Our 10 Favorite Current Family Read-Aloud Books

When I wrote my revised curriculum, I promised that I would share some of the books I have been reading to Andrew. A few of the books are repeats from the list I shared a little over a year ago; but, now that Andrew has discovered the world of chapter books, those favorites are slowly being replaced! In another list I’ll share some of the books Andrew has been reading to me. πŸ™‚

Here are 10 of Andrew’s current favorites:

1. Guess How Much I Love You. Andrew knows this book by heart now! It is a standard read every night before bed.

2. Children’s Book of Virtues. This is another that continues to be a favorite. There are so many little stories in this book that Andrew loves. And I love the underling moral virtues encouraged in all the stories.

3. Picture Book of Saints. This is a book that will remain a family favorite for a long time. Andrew never gets tired of reading and re-reading the lives of the different saints in this book.

4. Get Busy Beaver! This is a about a beaver family that is Quick! Quick! Quick! about building their dam. Except for the brother…who in the end surprises the family in a beautiful way. A sweet story.

5. The Hipponotamus. This is a fun story about a hippopotamus who wants to be anything but! Andrew often giggles and laughs his way through this cute story!

6. The Boxcar Children Series. When I called out for help in getting Andrew to practice his reading, this book came recommended by many moms – and I’m so glad! Andrew LOVES these books. There are over 100 books in this series, so I suspect we will be reading these for a while! (Each book stands on its own, so you don’t have to read them in order; but, I would recommend reading the very first book first.)

7. The Bobbsey Twins Series. These books are a bit above Andrew’s level but thanks to The Boxcar Children books, Andrew has grown to enjoy mysteries and enjoys these books very much.

8. The Flat Stanley Series. My sister-in-law handed these books down to us. Her sons enjoyed theses books and she thought Andrew would enjoy them, too. And he does. These stories chronologize the adventures of Stanley who was flattened by a bulletin board. Fun books.

9. The Magic Tree House Series. These books tell the story of Jack and Annie, a brother and sister team, who discover a tree house that is filled with books. Through these books, they are able to travel through time and place and encounter all sorts of adventures. A couple of books where a little too suspenseful for Andrew, but over all, he enjoys these books very much.

10. The Little Bear Books. I think I love Little Bear as much as Andrew does. πŸ™‚ You may recognize Little Bear from the popular cartoon series on Nick Junior but; Little Bear started out as a classic book series way before the show. All the stories are heartwarming and enchanting and they never fail to keep Andrew mesmerized.

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.)

Ten Reasons I Love My Husband

Yesterday was our eighth wedding anniversary so I can’t resist taking advantage of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday to write a little list of some of the things I love about my husband. πŸ™‚

1. He is committed to his faith. No one is perfect, and his faith may have wavered at times, but never broken!

2. He is committed to his family. Family is very important to Michael and he will do anything for us. Not just me and our son; but, also our parents, siblings, and extended family.

3. He is a good provider. Michael works hard to provide for us; and, although we may never be rich, we have all we need to live a good life.

4. He is a good father. Michael loves our son very much, and it shows in all that he does with and for Andrew.

5. He’s funny! Well, sometimes when I’m cranky or stressed, I don’t always appreciate his humor – and I HATE that he loves to tickle me – but most of the time I think he’s funny. πŸ™‚

6. He is laid back and doesn’t let small things bother him. Unlike me. I definitely worry too much and brood over minor things. He can let things roll off his back and deal with things as they come. I sure wish I was like him in this respect.

7. He is cuddly. I love snuggling up in his arms and still get tingly when he kisses me. {blush}

8. He loves my cooking. As he should! LOL! Well, I am a decent cook; but I also like to try new recipes and he is always a good sport about eating (or at least trying) anything I make.

9. He is not afraid to admit his mistakes. When he is in the wrong and knows it, he admits and says he is sorry. And, he is always willing to talk things out (albeit a little loudly!) when we disagree.

10. He is cute! Seriously, he has such a nice smile – and eyes. πŸ™‚ I just wish I had a better, updated picture than the one below to prove it!

Ten Fun Craft Ideas from Pinterest

I was poking around Pinterest the other day and came across some fun craft ideas I’d like to try. Here are some of them:

1. Pillow Craft. Looks like a fun fall project.

Pillow Craft

pinned by Connie Martin









2. Cardboard tube craft. My son would love this!

Cardboard tube

pinned by Kayla Stoops










3. Clothes pins craft. Aren’t these adorable?!

Clothespins craft

pinned by Julie Brown








4. Picture frame. Cute idea for a gift.

Picture Frame

pinned by Amanda Jenson








5. Handmade cards. I love making home-made cards and do so frequently for different occasions.

Handmade cards

pinned by Tiffany Cottam








6. Candles. These are so pretty!


pinned by Vicki Hodgman











7. Button Crafts. Another craft my son would enjoy.

Button crafts

pinned by Sarah Sasac










8. Rolled Roses. Not sure how complicated it is to make these, but they are beautiful.

Rolled Roses

pinned by Justine Lane










9. Quilting crafts. I have been wanting to learn to quilt for a long time.

quilting craft

pinned by Cristin










10. Christmas Crafts. I’d like to make some homemade gifts this year, so I better start thinking of Christmas now!

Christmas craft

pinned by Paula Coreg










What craft(s) are you working on or planning to start in the near future? Do share!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Ten Simple Ways to Beat the Heat

Hot enough for ya? πŸ™‚ It felt like July this summer has been one of the hottest ever and it looks like August is going to be quite a scorcher, too. Thank God for fans and air conditioning! Besides those, here a some other things we are trying to stay cool:

1. Close some vents and open others. In a lot of houses, at least the ones I’ve lived in, the upstairs is usually hotter than the first floor. It makes sense, giving that heat rises. To counter that, we open wide all the vents on the second floor and partially cover (and in some places completely cover) the vents on the first floor. I got this idea from my father-in-law and at first I was skeptical. However, once I actually did this, I discovered that it actually does help.

2. Close the curtains. I love the longer natural light that comes with summer, but the burning sun can add extra heat to a house. To counter this, I close the curtains during part of the day and in some rooms, all of the day.

3. Shut the lights off. Light generates heat, so except for the light I need when I am in a given room, I keep the lights off as much as possible.

4. Don’t use the oven. I don’t have to tell you how much heat the oven can bring into the kitchen and possibly other rooms in the house. However, one can only eat so much salad. You can grill just about anything, so that’s definitely the way to go. πŸ™‚ If you don’t have a grill, you can just as easily throw something into your slow cooker for a simple and yummy supper.

5. Wash the dishes by hand. Gasp! Believe me, I *love* my dishwasher; but, on the hottest of days – like when it was over 100 degrees – I’ll wash the dishes in the sink. Washing the dishes isn’t my favorite chore, but it does help.Β  Better yet, get one of your kids to wash them. πŸ˜‰

6. Don’t use the dryer. Again, the clothes dryer, like the oven, can generate a lot of heat. That’s why I often use a clothes rack or line in the summer. I love the smell of clothes drying in the fresh air! If it’s not practical or you can’t use a clothes line for whatever reason, dry running the dryer in the early morning or later in the evening.

7. Give the kiddies a bath. When it’s too hot and humid to be outside at all – even at the pool or beach, I’ll turn the bathtub into a mini-pool. I’ll fill the bath with cool water and throw in a few beach toys. Then I’ll put on Andrew’s swimsuit and let him play in the water.

8. Have some indoor fun. When you want to get out of the house, but it is way too hot to be outside, then it’s time to resort to other indoor activities. We don’t have tons of disposable income at hand; so, we have been utilizing the library A LOT. Our local library has many different programs going on right now and we have been attending many of them. Other options would be free or discount days at a museum or going to a matinee at the movies.

9. Stay hydrated. We all know how important it is to drink lots of water. In the summer, it’s paramount. Drinking lots of water is important to avoid dehydration but can also helpΒ  you stay cool. Try and at least drink a glass of water every hour. Besides regular water, sucking on ice chips or using an ice pack on the back of your neck may help you stay cool.

10. Cover up. It sounds counter-intuitive to cover up with clothes to stay cool, doesn’t it? However, wearing light-colored cotton tops or clothes, particularly moisture wicking fabric, will actually keep you cooler when outdoors for long periods. The fabric provides a protective layer against the sun (and skin cancer!), and allows for your sweat to evaporate to help cool you off. (By the way, I’m not saying you should never wear short sleeves, or shorts or a bathing suit. I’m just saying that covering up is one valid way to help stay cool. πŸ™‚ )

What are you doing to stay cool this summer? Please share!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

10 Random Purple-ly Things I Found on Pinterest

When I first heard about Pinterest, I was curious about it but I didn’t get it. What’s the point of it?Β  Until… Angie offered to give out invitations. I asked for one, signed up and within a few minutes I was hooked. I love it! And, being a visual person by nature, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t get it before!

Anyway for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I thought I’d combine my new love of Pinterest with my old love of purple! Purple is my absolute favorite color in the world. So here are ten random purple-ly images on Pinterest that I like:


purple cake

Repinned from OhAmanda (originally pinned figandrubysweets.blogspot.com)


purple scarf

Repinned from Jana Parma who pinned it from etsy.com


purple wedding cake

Repinned from Tracey Chan


purple view

Pinned from Big Binder who pinned from Nezka Pfeifer


purple stairs

Pinned by Qu A.


purple drink

Pinned by Kate Neideigh


purple bubble

Pinned by Helen Yin


purple dress

Pinned by Noel Colbertson


purple hat

pinned by Linda Burt


purple tennis court

Pinned by Abe Lincoln (Seriously!)

If you are interested in trying Pinterest and would like an invitation, leave your email address in the comments and I’ll send you one.

(Linked also to Wordless Wednesday.)

Ten Classic Books I Want to Read Again

Summer is here, which often turns my mind to books. I love to read though, so really books are often on my mind, not just summer! πŸ˜› Still, I’ve been thinking about some of the fiction books I want to read this summer during my times at the beach or lazying around outside.

Besides some “mindless” fiction, I want to re-read some classic literature. These are books that I have read before either in grammar school (7th and 8th grade) or throughout high school and college. Since it’s been so long since I’ve read them, I thought it would be good to re-read some them and see how my older self, with aΒ  new perspective, experiences these books.

I doubt I’ll finish all of them before summer’s end. I actually have 25 classics on my list, not to mention my ever-growing non-fiction book list, plus a list of light fiction books, and then there are the books I want to read Andrew. whew! In any case, here are the 10 classic books that are on top of my reading list:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. I’ve read this book twice but one can never read Pride and Prejudice too many times, right?

2. The Divine Comedy by Dante. Okay, So i never actually read this book completely the way through; however, I have read enough of the book to consider myself as having read the book. It’s a daunting volume, but I would like to give it a go anyway.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Oh, this is right up there with Pride and prejudice, no?!

4. 1984 by George Orwell. The first time I read this book it WAS 1984. LOL!

5. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I remember this book freaking me out as a tween. It’s been so long since reading this, I only vaguely remember what it is about, so it would be interesting if I have the same reaction.

6. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin. Can you tell I’m a fan of her books. πŸ™‚

7. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I’ve seen a lot of TV and movie versions of this over the years, I’d like to re-read the book. It’s rare that a move ever comes close to being on par with its book version. The book is almost always better.

8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Need I say more? πŸ™‚

9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I had a hard time getting through this book in high school. I don’t remember why, but I remember not being able to get into the book or enjoying very much. I’d like to read this again to see if my perception of this book has changed.

10. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. No re-reading of the classics would be complete without reading Gone with the Wind!

Your turn. What’s your favorite classic book (s)? Which classic book (s) would you like to read all over again? Or do you care for the classics at all?? Chime in.

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday – because, of course, reading always works for me. πŸ™‚ )

My Top 10 Fondest Memories From Childhood

In this past Sunday’s Sunday Snippets, I read one of Kathleen@ So Much to Say, So Little Time‘s posts about her experience in looking for a new car. In her post, she shared some awesome pictures of the vehicles her grandparents used to cart around 10 children before the days of SUVs.

Reading her experience and looking at those pictures brought back some wonderful memories; so for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I thought for fun I’d share a few of them with you. πŸ™‚

1. Going to the Drive-in. This was the first memory I thought of when I read Kathleen’s post. This was back in the day when seat belts were non-existent and drive-in movie theaters were the norm. (I’m giving away my age here, aren’t I?!!) My parents would jam-pack me, my sister, my brother and a bunch of my cousins (along with beach chairs, blankets and snacks!) and head to our local drive-in. It was a steal. Once price per car for TWO movies! Truth be told, most of us wouldn’t last through the second movie; our eyes just wouldn’t stay open. πŸ™‚

2. Hide-and-go-Seek in the dark. This was a double thrill because we got to stay up late AND play one of our favorite games. πŸ™‚ We usually played this game inside, but sometimes we’d play outside, too. Playing in the dark definitely made finding the “hiders” that much more difficult!

3. My First Holy Communion. After all these years, I still remember my first communion like it was yesterday. I was so excited and nervous beforehand, and so happy. After the mass, my Aunt Virginia, who was a waitress at the time, brought me to the kitchen to sow off my communion dress to her co-workers. I have a picture of my dad scooping me up in his arms and gave me a big kiss. I felt like such a princess!

4. Thriller with Aunt Flo. Some of my (ahem) younger readers may or may not be familiar with Michael Jackson or his Thriller album. Well, me and many of my cousins were big Michael Jackson fans in our pre-teen years. My Aunt Flo (may she rest in peace), had the Thriller video and would do the most hilarious imitation of the graveyard scene!

5. Hitting the boardwalk with Papa. Growing up my parents would go in on renting a bungalow for a week with some family and friends in Keansburg, NJ near the boardwalk. One year, right before I started high school, my godfather’s dad (whom everyone called “papa”) came with us and one night he took me to the boardwalk. I don’t remember going on the rides, but it was a special time of playing the games, getting something to eat and just talking with him.

6. Rockin’ the rides with Big Aunt Betty. Speaking of the boardwalk: As kids, we always thought Big Aunt Betty was old; but, looking back she must have only been in her 60s. Anyhoo, whenever she came to an amusement park with us, be it Coney Island or Great Adventure, she would go on almost every ride with us – including the roller coasters! It was so amazing to us! Then again, Big Aunt Betty was an amazing lady. πŸ™‚

7. Early mornings at Sandy Hook. You can’t be raised in NJ and not go the beach. During the summer, my dad would get us up and out by 6am on many of the weekends to get to Sandy Hook beach. It gave us the opportunity to beat the traffic, get a good spot near the water before the crowds, and enjoy a little of the cooler weather before the sun came bearing down.Β  we always had such a blast – in spite of the sun burn I’d get EVERY TIME.

8. Walking to the roller rink. (Or riding our bikes.) The roller rink has been long gone from Airport Plaza, but before we had a car, my parents would sometimes walk us the 3 miles (seemed so much longer!) to roller rink to skate. This was even before the days of [gasp!] roller blades, when we skated on 4 wheels. It was cheap fun and good exercise. The hard part was walking back after we tired ourselves out from skating!

9. Family barbeques at Veteran’s Park. Between Veteran’s Park and the swim club next door, we had hours of fun over the summer growing up. The best were the years we had family gatherings with the extended family and friends for a day of swimming, eating, and games.

10. Sledding in Holmdel Park. The hills at Holmdel Park have always been perfect for sledding – and still are! The best part of sledding of course, was the hot chocolate to warm us up afterwards!

I look back and I realize what a grace it was to have such a good childhood. My parents weren’t rich, and struggled at times, but managed to provide us with what we needed – and more. There were definitely more good times than bad. I am truly blessed.

Now it’s your turn. Come share your fondest memories with us in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

(Also linked to Works for me Wednesday, since remembering the good ole times works for me!)

Tomato Fortress in Pictures

Every year my in-laws grow tomatoes and every year they have to fight off moles and other critters trying to eat the tomato plants. The gate they usually used wasn’t very effective so this year my father-in-law (who just turned 72!) decided to build a fortress to keep the pesky critters out.

He built the frame, covered it with chicken wire and made an entrance so they can walk in and out of the fortress. As you can see from the following pictures, the tomato plants are so tiny compared to the huge fortress!





tomato fortress

Building the frame


tomato fortress 2

Side view of frame


Center frame

Center frame


other end of frame

Other end of frame


Grandpa working hard


Grandpa's Little Helper

Grandpa's little helper


applying chicken wire

applying chicken wire


Get me out of here!

Get me out of here!


All done

All done (side view)

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday HQ.)


My 10 Favorite Uses for Vinegar

Did you know that vinegar is awesome? It’s cheap and yet very versatile. There are tons of uses for vinegar, but here are just 10 of them:

For Cleaning:

1. Keeps your tub clean and shiny. Follow the simple steps outlined in my post here.

2. Keeps the soap scum in your dishwasher at bay. Regularly run an empty dishwasher through a complete washing cycle with one cup of distilled white vinegar.

3. Keeps you clothes bright and fresh. All you have to do is add a 1/2 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle.

4. Keeps your windows clean. Fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar. Works just as well or even better than the leading name brand cleaners.

For Beauty and Health:

5. Keeps your hair clean. ‘Becca over at The Earthlings Handbook has a great tutorial on how to wash you hair with vinegar here.

6. Keeps your skin clear. Vinegar works as a great astringent. Just wash your face with a solution of half water and half vinegar.

7. Keeps those hiccups at bay. Drink one cup of water with a teaspoon of vinegar added. Bye bye hiccups!

For Food:

7. Keeps your eggs together. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to simmering water when making poached eggs.

8. Keeps your meat tenderized. Marinate your meats with vinegar for a few hours to overnight before cooking as usual. No need to rinse off vinegar before cooking.

For Fun:

9. Make homemade bubbles. Find the recipes for homemade bubbles and homemade bubble bombs here!

10. Blow up a balloon. Use vinegar to make carbon dioxide and blow up a balloon. Get the recipes on the Families with Purpose website here.

What are your favorite uses for vinegar?

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and WFMW.)

10 Book Suggestions for Lent

I didn’t plan on doing a top ten Lenten series, but it is kind of ending up that way. πŸ™‚ You can check out the other top ten suggestionsΒ  for Lent here, here and here. Anyway, for this week I’d like to share some book suggestions that would be worth reading if you have any timeΒ  over theΒ  next few weeks.

1. The King Crucified and Risen by Father Benedict Groeschel.

2. In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez. (Beautiful book of meditations.)

3. Divine Mercy in my Soul, the Diary of Saint Faustina.

4. Imitation of Christ by Thomas a’ Kempis

5. Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

6. Journey to Easter by Pope Benedict XVI

7. On Retreat with Saint Josemaria Escriva by John O’Dogherty.

8. Abandonment to Divine Providence by Rev. Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade.

9. The Cross and the Beatitudes – Lessons on Love and Forgiveness by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.

10. The Wonders of the Holy Name by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan.

What book suggestions do you have? I’d love to hear your ideas!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and WFMW.)