Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Books by the Foot

After I saw pinned on pinterest, I couldn't help trying it out. For a whopping $12.99, ($28.50 with shipping)  I bought 150 books! Pretty crazy! I picked out a few to enjoy right now and put the rest away for gifts. They are definitely used books, but they were in pretty good condition and I think they would work great to stock a teacher's shelf. I figure even if we just read them a few times and sell them to the local used book store, we'll still come out even in the end.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Update

We have had some slow--read a lot--play a lot kind of days this summer, but we have also 
had our share of ACTION!
I taught two weeks of ballet camp (make a skirt and a head band, learn a recital piece and the story of a ballet--very fun!) The youngest participated and loved every minute of it.
This mix was just too good to pass up with the camera. This pretty much sums up our youngest. 
Yay for adoption! We are on the track to adopt one or two little wonderfuls from a small orphanage in Uganda. One of our professors from our old college days has worked with this orphanage for 25 years. We're looking forward to completing our family.
Cow Appreciation Day

Our new pet Mexican Black Kingsnake
Montezuma (Monte for short)
And yes, he's having his weekly meal here: a tiny mouse.
Two -headed monster

Panning for gems at the Science Museum

Our friend the T-rex

blueberry picking

Library reading program fun

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fantasy Summer

During the summer we read a lot around here. A LOT.
I couldn't even tell you all the books that the oldest has plowed through. She has read three or four books a week since summer began. I have been working my way through some great inexpensive choices for the kindle and a few library books.
Here are a few of the ones we're enjoying:

This was my latest read from the library. I usually shy away from sci-fi because it can get way out there in the science and leave me wishing for a little more story. This was not one of those books. It had enough fictional science dealing with the mysteries of time to make me think hard, but it didn't let that crowd a great story of finding one's purpose in life. I would put the minimum age on this one around 14 just because the science needs some good thinking and processing skills.
This was one I found when I was searching for book sets for the kindle. The whole set was only $4.99, but don't let the price fool you--this was entertaining, thought provoking and fun reading! Another story of finding one's purpose in life, the power of friendship, bravery and self sacrifice. Minimum age would probably need to be around 14 again, just because the story is heavy and dark and has lots of twists and turns.
This was another cheap kindle find. I actually bought the series for around $5, but I can't find the series online anymore. But buying them separately would be almost as inexpensive. The first one is free for kindle! This is the age old story of a girl finding out that she is actually a princess. The story is a little more simple and sweet than the books above and would be fine for younger ones (10?) except for the fact that the main character gets married quite young (17) during the series and there are very tame references to the benefits of marriage. I will probably let my daughter read this one somewhere around 12, though I may want to give her ample opportunity to question me about the after-marriage content.

by Veronica Roth
You'd have to be pretty isolated not to have heard about this series lately. With the movie of Divergent coming out next year, everyone's buzzing about this one. I had avoided it because I'm usually not into end-of-the-world kind of stories, but I should know that a good book is a good book and I love to read a good book.
This was one. I enjoyed the main character--going from straight-laced, self-sacrificial to tatooed and brave and finding out that the two are not that far apart. I enjoyed the story of the unavoidable problems of the human sinful nature even when society is divided into like-minded groups. 
But the reason I actually picked up the books was that a friend of mine wandered upon the set of Divergent as she was walking around Chicago. She posted a rogue pic of it on her blog and I was so intrigued I had to go out and find the books. I bought them on the kindle--not as cheap as the other sets, but still cheaper than buying them as hard copies.

This series is an old favorite that both the oldest and I have already read, but now we're sharing it with the younger two as a read-aloud. My favorite part? Having the kids recognize the book quotes at the beginning of each chapter! This is a story of a man who has the power to read characters out of books and the trouble that ensues for him because of that. The main character is his 12 year old daughter. 
This is an interesting tale of the horrors of what can happen if we keep our children too safe. The story is exciting and completely appropriate for young readers (my daughter is reading the series now.)

So there you have it--

Happy Summer Reading!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Welcome to My Home (Take 2)

More than three years ago I took pictures of our house one day after I had cleaned (there has to be some reason for cleaning, right?) and posted them on this little blog. It is great to be able to look back and chronicle what has changed and what is the same.
On Wednesday we had our second home visit so that we can change our homestudy paperwork from a domestic adoption to a Ugandan one (Yes--we are still waiting on our fourth child--another post, I suppose). When the house was all clean, I walked around taking pics so that I could invite you into my home once again. Take a look around and then come on back to the family room and we'll have a cup of tea and nice long chat. 
In the entryway we have added quite a lot. The furniture here is mostly organizational pieces to help with the clutter of five people coming in and out of the house. The shelf with hooks and the bench are from The Company Store (a gift from my mother in law) and the square piece is one of the EXPEDIT series from ikea. These pieces are so versatile and extremely affordable!
Not much has changed in the kitchen from this view except that the counter is not cluttered with stuff now because...
of this beauty from ikea. Since we have lived in this house I have wondered what to do with this wall in the kitchen. There is not enough space for a table and too much space not to use it for something, but it is a major walkway so the furniture can't be too deep right here. Enter the LIATORP bookcase from ikea with glass doors and everything is put to rights. Ah, this is how our kitchen was supposed to look!
And of course every kitchen needs some art work. This hides the peeling paint on the side of our metal cabinets and looks especially neat edged with black wiring tape.
Our living room is, to be honest, most often used as a room for folding clothes (no laundry room--washer and dryer are in the garage-basement). But it is a great entertaining space and I love the huge window that looks out onto the patio.
This little space has had some major rearranging since the last set of pics. Homeschooling was a major chore when the dining room table had to be cleaned off three times a day for meals. This space makes our days work much better. Right now the school table holds the terrarium for our friendly pet Mexican Black Kingsnake--Montezuma. He'll probably be moved when summer is over and we start schooling here daily again. The bookshelves in this small space provide necessary spots for papers, notebooks and of course, school books. They need to be cleaned off for the coming school year!

This is the room in which we spend most our family time. The tv has changed in here (I hated to see my tv cabinet with doors go but sadly the new tv did not fit.) and in the last year we have stocked the coffee table with tons of board games that get lots of action, especially with our game-crazy boy.
Our hallway chronicles the growing up of our children with pictures of each from each year of life. The room at the end of the hallway is back to its boy-sailboat blue because we really hope to welcome a new son into our home soon.
The kids room is the first on the left and has more toys in it than I know what to do with. I am thankful for the time our kids spend happily playing here. Most played with toys right now: American Girl Dolls, legos, Food in the kitchen, Hero Factory, Dress Up clothes (in the closet), and polly pockets in the castle.
All three kiddos sleep in this room. This is made possible by the great bunk my mom made for the oldest. The oldest loves having her own space under the bunk as well with a desk, another EXPEDIT shelf with drawers for her clothes and shelves for her books. She also has a curtain that she can close so that the little space under her bed is her very own.
The hallway bathroom

The master bedroom

The boy's room all ready and waiting

Now for that cup of tea...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Zucchini Recipes

So this week's obsession is zucchini. Probably because summer is here and I love vegetable stands and great prices in the season veggies...or maybe just because I found a lot of zucchini recipes this week that are calling my name. Either way, here are ten mouth watering recipes that all center around that famous herbaceous plant.
1. Summer Garden Pasta Zucchini turns pasta into a side dish extraordinaire!
2. Sweet Potato Zucchini Bites Healthy + yummy + sweet = AMAZING!
3. Zucchini Tomato Pie Where has this summer staple been all my life? I'll certainly be "tweaking" this recipe soon--maybe adding some chopped ham?
4.  Zucchini-Olive Couscous This zucchini recipe has the added bonus of being something my family will actually eat without having to be coerced! They will eat anything with green olives!
5. Zucchini, Mushroom, and Ricotta Salad Okay, so the fam wouldn't touch this one, but yum, does it sound good to me!! Maybe I'll have to have a girlfriend over as an excuse to make it. : )
6. Zucchini Grinders Part veggie lasagna, part sandwich and all yummy!
7. Apple Zucchini Squares These are pure genius! And you've gotta go read the first comment in which the blogger's hubby gives them a five star rating. (and I think that's pretty sweet!)
8. Squash and Zucchini Casserole Plain and simple gets my vote every time!
9. Picnic Zucchini Bean Salad Beans=protein, so this one could be a whole meal, don't you think?
10. Chocolate Zucchini Cake What better way to end a list of ten on Of Such is the Kingdom than a chocolate cake?
See Menu Plan MondayTasty Tuesdays and all the other great blogs I'm linking up to here.
first post Monday April 4th

Saturday, July 13, 2013

St. Louis City Museum

I am always on the lookout for amazing places for our family to visit, and can I just say, this one is up there on the list of amazing places!
The St. Louis City Museum is an interesting mix of junk, art and playground and will astound the adult as much as it thrills the young.
In our three hours at the museum we saw no end to the places to climb, slide and explore!

Conquer your fear of heights many stories above the city by daring to climb with only metal structures to hold you up!

One of the things I loved about this museum was that there was absolutely no feel of "Let's all be safe!" Instead, there was a feeling of daring and adventure. Children even had to occasionally form a plan and figure out how to get into a tight space (or out of one). A hole in the floor might lead you to a slide into a dark tunnel which might route you to a tiny ladder to get you back to where you started. Or you might climb a tree and end up coming out the mouth of a whale. When my daughter bravely climbed into an unlit underground tiny tunnel, I discovered that (thank goodness) my uneasiness in small places has not been passed on to her. She crawled out from under the whale a few minutes later unscathed and quite proud of her new powers of bravery.

And then there were the slides. I believe the boy did them all (except for the one outside that was closed after the rain). He did the one that swirled around for 10 stories to get you from the roof down to the third floor caves. He did the two story one above where any normal-sized man might have gotten stuck in the colorful tunnel. He slid into a dragons mouth and out of an airplane. He did short ones down dark tunnels and long ones and wide ones and bumpy ones. And he did them all with a look of exploratory glee!
(p.s. he was the only one of us all brave enough to do the 10-story slide.)

And yes, I climbed over this little wire tunnel to get to the slide on the other side. It was a kind of strange sense of being in something very restrictive and being far to exposed to the empty stories of space beneath me. But I did it and I didn't drop my phone, so that was success!
I really thought that we might have some tears from the youngest as she fought to conquer some of her fears, but nope, she was one of the bravest!

The hubby snapped a pic of yours truly. (Climbing in style with my bike shorts on under my dress.)

View from the roof of the huge climbing structure

So if you're any where near, take a trip to the City Museum. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dining Room Re-do

As I've mentioned before, I've been slowly redoing our dining room. It's still not totally finished, but for just a few hundred dollars (paint, curtains, art, table cloth, etc.), I think the change is amazing. I love how clean and peaceful the dining room is now. Here are some pics:

These are super easy silhouette pictures of my kiddos. I pretty much stole this idea right off the wall of a friend. She told me how to make this a lot easier than the hard-won one of me in kindergarten on my mom's dining room wall (the one I had to sit still for while my teacher traced my silhouette). Take a picture of your child's profile. Enlarge, print, cut out and trace onto black craft paper. Frame on a white background.
Hooray for inexpensive (i.e. free using frames I already owned) art!
This wall will eventually have a large white-framed mirror. Have you ever tried to find a mirror with a white frame? It's quite difficult! I haven't decided if I'm just going to spray paint a thrift store mirror or search for THE mirror and ask for it for Christmas. We'll just have to see.

And last but not least: this is my most expensive purchase for the dining room re-do so far. These are pictures that my nature-loving oldest took in our backyard woods. They were already pretty much silhouettes, but I made them black and white and had them put on canvas during a great I love the grey color that the background came out to be and I would love to find a rug to match this color.

Hooray for new and fresh and white!