Friday, May 27, 2016

Remarkable: Discussion Questions & Activity Ideas {FREE}

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Last summer my daughter and I hosted a book club for a few of my daughter's homeschool friends between the ages of 9-12. The book club turned out to be super fun, and all the girls seemed to enjoy participating. Remarkable, by Lizzie K. Foley, was the fourth and final book the girls read. I've already posted discussion questions and activity ideas for two of the other books: RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, and The Fairy's Mistake if you are interested in checking those out as well.

Remarkable was my daughter's favorite book out of the four books the girls (and I) read. Remarkable is a town in which everyone who lives there is, well, remarkable. All of Remarkable's inhabitants are gifted with extraordinary talents except for poor, plain, old Jane Doe. When Jane finds herself in a classroom with only 2 other classmates who happen to be nefarious twins, and when a mysterious pirate seems to be causing trouble for the town, her life becomes a little less ordinary. To what lengths will Jane go in order to save her town? Find out by reading the book, and then download the following discussion questions for free!

Remarkable Discussion Questions & Activity Ideas (Click title do download and print.)

Below is a screen shot of the questions - red markings are not in the free printable. No need to have a book club to answer the discussion questions. ;) Enjoy!

Remarkable Food Fun

I used regular Fig Newtons for Figgy Doodles, Lucky the Lake Monster's favorite treat.

I bought little Twist Lemon Lime sodas for Fizzy Drinks.

I spread 2 different types of jelly on bread cut out in flower shapes in honor of the jelly scandal, "one of Remarkable's most vexing problems." The flower shapes didn't really have anything to do with the story. I just did it to make it prettier. :) 

All the girls had to taste both kinds of jelly and vote for their favorite kind. Munch's was better in the book, but I think most girls agreed that the jelly I labeled "Remarkable" tasted better. No surprise, either, since it was homemade by my friend who happens to be the mom of 2 of the book club girls. She makes such amazing jam!!!!

If you need the book, it is available on Amazon. We used the hardback version, but there is a paperback as well. Any page numbers referenced in the discussion questions will correspond to the hardback.

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Linked to Hip Homeschool Hop, Tuesdays with a Twist, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Mommy Monday Blog Hop, WFMW, The Homeschool Link-up, Literacy Musing Mondays

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When My Daughter Said She Wanted To Be A Boy and How I Handled It

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                                  Original photo from

"I wanna be a boy," said my toddler girl years ago.

Hmmm, I thought to myself. I'd waited almost 6 years to have a girl, and now she's saying she wants to be a boy! Really?

Surrounded by fairy pink walls, pink decor, and pretty much pink everything, my baby girl insisted that her favorite color was now blue. Not that there's a thing wrong with a girl liking blue. I love certain shades of blue, but after having two little boys, I was blued out to the max!

It might sound like I'm making a big deal about the color blue. I'm really not. Of course I was a little sad that my sweet baby girl wasn't crazy for pink like me, and maybe my feelings were a little hurt by the fact that she wasn't appreciating all the time and effort I'd put into making her room as pretty as I could. But this whole matter really wasn't about a color at all. In fact, all by itself, my daughter's blue phase wouldn't have been a big deal, but she started telling me things like, "When I grow up, I'm going to turn into a boy." Oh, mercy.

Okay. I knew at this point it was time to address the issue even though my daughter was still so young and even though I had an inkling that it wasn't a true "identity crisis." 

I observed what was pretty obvious: I had a little girl who had two big brothers who got to do some things she couldn't do yet. Plus, I'm sure she felt left out at times when the boys would get to play outside with their friends while she had to stay inside with mama or when they just wanted to play in their shared room without a little sister bothering them. Even though she couldn't articulate her feelings, I figured that she'd worked it out in her little mind that being born a girl was the reason she couldn't do certain things.

So, how did I handle my toddler's phase of wanting to be a boy? Well, first of all, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, and I tried not to act shocked when she brought it up. When she'd say she wanted to be a boy, I'd respond with statements like, "Well, God made you a little girl," or "I'm so glad God answered my prayer and gave me a daughter." I'd tell her that girls were special - that she was special - and that one day she'd get to do big girl things.

When she'd say that she was going to turn into a boy when she grew up, I'd correct her on it. I'd say, "No, you were born a girl, and when you grow up, you will still be a girl." I explained that God made us male and female and that ultimately He was the one who decided what gender we would be. I'd tell her that God made boys and girls differently and that she'd turn into a woman and be like mama when she grew up. I kept it pretty simple and talked to her on her level. Each conversation was short and sweet. Toddlers don't seem to stay focused on one thing for too long. ;)

I prayed about the issue. That the phase wouldn't last long, for one, and that she'd be content being the girl God made her to be.

I made sure to spend time playing with her each day - whether it was playing dolls, having tea parties, or reading wonderful books and making cupcakes! I would've done these things anyway, but I hoped that in our everyday life she'd see just how fun it was to be a girl!!

I let her like the color blue and let her play with her brothers' toys, but I didn't start dressing her in boys' clothes or stop putting bows in what little hair she had. I didn't change her room; I couldn't afford to. But even if I could have, I wouldn't have. Because toddlers don't get to decide everything they want when they want it. I didn't stop treating her like the girl she was.

Basically, I didn't encourage her I-wanna-be-a-boy phase, but I didn't make a big deal out of it either. We just continued to live our normal, everyday lives which did happen to include lots of boy stuff. Kinda can't avoid that with two big brothers who loved all things boy!

It's been about 7-8 years since my daughter went through that phase, and thank goodness, it truly was a short phase. I couldn't help thinking about it, though, with the whole transgender thing flooding the media right now. It prompted me to ask my daughter if she even remembered wanting to be a boy at one point. She says not really. When I asked her if she was glad that God made her a girl, she smiled and said, "Yes." But, I knew that already. :)

Christian mamas, never be afraid to raise your children up in the fear of the Lord. Never let media and the ways of this world dictate how you raise your kids. Teach them that they can love others without compromising the Truth. Immerse yourself and your kids in Scripture every single day, and pray that your kids will grow up to be strong men and women of faith.

Thank you sweet daughter for giving me permission to share this post. I love you and am so blessed by the precious young girl you've become.

This post is shared at Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist. WFMW, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays

Friday, May 20, 2016

19 Years and Counting {The Joypain of Marriage}

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It's been 19 years since my groom sung me down the aisle. 

No dry eyes in the chapel that day. Except for mine. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, and my smile and hope for the future matched the perfectly pure, cerulean sky. Even when my groom's voice shook ever so slightly and his eyes filled with tears, I didn't cry. I was too excited. 

My day had arrived. The day many girls spend their lives dreaming about. I'd finally become a precious bride.

You might be wondering why I didn't choose a more wedding-ish photo for this song, but I think this one represents the long road of marriage much better. The marital road can be a bit rocky and dusty, and maybe even a little barren at times. The aisle you walk as a beaming bride is kind of like starting out on the yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz. It's beautiful and bright and nicely paved at first. Eventually, though, the road becomes marked with broken, loose, and even missing bricks which create holes that are perfect for tripping traveling feet. That same road also passes through dark, foreboding forests and jungles in which terrifying beasts abide. Sound like marriage much?

On that beautiful, sunny, forever-ago day, my satin-slippered feet took those very first steps onto the aisle that forever changed my life. The man who was about to become my husband had written and was now singing those beautiful words with all the love that was in him, oblivious to the reality of how hard it would be to live them out. Not because he was a terrible person - quite the opposite - but because marriage is just hard. The mystery of turning two into one was (and still is) far more complicated than we could have ever dreamed.

And so began our journey of the joypain of marriage.

You see, it didn't take long for clouds to roll in and turn my cerulean sky a gloomy shade of gray. Quite frankly, the storms of life threatened to crumble my happily ever after.

It didn't take long for my smile to fade and for my hopes and dreams to match the somber sky.

It didn't take long for me to understand why so many marriages end up in divorce.

Marriage can bring out the worst in people can't it? The very traits that draw two people together and make them fall in love in the first place turn into the very things that drive them CrAzY!! If you are married, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm guessing no examples are even needed here! ;)

Weaknesses or even just natural tendencies are magnified to the max as well. I'm naturally pretty selfish and vocal, and if it was humanly possible for ears to smoke, mine would. My husband, on the other hand, tends to be more independent and withdrawn. I'm telling you, this guy could probably be happy living in a tent in the middle of nowhere as long as it was green and woodsy. Of course I could go on and on, especially when it comes to all of my shortcomings and epic fails, but the idea here is that these things can drive deep wedges and build massive walls between two people pretty quickly.

Of course, I'm barely scratching the surface here, but I guess my point is that seemingly light-hearted, nit picky things mixed together with unexpected hardship and sorrow can make for a not-so-tasty marriage recipe. I write with tear-filled eyes as I think back on some of the storms we've weathered together. We had no idea how long life's road would truly be as we said our vows to one another, vows written from the depths of our very own hearts. We meant each and every word, but trials and tribulation have a way of stealing joy.

Trials aren't all bad. I believe God uses them to sanctify, to make us more like Him. Trials can produce strength and build character, especially when our focus is on heavenly things. My husband and I have had to learn that marriage means dying to self daily. I think I've failed in this department more than I've triumphed, but I'm thankful for God's mercy and grace and patience. I'm thankful for my husband's mercy and grace and patience, too.

I'm thankful for the joys in our marriage journey that have helped to balance out the pain. Building our first home. Having our first baby and then adding two more down the road. Celebrations. Good friends. Long walks. A vacation or two. Just to name a few. While difficult, marriage hasn't been all prickles and stings. :) If your marriage has been filled with mostly rainbow skies and daisy fields, wow, what a blessing! Be grateful. And feel free to leave all of your tried and true marriage tips in the comment section. :)

We've made it 19 years not because we've got this but because we've held on to our no-matter-what commitment first to God and then to each other. It does take two, though, for commitment to happen. While the road has indeed been long, I'm beyond grateful that my husband has kept his promise to love me, and cherish me, and never let me walk alone.

We planted a bonita ash tree in our front yard in honor of our 19 years of marriage, and because the house we bought didn't have one. We hope to start a new tradition of taking an anniversary pic every year in front of this tree. It will be fun to watch the tree grow tall and strong but not so fun to watch ourselves grow old. May we celebrate 19 more years and even more! (Please excuse the no makeup and weird shadows. We hired a 10-year-old photographer. Thank you.)

Before I go, I wanted to share the sweet gift my husband's grandma cross-stitched for us shortly after our wedding. So special.

May the 19th year be our best yet . . .

May be linked to one or more of the following link parties.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Magic Pomegranate: A Jewish Folktale {Free Comprehension Questions with Answer Key}

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If you'd like to add some folklore to your homeschool, "The Magic Pomegranate: A Jewish Folktale," is a delightful story for children in grades 2-4. This title is part of the On My Own Folklore series and is about three Jewish brothers that embark on separate journeys in which they each set out to find a unique gift.

I actually wrote these questions for my 5th grader because sometimes it's nice to read something for school that is below grade level. :)

The Magic Pomegranate Comprehension Questions {Click title to download for free}


1. What is a folktale?

2. Where did each brother go, and what gift did each bother bring back?
     First brother:
     Second brother:
     Third brother:

3. What was special and unique about each gift?

4. Whom did the princess choose to marry and why?

5. What is a cumulative tale?

6. Why did the author change the healing element from an apple or potion to a pomegranate?

7. What does pomegranate mean in Latin? In French?

8. What is the Torah? Do some extra research and find out what is included in the Torah.

9.  If you could go on a journey, where would you want to go? What would you want to find?  (It can be imaginary if you like.)

The Magic Pomegranate Answer Key {Click title to download for free}


1. What is a folktale?
A folktale is a superstitious story or legend which originates in popular culture and is typically passed down by word of mouth.
2. Where did each brother go, and what gift did each bother bring back?
     First brother: West – magic glass
     Second brother: East – magic carpet
     Third brother: South – magic pomegranate
3. What was special about each gift?
The magic glass enabled a person to see the most distant corners of the kingdom. The magic carpet could take a person anywhere he/she wanted to go. The magic pomegranate brought healing to a sick princess who was near death.
4. Whom did the princess choose to marry and why?
The princess chose the youngest brother because she thought he performed the greatest deed by giving up something of his own.
5. What is a cumulative tale, and how does The Magic Pomegranate fit this description?
A cumulative tale is a story in which several people contribute to the solution of a problem. In The Magic Pomegranate, three brothers use their gifts in order to help cure the princess.
6. Why did the author change the healing element from an apple or potion to a pomegranate?
The author thinks the pomegranate has a great deal of symbolism in Judaism. Jewish tradition says that a pomegranate contains 613 kernels which represent the 613 good deeds a Jew should perform. The fruit is mentioned in the Bible, and it is called one of the seven choice fruits of Israel. Also, children sitting in a row studying the Torah are compared to pomegranate kernels in Song of Songs Rabba (6:11).
7. What does pomegranate mean in Latin? In French?
     Latin: pomum granatum – “apple having many seeds”
     French: pome garnete – “seeded apple”
8. What is the Torah? Do some extra research and find out what is included in the Torah.
The Torah is the Jewish Bible, the most sacred Jewish text. It is a scrolled parchment that contains the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In a broader sense, it also includes all Jewish law and tradition and other important Jewish writings. (,, and have some good information.)
9.  If you could go on a journey, where would you want to go? What would you want to find?  (It can be imaginary if you like.)
Answers will vary.

You should be able to find this title at your local library, but if not, Amazon has it.

Other On My Own Folklore titles include: (We have not read these yet.)

P.S. This might be a good time to eat a pomegranate with your kids if they've never had one! Try counting the arils (seed pods) as well. Here's how to properly cut and eat one - at least it's how I do it. ;)

Linked to: Hip Homeschool Hop, The Homeschool Link Up, WFMW, A Little Bird Told Me, Literacy Musing Mondays

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

How to Keep Puppies Clean & Shiny

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I'm kind of a nut case when it comes to cleanliness. Having a new puppy definitely creates quite a challenge for me in this area. ;) Dogs are a bit icky, so in order to remain somewhat sane, my puppy gets a daily Burt's Bees wipe down!

I'm already a huge Burt's Bees fan. I use their lotions, lip glosses, chapsticks, etc. on a daily basis, so when these Burt's Bees multipurpose wipes caught my eye while I was searching for a puppy toy, I snatched them up!

Our puppy, Kylo, gets a good wipe-down from head to tail and back to belly usually every night. I end up using more than one per day if he has as accident in his crate, which, thankfully, hasn't happened in a couple of weeks. And one time, he just needed a real bath. My daughter says it isn't good for dogs to get too many real baths, so these Burt's Bees wipes are the perfect solution for staying clean and shiny!

Even though there really isn't a strong fragrance, the wipes make my puppy seem all fresh and clean. It makes me feel better, too, and that matters a lot!

Kylo definitely got a good wipe down after playing at our local dog park!

*If you can't find the wipes in your local store, you can order them on Amazon by clicking the picture below. I found mine at Wal-Mart for about half the price of the ones on Amazon. I did see a hypoallergenic version of these wipes on Amazon, though, that I didn't see in the store, and they are more reasonably priced. :) Although I have not used them, I've included a link in case those sound like a better option for your pet.

Burt's Bees Multipurpose Wipes work for my puppy and me!

Linked to WFMW. Funtastic Friday

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