Thursday, December 26, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: this soccer-loving boy had a mighty fine christmas, indeed.
lucy:  adding the finishing touches to her gingerbread house.
finn: playing with the long awaited playmobil gold mine.
dot: holding her most beloved christmas present. baby jesus, naturally.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: trimming the tree.
lucy:  she is very specific about where her most special ornaments hang.
finn: sporting his beanie to go christmas tree hunting.
dot: pushing that baby stroller is serious business.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: this kid loves games. i love that he loves my old games.
lucy:  jumping off the balance beam.
finn: always has a football in his arms these days.
dot: reading "bollow, bollow" at the first grade reading table. and feeling like big stuff.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: homework is better done in a hammock.
lucy:  hanging from our apple tree.
finn: my sweet mr. finn.
dot: "dot. ting. dot. ting."  i hear this a lot lately.  she really loves to swing...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: so happy his uncle al is in town.
lucy:  cutie peeling her cutie.
finn: that's one way to tie your shoe...
dot: enjoying the wonderful desert rain.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: played in his first soccer tournament this weekend.
lucy:  learning to play tennis from her dad :)  i realize this isn't just lucy, but i love it the most.  
finn: loving our new hammock.  he likes to close his eyes and pretend he's at nanny's house.
dot: thinks she is a big girl, so she insists on using the big kid swing :(

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

what we're reading wednesdays

so, jessica (aka housewife spice) does this nifty little post once a week about what she and her kids are reading. i love this idea and would love to keep track of what we are reading from time to time.  not sure i could ever keep up with it once a week, but am shooting for once a month.  also, i love the idea of having the reference to look back on when i cannot for the life of me remember "how old was jack when he read that book?  could finn read it now?" so, here is what everyone is reading this november...

Jack (age 10) - a wrinkle in time by madeleine l'engle - he loved this book.   the could-not-put-it-down kind of love.  one afternoon he said to me, "this book is so weird, i don't know if i totally understand it, but i love it."  i love this book and i love being able to discuss it with older kids.  lots of great things to talk about.  the only possibly objectionable things about this book in terms of age-appropriateness are 1) its discussion of people in the town thinking Meg's dad ran off with another woman and left his family, 2) Colin's sad family life and 3) it definitely can be a bit scary for younger kids (or for me). 
next he read the graphic novel of a wrinkle in time.  he thought it was an awesome follow-up to the book.  i also read it and enjoyed it, but definitely read the original first.  
mrs. frisby and the rats of nimh by robert c. o'brien - this one he read for school, but he still absolutely loved it.  i really love this book, too and definitely think kids younger than 5th grade could read it.  
the ranger's apprentice by john flanagan - jack is on the third book of this series and really seems to be enjoying it.  he started reading them last year, but then got distracted with the lord of the rings, which, obviously, took up quite a bit of time and then he moved on to something else.  he came back to them recently and reread the first two and now is on the third.  i have read the first 7 books in this series and they are very enjoyable.  action, fantasy, friendship, good v. evil... all that good stuff.  there is a slight bit of romance from time to time, but nothing too objectionable (i personally do not like the use of the phrase "lingering kisses" but the romance does not show up enough for it to bother me for a younger crowd).  
jack has been home sick and  just read escape from mr. lemoncello's library by chris grabenstein in one day.  however, since that was technically lucy's book, i will keep it in her section...

Lucy (age 8) - tuesdays at the castle by jessica day george - as a general rule, i like to try and read anything i plan on giving to my kids before they get started on it.  with two bibliophiles currently taking up residence in my home however, it has gotten a bit harder and i like to depend on the recommendations of friends (it's all on you, allie).  so, i have not actually read tuesdays at the castle, but i can tell you that lucy loved it.  as a matter of fact, all of the books on lucy's list have fallen into the "can't-put-it-down" category.
ella enchanted by gail carson levine - didn't read this one either, but once again, i think lucy finished it in two days.  she deemed it her favorite book.  but that's been happening a lot lately...
the mysterious benedict society by trenton lee stewart - i love this one.  i read the first three in this series two years ago, as jack was reading them and they are all very entertaining.  they can be a little suspenseful and the later ones get even a bit scarier, but they have great characters and what kid doesn't love a little mystery involved in their reading?  lucy loved it and was so proud of herself for finishing such a thick book.  she made her own kate weatherall bucket and has added the second book in this series to her christmas list.  looks like it is a lasting sort of love. 
mr. popper's penguins by richard and florence atwater - lucy read this one for school and loved it.  she would laugh and recite lines from it to me.  some of the oldies are still goodies.  i never want my kids to think only current literature is worth their time, so it's always good to mix in those old reliables.  thank you, school.  
escape from mr. lemoncello's library by chris grabenstein - this one we grabbed after housewife spice's wwrw recommendation of it.  lucy adored this book.  a couple times we had to ask her to put it away at the dinner table.  we have taken to calling her brigitta.  i read this one also.  a couple times it started to cross into that overly-modern way for juvenile characters to talk, which really bugs me, but it never actually went there.  the main character cares more about video games than books at the beginning of the story, but even then, he is nice to his family and gets along with his siblings, which i always appreciate in books.  think of this book as charlie and the chocolate factory with mr. lemoncello instead of willy wonka and a library instead of a chocolate factory.  plus, a book that wants to encourage reading and show kids how great it is, while dropping book recommendations to them throughout?
what's not to love?
gregor the overlander by suzanne collins - ok, so this one is more on the fence in terms of age appropriateness.  i have read this whole series and so has jack and we both really loved it.  lucy wants to read everything jack has read and jack gets super excited for her to be able to talk about books with him, which absolutely melts my heart, so sometimes i let lucy read books that i made jack wait to read when he was a little older. these books are violent (they were written by the author of the hunger games, but they are definitely a step down from the hunger games, those being more geared towards teens and these being for that more 10-12 range). this is one of those series i feel like you just need to read for yourself and decide if they are right for your kid.  we love them in the burch house (lucy couldn't put this one down either), but they probably aren't for everyone.
ranger's apprentice by john flanagan - like i said, lucy wants to read whatever jack is reading, so she just started this series and is on the first book.  she loves it.  kind of hilarious as the first book especially focuses on primarily boy characters, training, fighting, action, etc.  they bring in more of the girls in the subsequent books, but apparently she doesn't rely on female characters to hold her attention.  last night she begged to not turn the light out because she was desperate to know what happens with halt and the kalkara.  intrigued?  you'll just have to read it. 

Finn - the hobbit by j.r.r. tolkien - finn and i have been reading this together and we are one chapter away from finishing it.  this book is the best.  the very best.  i am sometimes shocked at how many people have never read it.  growing up my dad ingrained into us that this was the book of books.  he read it out loud to us.  we read it to ourselves.  we reread it.  so, if you have never read it, read it.  then read it to your kids.  then let them read it to themselves.
the magic treehouse series by mary pope osborne - not my favorite books.  they kind of drive me crazy.  however, they are harmless and kind of the only thing i have found for that "just starting to read chapter books" age.  they don't want the easy readers anymore, but you don't want them to get discouraged by trying to jump into something too difficult.  hence, this lady is a billionaire.  she basically has this market in the bag.  finn is on number 12 in the series and i think there are about two thousand...
how to train your dragon by cressida cowell - ok, this is another iffy one.  finn picked this book out from the barnes and noble free book program over the summer.  we also read this one together because i wasn't sure what it was all about.  i love the movie how to train your dragon, but i was told the books are very different.  it was fine.  not my favorite, but finn loved it.  he loved it being written in first person.  he loved the scratchy drawings.  and, of course, he giggled at all the potty humor.  i am never a fan of kids' books that feel they need to go the potty humor route, but i am told that is the only way to get some boys to read.  so, if that doesn't bother you or you have such a boy, this book is for you.  really, the potty humor wasn't unbearable (or i probably wouldn't have kept reading it), but who knows what direction the rest of the series will go in.  read at your own risk on this one, folks.

Dot (age 18 months) - goodnight, gorilla by peggy rathmann - miss dorothy enjoys any book anyone will sit down and read her, but it makes me laugh that this book has been the one consistent favorite with all four of my kids.  well done, peggy rathmann.

so, who has some good recommendations for kids ages 10, 8 and 6?
has anyone read the gideon trilogy? or know anything about it?

also, i don't know how to do the clever little link-up button at the bottom of my blog, so just go here to see what housewife spice is reading and recommending this week!

post edit! while rereading mr. lemoncello to my first grader, i realized they do say they word "crap" at one point.  so, if that offends you, you have been warned!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: he's growing up way too fast for me.
lucy:  it's not all fun over here...
finn: i love that everyone at school always asks me, "does finn ever NOT smile?"
dot: my partner in crime.  she's such a good sport when i drag her around for work.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for one year"
{april 2013 - april 2014}

jack: i'm starting to worry that the mud stains won't wash off one of these days.
lucy:  my sweet catherine of siena on all saints' day.
finn: i would really love to know what goes on in that little brain...
dot: her new favorite spot.  my little climber loves to give me a heart attack. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

the day we decided to raise future comicon attendees.

a good six to nine months before this halloween, our kids decided they wanted to dress up as characters from the hobbit.  finn kept begging me to make his thorin costume so he could "just wear it around the house."  (and, wear it around the house, he has quite a bit since).  so, for the past month i have been knee deep in all sorts of sewing, crafting, hobbit-inspired insanity.  i'm not going to lie though... i loved it.  (i probably owe a big thanks to the cosplay community for all their tutorials, photos and general inspiration).  the speiers hosted a pre-halloween hobbit party at their house, so the kids could dress up and play around in their costumes without all the craziness that goes with halloween night.  so, for those who know the hobbit, this doesn't require much explanation, but for any who are completely confused, here are some names to confuse you some more...

thorin oakenshield...

bilbo baggins...

random hobbit girl... (sorry, dot)




and kili (at your service)...




the (the cutest little) smaug...