Bookish Posts · Lifestyle

Biscuits and Honey

by Vicki.

This post may contain affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything, but we may get a little something. 

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If you follow our Instagram you might have seen yesterday’s post where I admitted that I was finding homeschooling to be a bit of  a struggle. I don’t know if its the weather, the fact that my baby is now a toddler and into everything, or just slow days turning into slow weeks turning into slow months. I sat down this week and figured out where we were in our My Father’s World Curriculum and it appears we are 4-6 weeks behind schedule (yes, a full month). Now, that doesn’t sound great, but to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was going to be much worse! The two week difference is because there is a Fruits of the Spirit unit at the end of the school year. I am not going to stress about getting that unit done before the end of June – I think we will just work through it over the course of the Summer. It can be a good way for Peyton to stay in the learning mindset before Grade 1 starts.

This week we are learning the letter “Ii” and discussing insects. The children’s book that accompanies this unit is “The Bee Tree”. This book is a really cute story about a Grampa taking his granddaughter on an adventure to find a bee tree. Along the way different people join the search and, once the tree is located, help with harvesting some honey. Afterwards they all enjoy the honey with biscuits, tea, music and dancing. The Grampa later draws a comparison between the hard search for the bee tree and its sweet honey reward to the hard work of learning to read and the sweet adventures that can be discovered between the pages of every book. A very cute story that both Peyton and Chase really enjoyed.

The curriculum suggested making biscuits and enjoying them with honey after reading “The Bee Tree”. The kids love helping in the kitchen, but I rarely include them in food prep because I don’t like mess. So, when I suggested that we all bake together, they were very excited. I found this easy scone recipe on Pinterest. It was fun baking with them, they were actually very helpful (and just a little bit messy). It also was exciting to see them try and enjoy doing something new. The whole process from start to warm-just-out-of-the-oven scones was less than half an hour. I’m sharing the recipe below because it really was quite easy and the scones were absolutely delicious!

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Simple Sweet Scones (from GeniusKitchen’s website)

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder,  1tsp salt, 8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut up), 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup milk

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 425°F (220 Celsius).
  2. Put flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; stir mix well Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
  3. Add sugar; toss to mix.
  4. Add milk and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms,(the dough may be a bit crumbly). Add a bit more milk if the dough isn’t crumbling or attaching to itself.
  5. Place dough on floured counter and knead gently until the dough comes together in a ball.
  6. Pat or roll into a circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.
  7. Cut each circle into 6 or 8 wedges.
  8. Place wedges on a greased cookie sheet- slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft.
  9. Bake about 12-16 minutes, or until medium brown on top.

If its rainy and chilly where you are (like it is here) these make a wonderful late afternoon snack with a hot cup of tea! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Lifestyle

How Homeschooling Happened in our Household.

by Vicki

Let me tell you a little (true) story.

It is February 19th of this year. It is unseasonably warm outside, with sunshine and a warm breeze. Inside our little house there’s an air of excitement. I am sitting on our couch snuggling a baby who is not yet 48 hours old. The adrenaline from receiving this beautiful gift from God is slowly ebbing away and being replaced with a deep, deep tired. I am looking with amazement at one of the three cutest babies ever born. In my head are swirling the questions that always fill my mind after having a baby: Will I be able to be the momma he deserves? Will he sleep for more than 1.5 hours tonight? Am I nursing properly? Will he love his LORD? Can I handle three kids while I only have two hands?

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I am so thankful to have this little human out in the world. Worried about his future. Hopeful for sleep. Sore from labour. Tired. So very tired. Really really tired.

Down the stairs bounds Mark from grabbing a receiving blanket. He plops down on the couch, hands me the blanket, throws his arm on the back of the couch, looks over at me and our new baby, and breezily says, “So, I was thinking we should homeschool Peyton this year!”

Upon seeing my eyes fill with tears and hearing me stammer, “W-w-what? S-s-seriously? School Peyton at home? With THREE kids?”, he quickly adds, “Which we should totally talk about at another time.”

This is Mark. This is the man that I love. And this is how he does life. We didn’t talk about his great idea that night. We sat and started at our baby and gushed about how wonderful he was.

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But the damage had been done. Now, swirling in my head along with all the “Dax” worries and thoughts was this niggling idea about keeping Peyton home for one more year and teaching her letters and numbers at home.

So, in typical Vicki style, I started researching: I read blog posts, searched articles, talked to homeschool moms that I knew, asked Danielle for curriculum recommendations, and prayed. Everything that I read, excited me. But then I would remember the life that I live – hanging out with friends who’s children are all in junior and senior kindergarten, my moms group and bible study that provide child care where the other children would be 1 or 2 years younger than Peyton, my desire for Peyton to be ‘socialized’, and the fact that often just keeping my house running properly was a lot for me.

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So I kept praying.

And slowly I started realizing that all those worries weren’t really enough to decide against homeschooling (for our family). I knew my friends, they wouldn’t turn their backs on me just because I had a 5 year old at home. I knew my church family, they wouldn’t be annoyed about a 5 year old in the child care facilities (especially one that plays well on her own and with kids of all ages). I knew that the worry of ‘socialization’ wasn’t really an issue at this age, Peyton knew how to make friends, has good friends, and will always be around other people. And I knew myself, sure my house might not be perfect, but I am capable of running a household and spending an hour and a half sitting with Peyton doing school.

Then I found the My Fathers World Curriculum. And that really helped to solidify my desire to keep Peyton home. I loved the lay out of the curriculum. It gives a lot of direction so my involvement (planning) could be as much or as little as I wanted. It uses a combination of regular schooling (doing desk work) and the Charlotte Mason approach (teaching with living facts (narrative books, etc.) and a hands-on approach). It contains week long units that encompass all the subjects (For example: next week we will focus on the letter “s”, learn about the sun, doing some sun projects, read poetry about the sun, and talk about how Jesus is the light of the world). With the purchase of the curriculum I also received 26 renowned children’s books, which allowed me to justify the cost of the curriculum because even if homeschooling doesn’t work out, at least I have 26 great new books to add to our library (I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe).

And so we decided to keep Peyton home for one more year. We just decided when Dax was a couple of months old instead of only 2 days old ;).

IMG_0567We just finished our first two weeks of school. And it is hard. But, we are enjoying it. Peyton is excited about school each day and finds the weekends kind of long. We have been able to go on a field trip already and have done some cool projects. Peyton and I are both learning a lot about each other. I am so thankful that this is the route we have chosen to take. I am even more thankful for this “extra” time that I get with my precious Peyton.

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I have a couple of homeschooling posts in the pipeline, so stay tuned!!


** Chase needed to have a first day of school picture too. Homeschooling plus: Chase and Peyton are truly becoming the best buds!

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Bookish Posts

What I Read, What I am Reading and What I will Read Next. (And, as a bonus, What I am Listening To)

By Katie


I was planning on doing this post mid month, but the mid of the mid to the end of the month is close enough, right?

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This is a totally natural pose for my books.  This is my life.
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The 100th book.

If you follow us on instagram, you will have seen that I recently have read my 100th book.   That puts me on track to finish about 135 books this year, which is on par for last year.  I thought I would read less this year because I  read some behemoths this year, like City on Fire (I rated it a 4, it was a depressing 900 page read with no hope until everything worked out for everybody on the last 3 pages) (but it was  well-written), The Dovekeepers (a gorgeous book, I rated it a 10), and The Golem and the Jinni (loved it, rated it a 8, though I feel, looking back, it should be at least a 9).   I guess the bigger books were balanced shorter books like the  Narnia Series (I read this series to Atticus), a Judy Blume novel, and 2 Newberry Medal winners, The One and Only Ivan (highly recommend this book!) and Moon over Manifest (I loved, loved, loved it!).

I don’t do book challenges as a rule.  I love reading, I don’t want to make it a chore or something I need to cross off my list.  But, looking forward to being a mom of 4 4 and under, I am thinking of challenging myself to read through the Newberry Medal winners and honour list next year.  I am not sure how much brain power I will have for reading once the twins are here so these shorter reads may be just what I need to get through 2018!

Anyways.

I should get down to business.  I know that is what you are here for……..

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What I read:

51I7LCRhT6L._SL160_I just finished The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda.  It a psychological thriller that is a quick read and has a compelling story line.

Moving to the middle of nowhere after her journalism careers blows up, Leah Stevens rooms with an old friend from 8 years previous.   Shortly after she arrives, 2 bodies are found in the local lake and her roommate goes missing.  Only there is no proof the roommate ever existed.   Narrated from Leah’s perspective, her story seems completely plausible.  But is it?

This is not my favourite type of read.  My true love is literary fiction: great writing, and prose you want to sink in to.   But I do need quick, compelling books to break up the literary fiction books which can be heavier and more thought-provoking.

61ldE5ZNZ2L._SL160_I am currently reading The History of Bees by  Maja Lunde .  This is the book I received from PageHabit, which is a subscription box service that sends annotated copies of new releases.  You can pick from 8 different of genres, including historical fiction, sci fi, mystery, and, my choice, literary fiction.   I also got a pair of socks, book page markers and a short story that was very disappointing.   I am loving the annotations in The Life of Bees!  It adds so much to the story to get the background on the research done by the author, the way the book changed as it was written and edited, and the general musings of the author.    PageHabit also donates money to different literary charities around the world that serve under-read communities.  So its a win-win.

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This is what my reading life looks like: flowers and sun.

The History of Bees takes place in 3 time periods: mid 19th century, modern day, and the end of the 21st century.   Telling the story of 3 different people at different times in the history of bees, with the bees all gone by 2093, disappearing in 2007 and totally fine in 1852, Lunde is weaving a masterful, beautifully written story.   With the death of bees on the news recently and new measures being pushed in to try stop the bee population decline, it seems like a poignant read right now!

51aLxQqr2IL._SL160_I am going to pick up Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout next because I waited forever for it from the library and I can’t renew it because there are still holds on it.  (I find the library holding system often dictates what I read next.)  I read My Name is Lucy Barton by Strout earlier this year in because AiP was coming out.  (I was told you don’t need to read them in order, but I prefer to.  I feel that, even in non-linear series, the author tends to write like you have the knowledge the previous books imparted about reoccurring characters.)   Lucy Barton was a quick read (I started and finished it on the car ride to one of the Tea’s house this summer) and Anything is Possible seems similar in length so I should knock it off in a day or so.  I rated Lucy Barton a 10, so I have high hopes for this one!

And, of course, what am I listening to:

(If you don’t think that audio books count as reading, see what I have to say about that here.)

512b908vxPL._SL160_My current audio book is Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  I had no idea what this book was about when I chose it (except that it was labelled as the next A Thousand Splendid Suns   by Khaled Hosseini).  Little Bee is about a teen aged refugee in Britain who reconnected with a British couple who saved her life 5 years earlier, but had failed to save the life of her sister.  It is a heart breaking look into the refugee life, what drives a person to leave their home country, what awaits them in developed countries, and what could happen if they are deported.

I think that in a society where so much of our discussions on refugees and our responsibilities to them deals with refugees a mass group (which is a daunting and impossible issue), it is good to look at individual stories.  It is good to remember that every refugee is an individual human being.  Reading stories about refugees helps to build empathy in a world that is so focused ‘on my worldview, my opinion, my interpretation.’

What are some good books you have picked up lately?  What is on your TBR pile?

Bookish Posts

What I Read. What I am Reading. What I will Read Next

By Katie


This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Its costs you nothing but we get a little something. 
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Part of my capacity at Three Teas and a Coffee is Official Reader.  This is a hard won and very coveted title.  I will try to do it justice.  But, because we (and by we, I mean the Teas) don’t want to become a book-only blog, I am going to try to limit myself to 1 or 2 monthly posts about books.

My reading life can be summed up by William Styron who said,

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” 

(This clearly shows that people who are out living YOLO are just illiterate.)

Books open up the world to you.  They allow you to walk in someone else’s (or some other species!) shoes.  They teach compassion, discernment.  They educate.  They allow you to live!

If you don’t like to read….What on earth is wrong with you?!?!

Just kidding.  Kind of. OK, I wasn’t really kidding at all. (Just kidding.)

I know I read a lot, most likely more than the average person.  I read about 130 books last year and over 140 the year before (this year will be less because I have been reading some behemoths).   When I mention how much I read, often people say “I couldn’t do that.  I don’t have time.”  But then I hear from everybody about the latest Survivor, Game of Thrones, or How I met your Big Bang Modern Office.  It’s a matter of priorities, people!

If you enjoy reading, or want to read more I am going to post what I have read, what I am reading and what I plan on reading next.  The last one is hard because I don’t plan my reading months in advance, and I don’t do book-reading lists or challenges.  I choose my next book based on what catches my eye at the moment I finish the last page of my current book.

51lBlxNIx3L._SY346_I just finished The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon.  It was a really quick read which I finished in less than 36 hours (and that includes volunteering at VBC and painting our bathroom!)(and some parenting…)   It is a story of 2 army wives in Jordan during the Arab Spring in 2011.  It left me wanting more, and not only a more in depth look at the political climate and culture, but also into the motives and ambitions of all the characters.  I felt that Fallon skimmed over everything and ended up with a rushed novel, though she has a lot of praise for the novel on the back cover, so maybe I missed something.

Hourglass                                                                                                                              I am currently reading Hourglass by Dani Shapiro. This is a 2017 release, but I didn’t have to wait too long on my library’s hold list.  I just started it, but so far, I think I am going to love it.  It is the sort of memoir I love: a mix of story-telling, musing, and essay with lots of thought-provoking lines in it.  I love good writing, and I love poignant passages.  This book promises to deliver both.

 

Bone ClocksI am going to read The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) next.  I found it in my library and, having heard references to it in the book-o-sphere, I took it home (after checking it out of course.) (Which can be harder than you may think because I have a book-a-holic son who thinks the couple books I take home take room away from the 30 books he takes home.)   It is a fantasy/sci-fi novel following Holly, who has mystic abilities, and a war between two immortal factions.    I picked it up because the title The Bone Clocks refers to humans as our bones count down our  mortal days.  I like the poetic sound of that!

And because I know you want to know, I will tell you I also listen to audio books.   Audio books are a great way to increase the amount you read because you can read while doing mundane chores.

Or mundane parenting….(not that I would ever turn on my audio book on days where my kids are whining and being difficult.  Nope.  Never.)

And if you are one of those crazies that thinks audio books are cheating, Forbes details here how, though there isn’t a lot of research done on the topic, current research shows that listening is as good as or better than reading.  And if you like pictures, here are some cool infographics that show the benefit of audio books.

If you still aren’t convinced, think of all studies that show reading aloud to children increases their literacy rates.   You are the audio book to your kid, and there are long-term benefits.  Growing up doesn’t erase your access to those benefits. (On another note, get audio books for your kids – very entertaining way to eliminate TV time!)

So, what am I listening to?  Glad you asked!

100 yo man                                                                                                                                I am just finishing up The 100 year old man who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared.  It is a humorous tale of Allan’s life and his touch in all major political events in the 21st century.  I love tales of journeys, both emotional and physical, and this one has both.

 

 

I listen to most of my audio books via Overdrive and borrow them from my library.  You can also sign up for Audible where you get your first month free.

What are you reading?

What have you just finished?

How big is your TBR pile?



This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Its costs you nothing but we get a little something. 
Lifestyle

#FridayIntroductions

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This is us.

Vicki, Katie, Kara, Danielle.

Most of these pictures were taken by Rita Zietsma Photography . Even though they were taken less than 1 year ago some of them are already out of date – our family is definitely in “baby stage”! I guess we’ll have to book another session sooner than later.

VGrootheest Fam Danielle 2016 Sep 17_21

Hi! I’m Danielle. The oldest daughter – the leader of the clan. Well, at least in theory.

I am married to a wonderful man and we have been blessed with four children. Our days are filled with baseball, soccer, crafts, reading, and fort building.

After staying home with my kids for the past 8 years I am beginning a new chapter in my life – that of a working mom. When our three oldest return to school this September I will be right there with them – as a part time teacher in the grade one classroom.

I hope you enjoy reading about our life,  thoughts, and antics.

VGrootheest Fam Katie 2016 Sep 17_2

Hi.  My name is Katie.

I am the coffee of Three Teas and a Coffee.

I love coffee, reading, gardening, plants and my family.   Not necessarily in that order, though it depends on the day  😀

We are a family of 6, though 2 of us are still in-utero.   I believe my 2 unborn children are no less my children then my born children, which is why they already count.

My husband, will is a carpenter; which is good, because we tend to buy old, run-down houses that need a lot of work.   We are currently renovating our second home.  I am currently thinking why on earth anyone would do this once, let alone twice.  Just kidding.  I enjoy it.  Most of the time.

Atticus (3.5) is my first born. He is a ball of energy, loves the outside, loves books almost as much as his mama and loves to eat.  He loves the animals we have accumulated so far, and is constantly asking for more. Vivien (2) is my second born.  She is fiercely independent, until she isn’t.  She loves ferociously, which means the animals try to avoid her.  She is a nonstop ball of energy, until she’s not.  When she is tired, she lays down. As I said the twins are still in-utero.   I will let you know their personalities once they make them known.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you find this blog interesting.

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Hi! I’m Vicki.

I’m married to my highschool sweetheart, Mark. He’s a stone mason, a member of our church’s worship team, an avid sports fan, a truly amazing father to our children, and my best friend (I’m the sappy sister!). We have three children – Peyton (4), Chase (3), and Dax (6 months). Our kids are each unique and special, and we thank God daily for blessing us with them.

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Dax joined the family after our photoshoot. He has been the best fifth addition to our little family!

I enjoy being a mom, visiting with friends, having a clean and tidy house, playing games, eating good food, watching HGTV, decorating (and redecorating) the rooms in my little home, Summer days, camping, snuggles on the couch with any of my three kiddos (and maybe my husband), listening (and dancing) to worship music withe my kids, and learning more about my Jesus.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with me and my sisters!

VGrootheest Fam Kara 2016 Sep 17_71

I’m Kara, the youngest of the four.

I am married to a farmer who plans to attend seminary and become a pastor. His name is Tsjibbe, pronounced ‘Chibba’, and we have a beautiful baby girl named Zoe.

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Zoe joined the family after the photoshoot as well. She is such a joy to our little (and big) family.

I recently finished by Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology and a minor in Theatre Arts.  Although I hope to one day return to school to get my Masters, right now I am a happy SAHM.

I love to bake and cook. I also enjoy knitting, crocheting, and sewing, although each of these hobbies are often neglected for months at a time.

I love writing, and am looking forward to writing for this blog!

Lifestyle

Our Very First Post

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Welcome to our very first post. Please, come along on a journey with us.

Imagine, if you will, that you have driven up to any one of our houses on any one of the rare days that we are all together. You would enter the house and, depending on the season, would be greeted with 10 pairs of small sandals and flip flops, damp towels and swim suits draped over chairs or hanging on hooks, or, you would see 10 pairs of wet boots strewn across the floor, snow suits hanging up to dry and many, many pairs of mismatched mitts lying all over the ground.

If you were able to navigate safely through this obstacle course you would enter into a home where you would hear little voices squealing with delight, shouts of victory as a game or competition is completed, belly laughter as big cousins make little cousins laugh, voices rising and lowering as a detailed game of house or cats or Playmobil or train is dictated to each other, the occasional squabble, and the general hum of happy children who love each other, and love playing together.

You would smell numerous aromas from oil diffusers, to fresh paint, to dirty diapers, to wood burning fires, to fresh baking or supper cooking, to paint and glue from kids’ crafts, to the sweet smell of fresh babies.

You would look around, and depending on whose home you had entered, would notice a 100 year old farmhouse being lovingly restored, a small townhome filled with DIY, a bright farmhouse with years of family history, or a raised ranch nearly completely renovated and fresh. Each house has different styles and decor, but each house feels like a home where people live, love, and grow.

If, after all of this, you haven’t been taken down by the tiny army we created, excited to tell you their latest stories or include you in one of their numerous games; if you haven’t been distracted by a project on the go, or a book left open on a couch; if you haven’t stopped to see what oil is diffusing or to sit and enjoy the warm fire, you would come to the dining room. And there, sitting on top of the table, you would see three teas and a coffee. And, when one of us isn’t changing a diaper, or settling a toddler dispute, or feeding a baby, you would see four sisters.

Four sisters completely different and yet very much the same.

You would see 10 years between the oldest and the youngest.

You would see 350 km stretching from the eastern-most home to the western-most home.

You would see a teacher, a modern-day pioneer, a planner, and an aspiring psychologist.

You would see a mother of 4, a mother of twins, a mother dealing with postpartum, and a brand new mother of one.

You would see university degrees and career diplomas.

You would see laugh lines and messy buns.

If you took some moments to listen you would hear laughter over childhood memories, emphatic (but kind) political debates, discussions about disciplining children, tears as heartaches and struggles are shared, encouragement for new journeys and for journeys that feel never-ending. One would tell of her chickens’ latest antics, another the latest stories in her classroom, another of her latest room “re-do”, and another of life as the wife of a student. You would listen as they discussed family budgeting tips, meal prep and planning ideas, vacation dreams and plans, and stories from last week. You would hear them share their favourite products, books, foods, and TV shows (for binge watching while cluster feeding babies). You would see them share their love for their Saviour and hear as they discuss their churches and latest devotions.  Even though their lives are different, they would, for that day, do life together.

You would leave feeling like you had witnessed something beautiful and messy, peaceful but chaotic, intricate and yet simplistic.

Our hope for this blog is that we can use it to experience these sister visits more regularly than just once every few months. We have something special in our sisterhood. Something that encourages, stretches, challenges and grows us.  What we want for this blog is to share our lives and to connect, with each other and with you.

We are four sisters. This is our one blog. Please join us.

Much love from, All of us.