Poetry, Teatime, Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday, Shakespeare and More!!!

April is National Poetry Month!

So many good ideas, events, occasions and special themes are all converging in the next couple of weeks.

We have been enjoying Poetry Teatimes every Wednesday for the last several months. We have used children’s poetry books I got at the library. I enjoy “The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. A. Milne the most and read poems from it each time. I have a little book for Abby called “A Small Child’s Book of Cozy Poems” that I let her choose a poem from, then I read it aloud. She is not reading yet. Fiona has a favorite Poetry book called, “Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart” by Mary Ann Hoberman that she chooses poems from and reads aloud during our teatime. The boys have chosen darker and more complicated poems from The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems.

I am excited because I found some new poetry books at the library, and I’m anxious to set those out today to see what the kids choose to read from them. I have some by Jack Prelutsky and some books that have “reversos” in them written by Marilyn Singer. If you haven’t heard of “reversos”, you really need to check out “Mirror, Mirror” and “Follow, Follow” by Marilyn Singer.

Well, we had the Poetry Teatime yesterday, and Gary got to read some Jack Prelutsky poems with us. They were funny, and we had a good time with them. Shawn read some poems from a book I found at the library called “The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry”. They were really funny. We all really laughed out loud and enjoyed them. I was so happy to have Gary and Shawn join us. It made the occasion even more special and fun.







Another exciting occasion that I plan to celebrate is Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday on April 12th. I have checked out the audio books of her books about Ramona and her books about Henry Huggins. I plan to have the kids listen to them in the next couple of days. And then Read Aloud Revival is observing Drop Everything and Read Day and has a book club kit that you can download here: D.E.A.R Day

We may do a teatime to celebrate her birthday and listen to the audiobooks of Ramona or Henry.

And then, we will probably do a Shakespeare-themed teatime soon. I will have to figure out how to incorporate the other children besides Morgan into this.

A new website called Poetry Teatime has just launched, and it contains lots of good ideas for how to celebrate National Poetry Month. There are lots of other good ideas for how to have a Poetry Teatime at this website, too.

I have several other books ready to read aloud to everyone. We need to read some books to be ready for the next author event at Read-Aloud Revival. I have books by Candace Fleming that were highly recommended by Sarah Mackenzie at RAR. They are “Boxes for Katje” and “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!”. The next Author Access Event is scheduled for April 17th.

I listened to the Author Access Event from March featuring Laura Purdie Salas. I found out about some really nice books and got them from the library, too. “A Leaf Can Be,” A Rock Can Be,” and “Water Can Be”. They are very imaginative and well-done. The illustrations are a good match for the words. This author is very good at thinking of common things in unusual ways and finding rhyming words to describe them in phrases that consist of only two words. Another good book by her is called “Book Speak” which is full of poems about books. Very creative and imaginative, these books are a joy to read aloud to children.

I also have books for children about spiritual warfare from Frostie Hall. She sent them to me when I asked for suggestions of something to read aloud on Facebook. She wrote a trilogy called “Dread Champions of the King”. I read them to the older kids several years ago when my neighbor let me borrow them.

I also have the audio adventure about Alfred the Great by G. A. Henty called “The Dragon and the Raven”.

This is not so much a wrap-up as a planning post. But I wanted to get everything in one place so that I will be more likely to get it done.

Monthly Wrap-up: March Madness

We have been so busy that I couldn’t do a weekly wrap-up for a while, so here is a monthly wrap-up.

Check out our Poetry Teatime in the middle of the post. This may be something that you will want to try. It is really a blast!

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Morgan and fellow cast

The spotlight has been on Morgan recently, literally! He got his head shots done, and they turned out really good.

Then he auditioned for a play and got a part. He went to rehearsal twice a week for over a month. Then the performances were on Mar. 4 and 5. The cast did great! They got really close. Morgan went around and prayed for each one to do their part well and not to be nervous and whatever else they needed prayer for. They were amazed at him!

Poetry Teatime

We have started a new tradition! Poetry Teatime! I checked out several poetry books from the library. I try to find a special snack for each Teatime. We made monkey bread for one. We ate cheesecake for the next one. Then we made brownies and took them out of the oven too soon, so we had gooey brownies for the one after that. Some of us actually drink tea. Others drink milk, which has been the perfect accompanying beverage for many of our treats.

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I have scheduled these for Wednesdays, and so far we have been very consistent in doing them as planned. Very unusual for us!

This is how we do a Poetry Teatime. We find poems we like and then read them aloud to everyone at the table. I have found some very nice poems, and the children have found some that they liked, too. It has been a very enjoyable time for all of us.


Poetry Tea Time today included Morgan telling us riddles.

Posted by Penney Hawkey Douglas on Wednesday, March 9, 2016

On this particular day, Morgan told us riddles. As you can see in the video, Morgan memorizes these riddles and then stumps the rest of the family. It added to the fun. We have really had a good time with our Poetry Teatimes.

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Two sweet little girls ready for Poetry Teatime.


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The big kids have found a nice way to make money on the weekends. They do something called “shakerboarding”. They dress up as some kind of character and then hold a sign advertising some new homes that have been built in our area. They have been Santa, a reindeer, a merry gentleman, leprechauns, an Irish dancer and Pocahontas. Shawn, Patrick, Anna, Kelsey and Morgan have all been able to participate in this. The only problems have been some pretty bad sunburns and a bit of boredom here and there. But, hey, they are making some money, and that’s always good!

Anna shaker boarding

On the Read-Aloud front, I finished reading “The Green Ember” to Kelsey, Morgan, Fiona, and Garrett yesterday. We took our sweet time reading it. I think we spread it over five months or so. But we really loved the book. We got interrupted by many things, including Christmas. And it’s hard to get the four kids together that I read it to. I read it to Kelsey and Morgan and the twins. Kelsey missed the end because she was at work yesterday. She works at Papa Murphy’s, a Take and Bake pizza place. She has a wonderful boss, who is like a second father to her. And she loves her job.

And I finished reading “Pilgrim’s Inn” to Shawn. He is 25 years old, but we still enjoy reading a book together. So I was thrilled when I read the first two books of “The Eliot Trilogy” and was inspired to ask Shawn if he would like me to read them to him and he said YES!!! So we read “The Bird in the Tree” and “Pilgrim’s Inn” together and thoroughly enjoyed the stories and our time together. What a delight! Seriously! We both really enjoyed the experience. As soon as we finished “Pilgrims Inn”, Shawn said, “Now you have to get the third book”, so I went to Amazon immediately and ordered the third book in the series, “The Heart of the Family”. We should get it today! These books are by an amazing author named Elizabeth Goudge. I have only read these books by her, but I highly recommend them, and I’m sure her others are wonderful, too.

I did read a short story by her at Christmas time, called “I Saw Three Ships”. I read it to the younger children, and we enjoyed the story.

Anna is studying to be a personal trainer.

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She is doing an exhaustive study!


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Patrick is helping Gary with some of his technical writing. Can you say “apprenticeship”?


We planted a garden!

Summer of 2015

I put together a collage of our summer. The Texas heat didn’t bother us much!

Check it out here:


Guinea pigs have been a fun addition to our family. Our neighbor gave us two females. We named them Bubbles and Lily.

One day, Bubbles had a baby! We were happily surprised. We named the baby Nugget. He is a male. So when he was 3 weeks old, we had to put him in a separate cage.

The kids are having lots of fun with the guinea pigs.

If you don’t have much experience with guinea pigs or especially if you do, you might enjoy these fun video adventures of two guinea pigs named Carmy and Claire.

They are hilarious!!!

Hope your summer was fun!

Weekly Wrap-up Oct. 27-31: In Which A Lizard is Found, Preparations are Made and a Bake Sale is a Success

It all started when I decided to have a garage sale this coming weekend. I told Kelsey she could have a Bake Sale, too, if she wanted to. She did.

First, we cleaned out the garage.

We organized the things we wanted to sell (mostly Christmas ornaments I got at after-Christmas sales last year) and stacked boxes so the garage was clear.

I brought in a box of Gilbert Morris books I’ve been wanting to read. (We still have lots of things in boxes because we want to move to the country soon – like yesterday!) And I screamed! Something big ran out from under the box. I couldn’t tell if it was a big spider or what it was, but it sure moved fast.







We caught the creature and put it in our Creature Keeper, where Garrett examined it closely.



It was this little guy – a leopard gecko!


We kept him in the house for about an hour, so we could get a good look at him. Katie held him up so he could smile for the camera. Then we released him so he could go back outside and eat some more insects for us.



While cleaning the garage we found a box of clothes that we hadn’t seen in a long time. I let the little girls have it for “dress up”.



Then Katie made pizzas for all of us. She makes the best pizzas! All from scratch. We all love Katie’s pizza.



Then the pizza started disappearing.


One slice at a time.



Garrett practiced his photography skills.


Then Patrick found Abby’s new scarf.


And a Nerf Battle Axe.


He experimented with different looks.


Then we got busy making our garage sale signs.


The twins helped a lot with that.

Kelsey made lots of cookies, including chocolate chip and pumpkin chocolate chip, walnut chocolate oatmeal bars, pumpkin rolls and double decker fudge. She was busy baking all day long!

It paid off. She made $50!

I made somewhere between $30 and $40 on my garage sale.

We’re going to try again in 3 weeks. It will be closer to Christmas, and that will give time for Patrick’s Santa suit to arrive, so he can help advertise the sale in style!

This week I’m linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Homegrown Learners.

Weekly Wrap-up: Autumn is Here!

Morgan had just started taking violin lessons before we left Pennsylvania. He was doing so well, and his teacher, Mrs. Walsh, hated to lose him. I tried to find him a teacher when we first arrived in Texas, but I couldn’t really commit to the cost of lessons at first.

After 2 years, he finally asked the patriarch of the Rovak family, friends of ours who have met many of our needs during the time we’ve been here in Texas, if he would teach him how to play violin. He agreed, so Morgan has resumed violin lessons! He loves working with Mike Rovak. They seem to be well-suited to each other.


Kelsey has been on a pumpkin spree. She made these pumpkin cookies and decorated them.


She made pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin bread pudding today. She made peanut butter fudge yesterday. Yum!


She put out our Autumn decorations and made a nice centerpiece for our table.




And we did some preschool activities that we got for free.





We had fun coloring the scarecrows on the counting cards. Even Mommy colored a few scarecrows.

Scarecrow Counting freebie from Little Learning Lovies.


Capital and Lower Case Letter Matching freebie from Frugal Homeschool Family.

And Morgan and Kelsey are continuing their study of World War II by watching on Netflix a documentary called “Nicky’s Family” about Sir Nicholas Winton who saved over 600 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia before the Nazis invaded. He flew them out of Czechoslovakia to England and matched them up with British families that fostered them until the war was over. It was a very touching documentary.

We have also been reading a book called “Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist” by John B. Severance. It is a very interesting book.

I am enjoying this study. It is the most thorough study I have ever done of World War II.

I hope Kelsey and Morgan are getting something out of it, too.

And tonight we made s’mores around the campfire.



This is how dark it really was to us. Without the flash of the camera. It was kind of hard to see what we were doing.




What a delicious ending to our week!