July 20, 2015

10 Things You Need to Know About Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

In early February, an announcement shocked the literary world. Another novel by Harper Lee was set to be published by HarperCollins on July 14, 2015. Go Set a Watchman was written in 1957, three years before To Kill a Mockingbird was written.

This summary is for those who aren't familiar with the 1961Pulitzer-winning To Kill a Mockingbird: Two white children, Scout and Jem, experience the fallout of their lawyer father defending an innocent black man accused of rape in the 1930's.

Go Set a Watchman is different, yet just as compelling. Jean Louise (Scout) returns to Maycomb as an adult. She questions all she holds dear when she learns her father supports segregation.
With this news, the media and fans began to talk. Fans faced a conundrum on many levels. Did Nelle Harper Lee approve of the book's publication? Will they be disappointed? Will their hero, Atticus, fall from the perfection?

Now that I've read the book, I've been asked to share my opinion of Go Set a Watchman.

10 Things You Need to Know About Go Set a Watchman

  1. Nelle Harper Lee, now age 89, does not want attention. Though she is not a recluse like Boo Radley, she has removed herself from all spotlights. She does not grant interviews and has not for decades. This makes it hard to know her wishes regarding publication. (I highly recommend the Harper Lee biography, Mockingbird to help you understand this.) Harper Lee is nearly blind and is very hard of hearing. Communication is difficult. Yet, in this 13-minute video we see a glimpse of Lee's reaction to publication.
  2. Watchman was published 58 years after it was written.

July 15, 2015

"It Isn't What We Say..." Jane Austen Quote

This morning I enjoyed a rare cup of tea from my Jane Austen mug. (affiliate link) As I read the various quotes, one especially struck me.

I really appreciate how authors incorporate wisdom through their characters. This quote comes from Sense and Sensibility, the next Austen book I intend to read. (I'm a new fan.)
Jane Austen quote
This world is filled with differing opinions. We should be able to have meaningful conversations with those with opposing views. Those same conversations should be full of love and respect.
"It isn't what we say or think that defines us, but what we do." -Jane Austen
What fictional book or character spoke truth to you?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I earn a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you!
~ Annette
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June 30, 2015

When Should a Child Learn to Use a Knife?

I'm one of those parents who tries too hard at some things and totally neglects other (important) things. However, I think life skills need to be taught at home. I'm still trying to figure out what life skills need to be learned and when. The life skill I'll write about today is children using knives.

My children see me use sharp knives in the kitchen every day. When I can safely supervise children using a sharp knife, I allow them to do so. In fact, making homemade applesauce is a family event.

But what about the 3-year-old? Is she too young to use a knife?

No. I have taught Little Sister to use a knife. By slicing her own banana with a butter knife, she learned how to use the knife.
But that was a butter knife. What about a sharp knife?

June 22, 2015

20 Free Outdoor Family Fun Ideas

School's out for summer! The summer sun shines! Let's enjoy it-together. As a family. Summer means more play time. Most of the playtime is spent with the children outside. But it's so much more fun for all of us to play together. We all need to engage with one another in meaningful ways. Summer allows us to do that while enjoying the warm sun.

I thought I'd share a few ways to have everyday family fun this summer. These are all simple ideas that don't require money and almost no parent preparation. By the time I finished brainstorming for ideas, I had more than twenty summer fun and free ideas. They are all simple. No prep. No money. Just family.

 I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Banana Boat®. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

  1. Hike a trail. 
  2. Swim in  a pond, lake, river, or ocean.
  3. Pick berries. (Then make strawberry jam.)
  4. Turn on the sprinkler.
  5. Jump in a grass pile.
  6. Visit a farm.
  7. Dig in the dirt.
  8. Roll down a hill.
  9. Play backyard ball.
  10. Plant seeds. Pull weeds.
  11. Draw with chalk.
  12. Fly a kite.
  13. Or fly a plastic bag "kite."
  14. Splash in a kiddie pool.
  15. Play at a playground.
  16. Find beauty in nature.

June 8, 2015

Morning Routine Makeover

I need to make some changes to my day. When I am intentional about how I spend my time, my whole family benefits, and I feel better for being more productive. But it takes effort.

My readers know I'm working hard to get serious about writing. (Read about my new ventures here and here.) I may be a stay-at-home-mom, but I'm also a writer and sometimes a teacher. If I'm going to be successful, I must be intentional about it. To be intentional about life, I must prioritize my day.
For me, I need to start my day by completing the most important tasks first. It's eating the frog, you know. If you have to eat a frog, do it first to get the disgusting task out of the way. Then you can go on to other, more pleasurable, tasks during the rest of the day.

June 3, 2015

Teaching As a Stay-At-Home-Mom

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for the past nine years. During that time, I have found small ways to feed my passion of teaching. I teach children in my local church. I have tutored several students. Yet, it's not the same.

This past year I've learned a new way to teach while being a stay-at-home-mom: presentations and workshops.

Read more about my presentations and workshops, including how I came to this point and presentations topics...and see my new website.

~ Annette
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June 2, 2015

Preparing for Summer Camp

With June's arrival, it's time to prepare for summer fun. Camps are a great option for fun. Sleep-away, day, and family camps all provide enjoyment. We attend family camp every summer. In addition to that, our children will attend day camp when I teach a week at a science and engineering camp and again when I teach pioneer days. I can't wait!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Mabel’s Labels. I received a voucher to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As an adult (sometimes sleep-deprived, but still...), I have misplaced a few things at camp. That means I actually understand and empathize with tween and teen campers who leave their new sneakers, glasses, and all of their underwear behind. 


At family camp I've left my camera in the big hall. It was on the last day. Someone noticed before we left, but it was close! You'd think it was only small things that would be forgotten. That's not true. A couple years ago we left a stroller behind. A stroller. I hadn't even noticed. It wasn't until we'd been home for a couple of days that we received a phone call from the camp director letting me know it was there-and his suggestion of returning it us (without a giant shipping fee or driving several hours out of the way).


And I'm a responsible adult.


That's why when I was offered the chance to review Mabel's Labels, I said YES! Knowing my kids would spend seven days at day camp and another week at family camp, I knew we'd be able to put Mabel's Labels Limited Edition Camp Labels Pack to good use to prevent lost items and avoid mix-ups.


Labels for Camp

Mabel's Labels are great. I used their website to customize my labels. To make them extra-versatile, I used our last name so all of our family can take advantage of them. The children helped me decide on one of the many, many designs. We opted for a cute raccoon which all of the children liked.

Mabel's Labels are laundry, dishwasher, and microwave safe and 100% guaranteed! We've already used our labels for water bottles, beach towels, camera, sunscreen, and CD cases. 
Before camp, we'll add Mabel's Labels to our toiletries, hats, shoes, and especially any sweatshirts or jackets. They really seem durable. I think they're practical, and my kids love that it personalizes their items. 

Consider joining the Mabelhood community on Facebook and Twitter. If you have a child who loses school items or is going to camp this summer, be sure to check out Mabel's Labels. We've been using them for a couple of weeks and we all like them. They stay put, even after washing.

Be sure to get a Mabel's Labels coupon. Get a 15-50% off or FREE item coupon through June 22, 2015. Sign up for their newsletter and complete one social share to be given a one-time use code.

Mabels Labels Camp Combo

Best wishes for a fun-filled summer...without lost items!
~ Annette
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May 27, 2015

Spring "Leaf" Pile

When the cut grass had to be raked, the children took advantage with a spring "leaf" pile.
I think my son was preparing for the Olympics with that form!

~ Annette
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May 25, 2015

Red, White, and Blue Snack {Fruit Salad}

Memorial Day is set aside to remember and respect those who died while serving our country in the United States armed forces. We'll attend our town's small parade, but mostly, it will be a quiet day at home.

With strawberries just ripening now, I made this red, white, and blue fruit salad to eat with our dinner. Big Sister (age 8) immediately took note of the colors and knew it was to remind of us Memorial Day.
Strawberries, blueberries, and bananas make a patriotic fruit salad.
The patriotic fruit salad is made simply of blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. I've made this many times before and have substituted mini-marshmallows for bananas.

Use this patriotic snack for Veteran's Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and the Olymics.

If you are looking for a simple, yet decorative idea for a mantle or table, check out my red, white, and blue apothecary jar.

~ Annette
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May 20, 2015

Help Your Community

I participated in an Influencer Activation for State Farm Neighborhood Assist. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Big cities and small towns alike need to find ways to strengthen and revitalize their downtown areas. Some cities and town's business district sit like ghost towns. Others feel unsafe. Yet some downtown areas are booming with business. Some needs penetrate deep. Some communities commit to helping the homeless or unemployed, overcoming addiction, or reaching their senior citizens. In addition to volunteering for a cause and shopping downtown, we can help simply by voting. Keep reading to learn how you can support a cause that is important to you.

My own town, about ten minutes away from my home, works hard to maintain a positive downtown area. Each month they host a First Friday event in the evening. Businesses stay open late and offer discounts to their patrons. It's like a big festival with popcorn penetrating the air and balloons on every corner. Every month some big event takes place downtown like Country Christmas and Healthy Kids Day. The sidewalks and crosswalks have recently been beautified making our town more attractive to visitors and residents alike. Yet another business just closed. We must support small businesses, even if it means keeping a quarter in our pocket to feed the meter.