Relax and Unwind with A. K. Klemm’s Lily Hollow Novellas

Time to Ramble On

andiA. K. Klemm’s Bookshop Hotel series will make you nostalgic for small-town America where everyone knows everyone’s business and nothing ever changes. This pair of novellas takes us to Lily Hollow, where our protagonist, AJ, opens up a bookstore that doubles as a hotel. Quirky townfolk invade the narrative, and AJ is always up to her short chin in local drama.

Both books reminded me of shows like Doc Martin or Northern Exposure, where friendly, colorful locals flood each scene with their idiosyncrasies. There’s a cranky woman running a book club who becomes obsessed with hats. An out-of-place teenager who hangs out with old people. Couples finding love well into their golden years. All of it wrapped up in charming dialog, similar to something out of Jojo Moyes.

While the setting is warm and wistful, the stories don’t lack for drama and conflict. What do you do when an…

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Dallas Arboretum: Pumpkins and the First Day of Fall

I’m normally a summer girl, but I think the frenetic pace of this year has me craving fall and sweaters and the cursed Pumpkin Spice craze. For the inaugural first day of fall I took my kiddos to the Dallas Arboretum to play in their Pumpkin Village. We arrived first thing and enjoyed a solid hour before we all began to sweat.

The ladies at the membership table in front of the entrance gave the kids these awesome sheets with little pumpkin pictures so they could identify them all!
Ella finding the “Big Mac” pumpkin on her sheet.
“Mom, it looks like Alice in Wonderland.”
They love the pumpkin houses.

In October when it has finally cooled off my cousin is going to take professional pictures of my munchkers in the pumpkin patch. In the meantime, we hope to visit before then when it’s crisp enough for hot chocolate and a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Week 2 Summary


Week 2-We. Are. Beat.

Day 1

Back at CC for Week 2, I promptly dropped the ball when I forgot to prepare Tristan for his presentation  on a week during which the kids were getting up to show and tell their favorite things. I was whispering desperately “I FORGOT!!!” to the tutor while he was bounding to the front of the class; fortunately for me, Tristan inherited his father’s ease in front of people (Tristan has many anxieties, but the fear of humans is not one them) so without missing a beat he proudly began to tell the class about his new shoes. Crisis. Averted.

We ate lunch on campus and I worked hard on the way home to keep Julian awake so we could get some school work done back at the house. Loquito cooperated and Tristan and I did a full A Beka lesson (following a small nap for yours truly).

Following up our “8 Parts of Speech” was a week focussing on “pronouns.” While Tristan and Michael enjoyed their weekly Man’s Night During Which They Do Terribly Masculine Things, Ella and JuJu and I made a Half Price Books run. A lovely bookseller girl visited several areas of the children’s section with us before stalking down Brian P. Cleary’s stash. They had exactly what I was looking for. We came home with “Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What Is an Adverb;” “Under, Over, By the Clover: What Is a Preposition;” and THE book…”I and You and Don’t Forget Who: What Is a Preposition.” I officially have picture books starring cats representing 6 of the “8 Parts of Speech,” and I can’t lie, I’m a little giddy.

Day 2

Half Day 2 is more appropriate. We squeezed a second cousin day into our week due to Mom Stress so we had a few half days and I’m SORRY NOT SORRY (also, socialization. *mic drop*). We worked through our CC memorization and read our new Pronouns book. We are reading the History Cards but I’m finding that at this age I’m most interested in just reading them to the kiddos and not about digging too much deeper. I’d like to do some extra reading in conjunction with the cards but right now I want to focus more on memorizing information that is relevant to their grammar, science, and math.

Day 3

…Half Day 3, things were crazy, and Tristan and I did his A Beka work in the evening after Julian and Ella were in bed. He was so sleepy but so calm and we spent a lot more time on the material than I expected he would go for. He wanted to read his new books so we snuggled down with some hot tea and further Brian P. Cleary.

Day 4…

…didn’t happen. BUT we did find out that Mommy is far sighted, needs glasses, and also needs more wine and yoga in her life so now that all those prescriptions are out of the way we can get back to the real work. And we did remember to review his Bible verse for Week 3’s presentation so I’m putting Day 4 in the win column.

French Roast and Antihistimines


I am enjoying the cocktail of ragweed sufferers in my library while the small two children rocket around the house with K’Nex creations their big brother made them-and big brother takes apart his own K’Nex race car so he can rebuild it, new and improved, for the second time this morning.

The coffee is strong, and whatever that little packet I took from the medicine cabinet contained is stronger.

I asked my husband last night if this is the most tired he has ever been in his life, and he said yes. So I don’t have cancer, I ask, and he says probably not. The kids are small, we’re both still working, and homeschooling on top of everything. “We’re in the shit now.” he grins at me, and as usual, his perspective is my favorite.

I am only one week into our “No Really, I am Educating Young Minds Over Here” school schedule, and I have already had to turn down a slew of coffees, a whisky or two, and-my favorites-play dates with other moms and my kiddos (and more coffee). Most of my free time before last week came in the mornings…mornings which have now been reworked so my oldest son can learn to read. Before 2pm I am teaching now. After 2pm I am cleaning or cooking or hiding outside on my front steps being eaten alive by mosquitos (because at least the mosquitos are quiet). I have a few weekly dates left standing after I overhauled my semi-stay-at-home-mom schedule to include 1st grade curriculum and a Classical Conversations schedule, but because of my inherent introversion, right now the thought of adding anything else to my life is beyond overwhelming.

I’ve always heard that homeschool moms have trouble with people stalking them for babysitting favors because they assume since they’re home anyway they must have nothing but free time. Because I’m kind of picky about who I talk to at all-I am blessed to know a lot of amazing people whom I truly love and who are really just trying to hang out with me. As much as I would love to say YES…my current priority is giving Tristan everything he needs to be able to grow up and choose if he’d rather be an engineer or the best possible educated rodeo clown.

Basically, the answer is probably not this week. Next week maybe. Or in the spring. Maybe when Julian goes off to military school in pre-K.

Tristan built me a Lego oasis in the midst of chaos.

Friday Meals In Review

Aaaaand this is happening because a giant part of the every Mom dilemma is HOW DO YOU FEED ALL THESE PEOPLE?!?!?

Monday: Slowcooker Mexican Pulled Chicken Over Rice

(I make this sans beans…hubs has his in a burrito with cheese, kids eat theirs with cheese on top and tortilla  on the side, I have mine in a bowl w. cheese and sour cream)

Tuesday: Boursin Chicken Pasta

(this is basically what I do except for the sauce I just stir the package or 2 of Boursin cheese and the parm straight into the broccoli pasta and chicken combo w. a cup of chicken broth. My crew does not like heavy creams!)

Wednesday: Leftovers

(see above)

Thursday: Slowcooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

(I chop red onions and celery into the slow cooker. Served with a side of potato chips and the kids get chicken nuggets)

Friday: Tacos and Guac

(use your imaginations

Week 1 Summary

This was our first week of CC (Classical Conversations) and because we were out of town for a large chunk of the previous week I chose to start school alongside the CC year. From what I gather, there are 1,001 ways to manage your Classical Conversations educational style (if there is such a thing as hardcore hippie homeschooling mamas, then I have met them now…they are all wearing shoes, but boldly declare you should teach the way that is best for your children. Something you would think is the bedrock of every homeschooling community but from my experience is not).

One of my son’s many gifts, and perhaps the one that comes most effortlessly to him, is the ability to memorize information quickly. CC is based off a lot of memorization and in class they teach little songs and chants to help the kiddos learn even before they are old enough to really grasp the material. For instance: My kid has been running around all week singing the Latin 1st Conjugation Endings Present Tense. CC has kids focus on rote memorization when they’re small, and they learn more in depth as they grow older (for more information seriously visit their website because I can’t begin to cover their learning model).

Seriously. We sing this in a song. And my children sound like tiny geniuses.

I need ideas to get started, so for our family we wait until the material is presented in class, and then work on memorizing and delving in a little deeper in certain areas the week after class. Some moms teach in the opposite direction-they present the material the week before, and their kids have it memorized by class day.

Day 1

Usually we will have a four day school week but this week was Labor Day. So our Day 1 started on CC Day.We did CC in the morning and our A Beka work that afternoon.

For A Beka we do the assigned worksheets, and for Phonics Tristan sometimes does a “freestyle” sheet where we work a little extra on some word-ly concept he is struggling with or excited about. Here he wanted to work on his sound “blends.” We have been practicing our one consonant and one vowel blends for a healthy chunk of this year. He is starting to step outside of the material and experiment with three syllable words.

I am not that impressed with their math curriculum and will probably be switching to Math-U-See at the New Year. Until then we will do 4 math lessons a week (even though 2 packages later they sent me the cursive math curriculum when I ordered the manuscript package).

Not. Bitter.

Day 2

We start our normal school days over breakfast (when Julian is strapped firmly into a high chair). We are going to spend the year doing assorted Bible readings. Right now we are reading through this book a chapter at a time which I LOVE and cannot say enough wonderful things about.


After we read a chapter we read our CC History Cards and one day a week we will be reviewing our Science Cards (there are multiple History Cards in a week but just one Science Card. Science experiments are done in class).

The Foundations Planner has a perfect little list of what the kids are learning every week. It makes it SUPER EASY to keep track of what we need to review.

For Day 2 we read our “Age of Ancient Empires, Creation and the Fall, The Flood and the Tower of Babel” History Cards (which synced perfectly with our Bible reading), and reviewed the Science Card on the “Seven Types of Biomes.” Tristan and Ella watched a YouTube video for children that was 15 minutes long and explained what a “biome” is in an easy format for little eyeballs to understand.

After breakfast we set Julian loose on the house and did our chant for the “8 Parts of Speech” (Ella thought this was by far the best part). I happen to have in my lovely book case some highly Andi Kay recommended Brian P. Cleary books that are perfect for little people learning basic grammar parts and rules. We read about Nouns and Verbs, and I am going to spend next week tracking down the rest of the books in the series (and so should you).

Day 3

Today we read “The Biggest Story” chapter 8, and the “Mesopotamia and Sumer” History Card. They watched a YouTube video on the Sumerians inventing a form of writing known as “cuneiform.” This went entirely over their heads but too bad because Mom thought it was cool and you’re on her time now you little stinkers…

After Julian went down for his nap we practiced our “8 Parts of Speech” some more at Ella’s request, reviewed our “1st Conjugation Endings Present Tense” song, and went through the CC memorization math facts for the week-counting by 1’s and 2’s.

We did our A Beka Lessons 38, which included Tristan taking an oral phonics test.

Ella has pre-school sheets that she freestyles while Tristan and I work. She takes them very, very seriously.

Hopefully next week I can present our work in a less word-vomit format but I make no promises…

Day 4 (*addition)

Actually it occurs to me that since our CC material wraps up on a Monday it’s more appropriate for my school week’s to run Tuesday-Monday for summary purposes. So here is day 4!

Basically we just filled in the week 1 gaps that we were missing from last week in review. We read our “Biggest Story” chapter and the remaining history cards for the week. I read them “Hairy Scary Ordinary” by Brian P. Cleary along with our 8 Parts of Speech memorization cards. Looking ahead to next week I see that the focus shifts to pronouns so I plan to stalk down his book on pronouns.

Sweet and Simple (Just Like I Take My Coffee)


Good morning from my collection of Wild Things!

We are on Day 3 of homeschooling through the 2016/2017 school year. Tristan is in 1st grade, Ella is in pre-school, and Julian is usually in trouble but he is slowly welcoming the idea that for chunks of the day he has to amuse himself quietly (albeit still destructively most of the time).

This year Michael and I enrolled the kiddos in a homeschool community called Classical Conversations. We are combining this with the ABeka curriculum for math and language arts for Tristan and books and little flashcards for Ella. For JuJu the end goal is to read to him more and chase him down the sidewalk in front of my house less.

Most of you know I love to write. This blog is going to be less focused on my creative genius and more focused on leaving a record of this year to help me and my fellow homeschool moms in the trenches as I continue the journey of education blah blah basically please know I am too tired to be very creative (like I get I should not use creative twice in one paragraph or now three times but who is too lazy to find a synonym? This girl) so this blog is going to be pretty bare bones.

I have to say thank you up front to my homeschool team: My husband, for working his butt off to give me the opportunity to stay home with our kids; my cousin, who is my homeschool group, my coffee date, and my park days all wrapped up in one insanity inducing/preventing “cousin day;” and my Andi, who…well, dragged me into this with her freakish combo of optimism and rabid determination, and has given me pretty much my entire homeschooling philosophy + my motivation + Classical Conversations when I was losing hope + talked me off that big yellow school bus countless times.

Thanks Mom for doing this in the 90’s before YouTube and Facebook homeschool Mom groups were a thing…and without a Michael, a Cousin, an Andi Kay, and a taste for coffee.

How. Did. You. Make. It.