book sales and other sales to raise funds.  It doesn’t take much time to be involved, and it can really make a difference.

If nothing else, just make sure you take your littles to the library every week for the month.  Bake cookies for the librarians.  Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.  Everybody loves to hear they’re doing a good job.  Most of all, when you do visit the library, stop at the door.  Inhale the scents and the silence.  Let yourself be transported the way you were when you were little.  And make sure your littles love it like that.  After all,

Love wins,


The (Un)Organized Homeschool

It’s a struggle, isn’t it?  Trying to stay organized when you homeschool.  Even with just one little to teach, there is attendance to keep (a mandatory requirement in my state), papers to store, plans to follow, materials to cache, and books.  All over the place, glorious books.

White Elfa Playroom by Hi! Sugarplum

White Elfa Playroom by Hi! Sugarplum

Every year, my classroom starts out in September looking sort of like the pic above.  I mean,not exactly, because I don’t have all that cool stuff.  But we have the large desk, some shelves, lots of bins.  And I try to make it organized and at least nominally cute.  And then…

School starts.

Have I mentioned I have boys?

I don’t know about your boys, but mine are All Boy.  Messy, rambunctious, high-energy little (well, big now) tornadoes that can lay a room waste in three seconds flat.  Plus, there’s all this Paperwork!

This time of year, you can count on a messy classroom, things not put away where they should be, and me frantically searching for those notebooking pages I Just Printed Out This Morning!

Yeah.  You know how it is.

One of the things I use to try to prevent that is binders.  I keep all my planning materials, including the roughly 17 calendars I make up every year, in one binder.  That way, when I go looking for the day’s plan, I only have to look for the one binder rather than some vague stack of random papers that I Just Printed Out Last Night.  I put this binder together every summer.  The great thing about it is that if I have to chuck part of the plan, I can just remove it from the binder and drop it in file 13.  One thing I am never without is a plan.  I’ve mentioned before that my nature is to be chaotic and disorganized, so I have to have a plan or my littles might graduate dumb as stumps but with the ability to talk global politics with the best of them.  Might not be able to add, but, hey, here’s my opinion on Donald Trump.

You feeling me?

As for their school papers… We keep journals, because that’s easier to keep track of than a bunch of notebooking pages.  When we do formal notebooking, we put the printed sheets in a 3-pronged folder.  Actually, we generally have a binder or 3-pronged folder for each subject, and Any Paper Involved in that subject gets tucked inside all neat and pretty.  They each have a bin under their desk chairs to store these folders, so those don’t get lost.  Too often.

Okay, Littlest is capable of losing anything he puts his hands on.

The truth is, I love using binders for school.  We fill them up with all that great knowledge and when we’ve finished a subject, we put them on a shelf where the littles can refer back to them whenever they need to.   We’ve had to move on to our second binder for Asia this year, because we’re studying so much about that continent–its history, geography, art, geology, gardens, music… Yeah, anything I can get my grubby little hands on.  The Littles have told me they appreciate this, because it helps them remember where the countries are way better than just memorizing a map.  You can’t beat that, right?

My way of staying organized is not with bins and cute little door hangers and neatly stocked shelves.  I dream of that, but I live in the real world, where my boys suffer not only from their own nature, but from mine.  I stay organized with a plan.  A week-by-week calendar, daily plans, craft and project plans, lists of things to do.

All wrapped up in a nice binder.

The rest can be cleaned up later.

To help you with your own brand of organization, here are a couple of free downloads–my daily curriculum planner and my weekly project planner.  Enjoy.

Love wins,