For the Love of Fairy Tales|7 Kids’ Books for #ValentinesDay

This Valentine’s weekend, two little princesses and their daddy danced the night away at our church-sponsored Father Daughter Dance. To celebrate and hope in happily ever afters.

What makes a little girl want to be a princess or a boy want someone to fight for?

Fairy tales.


Thanks to fairy tales, the beauty of romance can be learned at a young age.

The noble, the gallant, the bold, and the brave all fighting for someone to save.

Our hearts long for the realization of redemption. We sigh at the happily ever afters.

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Our treasure of happily ever afters

7 Beloved Books of Fairy Tales


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I’ve kept this one since I was a girl.

1. Best Loved Fairy Tales of Walter Crane.

My first book of fairy tales given to me by my mother. Includes The Frog Prince, Little Goody Two Shoes, Beauty and the Beast, and the less familiar, The Hind in the Wood. The exquisite detail of 1930’s neoclassical illustrations beg to be traced, copied, and colored.

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2. A Book of Famous Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

These original versions, translated from the Danish-born Hans Christian Andersen are sometimes less black and white in their happily ever afters. That’s what I like about this antique anthology.

Color plate illustration of a fairy with delicate butterfly wings in A Book of Famous Fairy Tales

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3. The Random House Book of Fairy Tales

Truer to the original versions by the Brothers Grimm, these fairy tales contain more peril than updated retellings. At the end of Snow White, the wicked stepmother is made to wear burning hot shoes until she dances herself to the grave. In Rapunzel, the prince is blinded by thorns. Some of the tales may not be appropriate for younger children, still the charming pictures, by Diane Goode, bring out the brilliant beauty of each character.

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4. A Parable About the King

A redemption story at its best, Beth Moore created this fairy tale as a parable of life for all God’s children. Frustrated with all the work her father makes her do, a princess decides to run away. But life outside the kingdom is not what she expects it to be.

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5. The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder

Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tale characters. Far from Disney’s version, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a marriage of both fantasy and sci-fi. Cinder is a futuristic cyborg who falls in love with the crown prince. The first in a series of four, you may have to read on to see if Cinder truly experiences a happily ever after.

6.  Snow and Rose

I love it when an author finds a forgotten story and breathes into it new life. This is one such fairy tale that will remain remembered thanks to author and illustrator, Emily Winfield Martin.

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7. Sleeping Beauty

The newest book by my favorite author, Cynthia Rylant, is sure to delight all ages. With words that carry a deeper, richer meaning, making it the best kind of fairy tale.

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How to be an Einstein|12 Ways to Think More Intellegently #Einstein #ClassicalEducation

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The name Einstein brings up the image of man who is synonymous with crazy hair, a bushy mustache, and E = mc2.

When someone is called an “Einstein” it means that person is considered a geniusexceptional at learning, thinking, and problem solving.

So, who was the man behind the name?

Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879 and grew up in Germany. His father owned a company that sold electrical equipment, so he wanted Albert to pursue a career in electrical engineering. 



Einstein at age 14


The school where Albert attended taught primarily through drills and strict rote learning, which he struggled with. He described this teaching style as losing “the spirit of learning and creative thought.” Einstein may have not liked repetition and memorization of facts, but it may have helped him later when writing papers and calculating great mathematical figures to have this foundation of knowledge. 

When Einstein was fifteen, he was able to leave the school with a doctor’s note and attend a new school where he could pursue his own educational interests. It is here where he wrote his first theoretical essay, “On the Investigation of the State of Ether in a Magnetic Field.”

Although Einstein received top grades for physics and mathematics at age sixteen, he failed to pass the general education portion of the examination to enter the Swiss Polytechnic school and pursue a career in physics. 

He spent a year focusing on his studies. At age seventeen, he tried the examination a second time and passed, entering their physics teaching program.


Einsteins’s passing grades


In 1903, when Einstein was 24, he secured a job as a patent examiner, helping to decide whether new ideas and inventions worked and were not copies of ones that already existed. Reviewing ideas of other scientists and inventors inspired Einstein to form his own ideas, ones that nobody else thought of.

It is during this time that Einstein joined a discussion group with friends who all had the same interest in physics called “The Olympia Academy.”  They met together on a regular basis to discuss science and philosophy.

The Olympia Academy

In 1905, Einstein earned his PhD in physics and in the same year wrote his most famous “1905 papers.” These papers discussed new concepts, including the theory of general relativity.

During a solar eclipse in 1919, in accordance with Einstein’s calculations, light from another star appeared bent by the sun’s gravity.

Solar Eclipse of 1919

In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. He traveled to the United States to meet with other scientists and share his findings.


Einstein in 1921


From then on, he met with other scientists around the world until he returned to the the U.S. in 1933, the same year Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.
Hitler made it clear in his speeches that he hated Jews and blamed the Jewish people for all of Germany’s problems. Jews were denied their rights and began to be relocated to camps where many were mistreated or killed. Einstein was Jewish and knew it would be dangerous to return to Germany while Hitler was in power.

Einstein spent the rest of his days mainly in the United States, where he eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1940. He liked Americans’ “right to say and think as they pleased,” he said, which encouraged people to be more creativethe same freedom that helped him to pursue his own areas of interest, leading him to develop some of the most important basic concepts in physical science.


Einstein taught himself how to play the violin and was invited to play as a symphony guest in a professional orchestra. The other violinists were amazed at his incredible ability to play. Einstein’s love of music may have been a factor in his high intelligence. He was said to have been playing piano while trying to work out the theory of relativity.

The ability to process, understand and create music is located in the right hemisphere of the brain, as well as, control of the body and the ability to perform functions like dancing, playing an instrument or writing a paper.

Language, reading and mathematical reasoning are located in the left hemisphere.

Many people are stronger in one hemisphere and weaker in the other. But, having a balanced brain—to be strong in both hemispheres—makes it easier to learn.

To strengthen both left and right hemispheres, it is helpful to do exercises—physical and mental—using both sides of the brain at the same time.

Some activities for a Balanced Brain:


  • Play a musical instrument requiring both hands (e.g., drums, violin, guitar, piano, recorder, flute, clarinet)
  • Play outdoor games requiring both hands (e.g, archery, baseball, basketball, zoomballhopper ball)
  • Learn to sew, knit or crochet
  • Learn knot tying
  • Learn to whittle with soap or on more advanced wood projects
  • Bead necklaces and bracelets
  • Work out math problems while listening to classical music
  • Create comics with speech bubbles



To have balanced brain is one step to learning better. Another step is to develop stronger connections between both sides of the brain. This can be achieved through crossing the midline or using one side of the body to cross over to the other side. 

Some Activities to Cross the Midline:

  • Do cross crawls by placing a hand or elbow on the opposite knee 10 times on each side every day
  • Do complex mazes with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
  • Draw “lazy eights” for one minute with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
  • Play games that challenge players to reach from one side of the body to the other side, like the Minute To Win It balloon game. 

The part of the brain that connects both sides is called the corpus callosum.

This part of the brain is covered with a white substance called myelin, which is made up of the same healthy fats found Omega-3 rich foods like fish, flaxseeds and walnuts. The more myelin, the stronger the connection between the right and left sides of the brain.
Eating foods or taking supplements like fish oil that contain Omega-3 fats helps our brain to work better.
Also, having a diet that includes all five food groups will help the brain function well.
If you have food allergies, be careful to avoid those foods that cause inflammation in the body.


Einstein did not think it wise to merely memorize facts without learning how to use them to form new ideas and explain complex problems. In Einstein’s time, the classical teaching method was used to educate children. There are three stages or levels of learning in this method: grammarlogic and rhetoric.
The grammar stage of learning usually takes place in elementary school. It is important to learn the basic math facts, phonics sounds, spelling and grammar rules to do mathematical computations and read and write independently. Einstein struggled in this stage, but still needed to learn these basics to be able to do research and write about his findings. It is important to work hard to master this level before moving on to the next level.

In the logic level, a student is able to use all the knowledge learned in the grammar stage to think about the “why” behind reading and math. At this stage, students will begin to answer more difficult questions by analyzing a story or using basic math facts to solve algebra and geometry. This is the beginning of active learning, where students can begin to form discussion groups, much like Einstein’s Olympia Academy. One good way to form a discussion group is to start a book club and read through the same book, meeting together once a month. Or join a math clubscience club or problem solving club that meets regularly.

A student entering the rhetoric level will be able to create a new idea or solve a problem by using the scientific method to attempt to prove it and share findings through writing and giving a presentation. Einstein achieved this level and spent the latter part of his life giving talks about his research and theories. Speakers on the TED talks, are good examples of people who have progressed to the rhetoric level of learning.

Through the development of learning, thinking and problem solving abilities, our children can be like Einstein and have their own ideas worth spreading.

Einstein Books:
Albie’s First Word by Jacqueline Tourville
Odd Boy Out by Don Brown
Ordinary Genius by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
Einstein Websites:
Garden of Praise has Einstein games, puzzles and quizzes
The Why Files has an explanation of Einstein’s theories
Image and Impact has more history and photos of Einstein 
Blog, Life Skills, Special Needs, Uncategorized

How ‘Georgisms’ Can Help our Kids Succeed|The Importance of Executive Functioning #historyrocks #adulting

Have you ever witnessed a living miracle unfold before your very eyes?

To me, my middle school aged son on the autism spectrum, giving his very first speech in his Classical Conversations class a few weeks ago was miracle enough. His speech was short and he had trouble looking at the audience, but I didn’t care. He overcame his social anxiety, and I beamed at this huge step in his development.


In class yesterday, he did something that made my jaw drop.

The opening to his speech went like this:

“Do you know how my mom is like our first president? (three second pause) Because she’s always washing a ton!”

His whole class—the kids, the teacher, the other mothers—all laughed.

He had his audience in the palm of his hand.

Then he turned serious and shared how as a boy, Washington accidentally killed his mother’s favorite colt.

All eyes were on my son as he projected his voice, stood confidently, and shared for a minute and a half about the trials and triumphs of our first president.

I sat mesmerized, in awe at my son’s transformation.

My only regret is that I forgot to get out my phone and take a video!

He’s learning. He’s growing. I think he’s going to do all right in life. He may not be president of the United States when he grows up, but I believe by the grace of God, he’ll do something to make a difference in our world.

Have you ever wondered how George Washington became our first president, trusted by the colonists who shed their blood, sweat and tears to create a whole new country set apart from the rule of the King of England?

From historical accounts of his life, we can know that George Washington was a man in control of his words, his body, and his actions.

When he was fourteen years old, Washington wrote out 110 rules to live by.

These rules laid a foundation or framework for him to advance to the highest position in the United States of America. They helped him to be dignifieddiplomatic and wise beyond his years.

Nowadays, we call this executive functioning.

Washington was singled out for a job that men much older than himself usually did. In 1749, at the age seventeen, he became a surveyor and mapped out land for his employers.

From there, in 1755, Washington had moved up the ranks in the military and was awarded the position of Colonel of the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years War, 1754-1758).

From years serving in the military, Washington gained leadership skills. He understood British military strategies which would help him later when he became the General of the Continental Army.

America had had enough of England’s “taxation without representation” and the colonial patriots were gaining more support to rebel against English rule and become their own independent country, The United States of America.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Army formed. George Washington was appointed General of the Continental Army and Commander-in-Chief.

As General of the Continental Army, Washington’s first great victory was against the Hessian army (German soldiers hired by the British). Washington chose to execute a sneak attack on the night of Christmas 1776. He crossed the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey and captured nearly 1,000 Hessians.

By 1777, The Continental Army had grown to 11,000 men. During the winter at Valley Forge, north of Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, about 2,000-3,000 men died from the harsh winter and lack of supplies. Washington stayed with his men, suffering along with them and used this time to train them with the help of Inspector General von Steuben.

With the help of French troops, supplies and naval forces, in 1781, British General Cornwallis was trapped and surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, ending any further hostilities from England.

When choosing the first leader of the United States, our founding fathers knew that Washington was the best man for the job.

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was voted by 100% of the electoral college to be the first president of the United States of America. He did not desire to be called “your majesty,” like King George III of England. He wanted The United States of America to be a democracy through and through and to be simply called, Mr. President.

Throughout his life, Washington relied on the rules of leadership that he learned at a young age. As he gained knowledge from both victory and failure, he matured and became the kind of leader our country needed, one who was both strong and reasonable.

In order to be successful adults, children need to learn the same skills that our first President learned. Attaining life skills, including proper etiquette, improve their executive function, which is a crucial element in allowing a person to mature and become a productive member of society. Even George Washington did not possess these skills on his own. He studied them, copied them and lived them out.

What We Can Learn from George Washington:

Developing a well-trained mind is crucial for making the best life decisions.

Focusing on the things that are important and organizing them in a step-by-step, systematic way to be used again later is the foundation of having good executive function. Washington did this with learning his 110 rules so well, he knew them by memory and was able to use this knowledge at the proper time. Learning the general rules of manners can be useful in understanding how to act in any given situation. And, then we must make the choice to follow those rules.

Having control over one’s emotions, body, and words is another level of executive function.

It is hard to follow the rules, when we let strong emotions control us.

Washington was remembered as a man of reason. He did not allow strong emotions to take control. He used his words to encourage others and not to hurt or belittle them. He faced battles with bravery and did not allow fear to affect his decisions. Choosing to use coping strategies and keep our feelings under control is another way to develop good executive function.

Learning from our successes and failures is one of the final steps in developing good executive function.

Washington was considered mature at a young age. He used his knowledge of math and skill in drawing to his advantage when he became a surveyor. He learned in his years in the military the strategies that worked to win battles. He was flexible and willing to learn new things and try them in different ways. He chose to do things the best way rather than the easy way.

Children can start young by making choices to develop good executive function. Having a well-trained mind, good self-control and flexiblity is important in gaining the life skills needed to be successful in life.

Books about George Washington:


GEORGE-isms: Rules George Washington Lived  by George Washington

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire

Who was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

George Washington Games and Videos:


Apples for the Teacher has George Washington coloring pages, puzzles and games

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has a mystery game

The History Channel’s website has a short documentary about George Washington here.

*Images of George Washington, flag, and map courtesy of Wikipedia.


25+ Fun Games for Rainy Days|Stuff to Do During a Hurricane #HurricaneIrma

Hurricane Fun

What to do when a category 5 Hurricane looms off of my beloved state of Florida?

  • Make a hurricane prep kit and gather resources
  • Pray
  • Try not to worry
  • Help our home to be a place of solace for the children

That’s what we can do before a hurricane. What about during? Or after?

Living in Florida my whole, long life, I’ve been through many of these storms. Most of the time, they happen at night, and by the grace of God, we sleep through it. This past hurricane season, we had a big one come our way, Hurricane Matthew. It was a miracle, he didn’t hit landfall as predicted, but skirted by the eastern coast.

With plenty of wind and rain from the outer bands, our family cuddled up in our master bedroom with sleeping bags surrounding our bed. The air purifiers, all running, drowned out most of the howling wind. But I was the only one who didn’t get any sleep.

Because I’m the mom.

Moms are innately vigilant to protect their families. Dads are, too, but my husband’s hearing must not be as good as mine. He slept as soundly as the children!

Even though Orlando is not a coastal city, we are not exempt from getting a direct hit. Hurricane Charlie, a Category 4 Hurricane blasted through our city, blowing off shingles and felling trees. I remember the sea of blue tarps that nearly everyone, including my own family used to cover our leaky roofs.

With no electricity, I got out our Rainy Day Box and we put together puzzles, played with toys, and read books we hadn’t seen in awhile.


It helps to prepare for the worst, pray for the best and trust in the Almighty to bring us safely through whatever may happen. Worrying never changes anything, except our peace of mind.

In light of prepping, here’s some Rainy Day Fun and Games you can try with your family. My children helped me come up with this list, which brought smiles to their faces and eased their anxiety.


  •  Make a Rainy Day Box stocked with favorite puzzles, mazes, crossword puzzles, word finds, interactive “I Spy” type picture books, and little toys to play with.

  • List books you love to read aloud, and be dramatic with the dialogue. My husband does an excellent Gandolf!

  • Now is the time to play those board games that take forever, like Monopoly, Life, and Rummikub.

  • Strategy games are way more exciting when played by candlelight, like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Risk.

  • Have a game relay. Set up four board games. Three minutes per game, then switch.

  • Time to teach the kids to play more card games besides Go Fish, War, and Crazy Eights. Hearts, Spades, Rummy take more time and thought.

  • Chess tournaments. It helps if you have more than one chess set.

  • Cuddle under blankets and make up stories (not too scary) over the flashlight.

  • Play charades with a theme (animals, famous people, movies, songs, etc.)

  • Sing campfire songs over candlelight with everyone attempting to play a musical instrument. We’ll be breaking out our ukuleles. Drums on a turned-over bowl works!

  • Do origami. You can find good instructions here.

  • Do scratch art. Color all over white cardstock and paint it black. Let the paint dry, then with a needle or sharp object, scratch a drawing.

  • Use calligraphy or fancy lettering to make cards for friends and family.

  • Make maps of the neighborhood and city.

  • Learn to sew on a button or even something more complicated.

  • Dance off using a battery-powered CD player.

  • Make a book with stapled together paper, complete with illustrations.

  • Do “$1.00 jobs” around the house (ask to sweep & mop floors, clean all windows, dust all baseboards).

  • Make a blanket fort. Forget about the mess and let your kids have some fun.

  • Have an indoor relay race (Cotton balls on spoons, jumping with a ball or balloon between legs, etc.)

  • Play library. Kids take turns being “librarian” and reading to siblings.

  • Perform a skit or puppet show.

  • Play with play dough or kinetic sand. My children could play an hour or more with this stuff.

  • Make molds of seashells or other interesting items in the playdough.

  • Play with magazine paper dolls.

  • Act out favorite Bible stories, parables, or Aesop fables.

  • Write, shoot, and edit a mini-movie with your camera or phone.

Don’t forget to prep some fun into your hurricane preparedness. It’ll ease your children’s anxiety and give everyone a little diversion from the storm.



Blog, Seasons and Holidays, Uncategorized

The Most Important Thing in Your Child’s Education


With all the options in educating children, it’s got me thinking…what is the most important thing in a child’s education?

What is the one thing that a child needs in any educational setting?

What will help them know they are loved no matter their performance?

What will encourage them when they are struggling academically, socially, and emotionally? Read more here.

Continue reading “The Most Important Thing in Your Child’s Education”

Blog, Cookbooks, Uncategorized

When Life Gives You Lemons…|Turn of the Century Cookbooks and #Recipes

LemonsIn Florida, we have grapefruit-sized citrus fruit called Ponderosa Lemons. When I was young in the boondocks of Palm Bay, my mom came home from work one day with several brown paper bags full to the brim with these yellow wonders. A co-worker had too many in her tree and couldn’t figure out what to do with them all.

Fresh lemonade replaced our favorite Kool-Aid flavors that summer. There’s nothing like a tall glass of ice-cold lemony bitter-sweetness to quench the thirst.

As we grow up and experience more, we find that life has many bitter-sweet moments. We can either become bitter or let the troubles of life make us better. As a person of faith, I believe that our Lord can use the trials of life to sift out the things that have kept us from wholeness and true wellness (Romans 8:28,29). The bitter can become sweet.

This past school year with my children has been quite a lemonade year. Some of our lemons included three surgeries for me (two of them biopsies), over six months of life-altering health challenges for my oldest child, and a broken arm for my youngest.



Through much prayer and weeping, I’m seeing the sweet results of these difficult times, the ways each of us has grown in faith and love.  I’m enjoying a closer relationship with God and my family. Going through hard things together has made our bond that much stronger.


When my teen (who, thank the Lord, is feeling much better) came home from summer camp this week, she was in for a surprise! As a metaphor for our life this past school year, I’d taken some lemons and worked with my younger children to bake one of my favorites: Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake. And my teen got to put the icing on the cake!

Being a fan of turn-of-the-century recipes, I sifted through the Internet to find more lemony recipes below. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to live in the 19th and 20th centuries, going through the Revolutionary, Civil or World Wars, living on rations, without modern medicine, and trying to raise children. I’m sure the people behind the recipes had no shortage of lemons in their lives and had to learn how to turn them into something sweet.

Try this Lemon Cheesecake from colonial times:

Creamy 18th Century Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon Chess Pie may have meant cake with no cheese (sounds like chess). Here’s a colonial recipe:

Martha Washington’s Lemon Chess Pie

Good old fashioned pioneer lemonade:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Lemonade

Lots of history along with recipes on this site for creating lemon meringue pie:

Food Timeline’s Lemon Meringue Pie

Some of my favorite cookbooks with old-fashioned recipes are:


The Little House Cookbook (lemonade recipe above) by Barbara M. Walker and pictures by Garth Williams


Sweet ‘n’ Slow by Patricia B. Mitchell (sold on amazon.com or at The Oconoluftee Visitor Center in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park)



Treats from the Times by Leu House Volunteers (sold only in the Leu House Museum)

This summer, invite your children to help bake some these lemon-infused desserts. And those lemons in life, if by the grace of God we know how to use them, can become something much more sweet.





Blog, Seasons and Holidays, Uncategorized

School’s Out: {5 Ways to Curb the Summer Slide}

With school out, wouldn’t it be nice to just let our kids have fun this summer?

No more being cooped up in a dusty building and confined to a desk. Let’s open our front doors and allow our kids to run free. Get some summer sun. Check out some cool parks, our city has to offer.

Wait a minute. During the 2-3 months with no school, our kids might forget everything they’ve learned, right? They could experience the “summer slide,” falling back in the reading skills and knowledge they’ve attained. Read more here.