An Interview… with Carey, Napoleon, Beethoven, and Wilberforce!

(Posted by Writer)

Everyone loves our history curriculum this year, History Revealed. Every four weeks we get to do Creative Week, in which we take the things we learned during the past month and express them creatively. Of course, we usually end up doing a comedy of some kind, and though we usually don’t post school projects, we all thought you’d appreciate this video.

Last week we chose to interview four of the most interesting characters from the early nineteenth century. Strawberry interviews yours truly as William Carey, “the founder of modern missions”; Handyman as Napoleon Bonaparte, general/dictator/all around military genius; Cowgirl as Ludwig von Beethoven, deaf (and might I add volatile) composer; and Happy as William Wilberforce, abolitionist/politician. Even when asked the same questions, these four men give very diverse and interesting answers!

Note: If you are having trouble viewing the video within the blog, click HERE to go directly to the youtube video.

One Simple Way to Build Relationships with Your Children

NOTE: To read more posts about raising children, be sure to visit our PARENTING PAGE!


My favorite tip for building relationships with our children is a simple one. It doesn’t require much money, time, or energy, and yet it brings such joy and closeness between each parent with each child. What is it?

Buddy Nights!

Buddy nights are just what you might imagine: one parent and one young buddy going out for some one-on-one time. We prefer to actually leave the house for buddy nights, because just as when a husband and wife go out on a date, the whole atmosphere is different and more intimate when you are alone with undivided attention. We can talk more, and listen easily with no distractions. Our children know that we are 100% theirs for a few hours, that they are important to us, and that we believe they are worth setting aside special time for.

How does it work?

For us, buddy nights happen every Thursday after dinner. Having it scheduled and on the calendar has been key for us. Back when we first started buddy nights, we did not have a set, scheduled day, but would simply “aim” for it weekly. Without a pre-determined date on the calendar, however, those special evenings would be hit or miss.

Putting the event on our calendars creates a plan and a commitment, which helps ensure it actually happens. Using Google Calendar has the added benefit of sending us timely reminders, so we can not forget our plans!

My husband and I take turns for buddy night. He’ll take a child out one week, and I will take one the next. The kids take turns as well. We started a while back with our oldest, and worked our way down to the youngest. When we got through everyone, we started over again, reversing the parents so that each parent could spend special time with each child.

So for example:

  • Week 1: Dad takes Writer out for buddy night
  • Week 2: Mom takes Handyman
  • Week 3: Dad takes Cowgirl

and so on.

After all kids have had their weeks, we start over, but this time:

  • Week 1: Mom takes Writer
  • Week 2: Dad takes Handyman


Currently, all children except our one-year-old have regular buddy nights with us. That means it takes two months to go through the entire cycle of children, and each one gets about six buddy nights a year.

What does a buddy night look like?

Buddy nights vary in how they play out every week, with one exception: Dessert!

In our kids’ minds, dessert tends to be an essential beginning of an ideal buddy night. On those occasions when we go out to dinner as a family, we never order dessert because… well… $3-6 per person times eleven people is just ridiculous! Whole family desserts happen at home, for the most part. Buddy nights, however, provide an opportunity to try the cheesecake, creme-brulee, or chocolate lava cake without breaking the bank. And our kids relish it!

Sometimes dessert is all we do, and that is truly enough to foster conversation and strengthen relationships. However, we usually do something else as well. Shopping often happens. Somehow my buddy nights with my boys tend to happen when they are in need of shoes, so we will go shoe-shopping. When I’m with one of the girls, they often want to go look at dresses, scarves, shoes and such. My husband doesn’t really do dress-shopping, but he’s happy to take a stroll through Target or Hobby Lobby from time to time.

little buddy

Handsome left the house as a cowboy, and returned as a Neverland Pirate

Sometimes we may do something extra special, such as hitting golf balls, miniature golf, bowling, or seeing a movie.

A small but important note on older kids:

With older children who are sometimes reluctant to open up, a long drive is helpful. Side by side in the car together, where they don’t need to make eye contact, they are often more open to sharing their hearts. For this reason, we sometimes choose destinations that are farther from home.

Is this they only one-on-one time they get?

By no means is this they only time we spend alone with our children. As homeschoolers, we are together nearly all the time! We work to keep our lives light on “activities,” so that we are always available when our children want to talk, or when we want to have a conversation with them. I often call one of them to sit at my bedside and chat, or make an extra cup of tea or coffee and invite one to sit at the kitchen table with me. Often if I’m heading out of the house, I invite one to come along. Our life is full of one-on-one moments!

Buddy nights help us to ensure that we are intentional in prioritizing time with each of our children. We are striving to live our lives purposefully, rather that just floating along wherever the wind blows. Relationships with our children are so dear and important to us, and buddy nights are one way of arranging our lives to make time to nurture that. Those hours we spend are so precious, and I know that we will never regret one moment of it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and ideas on growing relationships with your children! Please leave a comment and share!

NOTE: To read more posts about raising children, be sure to visit our PARENTING PAGE!

A Tea Party!

We have been studying the late 1700s/early 1800s. For culture week, one of our activities was to hold an old fashioned English tea party!

The girls made tea sandwiches and  delicious scones, both blueberry and chocolate chip. We used beautiful tea cups that we found at a thrift store, turned on some classical music, and got dressed up.


The girls own a few formal gowns that a family member passed along to them. I found my dress at the same thrift store as the tea cups, and I wore my wedding jewelry from 19 years ago!  The girls pieced together a sweet outfit for Strawberry, and put her hair in an adorable ribbon. Baby Princess wore a dress that my oldest daughter wore in a wedding fourteen years ago! Most of the boys dressed up too, gentlemen that they are.

Most of us took on the name and persona of a Jane Austen character. Joining our party were Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Bennett, and Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice), along with Elinor Dashwood and Margaret Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility). The men in the party were Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley (Pride and Prejudice), and Mr. Knightley (Emma).

Those of you who like Jane Austen, I know you’re enjoying this. Those who don’t, just nod your heads and humor us Austen geeks.


The guy in the yellow t-shirt was “John.” I don’t know who John is or where he appeared in an Austen book, but that is who Sonshine wanted to be.


This young man, on the other hand, hailed from the American colonies. He wanted to be called simply, “Cowboy.” The American’s manners were good natured but rather unrefined for a proper tea party (smile), but the ladies took a liking to his rugged good looks.

Jane Bennett prepares tea for Charlotte Lucas.

teaparty4Young Miss Margaret Dashwood enjoys the scones!teaparty5

Pinkies up as drank our tea!



Personalized Napkin Rings

napkin rings2We recently converted to cloth napkins, a good fit for our family, which races through napkins at lightning speed. I found some nice black napkins at Amazon, and bought 48 of them. This may sound like a lot, but when you consider that eleven people sit down for three meals a day, with occasional dinner guests, we wanted to have a large stock so we won’t ever run out.

To avoid laundering 33 napkins a day (one napkin per person, three meals a day), we set some ground rules:

  1. Everyone takes a fresh napkin at breakfast.
  2. If their napkin is still reasonably clean after breakfast, they save it to use again after lunch.
  3. If it’s dirty, they toss it in the laundry basket.
  4. The same applies after lunch.
  5. After dinner, all napkins are tossed in with laundry whether they appear dirty or not.

Since napkins are reused throughout the day, we want to ensure that everyone had their “own” daily napkin. Even though re-used napkins are all pretty clean, no one else wants to use a napkin someone else may have wiped their mouth with. This is where the napkin rings come in! By using personalized napkin rings, everyone puts their napkins in their own rings, thus avoiding the spread of germs and overall yuckiness.

I ordered simple, square-shaped, black napkin rings, eighteen in all, from eBay. Since we have lots of Mickey Mouse fans in our household, I used a paint pen to draw a simple Mickey head on each napkin ring, and wrote out each family member’s name underneath. We have seven extras on hand for company, with just a Mickey head and no name.

I have no idea how long the paint will survive. Quick touch-ups should be easy, but I really hope that they’re not often needed. Perhaps a layer of clear nail polish or some sort of craft glaze would help prolong our efforts?

The project was so easy and inexpensive, and yet I love the classic, simple look with a touch of Disney whimsy!

napkin rings blur

How do you like our new look?


If you visited our blog at all yesterday, you may have seen some crazy looking stuff! Clashing colors, several headers auditioning for the role of “Header of the Year,” widgets being moved all over the place, all while I hoped nobody would happen to click into the blog at precisely that moment and see the mess.

This happens sometimes when I get bored with the design and decide to change things up. I do the same thing with furniture in my house.

Anyhow, I’m going for a more clean, fresh look and feel. The new blog-do also inspired me to snap a few family pictures to use in the new header. Sweet Happy and Cowgirl also took a photo of Iron Man and me. Although I’m not using it in the header, I wanted to at least share it here.

I really like the new design, at least for now. Give me a year, and I’ll probably want to try something completely different.  Does anyone else enjoy redecorating blogs and homes?