BOOK REVIEW: How to Set a Table by POTTER

Who doesn’t love a cute home decor book, bonus points for practical tips. How to Set a Table by POTTER book promised to offer an exciting range of possibilities to add to one’s dining experience. I was surprised to find the book on a smaller side, quite compact and under 200 pages long.

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The information touches many aspects of shared meals: it mentions casual dining, weekday breakfasts, formal dining, buffet-style entertainment and even birthday picnic. It is however quite concise: an occasion and approximate setting mentioned and not much else. A tip on etiquette is likewise included but only one per occasion. I did appreciate the info graphics on types of basic dinnerware. Formal dining has nice tips on arranging of plates and glasses. The photography is lovely and images are abundant – plenty of eye candy here.

Overall impression: I think it makes a cute little gift. The book is very pretty to look at, it has this delightful linen cover that I just loved. It won’t teach you everything you need to know about table etiquette, but I thought it was a nice and pretty cheat sheet with enough occasions included.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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Board Game Review: Rewordable

I am always on a lookout for a new board game. My kids adore those that involve language. Rewordable is a project by Allison Parish, Adam Simon and Tim Szetela. It is a card game aimed at 2-8 players aged 8 and up. I thought it will be a nice addition for our homeschooling needs as well.

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The rules and set up is pretty straightforward, there is a deck of cards and tokens. Three cards go into a pool and each player gets 5 cards. Words are then created and tokens received. We played half a deck at out first round and it took us about 30 minutes to get through it. It was three of us me, an adult, a 7th grader and a 4th grader. All three of us had fun making up words. It was definitely not as easy as I thought at the beginning as one gets a letter or a suffix or a syllable and has to get creative with that. My 4th grader had a bit of a trouble at first, but then got into it and had tons of fun.

Overall impression: fun and quick game, perfect for a classroom or a quick round with family and friends. Rules are easy to follow. Cards are made of a sturdy material which is nice for those little fingers that won’t stay still. I definitely recommend it.

I received this game via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

January 2017

Already a month into 2017. January sure went by fast. Yet at the same time it was a month of adjustment, rather than new beginnings.

img_0845We went back to doing school after nearly a month-long break. Kids went back to their extracurricular activities. I went back to my work and had a very productive month. Life moves in measured paces more or less, with a crazy day here and there of course.

 

We went to see Star Wars the Power of Costume in Denver Art Museum, and we absolutely loved it, such a large and thorough exhibit. Local people, if you haven’t yet, definitely go and take a look, it’s on until April.

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D. did three days of World Peace Game with our homeschool group. It was such a valuable experience for him and made him think about current events more.

School was mostly “getting into the swing of things” and hopefully it will be better in February.

Gray and white cold days, splashes of color of mundane things – the combination seemed comforting somehow

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My favorite moment was probably playing with Excentric Cinema book by Beatrice Coron. Kids had so much fun moving shadows and making up stories

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I ended up making one of my own papercuts out of black paper and it worked too

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Kids read (beyond a pile of re-reads):

D. read Pax by Sara Pennypacker and White Fang by Jack London

C. read BFG by Roald Dahl and Amazing Animal Stories by Quentin Blake

Mama read Spaceman by Mike Massimino and absolutely loved it

 

I have opened a bookstagram  with most of our reads. Come and take a look. I have a Litsy account under the same username too.

So this was our January. February looks quite busy, but it is also shorter. I hope to keep the measured pace and not give in to the crazy moments.

 

 

Goodbye July, Hello August!

July is done. I am not sorry to see it go, relieved to welcome August at last.

How was our July? It was hot, oh so hot. I think we got spoiled by all the summers with cool and rainy afternoons we had previously and the heat felt mostly unbearable.

I had a tiny solo trip in the beginning of the month, only one day of San Francisco. I haven’t traveled by myself for such a long time, it felt weird, yet amazing too. I didn’t need to hurry, didn’t need to worry about bathrooms, food, people getting wet in the bay or tired from all the walking. I stopped at every single place I was hoping to visit and even caught a glimpse of places we lived in back in the days of D’s infancy. I am now asking myself why was I in such a rush to get back home on the first plane next day…because I should have stayed a little bit longer. Next time for sure.

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The rest of July was spent mostly indoors during the hottest parts of the day, kids played outside in the evening and before noon. We went to the garden nearby to enjoy the abundance of flowers and frogs!

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There are various projects in the house that got done (and a couple of more are about to be started), wish us luck.

Kids read a lot , D. especially enjoyed The Wings of Fire books and Mysterious Benedict Society. C. was all about Calvin and Hobbes, she grew into such an active reader. D. usually reads in one sitting and doesn’t ask questions at all until it’s time for us to discuss the book, C. on the other hand stops,asks what the word means, and then discusses meaning of the word for her and for me (i.e. “predestined”, boy, that was quite a conversation), and only after that she goes back to the story. I absolutely love this.

I read “The Court of Thorns and Roses” and “The Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas. While it was entertaining, it was also a little too racy for my taste. Not putting it on D’s to be read pile for a good while, despite it being fantasy genre which he adores.

Planning, oh planning….I had such a hard time with it. I still do, despite us being 2 weeks away from the beginning of everything -school at home, school at co-op, activities… I planned the first month in daily details, and rough drafted the rest of the school year, and then got stuck. Even the way I planned out first few weeks feels wrong, feels like it’s too much. So I’m shuffling things around again, and at the same time worry if I’m cutting too much off. I guess it doesn’t get easier in the 8th year of homeschooling. Or maybe I am simply overthinking everything. Another thing to focus on is rhythm and there are awesome articles on how I want it to be (The Parenting Passageway for example , and Cedar Ring Mama’s post  was absolutely lovely), but what will it be in reality, I don’t know at all. It will be D’s 6th grade and potentially last year of homeschooling if he decides to give junior high a try next year. I want to keep him at home and at the same time worry if I can handle it. Oh, the times of transitions…

Anyway, August is here, time for a deep breath before another school year begins, I hope this month is kind to everybody.

 

 

 

 

Goodbye June, Hello July

June flew by, it seems to me time picks up the speed no matter how hard I try to slow it down. We did manage to rest though. June meant a total freedom for kids-we hiked as a family, they played outside for hours with their friends, they read what they wished (not a single suggestion from me). It was a welcome break for me as well, I was honestly way too tired and too close to a burn-out. June was also crazy hot. So I am very happy to have upper 60s and rain on the first day of July. I am also more productive when the weather is like this, and I need to be productive-our school year starts in only a month and a half (first day in co-op is the 19th, and I will have to start at home on the 15th to ease kids into rhythm) . I have barely started my planning and now have to catch up.

Anyway, how was our June:

We visited a new park Eldorado Canyon State Park in Boulder, CO, we had explored but a small part of it, we need to come back there soon

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Another new destination for us was Mount Falcon Park, a true wonder located mere 25 minutes away from our home, and to think it’s the first time for us going there!

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In addition to these places we did a 9 mile loop in our beloved Staunton State Park, Matthews Winters Park and went to Audubon Center at Chatfield.

 

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Kids were also proud to see the Water Conservation display they did with their friends from our Homeschool Group for Roots and Shoots project.

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In the kitchen, we made popsicles- bananas+avocado (1/2)+blueberries +strawberries+ raspberries+ coconut water +orange juice+ flax seeds for crunchiness. Delicious!

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Reading: D. has completed The Inheritance Cycle books, loved it to pieces. C. read a lot of Bad Kitty books, which she still adores. We watched A Lego Brickumentary which revived kids’ interest in Lego.

I had a productive month for drawing, all about it here

So yeah, life is good. July will be a little bit busier as my husband’s schedule changes again, I have a tiny solo trip ahead of me, kids are getting ready for their first sleepover at friends’ house…Planning is the main thing on my mind though, so I will focus my attention on that a lot.

Happy July to everyone!

 

 

Goodbye May, Hello June

May is over, June is here. Summer, at last. We are slowing down, trying to sort our thoughts, calm our minds and let our bodies truly rest.

We still had some activities going and there are some ahead of us yet, but it’s nice to know that we can take a step back if it gets unbearable. I was re-evaluating our school year and decided to scale back on activities. Kids loved what they did, I loved watching them try hard and excel, but on the other hand, their schedule took over our life and affected my health. Clocking in 200 miles per week in activities driving alone was difficult for me and I was sick a lot. I also want to have more slow afternoons, more unstructured play time for kids and especially more chances to get out and be in nature. So next year I will lighten up our schedule and combine kids’ activities where I can. I must admit, I do feel guilty about cutting things, but I believe ultimately it will all be for the best.

This past week brought great joy for us– we finally went for a hike (we haven’t been on a proper one since October). Just breathing in all the fresh air, getting our faces washed by gentle spring rain, oh it was a blessing indeed.

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Meyer Ranch Park in Conifer, CO

Another lovely outing was in nearby Audubon Center, we enjoyed a wonderful display of Redwing Blackbirds, swallows were going crazy and flying around us on the eye level, the birdsong was incredible.

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Kids are reading with gusto, now that they have all this time. C. re-read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo (maaan, I read the ending when she was done and cried, again). D. is completely immersed in The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. He is done with first three books and halfway through the final, fourth one.

I am re-reading “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth Von Arnim, probably because it is full of something I’ve been craving desperately- rest and flowers.

 

Mama makes:

I have made a new keychain out of polymer clay and finally painted an initial letter for my studio upstairs. Very happy with both projects.

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It’s been a while…

May is almost done, and last time I talked about how we’re doing was the beginning of March. Where did the time go?

Seriously, though, we had a rather intense spring–  field trips and museum visits, kids participated in Roots and Shoots program focusing on cleaning up local water ways. Both kids had their concerts with choir and ballet. Both had their testing and although I am still waiting for the final numbers, I am fairly sure they did well. D. got silver at karate tournament and got promoted into next level at his choir, C. joins his choir next year as well.

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great horned owl- mama

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baby horned owl

 

 

 

Looking back at our school year, I can say that it was probably the toughest one we had in 7+ years of homeschooling. There were too many activities, and although I scaled back a little in the very beginning of the school year, it still was a lot. There were positive changes in kids’ learning- C. especially made a huge leap with her spelling and story telling skills. She is fantastic with math too, she really loves it. C. also took some Spanish classes and enjoyed it immensely. D. focused on basics and out of all extra subjects he enjoyed science the most. We are a little bit behind on our history studies, the last month was just so crazy, but we will catch up during the summer.

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I already know kids’ schedules in co-op for the following school year. I am more or less certain what our extra curricular activities will look like. It was a tough decision for me to choose what stays and what goes, especially because kids wanted to do it all and they are good at what they want to do. But we will take a break from some things and hope it will be a little bit slower.

My things- I have a positive change in my life as I am able at last to make a little bit of money with my art.  It’s not something huge (yet), but the response is positive and I am looking forward to expanding in the future. I am also painting walls in C’s room, replacing stickers with drawings. Husband changed jobs and still has some school left for the fall semester. Summer is for resting.

 

What I hope we’ll do this summer?  TAKE IT SLOW please. I am looking forward to lazy mornings, to books, and paint and yoga, but most of all outings in nature. Slowing down. Reconnecting. I am not sure if we will be able to take any far away trips this summer and I don’t have anything planned as of right now (although I would love to see ocean again)