Books, Books, and More Books! 

A lot of people ask me about what books the girls and I read for read alouds and series. There is a very long list I could come up with. Honestly this is not all of the books we have read but this should be enough to get you started. I would recommend these books for Grades 1-6.

We have always started with Junie B Jones. Ramona books and the Ralph Mouse Series (Beverly Cleary books) are also one of our first series. But you may want to start with Little Bear Series or Frog and Toad books.

I have from when I was growing up a series called The Ten Commandment Mystery series. There is also a Beatitudes Mystery series. They are very short. My girls like them. Not sure if they are still in print…. Janette Oke also had an animal series. Spunky’s Diary was my favorite. They also read my old Alex Series.

We love Mrs Piggle Wiggle! We also love Gooney Bird Greene books. And the Herdman series by Barbara Robinson. (The Best/Worst series. Most people just read the Christmas one but there are 3.) Caddie Woodlawn. The Mandie series. Grandmother’s Attic series!

Other series are: The Boxcar Children. Flat Stanley. Magic Tree House. Nate the Great. Judy Moody. Humphrey Series (about a hamster.) Ivy+Bean, Geronimo Stilton and Thea Stilton books, Sarah Plain and Tall series. Wayside School series. The All of A Kind Family series. The Oz book series (not just Wizard of Oz). The Littles, Cam Jansen, The Culdesac Kids, AtoZ Mysteries. Adventures in Oddessy books (Imagination Station books) The Nancy Clancy series. Amelia Bedelia books. (The series but also story books). Wonder and the other books that connect the characters.

We love all the shoe books. (Think You Got Mail ?) Dancing Shoes, Theater Shoes, Ballet Shoes, Skating Shoes.)

Usborne book series we have – Pony Crazed Princess, Sandy Lane Stable series, Billie B Brown, EJ12 series. Penny Dreadful.

My girls are big Carole Marsh fans. We read her mystery books when we are going somewhere (Biltmore House, Disney, Ft Sumter…) or if we are studying a place. So this year we will do the one about the Great Wall of China and Roman Colosseum.

We also like Who Was books. They are Biographies of people for kids. So again when we went to Disney we read about Walt Disney but we also will read about people we are studying. They also have What Was and Where Is books about famous places and events.

We went through a Roald Dahl time too (Matilda. The BFG. George’s Magic Medicine. The Witches…) and Judy Blume books. (Freckle Juice)

Natalie Grant has a few series. They are FaithGirlz series. (Glimmer Girls. There are other series too though.)

Classics: Charlotte’s Web. Secret Garden. The Little Princess. Little Women. Pollyanna. Anne of Green Gables. Stuart Little. The Velveteen Rabbit. Black Beauty. Heidi. Narnia Series.

Alyse loves Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins, and other old books we get at vintage stores. She also loves American Girl books to go with her dolls. You can find the older ones of dolls from when we were younger at a lot of vintage/antique stores too. (Samantha and Felicity are our favorites!) She also loves Bryer Horses. They have a series of books that she gets to go with the horses. (Canterwood Crest series. But there are others.) She also has recently read all the Harry Potter and The Guardian Herd series. She has also read Serafina. I’m thinking of getting her Babysitters Club books.

Other Random books: The Chocolate Touch. The Saturdays. Pippi Longstalking. The Moffats. Tale of Despereaux. Harriet The Spy, Mr Poppers Penguins, The One and Only Ivan. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Cricket in Times Square, Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweileder. The Year of Miss Agnes. Because of Winn Dixie. The Willoughbys. How To Eat Fried Worms, The Courage of Sarah Noble. The Door In The Wall. The Railway Children.

For just on their own just to get them reading but really not of any great value:  The Rainbow Fairies and other fairy books by Scholastic. They also read these Magic Bunny, Magic Puppies, and Magic Ponies books. Alyse also read Princess Ponies and Pony Tale books and Pony Pals. The Saddle Club series. (Notice a horse theme!) Breeley has also started reading these Mermaid Tales books. Honestly they aren’t great literature but as long as they are reading on their own. They also like the Whatever After series and The Never Girls.

We are huge audio book people. It’s a great way to listen as you eat lunch, in the car, making dinner, cleaning up the school/play room. Sometimes if books are above their reading level they read along with CD. Great for building sight words and expands vocabulary.

I’m also a fan of storybooks even when they are older. Alyse will read them to Cammie. Our favorites have always been the Berenstain Bears books. Alyse was obsessed with Olivia. Breeley’s favorite is Betty Bunny. (It’s her Bunny self). Cammie also likes Miss Lina’s Ballerinas and all the Fancy Nancy. We do a lot of Angelina Ballerina. Eloise books are also big at our house. Plus Madeline. Lilly’s Purple Purse. Chrysanthemum. The Little House. Miss Nelson is Missing. Gigi (God’s Little Princess.) We like Dr Suess of course and Tomie DePaola books.

I suggest The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury. We read that in Kindergarten even though we have a lot of the books inside. Preschool we do Nursery Rhymes. Also American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne is great for traditional folk tales. And I have a collection of Aesop’s Fables and Hans Christian Anderson. (I always try to do Fairy Tales that are kinda the original and not always Disney version.)

There are of course a list of Christmas books (Christmas + books. 2 of my big loves!) Auntie Claus and Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree are some of our favorites.

Books really are something we love. If looking for your grade/reading level that you want to buy or find at the library I lots of times look at the Sonlight list. (We don’t really do this curriculum but I like their book list.) is a great website to search through. If I’m looking for something new I usually head there.

This really is my basic list. I am sure I could (and may) add more.

Please note: these are not all Christian books. There are some with magic and wizards and things of fantasy. There also may be some “stupid”, “shut up” or other things you may consider “naughty”. The girls and I have had long conversations about what is appropriate for our family and that books aren’t always perfect. Our philosophy: we “eat the meat and leave the bones.”

Also please note: I have 3 girls! There may be some books boys also enjoy but we tend to be kinda girly.

I have links to most of these books on my suggested Amazon List.

Fresh Flower Cake 

When Breeley and I discussed her birthday we decided we wanted lots and lots of flowers. So when I was planning her cake I decided I wanted to put fresh flowers on her cake. I just think it looks so pretty.

Of course I knew you couldn’t just stick flowers in a cake so I started researching what was the best way to put them on and if there were any flowers that would be poisonous or something. I honestly wasn’t finding any great “how tos” so I kinda just got creative. 

I sent Josh to a vendor Uptown (which is kinda like a little farmers market.) I thought they would have the best price and would possibly be more “clean”. (At least in my head they were…)

I looked at the flowers and checked to make sure they were safe. And they all seemed to be. 

She requested her cake be vanilla cake with chocolate chip filling. 

Because no one wants flower leaves or dirt with their chocolate chip cake, I decided to protect the cake a little by putting some parchment paper down. I put the paper under the cake pan I used and traced a circle. Then I cut out a small section in the middle (to put the candelabra and stems into). 

Then I covered the paper with more icing. 

Right before the party started I added the flowers. But again, I wanted to protect the cake as much as possible from dirt or flower pieces. The best way I could think to do that was straws and tape. (I’m sure this is just how the professionals do it!)

I cut some IKEA straws into 4 pieces each. Then put tape around the ends. I trimmed the flowers down and covered the stems with the straws. 

Finally I arranged the candelabra and flowed into the cake. 

I think it turned out really well. 

I did have a small moment of panic that the candles would light the flowers on fire, but all was good! No fire! And the cake was flower pedal, leaf, and dirt free. 

An American Girl Birthday

Last weekend Breeley turned 6! 

The 6th birthday at our house is when the girls get an American Girl doll. (Something my girls have to have because I never got to have one so I will make sure my girls get one! My parents didn’t love me. ?)

Breeley had already decided, by looking at the store before and in the catalog beforehand, that she wanted Mary Ellen. So she was set to go!  

She woke up to balloons (tradition at our house) and donuts. She actually didn’t have a lot of time because we also had the girls dance pictures that morning (which explains why they both have on a ton of makeup!). So after we finished up her photo shoot she changed into her new dress she had picked out and we went for shopping and lunch at the bistro. 

After lunch we took Alyse to her pictures and then headed home for another birthday celebration with family. 

Breeley had requested a party with her new doll and lots of flowers. (Actually she had like 10 decor ideas – Frozen, Descendants, Makeup/Fashion show… I had to tell her we were sticking just with American Girl.) 

I had picked up some little party favors at Micheal’s for the dolls so I decided that would be our colors. When at Target I found some more party supplies in the same colors so I kinda mixed and matched from the dollar section, the party section, and house decor. 

(I still haven’t taken the battery operated garden lights down yet.)

On Friday’s Uptown on the corner of Trade and Tryon they have a flower vendor. I asked Josh to go get me a bunch of flowers to decorate with and to put on her cake. 

The candelabra and sparkle candles are also from Target. 

I brought a small table down from the play room and made a little table for the dolls. The guest were Alyse’s Caroline and Samantha dolls, Cammie’s Bitty Baby and Layla (Breeley’s Next Generation doll from Target.) I also made a little cake just for their table. 

Breeley loved her party! 

Watch her celebration on our YouTube channel 

NC to DC 

A few weeks ago we packed up the car and took a trip to Washington DC.

On the way we made a side trip to Williamsburg.

We toured the church, trade shops, the Governor’s Mansion, the court house, the jail, and walked around the historical area.

There were many portraits of Queen Charlotte. The girls told everyone that we were from Charlotte.

I was really proud of how my girls walked around (there was a lot of walking!) and sat through all the presentations. They were very good.

Their favorite part of the day was playing in the maze that is behind the Governor’s Mansion.

Later in the afternoon, we got back in the car and headed the rest of the way to DC. We actually stayed in Old Town Alexandria at the Hotel Monaco. We did a little walking around Old Town and then had dinner at La Madeleine. We took the girls swimming and then went to bed to get rested for our first day in DC.
The girls were excited to ride the metro (which they kept calling the monorail).

Once we got off at the Smithsonian stop we decided to first walk the Mall and see some monuments.

The Washington Monument:

The White House:

We stopped at the Reflecting Pool to feed the ducks.

Breeley took her shoes off for a minute as we were standing there. As we were getting ready to walk away she was slipping her shoes back on and somehow tripped and fell into the Reflecting Pool. She jumped out as fast as she could and started crying. She thought she was going to get in trouble.  She was also freaking out cause the water was so dirty.   Josh and I just had to laugh. It’s very shallow and she had her shoes off so really all that was wet was her leg.

After drying her off we finished our walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

Then we headed to my favorite – the National Museum of National History.

We stopped for lunch at the cafeteria. We had hoped to just grab something at a food truck but didn’t see any. The cafeteria was pretty expensive…

Then we headed around the museum. I was excited to show the girls the First Ladies Dresses. It was always one of my favorite exhibits.

Alyse loved looking at and reading everything she could. Breeley… She was much quicker to get done and ready to move to the next thing.

Cammie missed a lot of it cause she was exhausted by all the fun we had earlier.

We saw Abraham Lincoln’s top hat:

Visited with Elmo:

Saw Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

And Julia Child’s kitchen.

The girls loved playing with these electronic paper dolls.

We stayed until the museum closed and then headed back to the hotel.

We went out to dinner at Chadwick’s and did some more walking around Old Town.

The next morning we met Josh’s sister for breakfast at Jackson 20 and then headed to Mount Vernon. (Not a lot of photography was allowed.)

After eating lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant we went on a short cruise on the Potomac River.

That night we went to go see some family friends that I have known for 20some years.  It was so fun to hang out with the Sheets family and catch up!

Here is an example of one of the many reasons I love my husband – every night he was the one who slept on the roll away bed.  Cammie was supposed to sleep on it, but she wanted to sleep in bed with me.  So he gave up the comfy bed to sleep on the little bed with his feet sticking out over the edge.  He’s the best.

Our final day we headed back into the city.  We first went to the Air and Space Museum (which was packed!).  We walked around very quickly but made sure we saw the Wright Brother’s plane and looked at some space stuff too.

Finally we headed over to the National Museum of Natural History.

Again we ate at the (expensive) cafeteria and it was so busy.  We walked around and saw dinosaurs, butterflies, mummies, and their favorite part- the minerals and gems.

(Breeley had to take some time to put on some of my lipstick.)

When the museum closed we walked a few blocks to Poste to meet Josh’s sister again.  It was an excellent meal and a great ending of our time in DC.  We rode the metro back to our hotel and started to pack up and get ready for our trip back home the next day.

We really had such a great time!  We saw a lot and I really think the girls loved learning about a lot of things we have been learning about in school.  I know we will go back when they are older, especially since there is so much more that we did not get to do and see.

I did make YouTube videos of our trip.  Make sure you check them out!

NC to DC 1) The Road Trip

NC to DC 2)Colonial Williamsburg

NC to DC 3) Old Time Alexandria and DC day 1

NC to DC 4) Mount Vernon and Back to DC

A Day At The Stables

Alyse has been taking horseback riding lessons for about 6 weeks now. She lives for Tuesday’s! She loves going and I honestly have to basically drag her out of the stables after the 2hrs that we are there.

She is so comfortable around the horses and loves not only riding but also loves the stable work. Gray is “her horse”. Each week she is the first rider of the day so she gets to brush him, do the saddle, bridle, etc. She also gets to warm him up by walking him. Her favorite is when she is the only rider of the day so she gets to feed, water, and then take him out to the pasture.

It really is so much fun watching her get to do something she loves.

Here is her first episode of “Alyse’s Things” on YouTube. A Day At The Stables with Alyse