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Best Reads of 2017

Well reading wise this year has been a bit of the old, “best laid plans of mice and men…” I had planned to read a lot more than I have; but that was probably wildly optimistic, as in January 2017 I was heavily pregnant, and by March I had a newborn. Babies have a way of annihilating our plans. But that being said I think I did rather well. The best thing in my reading life was being given a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. With a baby who has not been a good sleeper and spending large amounts of my day attached to a sleeping baby, in a darkened room this has saved my sanity. If I had a choice I would always choose a book book, but under the circumstances my paper white has been my best friend! My Best reads of 2017 The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp I began 2017 reading Ann Voskamp’s latest book. This is a powerful, profound book. She touches the broken, hurting places in our lives and seeks to draw us into a place of wholeness. It is not always easy but I think this is an important book for any Christian to read. I will be going back to this book again one day, when I can sit quiet and alone and read slowly, meditating on the ideas and truths hidden here. Voskamp’s writing is always beautiful and in “The Broken Way” she is unflinchingly honest dealing with hard issues like self-harm, mental illness, cancer and death. These may sound too hard, but I think anyone who reads this book will come away glad that they did. The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch This short book is full of wisdom on how to manage technology in our homes. Crouch does not lay down a list of laws to follow but shares what they do in their family; honestly outlining the things which work great and those they struggle with. We have not adopted everything in this book, different families in different stages will have different problems. However I liked the general philosophy of his book, which can be summed up in the phrase “easy everything”. Crouch argues that technology is a sign that we have a society where we want to choose the easy option in everything and that this is not always healthy. Middlemarch by George Elliot I have been wanting to read a hard book for a while. And I have been wanting to read Middlemarch for a few years. I tried a couple of years ago and...

Homeschool Activities for Christmas

The streets are glittering with Christmas lights, the advent calendars are in position, and Christmas carols are playing on the radio. Despite children looking impatiently at the unopened doors on their advent calenders, we parents know the Big Day will be here before we know it. That is why this year I have a plan to do at least one Christmas activity per week. Annually I tend to be quite good and reading Christmas books, but Christmas crafts and activities tend to be not so good. Here is a not too overwhelming (I hope) list of things to do. Crafts Christmas Tree Paper Strip We did this lovely little craft the other day. It is simple, and there is very little prep needed. 3D Paper Christmas Trees Giant Paper Snowflake We made these giant snowflakes last year. I was surprised by how simple it is, it looks like it should be very complicated. Christmas Cards This website gives lots of really nice Christmas card ideas. However, last year I set out a load of craft materials, pens, paint, glitter, sequins, etc and the children made a lovely selection of cards to send to relatives. Books There are so many beautiful Christmas stories. I love a beautifully illustrated, well crafted tale. I have a stack of books that I bring out at this time of year, and I try to add to it every Christmas. Here are three of our favourites: Holly and the Ivy by Rumer Godden This is a charming little story about the need for a loving home. It is the story of a little orphan girl and a doll wanting to find her “little girl”. Rebekah says it is a lovely story. This year Jude enthusiastically asked for a re-reading: proving there is no such thing as a “girl” book! The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski This is a beautiful story about a man consumed by the grief after the death of his wife and baby, but who finds healing and love through the lives of a widow and her son. Noah read this and told me a blow by blow account of the tale. He then sat through a re-reading as a family read aloud. This was my first reading of it, and I highly recommend it. I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge This is another beautifully written tale. A book which explores the pain, loss and healing within a family. This little book left a deep impression on my heart. I would highly recommend it. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Bake Around the World at Christmas

I love the food associated with Christmas. Christmas is a time of feasting. A time we come together with those we love and deepen our relationships, whilst sharing wonderful food. Different countries around the world have fantastic traditions around food, that can add a depth to our own celebrations. Here are a few to try, that will gladden the hearts of all those around your table. So use the season as an excuse to bake your way around the world. Gingerbread Men We eat gingerbread men around the 6th December to coincide with St. Nicholas Day. We read the lovely book The Baker’s Dozen by Aaron Shepard. The book shares the tradition of making St. Nicholas Day cookies within the Dutch culture. Cougnou: Jesus Bread from Belgium We made this beautiful bread a few years ago. It is an easy bread to make, although my bread shaping skills are not good. When I made them I just baked them as little rolls. They are meant to be shaped to resemble the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes! St. Lucia Buns St. Lucia buns are a traditional bread from Sweden made at Christmas. Stollen Stollen is a German bread with marzipan in the centre. The marzipan is meant to represent baby Jesus (yes another baby Jesus in a bread creation!). These are absolutely delicious. Baklava Baklava is a traditional sweet pastry dish from the Middle East, although Greece also have a tradition of making Baklava as well. The pastry is filled with nuts, honey and spices. Epiphany Cake: Dreik√∂nigskuchen This is a cake made for Epiphany in Liechtenstein. It remembers the Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus. Again it is another bread recipe, but it looks amazing! A traditional Christmas Cake Christmas really wouldn’t be Christmas without the smell of a proper Christmas cake baking in the house. This is a tradition handed down the generations of women in my family. And although I love exploring the food cultures in other countries this very British cake is a must. I have linked to Mary Berry’s recipe. This is a big cake, but it keeps for ages. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Homeschool Ideas to Celebrate St Andrew’s Day...

As a Scottish home educating family you would think St Andrew’s Day would be an annual celebration. However this is not the case: we have read a lovely book about St George on St. George’s Day and we have even made Welsh Cakes on St. Davids’s Day, but beside the occasional colouring in of a saltire and a brief mention about it, we have done very little. So this year, as St. Andrews Day approaches here is a mini-guide to celebrate. The History of St. Andrew St Andrew was one of Jesus twelve apostles. It is believed he was crucified on a x shaped cross, called a saltire, in Greece around 60AD. Relics believed to be St. Andrews were taken across Europe by pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages. Many made their way to Scotland, and were taken to a monastery built by a Pictish King on the site of where St Andrews now is built. Andrew was offically made patron saint of Scotland 1320 at the Declaration of Arbroath, however he was revered as a saint for centuries before this time. It is said that during the reign of King Angus Scots and Picts joined forces to fight the Northumberland King at the battle of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. It was said that King Angus prayed to St Andrew asking his help in battle, as the legend goes the sky was blue apart from the shape of a saltire of clouds in the sky. Hence the Scottish flag. St Andrew has also been adopted as patron saint of many other countries, Greece and Russia for example. However in Scotland St Andrew’s day is now a celebration Scottish culture. Activities for St Andrew’s Day Recipes Personally I think haggis is the food of satan and his minions. However, I live with those who would think otherwise. So if you want to be ultra traditional go for the haggis neeps and tatties. However there are plenty of other Scottish recipes to have a try (and I would recommend you do!) here are a small selection. Stovies. Stovies is a traditional Scottish dish made with potatoes and left over meat. I make mine with sausages, many people use corn beef, but any left over meat will do. Gamekeepers Pie. This is a bit special! Cock a Leekie Soup. This is a lovely healthy soup, perfect for a cold, damp November’s day. Shortbread. Super easy and super yummy. St Andrew’s Day Crafts and activities The Activity Village website has a range of crafts for younger children. These include make a Scottie Dog mobile,...

Easy Homeschool Science Ideas

For many parents doing science in their homeschool can seem daunting. It is a subject which conjures up different preconceived ideas about expensive equipment, dangerous chemicals, or perhaps even just lots of mess. However there are many simple, yet interesting experiments that can help spark a kids interest in science. Here are a few simple experiments in the different fields of science to begin with. Biology Seed Germination Take a jar and fill it with cotton wool, place a butterbean seed down the side of the jar. Add enough water to moisten the cotton wool, but not so much that the seed is sitting in a pool of water. Leave the jar in a warm place to watch the seed germinate. This experiment can be taken further. For example, you can set up a few jars: one that is left dry, and also leave one in the fridge, but with moistened cotton wool. Doing this allows you to see the affects temperature and lack of water have on seed germination. Bird Watching Keep a journal of birds that visit your garden. To do this set up a bird feeder and record the birds that visit. Doing this will enable a child to learn the names of different birds. It will also be a practical way for a child to help local wildlife and begin to learn about conservation. The RSPB website have some excellent resources. Chemistry Density Density is the weight of an object in a given volume. A solid will sink in a liquid if it is denser, and float on a liquid if the liquid is denser. This experiment explores different liquids and solids of different densities. Take a large glass and fill it with water, vegetable oil and maple syrup in equal portions. The three liquids will separate out according to their density. The most dense will fall to the bottom and the least dense will go to the top. Next drop in a stone, a piece of cork, and a grape. These will order themselves according to density. Elephants Toothpaste This is an experiment which explores catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that seeds up a reaction, but does not take part in the reaction itself. To do this experiment you will need hydrogen peroxide, 3% concentration. This is labelled food grade and is safe to use in an experiment at home, but do not consume and supervise young children. Hydrogen Peroxide is the stuff used to dye hair “peroxide blonde”. It can be bought on Amazon or eBay. Hydrogen Peroxide slowly decomposes into water...
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