Browsing Tag


Homeschooling, Literature, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless (mostly) Wednesday: Our Littlest Reader

Cork and Fuzz.

The first book series to be requested by my 6 year old.

The first time he dove into a book as soon as we picked it up.


The first time he came to the dinner table, absorbed in a book.


Captured on film as not to be forgotten.  Precious moments that melt a mommy’s heart.  So much so that I couldn’t deny him a book at the dinner table.  Instead, everyone brought a book to celebrate the occasion.

Books We Read, Homeschooling

Afternoon Bin: What we read this week

So what did we read this week?

Non-fiction: reading a little each day:

Our read-aloud chapter book: (history focus)

Vocabulary: reviewing and adding a few words each week:

Geography: South America is our focus for January

(We made two recipes from the cookbook for our poetry teatime. The fresh limeade was fantastic! The cornstarch cookies were yummy, but we won’t repeat them.)

Poetry: (history focus)

For Fun and learning:

A little fairy tale viewing: (Draw Me a Story – free on amazon prime)

Have a great weekend and if you want to watch me discussion of these books on periscope, then you can view my video on katch!

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Books We Read, Homeschooling, Literature, Uncategorized

Our Afternoon Basket: What we read this week

Well, our morning basket didn’t remain as our morning routine for more than two days.

I learned very quickly that my kids are ready to get their seat work done in the morning.  It was hard to get them focused on seat work after a morning of reading and relaxing.  So we made a switch.  We do our seat work in the morning, and then after a break and lunch, we are ready to relax while I read.

I have really enjoyed our afternoon reading time and feel like we are remembering to fit in a variety of subjects and topics that we previously overlooked.

So what did we read this week?

Non-fiction: reading a little each day:

Our read-aloud chapter book: (grammar lesson using this book)

Vocabulary: reviewing and adding a few words each week:

Geography: South America is our focus for January


For Fun and learning:

A little fairy tale viewing: (Draw Me a Story – free on amazon prime)

Have a great weekend!

(NotBefore7 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Brave Writer, grammar, Homeschooling, Literature

Grammar Lesson using The Arrow: Love that Dog

Grammar.  The word can evoke very strong opinions.

Who knew grammar was such a hot topic?  Probably very few parents.  Unless they decided to homeschool.

And once you weed through all of the philosophies, it can be quite confusing to find the actual best fit for your family.  I know because we have tried so many options!

One teaching option that feels very natural for our homeschool is teaching grammar through literature passages.  The Brave Writer literature guides, The Arrow, have been the backbone of this process in our house.
Our family has found that teaching grammar with literature as the tool has been a great fit for our homeschool. Here is just one example of how we did it!

Continue Reading

Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

New School Routine: Morning Basket

A few weeks ago, Julie Bogart shared, “Five tips for a sane morning” on periscope and described her family’s morning routine during the homeschooling years. Julie’s family often spent up to an hour reading to kick off the day.  It sounded blissful, as well as educational.

I could immediately feel the wheels turning in my mind!

I used the extra brain space available during our holiday break to brainstorm what I might keep in my morning basket. As soon as the holiday break ended, I was ready to kick off our new Morning Basket.

Our Morning Basket Continue Reading

Homeschooling, Literature

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Club, Part II

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Club

This afternoon my daughter and a few of her friends gathered for our book club. This month’s selection was, “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart.

I didn’t find a lot of ideas online about the book, but I found plenty of ideas when I began searching for brain games and secret agent parties. After a little big of digging around, I was inspired and I put together our book club plan!

A few days before the bookclub, a few special invitations were mailed:


Upon entering the room, each girl discovered a Top Secret folder waiting for them and “Kate Weatherall’s red bucket” filled with supplies for our book club.


The girls began by solving Rebus Puzzles in their folder while waiting for their friends.  Then we played around with solving them as a group.

IMG_0043  IMG_0044

Next it was time for some “brain food”.  I have to admit.  I was a at a loss when planning food and snacks for this book club.  There wasn’t a whole lot of food in the plot of the book, other than Constance wanting candy for breakfast.  HA!  I started to look up food that was good for the brain and memory.  Inspired by these, “12 Superfoods to Boost your Brainpower,” I created a little buffet.


Blueberry muffins (blueberries), Guacamole and chips (avocado), walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and bread with dipping oil (olive oil).  Yum!


During our snack, we discussed the book.  We shared our favorite moments, biggest surprises, and the characters we would most like to have as a friend.  Inspired by the information on this site, we talked about the significance of character names.  Then we headed back to our buckets and folders.


Our next task was to make a secret decoder so we could send our partners in crime a hidden message.  Red cellophane is the perfect tool if a secret message is covered in red marker or crayon cross hatches.  I based our simple decoder on this tutorial for a decoder card.  After making them, the girls experimented with red markers and red crayons to hide their blue words.


The girls had a sheet of shapes in their folder to write secret messages in blue and cross hatch them with red.


Now, Kate’s red bucket would not be complete without a sling shot.  Ours wasn’t the traditional sling shot, but more of a marshmallow shooter.  The instructions were simple and we had a fun time trying to shoot the marshmallows into our red buckets.

IMG_0075  IMG_0080

Finally, we used our pen lights to send one another messages in morse code.  Each girl had a sheet of morse code in their Top Secret folder.  We used them to send simple words and phrases to one another.



We never had time to get to my “if there is time left” codes, but I did find more fun codes online for anyone else planning a book club.

In the end, we had a fantastic time and memorable book club.  I hope each of the girls encountered this book on a more personal level that they won’t soon forget.

If you missed my periscope as I planned the night before book club, you can find it on this post.

Books for Mom, Homelife

Random Recent Reading

Summer is a great time for me to catch up on my love of reading. I will read just about anything and everything.  I have a wide variety of interests and love to read whatever I can get my hands on from the library.

Here are a few of the titles I tackled this summer, in no particular order:

Carry On, Warrior.  By Glennon Doyle Melton.

 Loved this book.  Love the author.

Glennon Doyle blogs, inspires, and tackles big projects of love over at Momastery.  I have enjoyed her TED talks as well as her blog for years.  This book is a compilation of many blog posts, some of which I had read before.  But I enjoyed them again.  Often in tears or through laughter.

This is a fairly easy read, but with a lot of challenging thoughts.  If that makes sense at all.  The stories are engaging, honest, and full of hope.  Whether or not you agree with all of Glennon’s thoughts, I think most women would find stories that inspire, encourage and challenge in this book.

A Room With a View.  By E. M. Forester.

Classic literature and required reading for my online BraveWriter literature class this summer.

I have to be honest.  I had to read this one and a half times.  Halfway through, I was lost.  I had not connected to the characters or the plot at all.  Then I began participating in my online discussion and realized that I was missing quite a bit, so I started again from the beginning AND read the spark notes, like any good student.

Once I was a more informed reader, I was able to engage the book in a more meaningful way.  In the end, I learned about about E. M. Forester’s thoughts on society and enjoyed watching both Bellatrix Lestrange and Professor McGonagall interact about three decades ago on the big screen as Lucy and Charlotte.  (A Room With a View is available on Netflix)

Throne of Glass.  Crown of Midnight.  The Assassin’s Blade. by Sarah J. Maas.

This books are part of a young adult fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas.  There are going to be six full novels released in the end in addition to, The Assassin’s Blade, which is a collection of novellas.  Only four titles, including The Assassin’s Blade, are available currently.  Book number four in the complete series will be released in September.

A few chapters into the first book, I realized I had picked up a fantasy book.  This is not my usual genre, but I was pleasantly surprised that I was enjoying the book.  I am not typically one for dark magic, Faeries, and such, but the main character is an assassin in her realm and her storyline had me intrigued.

After moving quickly through the Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, I picked up The Assassin’s Blade.  This particular book contains five prequel novellas, told in chronological order as snipets in the life of our main character.

I am still reading the final novella, but I know where it is heading because of my reading of the other books.  These were fun to read after the other two because it is always interesting to learn the back story after learning the “front story”.

A Gracious Space: Spring Edition.  By Julie Bogart.

I have already blogged about this book in the past.  I love the daily readings as well as the additional time I have in the summer to reflect on them.

Julie’s writing curriculum is the backbone of my language arts.  You can find it at Brave Writer and you can find many of her encouraging thoughts, similar to the ones in this book, on her blog.



Finally, I indulged in some deeper thinking and theologically “heavy” books:

Life Together.  By Deitrich Bonhoeffer

I don’t have a ton to say about this one because I am still working through it.  It isn’t too long and comes highly recommended by many friends.

What is most fascinating to me is the variety of friends who love this book.  My conservative Christian friends, including PCA pastors, as well as my more liberal Christian friends all LOVE Bonhoeffer.  This fact only intrigues me and I can’t wait to dig back into this book soon.


Malestrom.  By Carolyn Custis James.

I enjoyed the book, When life and Beliefs Collide, many years ago by this author.  I was intrigued when I came across this title online while doing some research.

Carolyn Custis James tackles the issue of the patriarchal system found in the bible which has been adopted into a polite version by many evangelical Christians in the west.  (think: biblical submission, complementarianism) The driving principle in this book is that any form of patriarchy is not biblical and is in fact, dangerous as it contributes to a societal “order” that was never God’s intent.

I have two chapters left in this book.  (Yes, I jump around book titles quite a bit)  It has been easy to read and quite fascinating.  I find myself re-reading many stories in the bible so that I might attempt to process them in a different light.

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church. By Rachel Held Evans.

Ah.  Rachel Held Evans.  Progressive Christian.  In my conservative or evangelical circles, most folks don’t care for her theology.  And while she and I don’t agree on everything, I find her a great writer and an excellent source for anyone who wants to understand more about progressive Christian theology.

Her piece on abortion is one of my favorites and “won” me over as a blog reader.  I have read several blog entries now and find myself challenged, even when I disagree.

This particular book is the record of her journey with God and the church.  Each section of the book focuses on a church sacrament and her own journey as it relates.  It is an intriguing way to approach her story.  I found a lot of great thoughts in it, even if our journeys have been really different.

The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. By Peter Enns.

I really couldn’t even begin to put any words on to this paper to describe this book.

I will say that I enjoyed it and have every intention of reading it a second (or third) time.  I can’t say I agree with it in its entirety, but I am content to explore it some more.  It is important to me to understand a variety of points of view when it comes to faith, God and the Bible.  I never want to be “satisfied” that I know it all and have “figured it out” when it comes to God.  I think that is a dangerous place to be.  New ideas challenge me and either change my mind or solidify what I already believed.

I realize that many Christians, especially conservative ones, immediately shut down anyone who attempts to read the bible from a “non-literal” view point.  If that is true of you, then don’t even bother to check out this book.

On the horizon…just picked up from the library…

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass). By Sarah Maas.

YAAAY!  The third book in the Young Adult Trilogy that I started came in from the library today so I will get to read it this week.  I could use something “mind-numbing”.




What have you been reading?

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