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Curse of the Spider King

Our current audio book has been the The Berinfell Prophesies Series. We listen to this in the car as we drive to visit Grandma.

I just learned, that there are three books in this series. There are only two audio books, so I was unaware of the third book. Looks like it isn't in audio form yet, so I might have to purchase it to read aloud or the kids can continue if they like.

So, there are three books in this series...I guess it is now a trilogy. πŸ˜‰

  1. Curse of the Spider King: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book One
  2. Venom and Song: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book Two
  3. The Tide of Unmaking: The Berinfell Prophecies Series - Book Three

So how do we like it?
We have been thoroughly entertained. Besides the Narnia series, we haven't listened to fantasy. So this is a nice change of pace. MaryEllen is into fantasy right now, which is one reason I chose this series.Β  The Berinfell Prophesies also got good reviews. {Wait! We also listened to the Kingdom Series, not sure if it is considered fantasy.}

We were unfamiliar with the authors, Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper, but have found them to be quite good at what they do. I plan on purchasing more from them.

As always, I am very pleased with the Oasis Audio production. I purposely choose books they record because they are excellently done.

What are they about?
A short synopsis is: Seven teenagers are about to find out that all is not as it seems. Once they turn 13, they notice weird things happening to them. They later find out that they are not human, but elves...from another world. Not only are they elves, but Elven lords. Not only are they Elven lords, but there is a prophesy that says they will save Allyra, their 'real' home. So, they are needed back home to save Allyra from the Spider King. Yes, there are giant spiders in the book. πŸ™‚

We are still listening to Book 2, so I don't know what happens. They are now in Allyra and have trained to better use their powers. They are now on their quest and are learning how to work together and how to harness their powers through their mishaps and adventures.

Venom and Song


I am not sure if y'all know that I have these great copywork books for the younger crowd.

I use to sell them, but do not have the time to update them right now, so I am offering them as a free download. These are dated 2014, but can still be used. You can scratch out the old date and write in the new.

March Copywork

  • There is a Memory Gem for each day of the week, excluding Saturday & Sunday.
  • Have the student copy the selection in their best penmanship.
  • You can pick and choose which ones you would like your students to memorize.
  • Primary Lined
  • I added a calendar to the beginning that can be used any way you please. The student can list important dates, birthdays, etc.
  • There is a page with lines and a calendar where the student can write a little about the month or use it as a journal page of what happened during the month.

A sample of the selections for the month of March.
March Copywork Selections

Download [Download not found]



Tissue BoxThe bug hit us this week. πŸ™ We all had sore throats, stuffy noses, and coughs. With all the coughing, came a headache. Of course this made us all tired and not really in the mood to study.

I couldn't even read aloud because too much talking put me in a coughing fit. But, today I decided to look for our current book as a download so that we can at least get some reading in. We are reading The Cat of Bubastes
so I was going to order the mp3 from Jim Hodges, but then I found the one from Librovox. I listened to a bit of it and found it sufficient, so tonight we will listen to a few chapters of that. πŸ™‚

When I felt my sore throat coming on, I made me some of this Spiced Honey Tea and it helped prevent my sore throat from becoming anything more. It never got unbearable and was better the next day.

The first sip of this tea was like...WOW! The cayenne made it strong. I sipped it throughout the day and once I got half-way through, I added more water. πŸ˜€ Not sure if that was cheating. The sore throat didn't end up like last time.

teaSpiced Honey Tea
from Honey Fanatic
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a cup and mix with hot water.

The kids didn't want to try it, and their throats would hurt when they coughed. I should have made them, but they saw how my throat felt better the next day and never really hurt. I drank it when I first felt it coming on. So, maybe next time they will try it, although I will put a little less cayenne for them...maybe a little less cinnamon too because it was really like WOW!

I also made us some cough syrup which helped with the coughing. I took it whenever I noticed myself coughing more or after a cough attack. I also used Ricola cough drops. The kids didn't like the syrup, but they took it. Luckily, they never got cough attacks like I did.

For our stuffy noses I was going to try making a vapor rub, but I didn't have any beeswax...maybe next time. Hopefully it isn't for a long time. πŸ™‚

Instead, we tried this breathing technique which worked, but the stuffiness would come back, so we would do it every so often. I am guessing it came back because our noses are stuffed from being sick and not allergies or sinus issues, the kids anyway. I always have sinus issues, so when I get better, I will try this again for my sinus problem.

I just checked Donnie, and he has a small fever. We'll let it ride unless it gets too high. I think I'll make some chicken soup tomorrow.

Oh and the down side to all this is Don was also sick, but he still had to go to work. He didn't get it as bad thankfully. πŸ™‚

We have two more school days in this week, so I'm going to just call it a week and start fresh on Monday.

Can you tell I am having fun with this homemade, natural, diy stuff? πŸ˜€

Oh, and don't forget to enter my Trail Guide to U.S. Geography giveaway if you haven't already.



Well, this was our first week back doing a full day of studies. How did it go? I would give it a 7. Even though I know the kids didn't want to begin again, they did without any problems.

alarm clockThe first 3 days went well with all subjects being covered, except one day of reading. On the 4th day, we ended up doing half a day. We got started later because my husband went into work earlier. Sounds weird I know. πŸ˜‰ Let's see how day 5 goes.

I had grace this week with the kids not getting up at a decent time. I wanted us all to get up at 7am. I was the only one who did. I didn't have the heart to wake them up. But next week I will. Plus this week we were getting our sleep cycle in a routine. During our break, they were going to bed past 11pm, sometimes midnight. Now I want them to get to bed by 9:30pm. So, this week it tapered off...11pm one day, 10:30pm the next, 10pm the last two days. We will get there. And yes, their alarm went off, but they smacked it and went back to sleep with intentions to get up 'in a little.'

ChecklistOne thing that I want to do is establish more routines. My days feel mumble-jumble and sometimes I feel like I didn't accomplish anything. I do write out a To Do list everyday, but I don't usually get it all done. Checking off boxes is one thing I like because it makes me feel like I AM getting things done. Just between you, me, and the fence post, I sometimes add something that I already did just so I can check it off. Am I bad or what?! πŸ™‚

Anyway, usually I give the kids a study schedule with what needs to be done in each subject, but it seems like they always get done so late that they haven't any time for other interests. It isn't that they have a lot to do. I believe it has to do with managing our time. Usually, we don't start studies until 10am and then there are interruptions and breaks. It is my opinion that we have too many breaks. So now I want a lunch break and that is it. Really, they will study for 3 hours before lunch and about 3 hours after lunch.

They are that age where they need to be responsible with their time. I haven't been a good teacher in that area, either by coaching or by example. Aack!

Typing seems to never get done and I really want them to learn to type this year.

Besides cleaning the kitchen after dinner and laundry, other chores aren't getting done either unless we have a day to really clean the house.

So, I am going to make a schedule. I have been bad with schedules for years now. When the kids were little, I had a schedule for myself and was way more organized. I need to become that person again, especially now that I need to begin to hand over the reigns in some areas to the kids. They need to know how to manage their time.

I know I am rambling, but I guess the whole point is that I am resolving to make some routines around here. Not all at once, but one thing at a time. The first is getting to bed earlier so that we can get up earlier.

How are you with routines?





Dragons are pretty neat creatures. They are as fascinating as your imagination takes you. MaryEllen enjoys creating different dragons using inspiration from a few of her art books.

Candy Cane Dragon
MaryEllen made this candy cane dragon for her Grandma Rose.
Dragon blowing fire
Dragon blowing fire.
This is a pretty interesting dragon. I like how the body is curved.
Watermelon Dragon
A watermelon dragon. I like the colors of this one and the 'seeds'.
This is a pretty dragon. It reminds me of coffee colors. Maybe it can be called Mocha.
This one wants to look spooky, or maybe stern is more like it. I like the design on the wings.
Look at the detail in those scales. You know that took a while. I like the purple and black colors.
This one was taken with the camera from her bedroom wall, so it is a little shaded on the left.
Dragons fighting
A battle between dragons, or maybe a friendly game of wrestle. πŸ™‚
Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon.







We had a lovely Christmas. We always let the kids dig into their stockings before we get up. It helps to hold them over. πŸ™‚ This year, I added an electronic thesaurus to their stockings. They have been wanting one since watching Mr. Pudewa with IEW. I thought it would be a nice investment. One was free with the Swagbucks I saved, so that helped.

This was taken before I added the goodies. I forgot to get pictures after we filled them.
This was taken before I added the goodies. I forgot to get pictures after we filled them.

Electronic Thesaurus

Daddy read us the Christmas story from Luke and we gave thanks for our gifts and many other blessings he has given us throughout the year.

Donnie likes comic books like his daddy, but I don't care for them. I make sure his are geared towards kids and doesn't have any bad language or scantily dressed women. I got him a few Spiderman comics and the Good and Evil Bible comic by No Greater Joy. The Good and Evil book was actually drawn by a Marvel artist, so that made it even better. I have been eying it for a while, so when they had it for 50% off, I snagged it.

Good And Evil from No Greater Joy

Good And Evil from No Greater Joy

Good And Evil from No Greater Joy

Spiderman Comics

MaryEllen is into fantasy right now. We dug out our Chronicles of Narnia series that was in her Aunt's attic last month and for Christmas, I got her the Peleg Chronicles. Little did I know that she was looking at these in a catalog as something she would like to read.

Peleg Chronicles

Daddy got us all mp3 players! Donnie and mine are the same (the one on the right) and MaryEllen got a smaller version, but it holds more. This is SO great because now I can listen to my sermons while I iron and I don't have to worry about bothering the kids while they are trying to study. I know a lot of times, the radio is a distraction for them and I try to put it as low as possible so that I can still hear it. It is hard in the summer with the air conditioner running (window unit) or the dishwasher. So, this is a wonderful gift. The kids can now listen to their music and books on tape too.

mp3 players

We got MaryEllen some carving tools since she has shown an interest in wood carving. I don't know anything about carving, so I think this book will be great for beginning and the tools too. We need to still purchase some safety gloves.

Wood Carving

I think Donnie, if cultivated, could become a photographer one of these days. If not for profession, than for a hobby. He enjoys taking pictures and fiddling with the different setting on my camera, so I got him his own. Actually, I found the one I gave him in my closet many months ago. I was tempted to open and use it, but I didn't see the need since I already have a camera and thought it would be a good gift. Well, when Christmas was upon us and I was thinking of gifts, I remembered it...perfect. It also does video, which he enjoys too.

MaryEllen got me a Nancy Drew mystery game. I have enjoyed Nancy Drew games for about ten years now. I am now on #26, Tomb of the Lost Queen, which is the one she gifted me. πŸ™‚ Usually these are gifts from Don every Christmas, so I was surprised to get if from MaryEllen. Don did get me some other PC Games, puzzle type games, the ones I enjoy. I don't spend a lot of time playing games, but I do enjoy one now and then. I do include the kids with Nancy Drew because they enjoy sleuthing too.

PC Games

Donnie got Don a movie, Total Recall. Don had this one on his wish list, so it was a nice surprise for him.

Later, we decorated the popcorn balls Auntie Reff sent us. It was interesting. You wouldn't think it would be hard, but I guess I have no imagination. lol! Here are a few the kids decorated.

Popcorn Balls

Popcorn Balls

Popcorn Balls

Don grilled us steaks for dinner and I made some asparagus and ramen noodles. We didn't feel like the turkey thing this year. We ate our popcorn balls for desert.

Earlier this week, I did try my hand at eggnog. It came out pretty good. I do want to try a few more recipes to see which we prefer. I even found a vegan eggnog that I want to try. I haven't made the fudge yet. When I went to the supermarket, I forgot to get chocolate chips and I bought sweet milk instead of evaporated. Oh well, maybe later.

Homemade EggNog

We had a peaceful time together and finished off the day by watching The Nativity and some of The Gospel of John, finishing it the next day. The Gospel of John is acted word for word, it is pretty neat.

I don't usually post many picture of myself, especially in my pajamas, but here is one of me and Don. The kids didn't want me to post any pictures of them. So, maybe if I post more of me, they will be more willing. πŸ™‚

Daddy Mommy

Blessing for the New Year,





Winter BunnyI want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Aren't those bunnies cute? MaryEllen drew them for me. She even colored them using Photoshop Elements.



  • It cost Mary and Joseph the comforts of home during a long period of exile in Egypt to protect the little Babe.
  • It cost mothers in and around Bethlehem the massacre of their babies by the cruel order of Herod.
  • It cost the shepherds the complacency of their shepherd lives with the call to the manger and to tell the good news.
  • It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts and changed lives.
  • It cost the early apostles and the early church persecution and sometimes death.
  • It cost missionaries of the Christ untold suffering and privation to spread the good news.
  • It cost Christian martyrs in all ages their lives for Christ’s sake.
  • More than all this, it cost God the Father His own Sonβ€”He sent Him to the earth to save men.
  • It cost Jesus a life of sacrifice and service, a death cruel and unmatched in history.

Amongst the hustle and bustle, may we meditate, not only on the baby in the manger, but of what that birth really meant and still means today. Jesus came to die, isn't that amazing? It sometimes is too much for my little brain to register, but I am glad and forever thankful he did.

Jesus Is The Reason For The Season


This month has been pretty mellow as far as school goes. We basically have been doing Bible, math and reading. I began readingΒ [amazon_link id="161293112X" target="_blank" ]A Christmas Carol[/amazon_link] with the kids. We are just about finished. I have always wanted to read it, but never have. It is pleasantly enjoyable.

We also watched some Christmas classic cartoons. When the kids were small, we had a VHS of The Stingiest Man in Town, based on A Christmas Carol. It was my favorite to watch with the kids. I searched, but only found it available on a [amazon_link id="B001H9N1AO" target="_blank" ]Classic Christmas pack[/amazon_link]. So, I bought it and the kids and I have enjoyed watching these old time cartoons. This week, we will watch [amazon_link id="B003UORGGE" target="_blank" ]The Nativity[/amazon_link].

Baking has gone slow this month, with chocolate chips and sugar cookies. MaryEllen made the sugar cookies and Donnie joined in with the decorating. We left some for the mailman along with his Christmas card. He is such a great mailman, always has a smile for us.

This week I am going to try my hand at fudge and eggnog. Can you believe I have never made either before. Today I made peppermint bark. It came out good. I think I made it too thick because it was hard to break. Next time I will make it a tad thinner. It made a lot, so I think I will surprise the mailman with another goodie tomorrow. πŸ™‚

Sugar Cookies

Peppermint Bark

I wasn't sure how fine to chop the candy canes. I did the Ziploc method with my rolling pin. Some pieces seemed to stay big and others were turning into powder. πŸ™‚ This recipe didn't call for peppermint extract, but I think I will add some next time. MaryEllen, who likes peppermint, thought it needed more of the peppermint taste. I did too. The chocolate was over powering.

I was late with getting our Christmas cards, but they are sent now. We were late with starting our Advent reading, but I am not stressing over it. We are just reading and enjoying.

Christmas will be just us this year. We will be celebrating our Savior's birth on Christmas Eve because Don works on Christmas Day. The kids like that because usually we celebrate AFTER Christmas, this year we will celebrate before. We plan on decorating popcorn balls, a gift sent by their Auntie Reff. This will be a fun family time and we get to eat our creations. Thanks Auntie Reff!

Popcorn Ball Decorating

Popcorn Ball Decorating


Have a Blessed Merry Christmas,



Fireplace and Jesus is the Reason For the Season clipart (c)Lisa at

Don has been on vacation all week. He goes back to work today. It was great to have him home 24/7. During his vacation, he and Donnie got to spend time working together on the car, outside and putting together this target for the knives his Uncle & Auntie got him for his birthday.

First, they took a drive around the nearby woods to find a stump that would be suitable. Once they found it, they brought it home and Don sawed it into a few pieces.

Sawing Wood


Next, they took a drive to Lowes to buy a couple more boards to add to the ones we already had to make the backdrop. Donnie screwed it together making sure it was nice and tight.

Knife Throwing - Connecting Boards

Knife Throwing - Connecting Boards

Β I helped carry it to the tree. Boy was it heavy! It didn't look heavy...I guess looks can be deceiving. Once at the tree, they leveled and stabilized it. Next came the attaching of the tree stump pieces.

Knife Throwing - Leveling

KnifeThrowing - Attaching Cut Pieces of Wood

KnifeThrowing - Almost Done

It was a great project for them, one they have been wanting to do, but with Don working so much they haven't had the time to dedicate to it.

KnifeThrowing - All Finished

After they were all finished, we tried it out. After throwing a few, it became apparent that we are going to have to cut the lower branch. We've only hit once or twice. πŸ™‚

KnifeThrowing - Trying The New Target Out

KnifeThrowing - Trying Out The New Target

Knife Throwing - Having Fun

It wasn't as easy as it looked on the DVD we bought. Practice, practice, practice. We did make a few. Heck, I was happy if we hit the backboard for now, only a few went pass.

Knife Throwing - Pretty Good

KnifeThrowing - Good Shot

This one was mine, a little low. LOL!

KnifeThrowing  - Knife on Backboard

Knife Throwing - Good Job

We will definitely be using this. Don also wants to use it with a bow and arrow. His sister bought Donnie a bow for Christmas/birthday, we just need to get some arrows. MaryEllen wants to learn to shoot the bow, so we need to research it a bit. Too much fun. πŸ™‚




MaryEllen has developed an interest in the Vikings, Saxons, dragons, etc. While rediscovering these Perler Beads, she creatively constructed a fleet of viking ships. I thought it was ingenious how she designed them to stand and how she devised a way for the sail to be placed.

Viking Ships

Viking Ships

Viking Ships - Perler Beads

Viking Ships - Perler Beads

She has made two more since I took these pictures and she is still creating. I think it was her intent to make a fleet.


Β  Β  Β 




Another family favorite is this recipe for Chili Mac. It was originally titled Taco Macaroni Skillet, but we know it as Chili Mac. This is a fast and easy meal all cooked in one pan. My kind of meal. It is my go-to meal when I am in a hurry or forget to plan. πŸ™‚

You can add buttered bread and a salad to square it out.

My husband likes more noodles, so I increase the macaroni to 2 cups and add about 1/2 cup more water. I also use regular milk because I don't usually have evaporated milk on hand. I also mix together my own taco seasoning. The original recipe called for 12 ounces of ground beef, I add one pound. These are pretty much how I made it our own. πŸ™‚

This is another recipe that I have made for years. I originally found it in The Very Best Baby magazine, which I subscribed to when the kids were born. I searched the internet for the recipe, but could not find it. Of course I was searching for Chili Mac. LOL! The magazine I am not sure if it is still around. As I was typing this post, and looking at the recipe beside me, I noticed its true name, Taco Macaroni Skillet. Once I searched for that, I found it! It is actually from Nestle. You can find it here if you would like to print it out.


Chili Mac Recipe


Chili Mac


1 pound ground beef
2 cups water
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies
1 package (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
2/3 cups evaporated milk
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)


Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet, stirring frequently until brown; drain. Stir in water, tomatoes, chilies, and seasoning mix. Cook until mixture comes to a boil.

Add pasta; return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 14 to 16 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Stir in evaporated milk. Remove from the heat; stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Sprinkle additional cheese over top. Cover; let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Taco Seasoning
This is the recipe I use from AllRecipes. I add 2 tablespoons to the Chili Mac. When I make this, I usually quadruple it so I have some on hand for tacos and other dishes.


1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.