Unique Yuletide Book Reports… yes, book reports

Every December we drag out a large box of unique book reports that my daughters began compiling many moons ago. Why would we revisit a crate full of elementary- and middle-school book reports every yuletide season? Because they aren’t chicken-scratch-filled, wide-ruled papers exuding uninteresting details of easy-reader books that no one will ever read again. They’re origami ocean creatures, Shrinky Dink Anne Shirleys, mini Sculpey clay cakes that announce “Eat Me,” and many other handmade Christmas ornaments reminiscent of characters, scenes, and our favorite quotes from classic books we’ve read together over the years.

Our Family Reading Tree A Unique Book Report, Christmas Style

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A summer afternoon like I enjoyed as a kid… sorta

On hot summer afternoons when I was 11 I would read a minimum of one book a day, usually curled up on the plaid couch in the cool basement family room. Miss Elisabeth, my local librarian, expected to see me amble into the Kirkwood Highway Library every third or fourth day, checking out a new stack of  paperback adventures.

When shadows started to creep over my backyard, giving some respite from the day’s humidity, Jane Stewart and I would meet under my Maple tree and act out our current favorite Pop song while bellowing it out at top volume. Our favorite that summer was “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” But I was still unaware of bigotry, so I convinced Jane it was “Play the funky music RIGHT boy,” because why on earth would it matter what color his skin was?

On cool mornings, when accompanied by a faint breeze, I’d ride in the feet-on-the-handle-bars solo olympic event up and down my street. Jane wasn’t an early riser, so I’d be the imaginary gold medal winner every time, zooming across the finish line on my snazzy, purple-sparkle banana seat.

I am glad my daughters still get to widdle away sluggish summer days in similar fashions, and I’m glad that they–like I–almost never complain of being bored. (Yes, I did add the qualifier, “almost.”) Who can be bored after all with the countless good reads awaiting and numerous songs ready to be memorized and crazily crooned? On top of that, my ladies are blessed beyond measure with woods, rivers, and a lake to explore…


Veggie gardens to plant and tend…


Insects to ponder…


and of course a swing that, like a pendulum, ticks away some glorious blocks of time…


But, unlike I at 11, they have the boundless resources of the internet at their fingertips as well. If we guard their time, if we set limits, if we are diligent parents to remind them of all those other wonderful ways to spend a summer hour, well, one great way to fritter away some time is building a website.

My 11 year old spent an hour Skyping with a friend who was 400 miles away but wanted a website tutorial. So my daughter asked me to help her arrange the computers just right…


and had a wonderfully successful summer afternoon meeting with a friend. 21st century style.

After they chose a theme, wrote content for their American Girl DIY sites, and uploaded pictures, she said goodbye and went back to her rather 1970s kind of afternoon… minus the white boy playing funky music.

However many years [or summers] anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. Ecclesiastes 11:8


I highly recommend wordpress.com for all your free, website-building-kind-of summer afternoons.

My daughter’s advice for your website? Take all your pictures outside, in natural light. It makes your posts look so much better.

Her friend’s advice? Think of a fun contest to get all your friends interested in looking at your site, so you have followers right away.

Advice from this homeschool mom? Don’t let the kids be lazy about their writing. Even though it is summer, what a great way to sneak in some grammar and spelling lessons, and they won’t even mind (too much) correcting their writing before publishing it. Because, well, what’s more fun than instantly publishing your writing and having your friends read and follow it? Except maybe an olympic-gold-medal, purple-sparkle banana seat.

Advice from a techie? All the details you could want on setting up a wordpress blog can be found here: http://www.techtricksworld.com/technical-guide-to-set-up-a-blog/