Monday, March 23, 2015

Minecraft Mania

So this sweet thing is six.

He got your typical six-year-old presents for his birthday.  You know, video spy glasses, a Minecraft sword, Legos, a Shark book, and ... an accordion?!

An odd request I thought.  But his face was pure joy when he started playing it.  I'm not sure where I'm going to find an accordion teacher around here...

The common theme in his requests this year was Minecraft.  He, like most boys these days ages 5-35, are loving the game.  Me?  Not so much.  I won't let him have it.  I'm so mean, huh?  It's just got too much of the stuff that is so common these days ... violence, zombies, and such.  So when Maya came home and informed me there is a similar game I could get called Exploration with all of the cool building and spacial capabilities of Minecraft and none of the gore, I relented.

He, of course, wanted a Minecraft party for his birthday.  I thought that it would be pretty simple as all things are square!  Little did I know that there are no Minecraft party supplies out there on the market.

Once again I had fun making it up as I went with a lot of inspiration from Pinterest.  I started by picking up a few of those bite-size brownie bites from the grocery store to take to his class.  I had them add some grass frosting to the top.  These were perfect for kindergarteners who don't need a huge cupcake at school.  I just printed a few stickers and stuck them on some hors d'oeuvre forks and took them to his class.

Because his birthday fell upon a weekday during our Spring break, we opted to have his party a week later when all the kids had returned from their break.

Because the day turned out to be a rainy, miserable day -- all 14 of those who were invited came!  He had a few classmates come, a friend from preschool last year, and the neighborhood kids.  All in all there was a good age range of kids, which I actually liked better than a house full of kindergarteners!


I got the square bowls and the grass tablecloth from Party City.  Both are reusable.

I kept the food simple.

I downloaded the card labels from Pinterest and resized them to be a quarter page rather than a half page.

The only item I purchased from the internet were the labels for the Jarritos, Dublin, and Topo Sabores colorful soda. I got them off of etsy because I was too lazy to make them myself, they were reasonably priced, and I liked them.    Here is the link.

Maya helped me craft the perfect cake.  It was super easy (I don't do difficult food).  Just a German chocolate cake with grass icing.  I shoved some Minecraft figures in it and cut it into squares and called it good.

I also cut licorice sticks in half and put them in square jars I got at the dollar store with some TNT labels wrapped around them.


I found a fun game online that I modified a little bit.  It's a crafting game, where they could earn different resource squares by knocking down a Creeper or Enderman with a bow and arrow.  They then could bring their squares to the crafting table and turn it into a prize.

I made the Creeper and Enderman from styrofoam floral blocks I got from Dollar Tree.

As I mentioned before, it poured rain the day of the party so we had to move everything inside.  It isn't the greatest picture, but it gives you an idea of how we did it.

I made the crafting table from a square box and a little bit of black tape.

I modified some signs I found online to fit my prizes.  I used the Fixedsys font I already had on my computer.

I just filled the treasure box with square resource blocks that I printed on my computer.  I had the right amount for each child to get one of each prize from the prize table.

The balloons came from amazon.  I searched to include the link but I guess they are no longer available.  Like I mentioned before, finding Minecraft party supplies is difficult.  I got the Minecraft bracelets and stickers in a 12-pack bundle on amazon that came from England.  I included diamond bracelets I got at Michaels for the girls.  The keychains I also purchased on amazon in a pack of 10 for a huge savings.  The coal came from the Christmas clearance section in Walmart, the gold bars are wrapped Trident gum packages, and I printed the bookmarks from link of my Minecraft Party Pinterest Board.

All prizes were put into these goody bags, but they didn't hold up to the kids playing and running around.  I would get something more durable than paper bags next time.  I put vinyl names on them using the Minecrafter font.

I set up a brewing station where they could make different potions and blow up some TNT. 

They could add drops of Mio flavor drops to create different drink potions.  Each was labeled with different powers.  I made a little graphic backdrop to illustrate the idea.

The TNT was seltzer water.  Inside my torch I had Mentos they could drop in and it reacted immediately to "explode" the TNT.

The kids loved this.  After we exploded all the TNT, Dave brought out the water bottle rocket and they launched the empty bottles in the air while I prepared lunch.

Our last game was the piñata.  I made it from a square box and white tissue paper.  It was actually quite easy and didn't take long.  I made it into a Minecraft ghast.

After I made it Dave thought it was too weak and kept adding layers of duct tape to it.  We had a few 5th Grade baseball players wail on it.  Each kid got several hits before it finally gave in.

Whew!  It was a really fun party to plan.  I had several kids tell me it was the best party ever!  What I like to hear.  The birthday boy loved it so much, but had to go into several timeouts to control his craziness.  Oh well, ...not everything can be perfect!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shark Obsession

Ethen is growing up so fast.  Too fast.  He turned six this past week.

Flashback to Ethen at one...and those horrible marble stairs with glass and metal railings.  Yikes!  And he's wearing slippery socks too!

Lately he has had an obsession with sharks.  He has been devouring the non-fiction books about them at the library.  We have read about great white, megalodon, goblin, mako, carpet, lemon, hammerhead, reef, blue, bull and tiger sharks -- the list goes on and on.  Did you know there are over 450 different species of sharks!?  I am learning way more than I ever desired to know.  He did this homework page for school and I just had to laugh.  I had to ask him what a hybodus was.  "A Jurassic shark, mom."  Duh.

We took him to the Houston Museum of Natural Science special Shark! Exhibit last month.  He watched in awe as clips from the movie Jaws! played on the screen.  How do you tell him that it is all make believe when you've got this megalodon fossil jumping out at you!?

So when Ethen begged me to get I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916, from the library I gave him as many excuses as I could as to why we shouldn't read that book.  It is a chapter book for about 8-12 year olds, but in the end, I couldn't stifle his excitement.

I've always known Ethen was smart.  (He just got accepted into the Gifted and Talented Program at school, go Ethen!) Since he could speak, he always spoke words beyond his youth.  He wanted Legos for 10-year-olds when he was 3.  And now, he is ready to jump into reading chapter books on his own before I think he's ready.

SIDE NOTE: Dave remembers a crotchety old teacher who wouldn't let him read the Hardy Boys when he was a boy in 1st Grade.  He still has sore feelings to this day about someone telling him he wasn't ready...

Anyway, I really am trying to channel his excitement and enthusiasm into good, uplifting books.  But some people just prefer the non-fiction, real-life, in-your-face type of stuff.  Especially little boys.

Back to the book I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916.  He has carried it everywhere.  I told him he could read it aloud to me.  We take it in the car each time we run an errand, it goes to lunch with us, he even took it to church the past two weeks, wanting me to whisper the words he didn't know in his ear.  It's been our constant companion and topic of conversation for a week.  (We've had spring break this week, so it really has been unrelenting).  He had me look up Beach Haven, New Jersey, on Google Maps to see where the events took place.

So, I am on the hunt for books for him to read -- challenging yet good for his age.  They aren't easy to find.

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone out loud to my kids.  I wanted to introduce Maya to the series, but I wasn't sure how she'd react since she is hyper-sensitive to scary stuff.  I wanted to be there to explain it along the way, and to see if it would be something she would enjoy.  She loved it, embraced it all like so many have, and now belongs to the Hufflepuff House on

In reading the book, I included Ethen.  I knew it was a stretch for him and didn't want to introduce it prematurely, but we couldn't very well exclude him.  He was riveted on every word, interrupting and asking when he didn't know the meaning.  He would ask to see pictures on the internet of movie stills from the events I was describing.  I promised them both we could watch the first movie as soon as we read the book entirely.

Similar to Maya's Bluebonnet list I blogged about last post, Ethen has a list at school that the State of Texas recommends called 2x2s, meaning they are great for kids age 2 through 2nd grade.  He, too, read all of the books on the list.  So after that VERY long introduction, here is a list of books that Ethen has been enjoying.

The first one is about sharks, of course!
Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever -- or Snack Time?  by Sauer, Tammi.
In the deep, deep ocean lived two best friends.  Nugget and Fang did everything together, and life was perfect until Nugget went to school and learned that sharks and fish can't be friends.

He memorized this next one.  It is so fun!
The Watermelon Seed, by Pizzoli, Greg
Crocodile accidentally swallows a watermelon seed!  Will a watermelon grow in his stomach?

Little Red Hot, by Kimmel, Eric A.
Once upon a time there was a Texas gal named Little Red Hot who loved to eat chili peppers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Her favorite spicy treat is hot pepper pie; delicious and just the answer for getting rid of the cold germs that have her grandmother feeling under the weather.

Fraidyzoo, by Heder, Thyra.
Little T is afraid of going to the zoo, so her family imaginatively creates all the scary animals she may see. She’s soon ready for the trip, but then her family encounters a creature more frightening than any zoo animal.

Count the Monkeys, Barnett, Mac
It's time to count the monkeys!  It's fun and easy, so let's turn the page and get started... wait a minute!

And here are some other non 2x2 picture books that we have enjoyed:

This Book Just Ate My Dog, by Richard Byrne
Old MacDonald Had A Dragon, by Ken Baker

Since he is showing an interest in chapter books, I am desperately to find some that will hold his interest.  I'm going to try out the following:

Written by a 1st Grade teacher drawn from real experience in the classroom, Abby Klein knows exactly what first graders are thinking. Freddy Thresher has an infatuation with sharks and an annoying older sister.  Sounds familiar?!  We'll give this a try, but some reviews are saying there's lots of name-calling and such.

Tooth Trouble
The King of Show-And-Tell
Homework Hassles
Don't Sit On My Lunch!
Talent Show Scaredy-Pants
Help! a Vampire's Coming!
Yikes! Bikes!
Halloween Fraidy-Cat
Shark Tooth Tale
Super-Secret Valentine
The Pumpkin Elf Mystery
Stop that Hamster!
The One Hundredth Day of School!
Camping Catastrophe!
Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble
Ready, Set, Snow!
Firehouse Fun!
The Perfect Present
The Penguin Problem
Apple Orchard Race
Going Batty
Science Fair Flop
A Very Crazy Christmas
Shark Attack!
Save the Earth!
The Reading Race
The Giant Swing
Welcome to Second Grade Snow Day Dare

This series is written by the guy who wrote Captain Underpants, so I have my doubts.  We will give it a try, but if there is any potty language like that that runs rampant in his Captain Underpants series, we won't be reading them.
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes from Mercury
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha Monkeys from Mars
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Stupid Stinkbugs from Saturn
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Uranium Unicorns from Uranus
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Naughty Night Crawlers from Neptune
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Un-Pleasant Penguins from Pluto

And of course, here is a list of the 
I SURVIVED SERIES, by Lauren Tarshis
All historical fiction novels, the author keeps the story details simple. By telling the stories from a child’s viewpoint, she makes them appealing to children. I'm still going to read them first to see if they are appropriate for Ethen.
I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 
I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005 
I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 
I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001
I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011
I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 
I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, A.D. 79
I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 
I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011 (August 2015)

Leave a comment if you have any other suggestions.

Monday, March 9, 2015

For the Love of Reading....

Last year I posted about Maya's librarian passing.  I finally got around to scrapbooking her tribute.  I wanted Maya to have this memory of her...she was so wonderful.

I knew when I saw this book paper from the Maggie Holmes Open Book collection that it would fit perfectly for this page.  I love "The Storyteller" book.  My memories of her are with the children gathered around her as she captivated them with a fun book.

I went to the local library and picked a book off of their sale shelf that I could tear pages out and use on some layouts. 

On the subject of books...I did a post awhile back about books that Maya has been reading and how we are keeping track of which book in what series she is on.  The system is working fantastic for us!  Here is an updated list of books we'd recommend if you're interested in what we are liking.  This time I am going to include the books and the series order they are in.  I sometimes have a hard time finding the series order if it isn't printed directly on the cover!

In Texas the state gives out the Bluebonnet Award to outstanding books.  The kids grades 3-6 have the opportunity and a contest to read all the books on the list.  Maya was the only one in her class to complete the challenge and got to go to a special party with others who had also read them.  Here are a few of her favorites from that list (all shown in blue) and an overview taken from and Publishers Weekly:

Bud and Laurie's quest to find the infamous Tutweiler Treasure. They're hot (or at least lukewarm) on the trail of scavenger hunt clues, but time is running out—the school board wants to tear down Tuckernuck Hall. Can Bud and Laurie find the treasure before it's lost forever?
It also has a sequel called The Magician's Bird.

The invention of computers in 1880—and their failure a century later—has led to the discovery of strange lands not on any map as well as the rise of steampunk technology in place of gasoline and electricity.
This one also has a sequel called The Expeditioners and the Secret of King Triton's Lair

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. 
She has a new book called Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk coming April 2015.

This is the story of THE LEAGUE OF PICKLEMAKERS 
Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling homeroom with ball-pit balls.
Frank: who figured out that an official club, say a pickle-making club, could receive funding from the PTA.
Oliver: Who once convinced half of the class that his real parents had found him and he was going to live in a submarine. 

Bean: Who wasn't exactly invited, but her parents own a costume shop, which comes in handy if you want to dress up like a giant squirrel and try to scare people at the zoo.
TOGETHER, they are an unstoppable prank-pulling force, and Fountain Point Middle School will never be the same.

Rick Zengo is a rookie on the Platypus Police Squad, paired with grizzled veteran Corey O’Malley (Kalamazoo City’s residents are a melting pot of frogs, turtles, crabs, kangaroos, foxes, and one powerful, possibly corrupt, panda). The two are assigned to investigate some fishy business at the docks, which seems linked to the disappearance of a popular high school teacher.
There are other books in the series
Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy
Platypus Police Squad: Last Panda Standing

ONE DEAD SPY, By Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale, the author’s historical namesake, was America’s first spy, a Revolutionary War hero who famously said “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” before being hanged by the British. In the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, author Nathan Hale channels his namesake to present history’s roughest, toughest, and craziest stories in the graphic novel format.

SPY SCHOOL, By Stuart Gibbs
Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: C.I.A. or bust. Unfortunately for him, his personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” In fact, Ben is so awkward, he can barely get to school and back without a mishap. Because of his innate nerdiness, Ben is not surprised when he is recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science—but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior C.I.A. academy.
Maya actually read Spy Camp, which is the 2nd book in the series.  I'd start with Spy School.  This author also has Space Case and Poached.

Following are some series that she is enjoying:

By: Debbie Dadey
Mermaids and their school adventures under the sea at Trident Academy.
□    Trouble at Trident Academy
□    Battle of the Best Friends
□    A Whale of a Tale
□    Danger in the Deep Blue Sea
□    The Lost Princess
□    The Secret Sea Horse
□    Dream of the Blue Turtle
□    Treasure in Trident City

By: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
An introduction to Greek mythology with immortal goddesses and godboys and their lives at school.
□    Athena the Brain    
□    Persephone the Phony
□    Aphrodite the Beauty
□    Artemis the Brave
□    Athena the Wise
□    Aphrodite the Diva
□    Artemis the Loyal
□    Medusa the Mean
□    Pandora the Curious
□    Pheme the Gossip
□    Persephone the Daring
□    Cassandra the Lucky
□    Athena the Proud
□    Iris the Colorful

Super Specials
□    The Girl Games

By: numerous authors
Non-fiction biographies about historical figures that have impacted our world.  Also a few books are about historical places and events.
□    Who Were the Beatles?
□    Who Was Claude Monet?
□    Who Was Dr. Seuss?
□    Who Was Elvis Presley?
□    Who Was Harry Houdini?
□    Who Was Jim Henson?
□    Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?
□    Who Was Louis Armstrong?
□    Who Is Maria Tallchief?
□    Who Was Mark Twain?
□    Who Was Maurice Sendak?
□    Who Was Pablo Picasso?
□    Who Was Roald Dahl?
□    Who Was Walt Disney?
□    Who Was William Shakespeare?
□    Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
□    Who Is Bob Dylan?
□    Who Is Steven Spielberg?
□    Who Was Frida Kahlo?
□    Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder?

□    Who Was Amelia Earhart?
□    Who Was Ferdinand Magellan?
□    Who Was Johnny Appleseed?
□    Who Was Marco Polo?
□    Who Was Neil Armstrong?
□    Who Was Christopher Columbus?
□    Who Was Davy Crockett?
□    Who Was Ernest Shackleton?

□    Who Was Albert Einstein?
□    Who Was Ben Franklin?
□    Who Is Bill Gates?
□    Who Was Charles Darwin?
□    Who Was Neil Armstrong?
□    Who Was Steve Jobs?
□    Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?
□    Who Was Thomas Jefferson?
□    Who Was Alexander Graham Bell?

□    Who Was Jackie Robinson?

□    Who Was Abraham Lincoln?
□    Who Is Barack Obama?
□    Who Was Daniel Boone?
□    Who Was Franklin Roosevelt?
□    Who Was George Washington?
□    Who Was John F. Kennedy?
□    Who Was King Tut?
□    Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
□    Who Was Ronald Reagan?
□    Who Was Thomas Jefferson?
□    Who Was Nelson Mandela?
□    Who Was Milton Hershey?

Women's History
□    Who Was Amelia Earhart?
□    Who Was Anne Frank?
□    Who Was Annie Oakley?
□    Who Was Eleanor Roosevelt?
□    Who Was Harriet Tubman?
□    Who Was Helen Keller?
□    Who Is Jane Goodall?
□    Who Is Maria Tallchief?
□    Who Was Queen Elizabeth?
□    Who Was Rosa Parks?
□    Who Was Sacagawea?
□    Who Was Sally Ride?
□    Who Is Michelle Obama?

What Was...?
□    What Was the Battle of Gettysburg?
□    What Was the Boston Tea Party?
□    What Was the Gold Rush?
□    What Was the March on Washington?
□    What Was Pearl Harbor?
□    What Was the First Thanksgiving?
□    What Was the Alamo?
□    What Was the Underground Railroad?

By: Paula Harrison
Princesses that save endangered animals.
□    Secret Promise
□    Wishing Pearl
□    The Moonlight Mystery
□    The Stolen Crystals
□    The Snow Jewel
□    The Magic Rings
□    The Lost Gold
□    The Shimmering Stone
□    The Silver Locket
□    The Ice Diamond
□    The Rainbow Opal
□    The Golden Shell

By: Sharon Draper
A book I got to help Maya see when she is being sassy, just like the character!
□    Little Sister is Not My Name!
□    The Birthday Storm
□    The Silver Secret
□    The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party

By: Marci Peschke
A girl who can't decide what she wants to be when she grows up.  All she knows is that she wants to be a beauty queen ... 
□    Blueberry Queen
□    Drama Queen
□    Hoop Queen
□    Rodeo Queen
□    Dancing Queen
□    Football Queen
□    Singing Queen
□    Spelling Queen
□    Cupcake Queen
□    Party Queen
□    Pirate Queen
□    Summer Camp Queen
□    Green Queen
□    Valentine Queen

By: Carolyn Keene
I chose this for her age as an introduction to Nancy Drew.  The characters in this book are in 3rd grade, so the content isn't quite as mature as the original series.
□    1. Sleepover Sleuths
□    2. Scream for Ice Cream
□    3. Pony Problems
□    4. The Cinderella Ballet Mystery
□    5. Case of the Sneaky Snowman
□    6. Fashion Disaster
□    7. The Circus Scare
□    8. Lights, Camera...Cats!
□    9. The Halloween Hoax
□    10. Ticket Trouble
□    11. Ski School Sneak
□    12. Valentine's Day Secret
□    13. Chick-napped!
□    14. The Zoo Crew
□    15. Mall Madness
□    16. Thanksgiving Thief
□    17. Wedding Day Disaster
□    18. Earth Day Escapade
□    19. April Fool's Day
□    20. Treasure Trouble
□    21. Double Take
□    22. Unicorn Uproar
□    23. Babysitting Bandit
□    24. Beauty Parlor Princess
□    25. Buggy Breakout
□    26. Camp Creepy
□    27. Cat Burglar Caper
□    28. Time Thief
□    29. Designed For Disaster
□    30. Dance Off
□    31. The Make-a-Pet Mystery
□    32. Cape Mermaid Mystery
□    33. The Pumpkin Patch Puzzle
□    34. Cupcake Chaos
□    35. Cooking Camp Disaster
□    36. Secret of the Scarecrow
□    37. The Flower Show Fiasco
□    38. A Musical Mess
□    39. Museum Mayhem

By: Joan Holub
Welcome to Grimm Academy, where Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Rapunzel are BFFs -- and saving the world from the E.V.I.L. Society, one magical adventure at a time!
□    Cinderella Stays Late
□    Red Riding Hood Gets Lost
□    Snow White Lucks Out
□    Rapunzel Cuts Loose
□    Sleeping Beauty Dreams Big (January 2015)
□    Goldilocks Breaks In (April 2015)

By: Sarah Mlnowski
A brother and sister travel through  magic mirror and always end up messing up a fairy tale and have to try and make things right again.
□    Fairest of All
□    If the Shoe Fits
□    Sink or Swim
□    Dream On
□    Bad Hair Day
□    Cold as Ice
□    Beauty Queen

By: Rosie Banks
When Ellie discovers a box while cleaning up after a school rummage sale, her two friends, Summer and Jasmine are there by her side. While cleaning the box, they discover it’s magic. It transports them to a secret kingdom, a place filled with unicorns and mermaids.
□    Enchanted Palace
□    Unicorn Valley
□    Cloud Island
□    Mermaid Reef
□    Magic Mountain
□    Glitter Beach

By: Annie Barrows
The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn't be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to hidequickIvy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. 
□    #1: Ivy & Bean
□    #2: Ivy & Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go
□    #3: Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record
□    #4: Ivy & Bean Take Care of the Babysitter
□    #5: Ivy & Bean Bound to Be Bad
□    #6: Ivy & Bean Doomed to Dance
□    #7: Ivy & Bean What’s the Big Idea
□    #8: Ivy & Bean No News is Good News
□    #9: Ivy & Bean Make the Rules
□    #10: Ivy & Bean Take the Case

By: Tennant Redbank
Easy reads about the Disney Princesses' fun pets.
□    Beauty: Aurora’s Sleepy Kitten
□    Blondie: Rapunzel’s Royal Pony
□    Teacup: Belle’s Star Pup
□    Treasure: Ariel’s Curious Kitten

By: Jessica Day George
These are from an LDS author.  Castle Glower is quite a remarkable place since it grows and shrinks and changes at will—it's will—and only Celie seems to be able to communicate with it.
□    Tuesdays at the Castle
□    Wednesdays in the Tower
□    Thursdays with the Crown

By: Jordan Quinn
Easy chapter books with large type and lots of illustrations.  A fun world with exciting fantasy quests.
□    1. The Lost Stone
□    2. The Scarlet Dragon
□    3. Sea Monster
□    4. The Witch’s Curse
□    5. Adventures in Flatfrost
□    6. Beneath the Stone Forest
□    7. Let the Games Begin
□    8. The Secret World of Mermaids

By: Jessica Burkhart
My Little Pony meets Candy Fairies. In the magical Crystal Kingdom, being eight years old is a big deal for a royal prince or princess—it’s the birthday where you get a unicorn, who becomes your friend and guardian for life.
□    Bella’s Birthday Unicorn
□    Where’s Glimmer?
□    Green with Envy
□    The Hidden Treasure

By: Chloe Ryder
Pippa’s real name, Philippa, means lover of ponies. Imagine her delight when she goes to the beach and finds two gigantic, talking seahorses. They carry her away to the island of Chevalia. Known only by true pony lovers, it is a place where ponies can talk.  Each book comes with a horseshoe charm.
□    A Magical Friend
□    A Dream Come True
□    A Special Secret
□    A Unicorn Adventure
□    An Amazing Rescue
□    Best Friends Forever
□    A Special Surprise

By: Multiple authors
Instead of 39 steps, billionaire Grace Cahill left her heirs 39 clues scattered around the world. At the end of this circuitous trail are the answers to a great family mystery, but Amy and Dan must decide whether any prize can be more important than the rescue of their missing parents. All related to Benjamin Franklin they travel around and learn about world history.  Readers can collect cards, each of which contains evidence, and play the online game (
□    Book 1: The Maze of Bones
□    Book 2: One False Note
□    Book 3: The Sword Thief
□    Book 4: Beyond the Grave
□    Book 5: The Black Circle
□    Book 6: In Too Deep
□    Book 7: The Viper's Nest
□    Book 8: The Emperor's Code
□    Book 9: Storm Warning
□    Book 10: Into The Gauntlet
□    Book 11: Vespers Rising

□    Book 1: The Medusa Plot
□    Book 2: A King's Ransom
□    Book 3: The Dead of Night
□    Book 4: Shatterproof
□    Book 5: Trust No One
□    Book 6: Day of Doom


□    Book 1: Nowhere to Run
□    Book 2: Breakaway
□    Book 3: Countdown
□    Book 4: Flashpoint

□    Book 1: Mission Titanic

Whew!  In keeping track of my daughters reading, I can see how she grows.  In Kinder she read roughly 16 chapter books, in 1st Grade she read about 60, in 2nd Grade it skyrocketed to 233.  We can't wait to see what 3rd grade will be!

I am going to write another post soon about Ethen.  He is diving in with both feet and I'll give some recommendations for young boys (which seem harder to find for me for some reason).

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bluebonnets are coming...

We are anticipating another spring with the beautiful bluebonnets.  They usually arrive around Easter, or the first week of April.  We have had crazy weather here, along with the rest of the country.  Yesterday it was a gorgeous 76, and then it plummeted 40 degrees to 34 today.  Yikes!

These pictures make me smile.  I actually captured so many good ones that I made three separate layouts that are all similar.

I will put this layout in our family album that I produce digitally through Shutterfly each year.  It features a mixture of the kids photos, and even one of me that Maya took!

For the kids hybrid albums, I will be printing out these pages that feature just images of them.  So beautiful!

I need to think of a way to incorporate some of these pictures on my wall!  I love every single one of them!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some hybrid pages...

I've gotten started on Ethen's 5-year album.  All of the following pages are hybrid, meaning they are paper, stickers, and glue.  I actually went to a scrapbook day out with a few friends last week.  It's been a long time since I've done that.  I got 5 pages done that day.  Here are a look at a few:

I used my Silhouette Portrait to cut out the sun starburst.  The gold stickers and embellishments are from Pink Paislee's Solstice line.  They coordinated perfectly with the other Shimelle, Simple Stories {Good Day Sunshine}, and Studio Calico {Sundrifter} papers I used.

For more images from Ethen's Angry Birds Star Wars party click here.  This page didn't turn out as envisioned, but hey, you can't win them all.  I downloaded some wallpaper images off the internet to get some high-res background images.  Then I cut out the title with my Silhouette Portrait using the Feast of Flesh font.

Lastly, here is a look at Ethen's science project from Preschool last year.  I was so proud of him!