Wednesday, February 17, 2021

How to Eat Fried Worms

I've shared a few times recently about our Boys' Book Club and the books we have read. You can see Stone Fox and Winnie the Pooh.  We also read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I didn't host those so I don't have pictures or activities to share. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would be EASY and fun! I know the mom that hosted used those candy buttons as the lickable wallpaper!)

Our next turn to host was after reading How to Eat Fried Worms. I learned a few lessons with this one. First, the kids that attend really NEED to have read the book beforehand for it to be fun (I know this should be common sense...). Second, there IS a limit to the number of boys you should have. HA! They were way less interested in this because they just wanted to go outside and we had enough that there were some arguments.

BUT...the book was fun and hosting was a lot of fun, too!

Snacks were the best part...

I had some ideas for looking at the parts of a worm and talking about the book, but we had a fair few that hadn't read and they were restless so we turned on the movie instead...

The boys thought this one was HILARIOUS. It's a good read for elementary kids who will be delighted by the disgusting topic!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021


I've been doing recaps of our Boys' Book Clubs of the past because I'm not sure I ever shared them here. We've been doing a lot of reading together at home during our pandemic lives and it made me think about these...You can see our Stone Fox post HERE and our The One and Only Ivan post HERE.

Our second book for Boys' Book Club was Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne. An old classic, and one I wasn't sure 3rd graders would be interested in, but they actually liked it! This one was less labor-intensive with not so many activities (the snacks are always the best part and then they really want to play), but they loved it! 

We ate Honeycombs cereal and Teddy Grahams, "Tigger Tails" (puffy Cheetos) and "Pooh Sticks" (pretzel sticks). I can't remember if I had honey sticks or not, but for some reason I *THINK* we did.

After we fixed our snack plates, I read Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick. If you haven't read this, RUN out and get it right now. It is such a precious story of the details behind Winnie-the-Pooh. I love it and I almost cry every time I read it. (I read it last year to James' 4th grade class and even they loved it!)

I also bought "Pooh ears" for the occasion and thought they'd NEVER wear them. Well...

And finally, we purchased and watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which follows many of the stories in this first Pooh book.

Another successful Boys' Book Club was enjoyed by all!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is one of our FAVORITE read-alouds ever. It is just such a beautiful book! Based on a real-life gorilla that lived out his final days at Zoo Atlanta (I visited him many times growing up), Ivan is a "shopping mall gorilla," that is on display in a glass enclosure in Tacoma, Washington. A very fictionalized version of his real-life story, we meet Ivan and some of the animals he is friends with in his lonely existence. 

After reading our book, we invited a friend over for our first-ever Boys' Book Club experience. It was SO FUN. We had book-themed snacks...

(Chocolate donut holes are "Me Balls." Me Balls are Ivan's name for poop. As gross as that is, the boys thought it was HYSTERICAL.)

(Grapes and Trail Mix, which consisted of popcorn, Froot Loops, Circus Peanuts, and Animal Crackers.)

Will dressed for the occasion!

(One activity was to design Ivan's domain. There was a LOT of description of Ivan's shopping mall home and I asked the boys to draw what they thought it looked like. You can find this worksheet HERE. Will's TOTALLY impressed me. When we did this, he was only 6 years old. He is NOT my academic child, but he is super creative. I wish I'd labeled everything he added to the domain below, but you can see that he is on a tire swing, he has bars, there are banana peels, I think there's a red blanket, etc. I was SO PROUD and impressed! The big boys added one or two things and then moved on. LOL!)

We also did Ivan handprints. These turned out so cute! I love a cute piece of handprint art!

Finally, we showed the boys some documentaries I found on YouTube of the REAL Ivan. Similar stories HERE and HERE. This was before the movie was made, but you can also find Disney's version of this on their streaming service. Katherine Applegate has also written a sequel to the story called The One and Only Bob about Ivan's canine friend who lived with him in his domain.

If you haven't read this, it's an EXCELLENT one to add to your library and share with your children. It DOES have some sad moments, so be aware, but the story is just so beautiful.

PS - Affiliate links used in this post. Thanks so much for reading and supporting my blog!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Stone Fox

Several years ago, the boys got interested in my Book Club meetings and decided that they, too, wanted to have a Book Club. We dubbed it Boys' Book Club (so creative!) and asked a friend to join us for the first meeting. We met a few times following that, but when the pandemic hit last year it definitely got put on the back burner. The boys and I have continued to read together, but we didn't do another "Book Club" until we began reading Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner this month.

I knew NOTHING about this one going in. Generally, they're books that I've read before (I'll share more about our Book Clubs in another post), but this one stumped me. It kept coming up as a good read aloud and that's what the boys chose. I knew that it was a book about dog sledding, but beyond that I was clueless.

The first thing we did was to head off to the library for books about dog sledding and winter. We found plenty! Our favorite was Togo by Robert Blake. We haven't seen the movie and I had NO IDEA what the story was about, but it was so good! A diptheria epidemic emerges in Alaska in 1925 and it's the true story of a man and his team of dogs who helped delivered the serum needed to control it. The dog that became famous from the story is Balto, who got the serum to the location it was needed, but Togo's team (and Leonhard Sepppala) was the team who traveled the longest to get it where it was going. We also checked out Sled Dogs Run by Jonathan London, Dogteam by Gary Paulsen, and Wind-Wild Dog by Barbara Joose.

Next, we read the book, chapter by chapter, over the course of about two weeks. It is a quick, short book, but we just did one chapter at a time. We also read our picture books to supplement AND I found several movies and documentaries to add in so we could learn a little more about something we knew NOTHING about.

We have already enjoyed Iron Will, a movie about dog sledding that I watched over and over in my childhood. We've found several documentaries about dog sledding that have been interesting. James watched a movie called Kayla earlier this week. Togo is going to be on our list for Friday night!

The culmination was an Escape Room that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers. My only job here was cutting the pieces out and monitoring the boys as they put it together. They LOVED this. It was SO FUN. The average time to finish said 45 minutes, but mine easily finished and "escaped" in under 25 minutes. I will look for these again in the future. This one had a section on plot, characters, vocabulary, and solving the secret message. It was easy entertainment for a rainy afternoon.

We started a new book last night that I'm working on activities for. I hope to finish that one sometime in February and share here. I'll also try to go back and compile our other books we have done previously. It's an EASY way to read together as a family (even if there's sometimes grumbling!)  and squeeze in some learning. I love it SO much. Hopefully we will be able to have friends join us again soon...although we are nearing middle school and our time is limited on this, I know!!!

PS - This post contained affiliate links. Thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Seeing Santa...

We don't have a super strict Santa tradition around our house like some of our friends in the Atlanta-area do. We don't need to see the same one each year (it's not really even possible for us, I don't think...) or be in a super fancy mall to see him. Our boys have generally never taken their lists to discuss with him. They also know that all Santas are different because they are helper Santas. This year, I wasn't even sure we would see Santa. A friend of ours has been trained at Santa School (for real) and has been Santa for a few years now. He traveled to our church last year from Virginia and we got him to come again this year...and then the world fell apart. We still planned to have him come and things had SEEMED to be on the upswing for our area, but Thanksgiving backed us up a little bit and things went back into lockdown-mode. Our church made the decision to go virtual again for a few weeks and Santa's visit was right in the middle of that. Because his mother lives nearby, he decided to make the trip anyway. He wound up partnering with a photographer we've used many times before and we booked a mini session to see him AND get better photos than I would have normally achieved. I am IN LOVE. What you cannot hear are the discussions about girls that they like and what gives the reindeer gas, but their smiles are genuine (even the tween's who is grumpy often and did NOT want to see Santa this year...). I'll treasure these for a long time. We needed some normalcy in an otherwise abnormal year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What We're Up to...

 Well, hello there! *tap tap tap* Is anyone still here? I've had the itch to write recently so I thought it was time to pull out the old blog and update you on life with the Freshes.


James is 11 years old now (I cannot even believe it) and loves all things sports. All the sports, all the time. He loves to play sports, is constantly throwing and/or catching something, and also enjoys watching and discussing sports 24/7.

James excels at reading and writing (and always has), but math is NOT his thing. He is my child FOR SURE. Decimals, multiplication, and long division are MAJOR downers these days.

James is a world champion eater. He loves to try new foods (even if he may not like it) and the QUANTITY of food he eats is impressive.


Will is 8.5 years old now and is definitely the wild card of our family. He is our LOVER and dreamer. Our highly emotional (both good and bad!) child. He is the baby, baby of our family. If you have one, you know. He's our snuggliest, loviest child, but he can turn on a dime and be the most complicated family member of all.

Surprisingly, Will is our artsy/creative kid! He is constantly taking things apart, building things, and has a dozen projects going. He joined Art Club at school this year ($25 for the year to stay an extra 1.5 hours after school once a week? Yes, please. I wish James would sign up, too!). He. LOVES. IT. We've been so happy that he has enjoyed it so much!

Will has his own style and he isn't afraid to use it. He knows what he likes to wear and he doesn't care what anyone else thinks. His hair is a statement as well. We might've encouraged him to grow it out this year and if it hadn't been that it was SO hot catching during baseball season, he might've kept on growing it. In the past two years I think he's had about 4 haircuts total. Those curls are pretty and we love it!

Eddie & Lauren

Things are pretty much always the same for the grown-ups in the family. We've tried to weather this weird year just like everyone else has. It has been SUPER stressful at work, unfortunately. Decisions about when to open the preschool, money being a HUGE issue for the preschool, etc., have caused more gray hairs and wrinkles than I'd care to count. Praise Jesus we aren't facing those trials personally. We've been pretty ok on the home front this year and even though things were stressful, we did enjoy the slower pace over the spring and summer.

I cannot BELIEVE that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are semi-stuck at home this week after having been around two people that are possibly sick. (One tested positive, one did not but is treating it like he is positive.) They're people that we don't come into major contact with and we haven't been told to quarantine, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. We aren't visiting anyone this week for Thanksgiving, but we are enjoying being home and decorating for Christmas, watching all of the Christmas movies, and trying to get some organization back into our lives!