Hey everyone! It has been a long while.

Today I wanted to share MaryEllen's entry for the Doodle4Google Contest. She wasn't one of the chosen, but I am too proud not to share. 🙂

She has begun to use the computer with her drawing. We finally set her up with her own desk and computer. She did this all digitally, one of her first projects.

Doodle4Google Entry

Here is a snippet from what she wrote on the entry form. "Drawing is something that I love to do, and I basically taught myself how. I also like to read fantasy and sci-fi books."

I think she did an excellent job. I am encouraging her to start her own blog, maybe as a summer project.

Hope y'all are doing fine. I will post again soon.



MaryEllen and Donnie are always making paper dolls of their favorite characters. I have meant time and again to share some of their creations, but just haven't got around to it.

The other day, yesterday in fact, I noticed this new one. I asked about it and was told that MaryEllen had just made it the day before. I loved the doll's accessories and decided to finally share.

I am told this is Artemis from the Young Justice series. I am not sure exactly what this series is about besides fighting bad guys.

Artemis Paper Doll

The kids draw and color the doll. After they apply packing tape and then they cut them out.

Artemis Paper Doll

The detail is what I was most impressed with and the cute accessories, the bow and arrows that fit into the quiver.

Artemis Paper Doll

They originally began creating these paper dolls when they wanted to buy the toy, but didn't have the money or didn't want to spend the money. They take a lot of time and they don't just make one, they make the whole gang.

I think they are working on the Young Justice series right now, but they have done the entire clan of How To Train Your Dragon, including the dragons, and The X-Men.



Free math word problems for March. These problems are about 4th grade level.

March Math Word Problems For 4th Grade

♫♫ It is beginning to look a lot like St. Patrick's day.♫♫ I am seeing a lot of green around the internet. I shall not be late this time. 😉

I have another set of math word problems. These are about the 4th grade level.

Since you are here, I'd like to remind you that I also have a set of St. Patrick's Day Notebooking Pages. These are great for writing stories on, narrations, dictation, copywork, journaling, letters, etc.

Download[Download not found]




MaryEllen's Drawings

I thought I would share a little of what MaryEllen is drawing these days.

MaryEllen practically draws 24/7. I bet she even draws in her dreams. lol! She draws during story hour, she draws in the car, she draws while watching a movie (Except in the theater, although she has mentioned if she could find a way to, she would.), she draws during her free time, she draws at the coffee shop, at the doctor's office, during visits to see grandma, pretty much 24/7.

She is improving a lot on the art of drawing people. Now, I am no artist, but these are wonderful.

~You can click on these photos to make them larger.~

This first one is of Sundance, our kitty. She was drawing her while Sundance was lying on the bookshelf. My husband, Don, didn't know and went to pet Sundance which caused her to move, so MaryEllen didn't get her other paw.
Sundance - ©MaryEllen Albright

Here is Loki. I believe her favorite Marvel movies are the Thors. Loki is her favorite villain.
Loki - ©MaryEllen Albright

Loki again.
Loki - ©MaryEllen Albright

Here she made Loki as if he were a cat. I think she calls it humanizing.
Loki as a cat - ©MaryEllen Albright

Brotherly love. Loki and Thor in an embrace. They are also humanized as cats.
Thor and Loki as cats - ©MaryEllen Albright

Thor, her favorite Marvel character.
Thor - ©MaryEllen Albright

This one is of Raven from Teen Titans.
Raven from Teen Titans - ©MaryEllen Albright

Night Crawler is one of her favorite characters from The X-Men.
Night Crawler - ©MaryEllen Albright

There are her own creations of super-heroes I guess you would call them.
Her own creations - ©MaryEllen Albright

It is fun to watch her draw, the movement of her hand and arm, and seeing the shapes from an image. Pretty neato! The amazing thing is she draws these from memory, the detail and all. Granted, the characters look young, but I am sure with more practice, they will soon grow older. lol! She definitely has the determination and patience.




February Math Word Problems - 3rd Grade

I am a little late with the valentines. Actually, I didn't plan on making anything, but I was thinking it has been a while since I uploaded a freebie, so I decided on more math word problems which happened to be valentines day related, not all, but some. (Let's see how many commas I can add to that sentence!!) 😉

Now, I retrieved these problems from an old book, so the cost of supplies are in the cents, don't we wish eh? I didn't want to change the amounts as it is sorta fun to look at what things cost back when.

This is geared for the 3rd grade, but you can be the judge with your children's skill level.

It also includes a space to work out the problem and to draw a little something such as hearts, flags, etc., whatever the problem is talking about. This is great for the little artists in your family, the ones who enjoy drawing, but it can be used without drawing anything also.

Download[Download not found]

I hope your children enjoy these math word problems.


Dog clipart ©Lisa at countryclipart.com



Albondigas Soup with Quinoa

So, the other day I was wondering how to use hamburger meat. Our most common meals are tacos, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, and if I am in a rush and haven't planned I will cook chili mac.

Although the kids love meatloaf, I was wanting a change. With the colder weather, I thought soup. Hey, I thought, growing up mom use to make albondigas soup. It had been literally decades since I had albondigas (meatball) soup. Sadly mom isn't here for me to call up and ask for the recipe. So off to the internet I went in search of a recipe.

After searching and finding recipes that didn't sound like moms, she didn't add tomato sauce for one (at least I think she didn't), I finally found one that was close. Actually I found two and combined them. One didn't have rice, which I remembered was in the meatballs. The other added vegetables that I don't remember being in the soup, like green beans, but it did have the rice in the meatballs. Picky I know!

The first time I made the recipe, I made it with rice. The other day I decided to use quinoa in the place of rice. Quinoa is something I want to cook more with, but I am having a hard time with recipes. I actually bought a quinoa cookbook, but it hasn't arrived yet.

Albondigas Soup with quinoa - meatballs

It was a hit at our house. Funny because I do remember not liking or caring for meatball soup when I was growing up. I ate it because mom made it, but now I think it is delicious, especially on these cold evenings.

Albondigas Soup w/Quinoa
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup quinoa
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 4 large carrots, cut into ½" pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1" pieces
  • 3 potatoes, cubed
  • celtic sea salt
  • black pepper
  1. For meatballs, combine the ground beef, ½ the cilantro, ½ the onion, garlic, garlic salt, onion powder, egg, and quinoa in a bowl.
  2. Shape into golf size meatballs.
  3. Set aside.
  4. In a large pot, cook remaining onion in coconut oil on medium-high heat until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add chicken broth, carrots, celery, and potatoes.
  6. Bring to a boil and carefully drop in the meatballs.
  7. Add in the remaining cilantro.
  8. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Albondigas Soup made with quinoa



That's right! MaryEllen drew this picture of the X-Men as dragons. She colored and framed it and gave it to Donnie as a Christmas gift.

X-Men as Dragons by MaryEllen AlbrightClick for larger image.

Can you name them? I can only name Storm and Gambit. Gambit only because MaryEllen pointed him out. He is one of her favorites.

It is cold here in North Central Georgia. When it is cold, I don't feel like getting dressed, so I am still in my pajamas and it is almost noon. I am just thankful it doesn't get this cold that often. Also, this weather irritates my asthma. It makes me wheeze, but only if I am out in it. Last week just walking from the supermarket to our car made me cough which then makes me wheeze. I need to remember to wear a scarf or turtle neck so I can put it over my mouth.

Stay warm wherever you are.

Talk to y'all soon.



Alone Yet Not Alone and I Am Regina Books

I noted in my last post that I was reading more. Well, two of the books I read were Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy M. Leiningerand I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn.

They are the same story but written about different characters. It is the story of two sisters who became Indian captives, Barbara and Regina, who were taken from their family during the French and Indian War. They were separated and ended up with different tribes.

I Am ReginaI bought I Am Regina at a library sale and it has been sitting on my bookshelf  for about four years. The story intrigued me. We might have finished Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison as a read-aloud at this time, so this type of story was most likely still on my mind.

Anyway, during a sale at Vision Forum a few years back I bought Alone Yet Not Alone because the story sounded interesting. After receiving it and looking at it more, I realized it was the same story as I Am Regina.

So, I finally got to reading them. When I began reading them, it didn't occur to me that they would be written from each girl's experience. I read Alone Yet Not Alone first and after, wasn't sure if I wanted to read I Am Regina because it was the same story, but I decided to thinking that since this one was about Barbara the other book might be about Regina. Sure enough!

Alone Yet Not Alone is the story of Barbara's capture. I Am Regina is the story of Regina's capture.

They were both good books, but I felt Regina's story was better told as far as imagery, Indian life, and connecting with the characters go. I enjoyed reading Regina's story and felt myself feeling her pain, sorrow and even anger. The author of I Am Regina stayed true to their christian upbringing and included Bible passages within the text especially when things would trigger a memory.

Alone Yet Not AloneAlone Yet Not Alone I feel was written to the Christian as an encouragement that God is always with us even when we feel alone. In my simple and unhindered life, I cannot imagine the strength it took to hold onto that during this horrific time. It is only through God that they or we could get through the trials that we face in this imperfect life. The book was very encouraging in that respect.

In Regina's story you can sense her anger about the death of her father and brother. Who wouldn't be angry! You can sense her worry about her mother and other brother who were not home at the time of the attack. During her captivity you can relate to her loneliness, her fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, the fear of the unknown as to what will this day bring, the joy of making friends, the sadness of losing friends, the hope of the war ending or soldiers finding and rescuing her, learning to trust her captors and eventually loving them as family.

I found myself scared for her, crying with her, and also wanting her to be rescued, but at the same time torn between her new family and the one she was taken from. I can't imagine the emotional roller coaster she must have been on.

Through Regina's story, you got to see more of Indian life, their beliefs, struggles, pain, fear, hurt...their humanity. Regina also got to see them as people and not as 'savages' as they were called back then.

So, if you have read one of these books, I do recommend you read the other one too. Some of the details differ in each story, but the story line stays true in both.

I just found out today that a movie is set to release of Alone Yet Not Alone in June of 2014 according to their Facebook page. Joni Eareckson Tada sings the song that shares the title of this movie. I would love to see a movie of Regina's story too.







Earlier this month we visited a museum in an adjacent town. I have been wanting to visit for years, but it has never happened. So, when I heard on the radio that they were doing a Follow the Shepherds Walk and that Don would be off, we made plans.

The Explorations in Antiquity Center is a living museum of life in ancient times. They have archeological replicas of ancient biblical life.

The Shepherds Walk was a tour through the events of the Nativity. I have a few pictures, but my camera died on me. My extra battery too. I might not have charged them long enough or else we need new batteries because the charge didn't hold very long.

Antiquity MuseumOur guide took us through Bethlehem and went into a little history as to why Joseph and Mary ended up there. It was interesting to note that she said Mary most likely walked. I hadn't heard that before. Even if Joseph couldn't afford a donkey, maybe someone else could have. I am so use to imagining Mary on a donkey, that it is hard to see it any other way.

Antiquity Museum

 Antiquity MuseumA replica of a manger which was hewn out of a stone wall in a cave.

 Antiquity MuseumThis stable was really small and we were told that it was more than likely there were no animals in the stable when Jesus was born. The guide also noted how the stable was the perfect place for a newborn to be born because of the temperature inside the cave.

She said that Joseph's relative's home(s) were most likely filled with relatives. Being such that it wouldn't have been an ideal place for Mary to give birth. Also after giving birth she would be unclean for 30 days (I think she said 30 days) and anyone near her during the birthing would also be unclean, so having Jesus in an isolated place was more convenient. I know I wouldn't have wanted to have a child in front of all Don's relatives. 😉

Antiquity Museum

Antiquity MuseumThese are the wine presses.

Antiquity Museum

An altar

Antiquity MuseumThe olive press. This was interesting. I didn't realize how long the olives had to be pressed before use. It makes me wonder how much they got at a time or if they had multiple olive presses going at once in rotation.

Antiquity MuseumThis wasn't part of the tour, but after the guided tour we were able to look around. This is the tomb.

Antiquity Museum

Antiquity Museum

Antiquity MuseumIt was a pretty neat place. They also do digs for kids and have a Biblical meal where you partake of a meal from the time of Jesus.

So, if you are ever in West Central Georgia, you will want to look this place up.

Merry Christmas,


Cynces Place Disclosure Policy

I found another gem sitting on my hard drive. The Nutcracker Lapbook never got transferred over to Cynce's Place.

Here is what I wrote back in 2008 when I prepared it:

I wasn't sure how to approach this lapbook. Should I do it on the ballet or on the actual story? Or, should I do it on the author of the original story?

Well, I did a search on 'The Nutcracker Lapbook', and came across a lapbook on ballet and a unit study on the nutcracker. So, then I did a search on 'The Nutcracker Unit Study'. This search brought about many unit studies, free and for sale. Most, if not all, concentrated on the ballet. I wanted to go more with the story.

I came up with a combination of the tale and of the ballet. It is focused on the story itself and how it evolved into a popular ballet today. These include author and composer biographies, country of origin for both the tale and the ballet, and more.

I hope you enjoy your study on The Nutcracker and The Mouse King as I did researching it.

Eventually I would love to witness the ballet in person. Hopefully next year my family and I can go. [We haven't gone yet. 🙁 ]

Nutcracker Lapbook

The Nutcracker Lapbook

For the Cover, The whole clan from Nutcracker to Mouse King, - I think this coloring sheet makes a great cover. I couldn’t make it for you all because of copyright issues. Save it to your computer, insert it into word and add a title… now you have your cover. 🙂



Here is all the information I collected while preparing for this lapbook. Going through it, a lot of the links were dead. Yikes! I didn't want to go searching for new stuff, so I used the handy dandy archive I wrote about recently to find the dead links, only a few I couldn't retrieve.


Author Biography
E.T.A. Hoffmann – Bullet points of his life
E.T.A. Hoffmann Biography
E.T.A. Hoffmann Biography

Composer Biography
Composer Biography
Classics for Kids biography
Biography on YouTube
A Tribute to Tchaikovsky – In Pictures and Music – YouTube.

The history of the Nutcracker Ballet
History of the nutcracker, a tool used to crack nuts.
Another site on the history of nutcrackers, a tool used to crack nuts.

Read the Nutcracker Online
Read the Nutcracker (Interactive)
Classics for Kids tells the story of The Nutcracker. Approx. 6 min.

Find More Books On The Nutcracker Here
Unit Studies
Nutcracker Unit Study From Homeschool Share
Study Guide with a recipe for Sugar Plums. Yum!
Study Guide with lots of information. Includes coloring, word search, mad lib and other activities.
Nice source with lots to do in all areas of academics. There are also notebooking pages at the end.

The whole clan from Nutcracker to Mouse King. – http://nutcrackerballet.com/montage.htm

Nutcracker Coloring Sheets
http://www.leepublishing.net/nutcracker2.jpg -black and white and a color version to http://www.leepublishing.net/nutcrakercolor.jpg

Sugar Plum Princess Coloring
Sugar Plum Princess
Sugar Plum Fairy

Nutcracker and the Rat King Coloring

Maze of Clara looking for her nutcracker.
The Nutcracker Activity Sheets

http://crafts.kaboose.com/nutcracker-ornament.html – Nutcracker Ornament
http://www.dltk-holidays.com/Xmas/mnutcracker.html – Toilet Paper Craft

Dance of the Sugar Plum Princess – listen to or download midi file. Also includes a video of the song being played on a pipe organ.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Princess – This is too cool. It is played using bicycle parts!!
http://www.archive.org/details/TchaikovskyNutcrackerSuite – The Nutcracker Suite

Find the Nutcracker – The original page doesn’t work, but the Archive has a few of the pictures. These are a lot of fun, especially if your kids enjoy I Spy’s.
Tip: Hold down the ctrl key and press the + key to make it bigger. Print it out if you do not want your kids straining their eyes on the computer.
Some other activities to do while studying about the Nutcracker.



As I was reading The Nutcracker and The Mouse King In Verse, which is included in the download, I came upon some words I did not know what the meaning was, like murther. So here is a list of words I think some kids might ask, 'What does ___ mean?'. Most, if not all, are taken from Webster's 1828 Dictionary.

murther – murder
maiden – an unmarried girl or woman
dismay – to affright or terrify
vain – empty, worthless
mend – to repair, to correct
vengeance – The infliction (to apply) of pain on another, in return for an injury or offense.
alter – to change, to make different
fate -  event predetermined, destiny
caressed – Treated or embraced with affection.
weary – tired, fatigued
herald – to introduce
hearth – a fireplace
gleam – to shine, to cast light
carillon – A little bell. Also, a simple air in music, adapted to the performance of small bells or clocks.
traversed - To travel or pass across, over, or through.  To move to and fro over; cross and re-cross.
tattoo – A beat of drum at night, giving notice to soldiers to retreat, or to repair to their quarters in garrison, or to their tents in camp.
wainscot – In building, timber-work serving to line the walls of a room, being made in panels.
quell – To crush, to subdue, to cause to cease.
valor, valiant – courage, bravery
martial – pertaining to war
wince – to shriek, as from a blow or from pain
stagger – to move to one side and the other in standing or walking.
gambolled – a skipping or leaping about in frolic
sweetmeats – Fruit preserved with sugar; as peaches, pears, melons, nuts, orange peel and the like.
placid – gentle, quiet, undisturbed
stolidly – dullness of intellect, stupidity
meandered – to wind or turn in a course or passage
barcarolle – a folk song sung by venetian gondoliers, or a piece of music composed in that style.
ardor – warmth, or heat, applied to the passions and affections
reign – to rule


Watch The Nutcracker

Grab some popcorn or the goodie of your choice and enjoy!

When the kids were younger, we really enjoyed watching Barbie in The Nutcracker.

You can watch the movie and compare it with the Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker (Penguin Classics). There is a venn diagram in the download to compare the two.

This will be a good time, as with any other Disney movie, to tell of the importance of reading the original fairy tales instead of taking Disney at its word.

Nothing wrong with the Disney movie, but I think the kids should at least have the chance of hearing or reading the stories the way the author has written them.


Here are More Nutcracker Movies for you to choose from.

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