Monday, April 19, 2010

A Visit with Friends

Our friends, Mike, Dawn and Emily, came to town from Kentucky a few weeks ago.  We were VERY excited that they managed to squeeze us into their packed schedule.

Contrary to the expressions in this picture (it was the only one without a blurry child), my gang enjoyed entertaining Emily.  They showed her all their toys, made silly faces, jumped around, basically did whatever they could to make her laugh.  Sam even got into the act by throwing a baseball at Emily (sorry about that Dawn!!).

We all enjoyed visiting with our friends and can't wait to see them again next year!

P.s.  Emily is almost 14 months younger than Ellie!  But Emily is a weed and Ellie is a peanut.  :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

6 Places to Buy Children's Books Cheap

As a family of avid readers (3 who can read, 1 who almost can and 2 more who love being read to) AND home schoolers we are always on the look out for good children's books for cheap.

I find inexpensive books in a variety of places:
  • Amazon's used books.  I've never received one that needed to be sent back.
  • Discount tables at major bookstore chains.  This takes self-control to stick to the clearance tables though.
  • Shop Amazon, Christian Book Distributors (, and major stores AFTER a holiday not before.
  • Home School Used Curriculum Sales.  Google "Your state + Home School Organization".  Poke around online until you find out when their annual sale is.  Most do NOT require that you home school to attend.  My organization is hosting their annual sale in June.  (FYI June and July are popular months for used curriculum sales.)
  • Neighborhood Used Book Stores.  There's one not far from my house but their children's section is lacking.
  • Library Used Book Sales.  Check with your local library to see when their annual used book sale is.  My local library had theirs in March.  Some books were discontinued library books.  Others had been donated. 
In fact, I scored big time at my local library's used book sale.  All of the books above (plus a couple that had already been snatched up) were bought at the sale.  The children's books were a quarter each and the non-fiction books were $1 each.

Guess how much I spent in total for all these books?!

Where do you go to find good books for little money?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rhode Island Great Flood of 2010

The rain came down.  And came down.  And came down.

That's the best description I can give you of March 2010 in Rhode Island.  Think I'm kidding?
The National Weather Service said its rain gauge in Warwick recorded 16.34 inches, nearly double the old March record of 8.84 inches set in 1983.

The average for the month had been 4.43 inches.

And just like the kid's song "the rains came down and the floods came up."

I won't forget Easter week 2010 for a long time.  Sewer services in several cities failed as a treatment plant and pumps were flooded.  Oh yeah.  That was pleasant.  For several days we were told NOT to shower, wash laundry or flush.  To do so was to risk sewage filling your house.


We were fortunate.  We had some water in our basement but it was kept under control with a wet/dry vacuum.  Joel estimates he emptied over 100 gallons from the vacuum.  I believe it!!  And we aren't even close to the flooded rivers/streams!!  The ground was just so saturated that the water seeped into basements.  Our neighbors continued to pump water from their basements for a week after we stopped.

Joel is vacuuming up the water in this picture.  This was probably our worst section.  When he discovered the water the floor was covered about 1/4 of an inch here.  As soon as he sucked the water up you'd see it coming in again.

We didn't lose anything of value - in large part because I store our stuff in plastic tubs.  This is just part of our collection!  Most of these are kids clothes.

I can rightfully say "I survived the RI Great Flood of 2010" but it's not an experience I care to repeat.  And we got off easy.  Our neighbors are gutting their basements.  Other people in our state lost their homes and their businesses.  We are fortunate.

Have you ever survived a flood or natural disaster? 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues by Donald J. Sobol.  Random House, 1966.

Encyclopedia Brown is the reason Idaville hasn't had any unsolved crimes in over a year.  When he isn't helping his dad with police business, he helps his friends solve their own mysteries, charging only $0.25 a case.

Part of the charm of Encyclopedia Brown books is that after reading the case, or chapter, you flip to the back of the book to see if you solved it the same way Encyclopedia did.

Like Nancy Drew and Nate the Great, I read Encyclopedia Brown as a kid.  It's funny to read him now and see how simple most of the cases are - though they had me stumped 25 years ago.  And if I'm honest, some of them stumped me now.

I suggested to my 6 year old that he read Encyclopedia Brown.  He was not interested.  He didn't even want me to check it out from the library!  That is until he ran out of Boxcar Children books.  Then he couldn't wait to pick it up. 

To round this out as a family affair, my husband has even been testing his detective skills against E.B.  I think this series will soon become a family favorite!

Have you ever tested your wits and trivia knowledge against that of Encyclopedia Brown?

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano

This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStafano.  Illustrated by Mark Elliott.  Waterbrook Press, 2010.

My daughter, Ellie (age 3) has one prayer she uses for every situation.  "Dear Jesus please help us to eat breakfast.  Amen." 

She recently began swapping "breakfast" for "lunch" or "supper" but that's her basic prayer for every situation - even when no food is involved.  Obviously, we have some work to do in teaching her to pray.

The brother and sister in This Little Prayer of Mine don't need as much work as Ellie does.  Their prayer includes confession, thanksgiving and supplication, all in cute rhyming verse.

This book provides a good introduction to the topic of prayer for small children.  It's simple and covers a variety of issues, such as making hard choices and being thankful for ice cream.  Though not a "how-to" book, it gives children a basic understanding that you can pray about anything and everything and God will listen to you.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.
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