Monday, July 28, 2014

Exodus Bible Study by Pryor Convictions Media...Review and Giveaway!

Note: I received this book free of charge in return for my honest and unbiased review.


I have a love/hate relationship with curriculum.  I love to research it. I love to read reviews about it.  I love to buy it.  I love to play with it and plan lessons around it.  But I hate it when it doesn't live up to my expectations. Not the case here!  I really enjoyed this program and want to share it with you today.

Choosing a Bible curriculum has proved very difficult for me.  My kids had Bible everyday when they were in private school.  They love their Bible classes at church and already have a strong Bible knowledge.  I wanted something to complement and add to their current studies.  I was looking for something that was a) scripturally sound, b) well organized and laid out, c) something I could use with both kids at the same time and d) something they'd enjoy.  Tall order.

A while back, I sent out the word that I was looking for a new Bible curriculum to use.  Several homeschool moms wrote back and made suggestions.  One response was from Heather Pryor of Pryor Convictions Media.  She and her husband, Paul, have developed a new series called "Growing Up in God's Word". She sent me a copy of their study on the book of Exodus for me to review.

The kids and I used it the last several weeks of school and really enjoyed it!  

Heather suggested Exodus as she thought my kids would really enjoy studying about the plagues...and they did! Each book is laid out the same, so regardless of the topic you choose, this review should help you get a feel for the program.  The book is well laid out and easy to use. Unless you are doing the crafts, very little pre-planning and prep work are required of the parent.  (Woo Hoo!)

First, you have the lesson which she calls "Growing in The Word." The book will instruct you to read certain verses from the Bible text and then you go back into the book and read the commentary.  It is simple and straightforward, and includes questions to check for comprehension.  It usually took us two days to complete this part of the lesson.

Following the lesson, you have other areas of instruction such as "Putting Down Roots" which is memory work.  We didn't do the memory verses, but we did other memory work such as memorizing the twelve sons of Jacob, the plagues and the 10 Commandments.

Somehow I got lucky, and my kids (like me) love maps.  She includes a section called "Farther Afield" that helps you get a feel for where places were located.  Blank maps are included in the back, and you are instructed to plot cities and countries as you progress through the study.  In a sense, you are building your own map, and my kids liked this part a lot.

"Harvest Fun" includes ideas for games and reinforcement activities. These activities include journaling ideas, role-playing and competitive, team-style games.  With our limited schedule, we had to bypass most of these.

"Digging Deeper" takes you beyond the lesson and encourages you to do research on your own.  It would be ideal for older kids who are learning to research online or in libraries.  

"Food For Thought" was our favorite.  It consisted of a variety of puzzles such as fill-in-the-blanks, unscrambling words, Who Am I?'s, word searches and codes.  It was a fun way to review the facts they'd learned.

"Fruits of Our Labor" offered lots of craft ideas and would be ideal for younger children and those whose kids really enjoy hands-on activities.

Heather and Paul have done a great job of presenting the material in a thorough and thoughtful way.  Aside from the general knowledge gained from the lesson, activities such as map work, research ideas and fun games contribute to a great experience for all learning types.  You can't help but learn as you complete this study.    

The book is well-laid out and I found it very easy to implement. Heather suggests a five-day-a-week schedule, however, we have Fridays off for co-op and field trips.  We easily modified the schedule to fit our needs.  We skipped the crafts (I know, they can be the best part, but we were nearing the end of the year, and I was trying to finish the book) and memory work, and were able to complete the chapter each week in four days.

The books are very reasonably priced at $14.95 each, and you only need one copy for the entire family. You can photocopy as needed for home use.

We thoroughly enjoyed the study and plan to complete the Life Of Christ Part 1 this fall.  The books are attractively presented and easy to use.  Most importantly, my kids and I had fun learning about this exciting and important period in Old Testament history.

If you are looking for a Bible curriculum that is sound, teacher friendly and easy to use with a wide range of ages, this study is for you.  There are currently several titles available and more are in the works.

Other topical studies include: Genesis, Numbers, The Life of Christ and The Book of Acts.  They also have books for children and teens as well as devotionals for Moms and even a cookbook!

Heather and her husband, Paul, live in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they work and worship with the Northside church of Christ.  

Heather has graciously given me an extra copy of Exodus to give away to one lucky reader.  Take a moment to enter below.  And even if you don't win, be sure to visit Heather at Pryor Conviction Media and see what they have to offer.

Now for the giveaway!
  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Measure of Katie Calloway...UCC Ladies Book Club Selection

It's time to reveal the next book for the UCC Ladies' Book Club.
Drum roll, please...


The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a Northwoods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.

With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the warm cookstove to the rowdy shanty boys and the jagged edges of the saw, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting the reader back to the time when pine was king, men were made of iron, and rivers were choked with logs on the way to the sawmills. Readers will have a hard time leaving the Northwoods when they turn the last page.

On a personal note...I'm pretty excited to read this book because Gerald has Georgia Callaways in his family tree, although they're spelled a little differently.


We will meet Thursday, September 18th, at 6:30 pm at the home of Nancy Itson.

Please bring a potluck dish.  Drinks and dessert will be furnished.

If you are local and enjoy reading, we invite you to join us.
We have a great group of ladies who love to get together to discuss the books
and just enjoy each other's company.
We have all ages participating.  All we're missing is you!

If you can't make it, I hope you'll still pick up the book and enjoy a good read.

So, order your copy now and start reading!

Hope to see you at the meeting!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Miss Manners Kitchen Shower

Our Miss Manners Club has been meeting for over a year now.  These young ladies have had a great time attending the parties, but more importantly, they've been learning manners and skills that will serve them a lifetime.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, we've learned how and why to RSVP. We've learned how to handle it when we're served food we don't necessarily like, and how to control ourselves when the hostess serves something we love!  We have learned how to wrap presents and how to conduct ourselves at a sleepover.  We've practiced making introductions and learned the importance of writing thank you notes.  It has been a busy year, filled with friends and fun parties!
Nancy and I decided that we wanted to give the girls a chance to practice what they have been learning and also give the ladies at church a glimpse of our program and what it's about.  We decided that instead of just attending parties, it was time for our young ladies to throw one of their own!  Our church kitchen was a little out of shape from frequent use, so we decided to throw a kitchen shower for University church of Christ.  Our group has gotten so large that we have broken into two sections - Little Miss Manners (1st - 3rd grades) and Miss Manners (4th - 6th grades), but we decided to host this party as a group.
We began by having the girls meet one Wednesday night before church.  We spent an hour cleaning out and organizing the cabinets.  I brought my trusty label-maker and the girls "helped" me make labels.  Nancy also found some cute bubble stickers of kitchen gadgets and tools at Hobby Lobby and we allowed the younger girls to place corresponding stickers on the cabinet doors.  (Just between you and me, they got a little over zealous with the stickers, but after all their hard work, they deserved it!) Our last task of the night was filling out our "gift registry".  Some of the older girls suggested things like a soda machine and granite counter tops, but overall, they did a good job and listed items like kitchen towels, knives and serving spoons.  We had pizza and cupcakes for dessert and finished up just in time for Bible Class. 
Once we had an idea of what was needed, we invited the ladies of the congregation to a "Stock the Kitchen" shower on Sunday, June 29, from 2:00 - 3:00 pm.  We have a "Showers and Teas" table at church where information can be found for all the upcoming baby and wedding showers.  We placed our registry in the book, and then we ran an announcement in the bulletin for about a month inviting the ladies to attend. 
When the day of the party rolled around, we had the girls meet us in the fellowship hall after the morning service.  We had pizza and cupcakes for lunch again.  (Don't judge!  There's a Domino's across the street!  And what kid turns down pizza anyway?!)  I had grabbed my brothers and had them to move the tables in and most of the chairs out of the Fireplace Room right after church was over.  (Gerald narrowly escaped by offering to go get pizza!)  A couple of brave, helpful moms volunteered to stay and help wrangle the girls.  (The were a little excited, after all!)  Somehow, we managed to eat lunch and keep our dresses clean.  I told you they were little ladies!


Nancy had picked up some simple pink and white carnations over the weekend at the flower market, and she taught the girls to make a simple but elegant corsage.  The girls loved making them by themselves, and the carnations held up well under small, eager hands.  (Smart Nancy!)


While Nancy and the girls worked on corsages, I iced the cupcakes I had made the night before and made lots of lemonade for my big, glass beverage dispenser.  Over the years, I have tweaked the Country Time recipe for what I feel (and have been told) is a delicious and refreshing blend.  Here's my recipe:

Almost Homemade Lemonade
6 level scoops Country Time lemonade mix
1/2 cup sugar
2 quarts cold water
sliced lemons
This tastes almost as good as an old-fashioned, homemade lemonade.  The only thing missing is the pulp!
When the girls were done with their corsages, Nancy gave them a quick lesson in floral arranging using some of the leftover carnations and a lot of fresh "pretties" she had cut from her yard that morning. 
After they had all contributed to the arrangement, we had them help us decorate for the shower.  Nancy brought some beautiful linens for the table, including a vintage floral appliqued cloth for the food table.  She also grabbed a handful of ribbons and flowers to use.  We set up one table for food and one for gifts. 
While Nancy and the girls were decorating, I called the girls into the kitchen a couple at a time and had them "plate" their party food.  We talked about how we eat first with our eyes, and how we can make food look even better by neatly arranging it on beautiful serving pieces.  Then each girl (carefully) carried her dish in to Nancy who helped her find a place on the table for it.
Finally, each girl was given a job - from greeting guests, to recording gifts, to serving punch, to refilling food trays, everyone was busy with their own hostess duties.  We also encouraged the girls to walk around to the ladies and thank them for coming.  Some of the ladies asked the girls what they had been learning in Miss Manners.  Not only were they able to recount what they had learned, they did it with confidence and grace...which was the whole point of our program!
I was really nervous about the food.  We had asked each young lady to bring their favorite "party food" on a clear glass dish.  That way, everything would be coordinated when we set out the food.  I wasn't sure what we'd get, but it all turned out great!  We had a wonderful mix of food from cheese straws and mini cold cuts with crackers to tiny brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar to Jello-dusted grapes.  I should know by now to always trust Nancy!  She and I did the rest of the preparation.
Before the party ended, I took a moment to thank the ladies for attending and for the gifts they had brought.  I also took a moment to tell them about our program and what we were trying to do.  I know that they were impressed by these young ladies and several even offered to host parties for us in the future!
The shower not only gave the girls an opportunity to practice what they had been learning, but it also gave them an idea of the hard work and planning that goes in to hosting a party. 


Every good hostess should take a moment out from her busy responsibilities for a quick game of "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack..." 

Mothers were impressed...


Daughters were proud...


And everybody had a good time.  Especially Alyssa!


Near the end of the shower, Brother David Fletcher (deacon in charge of our kitchen ministry) dropped in to thank the young ladies for their hard work in organizing the kitchen and the successful shower.  This tickled the girls and made them feel very important...which they are!


The church kitchen was restocked with a lot of much needed supplies.


By the end of the day, Nancy and I were exhausted, but it was a sweet and fulfilled tired.  We are both so blessed to be working with these young ladies.  Their joy and enthusiasm is contagious. Before we had even cleaned up, Jewell was saying, "Mama!  We could through another shower for the nursery!  And the work room!  And the..."  Slow down there, honey!  Let mama recover from this one!


It had been difficult to schedule the shower amidst VBS, church camps and personal vacations, but in the end, we had 12 of our 23 young ladies participate in the kitchen shower.  We somehow managed to have lunch, make corsages, decorate, throw a party and clean up between 11:15 and 4:00!  It was a wonderful day and the perfect culmination to the first year of Miss Manners.  We are looking forward to many more!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I HEART...Good News!



Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

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"Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it!"
Luke 11:28

I'm so excited to share some great news with you today!

Gerald and I are so very proud to announce that Jewell was baptized into Christ on Sunday, June 22nd!


It was a very special day for us.  Both sets of grandparents were present as well as aunts, uncles and lots of cousins!  After church we had a picnic lunch together, then came back to the church for her baptism.


No, the church wasn't decorated especially for her...It was the first day of VBS and our theme this year was based on the Wizard of Oz and "There's no place like home".  But the decorations matched our mood!


Jewell's cousin, Mary Reagan, was very excited to be a part of the excitement!


When Jewell came out from the dressing room, Brack was the first one to greet her.
Their hug was the sweetest thing I think I've ever seen!


We are so proud of of our precious Jewell!
She amazes us each and every day!

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I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Our "New" Math...CTC Math Review and Giveaway!

Note: This post is a review of CTC Math, which I received free in return for an unbiased review.  I believe this is a great product for homeschoolers, but would also benefit my non-homeschooling friends who are looking for help or reinforcement for their children in math.  Regardless of your schooling status, I hope you'll take a moment to read and share this post.  Thanks!  
 
 
The "New" Math vs. "Old-School" Math.  You know, I'm not really sure what either one is.  I just know that math in general has really caused me a lot of stress over the last few years.  Jewell always made A's in math, but none of us (me included) really knew what we were doing.  Two bachelors, two masters, and a doctorate between us, and Gerald and I still found ourselves huddled over the computer Googling 3rd grade math, assuring each other that we were, indeed, intelligent people, while Jewell tearfully tried to explain the round-the-world way she had been taught to do simple addition.  (Why must you draw sets of sticks and piles of rocks when it would be much simpler to just remember that 12 + 13 = 25.  At least it used to.  Now it could be 24.  Or maybe 30.  Because instead of just adding to find your answer, someone thought it would be better to guesstimate.  Because isn't rounding numbers just as good as adding them?  Well, no.  My banker doesn't think so.  He insists that we keep exactly enough money in the bank to cover our checks.  Not about enough.)  So needless to say, math was the one thing I was determined to get right when we began homeschooling.  But it took a while.
 
As I said, Jewell had always gotten A's in math, but she had no confidence.  It seemed I spent the first 10 minutes of math each day talking her off the ledge.  Assuring her she could do it.  And she could.  She did.  But not until we were both thoroughly frustrated.  And exhausted.  And at this rate, she'd never achieve the autonomy in math that we both wanted her to have.  There had to be a better way.  I needed to find a math program that A) made sense and B) took me out of the mix.
 
I decided to try Teaching Textbooks.  I must admit, it worked.  I stayed by her the first couple of days to make sure she understood the process of logging in and saving her work, but after that, I left her to it.  She actually liked it.  She would complete several lessons in one sitting.  She enjoyed it and she began to feel that she could "do math".  Ahh, success.  But...
 
It's not cheap.  And you buy one level at a time.  Should you finish a level quickly, you have to buy the next.  Add in a couple of kids, and, as great a product as it is, it starts to eat up the budget.  Back to the drawing board.  I kept getting emails from the Cathy Duffy review site advertising CTC Math, so I decided to give it a try.  Loved it!  Very similar to Teaching Textbooks, and the creator/teacher has a very, umm, how should I put it?...appealing Australian accent, if you get my drift.  Bingo!  We have our own "new" math program.  Give me a few minutes and I'll tell you why...
 
 
First of all, it's easy to implement.  Unlike Teaching Textbooks, you don't have to have a disk.  You simply log in to the website, so you can do math any time, anywhere.  (And don't we all love the ability to do math on vacation, in the car, at Grandma's?  OK - maybe not, but you don't have to worry about damaged or lost disks.)  Each child has their own login.  I keep a post-it stuck to the computer with the kids various user-names and passwords.  Once you're on the site, it's very clean.  No ads.  Very few graphics.  Just very simple and not at all distracting...unless you find yummy Australian accents distracting.  But I digress.
 
Second - you have access to all levels.  Let me repeat...ALL levels.  So if you have a second grader who is breezing through lessons and is ready to begin the next level, well then, go right ahead!  Suppose your 9th grader is having a little trouble with Algebra 1.  Never fear.  Simply move back and do a little reviewing in Pre-Algebra.  You can move around at will, and the child's progress will continue to be recorded.
 
Third - it grades your child's work and will send you a weekly email, letting you know their progress.  One less thing for you to worry about!
 
Here's how we used it last year.  Before beginning the lesson(s) for the day (Jewell usually did two a day), she would click on Speed Skills at the bottom.  There are four Speed Skill levels. Level 1 - Addition and Subtraction. Level 2 - Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication.  Level 3 - Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division.  Level 4 - Addition, Subtraction, Mixed Multiplication and Division, Division with Remainders and Order of Operations.  I had her working on level 2 and 3.  I had her complete a 60 second session in each area.  (I really believe in speed drills.  This was something that was not stressed as she was beginning arithmetic in 1st and 2nd grade, and I believe it is one of the reasons she lacks confidence.)  Once she completed the daily Speed Skills, she moved on to the lessons.  All in all, her math took less than 30 minutes, leaving her time to work daily critical thinking activities like Sudoku and other math puzzles.
 
Each lesson "lecture" generally lasts between 3 and 7 minutes.  At least that is our experience so far.  Jewell worked in 5th grade math, and I started with 7th just to get familiar with the program.  I had a lot of fun and was really surprised at what I remembered.  Even if I couldn't explain it, I generally remembered what to do.  (And don't judge, y'all.  I'm now up to Algebra 1, and doing well, thank you very much!  See how much YOU can remember after 30 years!)
 
Once you listen to the lecture, you click on "Questions" and begin your work.  In the elementary grades, there are generally 10 questions.  Once you finish those, you have the option of working 10 more, and so on.  With Jewell, if she got all 10 correct, she could move on to the next lesson.  If she missed one, I required her to work another 10.  Remember, whatever they do will be sent to you in a weekly email.  The program also keeps up with the child's work and tells them what level they are working on.  It will also give them the option to print a certificate of level completion, which Brack really likes.
 
This is NOT a spiral program.  There is really no review of past materials.  This is probably my main complaint (on a very short list which I will share with you shortly).  To make sure that my kids are retaining skills, I use a program called "180 Days of Math" for each of their individual grade levels. It takes less that five minutes a day and is a great little brush-up tool.  Each daily lesson presents them with 12 questions ranging from simple addition to shapes to time to graphs, etc.  Each workbook comes with a disc that you can use to print the worksheets if you have other children that will need the material later.  (We also use "180 Days of Reading" for comprehension work.)
 
 
In the elementary levels, questions are answered directly into the computer.  In the upper levels, you listen to a lecture and then print out the worksheet containing the questions.  Once you have worked your answers on paper, there is a key on the side.  Not the answers, mind you.  That would allow for, well, cheating.  Suppose your answer for #1 is 12.  The key will tell you - 12) R.  Once you have found the corresponding letter to your number answers, you enter the letters as your "answers" and it gives you the grade.  This is good because it helps you to know if you got the right answer.  For example, if you think that your answer is 12, but there is not a letter for 12, you know you need to redo the problem.  Working the worksheets in the upper levels is also a good idea because it gives you more practice and it keeps you familiar with testing styles.
 
I spoke several times with Matthew Rahi, the American representative for CTC.  He was extremely helpful with all my questions, and trust me, I had a lot.  When I asked him about whether CTC was intended to be a stand alone math curriculum, he said "definitely" up to 6th grade.  He suggested it serve as a supplement in the junior and senior high levels.  This was a disappointment to me because I really like this program and would be happy to commit to a long-term relationship with it.  So I did some investigating.  I printed several tables of contents from companies like Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt and compared the upper levels.  Looked complete to me.  I mentioned this to him and asked him what he felt was lacking from CTC in the upper levels.  He responded with something that I am sure only brain surgeons and rocket scientists need to know.  Let's just say I have done fine without it!
 
I really like this program, and see us using it for the long haul.  However, there are a couple of things I wish were a little different.  1) If you miss a question, it doesn't tell you why you got it wrong.  2)  It's not spiral, but I've already addressed that.  That's it.  Seriously.
 
So, what are my top three favorite things about CTC Math?  (Besides the fact that it's like having Hugh Jackman teach you order of operations?!)  1) I'm not having to teach math.  That means one less melt down per day.  (Mine, not hers.)  2) It's cost effective.  You get more than one level on a CD that can get lost or broken.  3) It does the work for you.  Teaching, grading, recording.  Done.  This program made me believe we can do math again!

 

You can go online to their website CTC Math and get a free, trial membership.  There's no time limit on it.  You just get access to the first lesson under each topic.  This is what I did when I was first checking them out.  I liked it so much I contacted them and offered to do a review.  In exchange, they gave me a free family membership.  However, this review is truly my own.  And like I said before, we love CTC Math!

If you'd like to subscribe, click here.  This link gives homeschoolers 60% off, which boils down to about $120 a year for unlimited lessons for two or more kids.  That's a pretty good deal if you have a big family, but you can do the math.  (And if you can't, then you really do need to join CTC!)
 
Now to the fun stuff...a giveaway!  The great folks at CTC Math have agreed to furnish me with a 12 month family membership to give away to one lucky winner! 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you are needing a fresh start in math this fall, I hope you'll give CTC Math a try.  If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me!

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Miss Manners Pool Party...June 2014

Whoever came up with the phrase "lazy summer" obviously doesn't live around my house.  Or probably yours, either.  Am I right?  Things have been so busy around here lately, it's hard to figure out whether we're coming or going.  But tucked in neatly among the "have to's" (like the constant drive to and from swim team practice and the cutting of grass that seems to grow back over night) are the "get to's" like church camp, time with family and friends, and Miss Manners parties!  And it actually took a summer cold to slow me down long enough today to share a little of what we've been up to lately.  So today, I'll begin to catch you up by sharing a Miss Manners party we had late last month.
 
My friend, Beth, graciously offered to host the older group of Miss Manners for a pool party in June. Actually, Beth's father and step-mother, offered up their lovely home for the party, and Beth was the gracious hostess.  It was a beautiful summer day, and the setting was equally gorgeous.  The girls were all very excited when they got their invitation in the mail and saw that it was a pool party! As usual, each girl was expected to call Beth on her own to RSVP (one of the first lessons we learned last year).

 
 
We began with a short lesson called "What to Wear".  We started by talking about how if an invitation doesn't tell you exactly what you should wear, it usually at least gives you some good clues.  We also talked about wearing the right clothing for the right event.  For example, a swimsuit is appropriate for a pool party, but not a wedding.  A cowgirl themed birthday party means jeans and not a party dress.  Shorts and flip flops would be out of place at a tea party.  Common sense, maybe, but society is becoming increasingly more casual and it seems (to me, at least) that people often "come as you are"...and they are usually under dressed.
 
We also took a moment to talk about modesty, although I didn't actually define it.  I encouraged each girl to talk to her mother about what they felt modesty meant, but I reminded them that something that makes you feel self-conscious may be trying to tell you that it's immodest...or at least inappropriate.  I also recognized that fashion is probably a bone of contention between them and their mothers at this age (as it was with me and mine), but that they need to respect their mother's opinion and she will be more likely to respect theirs.  I assured them that we don't set out to be style dictators or fashion police, but we do want to help our daughters develop their personal style and find things that both look good on them and are appropriate for their age.  Can I get an amen?!
 
 
After our lesson, the girls hit the pool.  While they swam, Beth set out lunch.  She had prepared the perfect menu for a hot summer day.  Bright and colorful decorations in the pool house reflected the pool party theme.
 
 
Cheerful flowers set the mood...
 
 
And then...lunch!
 
 
We had chicken salad on fresh, soft croissants, pasta salad, fresh sliced tomatoes, fruit, and yummy, spicy, cheese straws.  The pasta was served in small punch cups so the girls simply grabbed one; no muss, no fuss.  Chilled mini water bottles were easy to grab and even easier to take back out to the pool after lunch. 
 
 
The red and yellow heirloom tomatoes were the best I've had all season, and Beth and her two girls had picked the huge, juicy blueberries themselves earlier that morning.  The meal and decorations all said, "Summer"!
 
 
After lunch, it was back to the pool for more swimming.
I did get them to slow down long enough to capture a few pictures...
 
 
We ended the day with the perfect dessert - Italian ice.  Beth had stopped the day before at a local favorite, Nancy's Italian Ice, and picked up several to go.  She brought them home and popped them in the freezer.  They froze solid overnight and stood up well to the heat as well as being abandoned (periodically) on the side of the pool as the girls swam.  There was raspberry lemonade (below), blue raspberry, and my favorite, mango!
 
 
It was a warm day (it is summer in Alabama, after all) but the Labriola's have a beautiful place in the country nestled among the pines, and between the pool and the cabin-styled pool house, we stayed cool and comfortable.  Not all of the girls were able to attend due to vacation travel and other commitments, but we had a great time being together while we enjoyed the beautiful setting and worked a little on becoming graceful, young ladies!
 
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