At Home in Dogwood Mudhole bookAt Home in Dogwood Mudhole, by Franklin Sanders, is an interesting title for an interesting and fun read.  The story is taken from a collection of letters that the author has written over the years for his newsletter, and this first volume gives a peek into his family’s life as they become (reluctant) farmers.

Even if you are not a farmer yourself, nor planning on becoming one, this book will probably have something to offer you somewhere in its 379 pages.  One of his first stories is about how the family dog, bought as a puppy for $30, has to go to the vet for a broken bone and how it became a $400 dog.  Later, the dog gets hurt again and the author good-naturedly relates how one questions at times how much a family can afford to spend on a pet.

Although the author’s style jumps around a bit for me (at times I was wondering how events were related to each other), I found his writing to be enjoyable and cheerful.  Mr. Sanders certainly has a dry sense of humor that I appreciate, which is sprinkled liberally on almost every page.  Throughout the book you can tell how important his family and nature are to him, and that is both refreshing and inspirational for me.  Due to its conversational tone (although it even contains some snippets of Chaucer) you certainly feel that you are along beside him in his journey and it is easy to relate to the joys and sorrows their family experiences (check out the sample chapter).

As an added bonus, all of the chapters are short enough, at an average of 5 pages in length, that they can be easily squeezed in whenever you have a few minutes to spare (or kill).  I wish that I would have asked for this title in e-book format because I think that it’s style lends itself perfectly to that medium.  And, you have to love their guarantee: “If you don’t laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we’ll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.”

Lastly, I feel like I need to mention that Mr. Sanders is from the South and his writing certainly reflects that (eg. the Civil War is known as the War for Southern Independence), but it is done in such a manner that only a very rare person (I hope) would be offended.  But, I just wanted to let you know that if you don’t find Southern charm all that charming then you should definitely read the sample chapter before buying.

Price: $22.95 for paperback, $16.95 e-book format


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VocabularySpellingCityVocabularySpellingCity is an online and app-based program that can be used for spelling and vocabulary work for grades K-12.  I was looking forward to reviewing this program because I have a daughter that really enjoys learning new words and (currently) proclaims that spelling is her favorite subject.  There are basic and premium memberships available and for this review I was able to try out the premium subscription.

After setting up my account I logged in and quickly realized that I didn’t know which words to use for our vocabulary study.  There are many lists out there that have been created by others that can be easily imported, but it was a bit overwhelming for me.  Did I want to focus on science or geography terminology?  Or perhaps I should use words from our spelling program that have proved to be troublesome.  In the end, I decided to use vocabulary words from our writing program and from a workbook-based vocabulary program that we had previously discarded for being too boring.  I typed in several batches of 10 word groups.  After inputting the words, you can select from available definitions and sample sentences or create your own.  For the most part I was pleased with the definitions and sentences that were already in the program, but there were a few times that I added my own.

Next up was selecting the activities that I wanted my child to complete for each word list.  There are several choices, depending upon whether you are using the lists more for spelling or vocabulary work.  There is also the option to save an activity list so that you may simply use the same sequence for each list that you create or import.  Finally, you can select if you want your child to work through the activities in order or if they can hop about as they please.

One of the best features for our family was the ability to use (almost) the whole program on the iPad (so far only available for iOS devices).  There is an app available that can access your account, provided you have an internet connection, and most of the games can be played.  When I was setting up the activities for our word lists I made sure to only include the ones that were app compatible (identified by an icon) as I knew that would be our preferred method of use.  My daughter had no problem with the app and everything was super intuitive to use.

There is also a portal in which to access your child’s progress that is available with the premium membership.  Whenever my daughter logged in and worked on the words in my lists the program tracked her progress and I could easily see how much work she had completed.

I think the only thing that I wished was different was that a definition for the word that you are playing for in Hang Mouse was provided.  With a definition it would be easier for the student to concentrate on the spelling of the word instead of randomly guessing letters.  However, my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed this program…so much so that she completed three weeks of work in just a week.

As this is a feature-rich program it is wonderful that there are loads of videos available on site describing all the different possibilities and how to perform all of the tasks so that you can tweak this program to fit your family’s needs.

Price: $29.99/ year for up to 5 students


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My son has been slowly been working on blending…some days he has no problems and then other days it is as if we have gone backwards a few steps.  But today he read the first Bob book.  “Mat sat.  Sam sat.  Mat sat on Sam.” etc.  I’m sure many of you have seen this book.  Certainly thrilling times, but I’ve forgotten how painful this beginning reader stage can be.  I used to agonize over my daughter’s lack of fluency, but now she just flies through chapter books.  So, I am anticipating the sounding every word out phase will last for a while and this time I shall try not to stress about it.



We are blessed to have our in-laws visiting us for about a month.  We have a week long trip to Orlando planned that hopefully includes a lot of Disney fun.  The rest of their visit will be spent painting our house.  Crazy as it sounds, my in-laws enjoy helping us with some project or other.  We had thought of replacing our floors, but the paint is in a more desperate state.

I don’t forsee myself posting a lot during this time.  My mother-in-law will be helping the children with their espanol and we are still chugging along as usual.  I hope to finish out most of our subject plans for the year some time in November.


Almost 2 years ago I posted our potential read aloud list.  As I was perusing the list today I was (somewhat) amused to find that we had strayed wildly from it.  Here is the original list and the additions (denoted by **)that we made recently:

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne – we read it and now my dd reads it for fun

Uncle Wiggly’s Storybook by Howard Garis – I tried reading this, but I have a hard time getting past the first few stories.  I’m not quite sure why I have such problems with this book, but I’m looking to check out an audio version from our library.

Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill

The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit by Joel Chandler Harris

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting – we read it….dd loved it, but it wasn’t my favorite

Capyboppy by Bill Peet

The Children of Noisy Village byAstrid Lindgren

Little Old Mrs. Pepperpot by Alf Proyson

**The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary – read and enjoyed

**Socks by Beverly Cleary – we didn’t finish it as neither of us was really enjoying it

**The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White – read and enjoyed

**Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White- read and enjoyed

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