The Hobbit Diet Wall Hangings

The Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper

I love these wall hangings so much. They are the perfect compliment to my nerdy kitchen. Every time I look at them, I hear my favorite Hobbit music in my head and it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. For a reason that is probably hard to explain, this music is kind of like our family tune. It is beautiful and peaceful, and just simply reminds me of home.  Take a listen.

I started out with these two herb and spice hangings that have been in my kitchen since we built this house. Everything else in my kitchen, from the paint to the curtains, was designed around the shades of purple and green in these two prints.


So, when I created the Hobbit diet hangings, I just knew I had to stick to the same purple shade. The letters were cut with my Silhouette CAMEO using adhesive-backed vinyl.

The Hobbit Diet | breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper

The sayings both came from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Check out the apron I made using the Hobbit diet saying as well.  Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper. This is the Hobbit diet. Or pretty much the diet of all tween and teen boys. “What about second breakfast?”

The second saying is from Samwise Gamgee, my favorite Lord of the Rings character, who absolutely loves potatoes. When we met Sean Astin at Comic Con last year, the girl who was in front of us actually brought a potato and a sign that said PO-TA-TOES. Sean posed with both for her photo.


My son, when he was 11, dressed as the Eleventh Doctor, and Sean Astin.

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I Should Have Named it The Gigantor Book of Homeschool Ideas

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas

A few months ago, I published a book affectionately named The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.  55 homeschool moms contributed chapters pertaining to their areas of expertise and we ended up with a whopping 103 chapters. It really is a wonder in itself. 560 pages full of awesomeness. To spotlight the book, this month we are going on a tour of some of the author blogs so that you can learn more about their areas of expertise and why they chose to write about their passions. So, every day in the month of October, you learn more about one of the authors of The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and you’ll get a chance to win some cool prizes and download some great freebies.

My contributions to the book were the chapters Learning with Maps and Genealogy for Kids and I will be giving away a copy of WonderMaps from Bright Ideas Press. Keep on reading…


Why am I passionate about teaching genealogy?

Everybody is interested in the beginning of things.  I wholeheartedly believe that family history should be taught in every home, whether you homeschool or not. Through the study of genealogy, you can develop and enhance skills such as researching, story-telling, cataloging and documenting, fact-checking, and more. Genealogy can be fascinating, especially to a child. Knights, kings, presidents, war heroes, Indians!

Tracing your ancestors will place history right at your feet. This is not the history you read in textbooks, but the personalized history that teaches you about your people: who they were and why they did what they did. Following your ancestors’ footsteps or wagon tracks can teach you more about history than you ever knew.

Imagine the delight in my little boy’s eyes when he hears stories like these:

Once upon a time, over two hundred years ago, the entire northwest corner of Ohio was covered with a dark, nasty, bug infested swamp. It was so scary and dangerous that the Native Americans wouldn’t even go near it. Wolves, bears and wildcats roamed freely among the wooded swamp and many people who ventured near the swamp got lost… never to be seen again. One day, a brave and adventurous man set out to tame that great black swamp. With his own two hands and his trusty ax, he was one of the first daring men to clear out a portion of that swamp, build a log cabin and start a farm. Do you know who that courageous man was? That was your daddy’s great-grandpa’s great-grandpa!

This story really sparked his curiosity and he immediately wanted to know all about the history of Ohio, and more importantly, the history of daddy’s family. He was fascinated with “Swamp Grandpa” as he called him.


Why am I passionate about learning with maps?

I am a map girl. I think this stems from the genealogist in me. Township, city, county, state, country maps… they all fascinate me. I look at a map and start to wonder about the deep history of the land, how it once looked, and why the original settlers chose to live in the exact spots they settled in.

In the book, I share lots of ways you can incorporate maps into your daily homeschool life.

Big Book Blog Tour Calendar

Be sure to stop by all the blogs, which can be found here. Yesterday, Mary Prather from Homegrown Learners and author of the chapter How to Teach with LEGO gave away free LEGO scripture copywork. Tomorrow, October 6, Eva Varga from and author of the chapters How to Use Postage Stamps for Learning and Inquiry Science with Middle School Students will be giving away her guidebook Getting Started with Inquiry Science.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Why Stargazing is Important for Kids

Why Stargazing is Important for Kids

Astronomers say there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Just let that sink in for a moment. Close your eyes and imagine what flying through space must look like. To our eyes they are teeny tiny insignificant specks in the sky, but image them for what they really are – massive, glowing giants.

For those of us who live in a city or suburb, those tiny insignificant specks in the sky may not seem very awe-inspiring. It should be on everyone’s bucket list to, just once, stargaze in an open field, on a clear night, away from the city lights, like our ancestors used to do. This is especially important for our children. Why?

1. Stargazing gives them a chance to see God’s handiwork.
How anyone can see an image of our sun and then a clear sky packed with similar stars and not recognize God’s handiwork is beyond me.

2. Stargazing can show a child his importance.
I don’t know if there is life beyond our planet or how much of it, but if you think about it, it is pretty amazing that you were created and were chosen to be placed on our particular planet. Our little planet, in our little solar system, in this massive universe of ours. Little ol’ you.

3. Knowledge of astronomy is a wonderful scientific background.
Even if your child doesn’t plan on being an astronomer, knowledge of the chemistry and physics of space will help them in any scientific career.

4. Scientific discovery.
Today, each one of us is affected in some way by an advancement in astronomy. Those advancements, in medicine and energy for example, began with stargazing.

5. Stargazing is an enrichment.
Similar to music or art, some people say it is an unnecessary waste of time, but I believe it is an enhancement to your life, and a way to enrich not only your education, but your relationship with the Creator.

6. Problem minimization.
Looking at the vastness of the universe makes us realize that our little problems are pretty insignificant sometimes. This concept can be used to help teach our kids not to sweat the small stuff.

7. Amateurs can make contributions.
Very few fields actually accept help from amateurs, especially kids. There are numerous scientific websites that ask for help in their astronomy research projects. For example:

If you are looking for the perfect book to help you get your kids started with stargazing, I’d like to share Starfinder from DK Publishing with you. The book contains a very important tool – a sturdy, removable and easy to use planisphere. A planisphere is a star chart that can be set to show the location of objects in the sky for any given date and time. You rotate the wheel to place the time next to the date and you have your sky in the viewable window.



In addition to the handy planisphere, the book contains monthly charts to show exactly what both the northern and southern hemisphere look like, how-to sections on observing the Moon, planets, and other major aspects of our solar system. Also, it teaches you not only how to identify constellations, but the history of those constellations as well.


Free astronomy books on Amazon

Voyage Book Planets book Moon book Rockets book




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Hosting a Tournament of Books

Tournament of Books for Kids

Last month, one of my favorite British websites held a Doctor Who companion tournament. I printed out the bracket and asked my son one-by-one, “Her or him, him or her, her or her,” and he gave me his answers in between reading his latest book, Artemis Fowl. (He inherited my ability to do several things at once.) As I waited for him to contemplate his favorite sci-fi companions while contemplating the sci-fi antics in the book, it gave me a thought.

A tournament of books! 28 books that I got to choose and no matter how silly he thought they were, he had to read them and then vote. The tournament bracket is hanging on a living room wall and so far we have 5 winners, moving onto round 2, and 5 losers that were good books, but not good enough to beat their match-up.

Here were my 28 choices…

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Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry

We recently took a 4 day trip to Chicago (see my post that should have been titled The Things a Mom Will Do for Her Child.)

We met Doctor Who’s Matt Smith…


I flew on a plane for the first time…


We rode on a pirate ship…


We met some fabulous Doctor Who fans at the comic con…


And we explored this fabulous science museum in the heart of Chicago…Warning: this post is very photo heavy. I can’t help it, there is so much to show you from this amazing museum!


The moon landing.


This is the giant periodic table of elements, showing real life examples of all the known elements.


The eye-spy gallery – one of my favorites – Once Upon a Time.


A science themed eye-spy.


A 40-foot vortex that helps viewers understand how tornadoes are formed.


THIS was my absolute favorite in the entire museum. It was a very interactive motion-detecting display.


Like the sign says, “The more you move, the more they laugh.” It was a blast. They chose actors that had the most contagious laughs.


In 1893, the 999 Steam Locomotive became the fastest land vehicle when it reached a record speed of 112.5 mph.


The Great Train Story model railroad – a journey over 1400 feet of track between Chicago and Seattle. These little models were impeccably designed.



I was amazed by how realistic these scenes look!




The avalanche disk, a simulation that shows exactly what an avalanche looks like. Watching this was mesmerizing. Take a look!


United Airlines Boeing 727 and other smaller aircraft hanging from the ceiling. This was such an amazing sight to see (and stand under!) We were able to explore the inside of the Boeing 727.


30-foot tsunami wave tank.


Max and Lisa, two incredible tandem robots. You can choose a variety of activities for them to work together to complete. Here they are drawing a picture of a robot arm.



An incredible piece of history – the Apollo 8 command module. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon.


This is part of ToyMaker 3000, an exhibit that will take you through the entire manufacturing process of creating a toy. The exhibit consists of eight interactive stations, 12 moving robots, and a 2,000-square-foot automated assembly line.


A replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer.

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Your Star Wars Fan Will Want This Book

Back in May, I showed off a massive Marvel visual encyclopedia. I live with two superheroes, so that book was a big hit. Seriously, I live with superheroes.

DK Publishing has an equally epic Star Wars version. This book would make a great Christmas gift, so keep it in mind when you start shopping. The book is called Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle because it chronicles every year from 1973 to 2012, when it was published.  It is so jammed packed with history, Star Wars and non-Star Wars, that we’ve had this book for 2 months now and my guys are still not done reading it.


When the book arrived in the mail, I actually wrapped it up in this cute shirt that I had just made my son that day. A Stormtrooper, Boba Fett, Yoda, and Darth Vader – offset by their little LEGO counterparts.


The 328-page hardback book comes in a thick sturdy case that easily slides off.


Table of contents – beginning with Life Before Star Wars and ending with the Clone Wars and Beyond. I am sure this book will eventually be updated to include the upcoming sequels. It takes you on a month by month, year by year, very detailed journey through the history of Star Wars. 


I loved reading all about George Lucas’ inspirations for his galactic stories!


What was happening the month I was born! George Lucas completed his third draft of the Adventures of Luke STARKILLER.


Ah, the memories! My brother had every single Star Wars action figure made in the 80’s.


This brings back so many memories for me too. I used to love stealing my brother’s toys. My Barbies would ride around on this AT-AT.


What was happening the month my husband and I were married. First steps to the International Space Station!


This is one of my son’s favorite pages in the book. He loves light sabers.


This has to be my son’s ultimate favorite page in the entire book. LEGO Star Wars minifigures.


Wisdom from George Lucas. He certainly lived up to this goal.

You can purchase this book from Amazon for only $35.44, which is 29% off the cover price.

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