Thursday, July 30, 2009

Books I Recommend

Many books being put out right now that are geared towards older children and young adults alike are filled with magic, dating, the "parents are stupid" mentality, animal-human morphism (evolution, anyone?), bad language... shall I go on?

It is for this reason that my mother has searched high and low for wholesome and moral books, and even has made one of our storage rooms into a library to hold them all. To make sure the things she's bringing in are consistent with our family values, every book or series that she isn't familiar with, or isn't sure about, is first quickly run by Dad. If he thinks it might be good, it is then given to me. I read it, tell Mom my opinion, and it either goes into it's correct place in our library, or off to some needy person on Paperback Swap. This system seems to work for us, and has resulted in about six full-to-the-brim book cases of good books!

We have recommended books and gleaned from other's searches with about every family with children we have gotten to know. It's been a large blessing, and of course it's always fun to discuss a book you've read with someone else who has read it too. So, I've decided to share with you our favorites for all different ages. I've put them in categories according to approximate ages I think they're good for, for reading on your own, but play around with it a little. Many of the preteen/teen books are great as read alouds.


The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chalendar Warner. About the adventures of a sibling group of four.

The Cam Jansen Series by David A. Alder. All mysteries in which a girl with a photographic memory ("Cam") solves.

The Dear America series put out by Scholastic. Fictional "diaries" of young girls in different times in America's history.

Her Magesty, Grace Jones by Jane Langton. I read this one out loud to Creative Genius who thought it was absolutely hilarious.

Clancy's Cabin by Margaret Mahy. About some siblings who get to "live" in a cabin on their own for a bit.

All books by Beverley Cleary. I used to looove these! Funny books mostly about a few different children all in the same neighborhood.

Childhood of Famous Americans published by Aladdin Books. A series about, well, famous Americans.

The Moody Family Series by Sarah Maxwell. Very encouraging books about a conservative family's every day life. Great for the whole family!


The American Adventure Series published by Barbour. Many different Christian mini series about different families "way back when".

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff. About a young girl living in the US during WW2 who learns to look at her life in a different way.

The Reel Kids Adventures by Dave Gusaveson. A series about a few missionary kids who travel around the world making videos.

The Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene and the Hardy Boy Mysteries by Franklin W. Dixon. These are ones that I've often found myself still reading at midnight! Warning: Nancy and the Hardy Boys do go on occasional dates with friends, but they are usually with other couples and there is never any infatuation talked about whatsoever, kissing, etc.

The Mandie Books by Lois Gladys Leppard. All about a Christian girl in the early 1900's.

The Cooper Kids Adventure Series by Frank Peretti. Christian mysteries that are always very interesting!

The historical character books put out by American Girl. This is a large series consisting of books about girls in the seventeen to nineteen hundreds. However, since American Girl was bought by Disney, they have put out a couple of new series which you might have to read over before putting them up for free taking (be on the lookout for feminism, etc.)

The Sugar Creek Gang series by Paul Hutchens. About a group of boys and their adventures. My eleven year old brother loves these.

Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield. A book about a boy and his transition to life not being able to see, after being blinded by a firework.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I read this book a few months ago and found it very interesting. About a girl who gets left behind on an island by herself.

Christian Heroes: Then and Now put out by Youth With a Mission. A large series about the lives of "heroes" of our faith.

Wait For Me, Watch for Me, Eula Bee by Patricia Beatty. I cried at this book when I read it a while back! About a boy and his sister who are captured by Indians.

The Royal Diary Series published by Scholastic. You've got to kind of filter through these, as some are a bit inappropriate, but are mostly good fictional diaries "written by" young ladies who were all royal in some way or another. I really enjoyed these for a long time. I've read all the ones I could find!

Now, as you can see I'm a bit starved on high reading level, but also appropriate books. I need some thoughts on this! Anyone have any good book recommendations for young adults? I'd love to hear them! Hopefully the books I've shared will help your family. :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Sixteen!

Yes, it's true. AND I was given the most thoughtful gift ever for it! For the last few weeks Mother Dear has been working on some "secret project"...
...which turned out to be a quilt with squares from special ladies I have known throughout my entire life. Pen pals, aunts, friends, my kindergarten teacher...

I feel so blessed! Thank you to all who took the time to contribute to it, and especially to my extremely creative and hard-working mother.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The weeds were taking over. No longer!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gentlemen Are Rare...Can We Not Recognize One?

Last night my parents decided to go out for dinner. They pulled up to the restaurant they were going to eat at and my dad hopped out and opened the door for my mom. She got out, and as they started to go into the front door, a lady who worked there (apparently on her break) standing by asked them, "Was the door broken from the inside or something?" My parents had no idea what she was referring to, so they just kind of looked at her for a minute. "Oh!" she said, "You were opening the door for her! That is the sweetest thing!"
It just so happened that later that evening she was their waitress, and throughout the night doted on their every "need"; making sure their drinks were always full, giving the free bread sticks and even somehow getting their bill to an extremely low amount for what they had purchased.

All because my dad was a gentleman to his wife.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Best Chip Dip on the Planet

Last night I made this extremely delicious dip to go with our practically-free-because-of-a-deal lime corn chips. The recipe doesn't take much, but it always turns out yummy - no matter how many substitutions you have to put in!

Fiesta Dip

1 cup sour cream
1 can refried beans
1 can green chillies
1 envelope fiesta ranch dressing mix
2 cups Mexican blend (or plain cheddar) cheese
olives,tomatoes, lettuce, green onions chopped
tortilla chips

In a shallow microwave-safe dish, combine the sour cream, beans, chilies, and dip mix, along with 1 pound cooked, warm ground beef if using for a main dish.

Stir in 1 cup of cheese. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes and stir. Keep cooking in 2 minute intervals, stirring in between, until warm.

Stir until blended.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with olives, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce if desired.

Serve with tortilla chips. Makes approximately 6-7 cups.

First Blogoversary

Oh. My. Goodness. This shows how bad I'm getting at keeping up with my blog...

I missed my blogoversary!!!

This is a sad, sad day in Serenityopia... Thank you to Teena for reminding me about it!

What a horrible blogger I am... I totally missed planning the greatest online party in all of Blogger history!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What A Diva Looks Like Before She Gets Her Hair Done

This morning she got outside before I could get to her... Those ribbons were yesterday's decor!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Little Trip

Last weekend we went on a little "vacation" to the Seattle area, visiting friends and family. While we didn't get a million pictures, due to camera batteries going out right before Shabbat (of all days), I'll share part of our little adventure with you.

Please pardon my lack of posting! A four day trip is a lot longer then four days if you count preparing and getting life back to normal. :)
Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hairdo Help

Lately I've been trying to experiment with new hair styles on my hair. Only, the problem is that my hair is so long (to my waist) that it just doesn't work with the ones I see in tutorials or magazines - even the ones for "long tresses". Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? If at least three people post hair style tutorials on their blogs I'll blog about them. Any comments would be very welcomed too!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July Cupcake Cake

Last night I whipped up this fun dessert for tonight's dinner. It was super easy, and stress-free!

Here's what you do:

  • Bake a batch of 24 cupcakes.
  • Make a x3 batch of this frosting (just to be safe :). Color about a cup blue, a cup and a half red, and leave the rest white.
  • Arrange the cupcakes into a shape of some sort.
  • Fill in all the spaces in between the tops with white frosting, making a somewhat smooth surface to decorate.
  • Take three decorating bags (or large zip top bags) and put a #18 star tip in one and two round #5 tips in the others.
  • Fill the star tip bag with blue, and the others with the red and white.
  • Now, got ahead and decorate! Use your imagination. And remember: it doesn't have to be perfect.

** Have icing left over? Make another batch of cupcakes, cut each in half and ice the middle, putting them together like a sandwich. Wrap them individually, put them in gallon-size zip top bags, then throw them in the freezer. Perfect for Dad's at-work-snacks, or easy afternoon snacks for your sibs! **

Easy Fourth of July Breakfast

Need a breakfast in a snap? Why not use those leftover pancakes that have been sitting in the bread basket for a couple of days now? Just add whip cream, sprinkles and those cherries that are so bountiful at the moment, and you've got yourself some happy kids. (I know this isn't the healthiest breakfast on earth, but hey, it's the 4th - a good excuse, right?)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Corn Syrup Painting for Preschoolers

Pour a small amount of corn syrup into a (preferably) disposable bowl.

Then, drop a bit of food coloring or liquid watercolors in.

This gives your preschoolers some color options, or if they like, they can do a little mixing.
Let them paint the corn syrup on some thick-ish paper with a q-tip. When they're finished, lay it out to dry and let them marvel at the hard, colored, shiny spots on the paper!

And there you have it: a fun and easy preschool activity.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Could Some Dinosaurs Still Be Living?

The science of "cryptozoology" is becoming increasingly respectable with the increased awareness of many thousands of historic "sightings" of mysterious animals that can't help but bring to mind an association with the supposedly "extinct" dinosaurs of the past.

This section on dinosaurs was from one of my fifth grade science books. I still love it!

Sea Monster or Surviving Saurus?
Cadbury may be a familiar name to chocolate lovers, but cadborosaurs is a name for a giant sea serpent often sighted off the cost of British Columbia, Canada. Up to 50 feet long, these creatures have a head like a horse, a long neck and short front flippers. Its credibility increased when in 1937, a ten-foot-long juvenile specimen was found in the stomach of a sperm whale.
The Mysterious Santa Cruz Carcass of 1925

Many people saw it. The press reported it widely. Washed ashore in 1925 just north of Monterey Bay, California, a giant rotting corpse was analyzed. A respected president of the Natural History Society of B.C., Canada wrote:

My examination of the monster was quite thorough. It had no teeth. its head is large and its neck fully 20 feet long. The body is weak and the tail is only three feet in length from the end of the backbone. These facts do away with the whale theory [which had been proposed by a handful of other authorities], as the backbone of a whale is far larger than any bone in this animal... I would
call it a type of plesiosaurus.

Mr. Wallace theorized the monster might have been preserved in a glacier for thousands of years, only to be released and floated to the area before washing ashore.

One can't help wondering why this and other discoveries aren't more widely reported. However, sea monsters and recently living dinosaur types have not been popular among evolutionists who insist on their mythical millions of years of geologic time.

The Modern Japanese "Plesiosaur?"

Off the coast of New Zealand, a Japanese fishing crew hauled an odd catch in their nets in 1977. The giant carcass was 30 feet long and weighed about 4,000 pounds. To avoid spoiling their fish catch, the men had to dump it back in the ocean, but not before a zoologist on board made notes on the animal. Its long neck, flippers and other details were still intact enough to suggest it was some kind of saurian creature rather than a shark.

Is there really a Loch Ness monster?

In the highlands of northern Scotland, people have reported a gigantic swimming "beastie" for the last 1,400 years. Some 3,000 sightings and even some vague photos seem to bear a resemblance to the plesiosaur of dinosaur times. Nessie is said to be 20 feet long with a serpent-like neck and fat body with flippers on the sides. There may be a whole family of them living in some dark submarine cavern.

Scientist Sighting More Convincing?

Natural History magazine reports the 1905 sighting by two expert naturalists aboard the private yacht Valhalla off the coast of Brazil. One wrote:
I saw a large fin or frill sticking out of the water, dark sea-weed-brown in
color, somewhat crinkled at the edge. It was apparently about 6 feet in
length and projected from 18 inches to 2 feet from the water. I could see,
under the water to the rear of the frill, the shape of a considerable body.
I got my field glasses on to it and almost as soon as I had them on the frill, a
great head and neck rose out of the water in front of the frill... the neck
appeared about the thickness of a slight man's body, and from 7 to 8 feet was
out of the water; head and neck were all about the same thickness. The head had
a very turtle-like appearance, as had also the eye.

From Canada's Ogopogo and Champ to lesser-known sightings in Russia and Japan, there seems to be a lot of evidence that sea serpents of one kind or another are real. Can flying reptiles still be alive?

African explorer Frank Melland kept encountering vague rumors about a much-feared animal
called Kongamato that lived in the Jiundu swamps in northwest Rhodesia,
near the Belgian Congo. When asked what it was, the natives told him it was a
bird, but more like a lizard with wings of skin like a bat's. When he showed them pictures of the pterodactyl and other animals, all immediately went for the pterodactyl, excitedly muttering "kongamato!"

What happended to the thunderbird?

The Tombstone Epitaph printed a news item on April 26, 1890, recalled by Dr. Duane Gish in his excellent book, Dinosaurs By Design. The report told how two ranchers were startled by a gigantic flying reptile with huge leathery wings, a long slim body, having claws on its feet and at the joint of its wings. They said its 8-foot-long head was like an alligator's, with a mouth full of teeth and large protruding eyes. They killed it and cut off the tip of its wing for a trophy. Could this have been the last of the legendary thunderbirds? Many American Indian tribes recall the huge size and powerful flight of this strange beast that thundered when its wings flapped.

We know animal like these really did live. The problem is that we've been programmed to think they died off with the dinosaurs millions of years ago.

Article taken from Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation by Dennis R. Petersen (2002).